Does wedding DIY save you money?

Updated Oct 12 2015
treasure chest card box
A DIY card box by Offbeat Bride Tribe member mtnhoney. Photo by butterflyphotography.ca
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?

  1. I think we saved a lot on DIY, but we wanted to give our wedding a personal touch and also enjoy the crafting, I think if you aren't people that enjoy that kind of thing then t becomes more stressful.

    Our invites might have been cheaper on minted if we just did paper invites, but we wanted to do screen printed hankies, so DIYed them and they come out great, and were less expensive than if we had ordered them from somewhere. Came to about £2 each to make, would be £20 each to buy them.

    DIYing centrepieces and bouquets, which is saving hundreds.
    DIY photo booth for around £120, where a rental was at least £500.
    DIYing some other bits and decor, but spending money where it makes more sense for us – cake, clothes, food

  2. DIY I have seen go a few ways. If you are truly going DIY and come home with cartfuls from Joanns, Michael, Hobby Lobby, etc then my hat is off to you and you will certainly save a buck doing it yourself! If you like the DIY look but end up dropping a few hundred at a time getting things from Etsy, then No lol. You are not saving money. You're best off by undertaking a small project first, then decide how much you reaallly want to diy. Time is money!

  3. I was worried about the same thing and it turns out that it can be pretty hit or miss. We are saving MUCHO dineros on the invitations by buying card stock and printing them out (for our pirate-themed wedding we had to design them ourselves anyway) and the decorations were insanely cheap DIY. That being said the "lets make all the wedding party clothes" has turned into a big stress and though it cost about the same, it might have been worth it to let them go searching solo. I think the important thing about DIY is the personal nature of it. Making so many things ourselves I feel really connected to the process and it's keeping anything from getting too cookie-cutter.

  4. Aisle decorations; paper flowers made from free craigslist books, put into blue wine bottles that I had been collecting (I did need a few more than I had, but I just bought some wine and drank it; my family was stressing me out so a win-win!). Got ribbon half price, tired it around the bottles…voila! I maybe spent $20~25 on the entire thing, and it looked awesome! After the wedding, I assigned a friend to take them to the reception hall where they were used for decoration there!

    Table decorations; I assigned my mom, grandma, sisters, friends, mother in law, (whoever wanted one) a table. I told them theme, colors, and approx size. I wound up with centerpieces that were unique, matched in a mis-matchy kind of way, and got everyone involved. My theme was books and bottles, and I had those in abundance around the house! I used lace, different colored table clothes (shhh, don't tell anyone there were sheets from the thrift store!), and made a layered, shabby chic look. I also used lots of candles (thanks, craigslist, for the 35 votive holders for $5!) and Christmas lights.

    The thing about this is…you have to set it all up. I was allowed in the day before to set up, and had a team to help me clean up afterward. I almost had a meltdown when I discovered about a week before the wedding that I needed to make about 15 more paper flowers and I was running out of time and hot glue. Balance, know what you can reasonably do and DO NOT overextend yourself. Its worth it sometimes to pay for something. I did not get to a project I wanted to for the wedding, and I'm okay with it. I made a priority the things that mattered the most to me, and did those first.

    I did save money DIYing…but I mostly used the things I had; I did not buy much. So if done that way, you can save tons of money!

  5. If you are not normally a big DIY person and whatever project you're looking to take on is not going to save you a substantial amount of money – don't even start it. Our 50% diy wedding has been a breeze to put together because I'm the craftiest and have lots of artsy lovely hardworking friends helping with the legwork. Yet, I've still scratched most of the decor projects in favor of a more 'minimalist' look because aint nobody got time for that. As long as you are flexible with your projects, keep tabs on how much they are costing and leave yourself some room for error/practice, any DIY project you take on should be a success.

    We are making all our own centerpieces (for free), stationary ($150), decor ($40), dessert for like 120 people. Enlist friends and provide wine 🙂

  6. It does as long as you prioritize! But yes! Definitely in my case! I took several publication design classes in college and so I designed our save the dates, invites, and RSVPs (my husband designed the logo I used on them) and we printed them (plus matching envelope stickers) through Vista Print using their "design your own" option where you upload your own design and saved at least $1000. We also saved that much because I only ordered when they had 40-50% off sales. And our invites looked super professional!

