Two summers ago, my friend Maggie got married at The Madonna Inn. Given that I look at wedding pictures all day, I obviously have a dream list of weddings that I want to be invited to, and a wedding at The Madonna Inn was at the very top of that list. For those of you that don’t know about this hotel, it is a BONKERS pink hotel on the Central California Coast, where each room is a (beyond over-the-top) theme room.
Maggie also happens to be one of the people who got me into the Internet game. Long before I ever met her, I was reading her work from a miserable tiny office, where I was a twenty-two-year-old underpaid receptionist who was really into blogs. This was back in 2002, when almost nobody was really into blogs. Maggie’s taste was impeccable, and back when she ran one of the first-ever shopping blogs, I basically bought every single gift based on her recommendation. (And David bought all my gifts that way too. “Well, what does Mighty Goods (RIP) recommend?” he’d always ask.) So, Maggie has impeccable taste, and we knew the wedding was going to be awesome.
One day soon I’ll get to show you the whole wedding, including her layers of pink tulle gown, but today I’m here to talk about her centerpieces.
I’m always on the hunt for cool and affordable non-floral centerpieces. You know, the kind that you don’t have to pay a florist a fortune for or worry about keeping alive. In the past, we’ve crafted some good ones, but when I walked into Maggie’s reception, my jaw dropped. She had created what she called “Party Terrariums” for each table. Each one was different, and each one was themed based on a room at The Madonna Inn (endless inspiration, even if you’re not getting married there). They were super affordable, super easy to put together, and that kind of brilliant but seemingly simple idea that made you wonder why you’d never thought of it.
Maggie happens to be a
hoarder collector of amazing vintage things. (I have heard rumors that she has a magical storage unit somewhere, but I have drunk wine in her basement, and I can attest to just how good and random its contents is.) She filled her terrariums with a collection of vintage party supplies, which were sourced in large part from the Alameda Flea Market. If you want to use vintage party supplies, but don’t have a million years to ransack flea markets, you can do some sourcing from your desk on eBay and Craigslist. (Watch out, there goes the afternoon… and any extra space in your garage.)
The container for the party terrarium is this simple (but surprisingly large) glass jar from IKEA for just $14.99. The two other key elements are honeycombs (sourced below) and Mexican confetti, which you can grab on Amazon. These centerpieces are brilliant in their simplicity, super affordable, and offer endless options for customizing based on your wedding colors, wedding theme, and general interests as a couple. While your creations can be anything you dream up, we wanted to highlight some of the coolest ideas Maggie came up with, to get your brains whirring. We’ve sourced supplies where we can, so you can knock this out from your desk, in one sitting. Because good shopping is the #LazyGirl’s DIY.
This amazing collection of amazing vintage memorabilia was inspired by The Madonna Inn’s Time of Your Life room. But the vintage party hats plus a vintage clock are cool even if there is no reason. (Similar: Party Blowers | Party Hats, 8 for $17.50 | Vintage Clocks, various prices | Honeycomb Mini Balls, 10 for $7 | 8-inch Honeycomb Balls, $3 each)
It turns out, I am obsessed with vintage noisemakers. Plus they look really (really, really) cute when put in a jar with a sprinkling of confetti. Maggie already owned all of these (because of course) as part of her collection of vintage party supplies. But with a little Internet digging you can find your own. (Similar: Etsy, various prices)
It’s a balloon party! Or really, a vintage plastic balloon party. Plus a vintage cake topper never goes badly. (Similar: Plastic Balloons, 12 for $5.95 | Pastel Plastic Balloons, 3 for $3.50 | Vintage Bride and Groom Cake Topper, take your pick on Etsy, various prices | Honeycomb Mini Balls, 10 for $7 | 8-inch Honeycomb Balls, $3 each)
I don’t want to say that one of these terrariums is better than the others, but this one is legit my favorite. (My son took one of these tiny donkeys home, and it lived on his bedside table for at least a year.) These mini piñatas were made by my friend Jordan at Oh Happy Day, and she has a full tutorial right here. But if you want to buy instead of craft, that’s totally a viable option. (Similar: Mini Piñatas 6 for $39.22 | Finger Traps 12 for $5.35)
Ain’t no party like a disco party, so this terrarium is filled with disco balls of various sizes, along with mini honeycomb balls and other shapes. (Similar: Honeycomb Mini Balls, 10 for$7 | 8-inch Honeycomb Balls, $3 each | Mini Disco Balls, 6 for $11.99 | 4-inch Disco Ball, $8.99 each | 8-inch Disco Ball, $12.85 each)
Cool centerpieces are hard. Cool centerpieces you can afford are harder. And centerpieces that don’t wilt are the new gold standard. These centerpieces do it all. Adapt them to your needs, themes, and colors. (And send pictures.)
Share your best centerpiece ideas in the comments. (Or better yet, what you’d put in your own party terrarium.)