How I created a stylish wedding with DIY projects
Honestly I would have never thought anyone would be interested in how I planned my DIY wedding. Now that I am here I am so excited to share all the good, bad, and the ugly. Hmmmmm now where to begin? The biggest decision by far was the date Brian and I choose. We choose a date over a year and a half away to give us plenty of time to plan (meaning me) lol. I had no idea where to start so I went on amazon to see if a wedding planner book existed. I found one that I thought was perfect for me. The Wedding Planner Checklist is what I went with and it definitely helped me 1000%. I would highly recommend this to anyone planning a DIY wedding and what's even better is it was less the 10 bucks. The planner book got me thinking of so much like theme, cost of alterations, guest count, you name it I'm sure it’s in the planner. After sitting down and really thinking about all the small details that make such a big day happen I started thinking about money and how we were going to afford this wedding. So below I have broken down what I did to cut corners on cost, what I did not compromise on, questions to ask vendors, red flags, and what projects to leave to the professionals.
Photographer: Kandace Photography
Florist: Ash + Oak
Catering: Fist of Flour
DJ: Dj Prestige
Musician: Edson Artica
Rentals: Chavari Guys
Decor: Restore & Rework
Signage: Smudges in Print
Hair: Beauty by Audrey
This is where we saved a ton! We had our wedding at Brian’s aunt & uncle house that was able to accommodate 195 guest. Another alternative is a regional park, city park, or community hall. By doing this it saved us about 20-30k because alot of venues make you use their catering company, coordinator, barternders and so on.
PROS: If your family is as amazing as Brian’s you get to set up with plenty of time
Save a ton to put towards other things
Less restrictions like supplying your own alcohol, don't have to tare down by a certain time (music did have to be done by 10:00pm)
If you plan on having kids at your wedding like I did some venues are strict about having kids
Choose the catering company of your liking
You have to bring everything in tables, chairs, heaters (if its cold), generator, dancefloor, lights, alter, bathrooms, and event insurance.
We had a mix of flowers and succulents/cactuses. I was able to save a ton of money by growing all of them with the help of my mom. We started growing them in terra cotta pots about a year in advance in different size pots. We didn’t spend any money on succulents or soil we grew each and everyone of them by cloning them. I purchased all the terra cotta pots for under $400 from the dollar store. I purchased a total of 375 pots that also served as the wedding favors. As far as the physical flowers you have to be realistic if you want something super extravagant it's not going to be cheap. I found an amazing florist who was able to work with my budget and I gave her complete artistic freedom. I shared my vision with her and she made it better. That included all the bouquets, boutineers, 12 tables, the arch, seating chart, welcome sign, welcome table, dessert table. I was pretty simple it what I wanted for flowers that made the cost stay lower. You have to consider the florist cost for flowers, green foam blocks, pots, time at the flower market, time to assemble the arrangements, time to deliver, time to set up. If you want to keep cost lower the simpler the better and let the florist know what your vision is and give them the freedom and the trust to make it happen.
375 Terra cotta pots ($400)
375 succulents + Cactuses ($0)
Flowers + Pattern Pots + Set up + Delivery ($4000)
This is where I did not compromise not just because I myself am a wedding photographer but because this is one of the only things that will fully document your day especially if you don’t plan on having a videographer. I didn't want hire just any photographer I wanted to hire someone who has quality work, experience, has a kick ass personality, someone who wasn’t going to be afraid to tell my wedding party and family to listen up because I know how hard it is to get over 30 people to pay attention, and lastly someone who loves what they do because it will reflect in the photos. Pick what kind of style you want documentery, traditional, fine art, etc.
I know that a lot of people like my sister who have chosen to hire a friend with a “nice camera”. Guys I cannot stress this enough I am sure your friend awesome but you have really ask yourself.
Does your friend have any experience photographing weddings? Real experience with specifically weddings? Photographing cars and landscapes is completely different then photographing weddings.
Is it worth taking a risk letting your friend with no experience capture one of the most important days of your life?
Will it affect your friendship if you dislike your photos?
Do you plan on letting your friend drink at the wedding?
Do you want your friend to be a guest at you wedding? There is so much to capture so keep in mind that your friend will not be able to be an actual guest because there is so may things to capture. Getting ready photos, details (dress/shoes/jewlery/tux/etc.),first look (if you choose to have one), family portraits, romantic portraits, details of the venue, ceremony, speeches, first dance, father daughter dance, mother son dance, cake cutting, special tradiotons, . The list goes on…….
