a DIY wedding

One of my favorite parts of planning our wedding was doing the majority of everything ourselves. At the time we got engaged, I was working 3 jobs… and I have no idea how I found time to do it all! It’s not for everyone, but it was a great way to unwind after work, and even Travis got involved! Here’s a little peak into what we made (and what we saved money on to stay below budget).

Save the Dates and Invitations
These were made in Photoshop by yours truly, and printed through Simply Color Lab. They are a great company if you are a photographer or Etsy artist looking for a reliable printer. My old boss, Jenna, was kind enough to let me use her personal tax ID to print them and get a sweet buy-one-get-one-free discount. Including save the dates and invitations, we spent less than $200 including postage.

resized save the date front  
5_X_7 template2
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Menu and Order of Events
Rather than print a bunch of paper that would inevitably get thrown away or collect dust, we salvaged pallets and an old wood gate and made them into sweet signs.  My mother-in-law and father-in-law helped me build and paint them! My amazing and talented bridesmaid, Missy, did all of the hand lettering when she got into town. I think we spent about 10-12 dollars on the chalk paint. Everything else was free or we already had from previous projects (not wedding related).

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Seating Chart and Escort Cards
This was a long labor of love. A few years ago, my mom’s friend gave me vintage black and white docent cards from the Cincinnati Museum of Art.  We used watercolor paper and those cards to create the escort cards for the seating chart. My in-laws used left over wood from the signs to make a structure to hold the escort cards (we alphabetized them all rather than splitting them into individual tables for guests to find their name). My sister’s boyfriend, Andy, put the board together by nailing string to create this awesome board. I already had all of these materials! The only cost, except our time and effort, were the mini clothes pins which we snagged for less than $10!

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 Table Numbers & Reception Details
We saved probably 60-70 bottles during the course of our engagement to use at the reception. Lots of soaking time, some goo-be-gone and a few cans of spray paint later we had our table toppers and table numbers! The table numbers were wine bottles (thanks mostly to my mom and dad who have a membership at a vineyard and saved empties for us) painted with chalk paint. The “vases” for all of our flowers were spray painted an enameled sage green or hammered silver. All flowers were done by our talented friend Molly.

We used left over Save-the-Dates (we ordered too many!), watercolor paper that I painted, and string (that I already had) to create garland that was strung around the reception. Left over watercolor paper was used to reserve family seats for the ceremony.

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My old co-worker and friend, Molly, did all of the flowers for our wedding. We paid for the cost of the flowers, plus her time. Not a true DIY, but having a friend help us out in this way meant so much! We saved some money, and had beautiful and unique floral arrangements. She is amazing.

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Travis found a buoy in Gloucester when we lived near the charming fishing town during college. He held onto it, and we used it for our guestbook! Andy painted the buoy to match our wedding colors.

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Wedding Favors
These were all my mom’s doing. She hand stamped each bag! They were filled with Russell Stover’s chocolate (my mom’s great uncle!), tea, and local North Shore honey sticks from Russell Orchards.

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We even had some unexpected gifts that made our day so special. The couple who was using the venue the day after us asked us if we would mind using their tent and lighting for free. If they set up before our wedding, they could save significantly on the delivery fees. We didn’t have it in our budget to use a tent… Instead, we got to have this amazing set up.

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For me, it wasn’t just about saving money. I loved being able to put my own touch on our wedding day. We were able to incorporate my love of watercolor and art into a “rustic bay” theme. We got so much help from sweet friends and family, and even strangers, who were willing to give us a few bottles, and lend us a few hours of time.

My advice for anyone who is looking to DIY their wedding… ask for help! Don’t be afraid to scrap an idea that seems way too involved (stick to what you know… there is no way I could have made our food or written a song because that’s not what I know!), and make sure you have someone there on the day of your wedding to remember all those little details! Write it all down and make sure multiple people have access to that list so you don’t forget the small things you spent time planning.

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