Four Tips For A DIY Wedding

There are a lot of DIY (“do-it-yourself”) opportunities with weddings. For some, it is simply a more frugal option than going with a professional. For others, it’s about leaving his or her personal touch on their big day. Whatever the decision for incorporating these elements, a DIY wedding can be a great, and sometimes necessary, option.

When you’re on a budget, sometimes you have to get creative. This is a simple rule I’ve abided by for many occasions, whether it’s with gift-giving, home decor, or in this instance, weddings. I set about our wedding and honeymoon planning with a firm dollar amount in mind. We quickly began removing items from the list that did not fit within our list of must-haves. For us, a few things did not make the cut – for example, fresh flowers.

I adore fresh flowers, believe me. But like so many aspects of the wedding industry, there’s a crazy markup associated with everything. I just couldn’t bring myself to apportion such a large percentage of our wedding budget on them. For this reason, we went with a DIY wedding approach, along with many other aspects of our wedding.

Fortunately, we began wedding planning very early, leaving us plenty of time to undertake a myriad of DIY wedding projects. The bridal bouquets, paper goods, signs, and centerpieces were the minimum we wanted to accomplish. If we had extra time after those projects, we would see about additional decor – things like the altar, bar, cake and gift tables, and other focal areas.

One of my favorite projects right now is making crepe paper flowers, something I learned at a workshop in Austin. While time-consuming, they turned out to be quite easy to make once I found my rhythm. I found them to be a nice middle ground between artificial and fresh. With paper flowers, you also have more control over theme and colors – this blush peony, for example, is the exact shade of “blush” I was going for. I can only imagine how creative one can get with colors not typically found in nature. Bold purple proteas, green roses, blue leaves – the possibilities are endless.

crepe paper peony

In addition to DIY wedding flowers, our plan includes projects for paper goods (menus, programs, etc.) and other miscellaneous things like welcome bags for out-of-town guests. It’s quite a list but I’m optimistic it will all come together!

We’re currently in the midst of constructing all of these items. After the wedding, I’ll post an update with the final results and, most importantly, cost. So far, everything is looking awesome and the money saved has made all the extra effort worthwhile. I’ve definitely learned a lot so far, and hopefully these tips will work for you if you’ve ever been interested in undertaking a similar project.

Tip #1: Hobby Lobby Rotating Sales

Hands down, this was one of the biggest cost-savers ever, regardless of the project. Never pay full price for anything at Hobby Lobby (with a few exceptions – some things just never go on sale). The store has a somewhat consistent, weekly rotating sale special, where you can find almost everything in the store between 30 and 50% off of its regular price.

Floral is frequently 50% off every other week or thereabouts. Since none of my projects were time-sensitive, I planned out ahead of time what I needed to buy and waited until the sales week. I checked their weekly ad online at their website and simply waited until my desired categories showed up.

The floral department itself is actually made up of several sub-categories, so the sale does not apply to the entire department. To achieve my desired look for my table runners, I actually needed to make some purchases in the “Flowering & Greenery Bushes” area, which is not the same as “Floral Stems.” Garlands are in their own “Garlands & Wreaths” section, as well. I did not learn that until I arrived at the store, which meant I had to come back at a later date.

However, by doing this, I could walk out of the store with upwards of 120 stems of ranunculi for $60. I didn’t have to worry if they ran out of my chosen item – they will happily fill out a rain check for you, and fulfill your order with your desired quantity at the customer service desk.

Tip #2: Use Pinterest for Inspiration, not Guidelines

Pinterest can either be your best or worst friend, depending. I’m not as pin-crazy as many others I follow (my sister has over 8,000 pins compared to my meager 332). I’ve still managed to dedicate seven distinct boards dedicated to the wedding, with more pins than all of my other boards.

pinterest wedding boards

I began pinning in earnest to begin building my vision of what our wedding would look like. Pinterest does a great job of showing you content it thinks you might like, based on past behavior. The more I pinned, the more I found. The array of options and potential is nigh-endless, which was immediately both overwhelming and awe-inspiring.

The first problem? I spent a lot of time pinning and dreaming, and took too long to settle on a real decor plan. The paralyzing problem of too many choices was very real here, and very detrimental to actually getting stuff done (see: Tip #4).

The second problem? Many of the jaw-dropping images on Pinterest are the work of professional designers, who are expensive for a reason. I had to set some realistic expectations and not let my obsession with an idea take over too much. Rather than trying to recreate something perfectly, I figured out what elements I was truly attracted to and how I could apply that to my projects.

bridesmaid bouquet

As an example, I liked the idea of a simple bridesmaid bouquet with a prominent focal flower. Since my crepe paper peonies were going to be large, I was able to get the look I was going for fairly easily once I had the basic elements in hand – a focal flower, blackberries, greenery, and a bit of whatever those small white things are (I have no idea, honestly).

Tip #3: Weigh Cost/Benefit Against Your Time

I had a lot of DIY projects on my list, and at some point I had to draw the line. Perfect example: I adored the idea of making crepe ranunculus flowers just as I did my peonies. However, to make a crepe ranunculus would have required a lot of petals to achieve the density that was so attractive. Since the most time-consuming part of making paper flowers is cutting petals, and I had a lot of ranunculi in my decor plan, I knew I had to pass on this project.

At some point, your time is going to be worth more than the amount you would save on DIY. In this specific example, I was able to get four artificial ranunculus blooms for $2 during a Hobby Lobby floral sale. This prices each individual flower at $0.50 – a bargain compared to how long each one would have taken to construct individually.

Of course, if the reason for your DIY project is about more than just frugality, you may still find the time investment worth it. Getting the perfect color, or customizing them to your exact specifications is inherently valuable. But if you’re like me, and also looking to save some cash, realize that DIY isn’t always the most cost-effective or efficient answer.

Tip #4: Just Do

This is the most important piece of advice I have for a DIY wedding – or really, any sort of project. You can dream, plan, and Pinterest pin your ideas to an early grave if you aren’t careful. At some point, you have to end the planning phase and just start doing it. Abandon the notion of perfection, accept that your first few tries might be less than glamorous, and just start.

crafting session

I was terrified to start making my peonies. It meant using all of those tools and supplies I’d acquired, and finally seeing if I had what it took to create something beautiful. I was afraid to fail at it, and have all of my efforts go to waste. My first peony was underwhelming: it was too small, because I did not arrange the petals correctly. But then, I made the next one, and it was a great improvement. And the next one was an improvement over that, too.

I had never arranged flowers before undertaking this project, and had no idea what looked good together and what didn’t. To get over my trepidation, I put together a rough (very rough) arrangement right there in the store. I had an idea of the type of flowers I wanted, and our wedding colors and general theme. I began by picking things up around the store that caught my eye. After laying them out all together on a surface to see how they would look together, I loved what I saw and got inspired.

My point is, there’s no substitute for learning how to do something than by simply doing it. DIY can be intimidating, confusing, and time-consuming so the earlier you start on your projects, the better.

As we’re deep into the DIY projects as of the writing of this post, I’ll write again later with an update on what we were able to accomplish. In the meantime, no matter what stage you are in your DIY project – happy crafting, and stay sane!

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