Tired of Tossing Rice?

Leaving your wedding in a shower of rice is the traditional grand exit. However, many brides are creating other options – something more dramatic, or romantic, or environmentally friendly. Whatever you choose, remember this is your guests’ (and your) last impression of your wedding. Make it amazing!

Bird Seed

Pros: It’s organic and if the birds eat the free meal, no one has to clean up.

Cons: Think how hard it will be to pick little grains out of your hair – not how you imagined spending your wedding night, huh?

Colored Confetti or Paper Streamers

Pros: Pretty and relatively cheap.

Cons: Rather wasteful (unless you recycle) and lots to sweep.

bubble wedding send off

Blow Bubbles

Pros: Gives an affect of childlike innocence and fun. Also, if you decorate the bottles with your names and wedding date they can double as favors. It’s lots of fun for kids and it’s environmentally safe.

Cons: None!

Release Butterflies or Doves

Pros: Very dramatic.

Cons: Live animals can be unpredictable. They may not fly as you wish them to and there can be accidents, if you know what I mean.

Throw Rose Petals

Pros: To be super-romantic, use petals from flowers your finance gave you during your courtship.

Cons: Can there be anything bad about roses? Perhaps their expense can be prohibitive and there is some pick up and sweeping later.

Wave Sparklers

If you are going all out, this option is particularly effective for a late summer evening. Light up the night with fireworks in the background too and exit with a bang and flash.

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Honoring a Parent That Has Passed Away

Many brides and grooms want to include some type of remembrance during their wedding ceremony of a parent (or parents) that have passed away. It can be done tactfully and without making it too sad at the same time; here are some options:

* A Lighting of candles can be done at the very beginning of the ceremony or during the lighting of the unity candle.
* Presentation of single stemmed flowers for each parent at the altar.
* A special reading which mentions their name) could also be done.
* Have the clergy say a prayer mentioning their names and possibly have the congregation bow their heads in a moment of silent remembrance.

Before you decide, speak with your clergy and see what he or she thinks would be best. They know you better and are in a better position to make suggestions.

One final and important point: Don’t get too sentimental during this time. This is your wedding day and you know your parents would want you to enjoy this celebration without becoming so choked up that you couldn’t go on with the ceremony.

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Planning a Wedding at a Special Site

With a little ingenuity, you can come up with a special wedding location that will express your individual personality beautifully, but also be a logistical success. Listed below are some issues to consider when planning the wedding of your dreams at an unusual site:

1. Book early for popular sites: These places can fill up a year or more in advance. For locations such as public parks or beaches you may need to obtain city permits.
2. Find out if you can be married there: Some places only allow receptions; they do not permit the actual marriage ceremony to be performed in their facilities. Yet they may allow you to marry outdoors in their gardens. Be clear on what events you expect to happen where. And if you’re not sure if a site allows wedding ceremonies, be sure to ask!
3. Be aware of any restrictions: Ask the management of the site about any special considerations. Private locations such as historic homes, museums, or aquariums often have rules regarding everything from food, alcohol, smoking, photography, and/or music. Regulations on alcohol vary: you may have to provide your own alcohol, only serve beer or wine, alcohol may be prohibited. Also they may require you to contract with their caterer or choose from list of approved vendors.
4. Consider special liability insurance: Certain sites actually require you to purchase their insurance, or you may decide to hedge your bets yourself. In any case, add this to the anticipated cost of the site.
5. Know what will be provided before hand: This way nothing will be overlooked and there won’t be any last minute disastrous surprises. Often, private locations have tables and chairs you can use or rent. Usually you must obtain linens, china, and cutlery on your own. Again, be sure to include the cost of items or their rental in your estimation of the expense and have a plan to transport tables and chairs if you are responsible for providing them.
6. Check out all amenities, or lack of: Outdoor sites may have access problems or insufficient parking areas. Also you will probably need to invest in portable restrooms. For both indoor and outdoor locations you will have to devise a way to provide power supply for your entertainment, music and lighting.
If you plan to be indoors, consider appropriate climate control depending on the time of year (air conditioning or heating). Also many places do not have kitchens, or their facilities are inadequate for the demands of serving many guests. Have a plan for resolving all of these relevant issues before you commit to a site.
7. Plan enough space for all guests: This applies mainly to indoor sites, where you need sufficient room for seating and also to facilitate entertainment. If you plan on having dancing, be sure there is a dance floor or space that can be converted for that purpose.

What if your perfect site only accommodates half your guests?

