If you’re giving away your centerpieces, how are you doing it?

Posted by
Glitter Skull in Wheatgrass
I've heard lots of different fun ways of giving away centerpieces at your wedding reception, and I'm just curious what other Offbeat Brides have come up with.

I think we want to keep it super simple… I don't want to make people do a quiz, or a dance contest, or whatever. I think we might just have our MC announce at the end of the dinner, that whoever's birthday is next at the table gets to take the centerpiece home.

I'm curious what everyone else is doing! -Andrea

Ah, the sticky question of who gets centerpieces, and how do they get them! We know that some couples don't want guests taking centerpieces (one reader had arranged to donate all her centerpieces to a local hospice), which can be challenging because in some regions guests assume that centerpieces are for the taking. Other folks totally organize games or contests for guests to play to decide who gets to take centerpieces, making them function almost as large favors.

For those of you who DO want guests to take centerpieces home, how are you doing it? Or are you just letting folks snag 'em?

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Comments on If you’re giving away your centerpieces, how are you doing it?

  1. the current plan for ours is for my fiance to make them (he’s a blacksmith) as candelabra-type things. we’re not doing favors, instead everyone gets a raffle ticket, then we’ll raffle the centerpieces off somehow (haven’t decided exactly what format that’ll take yet) at the end of the night. the ones on the family tables (his side, my mom’s side, my dad’s side) will go to that parent as their gift.

    • I love that your blacksmith FH is making your centerpieces, and how do I get mine to hop on that wagon? Would love to see the pics…

    • We did something similar for the parents, I made the glass vases that were used as center pieces and we gave the sets of parents one each and the others went to people that had been particularly helpful at our wedding. We thought it was a nice way to say thank you to the people that put in extra time and effort to make our day special.

  2. Our laidback spring wedding had an afternoon cookies-and-punch reception with potted gerbera daisies wrapped in craft paper on the tables, on top of a colored fabric square. We had some friends/family who were on the set up, clean up, or general helping crew, and my mom distributed them to those people after the day as a thank you. The colored fabric squares got turned into cloth napkins, that I use when company comes over. Not exactly giving them away, but a good way to reuse them.

  3. My dad made candle holders out of white birch from a local standing dead tree for my wedding. He even carved “D+B” in a heart into some of them. They were by far my favorite decoration. During the reception, he got up and gave a speech and ended it, “And take those damn things home. I’m not taking them back over the mountain!” I barely got one myself, they were so popular.

  4. I’ve been to ones where it was “whoever has the closest birthday at the table” and then that turned into “whoever wants one” because not that many people wanted them due to travel

    • Yes. I don’t like centerpiece giveaway games of any sort (even the birthday thing) because of exactly that. It might not even be travel–maybe they just don’t want it! At the end of the night as we were cleaning up (with the help of friends and family who stuck around), we just shouted out that people should absolutely take anything they wanted from the centerpieces. If you aren’t doing your own clean up, having the DJ do it would work just as well, I would imagine.

  5. I forgot to do this at my wedding and the next morning I ended up shoving them at the folks who had stayed overnight at my venue (a B&B). It’s been sort of fun to go to their homes since and see them.

    Floral centerpieces are a little bit trickier since they are more difficult to transport for those coming from out of town. You can often arrange to donate these to hospitals. If you forget, it’s ok! I work at a wedding venue and often enjoy having floral centerpieces in my office the week after a wedding!

    Sticker under the chair is a good way to assign them to people. If the winner doesn’t want it, they can always offer it up to the other guests at their table.

  6. There are people who ASSUME centerpieces are for the taking?!?!?!?!
    There goes my plan of saving money by using some of my favorite candle holders from home!

    • It starts in high school…at least in my old school system, kids can take home the centerpieces from their prom. Lots of events let anyone take the centerpieces home–at my chorus’ pops concert/fundraiser I took home the vase of azaleas from our table upon seeing that other people were taking them without incident. Better to play it safe and put in the program “please do not take the centerpieces home; they are the personal belongings of the bridal couple”.

      • Thanks for the suggestion! I think we’ll be doing that for the candleholders!
        I’m glad that I saw this because I never in 1,000,000 years would have anticipated that problem on my own, and this is my second marriage! LOL

    • Oh yeah. At least my relatives do–maybe it’s an old school Italian thing. Originally we saved over $100 on centerpieces b/c we rented the containers from the florist. The combination of having to schlep the containers back and the nagging feeling that people would walk off with them led us to just buy the vases.
      It was nice to gift the centerpieces to people who helped out, but hadn’t been acknowledged in a more formal way.
      Maybe people only make that assumption with flowers and not candle holders though.

