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  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    May 2004

    Crafty Wedding DIY ideas help!

    Hi everyone,
    I just got engaged on Christmas, and now that I'm self employed, my budget is very tight for the wedding. We live in Los Angeles, and will be having the wedding out here, maybe in a State Park or on the beach if we can swing it. I am making my dress, and probably the invitations.

    I know there are some crafty ideas you have out there for making things yourself, great deals, good books, websites, etc. I am totally open to all kinds of ideas, so please post away. Thanks in advance!


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  3. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Portland OR
    You probably already know all the things you need to know to have an affordable wedding.

    Number One: The Wedding industry wants you to believe that you have to spend $30,000 on your wedding for it to be meaningful to you.

    If you can't spend $30K, then they want you to spend $10,000, or any other large amount that you aren't comfortable with. Wedding magazines are not your friend.

    Yes, you will remember your wedding day fondly for the rest of your life. But no, the money you spent will not necessarily make it more memorable.

    2. Spend money on the things you think are important. Things I think are important: photos, possibly a video, a dress you like.

    I, however, happened to have a friend who is a really great photographer, so I employed her to take my photos. She charged me only for the film and prints I decided to buy.

    Photographers can be expensive, and just because they are professional, doesn't mean they take nice photos. Warning signs when you look at their portfolios: people lined up on the steps of the church stage. Ick, double ick. Good things to look for: photos that capture moments, not just staged portraits (in other words, photojournalistic photos). Portraits that are pretty, and not just a lineup of people.

    If you decide to go with an amateur photographer, try to make sure they really know their camera and really know what they are doing. In other words, an advanced photography student (a student who is ACTUALLY getting their degree in photography), or someone who has already photographed weddings and who can show you their photos. Another option is to enlist a professional photographer who specializes in something different but would like to break into wedding photography. You could also check at your local one-hour photo developing place to see if the clerk there can recommend a good photographer (after all, the developer gets to see thousands of photos a day, and can easily separate the good photographer from the bad ones).

    A nice video is a good thing. Film students are always looking for a chance to shoot a wedding video for cheap, and they probably know how to use their equipment and get decent shots, as well as edit the video together. Cheap, in this case, is about $150-300. It will probably be worth it.

    We didn't have a video, and in retrospect, it probably would have been nice.

    3. Examine traditions to see if they are for you. Does he really need a tux? Do you need a big formal dress? Do you want lots of attendants in taffeta gowns, or would it be all right for them to wear less formal attire? Do all the dresses have to match, or can they all be one color? Must your wedding take place in a church, or would a public park suffice (if so, check the local rules on having an event in your public park!)? Could you have it in someone's yard, garden, or house (that's what we did). Do you want a big formal dinner reception, or would something more humble be more meaningful to you?

    In my wedding, my husband wore a suit he already owned, and bought a tie that matched the bridesmaids' dresses (regular dresses that I found at a store -- I only had two girls to get dresses for, and they were similar in build and coloring, so that helped. I figured they could wear the dresses again if they wanted to... not sure if they did or not!). We bought matching shirts, ties, and suspenders for the groomsmen at a discount clothing store. The guys were responsible to wear black slacks and black shoes.

    My brother-in-law & his wife bought hawaiian shirts & matching dresses in Hawaii (where they met & fell in love). The guys wore jeans & Converse All-Stars, and the girls went barefoot.

    Basically, what is meaningful to you and your fiancee? Don't worry about tradition or what other people expect. Do the things you care about, skip the things you don't care about (we skipped lighting a "unity candle" and the number of groomsmen and bridesmaids didn't match).

    4. Make whatever you can, or are inclined to. I bought fresh flowers at Costco the day before and my sister (who is a confident flower arranger) made two bouquets and some corsages & boutonnieres... total cost was about $100... pricy, but waaaay cheaper than flowers from a florist. My mom made dresses for the flower girls.

    Other things we did:

    We bought two or three big sheet cakes at Costco for $14/each to serve as cake. Someone ended up giving us a little cute wedding cake, but the Costco cakes tasted a lot better than the wedding cake. Our parents and friends made finger foods the day of and the day before for the food at the reception. We served sparkling cider, punch, and coffee for drinks.

