Does wedding DIY save you money?

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My fiance and I are totally excited about including some DIY elements in our wedding, but I am wondering if it makes sense financially.

What are your experiences?

Did your DIY projects save you money or cost more?

-amandah678

Yep, it's the hidden truth of wedding DIY: you think it's going to save you money, and then you can end up spending more to make your invitations than you would have if you'd just gone and bought some simple pre-designed ones. (And don't even get us started on the whole “duplicate it yourself” thing… or the realities of DIY burnout!)

We'd love to hear from Offbeat Bride readers: is DIY saving you money?

Comments on Does wedding DIY save you money?

  1. It saved us a lot of money. Decorations including centerpieces were probably under $200 and venues wanted $80 per table. Origami flower materials were probably under $100 and I know florists can charge that much just for the bride’s bouquet. I made my headpiece for $5 in materials and even on Etsy those can run $80-$100. There’s more, but the main answer is YES.

  2. This topic makes me laugh. I just got married two weeks ago and went through a year of deciding what to DIY and what not to. You basically have to break it down by project to see if it works for your wedding budget/needs. Some things, like my wedding cake and my wedding programs/menus did cost less for me to do myself. Other things were more or about the same as buying a premade version. Such as my brooch bouquet but I had a lot of family brooches to include so it was important that I do it myself. What really makes DIY expensive is when you buy all of the supplies to do a project and then start and realize you took on too much or even worse you don’t have the time to start it period. Then with either scenario you end up buying a premade version when you could have just done that in the first place. So my suggestion is to really prioritize what you want to do yourself and know what you’re capable of doing or what your fiancé is capable of doing 🙂 and go from there

    • I agree. We are doing a mix of DIY, asking friends and family to DIY, and buying things. It helps a lot that our friends are gifting their talents to us. It’s also key that we have a lot of the equipment to do what we want (i.e. looms for weaving, tools for sewing, brewing, jewelry making) and that we ware bunch of crafters anyway. When deciding what to DYI and what to buy, we considered what would bring us joy, costs, and what would be reused post wedding. I can guarantee you some things could be done cheaper but I love the fact that what we have chosen to to do represents us and I get warm fuzzies looking at the things made for us in love.

    • YES. This is soooo true. I thought I could do without a florist entirely — just gonna buy some wholesale RealTouch stuff online and do it myself. WRONG. Our wedding is less than 3 months away, and I still have to finish making all our personalized RSVP cards so I can mail out the DIY invitations (mega $$ saved there), make my lace capelet (about $1500 cheaper than the Jenny Packham piece it’s based on), headpiece (probably should have gone with a $100 Etsy piece instead of spending $60 in supplies to do myself), AND assemble the bridemaids’ flowers (which, of course, is some crazy ikebana-inspired shit I fell in love with on Pinterest and then redesigned in Photoshop, so by no means EASY). I finally spoke to a florist on Etsy to make bouts and corsages, ended up falling in love with her OUTSTANDING customer service, and hired her to take on centerpieces (my mom can’t be trusted with anything) and my crazy-madeup-ikebana bouquet. Since she’s a startup working out of her house and (re)uses all RealTouch, I’m basically paying her a rental fee for everything — WHICH IS A STEAL. Oh, and did I mention I have a full-time job, a dog, and a fiance who wants to spend time with me? It’s a lot to take on. (Thank goodness my fiance was smart enough to wait until my Master’s degree was pretty much done, before proposing.)

      So, long story short, DIY can be great for your budget, but don’t forget to factor in your stress threshold, too. If you’re telling yourself now that you’ll have time/energy to learn — and master — a whole new craft just for your wedding day… might be worth it to talk to a pro.

      • Hello….I never considered using Etsy for my daughter’s wedding, but that sounds like a great idea. Would you be kind enough to share the vendor you used? Thanks so much!

    • Me too! My wedding was almost exactly two weeks to the day, and I noticed often in the home stretch that a lot of rapid-fire “Can we do this in the time we have? Is it worth it?” discussions popped up. I will co-sign what Rachelle has said to do a frank assessment of your particular skills, your chosen partner’s skills, and decide from there what you are capable of doing with your individual levels of expertise, resources, and (really the biggest if factor) time available.

      I would add that, if you have awesome people in your life who offer their help in any way like Crime Partner and I do, don’t be shy about taking them up on their help. Very early on in my planning process, a dear friend all but decided for me that she would be making the food at the wedding. It turned out to be a vast learning experience for her (me too) but I wasn’t going to say no to someone whose culinary skills are way more advanced than mine. My MIL offered to make chair decorations for our aisle seats when she heard that we hadn’t planning to adorn the chairs. It was important to her, and she was willing to take on the project independently, so we let her. And plenty more loved ones helped us with the tedious parts of the very basic DIY stuff we did – adding LED lights and batteries to mason jars, folding the place cards, passing along alcoholic beverages when I started to visibly stress out. 🙂

      My short point: We often talk about DIY, but I think the approach that will really save you money (and time) is more about DIT.

