DIY Bride

The Devil is in the Many, Many, Many Details- DIY Wedding Planning Part 2

My life is an organized mess. I can find pretty much anything I need to, but if someone else were to try to discern the location of something, they’d be screwed. Unfortunately for me, this organizational style does not lend itself to planning a DIY wedding. There is too much to keep track of, too much to do, and too many people helping to rely on the trusty standby. Thus, the need for lists.

Many, many, many lists to deal with the details mentioned in the title. I had a main list, a food list, a drink list, an outdoor list, a week-before list, a day-before list and a day-of list. This seems overwhelming, and to some extent it is, but having everything written down and able to be crossed off as completed is an excellent way to go. It is also important in helping to manage all the various people you will be suckering in to helping you with your wedding.

Confession- I am terrible at asking people for help. Sometimes it is because I feel like it is easier to do something myself than to ask someone else to do it, but mostly, I just feel awkward doing it, like I will be a burden to the person I’m asking. This is not a useful character quality when taking on a project of this size. If you are like me, you need to get over the discomfort because you most definitely will need help. The lovely thing about weddings, though, is that people are really willing to chip in for them. Weddings are fun, a celebration of love, and they make people happy. You will be surprised time and again throughout the lead-up to the day by just how much people are willing to give of themselves. Not to get all sappy over here, but all the things our loved ones did to help with the wedding were the best gifts we could have ever received. The hours they spent helping us realize our vision made the day so incredibly special. I promise, people in your life want to help. Let them.

Now, let’s continue attacking the major planning requirements.

1. Food- whether it is an afternoon tea service or a full-blown dinner, you will most likely feed your guests. I’ve read stories about brides who tried to manage all the food themselves for their wedding day. Please, don’t do this. There will be enough to worry about and stress over in the days leading up to the wedding. Don’t add feeding the masses to the list. If it is important to you to contribute to the food, pick a favorite dish and make that, but don’t underestimate how much work goes into feeding even the smallest wedding. Since we were getting married outside in the summer, we wanted a BBQ style dinner. We ordered tri-tip and chicken from a local BBQ joint, but friends and family provided the rest of the dishes. Grandma handled the fruit, my best friend’s mom made chili, Nana did the salads, my sister-in-law handled grilled veggies, my mother-in-law did potato salad, and so on. We had a ton of food, no one person was overwhelmed with cooking everything, and the meal was awesome. We could have saved a little money by hiring someone to BBQ the meat at the house, but it was worth the couple hundred dollars not to have someone sweating over the grill in 107 degree heat.

Should you decide to go this route for food, make sure to keep a list of who’s making what that you can update and refer back to in the days before the wedding.

2. Booze – If there is one way to save a ton of money wedding-wise, it is buying your own booze. The hosted bar alone at my brother’s wedding cost almost 3x our entire wedding budget, and I guarantee we got people plenty sloshed (if my husband is any indication. I had to practically carry him to the car and by the time I had washed my face and put on PJs, he was half hanging off the bed in his underwear, passed out and snoring away. No, I did not get laid on my wedding night; yes, I did videotape him drunkenly sawing logs for when I need to make him feel guilty).

This is problematic if you are having your event at a reception hall or hotel type of place. Most places will not allow you to bring your own liquor; seriously, this in itself is enough of a reason to borrow someone’s backyard. We spent about $1200 at Costco and BevMo for booze for 200 people. Everyone who wanted to be drunk was, and there was a substantial amount left. The keg was barely touched, so if you buy bottled beer, I suggest skipping the keg, saving you even more money. We also bought pretty decent liquor, so if you went with cheaper options, you can easily keep it under $800. To compare, the open bar at my brother’s wedding at a nice hotel? $12,000. Eek.

3. Flowers- I knew I wanted flowers at the wedding, but knew I had no intention of spending thousands of dollars to do so. The mark-up on flowers is no joke, and special requests or specific out-of-season flower requirements can send the total through the roof. Luckily, flower arranging is a relaxing task that many people do as a hobby. Asking around your group of friends will most likely reveal someone who really, truly enjoys and has the knack for the task. While I had a florist do the bouquets, boutonnieres  and flowers for the moms and grandmas (it was important to my mother-in-law, and she offered to pay, so hey, who am I to argue?), my two aunts and a friend did all the flowers for the reception. The florist we worked with, knowing that we were budget conscious, bought the flowers for us in bulk from the flower mart at her cost plus tax, saving us quite a bit of money. It never hurts to be upfront with your vendors about money issues, especially in these shitty economic times. Most people are struggling to keep their businesses running, so they are often willing to help out where they can if it means they are getting some work out of it. You can also check out wholesale flower markets in your area – they often have cheap public pricing, too, or hit the local farmer’s market and talk to the flower sellers there.

