Thursday, November 11, 2010

The DIY Wedding

Photo Credit : The Amazing Justine Johnson

I loved our wedding. It was the most amazing day and I wish we could do it again every year.

We're young. We're not rich, and we had no interest getting into debt over one day. And even though Martha Stewart Weddings makes me swoon,  I knew I would be happier tackling our wedding DIY style.

So before you go handing over a 50% deposit that may be two weeks worth of earnings, humor me.

Justine Johnson Photography
I designed our invitations at Wedding Paper Divas. Had I printed them myself, I could have saved even more, but I like the raised ink look. We spent under $100 for all of the invitations. For placecards- I bought plain tent style cards and copied an idea I found in Martha Stewart Weddings: I used a rooster stamp and a craft knife . I don't know why I like roosters so much, but I do- so there they are!

Centerpieces are expensive. The average one costs $80. Ten tables- $80...I'd rather not. We ordered wholesale from For under $300, all ten tables each had five small floral centerpieces- perfect for conversation. I spent another $50 to scatter 200 votive candles around the reception space. It was beautiful, and this picture doesn't do it justice. Kristen and I put the flowers together the morning of the wedding over coffee. It was perfect. The bridal bouquet and all seven bridesmaids bouquets were made professionally. We only ordered boutonnieres for the groom and two best men. Nobody made a fuss over the fact that the fathers and groomsmen went without flowers.

Justine Johnson Photography

Our reception was held at the beautiful Tin Mountain Conservation Center. The fee was strictly for the space- which is perfect for a DIY wedding. Many reception venues want *or require* that all vendors are approved through them. They may offer packages that include flowers, the DJ, and perhaps even the photographer. I didn't like the idea of someone bundling my day into a premade package. Easy, maybe- but it just wasn't us to do something like that. Consider looking outside the traditional realm of reception venues- you can save quite a bit this way.

Justine Johnson Photography
I love lanterns. So I found 30 at On the day of the wedding, an amazing friend of the family (who happens to be an electrician)- set each one up with battery operated LED lights and strung them from the ceiling with fishing line at varying heights. It was a really great way to light the dance floor. 

Justine Johnson Photography
I rolled up in Andi's Toyota Highlander- driven by the same amazing family friend who hung our lanterns. No limo needed!

I loved our cake. And the price tag was around $500. But after some digging, I found that the baker liked to barter. And on the list of things that she needed? A fence. Well. I'll have you know that Brett installs quite a mean fence. And so he did. And so we got our cake, and all 100 favors (three sugar cookies for each guest) for under $100. The quote on the cake reads: ''May all be fed, May all be healed, May all be loved''- John Robbins. *Quote explained: Our wedding was entirely vegan, although today we are vegetarian. We wanted to thread the importance of that into our special day, and John Robbins is a huge reason why I had originally chosen that lifestyle. Gosh. I think I should go back to being vegan.Sigh.*
Anyway, don't be above bartering. If you have skills, other people might want those skills, and you might get a really great deal. Be creative and open minded in this process!

There are so many ways to pull this big day off without overspending. My amazing photographer, Justine Johnson, was just starting out- and she shot the wedding for FREE. While this is now her full time job and she no longer shoots weddings for free, she is still amazing. Check her out at  But I found her on craigslist, and you never know what you'll come across on that wonderful invention of a website. Type in 'student photographer' and see what comes up!

Well. I hope you liked my wedding day recap, and I hope you'll consider taking more creative control over your day. It's so worth it and you'll be so glad you did. Happy Wedding Planning!

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