    I didn't save as much money with my guest book alternative and additions to the cake table, but it wasn't much more. 🙂 All in all, the things I added were much cheaper than having someone else do them for us!

  7. Things that saved lots of money:
    –Flowers. Did'em myself; easy.
    –Dress. Sewed myself, got this gorgeous silk and lace thing for like $400.
    –Cake. EASY.

    Things that didn't save money:
    –Invitations. We did ours ourselves, and really it's just better to order some stock invitations. Price difference negligible.

  8. I think it depends on the project and how much experience the person has. For example my future husband (I hate the F word) and I both know how to sew. He can do the basics and one day I want to have my own fashion line. Guess which one of us is more likely to sew a dress.
    But on the other hand we found one of those free diy instructions papers at a craft store for floating rose centerpieces and then we found a florist who was charing $50 for the same thing. The diy version will be at most $30.

  9. DIYing personal accessories and bridesmaid gifts can DEFINITELY save money. I saved hundreds of dollars making my own veil, bracelet, garter, feather hairclip, and crystal headband. I'm also making my bridesmaids' earrings and feather hair clips. And purses if I have time (probably won't have time).

    DIYing decorations is debatable; there will be some projects you want to take on that get to be more expensive because they are not totally necessary and you go above and beyond to make them custom and special.

    Don't forget to factor in the cost of your time and sanity. You have to draw the DIY line in the sand at some point; I may have crossed that line last week and will be sprinting to the finish line in order to get all of these projects done in time. Choose the ones that are most important to you first, and then reevaluate how much time you have to take on less essential DIY projects.

  10. You don't neccessarily save money, but you do end up with something personal, and hand made. If you enjoy making stuff, solving slightly weird problems, and you have the time, then it's probably the right thing for you!

  11. My cousin did a lot of DIY for his wedding. His now-wife was going through her residency at the time and they were having a wedding on a tight budget. When I asked him about it, hoping for some tips for possible DIY of my own, his response was "I saved money, but it took me twice as long and gave me many headaches along the way. I liked the way everything turned out, but if I could do it all over, I think I would save myself the frustration and just get them pre-made." So, to restate what many others have already said: be realistic, prioritize your DIY, and look for bargains from professionals.

  12. I budgeted to DIY invites but a store who shall remain nameless screwed up so bad, i wound up at the wondeful Sam Flax, got exactly what i wanted in a simple invite and was the same budget I had originally set. BOUGHT linens on line, save $165 for what rental would have cost, and will resell them when finished with the wedding in april, same goes for dress, shoes and wineglasses no rental company carried – stemless – from dollar tree website (resell all after) so the money i'm spending on real flowers designed by a florist friend, cupcakes froma friend's bakeshop is worth the DIY resell hassle i'll have to endure,

  13. I am DIYing my wedding too. I made my invitations (which I lucked up on) and saved a ton of money. I paid $4.99 for a box of 50 invites + RSVP & envelopes. I designed them and took them to officemax and had them printed. All together I paid$45 for invitations. I will have more in the postage than the actual invitations. I am also making (with the help of my Mom and sister) my favors which average around $0.89 each. We are going to also make the center pieces and the bouquets and corsages. We have an arch that is at the venue and we are decorating that ourselves and we are making the food for the reception (with the exception of the deserts and cake), with the help of friends and family. So it is a lot of work, but in the end it is going to be exactly what I wanted and I do not have to compromise with vendors on how I want things, and prices.

  14. I DIY'd everything my self, with a little help from my King, and one of my oldest girlfriends. I did the table settings which had little riddles and stuff to keep the guests entertained, including a riddle to help each person find their table. I made all of the invitations and thank you cards, each one the same layout but different paper/colour scheme/etc.

