Having a beach wedding and hoping to find the perfect centerpiece? Not to worry: this theme makes the most of modest elements. Sure, you can hand your florist 20 grand or call up Preston Bailey for some crystal trees … but even if you keep things super-simple, your tables will still look grand.
Still, a word to the wise: most beach weddings take place in challenging conditions. Wind is no friend to flames, so make sure any candles are shielded. Plus, all that sun can really beat down your flowers. So if you’re using live blooms, test them out. You can take steps to avoid common problems (drooping tulips, browning hydrangeas), but you need to know what to expect in your own unique setting.
Finally, an important style secret: what goes under your centerpieces can be just as important as the showy stuff on top. A mirrored tile might bounce light, but these days, it just doesn’t look that fresh.
On the other hand, something like a bamboo mat or banana leaf, a palm frond or a few looped blades of sword grass will make your tables look like the hand of an old pro was involved.
Sand and Candle Centerpieces
These have to be the gold standard when it comes to beach weddings. Brides use them over and over, because they’re inexpensive, easily styled and lots of fun to look at. Plus, you can find the makings almost anywhere.
The essential ingredients: sand, a candle, maybe some seashells and a glass container. After that, it’s all about design. So here’s a few ways to make your sand and candle centerpieces really pop.
White-Out. If you just grab the first sand or shells you find, you might find the look a bit blah. Try to really work the colors: focus on bright white, for example. Start with a white pillar candle, and set in white sand. Scatter light-colored seashells around the base, and prop up a zesty white starfish against the candle. The effect’s much brighter (and more bridal) than the usual grays and bieges.
Of course, other brides crave more color and zing. So alternately, you could place a bright coral votive inside your bowl, and scrunch a small sea of aqua organza underneath it.
Style Secret. It’s funny how boring sand can look when you just pour it into a bowl … almost like concrete. Give it much more interest by mixing it up the top layers with tiny seashells or pebbles. Also, be sure to tuck in a starfish or two as a focal point for each bowl. They really draw the eye, while piles of just-plain shells can be pretty sedate.
Bling up the Bowl. If all this isn’t enough visual excitement, add more by lashing a starfish or sand dollar to the outside of the bowl. Combine an aqua satin ribbon with raffia for rich yet rustic tying material.
Surrounded! Every great centerpiece deserves a solid supporting act. Popular choices include rose petals, mini adirondack chairs for nautical chic, smaller votives, individual orchids, or large chunks of beach glass that bounce the light beautifully.
Tall glass cylinders are some of the most stylish centerpieces you could ever want. And yet, their simplicity borders on criminal. Spend a bit of time staging these ahead of time, and you’ll have some astounding designs that any good friend can easily toss together a few hours before the reception.
A glass cylinder vase (about 10″ tall and 3.5″ wide).
A large floating candle (about 3″ wide).
Anything else your heart desires … or nothing, since they already look perfectly elegant.
Glass cylinders are sleek and modern. Fill them with water, and you get extra reflected-light mileage out of your floating candles. These centerpieces look gorgeous as is, but you can also personalize more by including “drowning” fruits, flowers or other inserts.
Try adding these interest-grabbers to the bottom of your cylinders: sunken hydrangeas or orchids, sand and seashells, whole and sliced citrus fruit, silk flower petals, beach glass, vase gems or river stones.
Make sure your floating candles are nearly as big as the cylinder is wide. If they’re smaller, they’ll float to one side and look lopsided. Also, don’t overstuff your cylinders with fillers. Three shades of hydrangea blossoms or citrus fruits crammed all the way to the top don’t look nearly as nice as they should. Instead, fill each cylinder anywhere from 1/4 to 2/3 of the way to the top, leaving the rest of the space for water or air.
Remember, though, if these babies are going outside, the candle needs to be well below the top of the cylinder. Also, clustering adds major visual punch. Plan on grouping these in threes. Fill the water to three different heights for a sophisticated, graduated look.
Oh, this is too easy … and yet too cute. Take some ordinary but stylish little fishbowls, and fill with aqua-tinted water … don’t forget to add that touch of yellow! Now, finish them off by slipping in masses of simple, bright-white blooms: hydrangeas, white peonies or even carnations. Gorgeous and witty.
No wonder this solution’s so popular for the terminally chic. (And no more wailing about expensive blooms that die three days after the reception!) Simply deck each table with a tall, ethereal potted orchid. Replant each one in a pretty terra-cotta pot with a shell motif. Cover the soil with sheet moss or flower petals.
Then, style the base with a simple frame you’ve lashed together with bamboo and raffia. Or simply tuck a banana leaf underneath each pot. These look extraordinary, you don’t have to fret over flames, and at the end of the night, they make great prizes for an impromptu raffle … or touching gifts for your loyal bridesmaids.
Faux Coral “Trees”
This is a hot idea that’s sure to get guests talking … and it offers some height for cheap. Put a cool tropical spin on the usual bare-branch solution by spray-painting masses of curly willow, birch or other decorative branches a bright coral red. Place the finished result in a vase filled with white sand or clear gems. The results: haute and exotic.
All-Natural Table Runners
Why not pile interesting materials down the table as an eye-catching alternative to the usual damask or satin runners? Inexpensive but intriguing: try a line of driftwood, punctuated with glass votives and scattered orchids. Or, for more of a splurge, go with a whole heaping pile of star lilies, orchids or rose petals.
Share Your Sense of Style!
What designs did you dream up for your beach reception? Trade ideas, share your inspirations, and post your mock-up pics … or the finished result!