It's not really a secret that weddings can be super expensive: from the venue to the custom invitations to the catering, there's a lot of stuff to pay for. Unfortunately, not every proposal comes with a winning lottery ticket, and there's absolutely no shame in being a bride on a budget. That being said, the idea of completely DIY-ing your wedding is (understandably) overwhelming — luckily, there are wedding DIY projects that are worth the effort, because they'll ease the strain on your wallet and make your wedding planning smoother.
According to a 2016 study by The Knot, wedding spending is at an all-time high: the average cost of a wedding has increased by $5,500 in the past five years, with couples spending $32,641 on average in 2015. The evidence is all over your social media feeds: it seems like modern weddings are considered "boring" unless they boast scenic venues, sumptuous-looking food, and extravagant honeymoons. Honestly, as long as you're responsible and budget properly, I'm all for spending as much as you want on your own wedding — it'll be one of the most memorable events of your life, after all. But for anyone who'd prefer to keep costs low, there are plenty of awesome resources that can help you DIY your own wedding (at least some parts of it, anyway).
Plus, DIYing may even boost your mood if you're feeling stressed with all the wedding planning. "I find interacting with crafts or other forms of art therapy completely cathartic," Elyse Fox, a mental health activist, tells Bustle. "Art therapy provides an outlet for expression that you may not have been able to put into words."
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If you need some inspo from a source other than Pinterest, here are the DIY wedding projects that have been tested and approved by brides.
1Replace Expensive Favors With A DIY Candy Station
"My husband's name is Alex and mine is Zlata, so our wedding was a whole A to Z theme. For our favors, I decided to create a DIY Candy Bar Station that had every candy From A to Z. Instead of buying some random favor for over 200 guests, I purchased in bulk one type of candy for every letter of the alphabet. I put them in apothecary-type jars with scoopers. I had personalized clear cellophane bags made that said 'Favors: From A to Z' and inside I put a nice Thank You note to our guests. Boom!" — Ziata, 35
2Make Your Invitation A "Magazine" About Your Relationship
"I created articles about the wedding, the rehearsal dinner, the hotel room and filled it with photos of our friends and family. I even added our top 10 favorite things to do in Philadelphia on the back cover. Printing the magazines ended up being much cheaper than ordering traditional invitations. I had them printed by a local print shop here in Philadelphia. It did take some effort to put together but was completely worth it. The uniqueness factor was something everyone talked about. Plus it made a great keepsake for everyone who attended!" — Jodie, 42
3Make Centerpieces Out Of Mason Jars
"I’m doing a lot of DIY for my wedding, from our website and save the dates to the centerpieces, bouquets and napkin rings. I had spent so much time looking at pretty centerpieces on Pinterest, but was disappointed to find that it would cost me at least $500 to order the centerpieces I wanted, and we’re having a small wedding of ~50 people. So, using pinterest as inspiration, I ordered 60 mason jars of different shapes/sizes, a box of votive candles and a few cans of spray paint to match my colors, and I went to town. My centerpieces look beautiful, cost ~$120 and I had a great time making them." — Melanie, 25
4Make Centerpieces From Wood
"Finding specific centerpieces for a uniquely themed wedding can be daunting and expensive. Instead of paying our florist almost double to purchase the centerpiece infrastructure for us — we decided to make our own! With some PVC pipe, spray paint, wood (and a few glasses of wine) we constructed our own 4ft tall centerpieces that will sit atop our dinner tables and allow the greenery. candles, and floral arrangements to hang down as if the guests were covered by a trellis in the middle of a garden! Not only did making the centerpieces ourselves save us a bunch of money, we also had a fun date night and were able to modify how they looked based on our taste. If you have a knack for crafting and the patience to create something that will be a part of your big day, go for it! Homemade is always better!" — Shannon, 24
5Use An Old Window For A DIY Seating Chart
"I used old windows and a cameo machine that cut out vinyl and transferred to the windows [to make a seating chart]. It was very simple — just time consuming. [The names] print on a sheet and we used transfer tape that lines them up the way they were printed. [The project] cost about $35." — Samantha, 24
6Use Craft Paper Placemats
"When I first started planning my wedding, I was really focused on table design because I wanted the event to feel like the most fun dinner party anyone had ever been to. So, of course, I jumped on Pinterest for inspiration, and over and over again kept seeing these beautiful craft paper placemats that were being personalized in different ways for guests. I knew right then that I wanted to use craft paper as a central theme throughout the wedding, and in particular the placemats. I purchased a huge roll of craft paper and a pack of chalkboard pens online, and over the course of about eight months, little by little, cut out 120 placemats and wrote each guests name in calligraphy across them. There were many balled up pieces of paper and tears along the way, but the wonderful reaction form our guests was worth every minute." — Audrey, 30
7Make Hand-Painted Place Cards
"All it takes is about $10-$15 and a few hours of your time (most of which requires waiting for paint to dry).. Anyone can do it. In a nutshell, you gather your favorite leaves, spray paint them the color of your choice (metallics work well), wait for them to dry, and then use a heavy-duty paint pen to handwrite the names of your guests. Place cards can easily cost upwards of $100-$500, so these beautiful DIY leaves are a huge savings and a nice personal touch." — Lesley, 34
As you can see from the brides, there's no shortage of ways to DIY your wedding. Whether it's centerpieces, invitations, or seating charts, think about where you want to save money, your skills, and what projects you'd most enjoy — and get ready for the flood of Instagram likes.