If worse comes to worst you may have to trim your guest list or chose a new site. However, here are some other solutions to investigate before dropping either people or your dream wedding location:

1. Set up tents on the lawn so the party can flow outdoors. Even dance floors can be assembled as long as the ground is relatively flat.
2. Design your wedding, reception and entertainment around the layout of your facility. For example: historic estates often have many small divided rooms instead of one large one. This arrangement lends itself more to mingling during a cocktail reception than a more static sit-down dinner, where guests not seated in the same room as the bridal party may feel left out of the festivities.

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Table Centerpiece Tips

Here are some tips to help you with selecting and setting up centerpieces for your wedding reception:

Vary the size and style of your centerpiece (vases, baskets, etc.). It gives a much more interesting and unique look to the room and overall decor.

Be careful of tall centerpieces. You want to make sure that they don’t block the view of your guests or make it difficult for them to converse with each other across the table!

Don’t choose flowers with a strong scent, it can distract from the taste and enjoyment of the meal.

Add sparkle to your table setting. Try sprinkling some glitter or confetti around the center of the table.

Make a small centerpiece look larger, use a mirror. You can rent round, flat mirrors from your local florist or other party supply stores.

Ask your reception site if they have anything to offer for centerpieces. Some will include table centerpieces with the rental of your hall at no extra charge. Also, some will even give you a choice, such as a small floral arrangement or hurricane lamps. However, some may not offer this up for free unless you ask.

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Theme Wedding Centerpieces

Angel Theme

Our wedding has an angel theme. Instead of flower girls, we have angels who sprinkle angel dust (glitter) and for centerpieces we are using angel Christmas tree toppers.

Beach Theme

My finance and I are having an ocean theme wedding. Clam shell place card holders and sand dollar ornament favors. Our centerpieces are glass fish bowls with aquatic sand, a few decorative shells, and lots of goldfish. ~ Submitted by Jami, Brick, NJ

Hawaiian Theme

My fiancé and I will be having a Hawaiian themed wedding so we have decided to put sand on straw plates (that have a layer of plastic on the bottom for easy clean up) with a mini tiki-torch in the center of the plate. We will then place seashells in the sand and around the center of the table (some of the shells will have candles in them and some will not). This idea can be used for any type of beach themed wedding.~ Submitted by Elisabeth, Los Angeles, CA

Beach Party Theme

We were married on the beach in Mexico and for the reception back home we had a “party” theme. We got huge, oversized margarita glasses, glued un-refined sugar (to look like salt) around the top. We then filled them with water, tinted yellow to look like a margarita and then floated 3 little candles inside. To top off the look, we added candy limes to the rim of the glass and added an oversized straw!

Oriental Theme

We are having an oriental theme wedding. Bonsai trees and ornate jade dragons will decorate the table centers. Name holders will be oragami swans. The reception will be decorated with paper lanterns, white lights and orchids.

Tennis Theme

Being that my fiance and I met on a tennis court, we have applied a “tennis theme” to our wedding reception. We are putting tennis rackets in hand painted terracotta pots (light silver with rubbed pale lime green and lavender), and twisting them with ivy and raffia. Our florist is going to drape the rackets with hydrangeas (pale lime/lavender flowers), to appear as tennis racket topiaries. We are carrying this ‘theme’ throughout the reception, so it will not only be unique, but personal.

Western Theme

For the centerpieces, we bought beer steins in the shape of a cowboy boot with a spur and are filling them with colored water and a floating candle with a bandana wrapped around it.

“Woodsy, Up North” Theme

We are having a “woodsy, up north” theme. We will be using the bottom pieces of terracotta pots (the dish that catches the excess water) and placing two or three pine cones in it. Then I will hot-glue pine sprigs to the cones and maybe add a rafia bow. My Dad’s wife has offered to make chocolates and we will fill the dishes the rest of the way with the chocolates. CHEAP! Pine cones are free (in my yard anyway) the pine sprigs will simply be a lifelike garland from the Christmas clearance rack and the terracotta dishes are about $1 each.

Garden Theme

We are having a spring/garden theme wedding our centerpieces will be metal watering cans w/multi colored pastel flowers inside, along with the flowers we will have little metal pictures with paper butterflies stated our names and the date.

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Floral Centerpiece

Centerpiece: Bud Vases

We are going to take- about 5-7 per table – and fill them with white roses, greenery and some red roses. Then, we are going to spray paint small round or square glass candle holders so that they appear frosted. We will place about 5-10 of these at each table scattered among the bud vases (filled with small white candles of course).

In the center of each table, we are going to have a picture frame with the table number in it. The name cards and the boxed party favors at each setting will also enhance the look of the table. Folding the napkins and wrapping silk ribbons around each napkin with a small silk flower as a napkin holder will also add to the entire look of the table. ~ Submitted by Eleanora, Boulder, CO.

