fireflies and cottonwood

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Books as centerpieces February 24, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — girldogtorch @ 9:13 pm
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Walk into our apartment, or talk to us for very long at all, and you will realize that books are a major part of our lives, and have been for years.  (Matt, feel free to jump in with a post about the “packing for Canada” story.)  During our courtship, we talked about books, recommended and shared books, and filled our e-mails with references to favorite books.  Many a subject line was a quote from a favorite character or story.  (Again, Matt, feel free to go through the old e-mails for a historical post giving some examples.)


I think I saw an example in an issue of Martha Stewart weddings of a ring bearer’s pillow made from a stack of old books, tied with beautiful ribbon.  This immediately struck a chord with me.


Not only are our shelves filled with books, but I also end up decorating with me.  First, because we have so many.  But also, because we have some gorgeous ones.  A tiny collection of green and golden bound books on the early history of Christianity makes a sweet stack against a gospel hymnal from the turn of the century.  A third grade reader from 1867 supports a French copy of a life of Christ.  The French book is also small, and heavily decorated; the cover is broken so I’ve tied a pale green ribbon around it, like wrapping a gift, to hold it together.


And I have to share the title of the third grade reader before I continue. _Third Grade_, mind you:  “The National Third Reader: Containing Exercises in Articulation, Accent, Emphasis, Pronunciation, and Punctuation; Numerous and Progressive Exercises in Reading; and Notes Explanatory of Different Words and Phrases, on the Pages Where They Occur.”


I love the way the ribbon looks on the French book– it is the same shade of green as the cover, and the satin is such a nice contrast with the worn nature of the book.


We’ve already described how we want to decorate with luminaries we make ourselves, and thousands of candles.  We also want to use old and antique books in our centerpieces.  We have a great florist, and when I mentioned this idea to her, she was happy for us and even gave me some more ideas. (Good florist, right, to not push flowers as the “only” possibility for centerpieces?)


I imagine that the muted colors of these old books will go beautifully with the candlelight.  We also intend to be reusing books, and can offer them as take-away favors for guests, if they like.  By gathering books over the year, often for less than a dollar a piece (or free), we also intend to save, instead of spending a lot on fresh flowers.


(Minor detour: I adore fresh flowers, and Jane Winter at Wildflowers has sent me the most heavenly proposal for my personal flowers and the few arrangements we will be using… more on that later.  But we will have lush, unexpected, and amazing flowers.  Just not as many.)


The entry into the reception space is at the top of a staircase, in a sort of foyer before the room, before a beautiful window.  Jane and I imagine that I’ll find two old pewter vases or containers in the meantime, and they will be filled with two old-fashioned arrangements that spill out onto the table.  The arrangements will be amidst a stack of old, beautiful books.  Imagine a stack of large books, with one floral arrangement to the side of the stack, and one on top.  Smaller books can support picture frames with family photos and more candles.  Rich colors, lots of textures, and candlelight.


Similarly, many tables will have stacks of smaller books, with arrangements of candles.  Our current idea is to use writers instead of table numbers– each table would be a different writer; when guests find their name, it will come with a quote from that writer (on love!) instead of their table number.


I should do some mock ups and photograph them to show exactly what I mean, but I found a few examples that are in the right vein online.




Notice how the texture of the tablecloth is beautiful, but in a similar color scheme to the books, the ribbon, and the amazing bouquet of mistletoe.  Bouquet of mistletoe– how amazing is that!  I would just wave it around all night for kisses.




Ooh, look!  Beautiful books, a lovely blue and cream color scheme, and a tiny arrangement in an old pewter container.



If you have ideas for books, or places to get old books… let me know!  We’ll start collecting for all of our DIY wedding decorations soon.

Both images from


3 Responses to “Books as centerpieces”

  1. Amanda Says:

    I have found that designing the centerpieces to be one of my favorite activities of wedding planning. There are so many possibilities and ways to inject personality. I love your ideas so far and can’t wait to see them in action!

    Ah, mistletoe. It is the state floral emblem of Oklahoma! I’m assuming that’s why you picked it.

  2. Andrew Says:

    We went to a wedding in 2007 where each table was named for a location that was important to the wedding couple. So, instead of sitting at “Table 3,” you were sitting at “the Cadillac Mountain table.” Each table had a little card on it, explaining why the place was important.

    It occurs to me that you could do something similar with books, and you could have the book right there at the table. And maybe it might inspire some interesting conversation, while the guests are waiting for the wedding party to get done with those pesky photos…

  3. Jan Says:

    I love the table by book title idea. I love the books as center pieces idea. You might ask my Mom about the pewter vases and old books. I think she has both and might be willing to give them to you as a wedding present rather than going and buying something. I liked the place cards from Mar’s wedding I think they had a picture of one of the dogs on the back and an explanation about it. It was something we all talked about, so having an interesting book on the table could also lead to interesting discussions. You just have so many wonderful creative ideas. You should be a wedding consultant on the side in all your free time. Tee hee.

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