    We had our wedding in a house, and the reception in a neighboring house (we were planning an outdoor wedding, but it hailed minutes before the ceremony was supposed to begin, so we had to improvise. If you plan an outdoor wedding, I recommend a backup plan!)

    My aunt played classical guitar at the ceremony.

    We made our own invitations. I picked out neato triangular stamps for postage.

  4. #3
    ti is offline
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2004

    i would say that you need to make some decisions about what is important and representative of your lives together. sometimes themes help with this.

    it is all about presentation - we made our invites, programs, placecards, table cards, the rsvp reply card, the favors (cds & my cousin designed a great cd cover) & toblerone was for the children - our theme was japanese cranes (origami) and our colors were red, black and silver ... satin red ribbon was everywhere and was so cheap @ beverly's and i put my large family to work!

    i did some fun crafty stuff with stamps and silver embossing powder ...

    i must say that i got a great deal with the catering, and it included part of the cost of the cake, the dj and part of the $$ for flowers. i also found a great makeup person @ a large dept. store and the dj makes or breaks a good reception.

    most of all, have fun with it! organize the day so you can enjoy it and remember it with happiness, not all the stress.

    just PM if you need any help @ all!

  5. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Congratulations Allison!

    One of the issues of Budget Living had an article for a wedding on a budget, I can send you a copy if you want. Or if I remember to look, I'll post which issue.

    As hokey as it may be, that TLC show for better or for worse has some neat ideas for doing wedding-related tasks yourself and without blowing the budget. I'm not sure if the web site has any info. has info on her grassroots wedding effort.

    Good luck!

  6. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Allison, congrats! I got engaged in October, and am trying to do something smallish, both in scale and budget!

    I have found Martha Stewart Weddings to be helpful. Yes, most of the weddings in there are big-budget, but there are also loads of good ideas. That's the only bridal magazine I will really spend time/money on.

    I looked around a lot at Some interesting ideas, but more for big/mainstream weddings and ideas. I was very overwhelmed by that site.

  7. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    we were super crafty - I think just one step above pure eloping. we were also very non-traditional though so it will all depend upon what you want your wedding to be!

    I made our invitations with an idea and supplies from Paper Source. I splurged here because I really like papers and cards and such. Our colors were light blue, chocolate brown, and ivory. price = approx $90 (this includes invitations, announcements, and postage stamps).

    I made my wedding dress with the help of a coworker. fabric costs = approx $80. notions = approx $5. shoes = approx $14 (hello Payless!).

    we planned to have the wedding outside in a gazebo downtown and reserved the park and a judge. park = $50, judge = $75. but like yardenxanthe, uh, it poured and we did not have a back up. please have a back up! we ended up getting married in the judge's courtroom. very un-scenic for the photos. oh, and my husband was soaking wet.

    we had our party (a.k.a. extremely low key reception) at our house that evening. we just bought appetizer-type foods and a carrot cake with "Just Hitched" written on it. food = approx $125. we bought a few serving type items that we did not previously own for the party and paper plates in light blue to match the theme. serving items = approx $70. we already had lights strung on the porch outside and people just mingled in our teeny tiny house.

    my 'bouquet' was self made with three different types of flowers (hydrangea, mums, and little tiny white accent flowers) and tied with raffia. bouquet = approx $13. we also bought flowers to put in vases around the house for the party. decor flowers = approx $13.

    our arty friends took the photos for us. free! we paid to develop and print.

    oh, and I splurged on a manicure for myself, $30 + tip. I learned that I don't like manicures. I have super sensitive skin and it made my hands itch.

    whew! I think that's about it. oh, and the reason I can pull out these figures is because we were married last month and I still have the figures in my trusty little notebook. but again, we were sooooo incredibly low key about our wedding which is how we wanted it.

    as for reference, I liked The Artful Bride for ideas. I had an idea to make For Better or For Worse CDs as party favors with the first 10 songs happy love songs and the last 10 bad relationship songs. It was intended to be funny but I simply ran out of time and could not get the CDs finished.

    congratulations and good luck!

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    FYI, since you are in LA, two friends of mine had a beautiful wedding at Griffith Park, it was very cheap and romantic. I'm not sure if they had to get permits or anything like that.

