How We: Did It Ourselves

Be willing to get creative when you are wedding planning. And then, get even more creative.

Susie, Food service design consultant & Caitlin, Personal Assistant

One sentence sum-up of the wedding vibe: Our wedding was like the best parts of going home—relaxed, easy, and most of all, FUN!

Planned Budget: $12,000

Actual Budget: $10,500

Number of Guests: 90

Where we allocated the most funds

The largest portion of our budget was set aside for a wonderful photographer. It was so important to us that we be able to look back on our photos and completely relive the entire day. We knew that our heavily DIYed wedding was going to be a whirlwind, and we would need photos to help us remember the best details of the day. Also, for those guests who weren’t able to make the long trek out to DC, we wanted great pictures that we could share with them later on.

A close second to photography was food and drinks. After the initial sticker shock of a catered DC-area wedding, we decided to self-cater our reception. Susie is a classically trained chef, and we were determined to pull off an amazing meal without breaking the bank. Despite saving a TON of money, food and alcohol still ran us a pretty penny.

Where we allocated the least funds

We spent the least amount of money on ceremony and reception décor. Both of us really enjoy crafting so we paid $6 for a glue gun, $20 for five pounds of vintage book pages, and simply went to town. Many Saturday mornings were spent scouring craft stores for BOGO deals on glassware or hitting up the area libraries for vintage book sales (go for the fifty-cent rack… totally worth it!). Essentially, we got really, really creative with our décor budget.

What was totally worth it

We would have to say that our photographer and our wedding coordinator were definitely worth every penny. Sarah, our photographer, was amazing. She kept us both calm and at ease during the getting ready process. As soon as our wedding was over, she had sneak preview pictures that brought us both to tears! Seriously, amazing.

Bree, our coordinator, was a gift from God. We hired her originally just to give us some vendor ideas when we first started planning. However, she was so stellar that Caitlin put her foot down and declared she be brought on for the duration of the wedding planning process, including day of. Bree was our go-to person when we needed a reality check (no, we couldn’t do traditional ceiling draping on our budget) or when we really just needed to hear that everything was going to be okay (head table backdrop was still in a box upon our arrival to the venue). Having a coordinator meant that everything got done on time and we didn’t have to handle the sticky issues on our wedding day—and honestly, what couple wants to deal with tardy vendors or a musician with laryngitis??

What was totally not worth it

It’s totally not worth it to lie awake at night worrying about the minute details of your wedding! So many things are out of your hands, like who will be able to attend and if the aisle runner will get laid out for the ceremony. In the end, focusing on the fact that you are getting married is the most important part. Stop stressing about having that perfect Pinterest wedding and just let it happen.

A few things that helped us along the way

Friends and family! They are your friends and family for a reason, so do not hesitate to delegate wedding tasks. Trust me, they WANT to help. We could not have pulled off our wedding without all of our people. The day before the wedding, we were all in the church hall at 8 AM, setting up tables, arranging flowers, cooking food, etc. We can’t imagine doing it without the amazing folks that helped us out.

My best practical advice for my planning self

Create a master to-do list, especially for the last six to eight weeks leading up to your wedding. Then, make a calendar and delegate a few tasks for each day so that you aren’t overwhelmed. A lot of our tasks on the master list were easy things, like emailing the baker to confirm how many cupcakes we needed, or creating our bar menu. The most important thing is to carve out time for each other, apart from the wedding, especially when you are that close. The weekend before the wedding, we went on a day-long “singles” date together to celebrate all the hard work we had done and to emotionally prepare ourselves for the giant, awesome step we were about to take in a week. Having that down time really helped return some sanity to our poor brains!

Favorite thing about the wedding

One of our favorite things about our wedding was the ceiling draping at our reception. Early on, we discovered that professional ceiling draping is REALLY expensive. Like, half of our budget expensive. So we spent countless evenings researching how we could do it ourselves. Eventually, we came up with an inexpensive option and utilizing some Velcro, organza, and sheer manpower, we were able to have ceiling draping at our reception for $120.

However, the very best part about our wedding was the guests. About ninety-eight percent of our guests came from out of town and it meant so much to have every one of them with us on our wedding day. Our wedding was on Mother’s Day weekend, and many guests made a special trip just to celebrate with us. We kept our guest list small so that we could celebrate with everyone who attended and that made such a huge difference.

Other Notes

Always be willing to get creative when you are wedding planning. And then, get even more creative. When we realized that traditional catering was not an option for us, we decided to self-cater, despite much skepticism. It turned out wonderfully, and we were able to present an extensive menu that met all of our guests’ needs without breaking the bank. Remember that this is your wedding, not anyone else’s!


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