1. Rather than using expensive cut flowers, use candles and intersperse a few fully blown blooms in between.
2. Consider incorporating fresh fruit and vegetables into your arrangements.
3. Use smaller tables to seat your guests. I like to have 8-10 guests at a 54" round, and 10-12 guests at a 60" round. Avoid tables larger than 60" rounds; it's difficult to make conversation and you'll spend a fortune on your centerpieces just to fill the empty space in the middle of your table.
4. Serve dinner family style so food becomes the centerpiece. A platter of grilled chicken, a plate of crispy potatoes and small bowls of fresh green beans placed on the center of your table will look visually appealing and inviting.
5. Select inexpensive materials and use them en mass. Bunches of carnations, Baby's Breath, Gerber Daisies or even Spider Mums will look rich and lush. The key is to keep them on their own and not mix them with other materials. No filler and no greens.
6. For a country look, instead of buying vases or renting them from your florist, use coffee pot creamers and sugar holders found at your local flea market. When stuffed with herbs and a few blooms, you'll achieve a stunning country look without spending a fortune.
7. Use pots of planted flowers and herbs instead of costly arranged flowers.
8. Stay away from vases with large openings. Instead, select small vases that can be packed tightly with a few blossoms. Have a few on each table interspersed with candles to provide a rich look without the cost.
9. Instead of renting containers from your florist, use fabric remnants to cover inexpensive cardboard boxes.
10. Use floating candles in vases that have been filled with colored water. Select vases of different heights and size to achieve a dramatic look.
See some of Colin Cowie's extraordinary weddings at colincowie.com.