A True Happy, DIY Wedding
Planning my wedding was one of the greatest things I’ve ever done. I chose not to hire a wedding planner. Why? I really love personalizing, creating, communicating and making things happen. A DIY Wedding is not easy. It was frustrating at times, that’s for sure. I luckily had the help of my fantastic neighbors (aka my “not blood, but still family”). Our wedding was kept small to medium in size, about 65 guests.
The Wedding Planning
I dove into LadyMarry.. the wedding planning app. Free, easy to use, and kept me on track with what I booked, paid for and still needed to do. Pinterest.. where 9 ¾ of my ideas came from (for those HP fans). I also had to-do lists, some written and some typed on my phone. I am one of the most least organized people I know. But it worked!
All I knew is that I wanted to entertain my guests, have one of the most fun nights of my life and surround myself by all the people I love. I have an altruistic personality – this wedding was not all about me.
Goal: gather a few favorite themes and make them happen – all in one night. For me, the perfect wedding would incorporate Harry Potter, Alice in Wonderland – vintage – tea party vibes. It was just as important to me to make James happy, so I threw in Star Wars, Zelda and The Avengers (I am pretty sneaky). Success. There is nothing wrong with mixing and matching!
We chose to create our own Save-the-Dates and invitations to stay with our budget. We used Staples online photo service website. Cost (including envelopes and stamps) $200
Our big, brick House! I did a ton of research on local wedding venues in both the Jacksonville area and St Augustine. I initially thought of a beautiful beach wedding. It really came down to convenience and cost, since all the venues in the area are gorgeous and wedding-worthy! I chose to have the wedding and reception within walking distance (our yard). Cost-wise, if it had not been our house, I probably would have chose a local park or nature center.
Choosing a Date & Time
I started wedding planning about 8 months prior to the date. Winter and Spring time in Jacksonville is lovely, as it is not too humid and the rain is sparse. I went back and forth with the actual day of the week: should we have a Friday night, Saturday night or Sunday afternoon wedding? I am Jewish, and some members of the family practice Sabbath… (aka not working or driving from sundown Friday night to sundown Saturday night).
I was determined to include everyone. Still, my heart was set on a full-on, day and night party. I went with Saturday and told my Orthodox cousins well in advance so they could plan. After giving them some ideas of where to stay, they chose a nearby Airbnb within walking distance to the wedding venue – aware that they would miss part of the ceremony (since the wedding started at 5 pm), but could come celebrate with us afterwards! Next came the budget.
… $5,000. I know, I am crazy. My love for live music pushed me over budget by $1,500. Total wedding cost: $6,500. Was it worth it? Of course!
The band… a last minute, awesome, decision. Originally, I was thinking of having a friend DJ for us, as he had some great equipment. Then, a coworker of mine mentioned she was in a band that did weddings, events, etc. Everything was played, from the intense Black Eyed Peas to the smooth sounds of Frank Sinatra and the Beatles. This was a 6 – piece band!
They not only performed enthusiastically (with a full on light show, drums and saxophone), they also DJ’d. They played my favorite songs: Missy Elliot, Queen, Ludacris, and coordinated the wedding and reception with the use of a microphone and some cues. Thanks again to BriteSide band. Cost $1500. Next came the food.
We live in an eccentric area of town called the Riverside/ Murray Hill. Many restaurants are family-owned, which is great. We are long time lovers of Hovan Mediterranean, a local Greek restaurant in the 5-points area. The owners know us well because of how often we dine in. A buffet-style dinner was best for our wedding, since we did not hire anyone to actually cater or serve the food. My mom decided to make fruit kabobs the day before. I just picked up the fruit at a local farmer’s market. Cost $750
About half of my guests came from my hometown Cleveland, Ohio. I wasn’t going to leave them hanging, out-of-town weddings are expensive. I used a bus service to take guests to and from the hotel. By “bus service” – I literally mean a yellow school bus. It was awesome, guests were able to hook up their phones to play music and decorating the interior was optional! Bus cost $350. Next came the cake.
One of my most difficult decisions, as food is my life. Here it is – a Banana, Hazelnut Chocolate Cake. I found the recipe on Pinterest and turned it into a real life nom nom. It was amazing… and most importantly… devoured by the end of the night! Thanks again to my friend Megan for creating the masterpiece. Price of ingredients and supplies: $350
Then, I ordered the cat and couple wedding topper on Wish.com, for a grand total of 1 dollar. For the cake decor, we grabbed some flower petals from the silk flowers.
Event party rentals, decorations and table settings
My neighbor and I took a day to go to Michael’s to collect some silk flowers – the less expensive, but still fancy – alternative to real flowers. My neighbor also owns a local antique shop. This is where I gathered all the silver teapots, chandelier, half of the string lights and table settings. I then found a local event rental company where I rented out the huge tent, chairs, tables and tablecloths. Cost of Event Rentals $1400. Cost of the Lovely Loo porta potties $1000. Cost of flowers $150. Cost of string lights and other fun random items $200.
Flowers, Bouquets & Boutonnieres
As I wrote before, the majority of the flowers were silk. I did go all out for the actual bouquets – I only needed three total for me and my ladies. In addition, I made my own boutonnieres instead of spending $15 each. Thanks again Pinterest!
Gettin’ Crafty with It
My favorite part of my wedding was my heart-shaped cut, Harry Potter book pieces. I ordered 200 pieces to scatter around the tables.
I made my own tambourines for the kids to play with. I found some round wood from Michael’s cut out some lace and tied in some small Jingle Bells.
I made my own wire wrapped earrings, which I have been doing jewelry making for fun for years. I painted a couple of wooden blocks for wedding signs. Definitely stole many ideas off of Pinterest. Cost $100.
My Wedding Dress
I ordered a bridesmaids dress in off-white. Still lovely, lace and elegant – just half the price 😉 Cost $250…. yes. Next came the dress.
The most alcohol I have ever purchased in my life. Thanks to Sam’s club for over-sized, bulk items! Mixers as well. Cost $600
… Then I went ahead and planned our Honeymoon! More DIY crafts here DIY Crafts