4. Music- In the age of the iPod and Bose speakers, DIY music may be one of the easiest tasks to nail down. We had a DJ, but only because the Best Man happens to be an awesome one. While it is nice to have someone to make necessary announcements at various times, it is most definitely not a requirement. Put together multiple play lists: one for cocktails, one for dinner, one for before the older generation leaves, and one for later when everyone is happily tipsy (or smashed) and ready to dance their asses off. Also, make sure you have the song for your first dance loaded on the damn playlist or you will be frantically trying to connect to iTunes to download it halfway through your reception. Not that I would know anything about that.

5. Favors- I think favors at weddings can be a huge money-suck. If you do a search for “wedding favors” you are inundated with a ton of chintzy, over-priced junk or really expensive engraved items. Homemade favors are really sweet, but those can be both a money AND time-suck, both of which we are trying to avoid. My suggestion? Edibles. Candy, to be specific. The candy bar has increased in popularity in recent years, for many good reasons. First, candy is cheap. Secondly, candy comes in tons of colors, meaning you can order it in your wedding colors and add to the decor at the same time. Third, who doesn’t love candy? I ordered almost everything from They have a huge selection and reasonable shipping prices. I placed an order with originally, but they wanted an additional $75, on top of the original $40, for shipping due to the weather. As that brought my shipping costs to more than my candy order, I passed on them, ordered almost the exact same thing from Candy Direct and had no problems. I also made suckers -tutorial to come- that were totally awesome, though they have led to a bit of an addiction on my part. I now make them pretty much all the time because they are delicious. Fair warning.

So, a few more things to think about, planning-wise. Next week, in part 3, I’ll go over decorations, bridesmaid and groomsmen stuff, and some extra organizing tips. As always, if you have any special requests, leave them in the comments or message me. Thanks for reading and have a great week!


8 replies on “The Devil is in the Many, Many, Many Details- DIY Wedding Planning Part 2”

My family’s done a couple of weddings and other big ol’ shindigs (100-300 people) in my Grandmother’s backyard in the suburbs and we usually hire a couple of valets and sweet talk a local business into letting us use their parking lot. (It’s a law firm with a huge lot, just a couple of blocks away and it’s not like they have a ton of business on Saturday.)

I have NO idea where they hired the valets, but I’m sure Grandmother could tell me.

Also, for smaller events there (100 people or less), we simply have people park on the lawn, the street and in the driveway. It’s not so great for the lawn, especially if it’s rained, but it works and the damage is usually repairable.

Sorry I’ve been MIA since this posting, life has been in the way, booo. A nearby business is an AWESOME idea, if it is an option. My parents live on a long cul de sac, so people parked up and down with room to spare, thankfully. As far as valets (or really any needed helpers) I wrangled trustworthy friends of my younger siblings for various duties- bartending, kid minding, etc., and my father-in-law runs a non-profit that helps people down on their luck, so a few awesome ladies came and helped with the food and clean-up.

These are all great ideas!

We couldn’t BYOB, but made the bar beer & wine. People we sloshes & my parents werent broke, so it was a win-win.

For our favors, I got those little wedding bells & a friend tied tiny ribbons. We used candy bars for the seating cards- frozen the Hershey bars since it was July, and then printed pretty labels and wrote out placecards on them. They were a big hit!

A friend of mine ha a spring wedding & got tulips at a wholesale market- they were gorgeous and cheaper than any place else.

I have heard a LOT of couples say they were too tired to have sex on their wedding night, and then express shame over admitting as much. After a whole day of excitement, anticipation, smiling, standing, posing, crying, and dancing, is it really unreasonable to want to hit the sack before to knock boots?

I never understand the shame part of it! I was freaking exhausted and husband was totally bombed, so it wasn’t going to happen. While he might feel shame for the drunken jack-ass side of things, I will forever be grateful for the blackmail help. You don’t want to do the dishes? How about I send this to your mom? Haha, I kid. Sort of.

Great post! I’m fortunate that my sister did a DIY wedding and my mom is an awesome event planner (not what she does for a living, but she’s still awesome at it), so I got to be a part of that whole process and learn a bunch.

Great post, and great suggestions. I don’t think my wedding is going to be quite as DIY as yours but we’re definitely trying to keep costs down and have a big hand in our special day. I’m glad you made that suggestion for flowers, because we were already thinking of it so now I feel reassured. The Mr.’s grandma is really into flower arranging so we might go with fake flowers for our centerpieces so she can take her time with it.

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