Front & Centerpiece: Fresh Approaches To Table Displays

Chapter nine of the Weddings 101 handbook states that all reception tables should be perfectly round, provide seating for eight guests, and have white tablecloths with identical floral centerpieces.

End of discussion.

Or is it?

And is there even a Weddings 101handbook? Probably not, but that hasn’t stopped countless couples from abiding by those rules pretty much since the dawn of the reception.

However, as brides and grooms transition away from “cookie-cutter” weddings and embrace the idea of having a celebration that’s as unique as they are, the old rules have gone out the window.

“Couples are 100 percent tying their personality into the entire wedding day,” said Maggie Lord, wedding expert and founder and editor of, a wedding blog based out of Fairfield.

“The wedding reflects them as a couple, what they like and what speaks to them.” As part of that, centerpieces are getting a makeover and instead of having a standard flower arrangement in the middle of the table, couples are incorporating both unusual and everyday items into their displays to give them character.

Everything from vintage suitcases, clothes and cameras to old books or teacups are being used to create table centerpieces, Lord said. “Couples have started thinking outside of the box. They are adding one small floral arrangement to a couple of beautiful candles or one small flower arrangement on a large rustic wood slab.”

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Lord also said that couples are using other things like greenery , moss, vases and candles to give centerpieces a distinct look or are putting small items or pieces together to create a single centerpiece.

Diane Gaudett, owner of Custom Floral Designs in Newtown, said that incorporating different styles into the theme of the wedding is gaining in popularity among brides and grooms who want to avoid being “matchy-matchy” and instead want something that speaks to who they are.

“There’s more DIY and bringing personalities in,” she said. “We’re seeing a lot of mixing of natural elements, organic elements, vintage water goblets and vases.”

Gaudett also said that many couples are forsaking customary round tables in favor of farm tables or tables in an assortment of different shapes and styles to help create a less uniform look. “Families are being very creative,” Gaudett said, “more so now than 20 years ago.”

There’s also been an increase in the demand for greenery along with couples who want their celebration to have a just-picked-from-the-garden feel.

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From the bridal bouquet to the reception table, Gaudett said that she’s seeing more of the “eclectic farm wedding” look.

“Loose and flowy arrangements, especially on farm tables,” she said. “Succulents, greens that you can plant in the garden, poppy pods, textures; there’s a real garden feel, more so than years past.”

Michelle Neff, owner of Dreaming Tree Events, a wedding design and coordinating company in Glastonbury, said that she’s also seeing a lot of natural elements being incorporated into wedding themes, including using terrariums on tables.

“I have seen much more diverse centerpieces,” she said. “A lot of couples choose to piece them together and mix up each table; sticking with core design elements and just changing each table a bit so each one is not exactly the same.”

When deciding on a centerpiece, Neff recommends that couples consider the overall design of the event, the size of the room and tables, as well as what will be done with them at the end of the night.

“Give them to guests, or designate someone to drop them off at a senior center, or something along those lines, the next day,” she suggested.

And, according to Lord, choosing centerpieces is not a detail that couples should procrastinate on.

“People used to think about them two months ahead of time. Now couples need to think about them when they choose their venue and budget, how much you’re going to spend on your tablescape.

“It’s important to spend time picking out the right details, even for your centerpieces. It sets the tone for the wedding you’re going to be having; it embodies the visions you have for your day.”

Originally Published Hartford Magazine September 2016