Creative centerpieces for any budget

Creative Centerpieces For Any Budget


Creative centerpieces for any budget

A lush and romantic mix by Belle Fiori; photo by m three studio

If dancing is one of the most anticipated parts of a wedding reception, sharing a meal with friends and family is surely the other. And as everyone feasts, the table centerpieces are certain to catch their eye. Here, area wedding pros show you how to make sure your flowers stand out.

While cost must be a consideration, florist Emily Neubauer says couples should never let it discourage them. “Budget is looking at something you’ve seen before in a new way,” she explains. When brides are up front about the amount of money they’ve set aside, the florist can get right to work, planning centerpieces that echo the wedding style to a T, says Neubauer, who owns Belle Fiori in Milwaukee.

“Your guests really notice when you do something unique,” says Samantha Dennis, owner of Styled Accordingly, a Wisconsin event planning and styling firm. To achieve a truly memorable look, florists and event planners and their clients not only focus on the flowers, but the containers they’re in, plus the table linens and place settings.

Wedding pros have plenty of access to cool containers, but if you’re interested in going the DIY route, Dennis says that’s a good place to start. Katie Grogan, owner of Alfa Flower Shop in Wauwatosa, agrees. She recently worked with a couple who painted a wide variety of glass bottles and vases to match their wedding colors. Then, Grogan designed flower arrangements around them.

For dishes and linens that will coordinate with your look, ask your caterer, venue or planner about their rental connections. You can also reach out on your own. Rental companies such as Karl’s Event Services in Oak Creek and A La Crate in Monona are good places to check.

Since Milwaukee-area weddings are far from cookie-cutter, local décor pros explain that the tabletop trends are diverse, too, and one of them is bound to fit your vision. Find out what’s hot now.

Terrarium of orange blooms and moss by Belle Fiori; photo by m three studio

If your wedding is rustic…

With this style, it’s easy to take your cue from nature. The look often features unique, wild-looking blooms that seem to have just been gathered from a nearby meadow or woodland. And sometimes, Grogan says, they actually were. Florists here have access to locally grown, in-season wildflowers, which lend rustic appeal. They also incorporate herbs, moss and berries, as well as foliage, like fiddlehead ferns. “Fillers have a wild look, as well,” Grogan adds.

And don’t forget trees! Birch bark or branches may fit in your theme, or full-size potted trees. On a smaller scale, Grogan and Dennis suggest using a thin slab of wood as the arrangement base or hollow-log containers. Look for driftwood tea-light holders, wooden bowls or napkin rings and stones or sea glass to scatter across the table.

If your wedding is modern…

“The trend that we’ve seen the most is not with flowers, but with containers,” says Greg Johnson, owner of the Greenfield Flower Shop in Milwaukee. Brides have been asking his team to group different-sized glass containers to achieve a clean-lined look, which is further complemented by monochromatic table settings and linens.

Architectural botanicals are the go-to for modern couples. Neubauer suggests masses of hypericum berries, mums, celosia or carnations. Callas, orchids and textured foliage are also good choices, Grogan says.

Spider mums and river rocks by Belle Fiori

If your wedding is global…

Whether your goal is to mimic the Far East, Morocco or the Caribbean, color is key. Go for a serene, Zen-like feel with earth tones, or bring in bold autumnal hues for a Silk Road theme.

Orchids, bamboo and palms will lend an exotic look, Johnson says, who has also turned to citrus to give a tropical flair. Accessorize with plates and napkins in gold, copper and jewel tones, Dennis suggests. Saris are lovely table runners, and Moroccan lanterns make a statement as candleholders.

If your wedding is country-chic…

“Assemble a collection of small things on the tabletop,” says Dennis, who recommends using perfume bottles or bud vases. The flowers inside can be small, too. Think about casual asters, white daisies or open spray roses—“so you can see the little yellow middles,” Neubauer says. Use a crate, pottery vessels, Mason jars or a flowerbox to keep the look cohesive. Cover the tables with burlap or use gingham napkins.

Sweet blossoms from the Greenfield Flower Shop

If your wedding is romantic…

If it’s romantic ambience you seek, opt for round, fluffy flowers, Neubauer says. This is the perfect time to draw upon the season. In the warmer months, hydrangeas, peonies and garden roses rule. In colder seasons, dahlias, stock and ranunculus are popular. Either way, the trick to achieve a glamorous look is to hide the stems, Grogan explains. This gives a lush appearance, no matter the size of the arrangement.

This look doesn’t stop with the blossoms. Dennis recommends decorating with tall candelabra or branches dripping with crystals or tea lights. It’s a great way to designate the head table, she says. In addition, metallic touches will seem right at home, whether you choose mercury-glass vases or gold-plated cutlery, as will luxurious table linens in velvet, damask and other fine fabrics.

If your wedding is quirky…

“Quirky weddings really revolve around the theme,” says Johnson, who once decorated a diner-themed reception with centerpieces sprouting from salt and pepper shakers. Red Solo cups and checked tablecloths would also work well in a setting like this, he says.

Offbeat centerpieces don’t need flowers at all. Grogan has designed centerpieces that featured candy, and Neubauer recently worked with a couple who stacked library books in the center of their tables. She says some blooms just shout “fun,” including gerbera and Billy balls.

Curly willow arrangement by Belle Fiori; photo by m three studio

If your wedding is minimalist…

Some couples opt for a less-is-more approach to décor. If you’re in this camp, consider one fabulous blossom or a monobotanic arrangement (one that features just one type of flower or plant), Neubauer suggests. “Often, minimalist style is in clean, clear glass,” she says. “The container almost disappears.”

Johnson recommends skipping the flowers altogether and creating a display of floating candles. A similar look can be achieved with pillar candles, as long as the venue allows open flame. If not, encase them in tall glass cylinders. Or, instead of a single large cake, purchase a small one for each table to double as the centerpiece, Grogan says. Last, allow the location and the people inside to maintain the spotlight by keeping linens and place settings simple.

The ideas are endless—visit your own florist for more. With all this inspiration, you can be sure your centerpieces will be anything but average!

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Ellie Martin Cliffe (104 Posts)

By the end of high school, Ellie Martin Cliffe was completely enamored of journalism, so she chose the most logical college major possible: anthropology. Disappointed by the minimal emphasis on writing and editing, she changed tracks and earned a comm degree from Carroll College. Ellie has since tackled many facets of the field including books, magazines and the Web at places like The Knot and Reader's Digest. She now works full time in book publishing, and is thrilled to get her wedding fix with When she isn’t wielding her (red) pen, Ellie can be found in the garden, at any concert that showcases a fiddle, playing pub trivia or in the kitchen. She and her husband live in Riverwest with their hedgehog, Guinness, and grapefruit tree, Sprout.

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