Brides of the last four years have to be the savviest shoppers since the Great Depression. We’ve all become bargain hunters since the economy crashed a few years ago, but the bride, who needs to put together a wonderful party on a really strict budget has the best shopping sense of all. We should put money-saving tips together in a pamphlet and send it to Congress, am I right?

You found the bargain dress, plucked up some courage and learned to negotiate like a pro with your ceremony and reception sites, and you may even have watched a few tutorials on how to make your own flower arrangements.

But there’s always more to learn, and even learning to assemble your own centerpieces doesn’t take away the costs of having to set up a table. As much as I’m a proponent of “less is more,” having a well-put together table includes some combination of stuff. But you don’t have to shell out big bucks to make it look you did. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a few new ways to maximize the impact of your reception tables, for next to nothing.

1) Layer your tables. We’ve all seen the standard arrangement: white linens, standard glassware and cutlery, big tall centerpiece in the middle. Who’s tired and bored with this? Everyone? Great, we’re all on the same page.

– Head to your nearest outlet fabric store or browse online for discount fabrics in your color pallet. Make a runner or table cloth (or both!) and layer them on your tables for instant color. Go as understated or overstated as you like.


2) Is there anyting more generic than a big ball of flowers on top of the yard-tall case? Instead of one large centerpiece, stick two or three flower stems in dollar-store glassware or bud vases. Keeping them close to the table is more intimate, and makes the table look fuller.

Stick with flowers in similar colors or group them by variety to keep it from looking helter-skelter. The result? Interesting, eye-movement inducing table arrangement that looks bigger and more designer than the standard tall, round and big arrangement.

3) Want to cut out actual flowers all together? Head to the craft store and buy silk flower petals in the color of your choice, and make a runner, circle or square of out of them. Buy candles of different sizes and widths and group them on top of the petals. Instant romance!

Tip: this can also be done with dried moss, cherry blossom stems, curly willow, ivy… the possibilities are endless. Actually covering the table really goes a long way to making it look fuller.