How do you prevent your guests from taking the table decorations at a banquet or reception?

by Laura
(Houston, Texas)

Centerpiece with Silk Flowers

Centerpiece with Silk Flowers

In an organization to which I belong, I was appointed to handle decorations for a recent banquet. I worked hard creating two dozen tall centerpieces adorned with silk roses. The cost of the decorations was justified by our ability to store and reuse the centerpieces again when leasing our meeting space to other parties.


However, at the end of the banquet, a number of our members and guests felt free to pull the silk roses out of the centerpieces, and take them home.

One man even removed a dozen or so roses, then gallantly presented them to the ladies at his table as if he had bought and paid for them. Since then, I have been told that for some reason guests now feel they have the "right" to either destroy or take the table decorations home, whether they are paying attendees, as at an organization banquet, or invited guests, as at a wedding reception.

I don't want to have to make an announcement asking the guests not to take the table decorations, as that seems insulting to the majority of well-mannered guests who are not thieves. And I don't want to print the request in the banquet program either.

But, how do I prevent attendees from damaging the centerpieces and taking the table decorations at future banquets and parties? Would it be proper to send a bill to those who purposely damaged or stole decorations?

Comments for How do you prevent your guests from taking the table decorations at a banquet or reception?

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Nov 17, 2009
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It's All About The Contract
by: Eunice

When you sit down with your brides to do a quote, let them know the problems you have had before (as you have relayed). Also let them know that the quote price means that you have that idea to reuse the decor you did for her wedding.

When she signs the contract, highlight that you will charge

A) $x for every incomplete/damaged/tampered centerpiece

B) $X for damage to the carpet etc etc etc

AFTER THE WEDDING.

If she knows that she is bearing the cost for her guests with itchy fingers, she might put a small but clear sign at the tables...not to damage the centerpiece as it will cost her.

Hope that helps both brides, wedding decorators and all guests who read this!


Nov 01, 2009
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What Jerks!
by: Tanya

You would hope they would know better!

I vote to send an invoice to all vandals involved. In the future maybe "table captains" could be assigned to each table who would be responsible for the arrangements (i.e. stick a fork in any sticky fingers), though that would require assigned seating which would add another layer of complexity/work. I'm trying to figure out what to do about J's upcoming reception arrangements. They are only going be good for a couple of hours, but I don't want just anyone walking off with them.

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