When it comes to staying within your spending limit, decorating the wedding reception for your big day doesn’t have to be a daunting prospect. It’s true that the services of a professional florist can cause sticker shock—and the sheer number of wedding tables that need decorating only compounds the costs. But there are plenty of options for budget-friendly centerpieces that are as affordable as they are beautiful.
First, you should decide if taking on a DIY wedding project is realistic. If you’re crafty, have a calm personality, and actually enjoy putting projects together, this might be the route to take. From there, determine how many tables you’ll need to decorate by consulting your guest list manager, and think about your theme and what style of centerpiece would make sense for your big day.
Whatever project you undertake, you don’t need to do it alone. Why not solicit help from your bridesmaids, friends, and/or family members? Better yet, you can turn it into a joyful task by providing food and drinks on arrangement night. Just be sure to assign someone to transport the centerpieces and place them on tables so that you’re not trying to do it yourself on the day of the wedding. After all, you’ll be too busy being a full-time bride!
Even if you end up using the services of a professional, there are ways to reduce your centerpiece costs. Read on for our tips on keeping those costs down—and discover some of our favorite wedding centerpiece ideas on a budget.
1. Flower Power
If you have your heart set on traditional floral arrangements, there are several things you can do so you don’t break the bank. Work with your florist to select wedding flowers that are in season so you’re not paying expensive shipping costs or footing the bill for hothouse blooms.
A great way to reduce costs is to choose a variety of flower that is extremely affordable, and feature it in profusion. A filler like baby’s breath, for example, looks extravagant when there’s a lot of it, and white works perfectly with weddings! Carnations are another inexpensive variety that takes on a lush look when grouped together in abundance monochromatically.
If you love the look of peonies—a lovely but expensive flower with a very short season—ask your florist to suggest a rose that provides a similar look and use it as an accent flower. A professional will be able to give you the effect you want within your price range.
If professional floral centerpieces are out of your reach, consider putting together DIY centerpieces. Many cities have local flower marts where you can buy blooms in bulk at close-to-wholesale prices, and your local dollar store should have glass vases in various sizes.
Bunches of hydrangeas make beautiful floral centerpieces without requiring arranging. Just set in low vases of water, and you’re done. If you do decide to go this route, make sure you scout the flower mart and make practice arrangements in advance. You’ll also want to build a relationship with a supplier so you know you’ll have access to the flowers you’ll need the day before the wedding.
Just ask yourself if you’re prepared for the work involved before committing to doing flowers—or any DIY project—yourself. It can be stressful to tackle flower-arranging the day before your wedding, but it can also create a lovely memory. Invest in gloves to protect your manicure (and the hands of your fellow workers), invite your loved ones over to take part, and have fun with it.
2. Pretty Painted Bottles
What’s a DIY project that nets an elegant look without needing a lot of flowers? Spraying bottles with metallic paint. Rose gold, yellow gold, and silver are all beautiful options, and the look can be achieved quickly and easily.
Consider grouping a variety of bottle shapes and sizes together to achieve interest, and place single stems of your favorite flowers in your wedding colors in each container. Wine bottles are great for larger vessels, while beer and medicine bottles work well for smaller sizes.
If you don’t have a flower mart in your town, not to worry. Grocery store flowers work well and will still be cheaper than going through a professional florist.
3. Tabletop Lanterns
Using lanterns as the tabletop decor is a moderately priced way to make a stylish statement. They’re impactful and take up space, so a few floral accents are all you really need.
Mirrored rounds, or rounds of cardboard covered in fabric or decorative paper, make fashionable bases, and the rustic look of wrought-iron or other metal is definitely on-trend.
Center them with ornamental table numbers made of wine bottles and fill dollar-store vases with affordable blooms for round tables. Or, line them up down the center of rectangular tables. You can look online for bulk purchases, or head to IKEA to check out the stock.
4. Garlands of Greenery
The next best thing to flowers is a fresh cutting of greenery. It’s a colorful and elegant look for reception tables that won’t require containers or water. Ask your florist for affordable suggestions, or you can scout your local flower mart for cuttings of leaves that you love.
Arranging them down the center of your tables is a simple and stylish way to dress up your reception space. Dotting the arrangement with an occasional bloom adds a floral effect, and tea lights or votive candles in glass holders bring a touch of romance to the table.
5. Beautiful Branches
If you love the look of tall arrangements, artfully arranged branches will fit the bill while still being cost-effective. Flowering branches like cherry or apple blossoms are perfect for spring, while fall lends itself to a more rustic look.
You can accent the vases with bunches of hydrangea blooms and even hang candleholders from the spokes. If you’re doing these arrangements yourself, just make sure you do a practice run with containers that are tall and heavy enough to support the weight of the branches. You don’t want to be struggling the night before to keep the vases upright!
6. Potted Plants
If your wedding theme lends itself to a rustic-elegant look, consider wooden planters packed with green plants or succulents for your centerpieces. Plus, this idea is a great way to slash your florist bill.
Garden centers are a perfect place to pick up planters in a variety of materials, as they’ll often have pre-planted arrangements for DIYers. You can offer them to guests to take home as gifts or add them to your yard after the big day.
7. Going Faux
For a dramatic effect, gilded flowers add a touch of glamour to tabletops. You can spray paint plastic or paper flowers to get a metallic look and group them in tall vases or wire them together down the center of tables.
Plan to do the spraying over a couple of days—as you’ll want to be lavish with the flowers—and experiment with different shades of paint to get just the right appearance. A monochromatic look works best for this type of arrangement.
8. Mason Jars
Mason jars have long been utilized as wedding decorations, as they create a sweet, rustic look. When grouped together and lit from within with tea lights or votive candles, they can even take the look of a wedding from rustic to romantic.
You can buy them in bulk online, or by the dozen at craft stores, and wrap them in twine or burlap ribbon. Or, group them together down the center of a table on a burlap runner lined with lace, and fill the occasional jar with flowers. It’s an affordable yet elegant way to incorporate florals.
But, keep in mind that sticking to lighted jars is fine, too. You can even let guests know they’re welcome to take them home as favors, allowing your centerpieces to do double-duty.
9. Cost-Cutting Candles
While candles make lovely accents with just about any centerpiece idea, using them as the main attraction is also a lovely look. Create simple centerpieces by investing in candleholders or renting them from your florist.
A touch of greenery also adds freshness to the tables, but they aren’t required. Candles by themselves offer a clean, elegant look and are far more affordable than floral arrangements.
Plus, they’re easy to arrange. Just be sure to delegate the candle-lighting task to others, before guests arrive.
10. Books Smarts
A lovely vintage look for book lovers is to stack tomes of hardcover classics together and tie them with ribbon. The books themselves can be picked up at second-hand bookstores or thrift shops, or cadged from friends and family.
They don’t have to match or be the same size. In fact, variety creates interest. Plan on five to six books for each round table, and invest in some pretty ribbon from a craft store.