7 Unexpected Reception Centerpieces

We love flowers, but try these original reception centerpieces to put a twist on ordinary wedding decor.
  1. Tree centerpieces with pomanders

    Who needs a few puny offshoots when you can decorate your reception table with an entire tree? For a modern look, spray-paint the branches a monochromatic hue and adorn with graphic pomanders in a bright color.

    Why it's unexpected: It's a tree. On the table. Talk to your florist about which flowers serve best as pomanders.

    More reasons to love it: After the wedding, prop the branches in an urn or large vase to create a piece of statement decor for your newlywed nest.

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  2. Boxes of fruit centerpieces

    Nothing says summer or fall quite like a crate of oranges or a wooden bucket of apples. Why not put the flavors of the season at the center of your wedding reception decor?

    Why it's unexpected: The farmers' market vibe is a refreshing shift from the standard bouquet centerpiece -- though it might smell just as delicious! Your florist can help you find a few simple blossoms or wildflowers to tuck into jars or watering cans to complete the rustic look.

    More reasons to love it: Turn your fruit centerpieces into inexpensive favors by leaving small signs on the table encouraging guests to take a piece of fruit home or to enjoy them with their meal!

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  3. Board games and books centerpieces

    One part vintage charm, one part charismatic personalization, building centerpieces around your hobbies or interests is a great way to put a unique touch on your wedding reception decor.

    Why it's unexpected: Not only is this an original break from traditional wedding decorations, but having a variety of interesting centerpieces will encourage guests to mingle as they check out each table's decor. These eye-catching details pair nicely with bold, graphic flowers, so talk to your florist about incorporating blooms like dahlias, ranunculus, or zinnias.

    More reasons to love it: Use the titles of your favorite novels or games as clever table names. (We'd love a seat at the Pride & Prejudice table!) Not a bookworm? Try prints from favorite artists, baseball cards and vintage sports gear, or even old-school Nintendo games!

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  4. Photo by Geri Ciulla

    Potted cacti centerpieces

    Lately succulents have been making a splash on the wedding scene, but for couples who really want their centerpieces to be unexpected, we suggest a tougher alternative.

    Why it's unexpected: Don't be put off by the prickles -- cacti arranged in different- size pots create an organic, rustic look that's as beautiful as it is original. Juxtapose these barbed beauties with softer blossoms, like hydrangea or garden roses, or ask your florist about using tropical flowers, such as orchids and birds of paradise, for an exotic look.

    More reasons to love it: These inexpensive plants are easy to maintain, which makes them perfect for pulling double duty as wedding favors. (Just be sure to have boxes on hand to send them home in to protect your guests from prickles.)

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  5. Centerpieces in unexpected containers

    Vases are nice, mason jars are rustic, candelabrum are dramatic, but for a truly unexpected centerpiece, you need to broaden your understanding of what constitutes a flower holder.

    Why it's unexpected: Wow your guests by loading up a vintage scale with a pound or two of flowers, or set up typewriters bursting with fresh blooms. The more unlikely the container, the better -- you could also try teapots, salt-and-pepper shakers, even antique toy trucks! Your florist will be able to recommend the best types of blooms to pair with each container.

    More reasons to love it: When you steer clear of traditional vases, opportunities to personalize your decor abound. Incorporate collections or give a nod to your monogram. (This couple used a scale to represent their initials, L & B. Like lb., get it?)

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  6. Unexpected dessert centerpieces

    You've probably seen weddings where the couple opts for small cakes on each table in lieu of sheet cakes or a giant wedding cake. In a similar vein, get creative with your dessert centerpieces by opting for colorful macaroons, truffles, or even marshmallow snowballs.

    Why it's unexpected: Guests will be surprised by your use of treats not usually thought of as “wedding food,” and the fun colors and display add visual interest to the table. Finish off the look with similarly graphic flowers like tulips, mums, or daisies.

    More reasons to love it: Funky display options (like tiers of cake stands or terrarium-like glass-covered dishes) give the treats a modern edge, plus you get to include your favorite junk foods. Need we say more?

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  7. Ornamental Centerpieces

    Ornaments aren't only for the Christmas tree anymore. By selecting vivid jewel tones in glitzy textures, these colorful orbs can add an unexpected twist to your reception centerpieces.

    Why it's unexpected: If you break out traditional holiday decor any other time of year, your guests will never see it coming. Nestle ornaments in clusters of flowers in complementary colors for a modern-yet-formal touch.

    More reasons to love it: After the Christmas rush has died down, you can often find holiday decorations at extremely discounted prices. Stow them away until your wedding day for a luxe look for less. (Then break them out again for your first Christmas as a married couple!)

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