The phrase “DIY Wedding” is a lie. You can have a budget wedding. You can even do some parts of a wedding yourself, but you certainly cannot do an entire wedding yourself. If you are a broke bride or just really want a DIY wedding, I’d like to let you in on a little secret. Most DIY weddings are less about what you do and more about finding awesome people in your network with amazing skills.
You can do some things, but you can’t do ALL things.
There are some things you can do yourself. You can get the best deal on your wedding rings. You can make your own wedding favors. You can design your own invitations. You can alter your own dress. You can shop for the food you’ll serve at the reception. You can pick the decorations and perhaps even help put them up.
You cannot do it all.
You can’t cook all day on your wedding day. You can’t serve the food to your guests. You can’t replenish the drinks when they run low. You can’t alter your bridesmaids’ dresses (unless you are way more awesome than I am). You can’t man the dessert table. You can’t DJ your own music. You can’t take your own photos.
So what’s a broke bride or DIY wedding enthusiast to do?
We planned our huge 400 guest wedding on a tiny budget of $2500. And yes, we fed people a full meal.
But we didn’t do it alone.
We networked our way to a low-budget wedding. When people asked what they could do to help, I answered their question honestly. I spent the entire three months leading up to our wedding walking around with a mental (sometimes physical) list of jobs that I didn’t have covered. Whenever someone said, “I’d love to help if you need something,” I’d pull out that list and mention the things I needed.
Some people weren’t able to do any of the things on the list, but others jumped at the chance to help out as a wedding gift. Still others mentioned suggestions for completing the job that I hadn’t even thought of.
So what were some of the things that wonderful friends and family members did to help us on our wedding day?
My Dad and his partners spent the day before the wedding doing all the prep work for the food. Then during the reception, my Dad’s partner, Thomas, manned the kitchen and kept everything running smoothly. We never would have been able to serve such great food without his help.
We have a friend who works for a catering company, and he was nice enough to let us borrow the chafing dishes, linens, and even a punch fountain. We catered the food ourselves, but it looked just as professional as if we had catering company do it for us.
My step-dad was the mastermind behind the tenting that we had in the cultural hall. By renting the church gym, we saved tons of money. The tenting made it look magical, and only cost a few hundred dollars. There were a lot of other people that came and helped set it all up. Just two days before the wedding, we were all in the gym, spending HOURS setting up that tenting. What we saved in money, we paid for with man hours. But, we had more friends and time than we had money. So it worked out.
My mother-in-law baked the cake, and it was delicious. All we had to do was pay for the materials. Did you know Sam’s Club sells frosting by the 3 gallon tub? Yeah. Me either. Until I bought it.
Most of my bridesmaids were not exactly rich when I asked them to be a part of the wedding party, and I only gave them three months’ notice. I had paid for bridesmaid dresses before on a student budget, and didn’t want them to have to scrounge for the money with so little time. A lady from church and her daughter ended up donating their time to MAKE THE BRIDESMAID DRESSES. All we had to pay for was material and the pattern. They turned out great, and even had pockets. I specifically remember running into her. She asked what she could do to help, and I asked her if she had any recommendations for modest dresses. She offered to make them on the spot. I couldn’t believe it.
At the time, Annan’s niece was still in high school, and she had just started a photography business. Now, she is living it up on the east coast, and her business, Jelli Bee Photography, is growing. We were one of her first weddings, and she did a great job. Now, when I look at our pictures, not only do I remember our beautiful day, but I know that each picture was taken with love. Check out our engagement and wedding photos!
I did my own makeup, because makeup artists never get my eyes right. My hair was done by a good friend who offered to help. She and another friend came to the house and helped us all get ready. We got to have a couple fun run-throughs before the day of the wedding, and it was much more fun because it wasn’t a stranger helping me get ready. It was a friend.
A guy from church volunteered to be our DJ. We made the playlists and organized everything so that it would be easy to follow. A few other people donated speakers. And, he did a great job of being the emcee.
My crocheted veil was primarily made by my grandmother. My mom and I each worked on it a little bit too, though. I wanted a generational veil so that I could pass it on to my children. Now that my grandma is gone, I treasure this heirloom.
My mom was recovering from a pretty major surgery while I was planning the wedding, and so we spent that three months planning the wedding together. She is much more organized and logical than I am, so it was nice to have her help. It helped keep her mind off of the pain, and it really helped me!
To be honest with you, it’s been three years since our wedding, and there are countless other jobs that I can’t even remember. At every stage of the event, there were more hands than were needed because everyone wanted to be a part of it all. By being organized and actually accepting help from the people who wanted to be a part of the day, we were able to save tons of money on our wedding.
I did a lot of things myself. I spent hours creating the meal plan, shopping for food, making the bouquets, designing the invitations, stalk calling people who hadn’t RSVP’d, planning the seating chart, comparing prices on EVERYTHING, and just trying to stay sane. But the big things were done by other people, out of the goodness of their hearts.
What are some other suggestions for networking your way to an affordable wedding? Or do you have other budgeting tips? I’d love to hear them in the comments below.
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