As many of you know from my life update we got married just over a month ago. Our wedding was a completely DIY type wedding that we were able to throw together with the help of all of our friends. It was A LOT of work, but everything came together very well and we were able to stick very close to our budget.
As I said, planning a DIY wedding is a lot of work, but it’s totally doable if you have a planning mindset and have lots of time to get things ready. I’ve brought together lot’s of helpful tips for planning and saving money when it comes to a DIY wedding. Which means this post is quite long. If you’re a bride I’m sure you’ll find some things super helpful, and if you’re not yet then I recommend pinning this post for future reference and you can also check out my wedding Pinterest board.
If you like this post please let me know in the comments below and I can make it a series with more tips and DIY projects.
Planning Your DIY Wedding
Start Way Ahead
Start your planning as soon as possible. I planned our wedding in 5 months which was quite the whirlwind. If you have 1 year great, if you have longer, even better, but start planning right away.
Start With the Guest List
Everything begins with the guest list. Once you know how many people you are inviting you can start thinking of things like:
- How big of a space you’ll need
- How many tables you need
- How many center pieces you’ll need
- How many people you need to feed
- How many bartenders you need and how many drinks to buy
Lists are Your Friend
Lists are your friend when planning a wedding, especially a DIY wedding. Make sure to keep them all in one place. I kept mine in an accordion folder from the dollar store and it worked great for keeping my lists, receipts, and contracts all in one place.
These are things I made lists for throughout the DIY wedding planning process:
- Monthly Planning List – What are you going to get done each month, ex. shop for rings, create wedding website, send out invites, book hair and makeup, get wedding insurance, make decorations, etc.
- DIY Wedding Decorations – What do you want to make, what supplies do you need, when do you plan on making everything
- Rentals List – What do you plan on renting and from where
- Alcohol List – Talk to your bartender or caterer, they can usually help you with numbers
- Wedding Attire List – Clothing, shoes, and accessories for groomsmen and bridesmaid shopping, wedding dress shopping and alterations, ring bearer, and flower girl
- Catering List – What do you plan to do for food, snacks, desserts, and rehearsal dinner. What are you looking for in a caterer, or who can help you if you’re doing it yourself. Food shopping list.
- Packing List – What do you need to pack on the day of
- Pick Up List – Who is bringing things to the venue, and where are they picking things up from
- Wedding Count Down List – What do you have to do for the week leading up to the wedding
Listen to Input
Lots of people are going to give you tips and tricks for the wedding. Some will be super helpful, others not so much. Always thank people for their ideas, but stay true to what you know you want for your wedding.
Our big ticket item was our photography. Many of our family and friends didn’t understand why we were spending so much money on it, but I knew I wanted somone really good at what they do to capture this once in a lifetime moment. In the end we are so happy with our photos and our family and friends agree it was worth every penny. If you’re on Vancouver Island, I highly recommend using Spark & Whimsy for your photography needs <3
Pinterest Group Boards
Pinterest is amazing for wedding inspiration (check out my Wedding board), but it can also really help for the planning process. Create group boards with your bridal party and vendors to help bounce ideas off of each other. Some of the group boards I created were:
- Wedding Decor
- Bridesmaids Dresses, Hair & Makeup
- Wedding Photos
Most vendors like getting as much information as possible from you, and I found they loved having the group board aspect. My makeup artist (Glam by Lisa who was awesome!) had some photos ready and a makeup list from our makeup trial, and photographer rockstar, Juliana from Spark & Whimsy, printed out the photos to make sure she got the shots she needed. The wedding Pinterest boards were so so helpful!
Assign Certain People to Help With Things
Assign certain people to help with different aspects of your wedding, or get a day of a coordinator. We had people help for communicating with the bartenders, setting up decorations, MC the event, and the DJs. You are so busy during your wedding day and before, and there’s no way you can do everything yourself. Make sure you have people you can trust and that are good at getting things done to help you.
Touch Base 1 Week Ahead of Time
Make sure to touch base with your helping hands before the wedding. We left things really last minute and some things were missed and caused a little bit of mishap. I definitely recommend sitting down with each of the people helping you and go over what you need from them. Providing them with lists and timelines is also really helpful.
Leave Instructions for Set Up
Like I said before, you’re going to be crazy busy and not be able to show people how you want everything done. Create instructions for how you would like different things to look. The instructions that were the most helpful was what each centrepiece is made up of accompanied by a picture of what a finished one looked like.
Where to Save Money for Your DIY Wedding
Choose Where to Spend Money
Choose where you want to spend your money, and you can find ways to do the rest for less. For us photography was the big spend, but for others it may be the band or the caterer. Once you know what your most important musts are you can get creative with the rest.
2nd Hand Decor
There is so much 2nd hand wedding decor out there, there really isn’t a reason to purchase things brand new unless you have very specific tastes that are hard to find. We used a lot of Facebook swap and shops to get decorations and scrounged thrift stores.
Rentals are also a great option for decorations. You can find rentals through FB swap and shops, as well as a quick Google search. For decorations, we rented 700 ft of white lights from Party Mood, who were great to deal with, for a fraction of what it would have cost to buy. We also rented LED candles from someone on a swap and shop, and all of our tables, chairs, and linens from Gala Van Party Shop, who have a great selection of everything you need for you nuts and bolts party rentals.
With photography being the big expense we decided to get thrifty when it came to the food. Since we were doing a low-key, casual, summer DIY wedding we decided to go BBQ cookout style for the food.
We had some of the moms and aunts help out by prepping the food and stuck some of the dads and uncles on the BBQs. Everyone was happy to help out, the guests enjoyed their food, and we were able to save A LOT of money compared to catering.
Skip Floral Center Pieces
Unless flowers are your big, must do spend item, keep it nice and simple. If you haven’t checked out the prices of flowers you’ll be surprised at how expensive they can get. We did simple single stems of flowers that we ordered by the bucket from a great sustainable florist, Night Song Farms. Costco and your local grocery stores are also great, more affordable options.
Think About Time Investment
While cutting costs is great on one side of things, you also need to think about your time investment. Originally I had planned on ordering all bulk flowers and creating our bouquets the day of. I’m so glad I decided to spend a little bit more and have them professionally done. It saved us time and stress, they looked great, and they only cost a little bit more than if we were to make them ourselves.
You Can Return Liquor
Another thing that many people are surprised to hear is that you can return liquor. We purposely overbought because we didn’t want to run out, and returned everything we didn’t use. The important thing is to let your bartender know this so they don’t open up a fresh case of beer or bottle of booze 15 minutes before the bar closes. We ended up getting about 1/5th of what we spent on booze back, and it would have been more if we had comunicated with our bartenders better. We ended up being stuck with some large bottles of liquor with only a shot or 2 taken out of them.
Pre-Shop Your Bridal Party Attire
Shopping with your bridal party can be fun, but it can be a lot of people to drag around from place to place as you find the perfect thing. You may end up choosing something you love, but not necessarily the best deal just because you don’t want to shop around with everyone. I recommend preshopping with someone close to you, perhaps your maid of honour, mom, or groom. Get a list of potential places together and check out all of them while putting potentially great items on hold. When I did this I was able to save roughly $50 per groomsmen from finding shirts on sale at one store, and better prices on pants at another store.
There ya have it, a very long and lengthy post filled with lots of tips for planning your DIY wedding. If you’re planning your wedding then congrats!! I hope you found something to be very helpful, and good luck on your big day! If you want to see more posts like this let me know in the comments below and I’ll create a series with more tips and DIYs.