As wedding style has evolved, so has centerpiece style. You're limited only by your creativity. Here are some ideas to get you thinking.
Floral and Food
The most traditional and easiest to pull off for most brides, florists and planners, floral centerpieces don't have to be boring. Current trends include monochrome and tone-on-tone arrangements. You can echo the flowers in your bouquet, use something sentimental to you or play up your overall theme. A gathering of small potted plants forming each centerpiece can double as favors.Flowers are sharing the limelight with fruits and vegetables. Glass hurricanes filled with apples and topped with red, orange and gold fall blossoms look great for an autumn wedding. So do farm baskets filled with lush produce if you have a less formal reception setting. Stalks of asparagus can line vases filled with pink peonies and greens in the spring. Topiaries can be sweet, too, and can be fabricated from either fruit or flowers -- or both. Check out yumsugar.com for inspiration. The food and entertaining site shows pictures of gorgeous arrangements that manage to walk the line between traditional and clever without ever looking odd. Other wedding-planning Web sites are chockablock with inspiration too.
It doesn't get more formal and elegant than tall silver candelabras or simpler than tea lights floating in bowls of water with flower petals. There are plenty of other options for taking advantage of these economical (and flattering) centerpiece classics. In addition to the always-popular tea lights and flower petals mentioned, you can also line the center of the table with several small, clear glass vessels each with one or two floating tea lights. A drop or two of food coloring in each vessel will create an illuminated runner in your wedding colors on each table. Think about placing candles in vases or jars surrounded by thematic elements (shells and sand at a beach wedding, river rocks for a country or mountain fete, painted nuts and pinecones for a winter wonderland). The candles can serve a double purpose if you wrap a band of pretty paper around it with the table number, perhaps along with your names and wedding date.
Weddings with a very modem decor can benefit from centerpieces made from contemporary materials like Lucite, or even simply metal. Ball-shaped ornaments can be used to accent a winter wedding. Bird cages (sans live birds) are often beautiful and ornate and can be painted to match any palette. Drape them with a little ivy for a civilized, outdoor feel, even in a ballroom. Love Alice in Wonderland? Scour flea markets and thrift stores for teapots. Fill them with flowers -- or not. Groupings of almost anything can work: music boxes, teapots, Mardi Gras masks and beads or framed photographs, for instance, provided you have an arrangement with texture and visual interest and it coordinates with the level of formality of your party.
Sites like theknot.com, brides.com and marthastewart.com and the magazines associated with them can be an endless source of information, but don't overlook more local muses like your favorite restaurants, hotels and clubs and smaller sites like weddingbee.com. Wedding planners often show portfolios of past events they've coordinated, too. More elaborate or unusual arrangements may be difficult for some florists to pull together, so make sure you and your arranger are in close contact and on the same page. It may not be a bad idea to see a sample centerpiece well in advance of the big day, just in case you need to come up with Plan B -- a different arrangement or a different assembler.