4 Huge Things That You Can DIY For Your Wedding

Call me old-fashioned, but when I imagine the perfect wedding, I envision the occasion as a rockin' DIY collaboration stitched together like a living scrapbook of things representing the happy couple's partnership. There are loads of things that you can DIY for your wedding instead of shelling out for a pricey vendor. From old family photos to home-cooked food, a wedding can be a labor of love, if you just put in a little imagination and hot glue.

If you choose to go the do-it-yourself route, a good jumping off point would probably be to sit down as a couple, and start brainstorming a list of ideas. See where the first collaborative push takes you, and be open about your wedding day vision. If you keep all your best creative ideas on a secret Pinterest board, your partner won't be able to visualize your inspiration. Don't forget to take note of your friends' special talents. Do you have a pal who is an enthusiastic pastry chef? Does the father of the groom just so happen to play in a jazz quartet? You've hit the DIY wedding jackpot.

Anything that you can turn into a DIY project will end up saving you money that you can reallocate to the honeymoon. So, here are some of my best ideas for things to make yourself instead of paying retail.

1. Flowers

Whether you pick a few wildflowers from a nearby meadow, or stop by a wholesale flower market and assemble a bouquet that way, you do not need a florist to have beautiful flower displays at your wedding. Go ahead and cross that expense off your list right now.

There are a few things to consider if you choose to build your own arrangements. First of all, it's all about variety. Avoid creating a color-splash effect with homogenous piles of one type of flower. The more colors, textures, and shapes in your arrangements, the more candid and dramatic the arrangements will look. Also, remember that bigger blooms might cost a little extra, but they also take up more physical space, so you don't need as many stems if you're using big ol' peonies or chrysanthemums. Finally, don't hesitate to repurpose bouquets from the ceremony in the reception, and save even more dough.

Here's some advice from my fave wedding blog Green Wedding Shoes on how to build your own bridal bouquet.

2. Food

If you've ever been responsible for Thanksgiving dinner or food for a party, you're prepared to create a wedding buffet. Some caterers will run you up to $150 per plate, which is crazy when you can feed 100 people with $30 of pork shoulder and a few creative sides. It's all in the presentation.

For creating your own cocktail hour appetizers, think individually sized finger foods that can be served on napkins, with toothpicks. This makes it easy for your guests to help themselves without needing to source any extra serving plates and cutlery. You can even add a DIY spin to the bar — some friends of mine who just got married had super cute his-and-hers signature cocktails at their reception, which were not only cost-effective, but were also delicious.

Then, it's time to start thinking about dessert. Ever wonder how to make your own wedding cake? A Practical Wedding has you covered. The good people over at A Practical Wedding also have a veritable bible for self-catering your reception. Grab a couple of hot plates from your local restaurant supply store, and think *scale*. Dishes like fajitas, pulled pork, or colorful quinoa salads are easy to make ahead of time, and they keep looking and tasting delicious all day.

3. Planning

There are only hundreds of websites dedicated to helping you plan your wedding. Make use of the available technology, and save yourself a thousand dollars you would spend on someone to hold your hand while you decide what color tablecloths you want to have at your reception.

The piece of advice I find myself repeatedly giving to friends is to relax and have fun with the whole planning process. Your wedding is, at its core, a party that is about the love between you and your partner — enjoy that while you can. If you expect everything and everyone to hit their marks like a Broadway show, you're gonna be stressed out and disappointed. So, take a deep breath, and smile at your fiancé, because at the end of the day, the most memorable thing for everyone will be that you just got hitched.

4. Decor

If you've ever contemplated getting married, you probably already have a strong opinion on chalk boards, mason jars, and his-and-hers place settings, one way or another. Your wedding decor will obviously be specific to your tastes, but across the board, consider renting or borrowing items from salvage yards and thrift stores. Getting married indoors? Use architectural details of your venue to your advantage.

If you're having an outdoor wedding, let nature do the legwork, and embrace the beauty of your surroundings. A few simple touches can turn an empty field into a wedding wonderland. Throw bird seed instead of rice so that the animals can clean up for you. Hang old family photos, and embrace the unique personalities of the families that you're bringing together.

Image: Ryan Polei, Mulia/Flickr; Caroline Tran/Courtesy of Sutherlin & Neese Wedding; The Chalk Shoppe/Instagram; pdbjay/Instagram