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DIY Wedding Centerpieces: Channel Your Inner Martha Stewart
Do-it-yourself wedding projects are more popular than ever these days. Whether the bride is trying to work within a tight budget or simply wants to put her personal stamp on her reception, many are opting to craft their own wedding centerpieces. Not all DIY centerpieces are created equal, however. Here is how to create easy but professional-looking DIY centerpieces for your wedding.
Where to Start
The best place to begin when designing your own centerpieces is by looking at the latest trends. There are many terrific resources, from Martha Stewart Weddings to the Knot to Brides.com. You may also wish to consult with a local wedding magazine to get a sense of what centerpieces are currently in style in your area. Not only will you get fantastic ideas that you can use when choosing your flowers, arrangements, and vases, but keeping up with current trends will ensure that your centerpieces feel fresh and contemporary. That, in turn, will help to make your reception decorations look like they were created by a talented professional rather than assembled by an amateur.
Follow Current Trends in Centerpieces
Centerpieces with a lot of variety are much more popular these days than a sea of the exact same flowers in the exact same vase. That actually makes it much easier for the DIY bride. You don't have to worry about whether or not you can get a dozen floral arrangements to come out looking identical, which can be tricky for a novice. This new approach to table décor also allows each bride to express more of her own personal taste, which is always a plus.
Some popular wedding trends worth considering when you design your DIY centerpieces are alternating high and low floral arrangements on each table, groups of small vessels instead of one elaborate floral display, and non-floral centerpieces with unique charm.
Resources For Inexpensive Fresh Flowers
If you plan to make your own centerpieces, one thing you will need to figure out is where to source the materials you need. Brides who live in or near a major city have an extraordinary resource available: the wholesale flower market. Many large metropolitan regions have massive flower marts, which are open to the public at certain times. Some may charge a small admission fee (such as $2 for entry to the L.A. Flower District), but it is minimal compared to how much money you can save on cut flowers. Be sure to find out in advance the hours that the flower mart is open to the general public, as most will have certain trade-only hours.
Where to Buy Flowers Online
For brides who do not have access to a wholesale flower market, the Internet can be an excellent place to shop for bargain prices on bulk flower orders. Numerous companies offer near-wholesale pricing to individuals. The best online floral wholesalers ship the blossoms on ice directly from the farm where they were grown, so they arrive in beautiful condition. The one caveat is that you may have to buy large quantities of each type of desired bloom, meaning that it might be hard to design centerpieces featuring a lot of different varieties of flowers.
At TheFlowerExchange.com, for instance, a popular blossom like the Black Magic rose comes in a box of 100 blooms minimum. Realistically, though, limiting yourself to working with only a few varieties is often advisable for the DIY bride anyway, so this is not necessarily a bad thing.
Brides have other options for sourcing wedding flowers at low prices. Costco is a popular place for DIY brides to get their flowers. They offer some packages that are halfway between working with a florist and doing everything yourself. For example, one can order a package that includes red roses (de-thorned), baby's breath, lily grass, and florist tape. To achieve a modern-looking centerpiece, however, omit the baby's breath! Many brides may not be aware that large supermarkets can also handle bulk special orders for wedding blooms.
The prices may not be as low as at wholesale flower marts but will certainly be lower than ordering cut flowers from a traditional florist. Unlike when ordering flowers over the Internet, you will likely be responsible for picking up and transporting your own supermarket flowers, so be sure to arrange to have a large enough vehicle on hand a few days before your wedding.
Choose Hardy Flowers for Your DIY Centerpieces
Keep your own experience level in mind when selecting flowers for DIY centerpieces. It is best to stick with blooms that are hardy and relatively easy to work with. Roses are a perennial favorite, but you might wish to avoid more fragile blossoms, like sweet peas. Hydrangeas are popular with brides because their huge heads mean that very few stems are needed to create a full look.
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Some popular wedding flowers like stephanotis are best avoided by the novice, as one has to create a stem and pin them into the arrangements. Lilies can be a good choice when crafting your own centerpieces, as they are slow to wilt, and their showy blooms will quickly fill out an arrangement.
