10 Steps to a Successful Low Budget DIY Wedding


Are you planning your own wedding? I set out a basic guideline for your own wedding planning 101.  I geared it to a low budget, affordable DIY wedding since that’s what I had to go through.  Just remember, it’s going to be a beautiful, fun wedding day whether or not you have the programs printed or not! Just enjoy the company of your loved ones!

1. Guest list. 

First thing when starting your wedding planning is your guest list! In order to find out how much money you HAVE to spend vs how much money you can spend depends all on your guest list.  And don’t say ‘Oh we’re just going to have a few family and friends for our intimate wedding.’ because it’s never a few, and unless planned in advance, it’ll never be an intimate wedding.

– Make a list. (Family. Bridal party. Bestest friends. Friends. I-bump-into-them-often. Co-workers/Business relations.)
-Start counting how many family members will be attending.
-Start counting the bridal party and the bestest friends.
– Don’t go through Facebook to make your list. Make your list from your head!
-Give your friend list to your partner and see if they know of them or have met them during the last year or two.
– Make sure to count all the plus ones.
-My rule was, if I haven’t heard of or met this person within the 6 years we have been dating, we can move them to the maybe-invite-when-we-have-space list.  Vice-versa for my friends.

2.  Budget.

Talk amongst yourselves to see how much you want to spend.  Don’t look at how much things costs at the moment, but just write down how much you’d be comfortable spending (without going into debt).

-I know average wedding is about $27K, but there are $3000 weddings as well. >>20 Real Weddings Under $8K <<
-Don’t let magazines brainwash you into spending out of your comfort zone.
-Use a wedding budget calculator. >>Download<<
-Ask parents for help on top of your budget.

3. Venue & Food

Now this is the biggest chunk of your budget.  Finding a venue and caterer with flexible policies at a low rental rate is very challenging.  Some venues only allow a certain caterer, and some venues have nothing to provide you but the space.

-Look into backyards, churches, public parks, gardens etc.
-Have finger foods, food trucks, or even just cocktail hours and desserts.
-Have a wedding after lunch, to keep it light.
-Have a full ceremony, and then have a separate intimate reception with family members and friends.
-Make your own cake and cupcakes, or ask a friend!

4. Attire

Finding a wedding dress might be the most fun part of the wedding planning.  For a low budget wedding, this might become a little stressful, finding a dress within budget.  It’s so easy to go over budget in wedding attire.  You feel like you need a dress, shoes, veil, garter, jewelry etc etc.  But look through wedding blogs and magazines.  A lot of brides are finding alternatives to accessorize themselves, and so can you.

-Get a vintage dress, a cute mini dress, wedding dress off the rack or even used wedding dresses.
– Make your own veil, or wear a birdcage veil instead.
-Skip it all and have some beautiful fresh flowers in your hair.
– Wear hand me down jewelry, or very minimal jewelry.
– Ask a friend if you can borrow their bracelet and earrings.
-Be bold and wear a bright red heels that you already own.
-Make your own garter.  Do you think the guy who catches it frames it and keeps it displayed?  They don’t know the difference.

Find a list of bridal boutiques in Atlanta >> here <<

5. Stationery

Save-the-dates, invitations, RSVP, thank you cards, menu, program, guestbook, name cards, seating arrangement chart.  WOW I thought there was only invitations!

– You don’t have to do all of them.
– Do a Facebook private invite Save The Date.
– Print your own invitations or at a local printing place.
-If you’re not very artsy, buy one of those ready made templates on Etsy and take it to a printing store.  If you don’t know where to look contact me! I’ll get you a quote at my printing place.
– Think of doing postcard invitations to save on stamp fee.  Also, think of just handing them out to your close friends.  This way you don’t have to spend much on stamps.
– Do an email RSVP.  Most likely, half of them you’re going to have to contact directly anyways.  I did mine one by one.
– Print your thank you cards as well, or buy a bulk online that already says thank you.  Again, think of postcards.  Postcard stamps are cheaper when done in bulk.
– Menu. Optional.  You can keep them excited guessing what the food will be.  Or you can just print them, cut it and leave them on each plates.
– Program. You can skip this as well, or print them yourself.  I had a program, but I think our MC took care of all the events.
– Name Cards.  This one is optional as well.  Your guests are going to be sitting wherever anyways within that table.
– Seating arrangement.  This one is optional as well, as long as you have someone finding their name on the list for the table number.  I printed out two sets of seating arrangement with names and their table number, had two friends help people seat themselves.

6. Decorations

One thing to remember is that just because it’s handmade by you, it doesn’t mean it’s the cheapest.  Sometimes it’s just easier and cheaper to buy them in bulk.

-Lighting does everything.  This is probably the only thing that you need. Get lots of candles! Christmas lights does wonders too.
– There’s nothing wrong with silk flowers, paper flowers and no flowers.
-Think of minimum decorations.  Keep it romantic, artsy, rustic and vintage!  Sometimes weddings with minimum decorations say more than too many things going on.
-Tissue pompoms, paper flowers, ribbon tassels, buntings, balloons, etc

7. Photography

If you’re going to splurge on one thing, it should be photography.  It’s what you keep for the rest of your life, and it’s what remains.

– If you have a friend or family member that’s really good at photos, ask them.  Try to have at least 2 photographers.
– Ask all your friends with DSLR camera to take photos and send them all to you.
– If you’re hiring a photographer, compromise by cutting down the hours.
– Save all the facebook, iPhone, Instagram photos and make a collage.

8. Favors

Favors can be optional but it can also be as simple as a printout of a photo of you two.  Just something small, something thoughtful.  You can skip the individual favor by making a candy station and asking your guests to take some candy on the way home.  Make them a love song CD. Print out a poem.  Make them a paper crane with their names on it, so on.

9. Music

If you know someone who can play an instrument, or DJ, please ask them for help.  Otherwise make a playlist on your laptop and play it all night.  Have a friend help you with the volume and the songs when you walk in.

10. Drinks

-Keep the alcohol minimum, or none at all.
– If you do a day wedding, chances are you don’t need heavy liquor.
– Buy your own alcohol.  Go find a liquor store that you can buy bulk at a discount pricing, and ask if you can return the rest if it’s not open.
– Do a cash bar.
– Do a minimum open bar and the rest cash bar.


Also check out these posts:

+100 ways on how to save money on your wedding

+10 Things Not to do Before the Wedding