10 Tips for DIY Wedding Planners

10 Tips for DIY Wedding Planners 1A beautiful moment of Rosa Mary & Carlo Wedding captured by: Eduardo Pavon


From the decorations to the dinner menu to the programs, putting together a wedding can be a daunting task. So, it’s no surprise that thousands of brides seek professional help for the big day. Yet, hiring expert wedding planner can send your budget skyrocketing. But budget-friendly brides, look no further.


Here are 10 easy Do-It-Yourself tips to wedding planning that’ll put your mind – and wallet – at ease.


1. Budget


Brides need to place their limits on the big day. The first place is to budget. Sit down with your groom and determine who is paying for the wedding and how much people can contribute. Your type of wedding will factor into costs. It’s a good idea to have your wish list and your reality list of things you want that’ll shape your celebration.


2. Guest List


Think about whom you and your groom want to include on the big day – relatives, coworkers, friends, etc. Each person you add to the list is just one more program, invitation and meal you’ll have to add to your budget. I suggest writing out your full list. Highlight the people that must attend and prepare to make cuts. This will be the easiest way to gauge your costs, and it’ll dictate much of the remainder of these DIY tips.


3. Wedding Invites


An average wedding invitation can set you back $1.60 each, and that price does not include your RSVP card; plus, those popular square invitations cost extra for postage, so factor that in as well. Many creative types opt to design their own invites. For inspiration, look at invitation websites to get design ideas and styles that fit the theme of your wedding or the personality of you and the groom.


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Photo Courtesy: Zoe Wang

I recently designed my own wedding invitations, and I designed a popular flat-style card. The card measured 5 by 7 inches, which did not cost me extra for postage. I also designed an RSVP card on a 4-by-6 inch card. I then paid an online company to print the cards on a fancy postcard stock paper. I got the invite printed with a high gloss, almost like a printed photograph, and the RSVP cards on something a little simpler. Even with the color printing on both sides of the documents and buying my own envelopes, designing invites cost me about $100 for 150 invites. If I order the same through another site, I easily would have paid $300 for some generic invite thousands of people have already used.

If you aren’t bold enough to do this job yourself, consider hiring a creative friend or go to places like Etsy.com, where many designers offer their work at the fraction of the cost.


4. Party Favors


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Cute little jars of honey used by Mary Witzig as her wedding favors – Photo Courtesy: Mary Witzig

Many modern brides are opting for take-home treats for their guests. I mean, really, who needs a koozie or monogrammed candle these days? Some trends include a buffet candy bar, which can be expensive, but if you buy bags of treats after major holidays like Valentine’s Day, Halloween or Christmas, you can probably snag some decent discounts. Consider something like small jars or mugs, filled with a homemade cocoa mix. Pair it with homemade biscotti or a homemade jam and guests will appreciate your thoughtfulness.


5. Meal


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A delicious meal at Torbannah (Torbin and Susannah) wedding in Bolinas, California – Photo Courtesy: Beatrice Murch

Whether your reception includes a dinner or just hors d’oeuvres, remember your guests are committing their day to you. So don’t cheap out on them completely when putting together the celebration. For my wedding, my family is making the meals for the rehearsal dinner and the wedding reception. However, I asked relatives to make a delicious Mexican fiesta for the rehearsal dinner, which will be authentic, tasty and budget friendly.

For the wedding reception, my family is making a roast beef for the main course, the side dishes, breads and other finger foods. Then, we’re having a local grocery store make rotisserie-style baked chicken. Chicken is friendly to most guests. Fried chicken is perfectly acceptable, and most stores will sell it to you for less than $1 a piece. I found that Wal-Mart stores offer it as low as $60 for 100 pieces. Some stores will give you extra sides or discounts for larger orders. Caterers suggest you buy two pieces of chicken per person, on top of any sides you provide for the meal.


6. Cake

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Wedding cupcakes for Stoddard wedding – Image by Kristin Ausk


Like with the meal, you want to be sure that you have the right people behind the cake-making process. If you can’t afford the designer cake, consider the trend of making simple cupcakes for the ceremony, then decorate them with a white icing and white sprinkles. It’s chic, delicious and individually made for one. Grocery stores also offer deals, and you may be surprised on the talent you find behind the counter. Also, you may want to call a local culinary school for talent.


7. Decorations


While a paper cover may be appropriate for a kids birthday party, find a place where you can actually get real linens. You just need something simple to cover the table, and this small effort may set you back a couple bucks a table. Regardless, this is one of the few investments that I didn’t budge on for my wedding, as I want people to feel like they’re in luxury.

Also, I’m renting a cheap facility, but it lacks the sizzle of a resort. To compensate, I’m covering the walls with a mix of tulle and Christmas lights, giving a glow to the facility without all that ugly lighting. We’re also using wine bottles, mirrors and candles for decorations.

If this doesn’t scream your budget, consider flowers, picture frames and other décor that screams family.


8. Wedding Dress


Making your wedding dress is out of the league of many brides’ talents, but for the do-it-yourselfer, consider getting your mother’s dress altered to fit your body. Traditional wedding dresses can cost several thousand dollars, whereas an alteration will cost less than $100. If your mom’s garb isn’t quite your style, see if you can borrow a part of it (but be sure to ask if she’s OK with you taking it a part). Including her veil or a headpiece will be a charming way to pay tribute to family without exerting too much effort.


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Beautiful Bride Abby wears her mother’s vintage wedding dress at her wedding – Photo Courtesy: Eunice

Many other brides are also ordering dresses online these days. The advantages are simple. If you cut out the middle man – and their commission – you can save hundreds. My favorite dress cost about $1,500 at the store, but while shopping, I took detailed notes on the dress, and I found the exact same thing online for $400. True, I’d probably have to pay a tailor a bit more to get it made just for me, but those cost-cutting measures can add up.

Several Asian websites also offer custom-made dresses, having you provide the pictures and sizes so they can craft your style. Bridal shops recommend women shop for their dress six months in advance, so they can order a dress and have it altered in plenty of time. For an online purchase, give yourself even more time. Keep in mind the return policy of stores and whether the Better Business Bureau accredits them.

And don’t forget about the wedding hair accessories, too!


9. Flowers


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Wedding flowers in tall vases at Jon and Caren’s wedding – Photo Courtesy: Sam DeLong

Fresh-cut flowers are a beautiful addition to decorations and the bridal bouquets, but arrangements will cost you hundreds of dollars. Consider buying flowers in their season or getting fake flowers from a craft store. For decorations, try this neat illusion. Buy tall vases. Place flowers inside, with petals well below the top of the water. Fill the vase with water.


10. The Help


While your groom may call you Superwoman, don’t overdo it. Enlist the help of your bridal party and groomsmen to assist with tasks. Make out your checklists and remember to have fun. Another tip: while it’s OK to hire people you know, remember when it comes to your big day, hire whomever is best for you. Feelings, payments and other things may complicate the friendship. Plus, if they’re a real close friend, I’m sure they’d enjoy being a part of the festivities – not creating them!


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