As a wedding planner, I know it sounds dumb to say that I have a hard time with centerpieces. I know they are necessary, I know they look nice and add to/complete the feel of the party — but I see so much stress taken when creating them and getting them, so much worry in creating the right ones and so much time taken setting them up. Let’s face it, unless they’re so elaborate and miraculous you can’t believe, most people don’t even remember what your centerpiece was. Sorry.
HOWEVER! You can still create your awesome centerpiece and not spend a ton of money. HOW? I have so many ways! First of all, look at websites like eBay. People spend a lot of money on wedding items, and don’t use them, or use them gently. So when the bills start rolling in, they think “what am I going to do with these 15 vases?” Sell them on eBay! It’s an amazing resource.
**Since I first wrote this article back in 2007, I have found 3 new wedding websites that is specifically geared for ‘used’ bridal items ~ www.bravobride.com, www.recycledbride.com and www.myweddingisover.com . I won’t say I sparked but the idea for a new trend, but… These websites are full of wedding items that others bought and are leftovers or gently used. You can even find bridesmaids dresses, jewelry, centerpieces… and it’s full of real-life practical ideas and pictures from real, non-Martha photographed weddings.
(There’s also a great website http://www.exboyfriendjewelry.com/ that you can buy and sell your old jewelry on ~ it’s awesome).
Seriously, I call it ‘wedding brain’ ~ it’s amazing how ‘white fairy lights’ at $15 for a 5′ strand seem so reasonable while shopping for your wedding, but in reality you can buy the same thing after Christmas for $.50 a box at TargetMart. It might not ‘feel’ the same to only spend a few dollars on something that doesn’t say ‘wedding’ on it, but in the long run, you can use your money elsewhere. And remember these sites for when your wedding hormones have simmered down ~ you might want to recoup a few bucks.
I also always tell people to have the necessarily unnecessary pieces be functional, too ~ take a look at the picture above. The bright napkins add a wonderful splash of color, the starfish were great ‘favors’ and the candles added light. Simple, pretty, colorful and functional. I also suggest for programs on the beach to make them fans ~ put the ‘fun’ into ‘functional’!
Another great resource is thrift stores. Whenever I am at a thrift store, I always look at the vases and glasses and silk flowers. You’d be really amazed and surprised at what you find. Yesterday, I popped into Good Will and I found no less than 12 of the same urn-shaped vases. That would have cost some lucky soul about 13 guilt-free dollars to have some lovely vases for their reception.
Consignment stores- these are also an amazing resource for bridal gowns, purses, shoes, jewelry, hairpieces; bridesmaids dresses, etc.
Craigslist.org – I find wedding stuff on Craigslist all the time. Don’t know what Craigslist is? It’s an online free community resource for people to post… everything. We have one in Savannah and it incorporates the whole area. I log on regularly just to see what’s out there (and to post things myself) – you’d be amazed.
Hand-me-downs – is your favorite sister/cousin/friend getting married and you love her centerpieces? Ask her to keep them or go in halvsies! You can save a lot of money. If she’s getting unique vases, you can just switch out the flowers for your own day – trust me, no one will know. What else are they going to do with 15 vases and 125 votive candles?
So, I’m not saying don’t make your wedding your own and use someone else’s ideas or to be cheap. But I am saying be open, be willing, and be creative. You might even just find someone else had your idea, and is auctioning it off on eBay.
A few other ideas:
* The ‘in’ thing to do right now is to use beans for your centerpiece filler – esp. in clear glass. You get black or white beans and use them to put your candles or flowers in. In place of marbles or other things. (picture is fishbowl, black beans, silver charger and red sash, white candle).
* Tall plastic vases with ostrich or peacock feathers. Simple, and lovely.
* Rent wine coolers and use them for your individual table centerpieces. Each table will have its own bottle of white (and don’t forget red) and it’s functional, too.
* Use local flora and fauna. We live at the beach, so we often go around a day or two before weddings and get palm fronds. We use these for all sorts of things – to lay on tables, using the individual fronds as filler in vases. You don’t have to buy it to make it spectacular.
* A lot of brides use items that have one function and use it for another ~ I did a wedding 2 weeks ago where the bride used rolls of planting wire for her table runners ~ it was elegant and functional. Each guest got a packet of flower seeds to take home.
* Get your vases out, put some seashells, beans, beads, jewels on the bottom, and then put you and your bridesmaids flowers in the vases. Voila! Pretty!
* Fruit. Very popular. Cut up some lemons, limes, oranges and put them in the bottom of the vase for a pretty, smart looking centerpiece.
* Use family heirlooms ~ at this same wedding, they did a mixed flower theme. They went to the store the night before and picked up all the spring flowers they could find and mixed them in old family crystal vases, teapots, and bowls. It looked wonderfully collage-y, and each centerpiece meant something. And Grandma’s favorite china got used.
5/10/08 ~ update ~ Yesterday I did a reception for 75, and they did an outdoor picnic theme. They used Great Grandma’s blue Mason canning jars for the flowers ~ now how awesome is that??