    • It’s true- I was gobsmacked when I started hearing that people will sometimes just take them, no matter what they are, even if it’s not clearly noted that they are for the taking. Imagine if you rented some expensive vases for flowers and people just took them… I’ve heard that sometimes people have added a quick announcement during the reception just to tell people not to take the centerpieces.

    • At my own wedding I had no incidents of people taking vases home. I had 24 vases at my reception, and went home with 23 only because one of the vases broke while cleaning up. Afterwards I passed on my wedding decorations to my cousin for his wedding.

  7. I didn’t address the floral centerpieces at my wedding, and perhaps I should have. I think at least half were taken home, including the glass vases! I was thinking that since I had bought 25 vases I would be able to sell them to another bride… but I ended up with about 10.

    • It’s surprising right! And it’s not just centerpieces that people might assume are up for grabs! At my sister’s wedding my mom worked really hard on a little display to honor our deceased grandparents which included a vintage Hamm’s glass since my grandpa owned a bar back in the day. Not even halfway through the reception someone had pocketed it.

  8. I would love to hear some ideas too. I’m having a short reception, but I spent a pretty penny on flowers. I don’t want to see them go in the trash. Also, the vases have to go back to the florist. Any ideas?

  9. I would LOVE people to take home the flowers at the end of the night… but NOT the vintage ball jars from my personal collection that will serve as the vessels. I’m not sure how to facilitate that and I’m worried I may have a ton of flowers to deal with as a result.
    Is there a polite way to say take the flowers, leave the vases?

    • My clients often use my vases for their events, and one way to have guests take flowers but leave vases is to have a roll of twine and some scissors on hand for your DOC or whoever is running the show to pull flowers out of the vases and tie them up. Sometimes I go to the venue at the end of the night and do the twine-tying myself (if I need the vases again asap). If you don’t want people taking your jars, have it announced (or announce it yourself) before people start leaving.

    • Why about plastic bottles or vases on a table with a sign that says “use me to take home some flowers!”?

  10. Don’t know if we’ll do this, but I just had a thought! We have a friend who announces bingo at a couple local bars. If we were to do a contest, we’d be sure to get her involved!

  11. My fiance is into pottery, so he’s going to throw some small-medium vases that I’ll then help decorate with slip and glaze; the morning of, we’ll fill them with grocery-store flowers. Since we’re having a communal table at our reception, I’m thinking of going the stickers-under-the-chairs route to give them away (reserving one for my parents). And if nobody wants them, we’re more than happy to keep them. 🙂

  12. If I get my way, our centerpieces will be sunflower-shaped tealight candles floating in water, so they should be safe since no one’s gonna want to go through the trouble of dumping out the square vases, or taking them home as is.

    If I surrender to my fiancee’s frugality, I’ll only do the sunflowers-in-water centerpiece for *our* table, so I won’t have to worry about it.

    Our other “centerpieces” will be origami cranes we folded and scattered on the tables, which we *want* people to take home at will, so that solves that 🙂

  13. We donated eight of ten to a hospice near the venue, and my aunts had the idea to take two to place on my grandparents’ graves, which I am so glad they thought of – it was a lovely way to recognize them.

    • What a wonderful idea. All of my grandparents have passed on, so I definitely think we will do this. Thank you so much for the idea!!

  14. We had name cards at the table for the dinner. After dinner, the DJ asked everyone to put their namecards in the box for the centerpiece they wanted. I used these cute colored plastic boxes from Michael’s, with a color picture of each centerpiece on each section (3 boxes with 3 sections each). About half an hour later, we did a give away where I held a pile of namecards like playing cards and my husband pulled out the winning card. We tried to make it go pretty quick, only took maybe 5 minutes.

    Here’s a photo of the centerpiece boxes for the giveaway.

    • I would have happily rugby tackled multiple guests for an Adipose centrepiece ^_^

  15. Our centerpieces were giant vases filled with paper cranes, and I told people to take them because if they didn’t, I’d just throw the cranes away (and return the vases to Salvation Army, where I found them originally). What ended up happening is that some people took handfuls of cranes, and my mother stole the rest (and the vases) and is hoarding them in her house because she liked them so much. We also had daisies in mason jars, which were my mother-in-law’s from when she cans fruits and veg from her gardens. She didn’t mind (I asked) if some people walked away with some, but the rest my mother collected and took to her work to make it all pretty. Then, one by one, as the flowers died, she took the jars home and washed them. I think my mother-in-law got a goodly number back that way, just in time for the end of summer.

