DIY Brides: Making it Personal

With the average cost of a wedding standing at £18,000, planning your big day on a budget can appear intimidating at first – but by employing some, or all, of these DIY tips you’ll be saving money before you know it – as well as making the celebrations as personal as they can be

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Flowers

Picking your own wedding flowers is the perfect antidote to pre-wedding stress according to Blooming Green, who invite brides-to-be to swap their to-do lists for precious time with friends and family, picking seasonal wedding flowers from the florist’s acre-plot in the heart of Kent.

Brides, plus friends and family, are invited to grab a bucket and a pair of secateurs and ‘lose themselves’ amongst the flowers – filling their buckets as full as they like with fresh flowers and foliage.

Picking your own flowers is also a budget-friendly option. Brides can buy standard items, such as bouquets and buttonholes online, to help save on the overall costs and can then add to this with PYO buckets, for use as they wish. A bucket of flowers and foliage – filled as full as you like for £53 – should be enough for about 10 table decorations / two hand-tied bouquets / a large pedestal arrangement.

• For more information, visit www.bloominggreenflowers.co.uk

© Laura Hansford

© Laura Hansford

The cake

If you decide to create your wedding cake yourself make sure that you have plenty of practise goes in the run up. However if you are no Mary Berry when it comes to baking, or are worried about the extra pressure so close to the day, there are plenty of tiered cakes you can buy in stores and then decorate to your own theme.

Why not get together with your bridesmaids and have a go at making icing sugar flowers in the colour scheme of your wedding? Make balls of white icing adding different food colourings to each depending on what you need, then make small petal shapes and starting in the middle layer together to create a flower.

A simpler option is to use cookie cutters and make icing sugar shapes to adorn your tiers. Alternatively, encircle the side of the cake in ribbon to suit your colour theme, or if you like a clean classic look get a cake topper of a happy couple – after all what says wedding cake more than that?
For that extra special personal touch you could choose a photo of you and your other half (maybe cut into the shape of a heart?) and attach it to the side of one of the tiers.

Another way to make a stunning centrepiece is to get lots of cupcakes, adorn them with lots of sugar decorations and arrange them into a tower on a cake stand.

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Invites

While there are plenty of pre-made invitations you can buy in bulk, if you’ve got the time you can make yours more personal and get the design you want.
Investing in a name stamp is one way to make it personal, while also saving you writing out the same thing repeatedly. This stamp could then be used as a theme throughout the wedding and be used on the napkins, favours, place settings etc too.

For an elegant look for your invites a simple option is to buy some patterned card and cut it into the size you want to send out (make them a standard letter size to save on postage). Then cut out smaller white pieces of card to place in the centre where you can write the invitation or print the stamp.
If you want to add a bit more glamour to them, then glue on some pearl embellishments or drape ribbon across one of the corners.

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Favours

These are arguably the easiest part of the wedding to do yourself. From baking mini cookies or buying traditional sugared almonds to put in organza bags, to filling jam jars with retro sweets, there are plenty of simple options – and you can then personalise favours by attaching hand written cards or labels with your guests name, your names and the date.

To save time and money why not make your favours also your table setting? These little garden pots, left, have been filled with a daffodil bulb and have the guest’s name written on the outside acting as a practical way to mark out who’s sitting where while also working as a keepsake your guests can take with them, plant at home and watch grow.

Image licensed by Ingram Publishing

Image licensed by Ingram Publishing

Table Settings

There are plenty of easy ways to turn a simple white tablecloth into a beautiful place setting. Scattered flower petals or confetti instantly jazz up a table, but make sure to place these just in the centre to avoid the guests taking the decorations with them!

If you’re feeling more adventurous you could get some polystyrene circles from stores such as Hobbycraft and create your own ring of flowers as a centrepiece, with either real of fake flowers, and place a candle in the middle to be lit as the daylight fades.

If your venue suits a vintage country look, simply put a few flowers in a vase in the centre of each table and an array of doilies underneath to create interest to the table, then cut out a paper heart, write the number of the table on it and attach it to the outside of the vase with some twine.

Don’t forget the chairs too – you could use ribbon or paper garlands to dress up the chair backs and tie in the colour with your wedding theme.

1m felt confetti heart ribbon, £2.50, from www.paperchase.co.uk / Rambling rose paper fan bunting, £6.95, from www.dotcomgiftshop.com

1m felt confetti heart ribbon, £2.50, from www.paperchase.co.uk / Rambling rose paper fan bunting, £6.95, from www.dotcomgiftshop.com

Venue decorations

Buying paper garlands can be a inexpensive way to decorate your venue, but if you’ve got the time why not make them yourself by creating some heart-shaped stencils, getting lots of card and string and piecing them together? Check with your venue beforehand however to find out if they are happy for you to put up decorations yourself and how and where you are allowed to put them.

Balloons are also an effective way to brighten up any venue and definitely shout celebration – however unless you’ve got lots of family and friends to help out make sure you invest in a balloon pump! Try to stick to one or two colours to avoid the decorations taking over the venue.

A selection of jars are available from www.paperchase.co.uk

A selection of jars are available from www.paperchase.co.uk

Multi-functional friend

Glass jars can act as any number of elements on your big day. From sweet holders, to table decorations…

• Glasses Mix up a classic cocktail, pour in the jars and add a straw for a country-style drink.
• Table decorations Half fill the jars with water and add a floating candle for an evening setting, or fill with flowers for during the day.
• Favours Put a selection of retro sweets in them for your guests to take home.
• Food Serve individual puddings or ice cream to your guests.

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Other ways to D.I.Y and save money

Photographs

While it is always a good idea to employ a professional to make sure you have photographs to treasure for the rest of your life together, if you have a budding photographer in the family you could enlist their help. Putting disposable cameras on the tables at the reception is also a great way to capture the day as it unfolds.

Entertainment

Contact your friends via social media sites and ask them to make requests of their favourite songs, then you can compile a playlist on a CD or iPod to take to your venue Check first that the venue has a sound system that is compatible and that you will be able to use it on the day.

Make-up

While getting your hair and make-up done professionally is an exciting part of the preparations, if you choose to do it yourself consider getting a make-over at a department store counter beforehand. The assistants can help you find the products you need and let you see what the overall look will be. If you’re not used to applying make-up, then remember in the run-up to the wedding that practice makes perfect!

The dress

Buy a vintage, second-hand or ex-display dress – you can then get alterations made by a professional or enlist the help of a friend if they are handy with a needle and thread. Consider asking your bridesmaids if they can help out by buying their own dresses as their present to you – after all they will get to keep it when the day is over.

The groom’s party

If the groom and his party are not going to be renting or buying identical suits to wear then why not make sure everyone is in the same colour suit and just match them by all together by having identical handkerchiefs, buttonholes and ties or cravats?

Drinks

Consider buying wine and bubbly for the tables in bulk – but remember to check whether your venue charges for corkage as this could cost you in the long run.

Remember you’re not alone – ask family and friends for help

Often trying to find the perfect present for a happy couple can be a difficult task, especially if you have been living together for a while – so if there is some way one of your guests can help out more practically with the preparations they’re bound to be happy to do so.

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