*Originally published in 2016, updated in 2020

choosing a centerpiece

Whether it’s a small dinner party, a moderately attended anniversary shindig, or a whole shebang wedding, there’s one thing that deserves a little time and effort — the centerpiece. Waiting until the last minute to decide on an arrangement or selecting one without knowing things to consider when choosing a centerpiece could come back to haunt you in the end.

As you select floral centerpieces for your event, keep several factors in mind to make sure they do more good than harm. Explore the tips for choosing centerpieces below to add the perfect arrangements to your event tables.

The Event

Keep the tone of your gathering in mind as you’re choosing centerpieces. Discovering how to choose wedding centerpieces is different from knowing how to choose event centerpieces for something more somber. Start by thinking about your event and how that influences your centerpiece selection, whether it’s any of the following:

  • Weddings and anniversaries: Consider traditional romantic flowers and colors for your wedding or anniversary celebration. White flowers or roses are timeless for weddings. For a wedding anniversary, consider the color associated with how long the couple has been together. If you already have a color scheme in mind, use that to influence your flower selection.
  • Celebrations: Birthdays, graduations, and other celebratory events call for color and fun. Add the guest of honor’s favorite colors or flowers for personalized decorations.
  • Somber events: If your gathering is professional or serious, maintain that tone in your centerpieces. Keep flowers simple, opting for darker jewel tones. Select glass vases and avoid extra decorative touches other than the flowers and greenery.

Number of Tables

How many tables you have at your event will factor into the variety of centerpieces you choose. Of course, entry, reception, and buffet tables always look great with contrasting or otherwise different arrangements on them. However, for the general seating area, it’s best to stick to one style if there are 10 or fewer tables.

If there will be more than 10 tables, try a “layered” look with different bouquets in different areas of the room. You could create an ombré effect by using darker colors at the back of the room and slowly fading to white or a lighter version of the base color at the front. Or, consider using contrasting colors and different flowers and styles. As long as everything coordinates well, a varied look will brighten up a larger reception area.

Budget

Once you have an idea of how many tables will be at your event, use that number to determine how many centerpieces you’ll need. Divide your budget by that number to determine how much you can spend on each centerpiece.

Feel free to play around with this number a little bit. For example, if you spend a little less on your guest tables, you’ll have more money to spend on a grand arrangement for the reception or entrance table. If your budget isn’t as friendly as you thought it would be, consider using fewer tables that seat more people or utilize in-season flowers to save money.

Venue Restrictions

Bouquet of Flowers Centerpiece

You definitely want to look into your venue’s rules and regulations before you make any big decisions. Many facilities have restrictions on open flames, breakable glass, or certain common allergens. Occasionally, hosting sites will have restrictions on what vendors you can use, as well. Checking for these limitations beforehand will prevent a last-minute fiasco. Some venues also have rules about who can set up and clean up, so keep those in mind when selecting your arrangements.

table shape

Table Shape

The table’s shape should be one of the biggest factors you use to help you decide on centerpieces. You may have various shapes throughout your venue or one table style to keep things uniform. Either way, note what will work with your tables as you’re choosing centerpieces:

  • Round: For a round table, centerpieces should be round and look good from all angles. Guests will sit at every point around the centerpiece, so you don’t want an empty spot in the arrangement.
  • Square: Square tables are compatible with either round or square centerpieces. Remember that while guests may not see the corners of your arrangements when seated, they could notice gaps or issues when they stand.
  • Rectangular and oval: The longer the table, the more arrangements there should be. Selecting bouquets of varying heights has a very aesthetically pleasing effect, and you have a little more space to play with shape and color.

Let the vase shape then help dictate the shape of your bouquet — a round vase will create a round arrangement, while a rectangular vase will coax flowers into an oblong shape.

Table shape will also influence the height of your arrangements. If the tables are round, 12 to 14 inches is ideal. Don’t let the centerpiece block guests’ views of each other and impede conversation. Place taller arrangements on buffet or reception tables. Tall arrangements can also go on long rectangle tables between seats so they don’t hinder guests’ views of the dance floor, ceremony, event stage, or other essential areas.

Let the vase shape then help dictate the shape of your bouquet — a round vase will create a round arrangement, while a rectangular vase will coax flowers into an oblong shape.

Table Size and Capacity

Bouquet of Roses Centerpiece

The table’s size is another important factor to consider. You may want grand arrangements that serve as statement pieces. However, large arrangements won’t be functional for smaller tables or ones filled with place settings, place cards, glasses, and water pitchers. If your tables are smaller or somewhat crowded, save the elaborate bouquets for tables that are not meant for seating and go with something more understated. You’d be surprised how elegant a simple rose bouquet can look on a small table.

Lighting

Account for the event space’s lighting when designing your centerpieces. If the room will be dimly lit, consider adding candles — flameless or otherwise — or electronically lit “foliage” as part of your arrangements. For low-lit areas, you definitely want color, but it’s better to go with jewel tones or deeper shades than brights or pastels.

If you’ll be in the sun or under harsh fluorescent lighting, color is good, but add it sparingly in pops or as an accent. White or a pale pastel with a few vividly colored tropical flowers will look outstanding in brightly lit conditions.

Environment

The temperature and humidity can greatly affect your flowers’ life span. You’ll also want to consider the environment when including wax candles or anything edible — especially chocolate — in your arrangements. Talk to your florist about what flowers do well in different environments. Roses are pretty hardy under almost any circumstance, but hydrangeas can become wilted and useless in less than three hours under the wrong conditions.

Guest Preferences

Rose Bouquet Centerpiece

The last factor to keep in mind is your guests. This shouldn’t be hard for a dinner party or family gathering. With a large event like a wedding or fundraiser, it’s challenging to account for everyone. However, it will mean a lot if you factor in close friends and family as you’re selecting your centerpiece.

If someone is allergic to pollen, use low-pollen flowers or lots of foliage, or don’t use flowers at all. If someone is allergic to a certain type of flower, stay away from it altogether. If you know someone is extremely sensitive to scent, pick flowers that don’t have a strong smell.

event and wedding centerpieces

Have Fun!

Many factors go into picking the right centerpieces for your event, but you can still have fun with color and variety. In the end, you want to make sure everything coordinates and matches your theme or personal style, so don’t feel you have to restrict yourself too much, and don’t forget to have fun.

Order the Perfect Centerpieces With Ode Events

With so much to think about when choosing a centerpiece, the decision may seem overwhelming. That’s where Ode Events is ready to help. Our highly skilled floral designers will bring your vision to life or assist you in creating one for your event. The result is one-of-a-kind décor that takes your event to the next level.

Complete an event inquiry and a member of our team will be in touch soon!

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