  16. It depends on how expensive your center pieces are. Ours were mason jars, birch branches, ribbon, and daffodils. People would come up and say goodbye at some point in the evening and we would say “bye, thanks for coming, take a center piece”. Leftovers flowers were dumped and we kept the jars. But ours were cheap so it wasn’t like a big loss or anything.

  17. “Here, take some flowers!” to anyone who was still there at the end. That’s it.

  18. Am I out of line to suggest a note? Place a little sign by your centerpiece saying, “These pretty flowers are looking for a good home. Think yours might work? Don’t worry about the vases though. They’ve already been adopted.” Or something similar. That way anyone who wants them can take them without giving them to a specific person.

    • I was just going to put a note on the table telling people that they are free to take the centerpieces (photos in oil-filled mason jars), because otherwise they’ll end up in a box in our attic forever.

  19. I’m renting my flower vases form my florist and I absolutely have to have them returned. Any suggestions on telling people to not take the centerpieces if I’m not doing printed programs?

    • I think it is tactful if someone such as your mother, or maid of honor to speak to the guests and gently remind them not to take them. Perhaps if your photographer is taking photos of each table, s/he could also gently remind guests not to take them.

    • If you want people to take the flowers, but not the vases, perhaps the above idea to have plastic containers available would be a good one. With a note by the vases to say something like “please adopt these flowers and leave the vases, to-go containers provided”. Much more eloquently, of course… 🙂

  20. We were so simple at our wedding that it backfired on us. I had some pieces that were for anyone who wanted them and some that were specifically for either a brides maid, grooms men or parent. Some of the pieces that were specifically for someone disappeared. So sad.

    They were costume made pumpkin figurines (Halloween wedding)

    : (

  21. Our center pieces were sunflowers in recycled, beribboned cans, and it was pretty obvious at the end of the night that anyone who wanted could take them home. My roommate ended up with most of them — a medical student at the time, she brought them around to all the patients in her ward at the hospital the next day. =)

  22. My husband suggested we donate our centerpieces (fake flowers in vases) to a local nursing home – specifically for patients who are in the Alzheimer’s unit and/or have few visitors, in honor of his granddad.

  23. There are some really great suggestions here on creative ways to distribute centerpieces, ways to donate, and tactful way to let people know they aren’t to be taken home. The one thing I am curious about is how to deal with guests removing them when that wasn’t your plan, either because they are making an assumption that they are free to a good home or they ignored/didn’t listen to/didn’t read your instructions. I’m incredibly socially awkward and lack a filter from my brain to my mouth and can be abrupt. I don’t want to alienate my guests but I don’t want them leaving with something I had other plans for. Any suggestions?

  24. We’re having a mix of small vases with flowers, little Turkish tea glasses as candle holders and Egyptian lanterns as our centrepieces, and half the stuff is already cluttering up our house in preparation for the wedding in a YEAR! So I’m quite keen to pass them on to anyone who wants one. I’ll keep hold of one for a keepsake, and probably leave a card on the tables saying ‘Please take any part of the centrepiece as a souvenir’ or something…. And if they get left I’ll take the remaining stuff to a charity shop.

  25. I had real flowers in my own vases as my centerpieces: I set out floral tubes (labeled with our wedding logo) and attached a card to the vases that said “Love is blooming… please take one”. Our guests seemed to really like them, and so about half of the flowers were gone when it came time to clean up. The rest of the flowers ended up in my home, where I only got to enjoy them fully for 1 day before we left for our honeymoon.

    The rest of our table decorations were ribbons. I had originally arranged to donate them to the local children’s hospital for crafts, but that ended up falling through. Since then I have repurposed much of the ribbon into other crafts and Christmas tree decorations.
    Then all the rest of the wedding decorations (and vases) got passed on to my family members. The things that get passed on are theme-neutral, so almost every family wedding for the last 5 years has gotten to take advantage of free decorations.

  26. We actually made all of our wedding decor, and when everyone was done making speeches, I stood up and thanked all of our friends who helped us. Then, I announced that I wanted people to take all the decor home with them.

    Our centerpieces were multi-part – three vases and multiple small bits per table, and I noticed people would only grab one thing so that there was something for everyone who wanted it. It was great!

  27. I figured my mom would want one and maybe his would — then I’d have 5 to figure out something to do with.

    But what happened was the older women in my family all got together, sorted out who got which one before the ceremony even started and then sent my mom to tell me what they had decided. Each of them claimed one and were kind enough to leave one for me. Nice, huh? Kinda cracked me up – they were all origami flowers and I was very pleased that they liked them. I later found out that my very traditional Aunt started it – she thought the flowers were awesome and set the whole thing in motion.

