Depending on your wedding theme, any/all of the previous suggestions are terrific. If you're having a beach theme, I also suggest a little plastic or tin bucket of sand, accented with seashells, a flower or two, ribbon, seagrass, and/or candle.
There's nothing at all wrong with just having a long, wide ribbon running lengthwise down the table, and putting a long row of tea lights on the ribbon. Perhaps tie another ribbon around each tea light, no taller/wider than the tea light's height of course, to dress them up. It won't cost much at all. If the tables are round, so much the better. Do a 'star' by running two or more ribbons across the table in an X or * shape, then one tea light in the middle.
One simple candle (taper, tea light, hurricane, or whatever) centered on a plain round mirror tile or colorful doily, maybe with a ribbon or flower -- or, hey, use a napkin holder to surround the candle! -- is simple, elegant, and inexpensive.
For a "fun" and also sentimental wedding, try placing on each table a childhood toy that you loved, as a symbol of the childhood you're now growing beyond and putting aside as a treasure of the past.
You'll probably have wedding photos made before the actual wedding, or if not, you probably have at least a couple pictures of bride and groom together. Frame them with frames from a thrift/dollar store and use that as a centerpiece.
Buy or make artisan bread (I'll post a recipe if you want a totally stupid-easy one!). Place it on a cutting board or pretty plate (again, thrift stores are great for this) or doily. Next to it, place a (thrift store) glass of wine or grape juice. Let it serve as a symbol of celebration, consecration, and the sustenance you will provide for one another throughout your new life together.
If the two of you intend to have children soon, and are fairly certain there won't be any painful fertility issues to deal with, put a little baby item on each table: a bootie here, a sock there, a bonnet, a rattle. Alternately, see if your families kept any such mementos from your own childhoods. (Possibly combine this with the 'toy' idea above?)
If either of you collect small objects, such as shot glasses, spoons, or figurines, make those your centerpieces. Just be sure you also put a little card that says "From the collection lovingly maintained by <name>. Please do not remove from the table." Otherwise you might find that a souvenir-hunter may make off with a piece, honestly not realizing that it's not a giveaway favor.
If the bride and groom both engage in jobs that have specific small, fairly inexpensive objects associated with them, put one of each on the table. A doctor might put out a tongue depressor or a hypodermic syringe (minus the needle, of course); an artist might set out an old paintbrush.
Speaking of art, if you or any member of the family are an artist, have them draw or paint something small but pretty, stand it up on a card, and put a single candle nearby.
Playing cards, dice, and a couple of plastic poker chips: "I'm betting everything on you!" would be the message there. Don't do this if anyone prominent in the family or wedding party has an aversion to gambling, or a gambling problem, though.
Thrift store coffee mugs filled with dried, silk, or wild flowers. Or candies. Or coffee beans and tea lights. Or birdseed (for throwing later!) and lollipops (for eating later). Or fish tank gravel (pretty colors only, of course) and a taper candle.
For a fall or winter wedding, tie together a couple of cinnamon sticks and a candy cane or sprig of fall leaves, a pine cone or some snipped greenery. Use a ribbon that matches your theme. For a spring wedding, use seasonal wildflowers -- they're free, growing beautifully in ditches along the side of the road.
Here's a pic with flowers in metal windowboxes, but it gives you the idea of the drywall mud pan with flowers. I think the mud pans are much nicer!
Here we go, this is what I was looking for; a "drywall mud pan". Find them at any hardware stone - this one is from Home Depot. They are about 12-13" long and under 12USD. Fill 'em with what ever you want and they are nice and shiny, or you can get them in black, or buy the even cheaper plastic ones and spray paint them any colour you want. Fill with flowers and glasses and candles and voila! I saw this on a tv show when they decorated a house for christmas...it looked amazingly high end! Sorry I can't find an actual finished pic. :(
OMG just found this too! USE JELLO! I'm serious, from Rachel Ray:
"We've seen it jiggle for decades finally, Jell-O gets to play a bigger role at the dinner table. Evette Rios, one of Rach's go-to design gurus, elevates the translucent dessert to art with this nifty trick: Combine six boxes of Jell-O powder with half the amount of water specified, chill the mix in a glass vase for half an hour, then just push flowers into the semi-firm gelatin. Design your own in any color!"
Just saw this: you could also have some really neat vintage containers/bowls and fill them with black and white photos of the couple/family/friends...guest would love to look through them as they sit at the tables! Don't forget to write on the back what's/who's in the photo!
We did colored sand in tall vases with floating candles. Then decorated the outside to match her "theme" which was beach based. Just make sure that when you fill the vases with water, you put ICE in there first to let it saturate the first couple layers of sand. Some colored sand will float and make bubbles. It was pretty cheap and fun. For the large quanity of white sand we just used white play ground sand and washed it in a cooler or swimming pool, let it drain and let the sun dry it for you. I have many ideas if you need them. I did all of her flowers and all of her centerpieces, along with her invitations as well. We had two different centerpieces so everything didnt look so the same. I will post another one of the other one as well.
