First thing’s first: planning a wedding can feel pretty overwhelming at first (trust me, I do it for a living). While recruiting professionals to help out can be pretty ideal, maybe you’re working under a tight budget, or maybe you simply love going the DIY route. It may be a lot of work, but it is possible to plan your own dream wedding!
It just takes a bit of organization to keep everything on track when you’re faced with endless decisions, lists, deadlines and, you know, your own life to deal with. The trick is taking things one step at a time and recruiting friends and family (including that future spouse of yours!) to help. And give yourself plenty of time to plan. You’ll make things so much harder on yourself if you try to plan and oversee every detail and try to do it all at the last minute. A longer timeline is your friend here—aim for around a year if possible.
That being said, let’s face it: Weddings are expensive. In fact, according to The Knot, the average wedding in Raleigh, NC costs $21,094 — and rising. To put things in perspective, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that in 2016, the average household income was $50,584. What does this mean? Well, for starters, on average, Americans are spending over 41% of a household income on the cost of a wedding alone!
Those numbers are shocking, to say the least, and could serve as an eye-opener when it comes to wedding planning. The truth of the matter is, even if the household in question is earning more than the average annual U.S. household income, $21,094 is still a lot of money to spend on one event, regardless of its significance. And that’s just weddings in Raleigh. A wedding in Apex, NC will run you $35,015! As a result, financial worry could leave couples looking into alternative wedding options.
Either way, no matter how you are going to go about planning your wedding, the most important thing to keep in mind: Try to have some fun! This is your wedding after all! Don’t get too hung up on those tiny details and focus on what’s truly important: a happy marriage with the person of your dreams.
Below are some tips to keep you sane while planning your DIY dream wedding. Ready? Here we go!
Set Your Budget, and Stick to It
Your budget will be the driving factor for many of your wedding-related decisions, so this should be one of the first things you tackle. If any family members will be contributing, chat with them about what they’re comfortable spending. If you’re footing the bill yourself, it’s time to take a hard look at your finances. Once you’ve got that magic number, stick to it!
Create a List of Priorities
Sit down with your fiancé and figure out the three most important aspects of your wedding. Is it the food? The booze? The DJ? Prioritize those details and be willing to compromise on the rest. This will help you stay within your budget.
Find Inspiration & Create a Vision Board
With so many sources of inspiration out there, it can be a bit overwhelming. Find one or two mediums you like best, whether it’s Pinterest, Instagram, trusty bridal mags, etc. and start researching. Get a good sense of the type of style you like—translate that into something you can show your vendors. You can create a board on Pinterest or even do some old-fashioned cutting and pasting onto paper. And be realistic about things. Most weddings pins are from styled shoots or million-dollar weddings so when you look at a picture—don’t try to re-create it, make it your own.
Work as A Team With Your Fiancé
Don’t feel like you’re in this wedding planning process alone. Turn to your fiancé for help along the way and even make
Don’t Rush into Decisions
It may be enticing to book the first photographer or florist you meet but take a step back and weigh all your options before making any quick decisions.
DO know your limits.
We see a lot of brides pinning things on Pinterest and promising themselves that they are going to do a lot of the décor themselves when in reality, they’ve never touched a hot glue gun in their life.
DO hire a planner.
For some budgets, a wedding planner may not be in the budget. But consider a Day of Coordinator. She’s seen it all and has a plethora of knowledge! A wedding coordinator is an expert at her job and sees many undone details that couples don’t. From the bride’s Mom almost missing the first dance (bathroom break!), to the cake table next to the dance floor (smashed cake, anyone?), a coordinator will catch details that can make or break your day! As a bride you can only see and do so much.
DON’T take on the task of making food, drinks or desserts on the day of your wedding.
If you’re a pro chef or baker, that’s dandy, but the amount of time it would take to fret over when the pot roast is coming out of the oven would be mind-boggling. Please pay someone to take care of that for you. I couldn’t have imagined being worried about that and getting all of the other DIY factors taken care of.
DON’T think you’re saving money by hiring Uncle Bob to take your photos.
What is the one thing you are going to take away from your wedding? The photos. Understanding that photography should be 10-12% of your budget is a no brainer. I have personally witnessed far too many women entrust this precious keepsake to their cousin who just bought a brand-new Canon with no knowledge on how to use it. It’s heartbreaking when you hear stories of wedding photos gone wrong just to save a buck or two.
DON’T go overkill on decorations.
Unless you’re working with a really bland room, let the details of the venue speak for itself. Not everything needs to be covered in tulle and fabric.