The Do’s and Don’ts of Centerpieces
Have an upcoming event to plan? Don’t forget about the event decor! And if your event includes a reception you’ll want to make room in the budget for centerpieces.
When it comes to receptions, great food and engaging entertainment will be a top priority for your client. However, an event decorator knows the value of finishing touches for the overall ambiance of the event. Just consider all the ways a well-designed centerpiece can contribute to your event space:
- Will be the center of attention at the dinner table—guests have no choice but to spend most of the event gazing into the centerpieces!
- Creates a visual atmosphere that sets the mood for your event
- Ties-together the theme of the event and helps bring it to life
- Acts as icebreakers for guests at events with assigned seating
- Provides an opportunity for individual expression
- Can be souvenirs for guests
- Leaves a lasting impression—good, bad or otherwise!
Although you’ll be coordinating all elements of event decor (linens, place cards, hanging decorations, etc.) the centerpieces will be the primary focus for guests. Why not make them showstoppers? Let’s go over some of the do’s and don’ts to help you design the best centerpieces for your next event!
DO: Mix Tall and Low Centerpieces
There’s nothing worse than walking into a reception space that feels empty or under-decorated. Mixing short and tall centerpieces will help make a space feel vibrant and full.
For tall centerpieces, the added height helps to fill up a room. Just be careful to use them appropriately—you don’t want to block the line of sight for guests. You can put tall centerpieces on tables with less traffic (ie. gift tables, buffet tables) or make sure guests can see through the bottom of the vase. Conversely, short centerpieces are great for accommodating conversation amongst the guests. You’ll just want to make sure the centerpieces are low enough that seated guests can see over the top. As a general guideline, you’ll want to keep your talls 24” or higher and your shorts 12” or under.
Some clients are hesitant about using tall centerpieces. If your client decides to nix the talls you will need to adjust your decor accordingly to ensure the space doesn’t feel lackluster. One way to do this would be by using hanging decor. Think chandeliers, draped linens or maybe even twinkle lights!
DON’T: Forget About the Shape of the Table
When designing centerpieces you need to consider the shape of the tables at the venue. The most common shapes you’ll come across are round, square and rectangular. Each shape will have its own considerations:
- Round: This table suits a single centerpiece. You can definitely use tall centerpieces since the circular shape makes it easier to look around to the other guests.
- Square: Square tables have more space in the center than other shapes. Design a more substantial arrangement to utilize this space and keep the table from looking empty.
- Rectangular: A single centerpiece on a rectangular table will look lonely. Aim for multiple centerpieces (ie. larger middle centerpiece with smaller arrangements on each end). Keep them narrow to avoid crowding the table since you need to leave space for the place settings.
DO: Save Money by Using Seasonal Flowers
Using local, seasonal flowers in your centerpieces is easy on the budget and gives you the freshest blooms! To keep your event decor fresh and fabulous you’ll need to be familiar with the seasons:
- Spring: Use fragrant spring blooms like lilacs, hydrangeas, daffodils, tulips, sweet peas, wisteria and magnolia. Depending on your location, you may also find peonies, lily of the valley and poppies in season.
- Summer: This is the easiest season for seasonal flowers since they are in abundance! You can choose from hydrangeas, irises, gerbera daisies, roses, lilies, freesia, asters, lavender, snapdragon and many more!
- Fall: Popular fall flowers include asters, chrysanthemums, mums, sunflowers, dahlias, marigolds and zinnias. Consider incorporating seasonal decor like pumpkins, pinecones, acorns and even apples!
- Winter: Obviously, winter is a more challenging season for flowers. You can choose winter staples like poinsettias and holly for Christmas events or roses, carnations, cosmos and amaryllis if your event is close to Valentine’s Day.
An alternative to seasonal blooms would be to select flowers that are widely available year-round like carnations, baby’s breath, orchids or lilies. The prices don’t fluctuate seasonally so you won’t be saving money but you’ll be able to find these flowers all year!
DON’T: Limit Your Creativity!
When it comes to centerpieces, the only limit is your own creativity as the event decorator. There are endless possibilities for customization so why restrict yourself to standard fare?
- Vases: The classic material for a vase is glass but you could opt for ceramic, pottery, mosaic, metal, wood or even stone. Your choice of flowers and table shapes will help determine the best vase style for your centerpiece. Styles include column, barrel, orb, stem, rectangular, bottle and more! You could even use a Mason jar, jug, basket or watering cans for a more unique feel.
- Flowers: As the event decorator, you will plan the floral arrangements with your client’s preferences in mind. There are many decisions to be made such as; seasonal or standard blooms? Real or artificial flowers? Fresh or dried? Each decision comes with a range of options for creating exceptional centerpieces.
- Non-Floral Options: You don’t have to stick with flowers when you’re designing centerpieces. Alternatives to flowers include candles, bird cages, lanterns or sand/seashells. Flex that creative muscle!
DO: Plan a Second Home for Your Centerpieces
After spending time and money on your centerpieces you’ll want to ensure they get a second life after the event! One option would be to donate them to a hospital or nursing home. To avoid confusion (ie. guests walking out with the centerpieces you plan to donate) make an announcement at some point during the event.
Another option would be to have the guests take home the centerpieces at the end of the night. You’ll definitely want to plan this out because there will not be enough centerpieces for each guest, couple or family. Some fun ways of organizing this include:
- Draws: Have each interested guest put their name in the draw and announce the winners.
- Penny Under the Plate: Hide a penny (or some other token) under a plate at each table. At some point during the evening, have the host or DJ ask guests to lift their plates to find out who won the centerpiece.
- Pass the Object: Pass an object (ie. spoon) around the table hot-potato style while the music plays. Whoever holds the object when the music stops wins the centerpiece.
- Reward Quick RSVP’ers: Keep track of the guests that RSVP first and identify them by putting a sticker (like a gold star) on their place card. You can then announce that those with gold stars were the first to RSVP at their table and have won the centerpiece.
These are just a few helpful dos and don’ts to keep in mind when planning centerpieces for your next event. Designing centerpieces for any event takes careful planning and creative flair but they are the star of the reception hall so prioritize your efforts accordingly!