Wedding Reception Forum

Alternatives to Tall Floral Centerpieces

Hi all,

I recently had a first meeting with a florist, and I was completely blown away by the cost of tall, rounded, floral centerpieces. I am doing many bright colors (peacock/orchid colors with pops of raspberry and chartreuse), and the florist explained that full centerpieces filled with these special flowers end up costing an arm and a leg.

We have a reception hall with very high ceilings, and there will be a good 20 tables + the head table. Everything that I envisioned meant that at least 6 of these tables would have taller centerpieces, and we are about 5k off of to being able to afford that with the other design needs. I just cannot wrap my head around NOT having taller centerpieces in some places.

SO a bunch of questions - if anyone can answer any, I'd be forever indebted to you!
1. I'd like to potentially hang tissue paper flower balls from the ceiling at varying heights. That way, I can do low centerpieces, but it will appear to be a good design choice because of all that will be hanging from above. I have been told by the venue that they have a crane, but I need to hire a professional to hang this. My coordinator is not one of them. Does anyone know of "a professional ceiling decorator" in the suburbs of Chicago (near Addison), or what to search for online to find some?
2. Does anyone have any creative ideas to create taller centerpieces? I'd be open to doing the tissue paper balls there possibly if I can get them to look not-so-cheesy next to real flowers on other tables - if anyone has seen this in photos, I'd love to see them!
3. The other recommendation from my florist is to do one HUGE centerpiece in the middle of the dance floor, filled with all of my colors and flowers. She said it would be so gigantic and tree-like, that it would not be knocked down if someone fell on it. I would then just place candles on the tables. Has anyone seen this done successfully in photos?
4. FINALLY - my quote for everything - just flowers/centerpieces - was $8500. I don't know, but this seems completely and utterly extreme. I have 6 bridesmaids, 8 groomsmen, and I'm not doing any fresh flowers for my ceremony except our bouquets. Does anyone have any recommendations of awesome florists that they worked with in the Chicago Suburbs who had some more reasonable quotes for ~200 guests, ~6 tall centerpieces, ~14 small centerpieces?

Thank you all so much for taking the time to read and help - I'm lost on this one!

Re: Alternatives to Tall Floral Centerpieces

  • I'm sorry I don't live in Chicago so I don't have suggestions for you. Just wanted to say that I think those prices are absolutely asinine and I'd personally never pay half that for flowers but that's just me. I don't really understand your hanging from the ceiling idea because if I were to ever spend that much on flowers (which I never would) I would want them right in people's faces to see them! Why spend all that money for something too high for people to really see/ appreciate? Do you have BJ's/ Costco out there? They have floral centerpieces for great prices- I'd do 3/4 of those and then 1/4 of the tall ones on random tables. I think the "giant" one in the middle of the dance floor sounds insanely awkward. 
  • Try posting this on your local board....I'm sure the girls there will be able to recommend florists.

    That said, I'd go with the short centerpieces.  No one is going to remember them the next day anyway.  :)
  • Just because the ceiling is high does not mean you have to have tall centerpieces.  I think that is a claim the flower industry uses to hike up prices.  The term they use is "lowering the ceiling".  Well, if I wanted the ceiling lowered, I would have picked a different venue.  Once people are in the room, eating, dancing and having fun, nobody notices the architecture of the building, unless it has some special aspect.  The focal point will be where you put it. So if lower centerpieces work with your budget, then find something you love to look at.
  • By having tall centerpieces or things hanging from the ceiling all you are going to do is draw the eyes of your guests up making the tall ceilings noticeable. But if you keep your arrangements low and keep all you decor at eye level then the tall ceilings just kind of disappear because there will be no reason for you guests to look up.

    Also remember that once the lighting is dimmed in your venue, unless you have spotlights on each of your tall centerpieces or on the ceiling decor they tend to get lost.

    I would go to a few other florists and let them know your budget and see what they can do for you.

  • If you are set on doing flowers, it might be worth it to look at wholesale flower places, or greenhouses as you might be able to get flowers for free. Also... there are florist classes that people take to learn how to be a florist... would you be able to do some research and contact them to see if any of the students would be willing to help you do flowers? They would most likely charge much less than a proper florist and it would a great chance for them to get their work out there.

    I only suggest this as I know a girl doing her florist classes who also happens to work at a greenhouse. She is getting and doing our flowers for 1/3 of the price that any of the florists would do them for. I wonder if you could find someone like that around?
  • I think that doing low centerpieces filled with your bright colors (which sound gorgeous, I love bright happy flowers) will keep your guests focused on what's going on around them, rather than drawing their attention upward to the ceilings. Color attracts attention. Maybe there are some less expensive but still brightly colored flowers that you can use to fill in among your more expensive ones, to give the centerpieces more fluff and substance. And those prices might be fairly normal for Chicago (the Chicago board might be able to tell you more), but they sound really high to me. But consider the cost of the flowers you've picked and maybe be flexible there to bring the cost down. The florist should be able to recommend substitutions.
  • RebeccaB88RebeccaB88 member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    edited December 2013
  • What flowers did you have her price? Your flower choice could have a big impact on the price.

    You could place short centerpieces on lifts (cake plate, books, etc.) to gain height. Another option would be to go with a tall trio of candle sticks & candles with simple, small flower arrangements.
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