Tuesday, July 19, 2011

10 Thrifty Things I Learned From DIY-ing My Wedding

I got married on May 7, 2011.  When I got engaged on August 19, 2010, I immediately formed a hurricane of DIY "want to dos" in my head.  I wanted to DIY everything, and I wanted to save a ton of money.  I did manage to do quite a bit - it was fairly impressive.  We were able to do our wedding for far less than we'd originally planned because I did quite a bit myself.  But I also lost a lot of time and money when I could have saved both because there were things I didn't know going into planning a wedding because I didn't think to research and plan before buying!  There were also some projects that never happened because I simply ran out of time and motivation.  I'd like to share some of these things in the hopes that it will help someone's DIY wedding go a little smoother.

Our ceremony location - Fellows Riverside Gardens. 

1.  Buy used.  There were not many things that we bought "new" for our wedding, but one of them was my wedding gown.  It was an Alfred Angelo.  It was ivory.  And it was also red, a lot of red (or any other color you wanted).  It ended up costing about $800.  Which was nearly 1/5 of what our wedding ended up costing total.  That's a lot, considering my dress was not our "thing".  Our ceremony and reception ended up being our "things".  Had I known better, I would have scoured Recycled Bride or the classified boards on The Knot.  Take advantage of these types of sites, your budget will thank you!

2.  Shop around.  This is part of that research thing I mentioned before.  Buy in bulk if you can.  Compare prices.  If you're buying online, don't forget to factor in shipping costs.  Don't balk at the idea of buying supplies from places like eBay.   

3.  Coupons.  Take advantage of the dozens of coupons that are available to you each week through your local craft stores.  You can sign up for them to be delivered right to your e-mail.  Michael's always has a huge coupon in the Sunday paper, it might be worth subscribing for a few months just for that coupon!  I bought $40 worth of stuff at Hobby Lobby for $10 because of a great online coupon and being a choosy shopper.  I can't even imagine how much I saved at Michael's alone because they ALWAYS have coupons!

This handmade bridesmaid brought to you by heavily discounted Hobby Lobby material through clever use of coupons!

4. Sales.  If your wedding is a little bit away, think sales, especially Memorial Day, 4th of July, etc.  I bought a ton of stuff from JoAnn's around Labor Day, and WOW did I save a ton!  This requires a little bit of patience, but it's so worth it!

5. Think re-sale!  I've been selling on eBay for 10 years, it's like my online garage sale.  When the wedding was over, I knew what I was going to sell, and it was basically all of it.  I sold the extra envelopes from the invitations and RSVP cards on Etsy, I've been selling the vintage hardback books and teacups I bought from Goodwill for the centerpieces through Half. com, eBay and Etsy, I even sold the half burnt votives from the reception on eBay.  And I've been repurposing the silk flowers I used in the centerpieces into floral haircombs to sell through my Etsy shop and at craft shows.  Of the three sites, it's hardest to sell on Etsy because you have to have a presence, but it's ridiculously easy to sell on eBay and Half.com.  Even if you don't get full price back, you're still getting a little back, and clearing out your home! 

6. Thrift stores.  I had a vision in my head of centerpieces made of hardback books piled up, with floral arrangements in teacups.  Goodwill made this vision happen.  I was able to buy a ton of hardback books and the teacups all for about $100.  A little bit of hot glue, floral foam and spanish moss held together the silk flowers in the cups.  I bought a bulk case of white votives off the web, and voila, centerpieces for WAAAY less than a florist would have done it.  It also looked wonderful, and the books were a conversation starter for guests.  Thrift stores are chock full of things that can be totally transformed with some paint or ribbon.  You just need an open mind! 

Tada!  Centerpieces!

7. Ask for discounts.  Tying in with Goodwill, my husband and I recently learned that Goodwill has a 10% military discount, double on Tuesdays.  Guess who's in the military?  Yub, my hubby.  We would have saved that much more on our centerpieces!  Don't be afraid to ask for discounts for military, AAA card holders, teachers, firefighters, police officers, whatever.  A lot of places offer discounts, but they don't advertise them.  Take advantage of these discounts, it's that much more you can put towards you and your fiance's "thing".

8.  DIY what's most important.  I wanted to DIY everything.  I had to eventually decide what was important.  My important things were beading the edge of my mom's veil, doing the blue rhinestone "I Do" on the bottom of my shoes, making all the wedding party's flowers, making the bridesmaid's jewelry and cufflinks for the guys, assembling the centerpieces, and a few other minor projects.  If you don't know how to do a project you've dreamed up, go to the library, and get out some books to get inspired and get instruction.  The DIY Bride and The DIY Bride Crafty Countdown are great books if you're looking for ideas, and so is Martha Stewart Weddings and the picture galleries on The Knot.  Look up YouTube videos.  Hunt down instructional blogs.  The information is there if the will to learn is also there!  Of all the projects listed above, none of them were terribly difficult.  Some were time consuming, but you'll have that with DIY. 

These were the earrings I made for my flowergirls.  That I now sell on Etsy!

9.  Support handmade if you can't or don't want to DIY.  I didn't ever use this option, but I kinda wish I would have taken advantage of sites like Etsy and other handmade sites for some parts of my wedding.  They're there for a reason and there's tons of people willing to take the time and effort to make something special for you. 

10.  Don't feel bad about not being able to DIY everything.  There were a couple projects that I didn't get done right before the wedding, and I was seriously bent out of shape about it.  About a week after the wedding I realized that everything I didn't get done didn't matter.  What mattered was what I did get done, and that the wedding and reception went really well and everyone loved all of my projects.  So don't worry if you have to drop one or two projects.  If you can't live without it, see #9 above.   

I had the wedding I wanted because I was willing to work for what I wanted instead of flat out spending for what I wanted.  Because of my DIY hurricane, I was able to rekindle a dormant love of crafting, and have now started working for myself with an Etsy shop OrionOctober, and I'm looking forward to the world of craft shows very soon!  All this because I allowed myself to play craftmaker for my own wedding.  I suggest you let yourself have fun with your own wedding and do the same!

Good luck, see you next time! 


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  1. These are great tips! We did a lot of stuff for our wedding because my dad gave us a budget of $1500, and we made it! We did so much ourselves!


  2. Wow, you guys did great! Our total was about 4 times yours, but still less than half of what we started out as our max budget.