Centerpiece: Antique Vases

Go to a thrift shop and purchase old flower vases. If you look very carefully, you can even find real crystal for a dollar. Then the vases can be wrapped with decorative beads or ribbons and filled with flowers. You can also place colored glass beads in the bottom of the vase to create a wonderful centerpiece. All of these ideas can cut the price of your centerpieces in half (in relation to the retail suggested price of $75 to $100 dollars each). ~Submitted by Mydahlia, Portsmouth, VA

Centerpiece: Baskets

At the wedding we are putting baskets of fresh flowers at the end of the pews. After the wedding we are taking the baskets and putting them on the center of the table with confetti and one medium sized clay pot on each side with marbles, and a long candle in the pot. ~ Submitted by Jeni, Gunnison, CO

Centerpiece: Terra Cotta Rose Pot

I took a 4″ terra cotta pot (50 cents) and put some florist foam in it. I bought some roses at SAM’s warehouse ($19.99 for two dozens) and put some roses around the top of the pot. Then I put a candle in the middle and tied it with some tulle or ribbon ~ Submitted by Kim, Dallas, TX

Centerpiece: Planted Miniature Roses

I’m having a summer wedding, so roses will be in season. Instead of paying for roses that will last only a week or so, I am using potted miniature rose bushes. They only cost around $6 each, and I plan to give them away at the end of the evening to special friends and relatives. ~ Submitted by Amy, Ohio

Centerpiece: Bridesmaids Bouquet

I was recently the maid of honor at a wedding where my beautifully large bouquet doubled as the centerpiece for my table, and the same for the bridesmaids. First, it got it out of my way, and second, it was lovely to look at… large champagne roses. ~ Submitted by Birgit, New York, NY

Centerpiece: Candleholders as Bud Vases

For our centerpieces, we used tall candleholders as bud vases. They were clear glass and looked antique. We found them at a discount chain for $2.00 each. We filled them with small roses, baby’s breath and greenery that I purchased at a wholesale florist, and tied gold bows around them. The total cost of our centerpieces was less than $100, and they were beautiful!

Centerpiece: Milk Pails

We are planning an October wedding at a ranch/farm. We’ve decided on small aluminum milk pails with dried wild flower bouquets and some candles in mason canning jars. ~ Submitted by Edina, MN

Centerpiece: Tree Branches

I gathered several different shapes and sizes of tree branches that go in all directions (with no leaves left on them). I spray painted them gold. Placed them in a big flower pot and from all the branches I went through and placed lace and pearls and a strand of mini clear lights. Little plastic wedding bells and things found in the craft section. And I wrapped the pot in gold wrapping paper. It turned out beautifully!!

Terra Cotta Pots

We’re using five 4″ terra cotta pots per table ($.39 each). Each one is spray painted white which gives it a sponge-painted look. Then, we are tying ribbon ($.55 per yard) around each one. The pots are getting planted (by a florist) with tulips and pansies and other seasonal potted flowers in multitudes of spring colors. The centerpieces will double as favors. ~ Submitted by Jennifer, Villanova, PA


We are going to spray paint topiaries Silver and Gold, our wedding colors. ~ Submitted by Denise, Charlotte, NC

Hydrangeas and Roses

We are using our florist, but I am having him do a round glass vase filled with lilac hydrangeas and cream roses. We will also have the votive candles around the flowers and a menu on each table. ~ Submitted by Kim, Mtn. View, CA

Wreath with Candle

We bought dried-flower grape vine wreaths for $9.95 each. We’re going to place a wreath on the table with a 10-inch glass chimney ($1.99 each from the craft store) and a candle in the middle. A plus is being able to make them way ahead of time. ~ Submitted by Hilary, Los Angeles, CA

Herbs and Greenery

I am planning to use herbs and greenery for my centerpieces. I’m having a summer garden wedding. I plan to use fresh mint and rosemary mingled with some ivy and just a few flowers.~ Submitted by Maria, Mendon, MA

Terra Cotta Pots with Mums

Kathy, Michigan

Dawn, Springfield, OR

I am making topiaries with small flowers and ivy from the craft store with ribbons and bows of cream and peach – the colors of my wedding flowers. They cost about ten dollars each to make and are great giveaway items at the end of the night-I am alternating them with candles at my wedding reception

Terra Cotta Pots
Stephanie, Santa Barbara, CA

I am using terra cotta pots ($ .89 EACH) spray painted a mint green. Then I will put tulle around it and tie a bow. About 2 months before the wedding I will go buy live small leafed ivy plants to put in the pots.
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Candy Table Centerpieces

Centerpiece: Candy Tree

Make a candy tree! To do this, all you need to do is take a white Styrofoam cone and use straight pins or hot glue to stick Hershey kisses to the cone. Then decorate the tree as you like. I am adding ribbon at the top and letting it drape down the sides for a soft effect.