A pic of a tin bucket that someone mentioned earlier. Look in the paint section in a hardware store. You can also find aluminum/tin long drywall compound troughs (I forget what they are called?) for longer arrangements...I'll try to find another pic...you could put flowers/stones/candles/fruit etc in them.
This person used drinking glasses, candles and plumeras for ~25 USD a centerpiece. She had the flowers flown in, so you could really save costs by using a bag of petals from a flowerstore, and making your own candles, or using water and floating tea lights in the glasses? i just thought it was a great idea using the drinking glasses. MUCH cheaper!
Along the same lines as an earlier post about thriftstore glassware, this person did the same thing but also bought soy candle wax and wicks (you can pick up your own wax and wicks at any craft store) and made her own candles. I thought this would look great with some petals tossed around the bases. I've added a pic for a visual. Hope things are going well!
I was in a wedding this summer where the bride used coffee beans. She bought cheap plastic bowls, poured about a cup of coffee beans into it, then put a white votive candle on top. She then sprinkled rose petals around the bowls on each table. It was simple, very elegant, and looked great.
She bought the beans wholesale online for really cheap and the bowls and candles were from the dollar store.
If you go to home improvement stores they have 12 inch square mirrorred tiles. They usually come 6 to 10 in a pack and they are great to set your centerpieces on (plus you can tile a wall with them later!). Then get the rose bowls (we found them for $.25 each). Go to the local dollar store and buy the colored marbles in the craft section and your floating candles (ours sell them 3 in a pack for $1). You can then add a tulle circle under the rose bowl on top of the mirror and add goldfish to the bowl if you like. Feeder fish are usually 10 for a dollar and kids will take them home or you find a friend who wants them and they will take them after the wedding. Just a thought. Hope you find something you like!
Have you thought about hiring the things you need? Or you could buy them off eBay and then sell them on after the wedding - with both options you'll reduce your costs significantly!
We hired vases for £1 and then used a lovely large peony head with some bear grass. It looked great - although it did take 2 days for the heads to open, so think about your timing. Luckily for me my MIL was lovely and had thought of this in advance!
Have you ever heard of the Christmas Tree shops? They have some in PA (Downington, Harrisburg, Moosic, York). Not sure how far you are from these cities but we bought the floating candle items for my daughter's wedding at one of these shops in MA and it only cost $10 a table....go on line to www.christmastreeshops.com and you can get the address for these stores...you will find so much there that will help keep the cost down for the wedding, showers, etc.
I did my sisters revow for their 30th wedding anniversary. About 3 months before, her husband walked into INTUIT and after 15 years, had his desk packed and was fired.
Needless to say, she was devistated. I told her we could do it. This is how...
I found some wrapping paper that was easter colors (her wedding was in May, so that was perfect). They were 1" circles in pastels that had bells on them, and so I would sit and watch tv cutting all 180 out. Those we scattered on the table tops. Each center piece was a circle of lace on top of a round mirror, which we placed a plastic brandy snifter with colored water in it and floating candle. Yes, you can get them 10 for 1.00 in many scents and colors at the DT, and simply take them out of the tin. If you are afraid of them sinking, simply pour enough salad oil on the top to "seal" the surface of the water, then place them in.
Total cost per table, about .75
I placed an unopened tuna can with a cut in half styrofoam ball on top, coverd both with lace. Then I made a small hole in the lace and took the clear plastic end of a small seam ripper and shoved it in at an angle. I glued some pretty feathers I got from the DT onto the pen, and wrapped it in lace that I glued on the bottom so no one would see.
Total cost, about 1.25
The guest book was from a thrift shop, and we found it new and unopened for 1.00
I customized it a bit with original wedding photos of each of them, and glued the photos to the front, going over the edges with glitter glue.
Total cost, about 1.25
Unity candles are very expensive. I got some at the local thrift shop. I copied a poem from the internet in a soft pastel paper, then glued it to the candle. Then, I wrapped tule around the poem and tied it in the back. Around the poem, I spot glued pastel paint. I then put each of the tapers that went with it in a stand, and tied pastel ribbons around them so everything matched.
Total cost about 4.00
I made them a photo album from plastic canvas, which I simply sewed to the plain photo album I found at Goodwill.
Total cost, about 3.00
We made a memory table, which had old photos, memories, and such. I scrunched up a huge lace table cloth that the church had donated, putting things from largest in the back to smallest in the front.
Total cost was nothing.
Her church had no "isle" so it was a challenge to figure out how to get her to the alter. I went to the DT and found little lunch bag sized bags, that were in pastel colors for the upcoming Easter (purchased in Feb). Then, I got some of the same colors of tissue paper. I placed a can of tuna in the bottom of each, then made some tissue paper that came out of the bag, but an alternate color to the bag. I then made an "isle" that she could walk down.
Total cost about 3.00
Cake and I don't get along, so I let someone else donate that from her church. I made the bride and groom from teddies, with hand made bridal atire.
Total cost about 4.00
The flower girls needed everything. I made them simple skirts that matched, just basically a back seam, hem and wasteband. I made their hair pieces out of ribbon and hair combs. Their baskets were three cardboard hearts that I covered in lace and satin (thrift store purchases) that were three sided. I simply decorated the two that everyone would see, then did the back one with just fabric. Ribbons for handles and DT flowers that were "unpetled" and there you have it.
