Centerpiece (noun) 1.) an object occupying a central position; especially: an adornment in the center of a table.
Make sure the candles and flowers you choose for a centerpiece don't compromise the ambience or the dining experience with overwhelming scent.
A company called Wanderfuls makes table arrangements out of candy-filled wands that serve as a centerpiece during the meal and can be handed out as favors at the conclusion of the party.
If the venue you're in has suitable rigging points, think about suspending the centerpieces from the ceiling for dramatic impact.
Acolyte Technologies sells a small, disposable, wireless light source, called Floralyte, that can be submerged in water, adding drama and color to a floral arrangement.
If the situation is appropriate, consider raffling or auctioning off the centerpieces; this will allow you to spend a little more and then recoup at least half your money.
Potted plants are less expensive than cut flower arrangements, and you can give them away at the end of the event. (Put a sticker on the bottom of one saucer at each table. Announce during the meal that the attendee who has the sticker gets the centerpiece.)
A lot can be lost in verbal interpretation. Ask the florist or designer to prepare a mock centerpiece for you. If you can have the complete table setting done (linens, chairs, stemware, china, etc.), even better!
Illuminated spandex, dry ice, sod? While floral arrangements are still planners' top pick, nothing is taboo, and there's only one steadfast rule: Make sure attendees can see one another across the table.
Sources: Special Events magazine, www.specialevents.com; Steve Kemble, Steve Kemble Event Design, Dallas; www.wanderfuls.com; Acolyte Technologies, www.smartlyte.com/floralyte.html; Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online, www.m-w.com
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