Prior to finding the catering company I hired I was going to go with a different company that was offering to provide bar tending services as well. Before we signed a contact I was verifying details that were missing from the contact that were mentioned during our conversation about what they would be providing. We chose not to go with the first catering company due to lack of communication. Always look at the contract catering companies should always supply their own tables for the food, plates, silverware and table linens. After the situation with the prior catering company I choose not to have plated dinner we are super laid back and wanted to create a very laid back ambiance. We had pizza! Yes you read that right PIZZA we also had 4 different type of appetizers. By choosing pizza we saved money but also by choosing not to rent plates and going the biodegradable route with plates, forks, and spoons. Choosing to go the biodegradable way really cut down cost. Keep in mind that my cost for food reflects on the fact that I had close to 200 guest. All in all we paid under 6k for food including 4 different appetizers, pizza, salad, plates, forks, and spoons. Meaning we paid about $25 per person.
This is one of your most important vendors he/she will keep your day running smoothly. They have a very important job they are the main point of contact for all your vendors. They navigate everyone and tell everyone were to set up, keep them on schedule, handle any mishaps that happen on that day, most importantly keep you and your hubby stress free the day of.
I unfortunately did not have the best experience with my day of coordinator. Although she was super sweet and very kind she did not keep our day running smoothly. In our contract we hired her and an assistant. One week prior to my wedding she tells me her assistant would be unable to make it to my wedding. Immediate red flag vendors should always have back ups especially when it’s one week away that is sufficient time to find a replacement and unnecessary stress you don’t need.
The advice that I can give you on this is ask lots of questions. If you are having a wedding with more than 50 guest your coordinator should have an assistant. Reason behind this is one person to handle the behind the scenes like keeping the bathrooms clean, taking out the garbage from the trash can around the property, cutting the cake, and any other emergency situation that happens. While the main coordinator keeps the day going with the ceremony, 1st dance, father daughter dance, cake cutting, etc. Also because I only needed a day of coordination I was able to save a little because I planned every detail and handed everything to the coordinator 1 week prior to the wedding like all the vendor contacts, detailed timeline, task that needed to be completed the day of.
Questiond to Ask :
How long have you been doing this?
How many wedding have you coordinated?
What happens in the event of you getting sick?
Ask for reviews!
Do you have restrictions on what you do?
Reason for this question because I had my wedding at a family residence there we alot of miscellaneous task that needed to be done like keeping bathrooms tidy, taking out the trash from bins, cutting the cake, refilling dessert table when dessert runs low, etc.
MAKEUP & HAIR
I was so fortunate to have my amazing cousin who is a makeup artist do my make up along with all of my bridesmaids. She was kind enough to only charge us for the price of products. As far as hair goes all of my girls including myself wanted very simple hair style and we went with a hairstylist who did hair similar how we all wanted it. The girls spent $60 and my hair was $100 which is about standard for the hairstyles we choose.
Ladies and gentlemen don’t buy everything at once and don't buy everything you see just because you “like” it. This was so hard for me because I had so many ideas in my head and had no idea if they were going to mesh well. My theme was Boho with a spanish twist, am I right complicated? Anyway, After I decided on a theme I made sure to set up my 2 ideas to make sure I would like it. I’ll break down what I bought as well as how I cut corners:
Centerpieces & Decorations
10 lanterns from a friend of mine they we normally priced at $29.00 each but I bought all of them after setting them up and making sure I liked them for $10 bucks for all of them. Search around on offer up, craigslist, facebook marketplace, thrift stores, garage sales, antique stores, and look for sales. BUT REALLY SEARCH AROUND
Terra cotta pots in 3 different sizes each table had about 30. Dollar Store $1.00 per pot didn’t matter the size. After clearing out the dollar store out I searched high and low for the best price Lowes happened to be having a sale so I purchased the remained 30 I need for $1.50 each. Total spend $400.00. They also doubled up as wedding favors so I didn't have to buy anything additional.
Candle Stick Holders: I hit up so many thrift and antique stores I bought a couple they were all missed match but that was the point. After finding the best antique who let me rent the remaining amount of candle holders that I needed. I had a total of 22 and spent a total of $60 including the ones I purchased.
Table Runners: I had 2 different kinds of runners 1 was macrame runner and the other was a mix of cheesecloth/gauze. The marame runner were purchased from Cost Plus World Market they had a really good sale at the time I bought them they had 20% off for signing up for there free reward program plus an additional 40% off I spent a total of $325 including free shipping for a total of 22 runners. The cheesecloth/gauze runners I cut myself I don't recall how many yards I bought but I needed them to be 3ft wide x 6ft long. I bought all the cloth at Joann’s and they usually always have coupons online and I got 40% off my entire purchase and spent a total of $120. It sound like a lot of money for runners but you would spend around the same amount if you would rent them and you are able to resell them and make some money back
Table Numbers: I rented table runners that ran me $22.00 for all and don’t have the headache of getting rid of stuff
Seating Chart: I used pintrest for this idea I spend $89 for all of the parts and $13 for the string. I also plan on reselling this and making back some money.