  3. I’m making my own cake, and it’s definitely cheaper. for a cake big enough for my wedding it’s $300-$400. Just for the ingredients and stand (borrowing the pans from a friend) I’m spending about $150, but including all the test batches of cupcakes i made to pick out a recipe, it’s probably going to cost around $250 when all is said and done. I love baking and i’ve really enjoyed the process of making my own cake, but if there weren’t an enjoyment factor it wouldn’t be worth it.

    • I’ve made 2 wedding cakes, for my sister and a friend, and just have to back up that that the costs are accurate, about 250 ..for me it was a practice cake for the first once to be sure I could pull it off! Both were for weddings of about 100-150 one had a grooms cake, one was 4 tier and one was 3 tier. If you are into baking, it’s a really fun project to do. I don’t know that I could deal with the stress as a bride, but if think I can I am totally making my own cake.

  4. I’m having a DIY-minimal wedding (we’re only doing DIY invitations, I think) and so far I have spent WAY MORE money on these damn invites than I would have had I just gone through Minted or something. It’s mostly costing more because a. I needed to invest in some small crating supplies first and b. I have made so many mistakes and had to run out an buy more supplies and c. I made the mistake of wandering aimlessly though Paper Source and fell victim to the awesomeness of expensive stationary.

    But, I also wasn’t trying to save money- I just had a gut feeling that I’d rather do them myself. I bet I could have saved a bit if I’d bought cheaper stationary and pre-planned a little better (maybe had the help of a more experienced crafter). Also, I think in many cases DIY seems cheaper because you’re not paying someone else for the labor- but I had to remind myself that I would be paying in my time rather than my money. I have money but not time- so I decided against a lot of DIY projects. but I can see how if my situation was reversed, I would choose to take on more DIY.

    • We are heading to Paper Source today to make our invitations. We only need about 35, so for us it makes sense to DIY. I have totally fallen victim to the gadgets, though. DID YOU KNOW YOU CAN EMBOSS!? Good news is, I’m a high school teacher, so I can reuse most of the stuff. At least, that’s the plan. Probably not the embossing stuff, though, but I’m down to do that on like EVERYTHING I OWN.

        • Heck yes! I’d never heard of embossing before hitting a schmancy print store to get ideas, but it’s totally badass! I mean, you get to use a heat gun! A GUN THAT SHOOTS HEAT! It’s like using a sweet phaser that makes things more glittery and awesome! All the exclamation points!

    • Also, we didn’t like any of the designs we saw online THAT much. There was always some weird wording (no, our parents aren’t inviting you; we are) that couldn’t be fixed due to font size or something, or we liked part of one and a different part of another, or it didn’t come in the right color. Plus, we’d have to buy at least 50. And I’m off for summer break. So for me, DIY makes more sense. Plus, I LOVE crafting. And my fiancee and I are going to make them together, so that’s fun.

      • How hard would it be for these websites to make the colors completely customizable?! I’m DIYing my invites simply because I want navy and grey and NOT nautical. (Okay…I also made a cool design.)

    • I half-ass DIY’d our invites.

      I bought pretty stamped blank cards from etsy (~$15) and then put in some colored cardstock ($1 yay for dollarama) and printed my wording off on the nicest paper they had at Staples (~$2). Oh and double sided tape (~$2 because I lost the first $1 roll!)

      I paid around $1 per invite and I loved them. I probably would’ve spent about $1 per invite regardless of how many I made, using this method.

      But if I had bought the cards and envelopes myself and stamped the cards, I would’ve easily doubled that or more, because big stamps are expensive and nice blank cards are expensive unless you know where to look or buy them by the hundreds and nice ink is expensive.
      Half Assing it for the win!

  5. It really depends on the project, as I am learning!

    We’re DIYing our centerpieces from things my parents already own (they live on the beach and it’s a beach wedding). We’re also using things we’ve already found on sale and painting them with those cheapo craft paints. I’ve managed to get some good deals building the whole wedding myself, booking every vendor from the wait staff to the stand alone venue.

    If you decide you have to take on some huge DIY project where you’re buying all of the “ingredients” from scratch, it’s probably going to be more expensive (and time consuming) than you wanted. But if you have some of the pieces, you can make it work!

  6. Topic I feel passionate about – I’ve done my share of DIY for myself and a co-worker is also doing a lot of DIY for her upcoming wedding. The amount of time we’ve invested shopping for what we need to DIY + the amount of time it takes to actually make the items – is A LOT of time invested. She has put in almost every weekend designing her invites – it makes us wonder is DIY really worth it?

  7. I think it really really depends on what you want and what your resources are. If you want wedding invites on fancy paper with inside envelopes and all the bells and whistles you’d get just having invitations made…. you probably won’t save any money making them yourselves, because you’ll be paying for all these little components that will add up to the same as the package deal you could have gotten.

