Introduction: Fall-themed Mason Jar Wedding Centerpieces

About: Writer for Science Buddies ( and lecturer at Cornell University's Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

My mother-in-law and aunt-in-law made these amazing mason jar centerpieces for our wedding in September. At the time, they got so many complements (including people telling them they needed to sell them on Etsy, or trying to hire them as decorators for their own weddings), that I thought, "I have to turn that into an Instructable." Unfortunately, taking the time to document the process, take assembly photos, and write it all up was not exactly on top of my to-do list in the weeks leading up to the wedding. The Mason Jar Contest gave me a reason to finally get my act together, and a visit to the in-laws over Christmas gave me a chance to have them reverse-engineer the process. I hope I've reproduced their procedure in sufficient detail that someone else could follow along, but it does take some level of artistic talent to make these look pretty - so no promises that yours will look this good (you don't want to wind up with a Pinterest Fail). This is my first attempt at a "craft" Instructable, so any and all feedback is welcome.

All of the professional photos were done by Carden's Photography, and I have permission for re-use.

Step 1: Materials

The following list is for ONE centerpiece. You will need to multiply quantities accordingly depending on how many you need (they made around two dozen!). Some of the plants were picked fresh in the woods of northeastern Pennsylvania in September, or purchased at farm stands, so your ability to reproduce these exactly may vary seasonally or geographically. In general, you can try to substitute store-bought artificial materials if you can't pick them fresh in your area. See photos* above if you don't know what a certain item is.

  • 1 half gallon mason jar (Craiglist, Ebay, box stores etc)
  • 1 quart mason jar
  • 1 pint mason jar
  • 2 cups dried pinto beans (grocery store)
  • 1 cup dried mixed beans (grocery store)
  • 2 white mini pillar candles (craft store)
  • Twine (craft store)
  • Raffia (I had never heard of this stuff before - a type of ribbon available at a craft store)
  • 8 shafts of wheat (craft store)
  • 1/3 stem beaded accent stems (craft store)
  • 4 16"-18" Japanese lantern stems (farmer's market)
  • 3 stems black-eyed Susan (picked fresh then dried)
  • 2 teasel stems (picked fresh then dried)
  • 2 sunflowers (real or artificial)
  • Assorted brown twigs/plant stems (picked fresh - we could not identify every species, see photos above. If you can identify the plants, please leave a comment and I'll update!)
  • 18" diameter grape vine ring (picked fresh, but also available in craft stores)
  • 1" thick, 12" diameter wood round (craft store)
  • Optional: other small items as table decorations, such as mini pumpkins, pinecones, leaves, and ears of corn. These don't go in the actual centerpiece jars, but can be arranged around them.

*I apologize for the photo quality - had to improv a photo booth in the family living room over Christmas and take the pictures with my phone. I'm hoping the professional photos in the intro make up for it.

Step 2: Hang Fresh Materials to Dry

Depending on the time of year you pick your fresh materials, you may need to hang some of them to dry. Most of the plants they picked were already pretty dry since it was late in the summer, but they did have to hang the Japanese lanterns.

Step 3: Candle Jars

The candle jars are pretty simple to assemble. Using the two smaller mason jars (quart and pint):

  1. Fill each jar with 1/2 cup mixed beans.
  2. Wrap twine around the threaded part of each jar and tie it in a knot.
  3. Place a mini pillar candle into each jar.

Step 4: Main Jar

Follow these steps to assemble the main (half gallon) jar. Many thanks to my aunt for taking apart and patiently re-assembling a centerpiece so I could take pictures for this step.

  1. Fill jar with 2 cups pinto beans
  2. Wrap raffia around threaded part of jar and tie into a bow
  3. Insert the assorted brown twigs/stems.
  4. Insert wheat stems.
  5. Insert teasel and black-eyed Susans.
  6. Insert Japanese lanterns.
  7. Insert the accent stems - these are shorter than everything else, so they go around the bottom.
  8. Save the sunflowers for last. If you're using fresh sunflowers, you might want to keep them in water as long as possible, and put them in the jars at the last minute.

Step 5: Table Setting

This step just covers the centerpieces (our caterer handled tablecloths, plates, silverware etc). To set them up:

  1. Place wood round in the middle of the table with the grapevine ring around it.
  2. Place all three mason jars on top of the wood round.
  3. Arrange your assorted small items (mini pumpkins etc) around the wood round.
  4. Don't forget to light the candles!

A couple other notes:

  • The photographer took some pictures before they added sunflowers, so they're missing from some of the shots above.
  • My mother in law also made homemade jam gift jars as wedding favors, which you can see in the photos - but those are an Instructable for another day!

Step 6: Get Married!

Don't forget the fun part! The centerpieces might be the center of attention for the tables, but YOU are the center of attention for the day. Hopefully everyone will have a great time and complement your fantastic centerpieces while they're at it.

(and if you live in northeast PA and want to hire my mother in law and aunt to make these for you...send me a personal message and I'll try to talk them into it)

Mason Jar Challenge

First Prize in the
Mason Jar Challenge

Homemade Gifts Contest

Participated in the
Homemade Gifts Contest

Let's Party! Challenge

Participated in the
Let's Party! Challenge