    I have this mental image of a group of gray haired, 75 year old women standing in a circle doing paper, scissors, rock to see who chooses first. It probably didn’t happen that way, but I love thinking that it did.

  28. My mom made some huge floral centerpieces, and we were able to buy our glassware on the cheap. I didn’t want the hard work to go to waste, either.

    I turned it into an opportunity to honor other special women that were present by having “gift tags” made and then assigning each centerpiece to a woman sitting at that specific table to take the arrangement home. In that way, the flowers became thank you gifts. In one case, where one of the assigned women’s husband’s had a heart attack the day before our wedding, the flowers wound up serving double duty the next day in his hotel room — and I am glad that he got to see some part of my day even if he could not be there.

  29. At my dad’s wedding, they had the coordinator put a little sticky note on the bottom of one chair at each table, at random. At the end of the speechs, my dad said for people to look for the sticky note, and if they had it, they got the center piece! There were alot of sad people because their center pieces were these intricate canalabras and they were awesome. That was an all local wedding though, I think if it was a distance for a lot of people then people would have given them to others.

    At my sister’s wedding, she had flowers as her center pieces (in plain mason jars, so no worries about people wanting those!), and then the next day her and her bridesmaids went and delivered them to a local nursing home, spending the day talking and chatting with all the women about her wedding and their weddings. She loved being able to give out flowers to 20 or so women. The only one she kept was her bridal bouquet, the rest went to the nursing home.

  30. I actually didn’t anticipate that people would want to take home my decorations. Down our aisle, we had shepherd’s hooks with kusudama balls hanging. I had several guests ask about those. I said yes, of course. I also didn’t know people would take the books I had on the tables. I wasn’t happy about that, since not all of them were randomly chosen for color scheme and were, in fact, part of my library. Not Faulkner! Nooooo! 😉

  31. I am thinking of having our caterer place a flag of some sort on one plate on each table – the random person gets the centerpiece!

  32. Im planning on letting anyone who wants one take one and then donating the rest of them to the patients in the cancer center where i work.

  33. Im doing floral centerpieces and instead of giving them to people attending the wedding im going to send them over to a local nursing home. I talked to the lady in charge of the senior activites and shes more than happy to take them when its all over.

  34. I can’t believe that people would just actually take your centrepieces and other decorations without asking first! 🙁 I’m making coffee filter roses in vintage jugs from charity shops which I won’t mind people taking, but some of my candle holders and vintage teacups and saucers are mine from home, so I hope it doesn’t turn into a free-for-all!

    I didn’t even think of donating centrepieces though, there’s a nursing home on my street and because the flowers are fake they’ll last forever so will definitely take them round afterwards (if there’s any left!!)

  35. Our centerpieces are going to be books in-between two vases full of flowers/water.

    I’m just going to TELL everyone to take some books home. We’ll probably have close to 150-200 books at the wedding, so that’s at LEAST one book/person. Plus, who doesn’t love books? Any books left, we’re just going to donate to Goodwill.

    As for the vases, they’ll be full of purple water & submerged flowers. They probably won’t be going anywhere (but… I wouldn’t really care if they did.)

  36. We’re having a Halloween themed wedding in October 2015, so we decided to steal this idea ( http://www.nobiggie.net/halloween-silhouettes-free-download/ ) and use candy apples as our centerpieces. Some will have the flying witch template from the link, and others will be black cats with arched backs (we have a black cat at home, it’s starting to take over the wedding). I’m going to make little flags glued on toothpicks to stick into them saying “Eat Me!”

    I have no earthly idea what we’re going to do with the ones that don’t get eaten. Probably eat a lot of apple pie and apple crumble.

  37. We donated our floral centerpieces to a nursing home. We (by we, I mean, my sober parents) packed up the arrangements the night of the wedding. Maybe some were stolen, but I didn’t notice.

    We re-purposed them for life #2 at our brunch at my grandparents the next day. Then, that afternoon, we dropped them at a nursing home for life #3. We didn’t plan ahead, just called them and said would you like some flowers? They said yes, for the cafeteria!

  38. I am getting married in May and my flower arrangement centrepieces are all meaningful flowers for loved ones we’ve lost – a sentimental touch to our day.
    I am attaching a little tag to each one with a guest’s name who will get to take it home at the end of the evening.
    I thought it would be nice on one side of the tag to explain the meaning behind our choices and then on the reverse who it will be passed on to.

    I hope my idea may inspire a new bride/groom, who may also like this 🙂

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