Tips & Tricks

7 Tips for a DIY Wedding on a Budget

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Your wedding day is one of the most important, memorable, and emotional days of your life. The planning and days leading up to it? Not so much. Because every detail needs to be just so, the weeks and months preceding can be stressful, not to mention hugely expensive.  

The average cost of weddings in the U.S. is around $35,000, which is basically a starting salary for some jobs. While you want to make it perfect, there’s just no reason to go into financial dire straits to realize your wedding-day dreams. Thankfully, there are a ton of great options for planning a wedding on a budget with some strategic DIY. We’re not talking about going cheap, here – just thinking through what’s most important to you and your partner, and designing and complementary experience without breaking the bank. And, hey, if you’ve already combined households, you already have great practice with the patience, compromise and planning required to realize your perfect day.

Planning & Prioritizing for What’s Important:

Getting Real with your Fiancé

Average cost of a planning session with your fiancé: a nice bottle of wine

Sit down over a bottle of vino and figure out what’s really important to you both. Is there a place or a moment that defines your relationship or how you met, a place you fell in love or had your best memory? Incorporate meaning into your wedding and your guests will feel it too. And if you think about it, that rarely means renting out some random banquet hall you’ve researched solely based on seating capacity.  

And, don’t forget your own experience as a wedding guest. “Ask yourself about the last wedding you attended: what details did you actually remember? Said Natalie Neilson Edwards, founder of Broomstick Wedding Co. “Spend money there, and find ways to save elsewhere.”

You want your guests to have the best possible experience, but remember this is about you. And, getting specific, and focusing inward on celebrating something meaningful is perhaps the best step you can take in zeroing in on a comfortable budget.

Don’t skimp on the Wedding Planner – Get a Month or Day-Of Planner

Average cost of full-service wedding planner: $3000-$7000

There’s approximately zero doubt that a professional wedding planner can take care of everything for you. These pros do it for a living, and not only know every single minute detail you might want to consider but also have been through enough anxious moments to offer a sense of calm throughout the process. If you can afford it (the average cost of a full-service wedding planner is $3000-7000), it’s almost always worth the money. That said, if you’re truly stretched, and are a perhaps a little OCDish planner by heart, you can save money by doing most of the advance planning yourself. But on your big day, the last thing you want to be thinking about is whether the right linens are on the guest’s tables, or the DJ received the playlist you spent three weeks building.

As Anastasia Stevenson, who specializes in DIY weddings says,  seriously consider leaving the lead up to a pro. “Planning a wedding is stressful enough,” Stevenson said. “But adding extra work will add even more stress to your plate.” Month-of planners can save you a few thousand dollars – and if your wedding is small enough, a more affordable day-of planner may be all you need at an average cost of just $500-1500.

Learning to Love Logistics

Average cost of delivery, setup, and pickup: $1,000

If you’re planning a DIY wedding on a budget, there’s a good chance many of the discounts will come from you handling logistics, which means the headaches of delivery, setup and takedown fall on your shoulders. While this is the perfect job for a good friend to take off your plate, if that person isn’t a logistics expert, you may want to encourage them to find an on-demand solution that can best serve your needs, but also leaves you a little room for improvisation. Services like Dolly can handle all your delivery and pickup needs, and Dolly Helpers are also more than happy to lend a helping hand on your wedding day to ease the burden.

Budget-friendly Venue Options:

Save Money on Your Wedding Venue: Choose Off-Days, Off-Seasons or Low (no) Cost Locations
Average cost of wedding venue rentals: $16,000

Sure, everyone wants to get married on a summer weekend, when most guests can attend and you don’t have to worry about coordinating around any odd work schedules. But off-season and off-day weddings typically come with lower costs for venue rentals.

According to The Knot’s 2016 Real Wedding Study, the average wedding venue cost in the U.S. was $16,107. That’s a ton of cash merely for space rental that could go toward better uses, like your honeymoon.

Janessa White of New York’s Simply Eloped recommends going back to that initial conversation about places that have special meaning, or that you both just think are really cool. “You’d be surprised at the kinds of locations we’ve done weddings at before,” White said. “Tourist attractions, beautiful parks, AirBNBs, restaurants, sidewalks, alleyways, etc. The common thread between all of these spots is that they were free or very cheap compared to a traditional venue.”

Wedding Decor on a Budget:

Average cost of seating tables and decor: $3185

Opt for Round Tables instead of Imperial

Every seat at your wedding costs money – so maximizing table space can save you a bundle.

“Choosing one shape over the other could potentially save hundreds if not thousands of dollars,” said Larissa Banting owner of Weddings Costa Rica and creator of The Lazy Bride blog,

According to Banting, you typically need 15 tables to seat 100 people, which then require linens, chairs, and decorations. By opting for round tables, which typically seat 10 people, you cut that number down to 10. “Right there, you’ve just saved 50 percent on all the rentals for tables and linens,” Banting said, not to mention the costs of decorations.

And don’t forget, if you’re sourcing the tables on your own to save money, you’ll likely have to arrange delivery, setup and pickup. Consider having a close friend manage that process for you, and maybe even encourage them to use a professional, on-demand delivery service that offers seamless coordination, drop-off, setup, takedown, and pick up. Tell them to Download the Dolly app, get a quote, and a book a Helper – so you can move on to thinking about decorations.

DIY Decor for a Personal Touch

Decorations, which include everything from lighting to centerpieces, to gifts, can add up quickly when you consider all the real estate you need to cover at your venue. Remember, it’s the small personal touches that reflect your relationship that really matters. Think back to that list of what you’ve remembered from other weddings, and get creative.

If you’re still looking for decorating inspiration on a budget, consider checking out thrift and antique stores, as well as online sales sites like Craigslist and its alternatives, and wedding sales sites like Ruffled,  Wedding Recycle & Tradesy. “Even though you have to do a bit of research before you buy,” said Stevenson, “You will find some items that were not only a good deal but unique & your guests will definitely take notice.”

Bouquets without the Extra Bucks

Average cost for wedding flowers: $2,100

If you want to save money on wedding flowers, but are intimidated by all the options and prices, don’t stress. While a little education can help you save money, there are also a number of wholesale sites that remove the guesswork and sell wedding flowers direct to DIYers and don’t require bulk minimums

“Greenery is a huge trend for 2017 and can save you thousands on your floral budget,” said Stevenson. “It’s also “foolproof” for DIY design and much hardier than flowers.”

And, hold the phone, can you actually save more money on renting flowers? Yes! “Rent everything!” Said Dara Lynn Smith, wedding planner and author of the First Look blog. “From outfits to jewelry to, yes, even flowers, you can share wedding costs with other budget-friendly brides.’  

In the end, it’s important to look at your DIY wedding not merely as a strategy to save money. Ultimately, “It allows you to completely customize an event that showcases you and your partner’s personalities,” Banting said, and gives you the rare benefit of creating a truly unique event to share with loved ones and guests.

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