D.I.Y. wedding flowers ~ centerpieces

Are you ready for this?! This is the post where we show you how to design the big floral pieces for your wedding–it’s so exciting! We’re going to explore several possibilities, talking you through the pros and cons of each one.  Unless noted, each of these designs is arranged in a glass container with a florist’s-tape grid across the opening to support the stems.  For information on getting your flowers prepped for design, click here.  For information about design tools click here.  Let’s start with a splash, shall we?


This piece (and its twin) graced the altar at a summer wedding.  Crammed with gladiolus, roses, hydrangea, and lilies, it was feminine and gorgeous!  If you want a similarly lavish look, choose at least one type of flower with very long stems/stalks.

altar piece with pink roses and gladiolus, white roses and hydrangea

altar piece with pink roses, lilies, & gladiolus, and white roses & hydrangea

Flowers: The longer the stems, the better. At least one extra-long-stemmed flower type is essential to create the fanned shape at the back. Designs of this scale also look spectacular with draping flowers, such as orchids, placed near the opening of the vase so they look like they’re spilling over.

Container: Tall cylinder or trumpet vase. The photo shows a glass cylinder wrapped in pink satin ribbon ruching.

Difficulty: Considerable. The more flowers needed to fill a container, the longer it takes to complete the piece.  A person with limited floral design experience may begin to feel overwhelmed long before the piece is finished.  If you plan one or more large-scale pieces, allow plenty of time to complete them–possibly up to two hours each if you’re a beginner.  

Expense: This depends partly on which flowers you choose, but think about something of this scale being in the $100 range.  If you’re dying for this look but want to execute it for less, ask your florist for suggestions.

Build it! This piece was made to be viewed from the front only, since it was positioned against a wall.  The designer started with a greenery base, then placed the tallest flowers in the back and worked forward in a height gradient.  Notice the triangular shape of the whole design: more flowers are placed across the “bottom,” which in terms of the vase is the shortest, front-most position.


On the other end of the size spectrum is this sweet Mason jar of hydrangea, statice, hosta, and turkey grass.  Simple vases like this can be tailored to any décor, not just country chic.  More ideas below!

Flowers: Shorter flowers, or flowers that can be cut short, are your best bet here.  Steer clear of line flowers such as delphinium, larkspur, bells of Ireland, and gladiolus.  Match bloom size to vase size too.  A large Gerbera daisy bloom could almost overwhelm a tiny vase, so consider scale.

Container: Let your imagination run wild!  Jars, teacups, upcycled soda bottles (Izze, anyone?), and so on–if it can hold water, it can be a vase!

Difficulty: Almost no difficulty whatsoever.  We’ll be so bold as to say you’ll be less stressed after assembling these easy-as-pie arrangements.

Expense: Again, it depends on the flowers, but these could easily be $10 or less, even factoring in the cost of the container.

Build it! No tape grid needed; just cut stems to a suitable length and drop them into water!


Marriage is all about monogamy; we get it–but no bride has to commit to one type of flower arrangement at her wedding.  Who says three’s a crowd?  One of our most popular reception designs involves the interplay of three different looks, randomized among the tables.

Flowers: Each look should complement the others, so try to maintain one color palette even as you explore varied designs.

Container: Two tall styles and one low style. Here you see a tall cylinder, a large bubble bowl, and a tall trumpet vase.

Difficulty: You can make these as simple or as complex as you like. The submerged orchid arrangement (pictured above left) is almost as easy as the Mason jar arrangement from the Simple design.  The bubble bowl requires more flowers, and therefore more time–estimated thirty minutes, while the trumpet would be the most labor-intensive and time-consuming–estimated up to an hour.

Expense: From $10 to $100.

Build it! CYLINDER: Use waxed string to tie a fishing weight to the bottom of orchid stems.  Gently lower the orchids into about an inch of water in the vase, turning them however you want them to be displayed.  Use a tube to pour marbles around the bottom of the vase, covering the weight.  Add enough water to cover the marbles.  Do not submerge orchids until a few hours before the reception.  If left underwater overnight their petals may bleed color or become translucent.

BUBBLE BOWL: Working from center to edge, fill in with a light base of greenery, then add flowers from largest to smallest.  (Place all the large ones then fill in gaps with small ones.)

TRUMPET: See the Grand design, just use fewer flowers!  Here the tall flower is larkspur, and the design is more rounded than triangular, as the piece is meant to be seen from all sides.


If you still have areas that need a little touch of color, these cocktail cakes are one of our favorite ways to sweeten up a bar or buffet area.

Flowers: Anything that can be cut short and will last in floral foam.  Some flowers dehydrate too quickly; ask your florist.

Container: Ceramic hors d’oeuvres plate or other dish that matches your decor and can hold a small water puddle.

Difficulty: This is pretty easy too.  You just have to be right the first (or second) time you stab a stem into the Oasis foam or the foam will be destroyed and you’ll have to start over with a new piece.

Expense: These Starfighter lilies are usually close to $8 per stem, but you can harvest multiple blossoms from one stem.  With one stunning bloom and a little filler, you could probably complete each cocktail cake for around $15.

Build it! Soak Oasis foam bricks in water until they are fully saturated.  Using a steel can with both ends removed, punch circles from the foam.  Safety first, ladies–use a can with completely smooth edges!  Wrap a ribbon around the edge of the foam circle and pin in place.  Poke a few pieces of greenery into the foam, then top it off with lovely flowers.  If you make these in advance, press the foam to check the water level.  If it seems that the foam is drying out at all, pour on a little water to wet it again.  We recommend making these within 24 hours of your event but not earlier than that.

Got some ideas now?  All of these basic templates are so easily adaptable that we’re sure you can find a way to make your big day truly burst with your own flower style!  If you have other D.I.Y. ideas to share with your fellow self-reliant brides, share them in the comments!

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