Doing things yourself can be a great way to save money on your wedding. Trading money and convenience for time and effort can build camaraderie and give you genuine joy in the doing. 

First, a caveat: If you’re a deadline-driven person like me, especially one who struggles with procrastination (also like me), think twice before taking on a big or complicated DIY project for your wedding. 

The closer you get to your wedding, the more there is to do. What looked like a simple, fun project 12 months ago can become a stress-inducing, screaming burden in the last few weeks before your wedding. 

Now that we have that out of the way, here are some great ways to do it yourself, have fun, and save money.

Decor  – Lots of couples do some or all of their own decor. Before you begin, be realistic with yourself about your skills and your time. It’s easy to look at that over-the-top Pinterest centerpiece and say, “I can do that!” It’s quite another to do it for all of your guest tables, and to have the time to set everything up on your wedding day. 

A big way to save decorating money is to minimize cut flowers. Use potted plants, photographs in frames, and things that have meaning for you and your sweetheart. 

Candles are one of my favorite pieces of wedding decor, partly because they can go a long way on their own. 

Pro tip: Massed anything looks great. Candles, candle lanterns, blooms, piles of used books, and so forth. 

Reception music – If you have a talk-and-visit crowd that really doesn’t care about dancing, creating a playlist with background music is perfect. Your iDevice with a rented or house amplifier and speaker system will do the job.

Here are my Three Commandments on using a playlist on your own iDevice:

1) Download your playlist to your device. Your wedding is not the time to depend on the integrity of an internet connection. 

2) Have a backup of your playlist on another device. Things happen. 

3) Bring your charger and plug your device into the wall. This is no time to depend on battery life.

Assign someone who is not in your wedding party to manage your device and the sound system. The most important times for manually cuing up music are the times that you and your wedding party are busy doing things in front of your guests.

Having said that…

If dancing is important to you, go for a DJ or a band. Good DJs and bands take the pulse of the dance floor constantly and adjust the music accordingly. They know how to get people up and dancing in the first place and keep them that way. They drive the mood and the energy of the reception. It’s money well spent.

Alcohol – Many venues and caterers will allow you to provide your own alcohol. You bring it to your venue or have it delivered during set-up time, and take what remains home with you at the end of your reception.

Hauling alcohol around involves a lot of schlepping. It’s heavy, bulky, and there tends to be a lot of it. Having a cart or hand truck or your sister’s kid’s little red wagon can make the work go faster and easier. The big advantage of this is the return privilege. Some shops, like the Wine Source and Wells Discount Liquors in Baltimore, will allow you to return unused, unopened product.

Set-up and break-down – Many wedding venues require same-day load-in and load-out. Be prepared to deliver and set everything up during set-up time, which is usually the two or three hours before your wedding. Plan to remove it all immediately after your reception.

So, if you’re DIY-inclined and have the time, doing things yourself can be fun, create wonderful shared experiences, and save a good bit of money. 

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David Egan
David Egan
David L. Egan is the proprietor and steward of Chase Court, a wedding and event venue in downtown Baltimore. Visit Chasecourt.com, and follow ChaseCourtWeddingVenue on Instagram and Facebook.