Planning a DIY Wedding

So it’s that time in my life… wedding planning. It’s totally exciting and daunting at the same time, and anyone that’s planned a wedding would know that. I’ve been engaged for 2 months which is plenty of time to work through the excitement, the Pinterest board, and the waves of questions from friends and family to narrow down the hows and what’s and the budget. Tell you the truth, it doesn’t matter what our budget is, fiancee and I plan on spending as LITTLE as possible on this wedding so we can start our lives as a married couple without a boatload of debt. Yes, it’s the most important day in our married life, but it’s also no reason to go overboard and max the credit cards. We have decided that as long as when the day is done, we are married, the guests had fun and were well fed, it doesn’t matter how lavish a party it is, and after all, the money goes towards a party so friends and family can celebrate with you, does it not? Otherwise we can go to the city hall and get married there. (Which at this point looks good!) Just kidding. Or am I?

So here’s some awesome money saving ideas I’ve put together so far on how to not break the bank wedding planning…

logs pamperin

This is the site where we are getting married. Not too shabby.

Invites and Save the Dates: We are going to print our own Save the Dates with a FREE template from Wedding Chicks. Free. Just the cost of some card stock and ink. And envelopes. Go to Office Max or Office Depot and there you go. VistaPrints does some cool invites for low dough. Check out Minted for a middle of the road budget with some gorgeous choices. Check out some more printables that are free!  Price: Over $100. Postage and stuff isn’t cheap! We also plan to have one large program so we don’t have to print a few hundred of them for the ceremony.

Ceremony: Church wedding? I can’t help you there. You’ll probably pick your venue based on your denomination and family wishes. Non church wedding? The fiancée and I picked a stone park shelter that seats about 200 and rents for $300 for the whole day. We are going to have the ceremony and reception there so guests can play at the park, talk with each other and not have to drive from place to place. Out of town guests will thank you for not having to get back in the car twice in a day. We will set up the chairs for the ceremony then guests will take them to the tables for dinner. Price for us: included in venue.

Officiant: Ours is a good friend that’s officiated through the military, and he doesn’t charge friends (free!). The best way to find someone to officiate (if you don’t have a family friend, or your church pastor / priest doing it) is to ask friends that recently got married who they used, and how well they worked out. Word of mouth is the best referral. Price: Free

Photographer: Oh Em Gee. Photographers are expensive. And for a good reason. They do a lot of work, they dress up, and snap pics all day in the right light and angle and go home and look at 1000 pictures and edit them and sometimes print them for you and put books together sometimes. If anything lasts “forever” after your wedding it’s the memories, rings, and photos. For sure make sure you get a good photographer. And skip the disposables that people will most likely take naughty pics with anyways, people have e-mails and smart phones and I’m sure you’ll see candid shots of your wedding one way or another. Anyways, looking for a good photographer that doesn’t cost money is like trying to eat a free steak that isn’t all gristle. Nothing good is free! Find photogs in your area and email all of them. Ask what they charge, and again, ask married friends who they used. Figure out your budget and see if a photog will work with you. Our plan is to ask friends that take great pics to be part of our big day by taking our pics and sending us the digital images so we can edit and print them ourselves. Trust me, your family and friends would LOVE to get involved and play photographer. Price: Up to who you choose, ours is next to free. 

Photo booth: I have a friend with a terrible photo booth experience, where the photographer from the booth charged $800 for 3 hours and tore the booth down after 2. I say set up a backdrop yourself of streamers tied to a rope or a cute tablecloth, glue some felt mustaches to sticks and glasses from the dollar store, set up a sign with an email address and #hashtag next to the “photo area” and call it done. Price: Next to free. Like $10

photo booth

photo booth idea

Venue: You’ll save money if you pick a place that already has tables and chairs. Most places outdoors will charge you around a dollar a chair to let your guests sit for an hour. Tents were out of the question too. They cost as much as childbirth. Find a venue that has this stuff, and go from there. Price for us: $500 (we paid for an extra hour and for the trash to be taken out by someone else. We rented a park shelter and there isn’t onsite catering or staff.)

logs 1

Decor: Step one: Get Pinterest. Who am I kidding you’re already addicted like me. Step 2: Create a Wedding Board and start pinning. Search DIY Wedding and go for hours. Search the theme you are interested in, Rustic, Vintage, Retro, Traditional, etc. Just pin the stuff that’s your style and go from there. There’s a billion ideas. Step back, look at your wedding board, and start to compile ideas of what you can make and where you can cut costs.