    We made all of the garden decorations (flamingos, hedgehogs and white-roses-painted-red), including a rabbit hole that people had to walk thru to get into the main garden for the wedding. I painted signs to let people know where to go, made mine/bridesmaids/Mums headgear. The groomsmen/Dads lapels, My button,bead, and charm bouquet, earrings, and my Mum's best friend helped me make my Wedding Dress.
    We even made our desserts of cookies/cupcakes/and put together a lolly buffet.

    And I planned it all in 8 months, (mostly by myself, along with working) :o) I would say with all of that, I saved myself a lot of $$$ if not time. I am a crafty person, so I probably spent the same amount of time I would have spent on other random projects anyway.

  15. We're getting married abroad, so we *can't* DIY anything . With getting the two things we are making ourselves there, it's not going to be cheaper at all, but we're not going to have what we want if we don't make it, and because we *are* getting married away from home and are a little more detached from the process than we would be if it were in the UK, it's important to me to make our favour boxes and place card holders ourselves.

  16. It really all depends on what your ideas are! I totally am all about diy some things can run more butIit means more to me than a meaningless piece made by some one else then bought at a store wheres the emotion in that!? And you will get exactly what you dream of! Sign up at all your local craft stores for thier email program and start getting thier coupons via email, they will scan the coupon right on your phone so you get to keep it and most craft stores except eachothers coupons as well so this is what me and my fiance did. Every time I would get a 40 or 50 percent off one regular priced item coupon I would send him the coupon and sometimes my bridesmaids and mom too and we would map out what store was where and first ect. What was at each store how much before and after coupon ect then we would hit each store up to 3 times a day sometimes to get each item at 40-50 percent off it saved us a huge deal! Now everything has turned out amazing our diy toast glasses ring bearer boxes centerpieces clutch purses for bridesmaids flower girl baskets and flower girl dresses! Stop by my facebook page and check out my pics glad to give tips if you need anything! Look me up under chellie reeves pics are in mobile uploads!

  17. Saved us so much. My invitations were bought as a file off Etsy and I had Catprint print them saved 10% with a code. Doing vintage shabby chic helped too. We are doing real plates and silverware too. Since our reception will be at my parents' in their back yard bought white lights after Christmas. Doing our own linens too bought at monthly sale at a textile shop. But I also looked at things I liked and compared price made to supplies I would need. Also every week I work on something so I don't get over whelmed.

  18. Some of the things I'm looking at, DIY wouldn't save me much money if any at all, plus it adds a lot of worry & hassle. Each individual contract, vendor, source, etc. means one more place for something to get screwed up (just like each bus transfer means more risk of not getting to work on time). I'm looking at $5000 to have a park venue with tent & tables & linens, plus catering which charges an extra fee for being in a park just because of the hassle, and alcohol is prohibited. Catering could be $50-150 per person of just food and drink. OTOH, I could get an all-inclusive package with ceremony & venue & catering & unlimited cocktails for $165 per person AND not have to set or clean up, which then my budget is more easily adjustable by simply inviting fewer people. That's for one of the two weddings.

    The second of two weddings we might be DIYing almost entirely, at least the food and drink, because my brother can (with a little notice) brew all the beer for free and I've got plenty of people who would not mind being asked to do the preparatory labor for 1 dish if I buy all the ingredients. Not entirely pot luck, but definitely community-catered. At that point I legitimately CAN use a backyard and rent a tent, even a portapotty, and still save money over any of the venues I've deemed acceptable. But the first one, I don't have access to anyone's backyard, so it's either an indoor venue or a park.

    I can DIY a lot of decorations just because that way I can use them for both weddings and because there isn't much I really even want beyond nice table centerpieces. As a former desktop publisher, I have no qualms about designing all my own paper supplies. I only wish I was skilled enough to make my own wedding dress.

  19. What did save me money:
    DIY Pom pom garlands: if I had purchased them on etsy, I would have spend somewhere around $500 getting as many as I made. It took a long time, but it cost less than $100 in supplies.
    semi DIY invites: If I had paid Minted for the fun color on the back of the cards, and paid for their directions, etc cards, I would have spent maybe $150 more than what I did on some paper and printer ink. It was worth it to get the front of the main invite though, I never could have made something so pretty.
    FLOWERS: Some people are afraid of flowers, but it was SUPER easy. I spent $275 and made 4 small bouquets and my big one, with a long table filled with flowers. It was fun, easy and my photographer (who shoots many weddings with bigger budgets than mine) was complimenting it all night, and asked who our florist was. I got to say "Me!!" If you want something super structured looking, maybe go for a florist, but if you want something organic looking, it's WAY worth it to DIY.