Tip: When working with lilies, always be sure to carefully remove the orange pollen sacs from the stamen in the center of the flowers; nothing stains worse than orange lily pollen!
How to Prep and Arrange Centerpiece Blossoms
Plan on buying the flowers for your centerpieces about two to three days before your wedding to allow time to make the arrangements. If ordering online, schedule a delivery date within that same time frame. Avoid the temptation to purchase flowers in full bloom, as they will be past their prime by the time the wedding day rolls around.
Cut flowers should be kept in water continuously, in as cold a room as possible. Experts advise against storing blossoms in your home refrigerator, however, as the gases emitted by some fruits and vegetables can cause them to spoil (besides, who wants centerpieces that smell like last week's leftovers?).
When you are ready to begin arranging the flowers, the first step is to give each stem a fresh cut under running water. Remove any leaves that would end up underwater in the vase. If using roses, carefully strip away the thorns while wearing gloves.
How to Open Blossoms
One thing that will really make it look as though you hired a top florist to do your centerpieces is to hand-open each blossom. This is a technique that is particularly useful for roses. First, gently strip away the outer layer of petals, especially any which may have brown edges. Next, carefully pull each petal outward to create a full, lush garden rose effect. Opening the roses does not damage them and will not shorten the life of the blossom, and it is amazing how spectacular the effect is.
Tools and Supplies
Once you have your flowers, you will want to assemble the tools you will need to arrange your centerpieces. Of course, you will need vases or some other type of vessel in which to place the blossoms. Many designs also call for wet florists' foam, shears, a knife, and possibly green florists' tape. If using a flower such as Gerbera daisies which are known to droop, you may also need clear tubes to keep their stems straight. Conceal the tubes by “planting” the Gerberas in a bed of wheatgrass (easily grown by the DIY bride) or by placing them in an opaque vase.
Many centerpieces also involve filler around a core of florists' foam, which both conceals the green foam and adds a unique detail to the design. For instance, a square clear glass vessel could be lined with cut limes to add a splash of color to an arrangement of white roses or create a Zen effect with smooth river rocks lining a vase with a single exotic orchid growing tall. If you leave the stems long and omit the foam, consider adding pearls or crystals to the bottom of the vases to anchor the stems and add interest.
Make a Statement With Unique Centerpiece Vessels
The vessels you select will be almost as important as the flowers themselves in terms of style. To give your centerpieces a chic professional flair, avoid at all costs those basic clear glass vases that cheap floral arrangements come in. They will kill the style of your centerpieces, no matter how lovely the flowers may be. Besides, there are so many vessels with personality; why use something so generic?
That is not to say clear glass vessels cannot be stylish; by selecting an interesting form, such as a square, cylinder, or footed vase, you will give your DIY centerpieces an instant style upgrade. A very trendy look right now is to combine three similar vessels of varying heights to make an interesting grouping on each reception table. Although a trio of centerpieces might sound like a lot of extra work when you are making each one yourself, keep in mind that arranging three smaller bouquets can, in fact, be easier than trying to arrange one grand centerpiece.
Far and away, one of the best things about making your own centerpieces is the chance to do something out of the ordinary. By all means, explore non-traditional vessels to display your wedding flowers; low wooden boxes, baskets, and garden urns are just a few of the possibilities. If you are a collector, let your passion guide you towards an eclectic assortment of vessels to display your wedding flowers.
Scour flea markets, yard sales, and thrift shops for such treasures as vintage teacups, mix-and-match milk glass vases, or even vintage silver vases and urns (with the patina intact). As long as the vessels have a unifying material, they need not be identical. In fact, it is even better if they do not match.
Say It With Candles
In addition to flowers, consider adding other elements, such as candles, to your DIY centerpieces. Brides who are unsure of their floral arranging abilities might prefer to design elegant table displays based primarily on candles, with just a few flowers for color.
Vary Candle Heights
What really makes a candle-based centerpiece look like something created by a designer is to use the candles in masses. A few lonely votives on a mirror in the middle of a huge round table for ten people just is not going to have the desired impact. A great way to give your candles a strong presence is to amass a collection of holders of varying heights.