    I think an outdoor wedding is an awesome idea though, especially seeing as how the weather is usually beautiful and there are so many nice natural spots.

    Have you also considered using someones backyard? My parents hosted a nice wedding in their backyard. It was still natural and beautiful in their garden but crowd controlled I guess you could say. The only thing about having a wedding outdoors is you never know who is going to come in.

    Also, have you thought about keeping your wedding private and just having a party to celebrate it at a later date? I know a few couples who have done that and it seemed to keep costs (emotional and financial) down.

    Uh oh, now I am sounding like a mad wedding planner. Good luck and congratulations on your engagement!

  9. #8
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    my wedding cost us approx. 2500 dollars. I bought my dress on ebay, my shoes at payless and my family made all the food (meat platters, pickled eggs, pasta salad, you know picnic food). We had 200 guests, the wedding was in my grandmother's backyard.

    The first thing i did when i got engaged was to order every free bridal catalog I could find and "borrow" ideas from them. there are a lot of cute favors etc out there that you might not think of! If you want some websites I can provide them for you!

    I made my own invitations on my computer, people thought i ordered them. That was a nice compliment it wasn't hard at all i bought everything I needed for the at wal-mart for 20 dollars!

  10. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    I'm compiling ideas from weddings I've participated in. Filene's basement $249 wedding gown, $40 dollar marshall's bridesmaid dress, single orchid on table decorated with raffia and river rocks, versus expensive arrangement, home-made invitations, favors bought at half price at crate and barrell after christmas (silver photo clips).
    no video (not everyone wants a video, don't feel pressured to have one)
    friends who are musicians provide live music, and most of all, being prepared. My friend wanted to throw a simple dinner party to celebrate her elopment and it turned into a huge deal, we were shopping for favors and creating them the night before, they made a slideshow of their trip to tahiti and finished it 40 min after the party started, etc etc...they weren't ready for the party and I think it cost them in enjoyment and also having to pay for things like flower arrangements, when they could have used and liked the orchid idea, but someone had already ordered centerpieces for them. Obviously all these ideas weren't implemented in the same wedding, but you could try to hit most of them, i know some of them came from huge newport mansion style affairs, but i scaled them back to make them reasonable, or in other cases, people made their own invites, because they wanted something different and it also happened to save money :)

    In the case of getting your bridesmaid dresses at marshalls, you could buy them for the bridesmaids and say instead of buying them costume jewlery, they can wear their own favorite pieces. I know that bridesmaid dresses can be a big burden on friends and they won't want to wear a triple strand of fake pearls day to day anyway :)

    good luck!

  11. #10
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Thank you thank you thank you getcrafty ladies!

    I was at Stitch N Bitch last night and one of the women there is a wedding photographer. I love supporting other indie artists and hope she's not too expensive! We are totally in the mindset that we want less pose, more documentary type photos and she has that style. What luck!

    For the cake, someone suggested cupcakes on vintage cakestands instead of a wedding cake. I love this idea, and it will sure save on that overpriced item. I imagine you could tier cake stands and have 1 big cupcake on top with the little bride and groom caketoppers on them. Has anyone seen or done this? I would love ideas for presentation.

    We are actually thinking of getting married at the courthouse or city hall the morning of the reception, with our immediate family only, then having the party. This saves money and also makes things less of a production, which will allow us to enjoy our day as much as possible.

    On that note, I am thinking of NOT having bridesmaids. Maybe this sounds bad, but I've had some bad experiences with being a bridesmaid, sadly more than once, so the whole thing just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Also, there is not someone who comes to mind that I absolutely must include at this level. I have a lot of casual friends and good friends, but not a best girlfriend. It would be either have 7 bridesmaids or none, so I'm leaning towards going with the latter and asking friends to participate at the reception in other ways. I'm getting a lot of negative feedback from friends and family on this, but I think it's just because it's unconventional. I would love people's thoughts on this.

    Andi- I'll PM you on the Budget Living issue - I would love it if you wouldn't mind scanning and e-mailing me please. I just went through all my old issues and I have pretty much every issue but the wedding one. I must have given it to someone?

    Please do post website ideas here - I need all the inspiration I can get!

    Thank you again so much for the great ideas and tips!!


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