Friday, December 27, 2013

To DIY or Not? What Parts of the Wedding Budget to Consider to DIY?

All of sudden I am seeing articles about why you should be very cautious about trying to incorporate DIY into your wedding.  As an person with years of experience helping people plan and coordinate DIY receptions I decided to shed some positive light on the subject, based on my involvement in actual events. 

Porta Potties and Tents

I just read an article which stated that there isn't an advantage to having a back-yard BBQ to save money because Porta-Potties and tents would have to be rented to accommodate the guests.  I almost laughed out-loud because several of my clients had lovely receptions in their back yards without  the expense of those two items. If your home and yard is large enough to hold the guests, you probably have enough bathrooms in the house to accommodate their needs.  So, take any negative that you read on a site which has ads from wedding professionals with a grain of salt.  I know, sad but true....that is the way our world revolves.  This is a case of  "consider the source".   One of the tenants of marketing is to create a need for your product.  So a wedding professional might write an article doing just that, myself included.  That being, DIY is not for everyone. It just depends on your priorities.  But, if a DIY project is approached with the proper resources it can save you money and still be a magical stress-free experience.  

The Wedding Budget - Where Can You DIY?
So, I would like to share many of the positive aspects of incorporating some sort of DIY into your wedding and reception.  But first, let's look at a key question.

Have you agreed upon a budget.  Do you know what portion of the budget the various components require? This step is important as it might help identify which costs can be reduced by doing something yourself, possibly providing additional money for those things which cannot.

Based on my experience, the starred areas are where you can save money by handling some aspects yourself.

The Reception costs include everything required to hold an elaborate party and serve your guests food and drink.  Most components of the reception contains elements where an aspect of DIY can be incorporated.

      Wedding Cake
      Venue Rental
      Serve Ware
      Dishes, stem and silverware
      Wait Staff

The flowers include all the flowers for the bridal party, the church and the reception.

The music includes both venues: church and reception

The stationary includes invitations, response cards, and all other printed material.  Most of my clients didn't feel the need to have printed orders of service menus, or even escort cards; opting for open seating.  Here again, it depends on your priorities.

If you are looking at the Photography / Videography category and wondering why there isn't a star there the answer is simple. This is one area where you don't want to cut corners.  If you have access to a good amateur photographer who is experienced in taking wedding photos - great.  If not, please don't assume that anyone with a digital camera can record the day for you.  The day is going to be a blur and you are going to want good quality photos so you can go back and revisit the day.  How do I know....because one of the most common regrets brides note is not having an experienced photographer do their pictures.  At least for the ceremony and the first few hours of the reception.  After the initial dances and the cake cutting you can rely on friends to take the candid photos.  But hire a pro for the formal pictures so you won't be disappointed.

Since the reception takes up the largest portion of the budget let's look at that first.
Food - I assisted my clients in the planning process but they provided the food.  It was not unusual for them to have a favorite family recipe that they wanted to include in the menu.  We would review their proposed guest count, I would recommend how many total dishes would be needed, they could select additional recipes from my book and then I revised the recipes to provide ample food according to the number of guests.
          All of my clients utilized a buffet to serve the food.  This allowed them to offer an assortment of appetizers and side dishes, in addition to one, two or three entree's; depending on the guest count.  It seemed that the guests' busy lives included eating on the run, ordering carry-out and using prepackaged convenience foods because the guests never failed to rave about the variety of dishes that were from "scratch".   Due to time constraints my clients usually didn't have a formal cocktail hour, but a few yummy appetizers were usually included on the buffet.    Both labor and food costs were drastically reduced when guests served themselves, filling their plates with the variety of side dishes and serving themselves less meat than would typically be served at a sit-down dinner.  Of course, miscellaneous charges have to be added in at some point.  But, it is still going to be substantially less than the most recent estimate of $75.00 to $200.00 dollars per head for a sit down dinner.   By selecting a variety of recipes that could be prepared from several weeks to several days prior to the reception, my clients could prepare a variety of food selections and still have time to relax and enjoy the day before their wedding; getting ready for the big day.  They had lists to ensure everything they needed was packed and ready to be transported to the reception site, and an extensive step-by-step task list which ensured that all the food prep and beverage set-up was completed before the start of the reception. ,  The key here is the planning process. I have been on-site for countless DIY receptions and the information I share can help you plan for every every aspect of your reception. 

I will continue to evaluate the various components of the reception in the next blog.

What Do Brides Regret?
In reviewing the regrets that brides have listed after their wedding, I don't see any postings that reflect that the bride was upset because her DIY floral arrangements on the tables didn't look like they came out of a floral display.  Usually the regrets are centered around time issues; specifically not having enough time to get everything done at the reception site prior to the start of the event.  If you are renting a venue there will be a set time limit to get everything set-up, hold your function and then vacate the premises.  Usually people run out of time getting things set up because they haven't done this before and don't know how long the set-up takes.  I have touched on this issue in previous blogs, with information and tips taken from my book Frugally Fabulous Wedding Receptions. 

All the information that I cover in the blog, plus worksheets, planning tools, schedules, and a shopping list can be at your fingertips by ordering the book at If you know what to plan for, you will enjoy your wedding and reception because you know that all the bases are covered.  

Sign up now to receive answers to the questions you don't even know to ask about DIY receptions in future blogs.

And, watch for entry information for upcoming contests where you can win a copy of Frugally Fabulous Wedding Receptions or one of the Frugally Fabulous consulting packages.   

Do you have any questions about a DIY reception?   Submit in the comments section and watch for the answer in my next blog.


  1. I really don’t have any idea how much money spend on weddings. I think it depends on the individuals. They can spend on their budgets. But In my opinion we can save money on Wedding venues.

  2. Each and every component of the wedding should be examined and planned perfectly; you want no surprises during Show Time. You want all your guests to be excited and engaged. The blog on the wedding ideas is best. I hope this will provide you the necessary information about wedding planning in budget