Tall candle holders on long stems are particularly elegant. Taper candles can be used to create classic table decorations. Wrap myrtle (less expected than ivy) around the base of the candle holders and fill them with dripless tapers. Low single blossom vases such as silver mint julep cups with one very open rose can be combined with tall candles for color.
Floating candle and flower combinations are a very simple DIY project with a high fashion style. Take the tall clear vessel of your choice and fill it with distilled water (tap water can form bubbles). The trick is to invisibly anchor the stems of your submerged blossom to the bottom of the vase. This can be done by planting the stems in a layer of decorative pebbles, trying tiny fishing weights on the stems, or using a dab of aquarium glue to hold the stem in place.
The beauty of the submerged flower centerpiece is that it allows you to use statement-making exotic flowers like orchids, but in very small quantities to keep costs down. Add a single floating candle on top, and you will have a spectacular DIY centerpiece with a designer look.
Natural Non-Floral Elements Add Style
When making your own wedding centerpieces, you may wish to include natural non-floral elements. Moss, for example, is very easy to work with (simply layer it over florists' foam) and looks fresh and contemporary; tall branches can be used to create dramatic centerpieces perfect for grand spaces with high ceilings; hang tiny lanterns with tea lights on them for a very special detail.
Sometimes natural elements look best in their original state, but items like pinecones, branches, and pears also look very elegant when spray painted in antique gold color. A pile of golden pears in a footed compote with a satin bow would be simple yet utterly exquisite.
For a beach wedding, faux coral, seashells, and starfish would be the perfect elements to use in handmade centerpieces. Simply fill the base of a glass hurricane lantern with them, set a tall ivory pillar candle inside, and you will have a gorgeous wind-proof centerpiece for a beach wedding.
DIY Centerpieces: A Labor Of Love
Undoubtedly the best part of DIY centerpieces is the fact that they will be your own unique creations. You can express your personal style, show off your quirky side, and save money while doing it. Creating your own wedding decorations is also very much a labor of love.
When your guests admire the beautifully decorated tables at your wedding reception, just think about how proud you will feel when you are able to say that you made those lovely centerpieces yourself. Handcrafted centerpieces will bring a layer of meaning and charm to your wedding that you cannot buy from a florist at any price.
Deborah Minter from U.S, California on March 21, 2018:
Beautiful centerpeices, I have always been partial to floating candles.
Christy Maria on January 09, 2015:
Great article and beautiful ideas. I might do one of these just as a decoration for my apartment! Great job.
Ana Maria Orantes from Miami Florida on August 14, 2014:
I like the wedding arrangements. They are beautiful. I am going to keep in mind the candle inside the glass container with the orchids. Except that I would like to have red . Once. I looked at red orchids . I believe someone paited red. Red represents love. White, it will be my second choice to clean the air from bad energy, but I like the purple. It is s beautiful color. Thank you for your thoughtful hub.
My Decorative from Mumbai, Maharashtra, India on August 13, 2013:
The first smell that you inhale when you enter a home says lot about its inhabitants. Home must feel fresh, clean and have aroma such that people feel welcomed when they enter the home.
Make Rose Potpourri at Home - http://mydecorative.com/?p=3254
kate on December 03, 2012:
does anyone know how far in advance you can construct the flowers submerged in water ? nite before, morning of?
Eileen Goodall from Buckinghamshire, England on April 19, 2012:
I just love these - especially the last one I think I'd like these for a Summer garden party too.
MissFrost from 50% Island Girl, 25% East Coast Girl, 25% Country Girl on December 15, 2011:
Great article! Thanks for all of the fun pictures. I used hypericum berries aka "snowberries" for my bridesmaid’s bouquets. They were a HUGE hit and I didn’t have to worry about them wilting.
Shandria Ball from Anniston on December 10, 2011:
The Best Man on September 16, 2010:
Ideas like these will be great in making your wedding unique, I particularly like the idea of using thrift shops to find gems like vintage tea cups.
Scott Beresford on September 06, 2010:
Hi. My compliments on this article!!My company specializes in battery powered fountain pumps designed to be used in DIY water fountain centerpieces.