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Ask Emilie: Fish Centrepieces – Are They Allowed?

Welcome to Ask Emilie, here you can ask any question to our wedding planner Emilie. Emilie will answer your question no matter the topic. It can be about anything from styling, general wedding questions, cultural customs, planning, wedding budget and more. This week is talking with a bride wants to know if fish centrepieces are allowed at her wedding.

Today’s question is from an anonymous reader who asks:

Hey Emilie, I want to be straight to the point because I am getting no proper answers from venues. Are fish centrepieces allowed at my wedding reception? I am getting no straight answers and just want to know what’s allowed. Thanks

Fish Centrepieces – Are They Allowed

Hi, to answer your question the simple answer is yes but I will go into detail why many reception venues frown upon it. While fish centrepieces look great and fit into the living centrepiece category at the end of the day it is a living animal.

Cost wise many couples see them as an attractive option. If you think about it, it’s a living centrepiece. All you need is a bowl and some water, some may add sand at the bottom and there you go. Considering goldfish only cost $5+ each you can easily have enough goldfish for 20 tables for as little as $100 (assuming you have only one per table).

Living fish centrepieces, beautiful to look at BUT what about afterwards
The Issue with Fish Centrepieces

It all comes down to after the wedding reception. Many couples just buy the fish and assume the fish magically go to good homes and a lot of assumed responsibility on the venue location. Firstly if any person has had fish they know they are quite temperamental and require the water to be filtered and to stay at a certain temperature for a certain period of time otherwise its bad for the fish and can kill them. Many people just buy the fish and put them in the bowls. Normally they put general tap water at the wrong temperature. This means that you are slowly killing the fish.

On top of that when the reception is done many reception venues will turn off the air conditioning when they lock up for the night and the fish may be dead by the morning. Having worked on the flip site of clearing up after a wedding to see bowls of dead fish floating on the surface is not a great sight.

When Are Fish Centrepieces Acceptable

Some will say its never acceptable but the only time we would ever consider a fish centrepiece is if there is an exit strategy for the fish. If the conditions for the fish meet the following criteria then we would consider a fish centrepiece:

  1. The fish are stored and kept in the correct environment for them prior to and during the event. Making sure the water, temperature and food conditions are met.
  2. There is an exit strategy for the fish. Prior to the event organised for the fish to be taken away by guests in tanks (even basic ones) that meet the fish’s conditions. If not for guests then a professional to take them away and make sure they can live on.

While these are only 2 conditions they are in our opinion the most important. Sure, have your wedding and have a good time but make sure everything is covered. If you are looking for this styling option or something else we are happy to help.

I hope this was able to answer your question.



What type of centrepieces are you considering having at your wedding? What are your thoughts or living fish centrepieces? Let us know in the comments below 🙂

Do you have a question for Ask Emilie then email her here? Alternatively, fill out the form below and have your question answered in our wedding blog. Also, check out the other Ask Emilie Blogs here, they may also contain what you are looking for or give you ideas and inspirations for other wedding-related questions.

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