Arch: I was shopping around and was shocked at how much the cost to buy so I was just going to rent one but my uncle who is a carpenter offered to build me one I just bought the materials that cost me $90.00 total for wood, satin, screws, and bolts.
Carpet for the ceremony site: I purchase a used small area rug for $30 on the facebook marketplace
Sign in wood slab: I didn't want regular sign in book that would get put away and never see. I went on etsy and purchased a wood sign with our wedding date a last name that we have hung up in our home now. That cost $64 on the sign.
Picture frames: I had a few picture frames around the property I spent no more the $4 on each of them
“Here comes your girl” sign I bought the wood from a thrift store or $2 dollars and wrote on it myself
Macrame Wall Hanger: I was looking on Etsy but couldn’t come to spending $200 on one so I happened to have a perfect piece of driftwood that I found on a beach and purchased 3 rolls of string I spend a total of $34 plus 6 hours of my time making it.
Glass card box: I got it on sale for $25 at target
Cake stand: I bought it pretty beat up and restored it myself. I spent $12 on it
Bakery sign I bought at a cute little shop for $15 bucks
AMYX letters on the dessert table I paid $4 for each letter
Crochet table covers my mom and mother in law had a few so we didn’t spend anything on them.
Latter that held the sweet bread I did spend a little on this just because I wanted to have it for other other occasions. I spend $40 on it
Welcome sign & Bar sign: $60 for both
CAKE & MEXICAN SWEET BREAD
For my dessert I wanted a smaller size cake and a variety of mexican sweet bread. I found a Mexican bakery near the house. Because I choose a very simple 2 layer cake that would feed 50 people it ran me $60.00 and I ordered 150 bread with 10 different variety of sweet breads that was a total of $160.00 coming to a total of 210.00 for everything. I also didn’t have it delivered I had a friend pick up and drop everything off to my coordinator to set up.
SIGNAGE: Welcome sign, bar sign, card holder, name cards. My cousin who is an amazing calligrapher was kind enough to only charge us for her products. She made all of these for under $100.
MUSIC: My DJ was a childhood friend who is a DJ for a living . He gave us an amazing rate and kept us dancing all night long. We paid $700. We also hired 2 musicians who I met at another wedding they had to travel a ways away we paid $600 for 2 hours plus their travel.
Because I was not using very many decorations due to Brian uncle’s house being so beautiful the tables and chairs where going to be part of the decor. I choose not to cut corners with my rentals. I went with farm tables and oak cross back chairs. They were a little pricer then going with round tables but that is a personal choice. They provided chairs, tables, string lights, heaters, and the dance floor, and generator. We paid about $6000 for everything including delivery and set up.
24 tables (6ft)
8 heaters + propane
14 x 12 dance floor
Generator + gas
10 (50ft) string lights
I have a friends who rented me 200 napkins and 200 water glasses for $100. that 4 cents per item.
DRESS & TUX ALTERATIONS
I set my budget for my dress including alteration to be under $2,000 my mom was kind enough to buy me my wedding dress. I did not get my dress altered with the store I purchased it because they wanted to charge me $650 to hem my dress and do minor alterations. I asked a couple of my friends and found a local seamstress that was amazing and charged me $150 for all my alterations. We got Brian 2 tuxedos for $899 including a shirt and his shoes. His alterations were done by the same seamstress who charged us $40.
I hope this helps anyone who is planning their wedding. I know that sometimes you feel like cost and planning can be overwhelming if your friends and family are offering to help with planning take the help I promise it will make planning easier. Pick what is important to you and your significant other whether it’s to have a band, you favorite dish, or a signification location. The earlier you are able book your vendors the more time you have to pay them. I don’t want to speak for any vendors but some do offer payment plans if paid in full before your wedding date so make sure to ask. Also big weddings are not for everyone so if you want something small and intimate that is OK to stay true to what you both want. Everything we choose was our decision and we picked what was important to us. We wanted to be in the company of all our family and friends have good food and have some great music to dance to. We had so much help from our family and friends from setting up, helping on the day of, and tearing down. I don’t want to lie and say that me being a wedding photographer wasn’t beneficial because it was. It made my planning easier as well as having a few contacts to guide me. I was also able to barter some items like my decorations. If you have something that you think will really be beneficial to a vendor offer it, it doesn’t hurt to ask. I did not expect this out of any of my vendors, me being a wedding photographer came up in conversation and 4 of my vendors were kind enough to want to want to trade services and offer me a discount. With that said I still listed full prices for the decor and rentals even though we traded services so you can I get and idea of what it would cost. Please feel free to ask me any questions.