Many of you will have heard the term DIY when doing jobs around the house, but what does it mean when it comes to a DIY Wedding? Logically, if you are having a DIY wedding, it should mean that you are doing absolutely everything yourself. But should we really be that literal with the idea? After all, what would it be for traditional DIY? Having a DIY kitchen refers to the fact that you buy a kitchen which needs assembly, and that you install yourself, rather than actually making it from a pile of raw materials.
So, when it comes to weddings, it is probably more realistic to say that it is one in which you are in full control of everything. It is not just having a package where you pick option A or option B. Also, in DIY, does the Y stand for Yourself or could it be Yourselves. Sorting out an entire wedding and doing everything, surely is too big a job for 1 person, the work should be shared. It also is much more fun to involve other people. The most important thing consider is why you want a DIY wedding, is it to save money, or that you have your own vision of what you want, or do you just know you don’t want a standard hotel wedding.
How do you plan a DIY Wedding?
As with any wedding there are certain things that need to be done, planned and booked. This is where the DIY wedding path starts. Rather than finding a wedding planner, and saying “this is what I want, go and find it”, you have to go and do the research. There are a huge number of components to a wedding, and I doubt that I will cover all them of here, but the main ones are DIY Wedding Venue, celebrant, food, drink, decor, entertainment, photography, stationary, flowers, dress and other outfits and wedding cake. Of these the DIY Wedding Venue is probably the most important, or at least the one you need to sort first. Without that, it is difficult to start making other decisions as you won’t know exactly what you need to sort out, so I will start with that.
What should I look for in a DIY Wedding Venue?
Going the DIY wedding route means ruling out establishments that say you have to use their own in house services like hotels and some dedicated wedding or party establishments. But there are a whole host of options out there, and decisions to make early on. The types of venue you may be looking at could include a marquee in a field, a village hall, a large country house, a farm with a barn conversion, or somewhere that just has a large space like a school. There are certain things that are essential in a venue to be DIY, e.g. no corkage charge, allowing outside caterers and other suppliers. To start narrowing things down further, ask yourself a few questions.
Do you want everything to take place in one location? If so, you need a venue with a wedding licence.
Do you want guests to be able to stay over afterwards? If so, you need a venue with accommodation, or at least accommodation close by.
Do you want to be in a city or rural?
Do you want somewhere you can book just for the day, or maybe for a whole weekend?
Once you have some clear ideas get online and start looking. You may need to look beyond a lot of the more generic wedding directories. Not all venues will list in all of them.
What about Wedding Registrars and Celebrants?
Once you have narrowed down your venue options, you need to consider who will marry you. For a legal ceremony this is either going to be in a church or using local registrars. If your chosen venue is licensed, then you will need to contact their local registrar. Get in touch with them, and make sure that they are available! There are also options of other types of ceremony, such as humanist, but you will still need to have conducted a legal ceremony somewhere.
What should I do about Catering for my DIY Wedding?
So, how DIY do you want to be? Are you going to do all the prepping and cooking or are you going to delegate it? Who is going to set and decorate the tables? Who is going to serve the food and clear up afterwards? Are you having drinks and nibbles after the ceremony? We have had a wedding couple and their family cook for everyone here. Would I recommend it? Well yes if that is what you want to do but be warned, it is not for the faint-hearted.
Very careful attention needs to be made in regard to timings as well, given that you will be getting married and you and your friends and family will need time to get ready for that. Also, your friends and family will want to see you, rather than have you hiding in the kitchen all afternoon! Whist it is not truly DIY, this is one part where it does make a lot of sense to hand over to the professionals. There are a lot more options to chicken in white wine sauce!
That doesn’t mean you can’t have some input. You might have provided the starter and desert as they can often be done in advance. You will also have had the input of actually choosing the caterer as well as the menu. Additionally, you may choose to do all the table layout etc rather than having the caterer do it. (see more on that below) I would say that the best thing is find a caterer you like, then discuss with them all the bits that need doing.
Should I Hire a Photographer?
Everyone is a photographer nowadays aren’t they. At any wedding, nearly everyone will be holding a smart phone or a high quality digital camera. If you have 100 guests, and each take 100 photos, then you will have 10,000 pictures to look at! Just with the laws of averages, some of these must be really good, and is that is all you need? The answer may well be yes. You will also get pictures from the whole wedding day or wedding weekend, not just ceremony and post ceremony.
However, all of that doesn’t always replace the need for an official photographer. As well as hopefully being able to take good photos, they are solely focused on taking photos. There are also wanting to be guests enjoying the ceremony. They are also more comfortable getting in close for the wedding shots, but with the knowledge of how to be discreet about it. Guests also tend to listen to them when it comes to group photos.
