I’m a massive advocate of a ‘do it yourself’ wedding. The whole aim of this blog is to encourage you to be bold and creative when it comes to organising your own. It isn’t the easy option though, so before you commit to hiring out a huge teepee or an empty barn I thought I’d let you know what a DIY wedding involves, so you make sure you don’t take on a rather large project that you wish you hadn’t.
1. It feels like you’re running a business
Joff and I felt that the nine months organising our wedding felt like owning a little business on the side of our day jobs. You’d get home and have emails to respond to, people to chase, phone calls to make, people to meet. It can be quite full on and you need to be organised for all the separate elements (food, music, flowers, photographers) to come together successfully on the day. We set ourselves ‘Wedmin’ dates where we would pop along to a coffee shop together and that would be where we would discuss and sort all things wedding related. This worked really well for us as it stopped wedding organisation consuming everything we did and spoke about.
2. You will require storage and a van
Our spare bedroom was FULL of bits and bobs we collected and bought for the wedding. Everything was brought to the venue from our flat in a friend’s van… from jams, helium canisters, drinks, lights to three dining room tables! Having a blank canvas to work from gives you so much freedom to make your wedding look exactly how you want it, but it also means you have a lot of buying, collecting and transporting to do ready for the big day.
3. You will be at the venue the day before, morning of and the day after
We had access to our venue 2pm the day before the wedding, so spent all of that afternoon getting everything to the venue and setting up as much as we could. There were bits and bobs we just couldn’t leave out overnight with the weather forecast being so wet and windy, so after having breakfast with our whole family the morning of our wedding, we rushed back to the venue to finish off the last few jobs (such as flowers, hay bales, garden games etc) leaving us with two hours before the start of the wedding to get together with the groomsmen and bridesmaids to get ready. We were then back there the morning after the wedding to clear it all up and get everything back into the van. You could of course, have a team do all this for you, but we knew what we wanted where and fully intended to keep it all a surprise for as many guests as possible, so we didn’t want our families and friends getting too involved as we wanted them to enjoy the day as much as everyone else.
4. Inspiration is not replication
Pinterest is incredible for wedding inspiration …from crafts to decor, it’s all there! But it is easy to feel overwhelmed by how perfect it all is and how incredibly hard it all is to replicate (especially on a budget) …so don’t. Get ideas, get inspired, but make your wedding your own. A lot of Pinterest images are unrealistic, so just mix and match elements you like from different styles and create your own.
5. You will need to communicate clearly & prioritise
A couple of months before the wedding my Mum and Dad sat me down and asked me to draw what I thought the venue would look like, and write an order of the day …just so they could make sure they were on the same page. It made me realise that no one else can see the image I have in my head of what the day will look like, and that the suppliers, friends and family who are helping you are relying on very clear communication in order to understand what you want. Prioritising was an incredibly important part of staying within budget, and became a necessity which started off as a difficult one as I just wanted all my ideas to become a reality, but actually when something is stressful to organise or is costing far more than it should, you need to put it in perspective as ask yourself whether you really need it, or whether there is a cheaper, more simple alternative. For example, instead of organising an ice cream van to be at your wedding, just get a mini freezer, decorate the front and stick some ice pops in there instead!
6. DIY isn’t for everyone
Even if you’re doing a ‘do it yourself’ wedding, it doesn’t meant you have to do EVERYTHING yourself! If your Nana is great at sewing, ask her to make the bunting. If your friend loves crafts, ask her to make some bits for you. I’m not the best at asking people for help, but there would have been a lot less stress on myself if I had. It’s okay to buy your jam for the favours instead of making it, or buy your table runners on Amazon to save making them yourself. Create the bits you’ll enjoy, seek help, buy, collect or rent everything else.
7. The word ‘wedding’ will cost you more
We did find that whenever we told a band or a bouncy castle company that it was a wedding, their prices went up (we therefore ended up with neither a band nor a bouncy castle!). However a DIY Wedding should end up cheaper overall as you are crafting, making and collecting. You are organising the venue, caterers, music, photographers, flowers etc all separately so you can ensure you are getting value for money for each one. You are also more likely to hire a cheaper space too, as it may not be your typical ‘wedding venue’ where they charge above and beyond.
8. Use your connections
Our food caterers were friends, our DJ was a friend, our florist and photographer was recommended by a friend …you get the idea. If you know someone who can help you, ask them! I go on and on about how fabulous our food caterers were, but part of that was having a relationship with them where they really cared about our wedding and we really trusted them. If you have connections, use them.
9. You’ll never be short of a craft project
My absolute favourite part of the wedding preparation was all the craft projects. Do you ever want to craft and create but not know what to make? Throughout that nine months I always had something that needed making and I just loved having projects on the go.
10. It’s not all about you
A DIY wedding doesn’t leave much time for you. I managed to rush and get my nails done two days before, but other than that I had no time for anything else as I was busy setting up the venue. I did my hair and makeup myself after being at the venue that morning. But that was all fine! My whole focus was about the guests and spoiling them. I wanted them to feel loved and cherished, appreciated and looked after. As long as you are willing to sacrifice a bit of ‘you’ time and understand that your wedding is more than just a day all about you, you’ll be fine. It stops you being a crazy bride and puts your focus on all the bits your guests will actually remember. Work hard, be creative, make it personal and beautiful and it will be 100% worth it.
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