Wednesday, January 28, 2009

DIY Wedding - It is Possible

In these tough economic times, many brides are opting for a DIY (do-it-yourself) wedding. This is certainly a money-saving option for many brides. A wedding planner is wonderful, if you have the available funds. Many people do not or opt to spend the funds on a different area of the weeding or on a honeymoon. If you decide to go with a DIY wedding, you need to get organized. Organization is the key to having a wedding flow smoothly. To get organized, buy yourself a wedding planner book or make one yourself. If you need guidelines, research on the internet or check out a book from your local library. Use all of the free resources available in order to trim your budget.

Decisions, decisions….now is the time to decide exactly what you want your wedding to be and make choices. Decide what type of wedding you prefer: traditional, contemporary, destination, or themed. Do you have your heart set on getting married at a certain venue? Is it within your budget or do you need to find another place that will work. You may want to consider getting married on a day other than Saturday as many venues have lower prices for other days of the week. Or you may change the time of your wedding from evening to afternoon or perhaps late morning. If you are considering a destination wedding, you may want to check on the prices and consider having your wedding in the off-season. For example, a summer beach wedding will cost more than a fall or winter beach wedding. If you are planning a destination wedding, you will need to work with someone from the area to help you make arrangements for your wedding. You probably cannot take care of all of the details of a destination wedding from home; however you can take care of a lot of them.

If you are not having a wedding coordinator then you need to appoint a close friend or family member to be in charge of coordinating your wedding. As the bride, you will not have time to be overseeing last minute details the day of the wedding. You will need someone to make sure everyone is where they should be, the appropriate music is playing, the flowers are in the correct spot, oversee the delivery of the cake, etc. You need help, as the bride should have time to enjoy and savor being a bride on her wedding day.

You should write down all of your wants, wishes and desires along with the costs of each. This will help you to decide where you can trim your budget, what is most important to you and if you can eliminate something all together.

Make the following categories in your wedding planner booklet:

Budget – in this section write down the allotted funds for each of your categories. Decide which is most important to you. If you love real flowers and cannot live without them, then this is one of the most important areas of your wedding and you should allot enough funds to cover it. Maybe the venue is the most important to you or having a DJ or band at the reception.

Guest List – Write out your total guests list then see if you can trim it. The more people you invite the most it costs. So, eliminate people you haven’t seen in several years or people you don’t maintain close contact.
Invitations – Buying invitations online or at your local discount store and print them yourself will save quite a bit. Maybe you don’t have a printer that will do the task or don’t feel comfortable doing it – chances are I’ll bet you know someone who will be willing to help you.

Venue – There are so many venues to choose from and there are many variances in prices. Now is the time to decide – inside or outside; or maybe you want the ceremony inside and the reception inside. Do you want both at the same location? Venue options: Your church, a college chapel, lodge, state park, pavilion on the lake, field, barn, park, beach, a friend or family member’s yard, country club, hotel or convention center ballroom, garden, river pavilion, ranch, arena, mountain overlook or top, castle, plantation, farm…Your imagination is the limit, there are many places to get married. Pick one that holds a special meaning for you and your fiancée or some place that will accommodate the type of wedding you want.

Dress – Looking for a dress can be a daunting task. Look through some magazine to find a style that appeals to you. There are many places that offer discounts on wedding dresses. One national chain bridal store offers $99.00 dresses. Another option is looking online. If you go to some bridal stores, find a dress you like and determine the size – then go online to seek it at a lower price. There are several auction sites that sell wedding accessories, dresses, supplies, etc. online.

Attendants – How many attendants do you want? The more you choose, the more flowers you will need, etc. Bridesmaid and Maid of Honor dresses can be found many places. You can look at that national chain store I was talking about. They have many reasonable dresses but you can look at some department stores. Depends on what type of dress you have in mind. If you are looking for tea-length dresses, you will have a good selection at many department stores. Again, you can look at the stores – determine the style and size then shop online. Allow ample time for shipping – don’t wait until the last minute. I would choose a reputable person and if I chose to deal with someone from an auction site, I would make sure they have excellent feedback.

If the men in the wedding party are wearing tux's I would recommend renting them locally.

