The first response I received, from a groom who just got married: In a year, no one will remember what your centerpieces were. Make something, and keep it cheap.
Another engaged friend of mine wrote, "In my opinion, they can be the prettiest centerpieces ever, but if you can't see the people across from you, they're just downright annoying! Stay small."
Use Pinterest, one former bride suggested. (She wishes it had been around when she got married.)
The same person also noted that she'd seen some HORRIBLE centerpieces, including one involving potpourri and doilies. She noted the bride's mother-in-law had created them, something I think underscores the importance of making sure that if you're entrusting someone with such an important job, they know your vision.
Specific centerpiece ideas:*Limbs of cherry trees, in bloom, in the center. Hang from them crystals and lit candles. (Only criticism: It was hard to see the people on the opposite end of the table.)
Here's an example of a cherry tree centerpiece I found on Brideorama:
*Photo holders (the type that have clips that prop up photographs), set atop mirrors on each table with small, battery-operated tealights. The couple chose photographs that meant a lot to them, and they wrote memories on the back of the pictures. The idea really encouraged people to mingle and get to talking to people they didn't know, this person noted. "I think it speaks volumes that this wedding was six years ago and I remember it so vividly," she said. Touché!
*Given the love of karaoke my husband-to-be and I share, one person suggested we assign song lyrics or titles to the tables instead of numbers. She said she saw a couple who loved to travel assign city names to their tables in much the same way. Cute, I think, and definitely something we'll consider.
*Tall square vases filled with clear marbles, icy-blue Christmas ball ornaments and glittery icicle-laden branches extending out. Here's an ornament centerpiece I found on Pinterest, credited to boards.weddingbee.com:
*One bride didn't want to use a lot of flowers, so she used pillar candles and glass beads. One particularly helpful thing she suggested is to be cognizant of how much natural light you'll have during your reception because a lot of natural light can render candles useless. By the time it was dark during her reception, the candles were melted way down, she said. Flowers would have helped mix things up and soften the room, she added.
Here's a centerpiece candle idea I like. I'm envisioning one Mason jar (or two) atop the tree trunk cuttings we've bought already, maybe with lace ribbon added to the mix. Thoughts?
Credit: Lindsey Cowan, Pinterest
As a budget (and bartering) bride, my favorite piece of invitation advice was this: Remember that people throw invites away. "Good place to save."
Another former bride said she did a lot of research on Wedding Paper Divas to make sure she knew what she wanted, how to word things and what to include. She bought packets at Michaels and extra envelopes and paper for reception cards and programs at Hollo's PaperCraft in Brunswick, Ohio. "I won't even reference design since your sister is a rock star," she wrote. (I am super lucky: My sister is a designer who's expressed interest in designing our save-the-dates and invitations. If you want a quote for her work, email me.)
*Order online from a place that will snail mail you a sample.
*And if you're creative, design them yourself like my friend, Nick, who said he printed via Vistaprint and sent postcard invitations to younger guests who would RSVP online and a more comprehensive brochure to older guests who would want to mail RSVP cards.
One person (my sister) recommended hiring a person to draw caricatures of everyone who comes, with the bride and groom in the middle. Hang it in your home over the mantel, she suggested.
*Offer a frame that everyone can sign, and use it as a meaningful frame for a wedding picture or two.
*Some brides and grooms rent photo booths and ask guests to affix instant photographs of themselves on blank pages in a book, accompanied by written messages. This could be possible, if I'm able to barter with the photo booth company with which I've been speaking!
*One of the rare men who responded to my wedding posts (lol) suggested putting out a book of photographs of the bride and groom together. At his wedding and reception, he also gave guests themes, such as "What's the key to a successful marriage?", to encourage guests to write more than their names.
*Ask guests when they RSVP to send you photographs of themselves, then use them to create a scrapbook and ask guests on The Big Day to sign alongside their photographs. Not only do you receive messages, but you have a built-in reminder of what people looked like at the time.
I may have more anxiety than the next bride about this topic. Maybe. My hair is naturally curly, and while I love it, I worry it will prove a challenge to even the most seasoned hairdressers.
In fact, when the HTB (husband-to-be) texted me this, revealing I'd been photographed while getting an autograph from the Cleveland Browns' new starting quarterback at training camp, he wrote, "Recognize this chia?" (When my hair is super unruly, I call it The Chia Pet.)
Credit: Associated Press
Yet again, I digress. Here's what my Facebook friends offered in the way of beauty advice:
Your wedding day is not the day to experiment with a new look, most said. Try not to deviate too much from the makeup you normally wear, wrote one of my former sorority advisers. Another girl I know from high school said her husband didn't like it when she went heavier on the makeup for their nuptials.
Another bride who's been there, done that said that for her wedding, her stylist used mineral makeup, which she said has a soft look and more staying power. While she kept her look fairly natural, she said her eyes were done up darker for photography purposes (so she wouldn't look washed out).
It seemed to be the consensus that updos are something to leave to the professionals. Given that I have no desire to be responsible for my look on The Big Day, this suits me just fine. You?
Seemingly everyone suggested trial runs. Another former bride advised: "Practice your hair, and make her keep doing it until she gets it right. And, as I've said -- pay to get your makeup done (with a natural look, though; it doesnt hurt to practice this, either!) so it lasts through the day, all the hugs and kisses, and even through the tears. You do not want to look like you're wilting as the day goes on."
Can't argue with that!