Inexpensive, yet classy looking centerpieces?

by DIY wedding planner on September 28, 2012

More than 50% of my budget is going towards the food and drink at my venue. This leaves very little money for more fancy centerpieces and decor items. I’m OK with that. I’d rather have good food, then $50 centerpieces.

It’s costing about $75 a person at my venue and the wedding overall is semi-formal and taking place in the evening. I’ve opted to do a black and white color pattern. The wedding is in August and overlooking a harbor.

I want the centerpieces to look nice and classy, not cheap. But, I also don’t want to spend a ton of money. What are some affordable options for DIY centerpieces. I have to double check with the venue, but I don’t think they allow candles. But, I could be mistaken.

What are some ideas with and without candles and about how much will each centerpiece and decor idea cost?

What’s considered a reasonable cost for a DIY centerpiece?
I’m thinking about doing hints of aqua to add a little color.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Rachel - Just Married! September 28, 2012 at 8:37 pm

50% of your budget for food/drink/reception is about right for how your budget should be divided (from everything I read when planning my wedding), so don’t stress too much about how much is left over … you are right on track I think.

You should check about about the candle thing, because most venues restrict candles to specific types of holders (tea lights must be in actual holders, no tapered candles, etc). Usually if the flame is covered, it’s allowable.

If you can have candles, there are some REALLY affordable DIY centerpiece ideas you can do with candles. Our centerpieces were done all with candles, but you could use those LED fake tea lights to replace the real tea lights I used. Our colours were gold, silver and dark red, but you can swap out the colours for anything.

We had long, rectangle tables, with 5 people on each side (no one at the ends); we had 8 tables. But our centerpieces would work for round tables too.

There was one 9″ vase in the centre of each table with gold or silver glass sand (half the tables got gold, the others got silver), 2″ in the bottom of each vase. Then we filled them a bit with water and had a dark red floating candle in the top. The candles were 6 for $5.

Then there were 4, 6″ vases on each table, 2 on either side of the tall vase. I made vellum paper shades for each that I attached to the outside of each vase. I used a Martha Stewart rubber stamp that you can personalize, it came in a kit I had bought for doing our stationary (save the dates, programs, etc).

This is what the lanterns looked like:

There were two of those patterned lanterns, and two with the table number printed on the lantern shades. I just used my computer/home printer and fancy font from Word, we have a laser printer, but inkjet printers can print on vellum too. All those vases had jumbo votives from Ikea in them, they were $0.50 each, but regular votives would have worked too, and those are even cheaper!

So each table had the tall centre vase with a floating candle and 4 lantern candle holders, 2 with the table number (people thought that was such a unique way to display the table numbers) and 2 personalized lanterns with a pattern and our initials. We used that same stamp on the programs and had our baker replicate it on our cake, so that swirly, art-deco design kind of ran throughout the decor.

So overall the cost was:
Vellum: Less than $1 per table (it was $7/pack which was more than enough vellum sheets for all the lanterns (Micheal’s craft store)
Candles: $2 for votives per table (Ikea)
6″ vases: $4 per table (Dollar store)
9″ vase: $1.50 per table
Gold/Silver glass sand: $2.50 per table (Benix, it’s a kitchen wares store in Ontario, i found the vase fillers were the most expensive item in terms of value for money, but you need something in the bottom or they look unfinished)
Floating candles: a little under $1 (Benix, but you could get them anywhere)

So that’s like $12 per table! It took an afternoon to put them together, printing the table number of the vellum, stamping the lanterns with the design and then cutting the shades to the right size. I just used double-sided table squares from the dollar store to stick the shades on to the vases.

The nice thing about the lantern shades is that if you are not allowed candles you can get those fake, LED votives for like $1 each. And since you can’t see the actual candle unless you look into the vase, it will still have the same effect. It would make them a little more expensive, but still under $20 per table!

Sorry I don’t have a picture of the whole thing, I just got married so I don’t have our professional photos back yet, just what friends took at the wedding and posted online for us.

Good Luck!


Haley M September 28, 2012 at 8:40 pm

take a round or square mirror that is only about 6-8 in. in diameter and put a candle on it or some kind of light and sprinkle black glitter on the mirror.
my friend did something similar and it looked great. you could also take a small clear vase and do the same thing.or have a vase filled with water and get a floating tea light candle in it. that would be good for a harbor.


Lauren September 28, 2012 at 9:00 pm

If you don’t want to spend a huge amount of money on centerpieces, but still want the look of elegance and style, check out the centerpieces at They have a beautiful centerpiece selection – A friend of mine ordered her guest favors from them and she said their prices are really affordable and the quality is great. Maybe you want to check out their centerpieces. You may find something perfect for your black and white wedding or at least give you ideas and options that are available to you.

Hope that helps! Best of luck with the planning too! :)


Mida September 28, 2012 at 9:47 pm
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