Ah! Weddings! A beautiful day to celebrate love, cry over how beautiful everyone looks and potentially overindulge. For most couples, planning a wedding is both exciting and slightly terrifying. Smaller, intimate, DIY weddings have been gaining in popularity for several years. Now, lockdown restrictions and precautions have turned this simple wedding style into a necessity. With the traditional spring/summer wedding season on the way, here are a few real-life DIY wedding ideas and tips.
A DIY wedding may seem like a simpler option but without a hands-on wedding planner, all the logistics will fall to the bridal party. Using google sheets or a similar cloud-based system that you can share and easily update with all relevant parties will help you to stay on top of things.
If you are lucky enough to have an efficient family member or friend in your bridal party, it may be a good idea to play to their strengths and ask them to help you to stay on track. Delegate tasks as needed and make sure to have a tab with your different suppliers contact details to avoid a frantic search when you need it most.
Creating a realistic programme for the actual wedding day will help with staying on time. Your photographer and officiant will be able to guide you on how long they will need so you have an idea of timing. Realistically, you will run early or late at some point. Having a plan should be used as a basic guide to help the day flow from one activity to the next, so don’t stress if you aren’t sticking to it down to the minute, the wedding won’t happen unless the bride and groom are there and guests expect a bit of waiting around while you take photos.
Your venue is likely to take the chunk of your budget and will set the mood for your entire wedding (no pressure). The joy of a DIY wedding is that you can think outside of the box when it comes to your venue and take control of all the elements so that they are exactly what you want. The downside is that moving away from a conventional wedding or event venue means you will potentially have to bring everything in yourself.
Take time to weigh up your options with regards to what is included in the price of using an established venue vs bringing in independent contractors yourself. Your friend’s garden may be a beautiful, rustic venue but the realities of having enough bathrooms, bringing in chairs, tables, lighting and food might be more expensive in the end.
Décor is where the true DIYing happens! A quick look online will give you thousands of ideas to choose from. From origami swans and macrame to custom placemats and recycled glass vases, your only limit is time and your DIY ability. Again, if you aren’t personally great at DIYing, call in the troops and get some help! You can make an event of it by inviting your happy helpers to a DIY prep day.
When it comes to flowers, the most affordable option is to visit your local flower market. In Johannesburg, you can’t beat Multiflora when it comes to variety and affordability. Make a note of seasonal flowers and arrangement styles you like for reference and shop around for the best deals.
For a rustic look and feel, go for flowers and plants such as the silver dollar, eucalyptus (pennygum) and angel’s breath. Succulents, proteas and pincushions are perfect for a South African fynbos style. Handmade paper flowers are also a unique option if you want to forgo fresh flowers altogether.
Recycled jars and bottles will help add dimension and are perfect for holding your flowers. You can use old mayo jars, cold drink bottles and wine bottles for different heights or buy them in bulk from stores like Westpack or Consol. These can be decorated with twine, lace, ribbon or painted to bring in your theme colour more strongly. If you go for spray painting, avoid running paint by spraying from a distance and using multiple layers instead of one thick coat. Painting the inside of bigger jars will help give a uniform colour on the outside.
Create an element of fun with custom placemats that can double up as place markers, underplates and entertainment all in one! Canva is a great help when it comes to quick, free and professional looking design that you can use to give your wedding its unique style. For entertainment during speeches, you can make your speech bingo (don’t forget a little prize for the winner) and add people’s names to the mat so that they know where to sit, that’s if you opt for formal seating. You can then export your designs as a pdf and get them printed at your local printing shop on A3 cardboard.
Lighting is key to creating ambience, especially in the evening. Tea-light candles provide a simple solution that can be included in a few lanterns, floating on water or in simple glass holders on tables or spread around the venue. LED and battery-powered fairy lights or string lights are also a favourite when it comes to adding some romantic, soft light to your reception.
Feeding your guests is another big-ticket item for your budget and is definitely down to personal preference and what your venue has on offer. The DIY wedding element comes in choosing to do things a little differently such as getting your friends and family to make their signature desserts or opting for jars of sweets instead of the commonly found options of malva pudding or ice cream and chocolate sauce. You can also choose to forgo a traditional wedding cake for a savoury option such as wheels of cheese that can double up as a starter served with crackers and preserves while you take photos.
Other ideas include having a picnic-style wedding where couples or families are each given their own picnic basket of snacks to enjoy while relaxing on blankets or simple seating. You can even try out a morning wedding with a champagne breakfast or continental spread of pastries, cheeses, and cold meats.
What you wear on the day might not strictly be DIY but there are ways to express your personality by choosing some unique details. If you have the chance and are so inclined, consider upcycling your mother’s wedding dress or go on the hunt for a vintage dress that you can update and alter to fit you perfectly. You can even consider hiring dresses, suits and smaller items such as a veil from your local bridal shop.
DIYing detailed items such as boutonnieres, cufflinks and flower crowns will make your look all the more special.
Just make sure to wear in your shoes far in advance, take a comfy pair of shoes to change into or get gel inserts to avoid aching feet.
When it comes to invitations and save-the-dates, the internet is your friend. Whether it’s designing a hardcopy invite or a wedding website, there are lots of options for your DIY wedding. Sites such as The Knot are a wedding planning dream with free. Simple to use templates, countdowns and functionality that will help you keep track of RSVPs, dietary requests and bulk communications to all your guests. In the digital world we find ourselves in, most guests should find it easy to use – they will just need to click a link and fill in their relevant info from a dropdown menu.
Done right, a DIY wedding should save you a few bucks to keep or splurge on what matters to you most. Whether it’s an extra special honeymoon, a party-starting DJ, live band, open bar, a dream dress or a professional photographer, make the splurge decision early.
In the end, no matter which direction you choose to go with for your wedding day, allow it to be a reflection of who you. No one will know if you are running behind schedule or if your bouquet isn’t exactly what you wanted. In the end, people will remember the love shared and the special moments.
Photos by Geraldine Maritz Photography