Reception Centerpieces

There are hundreds, probably thousands, of ideas and examples for your table centerpieces out there. I have quite a few on my “Ideas for Weddings & Parties” board on Pinterest if you need some inspiration. I found this idea for ours on Pinterest, but I tweaked it a little to match our wedding theme. You can view the original pin here.

I gathered 27 mason jars in various sizes (I ended up using only 26; one of them was really tiny!) and I didn’t even have to buy them. All I had to do was get on Facebook (small town girl, remember) and ask if anyone had any jars that they no longer needed or wanted to part with.

You will want a good sized work station. To do this project, you will need mason jars, ribbon of your choice, and a hot glue gun. For display you’ll need flat bottomed clear (or colored if you’d like) pebbles, water, and floating candles.

To start, measure around the jar and add about an extra half inch. Cut your ribbon accordingly – the extra half inch is for glue. I used the same ribbon that I did for the ring pillow and the flower girl basket, so I glued the sheer ribbon first and the turquoise over it. The seam where the ribbons are glued looks like this:

Outside of the jar, where the ribbons are hot glued down.

A view of the inside of the jar. You can see how the bottom ribbon is glued to the jar, then each new spot of glue is put directly over the first.

Once your initial ribbons are glued, decide what ribbon you will be using for the bow. You could also use some other kind of embellishment for the front if you prefer. I used a thin lavender ribbon for some, and the same 3/8 in for others (I didn’t plan it that way, I ran out of the turquoise part way through and ended up using the lavender until I got more turquoise). Instead of tying the bow on the jar, use this bow tying tutorial to tie free bows and hot glue them in your desired spot.

For display at the wedding, fill roughly the bottom 1 1/2 to 2 inches of the jar with the pebbles, fill with water up to the top of your ribbon, and float a candle in them. (You need floating candles… regular candles don’t float. I thought most everyone knew this, but Andy and a few of my friends didn’t! I found mine for about $3.50 per 8 pack at Fred Meyers.)

Our assortment of jars turned out really nice, and once they were on the tables filled with water and had the candles lit it was even better. Here’s 3 of our various jars. You can see the three different bow styles I ended up doing.

Finished centerpieces, minus the pebbles.

Personally, my favorites were the ones with turquoise bows. It was what I originally wanted and I just thought it looked best. I even saved two of them after the wedding and I have them sitting on our mantle with our unity sand 🙂 You could tweak this to match your wedding style or theme and your wedding colors. It’s a very easy project and looks great on tables!

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Ceremony & Reception Decorations

Planning the decorations was probably my favorite part of the wedding. I found a website called eFavorMart with decorations, fake flowers, gift boxes, and lots more. I got probably over 90% of our supplies there. And everything is cheap.

To save on cost and on time, our ceremony decorations were very minimal and simple. I tied bows on the aisle end of all the pews and framed the doorway at the back of the sanctuary with tulle. Combined with the aisle runner (which was pulled during the ceremony rather than before) and the unity sand table on the stage, it looked nice and was very simple. Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo of the doorway, but here is a picture of the pews and front of the church:

I got turquoise and lavender colored sashes from eFavorMart, and alternated them on the ends of the pews. You can also see the lace covered unity sand table at the front, and the rolled up aisle runner at the base of the stairs.

 

Our reception was a much bigger decorating task. For starters, the site was way too small for our reception. I was told it had a capacity of 360 people… Maybe 360 people standing shoulder to shoulder and packed in there. Second, there were cabinets, book shelves, a copy machine, and closet doors. Even decorated, it would have looked tacky. So I spent some extra money and went to Walmart to buy king and queen sized white flat sheets. We tacked them to the ceiling in front of the cabinets, in front of and around the book cases, and covered the copy machine. It looked 100 times better! We also draped Christmas lights behind the sheets on the cabinet wall. It looked so good!

From eFavorMart, I ordered satin, pin-tucked table runners in both lavender and turquoise. I also got 3 bolts of white tulle and 3 bolts of turquoise. I used white table cloths, ran the table runners lengthwise on each table, and placed our party favors, centerpieces, and bubbles on top. Here is how it looked at the end. I wish I had a before image!

 

You can see how packed it was in there. In the end, everyone had a great time and we really enjoyed it ourselves. But I can’t help but wish we had gotten another venue!

Party favors don’t have to be extravagant or expensive, but it is a nice gesture. We got 200 2×2 inch favor boxes from eFavorMart, filled them with Hershey’s kisses and hugs, and then tied ribbon around them with bows on top. It was so incredibly time consuming, but we did it and they looked great!

A close up of our favor boxes. I used both lavender and turquoise ribbon to mix things up. You can imagine how long this took!

 

I also made our centerpieces. I got the inspiration off Pinterest, and I’ll post a how-to soon. I got 26 mason jars, hot glued ribbon and bows onto each of them, put clear pebbles in the bottom, filled them with water, and floated floating candles in them at the reception. They came out so good, I saved two for myself and put them on our mantle in our home. You can find lots of other centerpiece ideas both at Pinterest and on TheKnot. It’s worth going through them, there are so many good ideas!