    What didn't save me money:
    DIY cloth napkins. I could have just rented some ugly ones for cheaper, or used the paper ones provided by the caterer. It was about $50-$60 and a real pain in the ass. They looked nice, though!

  20. I bought bulk flowers for centerpieces for about $250from Sam's club compared to about $150 per centerpiece from a florist! Then got $1 vases from Dollar Tree(free shipping) and spray painted them. Bought cloth bulk napkins from amazon and saved about $100 that way.
    We're having the wedding on a Dallas Mexican restaurant rooftop(elFelix) and are saving about $8k that way! It's a beautiful location with food, liquor, and venue for about $3500wh!

  21. Hmmm. There's a LOT of discussion here about "your time" vs "the project" in the preparation stages.

    What I want to remind every DIY Bride to consider is: HOW YOU'RE GETTING ALL THESE DIY PROJECTS TO THE SITE, SET UP/PUT OUT, AND HOME AGAIN. So many Brides prepare all these wonderful items, then realize at the last minute that they can't just "drop them off" at the site, without thought to who would take care of placement, etc. Likewise, they didn't consider (let alone make an inventory) what things needed to be gathered up at the end of the event and where to take them.

    So, when you're deciding whether to DIY or not, please remember you will have NO TIME on your wedding day to put out centerpieces (what if you have to wait for the table cloths to be delivered?), decorate the arbor (where's the ladder? wire? floral tape? did anyone make the bows?), line the aisle with flower-bedecked lanterns (take them all out of their boxes, assemble, find the candles, put them in, remove all the boxes and packing materials to…where? and who's going to light the candles?), put out individual place cards (what if someone changes their "plus-one" that morning or a strong wind comes along and blows them all off the tables?), fix the frosting on the cake where it fell during delivery. These are only a few of the hundreds of small things that can, and do, occur at every event.

    THEN you will be gone at the end of the reception, when everything is over and your family is exhausted (if they even stay until the end…yikes).

    I know you think you will have time to do these things, but you need to be getting yourself ready — not running back and forth, making sure everything is in its place. In addition, there will be last-minute things and emergencies (every wedding has them) that will take up whatever precious spare time you THINK you may have that day.

    I'm not saying, "no" to DIY projects, just cautioning you to do more than "craft" the items….you have to be organized and delegate. There's a reason some of these items are more expensive when you have someone else do it. Because they're going to deliver them, set them up, go back to the shop if they need more wire, wine glasses, flower petals, or to replace that hurricane the waiter just dropped. They don't have to be at the beauty salon at 11am or driving to the airport to pick up Grandma, who was delayed coming in from Atlanta.

    Best of all, they will come back to the venue, with an inventory, gather it all up and remove it. Sometimes, it's worth the expense. Either way, be sure you consider all the "costs" (and not just $$) of DIY-ing.

    • Oh shit, tablecloths! Thank you.

      Also, I'll be sharing your comment with my fiance who keeps saying "we" about day-of setup, like I've got time for that. Or I'd want to do that.

  22. Its saved us money so far. Who knows if it will stay that way but our wedding is entirely run on my craftaholicism… and favors. My job is arts though so I had a bunch of the supplies to start. If that is anything…? Plus the madness has not finished yet *cough*

    But so far I've made my invites, programs, escort cards, table numbers, centerpieces, table topper and I've spent $5 for clay… I have the paper for invites. I am making ties for groomsmen for our touch of nerd style which will double as favors and as I am buying it from a site I upload my designs to its a fraction of cost plus I am getting paid…

  23. I've started seeing some beautiful DIYs but this thread has helped me remember how useless I am creatively. I'm just going to stick to spray painting jars, leave the rest to the experts (including family members who, while not professionals, are certainly experts).

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