I also took some “rose trim”, cut out the roses, and added the roses along with some greenery leave sparingly around the tree to add more softness and elegance to the candy tree. To top it off, I hot-glued four of the roses with two silver rings (to look like wedding rings) to the top of the cone. I will place this in the center of my reception tables with some greenery around the bottom edge of the cone with some votive candles sitting around the table! ~ Sumbitted by Melody, Lubbock, TX

Centerpiece: Giant Candy Bar

I had giant candy bars created in beautiful floral custom wrapping for each table with the table number on it. At the end of the wedding, people were instructed to open the candy bar and eat it as part of their dessert. Very unique! My guests commented about it for months! ~ Submitted by Susan, New York, NY

Centerpiece: Fluted Champagne Glass

For our wedding, we were on a limited budget so I decided to make my own centerpieces. I took a fluted champagne glass and put one piece of clear, opalescent colored tissue paper in it. I filled the tissue paper with pastel colored Hershey’s kisses. Then, I stuck a sprig of silver stars shooting out of the middle and tied a ribbon (with matching wedding color of course!) around the paper at the top of the glass to keep all of the goodies inside.

During the wedding, the guests munched on the treats and at the end I had a beautiful set of champagne glasses to add to my stemware collection. ~ Submitted by, Ann Marie, Columbus Township, MI

Centerpiece: Chocolate Lollipops

I plan to use chocolate lollipops in rose, and heart shapes for favors. For my centerpieces I will place a “bouquet” of these items in the center in a piece of decorated styrofoam. ~ Submitted by Beth, Washington, PA

Centerpiece: Decorated Buckets

Decorated buckets (I used ice cream pails with silver wrap and little red cupids and hearts) in wedding colors with two bottles of wine in them. ~ Submitted by Nicole, British Columbia

Centerpiece: Hand Painted Pots

I am getting married in October, Halloween to be exact. The favors to my guests are hand painted 3″ flower pots filled with little bags of candy corn. My centerpieces will be larger hand painted flower pots, tied with a nice bow, and filled with red, green and yellow apples. ~ Submitted by Melissa, Staten Island, NY

Centerpiece: Hershey Kisses, Candles and Confetti

For our wedding, we used the glitter and confetti idea plus added some curled ribbons and Hershey kisses sprinkled randomly on the tables with votive candles. You can also use mirrored tiles and put them under the candles to add to the brightness of your centerpiece. ~ Submitted by Debb, Milwaukee, WI

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Candle Centerpieces

Hurricane Lamps and Lots of Kisses

We’re having candles in hurricane lamps with silver foil doilies and Hershey’s kisses instead of confetti. I’m a chocoholic, so what could be better than an endless supply of chocolate on every table? ~ Submitted by Holli, Sikeston, MO

Candle and Mirrors–Mini Lanterns

My fiance and I had a smaller ceremony and placed four mini lanterns with tea lights on each table. They served as a centerpiece as well as a favor! And they were very inexpensive! ~ Submitted by Sarah, Phoenix, AZ

Floating Candles

I am using floating candles in little bowls. Original idea? Nah I know, but in the bottom of the bowls I found little strands of pearls in the wedding colors and so it adds an attractive look in the midst of all the water. Plus, I am going to put gold wrapped Hershey kisses on the tables. ~ Submitted by Christi, Divide, CO

Warning!: At my daughter’s friend’s wedding, she had small candles floating in fluted bowls. They were beautiful, but the bowls were not heat resistant. After a couple of hours of the candles burning down, the bowls broke. Glass was everywhere, so they had to blow out all of the candles that were left. I hope this doesn’t discourage anyone, but they just need to make sure the glass is heat resistant.

Table Runners

I will be laying down fabric table runners in assorted jewel tones, then some silk ivy (or fresh if I can afford it), and then either a floating candle in a brandy snifter or three tapers of various heights (hopefully I can find some that *will* drip and look all Gothic). ~ Submitted by Katie, Richardson, TX

Brandy Snifters

Take two medium brandy snifters and one large brandy snifter. Fill the bottom of snifters with colored marbles about 1/3 way up. Fill with H2O and float a candle. Have your flowers around the base of the snifter. My tables will have small glass candle holders with silk flowers inside, candle an d flowers at the base–very inexpensive, and pretty!!! ~ Submitted by Barbara, Glassport, PA

Personalized Hurricane Shade with Votive

I am using a hurricane shade with a votive candle cup and votives, since tapers sometimes tend to “blacken” the glass. Around the bottom I am using grapevine wreaths and since the wedding is only next August, we are drying flowers to decorate the wreaths with. Hydrangea & straw flowers in pinks, yellows and mauves will set off the navy color scheme of the day!

