What You Should (And Absolutely Shouldn’t) DIY for Your Wedding

by Ashley Eneriz · 7 comments

This week marks my fourth year wedding anniversary. I know it may sound cliché, but I am going to say it anyway: 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 ceremonial sand pouring, guestbook table, aisle decorations, and simple centerpieces. Be sure you have help from friends or family members who understand your vision whatever you choose, so you’re not stressed out on the big day.

Not to DIY

  • Flowers: My florist was a friend of mine and she 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 fewer 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 $14.99 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 $39.99 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 hairstyle 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 a 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?

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • AthenaC says:

    I have one! Don’t forget photography, because that’s how you record the lovely memories you can look back on forever. I would suggest forking out the $$ for a professional. My MIL insisted that her sister would do the photography for free, and I do appreciate the work she did, but it was all just very basic poses. No romantic poses or anything, which was what I REALLY wanted.

    What you DIY and what you pay for really just comes down to priorities. For me, I DIY’d my makeup just because anything beyond my own makeup capabilities wasn’t important to me. Also the wedding cake – again, just not important to either me or my husband. For the music we put together a playlist, plugged in some speakers, and hit shuffle.

    But if you have your heart set on a reception with an emcee and a DJ you’ll want to do something different, and it will most likely be worth the money! So it all depends.

    • David @ MoneyNing.com says:

      Good call on the photography. The other thing that having a professional do this is that he/she can assertively ask everybody not to block the view with their own phones because the broom and bride paid someone to take photos and it shouldn’t be ruined by people who just whip out their phones just for the sake of it.

  • Marcia says:

    Hm. I DIY’d my makeup. I don’t wear much makeup though.

  • caroline says:

    For us, the quickest and easiest way to cut down the cost of the wedding was… fewer guests. We kept it to 70 people all in (budgeted for 80) and thus the whole cost was reduced. My mom made my dress and veil also, which, though the material was lovely and good quality and the beadwork certainly wasn’t free, really brought down the cost.

  • Cheap Mom says:

    Happy anniversary! We’re four years in now too. We DIY’d the wedding invitations and programs and let the professionals do the rest. We found some good deals for services from people getting started, I won by bouquet at a wedding show, the cake came from Dairy Queen, we found some ways to make it more frugal.

    • Ashley says:

      I bet your cake was a lot tastier than many of the upscale bakeries too! A grandma wanted to buy us an overpriced cake – it wasn’t bad, but I would rather take a boxed cake or ice cream cake any day haha!

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