This week marks my fourth year wedding anniversary. I know it may sound cliché, but I am going to say it anyways: It feels like it was just yesterday!
While a lot has changed in four years, I think many couples still find themselves in the same situation my husband and I did. We wanted to have an elegant wedding for about 150-200 people, but only had a budget of $8,000. The first venue we visited quoted us over $8,000 for just the venue and food!
While we quickly realized we had to do a lot of DIY projects to stretch our budget, we also found out there are some things you just don’t DIY when it comes to your wedding. Here’s what we learned:
- Invitations: Wedding invitations were fairly easy to do by ourselves. We even ended up doing two different styles (long story) and found out that the single sheet invitation kits were more attractive, cheaper, and less time-consuming than the folded ones we’d originally purchased. I planned early and bought all of our invitation kits from Michaels using a half-off coupon. Not including postage, I think our invitations totaled $50-75. We ended up printing and assembling them all in one night, which took about five hours.
- Favors: Favors were another easy and affordable project. I used favor boxes from Michaels; and I filled them up with chocolate covered coffee beans bought in bulk from Winco. There are so many amazing favor ideas out there, but I think the best ones are those with a consumable product. A magnet with your picture on it or a bell with your names engraved on it is sweet, but let’s be honest: the only people that will keep them are family members. Most people would chuck them in the trash in a few months, which is frustrating if you spend $300 on your favors like I did.
- Decor: Easy decor projects can elevate your wedding while also saving you money. That being said, don’t try to decorate your whole wedding by yourself. Some easy decor projects are the ceremonial sand pouring, guestbook table, aisle decorations, and simple centerpieces. Whatever you choose, be sure you have help from friends or family members who understand your vision, so you’re not stressed out on the big day.
Not to DIY
- Flowers: My florist was a friend of mine and had been in the wedding floral business for over 10 years; she knew her stuff. The one thing she said to me was to never do your own flowers for your wedding. She did her flowers for her second marriage and was so overwhelmed with everything that she didn’t get to enjoy her day. I knew that if an expert struggled with flowers for her own wedding, then I’d struggle many times over. I saved money on flowers by having less of them; we had a fall wedding, and we used a lot of manzanita tree branches and candles.
- Food: It’s easy to do appetizers, drinks, and even a cupcake display or cookie buffet. When it comes to the main course, however, it may end up being cheaper to hire a caterer. We hired Stone Fire Grill, and it cost $8.99 a person. With that package, we received chicken, tri-tip, mashed potatoes, salad, and rolls. The country club I was originally going to use said they could do a spaghetti bar for $19.99 a person (insane!). Some other casual places to consider are Chipotle, In-N-Out, or a local Mexican restaurant. A fancy dinner may seem more elegant, but I’ve discovered that most wedding guests just want the food to taste good.
- Make-Up & Hair: Unless you’re a pro, I definitely recommend paying for a good make-up artist and hair stylist. You want to look your best on this day. Personally, I found it very relaxing to sit down for two hours and just be taken care of. Sometimes well-meaning friends offer to do your hair or make-up for free — but simply put, you need someone with experience. You need someone who knows what type of make-up will photograph well, and you need a hair style that will stay in place. At the end of the day, there are going to be little goofs in your wedding, such as a baby crying or cell phone going off while you walk down the aisle. Those are easy to forget, but a goof in your hair or make-up will be forever documented in photos.
Weddings can be costly and overwhelming, so don’t take on projects that will add to your expenses and stress. Instead, know when to hire a professional and when to embrace a do-it-yourself project.
What DIY projects did you do for your wedding?