Not fancying a traditional wedding package? Wanting to keep a tight reign on that budget? Or simply want to stamp your own personality and style all over your big day?
These days there are countless options for those couples looking for something a little different and it’s no surprise that more and more couples are opting out of the traditional packages and doing their big day their way.
Here’s a few things to think about before you decide…
Do it yourself
It’s called ‘do it yourself’ for good reason. Many hotels and traditional venues have wedding planners who’ll take all the hassle out of planning and arrange everything from the flowers, music, timings and catering on your behalf.
Planning these different elements is challenging and you’re going to need notebooks / post-its / spreadsheets galore to keep on top of everything. The great news is you’re not bound by recommended suppliers, you can shop around for the best deals and ensure everything is exactly as you’d like it.
Your reasons for doing things yourself – To save money? To suit your theme? To make it your own?
Will you enjoy doing all the planning and preparation?
Have you any friends / colleagues / family you can call upon for help?
Dreaming of a rustic outdoor wedding, a stunning celebration on the beach, an inner-city warehouse or vintage knees up in a church hall? Pinterest and instagram are teeming with beautiful, unusual wedding venues and many of these places can be hired for a fraction of the cost of a traditional package venue.
Bear in mind, however, that the lower price means you’re probably not getting the bells, whistles, trimmings and advice that is usually included in package deals. Ask each venue what they can offer and think about every detail – will you need to hire chairs and tables, PA systems, lighting rigs, portaloos? A blank canvas is great but do be mindful of how all those little extras might add up!
Location – Where will the wedding be? What are the travel and accommodation implications?
Who will set up your venue? When can you get in? And when do you need to vacate / tidy up by?
What equipment will you need to hire? How much will this cost?
While packages often include food, flowers, music and decorations, many DIY venues don’t. Research suppliers well and ensure that they will deliver to whatever weird and wonderful venue you have in mind. It’s a great idea to have someone in charge on the day to take the stress out of any last minute glitches!
On the plus side, when you’re not bound by recommendations, you can find some real gems and prioritise your spends – don’t want flowers? don’t have them! Want a chilled out BBQ instead of a three course meal? Do it!
Have you got the time and inclination to organise everything?
Can the suppliers deliver to your venue or will you need to arrange it yourself?
Who’ll be ‘in charge’ on the day and what’s the plan if there’s a problem?
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Wedding packages often look scary expensive but that’s usually because the quoted figure is all inclusive. DIY wedding spends can easily escalate to match the cost of a package so make sure you’re in it for the right reasons! If you are doing this because you really want to – awesome!
Negotiate hard, keep an eye on your budget and pull in favours to ensure your budget doesn’t run away with you. Be savvy, tough and know exactly what you want – most importantly, keep a running total of your budget and actual spends!
Your budget: Write an honest list covering everything you’ll need from marquee hire, catering, flowers, photographer, live music, DJs, chairs and tables, decorations etc… etc…
Research your costs and create a realistic maximum spend for each element
Shop around and negotiate with suppliers – ask for recommendations from friends.
Read real life wedding blogs and stories for inspiration and tips
So there’s a lot to think about, and it’s certainly not for everyone. But if you’re full of ideas, imagination and enthusiasm then go for it! The DIY weddings we’ve been lucky enough to cater for have been quirky, fun and full of personality (you can read all about them here!).
From someone who made it through a DIY wedding (even doing our own catering – WHY?!), I can also honestly say that planning our outdoor, rustic wedding was so much fun – though not without the one or two (hundred) hiccups along the way.
The best advice is to ask advice! Research everything and call on people you know, love and trust to help you along the way. Our friends got involved with food, music, decorations, flowers, make up, hair, setting up, taking the bins out… pretty much everything… which not only made it thrifty but full of personal touches and love.
And only a few minor disasters. Which brings me to – keeping calm. You plan and you plan but the band turns up late, and the groom has a serious wardrobe malfunction, and no one reminds you to cut the cake so you end up taking home 5kg of cheese… They all made for good stories and didn’t ruin the day one bit. In fact they are some our favourite memories! Our DIY wedding wasn’t perfect, but that’s the point, it was perfect for us.
Not convinced but still wanting something different?
Hire a wedding planner: this American thang is getting more popular over here with the increase in DIY weddings. These guys know their stuff and can take control when you’re losing it. Many have worked with quirkier venues so contact them even if it’s just for a consultation and advice.
Do some yourself: A beautiful registry office ceremony followed by an intimate family meal in a local restaurant or retreating to the local pub can still save costs on many of the ‘extras’ but you’ll have peace of mind that someone else is in charge!
Check out alternative licensed venues: Many restaurants, country farms and boutique hotels offer non-traditional wedding packages. These places often have a more flexible approach to what’s included and what isn’t so you get a little more say in how things are done.