Centerpiece: Flower Pots with Candles

I am using terra cotta flowerpots that I found in the cellar of my grandparent’s home. I plan to whitewash them and then add a bow and place tapers in the pot. I will also embellish the pots with silk ivy. On either side of the pot will be a votive and some decorating stones. ~ Submitted by Tricia, Sterling, IL

Centerpiece: Homemade Candles

We made our centerpieces. We took candleholders and put sand and seashells in them. Then we finished them by making them into gel candles. Our reception theme was under the sea so this was perfect. These candles can be made with any decorations. I found the gel wax on the internet. ~ Submitted by Sandra, Arkon, OH

Silver Lanterns

We are using silver lanterns that hang from a stand. I strung eucalyptus around the stands and will place a tea light candle in each lantern. Our reception is in the evening outdoors, but the lantern will prevent the candle from the wind. It’s beautiful. ~ Submitted by Andy, California

Ivy Bowls

Small glass “fish bowls” with a ruffled edge that contain a rose scented, red shaped candle floating in water. This is put on a mirror, with ivy wrapped around the base. Small white and yellow daisies will be tucked in the ivy for added color. ~ Submitted by Karen, Bloomington, IN

Hydrangea Candle Rings

For a centerpiece, I am using hydrangea candle rings with a medium size ivy bowl placed in the center. In it will be floating a white rose shaped candle,
atop rose colored water. ~ Submitted by Jakeisha, Cincinnati, OH

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Unique Centerpiece Ideas Using Fruit

Looking for something a little bit different? A new trend in centerpieces is to add fruit. Below are a few ideas if you want your decorations to be “tasteful”:

1. Purchase cornucopias made from baskets or ceramics. Fill with assorted colorful fruits and vegetables. For an added touch, throw in flower petals or hardy flower heads, like sunflowers.
2. Candelabra. Below the lit candles, drape small grapes and greenery with wire. For a more complex look, have your florist tie in ribbons or flower blooms.
3. Hurricane Lamps. Place a tall pillar candle into the base of the lamp. Fill the bottom of the lamp with cranberries, real or fake. This makes for a simple, yet elegant centerpiece.
4. Silver Bowls. Purchase decorated silver bowls and place chocolate covered strawberries on it, or an assortment of fruits. Your guests will appreciate your edible centerpieces.
5. 3-Wick Candle. Around the 3-wick candle, place a grapevine wreath. Decorate the wreath with greenery, grapes and ribbon.

Adding flowers, candles and fruit together can add a gorgeous touch to any wedding ensemble. Get creative with your ideas, but make sure you (or your florist) create a sample centerpiece BEFORE your wedding day.

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Holiday and Seasonal Table Centerpieces

Are you having your wedding on or near a particular holiday? How about coordinating your centerpieces with it? Pumpkins for Halloween, for instance. Or how about Chocolate Bunnies for Easter?

Spring Table Centerpiece Ideas:

Centerpiece: Basket of Eggs

For our Easter wedding, we are going to use pastel or white baskets filled with plastic Easter eggs (pastel colored) and decorated with tulips and Easter lilies. You can even make the eggs favors by placing something inside of them! ~ Submitted by Jaime, Elberton, GA

Centerpiece: May Day Baskets

We are getting married on May 1st. For our centerpieces, we chose to have May Day Baskets. We are decorating the baskets with flowers and tulle and filling them with popcorn and candies. ~ Submitted by Felicia, Des Moines, Iowa

Centerpiece: Sponge-Painted Pots

My sister just got married, and for her centerpieces she got a bunch of friends together to sponge-paint pots in her wedding colors. We then contacted a garden center and had them plant pansies in her colors in the pots. The centerpieces did not cost a lot, looked great, and one guest at each table got to take the plant home as a nice memory of the day! ~ Submitted by Betsy, Wales, WI

Centerpiece: Straw Hat

I’m having a garden wedding! My mom and I bought straw hats at a local craft store. We are going to decorate them with silk flowers and ribbon then place them in the middle of each table. ~ Submitted by Beci, Clackamas, OR

Centerpiece: Herbs and Greenery

I am planning to use herbs and greenery for my centerpieces. I’m having a summer garden wedding. I plan to use fresh mint and rosemary mingled with some ivy and just a few flowers. ~ Submitted by Maria, Mendon, MA

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