A literary table runner PERFECT for bookish weddings

April 28 | Guest post by CameraObscura


I thought it would be really cool to have table runners made up of lots of pages from books all stuck together, like an organised mess. My future husband found some old wood veneer contact on a garbage pile a few years ago, and we finally had a use for it! Here's how we made these table runners out of old book pages.

What you will need:

  • Self adhesive contact: preferably something heavier like the veneer rather than clear book contact because once the paper is off it won't curl onto itself, which is handy!
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Old book or books that are falling apart and will tear easily away from the spine. We used old David Edding's books that my future husband has had since primary school that have been well loved. Things like old photos would work well, but once its stuck down you can't get it off.
  • Glue stick to stick extras on top.
  • A tea bath/black coffee to splatter to age or decorate the pages. Better to do the tea bath first and wait for the pages to dry, but the coffee could be drizzled after completion.

Step 1: Your Veneer

This veneer was about 450mm (18 inches) wide, which would be too wide to be runners at our venue, so we had to cut it in half. We weren't too sure on the length either, so we went off our dining table and did ours at 2 metres (80 inches). Remember that the pages will overlap the edges so you don't have to cut these perfectly straight.

Cut to your desired length and width.


Peel the contact away. If you are using a more lightweight contact it may be necessary to weight it down a lot, but ours stopped curling once the paper was off the veneer.

Step 2: The Pages

Tear or peel the pages away from the spine. Ours were quite old books and came away quite easily. If you would rather use a newer book, such as a favourite book, you will probably end up with more torn edges as the glue is pretty strong. It felt so wrong to destroy books, but it was going to a good cause! We used books where pages were falling out and were just generally unreadable condition because of floppy spines etc. You could even go to a thrift store or op shop and buy some old books very cheap for this purpose.


Apply the pages however you choose; you could do them neatly overlapping all in one direction, ramshackle like ours, all torn and burnt… so many possibilities!

We made twelve of these table runners all together, and it took about 2.5 hours and cost us nothing. They look amazing! Good thing we have such a big lounge room! After we were finished we just stacked them on top of each other and they don't really take up any space.


Here's another picture of how our lantern centrepieces look on the finished table runners — awesome!

  1. This is just too cool, I've been looking for ideas for what to do with tables for a bookish/literary wedding. So glad ya'll posted this!

    4 agree
  2. This is fantastic! What a great idea, I may have to borrow it=)

    3 agree
  3. Oh god, I love this so much! Gorgeous and clever as all hell.

    4 agree
  4. That's awesome! I bet you could do the same thing with adhesive cut in circles, rather than long strips, and do piles of pages as the bases of your centerpieces, as well!

    8 agree
  5. Nevermind my wedding. I"m making these for my diningroom table!!! Awesome Job!

    7 agree
  6. I love these so much. You know what I love even more? That I could do it with SHEET MUSIC. GAH. My life has been altered.

    11 agree
  7. I am stealing this! I wanted to have a literary/bookish vibe,and I have been comtemplating bringing bundles of ribbon-wrapped antique books. Alas, we are having a destination wedding and bundles of books seemed like a cumbersome way to display our love of books. Thank you so much! This will work perfectly for us! Thank you!

    3 agree
  8. Another place to try to get books is at your local library. No, not the books to check out, but libraries routinely throw away/recycle books that have come back chewed up or water damaged on part or even ones that are falling apart and cannot be repaired again. You might check and see if they would save you some. Worth a try!

    6 agree
    • No joke! My partner and I are planning on doing ringbooks from Harry Potter books as it is one of the reasons we started talking to each other but feel awful cutting them apart so I told her we MUST find a way to use the excess pages. DONE!

      2 agree
  9. Whoa. I'm totally stealing this idea for under my glass-covered tables at home!

    2 agree
  10. Uh. Mah. Gah. I LOVE THIS!
    I love the suggestion of sheet music as well. (We're using sheet music of our wedding song as cones for the bird seed toss.)

    2 agree
  11. agh. awesome. damnit. i want ANOTHER wedding.

    3 agree
  12. I love this idea! I've been struggling with a way to combine books and candles, without worrying about drunk people and giant fires. :) I'll probably be using old Jane Austen novels to represent me and old old Star Trek and Star Wars novels to represent him. Love Love Love this!

    3 agree
  13. oh em effing gee, I LOVE THIS SO MUCH. i think i'll try making some in circles for our dining tables, and runners for our dessert buffet and candy table! thanks for this amazing inspiration!

    2 agree
  14. I love this! We're having a travel themed wedding and I think I might try this with old maps!

    3 agree
  15. I feel like you just completely solved my budget/centerpiece problem!! I'm having an 1800's style classic Alice in Wonderland themed wedding and I wanted to incorporate the book somehow – this will be absolutely happening now! Thank you for posting!

    3 agree
  16. OMG…so borowing this but instead of books using maps…having a pirate wedding and was looking for the right thing to go across the head table since they won't get centerpieces! Awesome awesome awesome!!!

    2 agree
  17. so doing this with old comic book pages!!! im so excited about this!

    2 agree
  18. I'm IN LOVE. I think I'll be doing this with old sheet music that's rotting away on top of the pianer at home!!

    2 agree
  19. I love the idea. I have some old books which are waiting just for this. Thanks

    2 agree
  20. Hm. Do you think I could do this with old school comic book pages, or will that be too much?

    0 agree
  21. What a freakin clever idea! I love that you put it on a back so you can roll them up. Brilliant.

    1 agrees
  22. I'm using this idea to decorate tables for a friend whose two sons are graduating from college this weekend. Using pages from a few old text books and an old dictionary. Thought about old encyclopedia but the textbooks were perfect for college theme! I have to say destroying an old college algebra text and a plane geometry text book was tremendously satisfying!!

    0 agree
  23. We've got long tables rather than round so this was my idea as I didn't want to go over the top with centerpieces. Thanks for sharing your method. We're going for a mixture of paper based media to create our table runners with.

    0 agree

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.