Centerpiece Trial

My supersweet florist Karen of Huckleberry Karen Designs reigned me in this Sunday for a centerpiece trial. Since I was pretty adamant about DIY’ing our centerpieces, she insisted I come in to her studio for a trial, so she could give me pointers on how to set everything up, and to share tips and tricks about how to make the flowers last through the June heat.

I wanted a pretty minimal centerpiece, and my mom wanted orchids. Well, orchids, they aren’t the cheapest flowers around, so Mrs. Lemon stalked down some pretty awesome inspiration for me:


Image from Tropical Colours: The Art of Living with Tropical Flowers
Pieces by Floral Designers: Sakul Intakul & Devehastin na Ayudhya
Photography by Luca Invernizzi Tettoni
Featured on:

So running with the simple look, Karen came up with a simple way to recreate the centerpieces, for under $10 a table (for floral materials).

I’ve got 19 round tables total. Half of the tables will feature tall centerpieces, and half, short centerpieces.

Tall table centerpieces:

Using 24″ tall glass vases I bought from ebay seller HJK Imports, ($66 for 6 vases), Karen showed me how to set up our first centerpieces.

She added rocks, cut a slit in a large leaf about 3/4 of the way up, and added a cymbidium orchid to the front and the back of the leaf, for symmetry.


Then she filled the vase up with water.


All done!


I mocked the table up with 3 additional Cymbidiums, and tea lights. Here you can see that the front and the back of the centerpiece look virtually identical, giving our round tables a great 360 degree view. We cut the leaf to see what it would look like fully submerged, but I like the look of the leaf sticking out higher than the vase (above pictures) so we’re going that route.


Short Table Centerpieces:

Cutting small strips of a banana leaf, Karen placed a strip in each glass container.


Then, she added a Cymbidium orchid and filled each vase with water, and I added the same setup on the tables with the tealights and the orchids. Easy-peasy!



Afterwards, Karen and I grabbed a leisurly lunch and enjoyed the San Francisco sunshine on the restaurant’s patio. And with only a few weeks left till my wedding, look what I got:




These cost:
$11 for 24 inch vase from HJK Imports
$8 for 8 tealights and candles
$10 for 5 cymbidium orchids and large leaf
TOTAL: $29

$11 for trio of vases from Pfalzgraff (search for a coupon code to get a discounted price)
$8 for 8 tealights and candles
$10 for 6 cymbidium orchids and small banana leaf
TOTAL: $29

The best part? I can lend out/sell the glass pieces later and recoup some of my costs!

Are you planning on DIYing your centerpieces?


Mrs. Penguin

Northern California
Wedding Date:
June 2008
Bachelorette Surprise!
Sending Out the Monster

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  1. jasmine Member
    jasmine 1170 posts, Bumble bee @ 4:40 pm

    I love these!!!! They are so chic and elegant.

  2. frenchbulldog Member
    frenchbulldog 1088 posts, Bumble bee @ 4:41 pm

    I love these too! and the price, can’t beat it!

  3. toucan Member
    toucan 1326 posts, Bumble bee @ 4:45 pm

    These look fab! So simple and elegant! :)

  4. Member
    MissBlueBear 405 posts, Helper bee @ 4:47 pm

    OMG! I want you to know, my jaw dropped when I saw your sunburn..and all of a sudden, I totally forgot what your post was about in the first place…still in shock….

  5. Guest Icon Guest
    sja, Guest @ 4:49 pm

    Looks great! I bought the same vases from Pfalzgraff a couple of months ago!

  6. tiramisu Member
    tiramisu 390 posts, Helper bee @ 4:50 pm

    These are so pretty. Sometimes simple can make much more of an impact than over-the-top. I love them!

  7. Member
    stargazerlily 943 posts, Busy bee @ 4:56 pm

    Hey all! The short candle trio IS available…they were sold out for a while but now theyre back if you want to buy them!

    they are listed at $15, but be sure to search for a good coupon code, and you can get them at a discount like I did!

  8. misscoconut Member
    misscoconut 351 posts, Helper bee @ 4:59 pm

    Wow, what a cost saver and it looks so simple yet SO SO elegant!!!

    btw, you’re so funny.

  9. Member
    stargazerlily 943 posts, Busy bee @ 5:00 pm

    @MissBlueBear: Sadness, no? I’m so bummed that happened! It must have been 70 degrees out and we chatted FOREVER…I hardly noticed the sun beating down on me (and I’ve decided from now until my honeymoon that I’m going to dress like I’m in Mexico) so I had that darned sundress on instead of a regular shirt :( So LAME!

  10. cherryblossom Member
    cherryblossom 727 posts, Busy bee @ 5:01 pm


  11. Guest Icon Guest
    Cassandra, Guest @ 5:02 pm

    I love the centerpieces! I am definitely going to try to do something like this. I hate the thought of spending several thousand dollars on flowers.

  12. Guest Icon Guest
    CarolineG, Guest @ 5:02 pm

    Slather your shoulders with anything from Olay’s Regenerist line. It helps fade darkness and will bring your tan line down to normal!

  13. Member
    beanchar 549 posts, Busy bee @ 5:31 pm

    Gorgeous fleurs, Pengy!

    (Noxema is also good for preventing peeling… 😉 )

  14. Member
    tea 2414 posts, Buzzing bee @ 5:38 pm

    i especially love your short centerpieces. very luxe and fabulous. way to go!

    though thumbs down on the sunburn. lol. but since i like ‘ya i’ll let you slide by…

  15. Guest Icon Guest
    Michelle, Guest @ 5:57 pm

    Your cleavage is distracting me from anything else in this post.

