Non-floral wedding centerpieces

My best friend is an offbeat bride and she's planning an awesome personality-filled offbeat wedding for October.

There's a problem though — centerpieces.

We're trying to find something that's DIY, doesn't cost much, and doesn't involve flowers. Yikes.

Any suggestions? —Miranda

Centerpieces are tough. They can end up being a TON of work or more involved and expensive than you expected. That said, cute and funky ideas to adorn your table centers are a click away, if you've got the patience to do exhaustive internet searching. Fortunately, we have gathered some downright fab ideas for you, so rest those little phalanges and browse away!

Any suggestions?! Even though we skipped centerpieces all-together at our wedding, I inhaled dozens of ideas online during the planning process. Here are a few of my favorites:

Stones and Rocks

Photo by Brian Tao
Oonagh and Dylan went centerpiece mad with different styles on different tables! This one is charmingly sweet and simple with their names hand-written on them.

When combined with other natural elements, as shown here at Kate and Eli's wedding, rocks can make for a nice organic feel to a table.

Sticks and Branches

Center pieces.
This particular skull-themed concept is brought to you by Tribe member Shellbelle.
Again: easy, natural, cheap. Bonus points if you make 2D bird-shapes out of felt or add little fake birds (woodland forest theme?)!

Critters abound in Kimi and Paul's table number centerpieces. These branch-like twiney-vineys definitely have an organic vibe with those faux flowers.


Dude, I'm totally sticking with my hippie theme here, aren't I? But check out this simple concept: vase, fall leaves, candles. Tada!

If you're looking for a bit more interest with the leaves, consider pulling them from local trees, framing them on some nice card stock and adhering a label naming what type of tree it dropped from. Guests could also take them home as a souvenir! Great for a fall wedding.

Photo by Brian Tao
Here's another centerpiece from Oonagh and Dylan. This time they combined sticks with paper flowers and cut-out leaves for some origami-esque chic.


Photo by Amber Zagorski
With a little creativity, latnerns could be applied to almost any theme. Check out these battery-powered options of the paper variety.

Another interesting option would be to do metal and glass lanterns, like the one above from Jen and Mike's Harry Potter-themed wedding. They would be stunning for a nighttime wedding where a little romance is involved. For a homespun country-style wedding vintage lanterns would really set the mood.

Photo by Tao Nguyen
I love this two-sided lantern idea from Gloria and Pete's wedding. It somehow looks totally zen with a little bit of nautical thrown in.


Photo by Jacob Bauch
Dude, I am in love with this concept from Michele and Matt's wedding. This idea is an obvious fit for academic/literary types, but could be extra funny with cheap romance novels and pulp fiction, which you can get for pennies at any second-hand store. Stack 'em and wrap 'em in ribbons — suddenly trashy fiction becomes an entertaining conversation piece. Stick a wedding-branded bookmark in 'em and they're kitchy favors! Like Muglies, only readable.

Photo by Type A Images
This is cheating since I'm pretty sure this is solely a cupcake stand. But does it have to be? I love the creative book stacking and wonky angles. This could become a pretty amazing centerpiece if you had the books for it.

Photo by Becca Scheiblauer
Ribbon-tied books, candies, and candles make for a sweet and stylish centerpiece. Makes me thirsty too. I wonder why.

Medical Glassware

I've never actually seen this done, but the idea of Erlenmeyer flasks or Volumetric flasks is SUPER way cool. Add some colored water and candles on a clean white table cloth and you've got a geeky, colorful, UNIQUE centerpiece!

Some other filling options could include M&Ms or other colored candy, semi-transparent beads, marbles, or dry ice!

James & Melissa's Pi Day wedding
Photo by Megan Finley
James and Melissa used glass beads in a medical beaker (with flowers, don't tell anyone) in their scientist-themed centerpiece. You can barely tell it's medical glassware until you look closely. Sneaky and cute!

Here are some other non-floral centerpiece inspiration posts and DIY tutorials to peruse:

I'm guessing some of our readers have some amazing ideas — anyone?

  1. Good ideas for someone who doesn't want to spend money for bundles on flowers.The whole effect was natural, creative, and beautiful with all the candles and rocks. ill ive a thumbs up on su!!

  2. We're getting married in early November so we're going to hit up a local pumpkin farm for post Halloween leftover pumpkins and squash and use those as our centerpieces with a couple vases & old juice glasses with Zinnias. I'm surprised I haven't seen more use of pumpkins. They're so colorful and fairly inexpensive for an autumn wedding. Oh, and our 2 "flower boys" will carry buckets of leaves instead of flowers.

  3. We are getting married on Jan 1 @ 1:00a.m. We are having a backyard tent wedding but colors and centerpieces are still up in the air. I was thinking a Morroccan theme with belly dancers as entertainment. Please help. Not afraid to abandon the theme.

  4. Back to the whole "pumpkin" idea: I'm getting married at the end of September in 2010 and I think perhaps carving out different sized pumkins and then placing several long, thick and thin, short and tall candles inside them might give the reception a fallish but romantic glow. Any other ideas in regards to pumkins.

    However, my fiance and I have our house adorned with wine bottles and vintage wine posters . . . we love that vintage, romantic look and feel. Does anyone have any brainstorming ideas on this? Priscilla's decoupage wine bottle idea is fabulous!

  5. The theme of my August backyard wedding is mermaids and superheroes, which is to say the theme is FUN. For centerpieces, I am having overflowing buckets of bubbles, chalk, crayons, sequins, masks, playdoh, sparklers, and other whimsical items that inspire playfulness. The dollar section at Michaels and Target, not to mention Dollar Stores, are good for amassing this stuff.

    1 agrees
  6. Wow alot of suggestions here, Im doing a summer hawaiian themed wedding I still have no idea what I am doing for my tables, been thinking seashells and sand around candle bowls or something. Havent really come up with alot just yet and only got about 4 months to get everything together. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated !! :)

  7. This sight is fabulous!! Thanks ladies for all the great tips! I am having our wedding in South Padre Island in mid April and the reception will be later after our honeymoon in late may at an outdide venue. We have chosen to get various glass vases
    (cheap at the dollar store or on clerance at target) I am going to fill them with sand from our trip and colored rocks to illuminate the glass to look like diamonds, and then put a candle in the center and a few sand dollars around the edges, they will then be placed on a square mirror with some seashells around it. I have already played and they look amazing for a total of about 3.00 per table!! This reception is all about a beach theme with a slideshow presentation for the loosers that werent able to make the wedding!!! ha ha also we are putting grass skirting around the edges of the tables, and the bar will be decorated in tiki designs!!! Can't wait!!!

  8. Italia, you could do mini pumpkin votive holders – I saw it in a magazine where the inside of the mini pumpkin was cored out and a votive placed inside to make it a candle holder. Very tasteful and cute!

    As far as wine goes, I'm incorporating large glass vases that I'll fill (alternately) with old wine corks and whole coffee beans. My fiance and I went to school near some wineries and he's a coffee addict. Most wineries will give you boxes full of corks for free if you just ask! I'm also going to make name card holders out of corks by cutting a slit in the top and inserting the name card. I was considering giving away cork magnets, but they turned out to be a pain in the butt to cut in half – sooo not worth the 15 minutes per cork to make!

    Hope that helps!

    1 agrees
  9. for our reception we are hollowing out fallen logs from a recent storm and using this to plant herbs and maybe a few flowers or lavender, then probably mixing in stacked books with ribbon (thanks for the tip). our biggest problem though was the lack of color in our room, we can't afford to rent tablecloths but we stumbled across the large parent sheets in diffrent textures and colors in a craft/stationary store and decided to use that as a base for our center peices.

  10. We're making Zen gardens w/ a couple tea candles tossed in (cuz fire's awesome).

    It's a totally non-theme wedding. I had originally wanted them (can't remember how I thought to do them in the first place now) as I had spent some time in Japan and am down w/ the whole Zen thing. But recently (compltely unrelated to the wedding) my fiance has started exploring Buddhism and Zen, so it's totally fitting to both of us now.

    But what makes it especially unique is we're using sand and rocks from Lake Superior, as we met and having the wedding in Duluth.

  11. I found a different bridesmaids gift on this site. It is personalized for each one. You send them a picture side profile of your girls and they make them. I was married in January and my girls loved them!! Cute idea. We also had a flame thrower and dancing girl who lit up people's mouths! Fun

  12. We are adorning the tables with Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head couples for our April 17, 2009 wedding. We'll recycle them afterwards by giving them to a local charity and hope they make for lively conversaiton (even if it's only at our expense!) Also, I have several domestic partners in tow who I plan to honor with a few selectively placed Mr. & Mr.'s or Mrs. & Mrs's. Just a thought!

    • What a great idea! Do you have pictures to share of your Potato Head centerpieces?

  13. I am in charge of table decorations for a Farm theme wedding for my brother's wedding. Any ideas? The colors are yellow and green. thanks

  14. Colleen-

    Something very cute and insanely inexpensive for decorations for a farm theme would be to use mason jars. Put a single tealight in them, or put some fresh picked wild flowers in them. Play around with different kinds of things you could put in them– maybe you could find some really cool vintage toys and trinkets from an antique store. Or you could decorate the tables somehow incorporating fun farm animal toys! Breyers horses as centerpieces would be amazing. Good luck!

  15. Why oh, why didn't I find this site when I was planning my own wedding?
    We got married in Oct. last yr. and something that I used was pumpkins, yes, I said it… :) I went and made friends with a guy who grows them and got 'em very cheap. I cleaned them out like for halloween and poked holes in them (with diff. sized drill bits and then put candles in 'em. They acutally turned out better than expected and every1 thought they were great. I also Gutted the big ones and dropped some mumms (pots and all) in. these looked nice too. Bonus give 'em out as favors.

  16. Colleen, I went to a farm themed wedding not too long ago and they filled mason jars with dried corn and green peas, then tied the top with ribbons, it was very cute…

  17. I'm getting married next June in an informal, outdoors setting. Since we live in good ol' Appalachia, we will be surrounded by mountains. We are thinking of naming the tables at the reception after local peaks (Mount Rogers, Bays Mountain, etc), and I would love to do a non-traditional centerpiece. Any ideas on what would kind of work with the mountain theme? I liked the idea of fruit and stuff like that.

    A friend suggested mason jars of moonshine, but I nixed that. 😉

  18. I'm getting married next June. The main wedding colors are going to be green and blue but I couldn't think of any centerpieces to match that. I was thinking about theming each table around something that we are both interested in or like (books, music, coffee, etc) and then having the centerpieces reflect that theme and doubling as favors. What do you all think?

    • i'm getting married next May and going with blue and green too, but we're combining it with a beach theme. I'm thinking about putting pictures of us and other family wedding pictures(maybe in black and white) on the tables with green and blue squares of fabric under. I'm still throwing ideas around but I'd love feedback if you come up with anything.

  19. My intentions are to use songs that are relevant to our lives. When I was little by dad you to play "I Get Around" by the Beach Boys off a vinyl and pick me up and dance around the living room… but is that song appropriate at all? And how on earth would you dance to it?

    • Cat — I have to work "Fun, Fun, Fun" into my non-dancing wedding for the same reason — and I believe "I Get around" would be Bop, but I'm not positive. Take a look at the year it came out, take a look at some of the other songs on the chart that year, and see what you can come up with. Or go pose the same question in a dance community online?

  20. My backpacking/climbing fiancee and I both work at REI, met through REI, and are having the wedding right outside Rocky Mountain National Park. For centerpieces we're using mini-candle lanterns ( which are essentially protected tea lights. Then as favors (and I may have them on and clustered around the candle lanturn) Coleman has a lantern key-chain ( Cute and useful!

    3 agree
  21. Any thoughts for a black/white/fuschia wedding? We're having black tablecloths, white flatware but other than that I'm stumped. I am too cheap for flowers and I want something funky, chic, and unique. Help!

    3 agree
  22. I'd make craft flowers – paper/origami, tulle, felt, something. Fuschia is a very floral color anyway, and crafted flowers would let you find a paper or cloth that matched the right hue of fuschia in the rest of your wedding – just try doing that with real flowers. Crafted flowers can also be set up well in advance, meaning you can work on them yourself whenever you have time, or hand them off to crafty friends for them to make.

    The non-floral bouquet entry also has a great christmas ornament and tulle number, which could easily be adapted into a centerpiece.

    3 agree
  23. Colleen,
    What about John Deere items? They totally fit with your brother's colors. Tractors and mini hay bales would be really fun.

    3 agree
  24. Hibryd,

    Thanks for the suggestion! Would you put the faux flowers in vases or just scatter them about? Hmmm. I like the ornament bouquet. Very cool idea.

    3 agree
  25. My theme is A Gift From God and I'm planning to decorated my reception with boxes wrap as gifts and everyone favors are going to be in little gift boxes.

    3 agree
  26. We are having an 80's themed wedding so our centerpieces are view masters, rubicks cubes and etch a sketches. Not only will they add color but it will be added entertainment.

    3 agree
  27. Vanessa….
    how did your wedding turn out? I'd love to see pics of the fruit centerpieces. or if anyone else has pics of lemons, limes, and oranges used as centerpieces.

    5 agree
  28. We are getting married on Oct. 3 in an outside wedding. We have both done this twice already and want something different and very cheap…any ideas? We are just having a simple ceremony for a few family members. Its in a park in Illinois also. We are having cupcakes instead of cake I think…so far anyway. We are both older and don't want a lot of fuss.

    2 agree
  29. I love to cook and garden and I love all things French, so I instantly knew I wanted herb plants for my centrepieces. I thought I was going to buy herb plants and then started adding it up–2.50 per plant plus all the pots at 5 plants a table was more than I wanted to spend. Luckily we're planning for next year and I'm kind of obsessive, so I did a trial run of growing them from seed–it worked great!! I found someone selling little terracotta pots for 40 cents a piece, so I'll be able to do the whole project for under $50 and have little basil, rosemary, oregano, thyme and lavender plants that people can take home. My only concern is where I'm going to put the 70 little pots while they're growing next year in our little apartment!!

    2 agree
  30. I know someone who put fish int he center and then gave them to the children as favors. They were betas so it isn't like they ould need a big fish tank at home.

    2 agree
  31. In regards to using fish- There ARE safe ways to use fish at your reception, but there's a lot of work and research involved in it, and depending on what you do, it can get incredibly costly. I always recommend that for unusual circumstances, you use a hardy fish, such as some of the species listed here:….

    Now, the trick with this is that depending on the species, it can get incredibly expensive just to buy them. The financial pain there can be doubled by the pain of realizing you didn't think the entire plan through and half of those gorgeous, tri-colored fish are dead (which sucks for them, too). So, if you're going to do fish, here are some research recommendations:

    – Pay attention to your set-up. If you have a large space with your music on one side, you can probably use fish on the opposite side of the room in a large tank that is mostly out of the way.

    – Find out what kind of tank is going to be the best for keeping them happy (or at the barest minimum not stressed) and in one piece; round bowls are out when this comes up. Don't even think about it.

    – Determine if you need a lot of little tanks or if you'd prefer to do one big one off to the side (you can get some nice tanks for incredibly cheap online or at garage sales; just make sure to run water through them for a few hours first to make sure they're still fully sealed). You could also look into borrowing a tank from a friend if they have one they're not using.

    – Research how to set up your tank(s). A big one will need a filter, lights, some form of plant-life for the fish to hide in if they're a skittish species, etc;. You will also, regardless of what you do, want a dechlorinator for your tank(s). I recommend API's Stress Coat for this, as it also strengthens the slime coat on the fish and keeps them comfortable.

    – Determine how many times you're going to have to feed them, and how much (Yes, they need food just like you do, and forgetting to feed them, even if it's only for a day and you're not even keeping them afterwords, can cause them added stress and contribute to a lot of them dying).

    – Please, for the love of all things sacred, do not use candles next to smaller tanks. EVER. If heats up the water and can make a glass bowl (which you shouldn't be using) more fragile, and can be incredibly bad for your fish's health.

    I highly recommend planning out what you're going to do with the fish afterwords as well. If at all possible, keep them in a shiny new tank that you've gotten yourself as a wedding present. Another option is to talk to fish hobbyists that you know and see if they would be interested in keeping some. And, last but not least, you can talk to local pet shops that deal in fish BEFORE your wedding, and get in writing that they'll buy some or all of them from you after the fact.

    See? Now that you've read through all of this, you're thinking fish are more work than their worth. If you're not a fish hobbyist and don't know the basics of fish care, then yes, yes they are. But if you apply the proper care and knowledge (ALWAYS talk to your local pet stores' fish experts, as they can give you their recommendations as well), you can utilize the beauty and charm of some of our favorite water-dwelling neighbors without causing them any harm and without losing your investment.

    4 agree
  32. For anyone who is going with a tea party or vintage chic feel for their wedding, an idea is to go around Op shops, garage sales and flea markets and collect old tea cups and tea pots. The tea pots could be used for centrepieces, and the tea cups filled with lollies or potting mix and seedlings for a cute gift for guests.

    We're doing a burlesque theme, and are thinking of naming the tables after different burlesque things – Corset, Stiletto, Chandelier, Feather Boa, Martini Glass are some of the ideas so far. Each centrepiece will reflect the name of the table, so Stiletto will have my silver and black stiletto jewellery stand on top of a mirror base with black feathers and dark red rose petals and possibly some votive candles scattered around it.

    3 agree
  33. hey-werehave a vintage 50s/teapartyesque styled wedding and our centre pieces are birdcages with ivy tea pots used as vases with small bunches of wild flowers and old cake stands that im collecting with cupcakes on-not doing traditional cake cutting thing-& also single candle holder really beauifully coloured ones-sounds like a lot going on but itll work-i hope!!!

    2 agree
  34. Help girls…
    My finacee is alergic to flowers and we can't have candles at the reception venue so I'm really stuck for ideas. My bridesmaids dresses are a bluey-purple and our other accent colour is gold as I used to live in India. Any suggestions for centre pieces?

    2 agree
    • How about little shallow terracotta/brass-effect pots filled with different coloured spices and powdered colours with little gold foil shapes (flowers, leaves, anything!) strewn around them? Will be colourful and smell yummy too!

      2 agree
  35. My fiancee and I are both teachers. Each table will have a mini blackboard, chalk and a duster. I've got conical flasks filled with different coloured liquid and a gas cylinder with a candle in it. There will also be Hungry Caterpillar bubbles. (We've gone for a teacher/i'm still about 5 years old at heart theme).

    1 agrees
  36. ok i dont know how to post new post but i NEED HELP OK……………
    Iam having my wedding reception at a old movie theater, and am so lost on favors i want something thats gonna standout and everyone will think is cool……..Like something old hollywood and movies time but with our name on them ANYONE??????

    1 agrees
    • I would do the invitations as cinema tickets, there is several providers for this on the net, just google. Decoration could be film posters with your heads shopped on. If you don´t mind the smell, popcorn would be a good option, if you do, go for a candy shop: Jars of different jelly beans and other sweets you like, small plastic bags so that everyone can take what they like. Think about serving drinks in paper cups with plastic toppers and straws. Give an oscar to the best man and brides maids, and maybe practice an acceptance speech :-). Rings could be decorated in an old film reel. Film itself could also be a great table deco. Red carpet is obligatory…
      need more? let me know :-) kind regards from Vienna

      1 agrees
    • gourmet popcorn obviously! you can order it in bulk, scoop into cellophane bags, print your own labels and tie off with a ribbon.

      1 agrees
  37. We are doing a movie theme wedding sooo we're thinking of putting a bowl of popcorn as are centerpieces :)

    1 agrees
    • A little late, but for future movie theatre weddings, you could also use director's slates with your names on them and the table number as the 'take'.

      1 agrees
  38. Peacock feathers. Try or to order for cheap. Craft stores have them, too. You can put them in mason jars from thrift stores. And another idea is to check pet stores for decorative rocks for aquariums. I've seen big bags of beautiful tiger eye there for cheap.

    1 agrees
  39. I didn't do this, but I knew a lady who bought cake stands, and put a different flavor of cake at each table. That way guests mingle because they want to try all the different flavors!

    1 agrees
  40. i have bought 8 fluted vases from ikea, they will be half filled with Glass Pebbles, with a coloured tealight holder and a ribbon tied round the ribbon. Im hoping to get 'Wedding Day' yankee candle tea lights to put in the holders :)

    1 agrees
  41. My fiance and I are having a "handmade technology" wedding. I am making flowers out of brightly colored felt, cogs and old parts of computers and electronics. I am a crafting person and he is a computer and video game nerd, and we wanted something to reflect us. :)

    1 agrees
  42. we are getting married in october near woodstock. I definitely want non-floral centerpieces. i like the idea low of woven rectangular baskets, placing two pillar candles on either end of the basket and heaping them with figs and gourds.

    i also think a single medium sized white pumpkin lantern on each table would look magical. they can be carved with anything from the couples initials and wedding date, or wedding bells or autumn leaves.

    for spring or garden weddings, grape vine birds nests filled with speckled eggs, loose craft feathers in your wedding colors and a tiny bird perched on the edge of the nest would be utterly charming.

    1 agrees
  43. Some great ideas in this post!!

    I love the way the 'traditional wedding' is constantly becoming more 'offbeat' and personalized towards each individual couple! It definitely doesn't have to be about the flowers and floral arrangements anymore, when we have the ability to be so much more creative!
    I work at a golfcourse doing weddings and I've seen some great ideas there. I still notice that a lot of people resort to different flower arrangments in your typical vase, but I do love it when something different is brought to the table, no pun intended! One in particular I liked was a bride who had a love for lemons and limes! She purchased different shaped glass vases and stacked them full of lemons and limes. Not only were they used as centerpieces, but also as decorative displays beside the head table, on the head table, on the gift table and up at the bar! Also, she had a little lemon and lime made out of icing on the top of her cake. My favourite part was the wedding favour: a sugar cookie in the shape of a lemon covered in a bright yellow icing with a tag on it that read: 'Today I married my main squeeze!"

    For whatever reason, this wedding really stuck with me! I think the fact that we had never really seen something so unique as this before was what really did it! I fell in love with the creativeness.

    Another great one, although I would not do it myself, was a Halloween wedding that we had, where the bride and groom dressed up as 'the corpse bride and groom' which was absolutely wicked to see! And all the guests came dressed up as well. You can only imagine how cool the decor was!

    It's weddings like these that people remember and that make the most impact, I think anyway. My husband and I also had different decor that strayed away from the traditional flower. It was our special day, so why not? I think that a wedding SHOULD represent the personality of the couple.

    It's the happiest day of your life and only happens once (well, hopefully anyway!), so why not make a statement!!

    Love this blog!

    2 agree
  44. I am doing a 40's theme with peacock colors. For the centerpieces, I am using blue mason jars with clear stones and peacock feathers or I maybe battery-operated tealight candles. To save money on china, I am asking friends and family to borrow their set of china so each table will have their own matching set.

  45. Two ideas: 1. For people (like me) who would really like a floral centerpiece, but fear the cost, there is always baby's breath! It's an inexpensive 'filler' flower, but is still quite pretty on it's own. I'm considering using it in a cylinder vase, then tying a pretty black ribbon around the vase to spruce it up a bit (my colors are black and white). Sorry, I know this is a non-floral forum, but perhaps some people are simply considering non-floral due to high cost (I was), and this could be a cheap floral option.
    2. How about a pretty bowl of chocolates, pretzels, other snacks as a centerpiece? Especially if the food isn't served right away, the guests may appreciate it!

  46. I'm thinking, in addition to other things, making small frames and placing in each a different favorite quote from the groom or myself. They'd be decorated in some way as well (a fancy print, small feathers, pressed flower or greenery?)They can be used as general decorations and on tables. My thought is that they can help get conversation flowing, especially if we omit, or print on the back, whose quotes they are!

  47. I'm getting married in late October and we're using fake foam pumpkins that I got on sale after this past Halloween to make wedding jack o'lanterns. We are going to carve some shape into them (maybe bats or leaves) and put battery operated tea lights inside.

  48. I agree with having lanterns in a wedding.It's a great decor accent which can be used for a fall wedding. I love your post♥

  49. I had robots. They were from toys r us, about six inches tall. the florist stuck them to astro turf in these shallow square metal pots. She also, gave them each a small bouquet of flowers and secured them in place with copper wire. (wedding colors were copper and green)

Read more comments

Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

No-drama comment policy

Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.

Biz owners & wedding bloggers

Please just use your real name in your comment, not your business name or blog title. Our comments are not the place to pimp your website. If you want to promote your stuff on Offbeat Bride, join us as an advertiser instead.