Reception Timeline of Events

Here is our reception timeline. Feel free to copy, paste, edit, and print it for your own reception! Just remember that it won’t be followed to a “T”. Even though there are times printed on the timeline, it’s really just more of a guide to when things will be happening.

 

RECEPTION TIMELINE

5 PM:

–          Introduction of the Wedding Party: Music – We Found Love (ft. Calvin Harris) by Rihanna

  • Parents of Bride
  • Parents of Groom
  • Bridesmaid & Groomsman 1
  • Bridesmaid & Groomsman 2
  • Bridesmaid & Groomsman 3
  • Bridesmaid & Groomsman 4
  • The New Mr and Mrs

–          Couples First Dance: God Gave Me You by Blake Shelton

–          Prayer

–          Eat and Greet (easy, low volume music)

 

6 PM:

–          Toasts – Member of the wedding party will start off

–          Father-Daughter Dance: In My Arms by Mark Wills

–          Mother-Son Dance: How Sweet It Is by James Taylor

–          Open Dance Floor

 

7 PM

–          Garter Removal

–          Garter Toss

–          Bouquet Toss

–          Money Dance

–          Open Dance Floor again

 

8 PM:

–          Cake Cutting

–          Open Dance Floor, last time

 

About 8:45:

–          “Last Dance” (letting guests know the party is wrapping up) Fast and Festive Music – “In The Mood” or “Sing, Sing, Sing”

 

9 PM:

–          Bride and Groom Head Out! Final Farewell!

The Reception

The time has come to plan the party portion of your big day, otherwise known as the fun part! Same as with the ceremony, you need to find a venue first that is available on your date (again, this is assuming you are having separate venues). If at all possible, you should visit venues in person and get a tour to see how big the space is and what you’ll be working with in terms of table set up and decorations. You should have your venue booked at least 4-5 months in advance. Here are some questions you need to ask:

What is the room capacity?

Are we allowed to bring in a caterer and/or our own food?

Do you have any requirements concerning decorations such as candles, tacks and pushpins, or adhesives?

Will we be able to set up and decorate the day before the event?

Where are (or are there) cleaning supplies we can use?

Where is the best place to put the DJ? (Look for at least two outlets that can be dedicated entirely to the DJ. A room corner usually works best)

Do you have tables, chairs, and linens?

Keep in mind that you should have a decent gap between the end of your ceremony and the beginning of your reception to allow for pictures (unless you take your pictures before the ceremony. This ruins the whole “groom can’t see the bride before the wedding” but some people do it. I myself was completely against it, even though some wanted us to do it that way). I planned our day with a 2 hour window between for pictures, and we did pretty good sticking to that. We were only 15 minutes late to our reception, and nobody even noticed.

Once you have your venue, seek out a caterer or decide on your foods. We went against all “wedding etiquette” I had found and we had a potluck reception. Small town folks love potluck get-togethers, and for weddings everyone makes their best dishes. You can’t go wrong with that. I asked guests to bring their best finger food to share and our families provided punch, plates, utensils, and napkins. (And of course dessert was also provided – the cake. Duh!) Both of our mothers made a few dishes too. We had so much good food! And it saved us so much money. Caterers can cost thousands of dollars, and in my experience the food is not always that great. You must check with your venue to see if you can host a potluck or even bring in your own caterer. One venue I went to said I had to have a professional food caterer and couldn’t bring in any outside food except the cake. Another venue I spoke to told me I had to use their catering service.

You should book a DJ no less than 1-2 months before your wedding. Most DJ’s don’t fill up for events that early, so this should be a safe time frame. Some people are bound to tell you that a DJ is just an added expense and you’d be just fine playing music off your iPod. No. They have obviously never planned a wedding reception. A DJ does more for you than just hit play on a fancy device. Your DJ should be able to introduce the wedding party, announce reception events when they are going to happen, and keep music flowing seamlessly. They enable you to enjoy your party without having to play host. Ask around to find out if there are DJ’s in your area that people you know recommend, or that have good reviews.

We were incredibly blessed with our DJ, Marc. He wanted to be there a half hour early to set up and be able to play music while guests were arriving, and bought music that we wanted played that neither of us had. Marc met with us on our time schedule two separate times to go over the location, playlists, the reception events, names of the wedding party members, and all the other details. He brought in a few lights, his own table, and all of his equipment. I sat down and made a general playlist for him, and also made him a playlist on my iPad of songs that we already owned that he didn’t need to buy. We paid him $500 for 4 hours of work, and I know he could have charged a lot more. He didn’t charge us extra for arriving a half an hour early or for the music he downloaded.

In addition to having a playlist, you will need to have a typed up copy of your reception flow of events. The events include the introduction of the wedding party, first dance, father-daughter dance, mother-son dance, bouquet and garter toss, and cutting the cake. I have posted our events timeline here for you to use if you’d like.

Lastly, decorations. You should begin buying and collecting your decorations at the beginning of your engagement to help save money and to avoid the “cost shock” of dishing a large amount of money at one time. Here you can find some decoration ideas and a little bit of advice. I hope this helps you sort out your reception. I’m sure the stress is beginning to build if it hasn’t already. Just remember to take a deep breath, pray for patience and strength, and maybe take a day or two off from planning. It could do you a world of good!

 

 

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV)