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Your Guide to Every Type of Wedding Centerpiece

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One of the most time-consuming parts of planning a wedding is deciding how to decorate your reception tables. From classic florals to neon installations — and everything in between — the world of wedding centerpieces is vast. Wondering where to start? Here, of course! We’ve put together a guide for each type of wedding centerpiece. See what you like best, then start designing the wedding centerpieces that match your wedding style and theme.

Think of this guide as everything you need to know about decorating your tables.

Floral arrangements

Photo by Asia Pimentel Photography

The most traditional centerpiece is the flower arrangement. Whether tall, short, wide or narrow, the fresh flowers in the middle of the table simply say “wedding”. Keep the structure and design of your venue in mind when determining the size of your arrangements, advises event designer Jove Meyer of Jove Meyer Events. Large arrangements work well in large spaces with high ceilings; the height of the flowers catches the eye and helps create volume in a massive place. Short arrangements are often preferred by couples who really want their guests to interact at the table. The size does not prevent guests from seeing and talking to each other across the table. Wide arrangements, which sometimes have a more rustic and wild look, are fantastic on large round tables because they take up more space. Narrow arrangements, such as wreaths and low planters, make the most of long farmhouse-style tables. “Work with your space, not against it,” adds Meyer, who notes that “the bigger the centerpiece, the higher the cost.”

Vases

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Photo by Jose Villa

Flowers are only part of the centerpiece. The container you put the stems in also matters. From classic glass vases to ceramic pitchers and acrylic holders, vessels add another level of detail to your centerpiece. Use ship colors, style and materials to echo the mood of your event. Want to place wildflowers in camping mugs for your glamping wedding? Dark. You can even mix and match, such as using gold and silver bud vases among mixed metal planters. Also consider the size of your flower arrangements on the table. Meyer recommends placing large arrangements in clear containers, so guests can see each other. For lower centerpieces, anything goes: “You can explore glass, metal, or wood, as they enhance the design without blocking the view,” says Meyer.

Greenery

Photo by Olivia Rae James

Garlands and loose leaves are a fancy way to dress up a table, especially if you plan on having long rather than round tables. Strings of greenery can follow the length of the table, and the low height allows for plenty of conversation between guests. Greenery also gives a lush look without costing as much as bushels of flowers. That said, greenery doesn’t come cheap. “Given the labor involved in making garlands, they’re not a big money-saving option,” says Aimee Monihan of Tropical Occasions. “If a couple loves the wreath look, but has budget concerns, loose leaf hanging is the way to go.”

Candles

Photo by James & Schulze

Candles evoke romance, so it’s no wonder they have a place on the wedding table. “Flooding the room with candles is a great way to make a big statement without spending too much money,” says Caroline Greif of Birch Event Design. “It’s a very sophisticated look.” Candles come in many sizes and shapes: think taper candles in candelabras for a romantic, old-world vibe; pillar candles for a bold statement; and votives with tealights for a glow amid large flower arrangements or other decor. “Colored candles are a fun way to bring color to your wedding in a stylish way,” adds Greif.

Whatever you choose, beware of venue restrictions on open flames — indoor event spaces may require hurricanes to surround candles, and many historic venues prohibit open flames. You may need to use artificial candles.

Trees

Photo by Lucy Cuneo Photography

“Trees are all the rage,” says planner JoAnn Gregoli of Elegant Occasions. When she says trees, she means that couples actually place trees in the middle of the table and hang candles from the branches. Some couples hang flowers such as orchids from the branches, or other types of decorations such as lights or ribbons, which create a magical garden ambiance. To enhance the atmosphere, she recommends placing trees at the reception entrance or around the dance floor to keep the look cohesive.

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Hanging Chandeliers

Photo by Dana Cubbage Weddings

Nothing makes a dinner more grand than a beautiful chandelier. Consider dropping a crystal chandelier above your dinner tables if your venue indicates a chateau, chateau, or mansion. Lanterns are fantastic for tent celebrations or those held in rustic locations, and floral chandeliers (flowers hanging in the shape of a chandelier) combine the best of both worlds. You can even complete them with a lighting installation above the dance floor. “It creates the wow factor in the room,” says planner Marylen Exposito. “Not to mention it’s extremely Instagrammable.” Have an outdoor affair? You can always install a system to hang chandeliers above tables, and they look like they are floating in the air. How about this for a centerpiece?

hanging flowers

Photo by Emily Wren

Why put a vase on the table when you can hang flowers from above? A new way to incorporate flowers, hanging flower and plant arrangements create a living ceiling for your wedding tables. When guests look up, they see roses, wisteria and more falling from above. It’s quite an experience! Hanging flowers also work well in tents, when couples want to disguise the rafters and ceiling.

Household linen

Photo of Tenth and Grace

Fabrics set the tone for any table, says Clara Hough, owner of House of Hough. From textured tablecloths like sequins to velvet table runners, linens are a way to boost your centerpieces. They lay the groundwork for everything you add on top of it. Beyond color, look to linens with personality, like embroidery, lace, or unique materials, to help set the mood. You can also go entirely in fabric with your centerpieces. “One of my favorite centerpiece trends is strips of fabric hanging from the ceiling or tall metal structures, creating a ribbon chandelier effect,” says Hough. “I always like to see something other than flowers used as centerpieces.”

Items found

Wheat Erin

Incorporating any type of object, from antiques to fine art, brings a new element to your reception table. Event designer Erica Haskins of Tinsel Experiential Design worked with antique violins, marble busts, taxidermy and “other curiosities” in place of traditional flowers. “It makes the table not only pretty but interesting,” she says. “Give guests another great reason to get up and move around the room to visually see what’s going on.”

Personal affects

Picture of Birds of a Feather

The centerpiece is the perfect place to showcase your personality. Display your collection of pewter horse sculptures or authentic Spanish pottery, suggests event designer Kristin Banta of Kristin Banta Events. “Very often, couples feel like they have to delve into floral selections, and we encourage them to think of the process like building a house,” Banta says, noting that it’s only at the end that you decide what goes on the coffee table. “Customize your décor to reflect your unique personalities and passions. It is a dynamic and memorable approach to your wedding design.

Books

Photo by Aaron and Whitney Photography

Literary fanatics are often drawn to this idea: books. Place your favorite tomes in piles in the center of the table, with or without details like flowers and candles. It’s hugely personal – your guests will learn something about your scholarly tastes – and you can even set themed tables after genres, like historical fiction, chick, classic epics and poetry, or famous people, such as Holden Caulfield, Harry Potter or Nancy. Drew.

See more: 15 wedding table decorations and centerpieces to spruce up your reception venue

LEDs and neon lights

Photo by Mon Soleil

Make your tables futuristic with the use of long LED light bars or fun shaped neon lights. “They offer great flexibility with color stories so couples don’t have to commit to one color tone for the duration of a party,” Haskins says. “Instead, shake things up by setting the bars to alternate colors, roll in a shadow effect across a room, vibrate with music, or ‘dance’. “Talk about a galactic experience!