    However, we saved a TON of money by doing our wedding invitations ourselves. We did a simple, single sheet, on recycled chipboard (it looks just like brown craft paper only it’s thick like card stock. we also got about half of it for free because it’s often used as a packaging material) with a two-color screen print. We paid for ink, about half the chipboard, and a few other supplies, had a lot of help from friends and went through a lot of trial and error and PANIC about whether or not it was going to work the way we wanted… and they ended up costing less than fifty cents a piece to make, and everyone loves them.

    We also saved money making our own dresses – but again, I don’t think we would have saved nearly as much if we had gone to the fabric store and bought a ton of special occasion fabric, notions, and patterns. We got pieces from thrift stores, stuff we already had, and were gifted a ton of totally awesome vintage lace, and we are getting dresses we LOVE out of it.

    I would say DIY stuff you actually like to do, stuff you are excited about doing, that way even if it doesn’t end up being a TON cheaper, you’ll have had a good time and be excited about the result being more personal. Also, if you are unsure, you can price out the supplies for most projects ahead of time and compare them to the cost of just buying the thing. That happened to us with tablecloths – we were going to make them, but then we started pricing the fabric and realized we may as well just buy some damn table cloths.

    • and also, on a related note, if you are looking to save money working your network is going to go a whole lot further than taking on a ton of projects will.

      • Yes; this. I did this, and hardly bought any table decorations. My mom and grandma have similar taste, and they just brought all their cool stuff and added it to mine! Friends gave me stuff from their weddings, and I used soem stuff the venue had. All told, I *might* have spent $150-$200 total on decorations. After the wedding, it all went back where it came from and I didn’t have extra stuff everywhere. So, beg/borrow/network…it is worth it!

  8. As others have said, I think it depends on the project.

    I sewed paper heart garlands to hang from the arch at the ceremony site, and hang behind us at dinner. I priced premade garlands, and they were too expensive. Buying a 2″ paper punch would cost $30, plus I would have had to buy the colored paper I wanted. So I just bought paper hearts pre-punched on etsy and sewed them together myself.

    Instead of buying a feather hair fastener, I just bought feathers and had my hair stylist just work them into my updo.

    I think another thing to keep in mind is that if you are buying on etsy (or wherever) pre-made, the vendor/crafter often has an edge on bulk pricing. They are almost always going to be able to buy more of something for less because it’s what they do, and they get larger quantities than you would for your wedding. Additionally, if there are any start up costs (like a stupid $30 punch) they have already covered that.

    I made a few things for my wedding and bought a few others from Etsy. It was a happy mix of DIY and purchased.

  9. It depends on what the project is. My DIY brooch bouquet cost more than I expected. My DIY invitations cost more than simple vistaprint stuff. But for those, I knew exactly what I wanted and knew I could do it myself for a lot less than it would have cost to have hired someone to do the same thing. My dress was a LOT less expensive to make myself than to buy something from a store (my dress cost less than my groom’s shoes). Our tables built out of free pallets: way less than renting tables. I do think our DIY is saving us a lot of money, because if we had found other businesses to hire to make the same things it would have cost more to have them create our vision. Sure, we could have hired out and gotten something simpler, but it wouldn’t have been our vision. The extra time to create exactly what we want has been totally worth it.

      • Yeah. The tops of the tables are two 40″x48″ with a 2×4 through the entire length of the top, spanning the two pallets through the inside of the pallet…does that make sense? We dismantled pallets and used slats from those to fill the gaps in the pallet tops ( using a table saw to rip the slats down to the correct width to fill the gap). We used another slat to finish off the each end of the pallet top to give them a more finished look. For the bases we cut pallets into three parts. The middle section we pulled apart to use the slats. The two ends of the pallet we used for feet on a trestle style table. We used scrap wood 2x4s to make one leg on each side of the table (in the middle), attaching to the pallet feet, with a long 2×6 down the center connecting the two legs/feet. They are really sturdy. We are making 25 of them, using about 80 pallets (3 for each and then some for extra scraps). We’ll have to sand each of the tops. After the wedding we will use the tops to build a porch, so the work we are doing now will live on after the one day. That helps to make me feel better about the work we are putting into them now. 🙂

  10. We are in the midst of assembling our ceremony and I have found that DIY ***can*** save money depending on how you do it. We found that hand making our invitations costs more than ordering them. That said, I am still making them because that is important to me. That said, making our own favors saved a lot of money, because I want them to be something our guests really like. To save money, use recycled and repurposed things as much as possible. Anything new or packaged in a DIY kit will be expensive. All of our vases, centerpieces, etc. are being placed in mason jars and cool wine bottles. Find sources online rather than craft stores. Pick things that you can use again. I am making table cloths out of cheap muslin rather than renting them, and then reusing the muslin for other projects. A friend of mine decorated her back yard with her DIY votives.

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