Decorating the Table: Centerpieces and More
Many items can adorn a table at a wedding reception — centerpieces, favors, place cards, confetti, plates, napkins, glasses, and menus are just the beginning. For your green wedding, eliminate all the excess that would just end up as waste. You'll save yourself the hassle and money. Try to avoid using anything that cannot be reused or recycled. Go for the green and choose eco-smart centerpieces and other earth-friendly décor.
Centerpieces are among those seemingly must-have wedding reception decorations. The most common types of centerpieces are those that incorporate flowers, candles, or a combination of both. You can quite easily use flowers and candles in many green centerpieces or you could consider more unusual green options for your eco-extravaganza.
Follow your three basic green guidelines (reduce, reuse, recycle) and you could come up with something no one else has done before. Some great green centerpiece ideas are:
Pots of edible herbs or wheatgrass
Pots of planted flowers guests can take home and plant
Assorted topiaries, made from fresh or dried flowers, herbs, and other materials
Natural wreaths laid flat on a table with a candle in the middle
Single, large flower heads floating in shallow water-filled bowls
Bulbs planted in tall vases
Small containers grouped to form a larger central display; this works great with small square containers or vases that can be pushed tightly against each other
Apples, oranges, pears, peaches, or other fruits in tall, clear vases
Trendy and chic vintage items
Anything you choose made from recycled materials
Vintage candy dishes and bowls filled with yummy treats
Rented, borrowed, or secondhand bowls with floating candles in them; these look very elegant when placed over a mirror tile because the reflective light is soft and romantic
Rented, borrowed, or secondhand vases filled with a single flower
A potted mini-tree that can be taken home and planted
The list could go on and on. Centerpiece choices can be as simple or as complicated and as varied as the couples choosing them.
Look for some meaning to put into your décor. For instance, in old Welsh tradition a man would give his love an intricately carved spoon, called a love spoon. Scottish men gave their brides a piece of the family tartan during the marriage ceremony. You can use your imagination to turn old family or cultural traditions into unique decorations.
Be extremely eco-fabulous and have your favors multitask as centerpieces. At each table, your favors could be artfully arranged in a container such as a basket, a bowl made from recycled glass, or a terra cotta flower pot. The container could be themed to go along with the favors or it could just be a complementary container to match the overall green theme and feeling of your wedding. The following ideas are eco-friendly centerpieces and favors:
Small packets of organic, fair trade coffees or teas as favors in vintage coffeemakers, teapots, or oversized mugs that you found at thrift stores.
Small bars of handmade organic soaps in unique soap dishes you found at yard sales or antique shops
Vintage costume jewelry in old jewelry boxes
Bamboo kitchen utensils in bamboo salad bowls, old mason jars, or old cookie jars
Baskets with rolled kitchen towels or washcloths made from organic cotton, hemp, or bamboo
Pretty paperweights made from recycled glass in a large bowl or on a platter
Seed packets arranged inside flower pots
Soy or beeswax candles in cute baskets adorned with natural ribbons or berries
Any little trinket that you decide to use as a favor can be placed artfully in or around a container and used as a centerpiece. Elegant arrangements of fruits or vegetables can serve double duty; let the guests take the fruits and veggies as favors when they leave.
While some people consider place cards to be an unnecessary and outdated custom, you may be a traditionalist or you may just want to make sure that Aunt Wilma doesn't get stuck at a table with Cousin Fred. However, don't let paper companies or anyone else convince you that you need them.
If you decide to use place cards, let them be multipurpose. Let the place card and favor be one and the same. Some ideas for place cards that can be favors as well include:
Seed packets with the guests' names written elegantly on the package
A small potted plant with a guest's name on the pot
Plantable place cards made with handcrafted seed paper
A piece of fruit with a little card attached made from handmade, recycled, or tree-free paper
A bar of handmade soap with the guest's name carved into it
A handmade paper envelope containing bath salts
A small package of handmade note cards tied with hemp, organic cotton ribbon, or twine
A card made from handmade, recycled, or tree-free paper, announcing that charitable donations have been made to the bride and groom's charity of choice in place of favors
Bags or envelopes made from sustainable materials filled with fresh or dried organic herbs
Photo frames made of green materials
Any one of these items can be used as an elegantly green place card/ favor combo. Think outside the box and you may come up with more delightful eco-combos.