Are you planning on Jr. bridesmaids, ring bearer, flower girl, candlelighters, ushers, etc. This is the place to list them and any costs that you will incur connect with them.

Flowers – Buy flowers wholesale and enlist family and friends to make the bouquets, boutonnieres and arrangements. If you want fresh, be prepared to pay more. Use fresh flowers that are in-season and readily available in your area. If you can live with artificial flowers and don’t want to make the bouquets & arrangements– shop around on the internet. There are lots of bargains out there for the savvy shopper. Get your family and friends to help you search online for places that have the type of flowers you want. You may be able to use some of the arrangements from the ceremony at the reception.

Officiant – Your local minister may marry you for a small fee. Maybe a family member is a minister or wedding officiant. Find someone that you and your fiancée can agree upon. If you are having a destination wedding you will have to work with someone from that area to arrange the details of your wedding for you.

Reception – Do you want to serve a meal, finger foods, or cake and punch, only? If you plan to serve a meal, do you want it catered or do you have a friend or family member that can be in charge of the food? Do you have tables and chairs or do you need to rent them? Many places rent chairs for $2-$3 each and charge a setup fee and a pickup fee. You can rent tables, chairs, tents, etc. If you hire a caterer, are they bringing the tableware or are you responsible? If you opt for finger foods, you or a family member may prepare them ahead and freeze them. Sam’s Club, Costco, etc. have many appetizers available. If you decide to take care of the food yourselves instead of hiring a caterer or using venue with a food service, someone will need to be assigned to oversee the details. If you go this option, I would rent rather than buy any items that I could.

Cake – Do you want a small, medium or large cake? Do you plan to hire someone to bake the cake, contact a bakery, or do you have a friend or family member that bakes cakes. Are you planning to have a groom’s cake? Some people opt to not have a large cake. They have small 2-tiered cakes on each table, using them as centerpieces and eliminating the cost of flowers for each table. If you decide to go with a larger wedding cake, shop around. The style and size of cake will determine the cost. When you receive your RSVP’s then you can decide the size of the cake. If you are having a meal, snack foods, appetizers, finger foods and serving liquor then you will not need as much cake as you would if you are serving cake and punch only.

Liquor – Do you plan to serve liquor at your wedding? This can be a budget eater but many people want to server liquor. You need to determine if the venue you have chosen will allow liquor. If so, do they provide the liquor, are you allowed to bring your own in, can you have a margarita machine, etc. Who is responsible for the set-ups – glasses, ice, sodas, etc. Do the provide a bartender or do you need to make arrangements for someone to tend the bar? If you need to reduce costs, choose a venue that you can bring your own liquor, set-ups and your own bartender. This is the most cost effective way. Limit the alcoholic selections to what you think most of your guests will prefer. These are your friends and family members so you should be able to determine what will most likely be in the highest demand.

Now, for entertainment at the reception – do you want music? If you decide on a DJ, check around, the prices vary drastically. The best deal on DJ services I have found is at DJ Connection in Tulsa, OK. They have many DJ’s and travel to many states. I know they serve the AR, TX, OK area and may have other locations as well. You are not limited to 2 hours, they will play the music for the wedding ceremony and the reception, have margarita machines and karaoke machine for rent. They are professional and willing to work with you on making your music selections. Look for them at If you don’t want to allocate funds for a DJ, maybe a family member or friend will be able be in charge of music for your reception.

If you are having a western-themed wedding with an outside venue you could have a couple of places set up for the guests to play horseshoes, a steer head anchored in a hay bale for roping, stick horses for the kiddies, etc.

Favors – If you want favors, there are many that you can make yourself. If you don’t want to or don’t have the time – search around the internet or drop by our website. Buy your favors bulk, then have a party with your friends to assemble them. There are many affordable favors and you can find some for any budget.

Miscellaneous - This section is for items that don't fit any other place. Anything that costs you needs to be listed, along with the price.

You may want a unity candle, a sand ceremony, special glasses for the toast, garter, pillow for the ring bearer, flower girl baskets, rice bags, guest book, etc.

These are a few of the areas I wanted to cover today. I’ll be posting other thoughts along the way. Feel free to add your comments or suggestions to this post.