So many details to consider when planning decor, and so many rules!


Thankfully, when it comes to the table centerpieces, the goals can be broken down to a few main steps:

Floral arrangement below by Four Season Flowers

Four Seasons flower photography at San Diego wedding venue
Photographer: Wilbur Studios


Be Imaginative!

First and foremost is to have fun with your ideas for these centerpieces. Your guests are going to be sitting in front of these most of the night, so make sure they’re memorable. Otherwise, why bother with the effort? The picture below came from a wedding venue where the Bride chose to make the centerpieces herself and the bay-side location inspired her to set up this simple and affordable beachy display.

First, she collected the (FREE) sand, shells, and stones from her local beaches over the months she was wedding planning. Then she snagged the vases, gold leaf, and extra large gold metal rings from a craft shop. She hand painted each vase meant for the candles, each shell with the gold leaf, and used the gold rings as guides for the last step: floral accents. Sticking some adorable succulents into the sand-filled vases was a piece of cake and the eucalyptus just needed a little wire to adhere it to the rings for that perfect circle. Put it all together and she got an easy-breezy centerpiece! It was simple, affordable, and memorably unique.

Table decoration photography at San Diego event venuePhotographer: Aldous Photo


Don’t be afraid to reach outside of the flower shop. Almost anything can be used in a centerpiece whether its candles, vases, garland, flowers, lanterns or even food! Trust us, artichokes and heads of lettuce can be beautiful if paired with the right table decor.

Below, the florist used different shaped vases of varying heights to hold all the eye-catching flowers not commonly seen in the wedding world. No two flowers looked exactly alike but collaboratively they harmonized because nothing seemed unbalanced or out of place!

Studio-Carre-Photographie at San Diego event venue
Photographer: Studio Carre Photographie

Multiple Uses

Plan on moving those statement pieces!

Events rarely keep the guests in a single space the entire night. An average wedding will move the party up to four times over the course of the day from ceremony space, to cocktail hour, the dining area, then finally to the dance floor. Using the same arrangements for different places will give you the most bang for your buck, without diminishing their splendor! What decorated the aisle could be used to decorate the sweetheart table. Those Bridesmaids bouquets are now for the dining tables. In the picture below we can see how some centerpieces even double as favors for guests to take home at the end.

Floral arrangement below by Fox Floral Studio

Let's Frolic Together photography at unique San Diego wedding venue
Photographer: Let’s Frolic Together

Seasonal Savings

Plan to use flowers that are in season around the month of your event! This makes it easy on your florist and you’ll surely receive the freshest arrangements guaranteed not to wilt halfway through the night.

Some flowers, like roses and succulents, thrive all year but asking for gardenias in the middle of December might make for a sad display on your table and in your wallet. Some of the best Summer and Spring flowers are:

  • Sweet Peas
  • Cherry/Apple Blossoms
  • Hydrangeas
  • Peonies
  • Daisies
Coordination and Florals by Penny Blooms Weddings and Events
Coordination and Florals by Penny Blooms Weddings and Events

The most popular Winter and Fall flowers:

  • Dahlias
  • Sunflowers
  • Violets
  • Freesia
  • Ivy/Evergreen

The Knot has lists of the top ten flowers for every season for more flower options.

Floral arrangement below by Del Mar Floral & Gifts

Muse Moments Photography | Harbor View Loft
Photographer: Muse Moments Photography


Size Matters

Considering table shape and size while planning your centerpiece is absolutely necessary. It never hurts to test out your plans ahead of time to save you in the long run. Hindsight is 20/20, but not very helpful in the moment.

Some general guidelines are: If your tables are long, the “center” is technically bigger so plan accordingly. The opposite goes for smaller, more intimate tables. So try not to engulf the Bride and Groom behind a tidal-wave of flowers if they’re not at a giant head table to even everything out.

The floral arrangement below by Tiny Victories

Gabriel Conover Photo Tiny Victories floral | Unique San Diego wedding venue
Photographer: Gabriel Conover


Think “Cohesive Ambiance”

The centerpieces should be a continuation of the event’s overall theme and appealing to the eye, but not so over-the-top distracting that it seems like somebody dumped a whole shrubbery on the table. They should tie together the room decor with the table settings. This will smoothly draw attention from the grand statement pieces to small accents. The picture below is of a table that we think blended together effortlessly with its surroundings.

The attention-catchers were the silver metallic accents and peacock green of the napkins so the florist chose to accentuate those with some cool eucalyptus and clouds of white flowers. The abundance of natural light in the room was naturally reflected by the tables and everything seemed to glow!

Floral arrangement below by Tessfresh Flowers

Shelly Anderson Photo | Harbor View Loft
Photographer: Shelly Anderson Photography

Do the “Wilson Test”

We highly encourage varying the heights of your decor pieces. This creates a positive depth and dimension to the table. What we tend to warn our clients against is a centerpiece that impedes line of sight and is too tall for guests to see each other from across the table.

No matter how beautiful, if the guests have to lean around your centerpieces to be part of the conversation, they’ll see it as a joke and remember the inconvenience instead of the artistry. The “Wilson Test” is from the TV show Home Improvement. The next door neighbor character, Wilson Wilson Jr., was only ever seen from the eyes up over the wooden fence separating each backyard. Once you finish setting up your centerpiece, sit down with a friend on the opposite side of your arrangement and see if their whole face is visible. Wilson was great on the show, but maybe not the best at your event.

Rule of thumb is to keep your decorations no higher than about 10″ from the table top. If you’ve got grand designs that reach for the sky, we say try to stay as skinny as possible between 10″-20″ from the table top and make sure to use sturdy tables! Too high and things get wobbly.

Amy Lynn Photo | | Harbor View Loft
Photographer: By Amy Lynn Photography


See Beyond Your Event

What happens to your centerpieces at the end of the night?

Are they going back with the florist? Home with you or the guests? The night doesn’t end for you when the music stops. Consider your transportation options–meaning packing boxes, vehicles, and size constraints before the day of the event! This way you’ll never be stuck at the end of the night, exhausted, past your check-out time, saddled with twelve flower arrangements and an irritated venue manager, with no ride trying to figure out what to do.

Centerpiece below by Love Her Madly Weddings

Mirage and Light Photo at affordable wedding venues in San Diego
Photographer: Mirage and Light Photography


Bottom line… Do what you think looks good.

Keeping our guidelines in mind will hopefully help point you in the right direction, but it all comes down to eyeballing your handiwork and being flexible at the moment of the event. Be willing to play around with your centerpiece ideas and remember to stay true to yourself and your theme!

Thanks to all the amazing photographers and florists mentioned above!

Your work is amazing!


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