  16. Member
    stargazerlily 943 posts, Busy bee @ 5:57 pm

    @Michelle: I figured you were tired of NOT seeing my boobies. So I showed them. Youre welcome.

  17. Guest Icon Guest
    carib queen, Guest @ 6:06 pm


  18. Guest Icon Guest
    Passionate Eater, Guest @ 6:16 pm

    I had that same exact thing happen to me (with the sun) and the tan line / sunburn! My tan line is still there, but I’ve been exfoliating w/a loofah and w/sugar scrub–you try that too. Also try aloe too. If you find something that works better (my tan line is still as strong as ever), please share your sage advice Pengy!

  19. Guest Icon Guest
    Leesuh1, Guest @ 6:26 pm

    Very cost savvy!! You’re lucky you won’t have guests like mine who like to take home the centerpieces. argh~

  20. Guest Icon Guest
    star_rotor, Guest @ 6:55 pm

    Wow, really impressive those centerpieces look great, especially for the price

  21. Member
    missm 808 posts, Busy bee @ 8:05 pm

    Love them! Tres chic!

  22. Member
    l3r0wnEyedGurL 136 posts, Blushing bee @ 8:29 pm

    Fabulous centerpieces Miss Peng! And you poor sunburnt thing!! I second the Noxema if it’s painful and wanting to peel…

  23. Guest Icon Guest
    Lara @ southern wedding style, Guest @ 8:56 pm

    These are gorgeous! LOVE IT! This is such a great DIY idea.

  24. Guest Icon Guest
    Katasha {at} K Sherrie+Company Weddings, Guest @ 9:25 pm

    Your short centerpieces are oh-so-cute and chic! Great idea!!

    Visit for online coupon codes.

  25. Member
    chibride 112 posts, Blushing bee @ 9:29 pm

    The centerpieces turned out great…clean, simple, & beautiful.

  26. Guest Icon Guest
    VanGal, Guest @ 10:05 pm

    They look great for DIY. Full marks to you.

    I’m also having 1/2 tall centrepieces and 1/2 low centrepieces but I’m not confident enough to make them myself. A florist friend of my mom’s is making them and giving us a killer deal (not as cost effective as your project, though).

  27. Member
    megs08 133 posts, Blushing bee @ 10:35 pm

    Your centerpieces are gorgeous! We are having the florist handle 2 different centerpieces and we are going to make 2 others. One will be a candle arrangement and the other w/ green apples. Yikes about the sunburn. I’m trying to even out w/ Jergens Express Tanning Lotion for my wedding next weekend. May try the Olay Regenerist tip from above to fade my forearms that are freakishly more tan than the rest of my body.

  28. Guest Icon Guest
    Jibi, Guest @ 12:51 am

    They look great Ms Peng!! Thanks for the cheap vase source. I’m diy’g my centerpieces, too, so it will be very useful. Btw, what kind of leaves are you using? Are they Aspedistra? They don’t look like banana leaves to me.

  29. Member
    stargazerlily 943 posts, Busy bee @ 12:55 am

    @Jibi: We have no idea what the leaves are! Karen picked them up at the flower mart because they looked interesting! They are large and ribbed, so they give great depth to the centerpieces!

  30. Member
    MissRojoOso 255 posts, Helper bee @ 1:54 am

    Karen kicks @$$. After I took her class I felt like I was a mini floral superhero. So solly about your burn.

  31. Member
    Teeners 79 posts, Worker bee @ 11:35 am

    word. we are doing something similar – having submerged orchids and calla lillies with floating candles. looks super cool, different and freaking awesome.

  32. Guest Icon Guest
    Kat, Guest @ 4:42 pm

    The centerpieces look great & they’re so cost effective!

    So sorry about the lines! Hopefully they’ll fade in enough time

  33. Guest Icon Guest
    Red, Guest @ 2:07 am

    Centerpieces look FAB!!! Don’t worry, the tan lines will fade by then, just exfoliate lots.

  34. Guest Icon Guest
    Guilty Secret, Guest @ 11:33 am

    They look great! I’m going to DIY my centrepieces, with vases of calla lilies and lots of tea lights.

    Now get exfoliating and moisturising that shoulder!

  35. Guest Icon Guest
    Jenny, Guest @ 11:45 am

    Hi Mrs Penguin, do you have a coupon code for the short centerpieces??

  36. Member
    stargazerlily 943 posts, Busy bee @ 12:07 pm

    @Jenny: There is a mystery sale going on there right now, where you can get anywhere from 10-60 percent off your purchase, to shop the sale click through this link

    I dont know much about it, I just got the e mail in my inbox. Good luck!

  37. flamingo Member
    flamingo 1365 posts, Bumble bee @ 10:54 am

    How did I miss this post… Penguin, these are stunning… I love the overall look and the flowers submerged in water… neat-o

    two thumbs up 😀

  38. Member
    historykitty 58 posts, Worker bee @ 8:32 pm

    I have been going through back logs of diy blogs to find things to steal, and this is definitely going on my list! If I had the money (and any idea how many tables I have), I’d go ahead and buy the short ones today! Thank you so much for the idea and the links!

  39. Guest Icon Guest
    natashamas, Guest @ 4:27 pm

    these are gorgeous! what a great idea. if you happen to still have the vases… would you consider reselling to me? wedding in october…

  40. Guest Icon Guest
    Cheryl, Guest @ 3:30 pm

    awsome. Very inspirational. I want something elegant without going into debt to do it and this may well work for me. Thank you for helping us that have to do it alone.

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