Can I do my own Flowers?
Decorations and flowers are probably one of the main elements with which most people associate DIY Weddings. Flowers are often used for table decorations, bouquets and general venue decoration. It is very easy to go to a florist; give you budget and an idea of what colours and flowers and let them get on with it. But it is also an opportunity to use your own flair, or that of friends and family to come up with your own arrangements. You can visit flower wholesalers or local supermarkets to buy the flowers, and the arrange them in any way you want. Of course, you can also do the main flowers yourselves, but buy in the bouquets if you want. The vases are also an opportunity to show your creativeness. We have seen gin bottles, baked bean tins, milk bottles (the proper glass ones!!) iron buckets all used as vases.
What about other decorations?
For other decorations, well, your imagination is really your limit. You must check with the venue to find out what they allow. However, in most instances, if your decorations can be tied, hung or sat on something you should be OK. A lot of (if not all?) places won’t want you using nails etc. Also, blue tack, Sellotape etc should be avoided, it will damage paint and woodwork and may well fall off over a weekend anyway. Also aim to use LED candles not real ones. We, like many other venues don’t allow them. You can set up you own displays or stands like this sweet counter.
For place settings and table names, you don’t need to stick with table 1, table 2 etc. What has been a key part of your lives together, walking, climbing, holidaying? Use that! You can pick mountain names, countries anything you like. I have seen Haynes Manuals on the tables with each table name being a model of car. The names of welsh mountains written on a piece of slate from that mountain. Even the names of cricketers with the appropriate biography on the table!
Band, DJ or Spotify play list? You can pick one, or you may be able to have all 3! Decide what you want and make sure that is OK with your venue. If you have the venue for the whole weekend, then having equipment that you can use all weekend makes sense. Bands and DJ can bring their own life to a party, but they will want to go home at some point. Unless of course, they are your friends and on the guest list! You also need to consider costs. The play list is clearly much cheaper than the others, does this saving allow you to do something else you otherwise couldn’t afford?
Drinks and Bars
A huge amount of money can be saved if you are at a venue that allows you to bring your own alcohol and other drinks. You need to check about corkage though. However, most venues that are self-catering based won’t charge this. Don’t forget though, that if you are bringing your own, you can’t charge for it. This does mean that you are therefore paying for it all. It may be cheaper, but it is all your cost. If you are thinking of charging for it, you need a TEN (temporary events licence), and it has to be done with the permission of your venue. Your venue may also be able to lay on a pay bar for you but check the costs. Also ask about drinks for toasts, the meal and any other times.
Having a DIY wedding also gives you the opportunity of doing some of the quirky things that you may like. We have seen petting animals, birds of prey here, but also laser clay shooting. If you are around for the weekend you can organise activities for the Sunday. See what is available in the area. Around us, there is abseiling, mountain biking and caving, along with all the more sedate activities!
DIY Wedding planning
One of the best parts about deciding to have a DIY wedding is all the planning involved. There are so many useful blogs and websites that can help with ideas and suggestions. Pinterest is a great place to start for wedding research. Make sure you leave yourself plenty of time to plan and incorporate as much fun into the process as possible.
For some people, the thought of pulling everything together can be a bit daunting, even though they know a DIY wedding is right for them, they might need a little bit of support. Especially when it comes to the wedding day itself, the last thing you want is to be worrying about the details of your wedding schedule and suppliers whilst you should be getting ready and relaxing!
One solution is to hire a wedding planner. A wedding planner can help with all the detailed planning of your DIY wedding and can recommend suppliers or support with decorations and planning details.
However, most DIY wedding couples like to undertake the wedding planning themselves, so another option for a little bit of extra support is to hire an ‘on the day’ wedding coordinator. A wedding coordinator steps in just a couple of days before your wedding and ensures the wedding day runs exactly as you had planned and that you get all the credit! If you want to do most of the planning yourself but you’re worried about who will add the finishing touches to your day, meet all of your suppliers and deal with any problems -an ‘on the day’ DIY wedding coordinator could be the perfect solution to ensure your wedding runs as smoothly as you had hoped.
DIY means there is a lot to do and organise, but it really is worth the effort. You can use it to save a lot of money, or use that money for things that you would’t have otherwise been able to afford. Bear in mind though, when I say you can save money, that is assuming you are not putting a financial figure on your time! Please don’t be daunted or put off a DIY wedding due to planning, there is so much help, support and ideas out there. You can really have the wedding of your dreams!
Have you already had a DIY wedding? I would love to hear what you did, and how you found it. Please comment below!