You’ll save money if you thrift for things like vases, books, jelly jars, lace and other centerpieces. Brides on Craigslist are selling their old things for super cheap. Why get 25 large glass containers you’ll never use again? How about mason jars with flowers from your local supermarket in them and let guests take them home, or use the jars again for drinks at an outdoor party, or actually canning food. Try sites like Oriental Trading or stores like Party City for bulk decor and Photo Booth items. Check out this DIY jackpot from Buzzfeed. 

vintage decor

I plan to use luggage, vintage chairs by the fireplace, and even the typewriter I picked up to decorate. I will most likely just scour the apartment for lanterns, old fans, and picture frames for decor.


I plan to make a chalkboard for dinner and drinks. I already got the black paint for $10 a quart and the unsanded grout for $4 from the habitat for humanity restore. We know someone with a TON of scrap wood and can paint some of these up no problem.

We are doing a rustic vintage themed wedding because that suits our personalities and budget. Family members that just cut down a tree are cutting slices for place card holders and thick round pieces for centerpieces. We will add jelly jars with flowers from the grocery store, as well as maybe some books or something vintage and call it done then we can reuse the wood or use it for firewood afterwards. The tables at the venue we rented are naked (gasp!) so we need multiple tablecloths. We are going to ask the restaurant we worked at if they can rent us some they use or what it would cost. But again, party supply stores would have plastic ones if you just want to cover the tables with something. Fabric is better. Call a linen rental company and get a price. (Don’t say WEDDING in the phone call. Just party. Some places charge more for a wedding.) Personally I don’t mind if they don’t match and would like to shop vintage for white and off white tablecloths. I already have 3 and the wedding isn’t for a year.

blue glass

Vintage decor can be cheap, but if you want to keep it clean or it’s worth money, don’t use it.

blue poofs

I’m thinking I can make these with tissue from the dollar store, and some string.

Music: So you want a live band. Check local venues that have live music and check out some bands ahead of time to see what you like. Maybe a really awesome jazz group you saw at a dinner club plays weddings for $150 a night. I’ve known it to be done. How about an IPod dock and a playlist from Spotify premium (pick ANY songs you want and for $10 a month play them with no commercials) and play this list for dinner. Heck, if you don’t want a DJ just put together a killer playlist of dance / slow mix songs for the first 2 or 3 hours then the last hour pump up the Wu-Tang and DJ Khalid. Go for it. I don’t remember DJ’s at weddings anyways, just if I had a good time.

Attire: I don’t want my bridesmaids to spend money. Like at all. I know how expensive weddings can be and I want them to feel good and look good. I got a paint strip from the hardware store with colors ranging from peacock to robin’s egg blue and gave them to the bridesmaids and told them to just go pick a dress any of those colors. Black shoes. Do your hair how you want. You can get it done at a salon or do it yourself. I trust them to be the beautiful women they are. Men? I’m going to ask them to wear brown or khaki pants, a white shirt and a peacock blue or teal tie. The groom will wear a vest. I also plan to make my own dress, because I sew, I’ll save $400 or more on making it myself. If you want to save money try vintage shopping or craigslist. Also check vintage stores and etsy for things like a clutch for the day of, shoes, etc, and go to mall stores like Forever 21 for jewelry.


How about this DIY? 

