I am frequently asked for advice on how to stay on budget while planning a wedding and if DIY aspects of a wedding truly save money or not.  Well I’m here to debunk a few common myths regarding the subject in hopes of helping you save time, money, and most importantly, your sanity.

Okay, okay…. I’m obviously biased here.  BUT – I was once a bride who didn’t have a wedding planner (not because I didn’t want one, but because in central CA in 2002, they were non-existant).  I cannot express to you enough how stressful NOT having a wedding planner made my life.  Planning everything, booking the venue and vendors myself, and coordinating so many details on my wedding day was exhausting and frustrating.  Especially when my gorgeous garden wedding was rained out and I had to scramble to find a last-minute indoor venue (which meant myself, my mom, and my mother-in-law all had to call 250+ guests to let them know of the location change – not what I wanted to be doing the day before my wedding).

SOLUTION:  If I would have had the option of hiring a wedding planner, she would have walked me through the process, offering advice and support along the way.  She would have had a back-up plan in place in case of bad weather.  She would have saved me time when it came to finding reputable vendors.  She would have saved me money by knowing what vendors to refer to me based on my budget, advising me on how to avoid costly mistakes, where to not unnecessarily spend, and providing me with tips of the trade that I was unfamiliar with at the time (like how to cut corners and where).   Most importantly, she would have saved my sanity the week of my wedding – and THAT is priceless.

BOTTOM LINE: Hiring a wedding planner is an investment.   A wedding planner will save you money by connecting you with the right vendors, rental companies, and venues that fit within your budget.  Not only will she manage your budget, but she will help you get the most bang for your buck and caution you from making common financial mistakes.  A wedding planner will give you peace of mind on your wedding day.  Looking back, I would have paid double for that alone.

Unless you (or the family member/friend/coworker/neighbor/etc. who offered to do your flowers for you) has professional experience as a trained florist, DO NOT attempt this!  Check out any wedding blog and you’ll immediately notice how hugely flowers contribute to your overall design aesthetic.  This is not an area where you want to cut corners and you’ll regret it when you see your droopy arrangements in your photos.  Let the pro’s do their jobs and find other ways to save money.  For the record, you won’t save much.  Not only will you have to purchase the tools, embellishments, vases, and flowers, you’ll have to assemble everything, figure out how to get it all to your venue, arrange for someone to set the arrangements up AT the venue, etc.  Do you see how this could become a stressful nightmare?

SOLUTION:  To save money on your flowers, go the minimalist route or have none at all.  A lot of savvy money-conscious brides are using their DIY skills to replace flowers all together.  Candle centerpieces in lieu of traditional floral centerpieces are a definite money-saving option (and so elegant)!  But if you insist on doing your own flowers, my advice is to use bunches of wildflowers or all the same flower in each arrangement (i.e. babies breath looks so pretty in large bunches).

Pinwheels instead of bridesmaid’s bouquets add a fun and inexpensive embellishment to the bridesmaid’s overall look.

BOTTOM LINE: If you can’t afford flowers, think outside the box.  Ask your wedding planner (who you’ve hired because you’re smart and savvy – see MYTH #1) for design and décor advice and utilize wedding blogs and Pinterest for free inspiration.

We’ve talked about why hiring a wedding planner is a must and why you shouldn’t DIY your flowers, but also consider that attempting to DIY catering, photography, video, music or any other major element of your wedding is not recommended.  So many times I hear brides say, “Oh, my Aunt Joan is an amazing cook and she’s offered to make the food for the wedding…” or “My cousin John takes pictures, so he’s going to take ours.” If your wedding is consisting of fewer than 40 guests, Aunt Joan’s homemade fare might work.  But unless Aunt Joan owns a catering company that is able to prepare food on a large-scale, I would never advise to go that route.  Cousin John may have good intentions in shooting your wedding photos, but is he really skilled in photography and photo editing?  There is a big difference between a hobbyist and a professional.  Do not sacrifice quality and memories just to save a little money.

SOLUTION: If you really want to incorporate DIY elements into your wedding, talk it over with your wedding planner and find areas where you can make a big impact that’s really reflective of you and your fiancé.  Several of my clients have made their own invitations, programs, escort cards, seating charts, favors, embellishments for candy buffets, menus, table numbers, signs, etc.

BOTTOM LINE:  Let the pro’s do their job and have fun DIY-ing the smaller design elements.  Check out a few DIY ideas below (via Pinterest) for inspiration.

Adorable DIY escort card idea!

A lot of DIY inspiration here!  I love the little paper poms on the cake.

I love colored glass (I always see it at Anthropologie)!  And how adorable are the spray-painted cake piping tips for place cards?

I love this DIY ribbon backdrop for the cake!

 Happy planning!