The Dos and Don’ts of Centerpieces

People often overlook the power of event decor—we don’t get it at all! Creating a drop-dead-gorgeous space with ambiance to spare can contribute to the overall feeling of joy and happiness at a reception. It’s definitely one of the things most people will remember when recalling a wedding!

Especially in the case of luxury event planning, you’ll want to spend time on decor. Don’t approach this task all willy-nilly, though. Every choice must make sense in the grand scheme of things. The individual dangling paper lanterns, tea lights, and bundles of baby’s breath decorating the venue’s perimeter are all fine and dandy. But when gathered in abundance with a pop-of-color from some romantic roses, the centerpiece gives purpose to the rest of the decor. Centerpieces can really pull it all together. So let’s make sure you design the best centerpieces ever!

Read on for our list of dos and don’ts!

DO: Mix Tall and Low Centerpieces

centerpiece of wedding decor

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 make the room more elegant and the ceiling appears higher. Just be careful to use them appropriately—you don’t want to block your guests’ line of sight! To combat this, put tall centerpieces on tables with less traffic such as a gift or buffet table. Conversely, short centerpieces are great for accommodating conversation among guests. As a general guideline, you’ll want to keep your tall pieces at 24” or higher and your short pieces at 12” or under.

Some clients are hesitant about using tall centerpieces. If your client decides to nix the talls, you’ll need to adjust your decor accordingly. You don’t want the space to feel lackluster! Instead, you could switch to hanging some of the decor. Think chandeliers, draped linens or maybe even twinkle lights!

DON’T: Forget About the Shape of the Table

Knowing that the shape of a table is everything is what separates you from the amateurs! You may have remembered learning all about the pros-and-cons of different table shapes in your event and wedding planning courses. If you don’t, well, you may want to pay extra close attention to what we’re about to say!

table shape for wedding table decor centerpieces

When designing centerpieces, 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 fill in this space and keep the center of the table from looking sparse.
  • Rectangular: A single centerpiece on a rectangular table can look quite lonely. Aim for multiple centerpieces (ie. larger middle centerpiece with smaller arrangements on each end). Keep them narrow to avoid crowding the table. You need to leave space for place settings!

DO: Save Money by Using Seasonal Flowers

Using local, seasonal flowers in your centerpieces is easy on the budget. You won’t be subjected to tacked-on costs from shipping and duty fees. And your blooms will be much fresher, too! To keep your event decor looking 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: Since summer provides the best conditions for most flowers, you can expect to find seasonal flowers 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 pumpkins, pinecones, acorns and even apples into the centerpieces to carry through the autumn theme!
  • Winter: Obviously, winter is a more challenging season for flowers. You can choose winter staples like poinsettias and holly for Christmas events. And if your event is close to Valentine’s day, capitalize on the ramp-up of floral inventory at your local flower shop. Just remember that flowers like roses, cosmos, and amaryllis may be expensive around this time due to high demand.

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!

bird cage event decor flowers

Use centerpieces to tap into your creativity as an event decorator. Ensure that you give the theme of the event ample consideration. If it’s a Halloween-themed wedding, Jack-o’-lanterns could help you kill two birds with one stone. Your clients may want to have their wedding party carve a pumpkin for each table ahead of time, giving everyone a chance to get involved. And when the reception runs into the night, tea lights inside the pumpkins give the space a warm, cozy glow!

There are endless possibilities for customization so don’t restrict yourself to standard fare! Choosing to use flowers is pretty standard practice. So how can you make the decor feel unique? Why not switch things up by using a creative vase? 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! The classic material for a vase is glass, but you could opt for ceramic, mosaic, metal, wood or stone. You could even use Mason jars or watering cans if you’re planning an event for the offbeat bride!

We just included an entire section dedicated to using flowers, but you don’t have to use them at all when 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

simple centerpieces featuring fruit for take home

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. You can make an announcement at some point during the event or mention the specific nursing home in question on the program. If the home or hospital has a special connection to the couple or their families, it can be a very sweet moment for all attendees.

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. There will not be enough centerpieces for each guest, couple or family.

These are just a few helpful dos and don’ts to keep in mind when creating 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!

Check out QC’s online event decor course and boost your career prospects!

11 responses to “The Dos and Don’ts of Centerpieces”

    Lauren Woodley says:

    I am throwing a dinner party in a couple of months, and I have been trying to figure out what I am going to do for the table centerpieces. That being said, I loved the first tip you give to mix tall and low centerpieces to create a vibrant and full aesthetic to the table. Additionally, I think that this is a great way to, as you suggest, let your creativity flow because you are able to mix and match many different heights and styles. Overall, this makes your tables more unique and interesting. Thank you for sharing!

    Ebony Jefffers says:

    Yes this article was very helpful in getting my thoughts in order concerning my centerpieces. Great leading advice

    Trena Jones says:

    I created centerpieces for a County Gala a couple months ago. The way the winners of the centerpieces was determined was by placing stickers beneath a chair at each table before the event started! At the end of the event, the guests were asked to check their chairs. The winners were pleasantly surprised!

    Carolyn Green says:

    I decorate for a lot of events lately, and I buy glassware that is difficult to find for small budgets. Who owns the glassware, silk flowers etc…most times I’m spending the full budget on supplies.

    martha plain says:

    I love your article, full of useful information. I would like to know is; do I need the same style centerpiece for the place card table as well as the dinner table? Can I do something different with the same theme.

    Thank you,


    Gillian Hogerland says:

    Hi Martha!
    All types of décor really have to do with personal taste. You can absolutely have a different style centerpiece for the card table. Some people even choose to have a different style centerpiece for each individual dinner table at an event! The best thing to do is consult with your client to make sure that they are happy with your choices, but there is no specific rule saying you must have matching centerpieces.

    Have a nice day!

    Kitty says:

    I made pretty centerpieces for an event recently (they were plants and fresh flowers in a pumpkin). They were a little high but not too bad. Some people at a couple of tables took them off and put them on another table not being used or empty chair. I thought it was rude especially since i took the time to make them. Your thoughts, should guests removed a centerpiece off the table?

    Ondria Gadd says:

    Maybe something in the arrangement was bothering them like a certain smell or something to do with an allergy. I wouldnt take such things personally. Always assume best intentions!

    Ron Booker says:

    I liked your advice about placing seasonal flowers and using them appropriately because it will even help make the ceiling look taller. My mom wants to make a centerpiece for each season, and she is looking for some ideas. I will pass her the advice so she can pick some flowers while I find her some lanterns to place in the centerpiece.

    Sharon says:

    This article was very helpful but im using 6ft rectangle tables for my sister’s event and im trying to see what size mirrors should I get for the centerpiece and also should I use square or round mirrors.

    Sloane Seguin says:

    Hi Sharon,

    Thanks so much for taking the time to read this article and leave a comment. We apologize for the delayed response, and we’re curious – did you wind up deciding on the type of mirrors to use for your sister’s event? If so, we’d love to know what you wound up going with! 🙂

    All the best,
    The QC Team

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