There are lots of great ways to save money on your wedding by doing things yourself. The trade-off of money and convenience for time and effort can be a good one that builds camaraderie and gives 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 Pinterest centerpiece with all of those parts assembled just so and say, “I can do that!” It’s quite another to do it for as many guests tables as you’re likely to have, and to have the time to set it all up on your wedding day.

A big way to save decor money is to minimize cut flowers. Use potted plants, candles, photographs in frames, and other low-cost centerpieces. I tell couples that candles go a long way.

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

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 is just fine, and saves an easy thousand dollars.

Pro tip: Download your playlist to your device. Your wedding is not the time to depend on the integrity of an internet connection.

Tip number two: Have a backup of your playlist on another device. Things happen.

Tip number three: 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 cueing up music are the times that you and your wedding party are busy doing things in front of your guests.

However, if dancing is important to you, go for a DJ or a band. 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. The big advantage of this is the return privilege. Some shops, like The Wine Source and Wells Discount Liquors in Baltimore, to name two, will allow you to return unused, unopened product.

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 younger sibling’s little red wagon can make the work go faster and easier. This is a fine time to engage your attendants, who get to be useful as well as decorative!

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 money.

Next time: creating a great wedding ceremony.

David Egan is the proprietor and steward of Chase Court, a historic Baltimore wedding and event venue. Visit, and follow ChaseCourtWeddingVenue on Instagram and Facebook! Send your comments and questions to

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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, and follow ChaseCourtWeddingVenue on Instagram and Facebook.