I got married this past Spring, in March. 10 months later, I can’t even believe how fast the year of planning came and the big day began and flew by within a blink of my eye. But I’m feeling slightly boastful as I look back on pictures of that day – how did I even manage to get it all together for a destination wedding down in the keys AND design every single table centerpiece? Aside from the fact my husband and I stuffed the trunk of our car with handmade wedding decor and making the 7 hour road trip down there days before the big day, it was the greatest decision to go heavier on a DIY wedding in the long run.
I mean, really, I got everything I wanted – without doing any extra work than a normal wedding! The tablecloths, the runners, the flowers, all of the decor – everything was DIY. And everything you see – I still have today, all incorporated throughout my home decor. No returning, no hassle. And for a fraction of the cost compared to having a company deliver me something (in hopes it looks how I want it to), and expect it back after the wedding is over (stain/damage free). Yeah, no, that wasn’t happening.
My husband and I went to plenty of weddings together throughout our time dating – the INSANE budget those friends had (although, yes, their weddings were gorgeous), but we knew it just wasn’t in the financial plan for us. And I was really worried I was going to have to sacrifice – A LOT. Because you know when you’re young, all money thoughts aside, and you have this vision in your head (maybe one that’s been growing and growing for years), and when the time comes to actually make it happen and you realize: great, what I want is going to be 40 grand over budget…
And that was way out of our means. I knew I wanted a beach wedding – that’s for sure. And for under 15, we made it happen, with a little DIY magic thrown in. And I’m really excited to share my personal experience with going DIY for my wedding, and sharing some impact or ideas for others on how they can do the same!
[END RANT, I promise.]
DIY Beach Wedding Centerpieces
So if you’re questioning wanting to DIY your wedding centerpieces, here is your inspiration AND the proof that it can be done.
To be clear, my theme had no set color scheme, but although I did mainly stick with lilac (as you’ll notice in the table cloths and in the flower arrangements). I mainly wanted to stick with very natural, mermaid-inspired, but quaint and romantic beach theme. And honestly, I think I nailed it. But I’ll let you be the judge as well.
I get many questions as to where I found the drift wood. My husband and I at the time had a boat, and we live in Florida, so we are able to get to places to find real drift wood on our own. I guess you could say we got real rustic and hands on with this. And yes, even the large driftwood/floral arrangement you will see in the images below were completely DIY. But, if you couldn’t tell, all floral arrangements were actually from silk flowers – none of the flowers you see are real!
I also went with the idea to do something different for each table. I thought that was a unique touch, as well as adding picture frames each with a different picture of my husband and I through our journey. It was something nice for guests to enjoy, and it actually got everyone up to walk around to all the different tables.
Where did I start and how did I do it, you ask?
Simple. Plan it out on paper first. Think about what you definitely don’t want (in keywords), and go from there. I knew I didn’t care too much about a lot of flowers, and I wanted more of the mermaid feel, so I went with more texture and intricacy (like the fishnet, and shells scattered about). But I still wanted romance, so I added in some vintage looking candle pieces.
I knew the table sizes, and I bought the perfect looking mermaid scaled runner for each table. I decided each centerpiece would be sized to only fit on the runner, so that people had enough room to eat! It’s always great to keep in mind that some guests want to be able to ‘see’, so sometimes bigger isn’t better. You have an entire table to play with, go with multiple heights rather than one super tall floral arrangement.
Sure, sure, sure, now where I did I get it all?
You would think this would be the tough part, but honestly not. I’m not sure how many of these stores there are in the US, but I have what’s called Old Time Pottery. They are basically the mother load of all home decor, and for cheap! This place was my sacred spot for my entire wedding. Half their store at the time was literally beach-related items because it was getting close to summer. I bought almost every single one of my candle holders, picture frames, the shells, fishnet, the larger centerpiece vases, the wooden tray for one of my centerpieces with the sand, and found a few silk floral arrangements I loved. But they literally have everything you can think of, honestly. So, if you have one in your area, do yourself a favor and check it out. And go with a completely open mind.
A few other things I purchased through Hobby Lobby and Michael’s Craft Stores, the artificial light up candles, more floral pieces that fit my taste and the tiny led string lights for the larger centerpieces.
And ultimately, how much did it all cost?
I’ll be honest, after several things I bought, took back or couldn’t because it was final sale, some purchases bigger than others – I spent probably a total of $200 for all table centerpieces. Aside from the fact the driftwood I found for free with hard efforts and my bare hands, buying drift wood online is already pricey and sort of a dice role on what you’re going to get since you can’t see it. But you can purchase it online.
To get you started, here are a few tips for when doing your DIY centerpieces:
- Figure out EXACTLY how many tables you will have.
- Get exact measurements of the tables FIRST (you don’t want your centerpieces to be taking up over 50% of the table!).
- Set a strict budget or have an initial CAP budget.
- Go outside the box as to where to find decor for your centerpieces; don’t rely strictly on craft stores; if you’re wedding has nature incorporated, think about gathering real pieces of wood, leaves, branches, vines, etc.
- Arrange out your centerpieces at home as you develop them; and take pictures of the final results! This will help you out as well as your coordinator/those who set up on the big day.
- Don’t feel like you have to make each table centerpiece the same; go bold – go different!
- You don’t need tall, elaborate, over the top centerpieces to be considered ‘centerpieces’, make centerpieces with true value and meaning for your big day
- Hot glue gun and gorilla super glue will be your best friend – get those!
- Do NOT rent your tablecloths/runners – BUY them wholesale (so much cheaper!)
Here are some small accent ideas you could add to your arrangements if you’re stumped on ideas:
- Picture frames on each table
- DIY table numbers
- Simple tea light candles always work!
- Spray painted wine bottles with romantic lyrics/poems/quotes stenciled on each
- Shells, stones, pebbles, gems, crystals, moss or other naturalistic pieces are great theme accents
- Tiny, tiny string lights rather than tea lights or candles (these you can find here along with other great finds!)
- Sometimes all you need is an accent runner or overlay tablecloth over the main tablecloth
Here’s the bottom line: my husband and I had a budget; a budget much, much lower than if we were to have spent $300+ on floral arrangements for each table centerpiece. It just wasn’t realistic to us, and the money we saved on that went towards a really AWESOME, once in a lifetime honeymoon to three cities in Italy. It was well worth it.
To many, this idea is tacky, cheap-looking, too frugal, and not part of the ‘vision’. And that’s fine, DIY is all about HOW you make it. If you want elegance and class, think about what makes those elaborate, high-end centerpieces possible – focusing more on textures than the price tag. But going DIY is totally do-able, if you set your mind to it.