Flowers: I don’t like to spend money on something that dies in a week. But flowers are a big part of the wedding. I would like to make the bouquets and boutineers out of fabric scraps, glitter, jute, lace, tulle, and whatever I have laying around. They will cost little to no money. If you want flowers though the best idea I’ve seen or come up with is going to the grocery store the day before and getting flowers from the chilled case, and making up the bouquets the night before, and putting them in the fridge. $20 a  bouquet you made yourself with lace and ribbon is pretty cheap. Or if you want the look of real flowers go to a Hobby store and get the fake ones on sale, and make your own bouquets. Get coupons from the Hobby store website too (sometimes up to 50% off)

fabric bouquet

I can totally make these. Image credit

Guestbook: There are so many ideas… But when will you ever look at that thing again? My idea is to go to Shutterfly, Walgreens, or York photo and make a $10 book with some pics of me and the fiancee, and some white pages for guests to sign with a sharpee. Then we will look at it again because it’s not only a photo album, it’s a guestbook.

Drinks: Okay, drinks and food will be the most expensive thing we will purchase for the wedding. More than the ring, more than the dress, for sure. How do you save money on feeding people? It’s almost impossible. There’s no away around quality, like a good photographer. But here’s my plan. We aren’t hiring a caterer. Well, kinda but not really. The fiancée wants to work with the restaurant we met at to cater food, hopefully at a discounted price because he’s a chef and wants to DO THE FOOD. I say good luck, and pat him on the back while I sip my wine and plan the rest of the wedding. DRINKS: coffee will be catered with food. We will get 2 kegs of beer, one of PBR and one of something crafty. We will have 2 signature cocktails to choose from like sangria and a champagne cocktail and those are your 2 choices. We will get box wine or $4 bottles for the sangria and a ton of fruit. We will buy soda and water bottles for people. The venue we are renting has a built in bar, and we will call up the restaurant we worked for and hire out one of their bartenders to pour the cocktails and beer all night. I’ve read it’s tacky to charge for drinks at a wedding. “why charge for a drink? You wouldn’t charge your friends if they had a drink at your house.” Well let’s see, because it’s 800 TIMES MORE EXPENSIVE that’s why. So if we charge it will be like $3 a drink and then beer is free after dinner or something. Come on now, we don’t want to go into debt. Plus our bartender is more likely to get tipped when people walk up to the bar with cash. So there.

pamperin 2

Don’t forget the coffee!

Food: The fiancee is in charge of this. He’s a chef and I KNEW he wouldn’t want anyone else in charge of the food. Just like I’m a designer and don’t want just anyone to decorate the dance hall. I don’t know what he has in mind but if we get it catered in it may bust our budget. He said he’s single-handedly catered weddings before and food costs was about $10 per person, so count on that or more to feed your guests if you’re doing it yourself. Otherwise call around to your favorite restaurants and ask if they cater, most of them do.

log slices

Who doesn’t like pie?

Dessert: I don’t have a problem with potluck dessert. How about the aunts and grandmas make cookies and pies? Cool. Baking party 2 days in advance with the bridesmaids? Cookie bar? One cake for the bride and groom? I kinda want to do cookies, brownies (a box of 96 brownie mix at Costco is $10) and cupcakes and then filling piping bags for people to decorate their own desserts.

log chalkboard

This is not me. I’m Roxanne, but I do want a painted wood circle. It will be free because of the free wood we are getting. That’s where I’m at so far, but I’m sure this isn’t the last wedding post you’ll see from me… As I DIY I’ll post more and more! Happy wedding season!



3 thoughts on “Planning a DIY Wedding

  1. I wrote the post from my fiancées computer and couldn’t figure out the accents from there and it wouldn’t auto correct. But thanks for the reminder to edit it.

  2. Wonderful ideas! We had a Celtic Handfasting New Year’s Eve, 2006 at my friends house and everything was done by us and a couple of friends. I made our dresses, flowers, etc. We bought the meat and my friend smoked it and the rest of the food was made by us at their house. I loved our wedding – simple, inexpensive, and memorable. Sounds like yours will be wonderful too. Blessings to both of you!

  3. Hi Roxanne,
    I am SO extremely excited that I stumbled on your post. We are planning a Fall 2017 wedding (early October) and I have my heart set on the Pamperin Park hall for the ceremony. I’ve found out that banquet halls are EXTREMELY expensive- and I’m so happy to see you’re using the same hall for the ceremony and reception! I look forward to creeping on you, and planning our own Pamperin Park wedding. Your style is very similar to ours.
    ❤ Sam

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