The Matron of Honor got her dress for 10.00 and I embellished it. I made her flowers, my sisters flowers, all their veil and headpieces.
The minister and my Brother in Law got one of my hand crocheted rosebud buttoniers (spelling??).
My sister found he dream dress at Goodwill for 50.00 but it was defective and the bodice was too big at the "bodice" part. It fit her everywhere else and by golly, I was not to be deterred now!!
I started at one side of the neckline with a needle and dental floss, secured the knot, and gathered the material with pearl beads in between. At the other end, I drew it up and secure it, and she fit in it perfect.
There were a couple little spots on the skirt, so I hot glued some half gems with a sparkle that was pearlescent. By doing that all over, no one knew what was random and what was a secret.
She wanted her original veil, but it was 30 years old. So, I gently took off the tule, covered the headband with a pastel fabric and new tule.
Total cost of wedding party attire, about 125.00
It was a major success and a joy to come up with just how cheaply we brought it all in.
I also cooked all the food, keeping it simple. To keep the pastel theme, we served easter plastic cups with parfaits and little puffs of canned whipped topping on top.
I made finger sandwiches of tuna, chicken salad and more. There was veggies and dip, cheese and crackers, pasta salad, and cold lemon pepper chicken. Nothing that splatters, stains or slops.
To say the least, I brought the wedding in for under 400.00 and we had about 100 people come.
I don't have photos of most of what I made, not having a digital back then and moving too much. But one survived and it's the flower girl baskets.
My best advice is to delegate. You no doubt have wonderful friends out there who know how to do things on the cheap. Have a brainstorming luncheon and get ideas.
I hope I have helped!!
Poor But Proud
I lucked out and my local "Everythings a $1" type store had cylinder vases and candle rings in the color I wanted. So I bought about 20 vases and candle rings and used them as centerpieces. For the floating candles I found them on clearance in lawn and garden stores in the fall. Our reception hall was large enough to put two rows of seating down the sides. Each setting was two 8' tables butted together. I would place a cylinder on the center of each table and put smaller candles at each end. To decorate the smaller candles I had some cheap ivy garland that I cut to fit around the base.
Another idea I have seen that looks very nifty is to punch or drill holes in large tin cans and then paint them to match your colors. Paint the inside with a light color to add to the ambience. You can use smaller cans on the table to accent the centerpiece. You can put ivy around them or do whatever to jazz them up. Once the reception hall is dark the candlelight shows through the holes. In the can the candle color makes no difference so you can use whatever you come by cheap.
Hope this helps.
I don't know if you know this or not but tea lights float. You don't need to buy fancy floating candles. You can also get 10 hour votive candles. My daughter used these at her wedding. They last all night.
Ask at your local florists to see about things they might be discontinuing...also (we did this for my daughters wedding and reception) watch for florists and/or craft stores having auctions or going out of business sales. We went to a Floral Shop Auction and got everything we needed for the church and the reception and spent about $125...that was flowers, bows, etc. etc. etc. (And it was fun too!)
I agree with going to the thrift store. Yard sales is another place to look. Do you want the centerpieces to all match? It wouldn't hurt to have them different. I saw some centerpieces once that was just a glass bowl that looked like a fish bowl, the kind people put potpourri in. They had put colored tissue wrapping paper in the colors they were using. It looked very nice! Also, In June, you would be able to use some bedding plants like impatiens, begonias, any kind of blooming plants to put in some kind of cute planter. You can find all kind of things at thrift stores and yard sales to use for planters such as bowls, coffee cups, pitchers.
I'm getting married next March with approximately 300 guests, so I understand your dilemma! We decided to do a small cake (about 6 or 8 inches) for each table as the centerpiece. Then for "our cake" we just got a small two tiered cake for the cake cutting. This way we took care of the cake and the centerpieces in one shot.
If you really like the floating candle idea, try using a grouping of interesting glassware to float your candles in. You can pick up glassware in a variety of heights and shapes at fleamarkets, yard sales, etc. Place a group of three together on a mirror tile and float the candles in the glasses. Or just place votives in each glass. You can add silk flowers or confetti at the base of the glasses on the tile, The mirror makes whatever you do look twice as big and sparkly.
Perhaps you could make something out of rosebowls. Usually you can find those for 25 cents at yard sales. And if you start now, you can likely find enough. You could also mix and match the glassware if you can't find enough of one thing.
We use these at our graduation ceremony at our school. We put a votive in each one, and "float" the votive in that jellylike crystal stuff you can get at the florist. I don't know what it is called, but it comes as crystals, and you add water, and it poofs up.
Go to a craft store and see what they have that goes along with your colors and theme, and make your centerpieces. My daughter just got married last month and we made hers, they were really cute and we received many compliments.
I used potted plants for mine - I found some cute tin buckets for $1 each, and bought some potted mums for $3 each. I then cut squares of tulle and put those in the buckets, and placed the potted plants in those. It was really cute, and was around $5 per centerpiece.
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