Go on, be a DIY bride!
There are loads of things you can make yourself to keep the budget down, and minimize spending money on unnecessary objects. Stationery, table center pieces, favours, and even catering can be made within the walls of your home.
I am an avid craft geek, and have the hugest collection of ribbon, paper, glitter… the list goes on. But obviously not everyone is that way inclined… I will be posting various projects with stages of difficulty for you DIY brides out there to try!
* – super duper easy
** – pretty easy
*** – not tooo hard
**** – a little tricky
***** – hard
‘Reserved’ Seating Signs
I decided that my first big DIY project would be to make some ‘reserved’ seating signs for the ceremony chairs! I made them for the seats of Mr M and I’s immediate family, to avoid confusion when people are finding their seats at our wedding ceremony!
I’m really impressed with my efforts, but they did take a long time; from the design stage on Microsoft Word*, to actually sticking them together, it took about 4 hours to make them PERFECT.
There are a few layers to each of the signs:
– text layer – printed on pearlescent ivory paper
– mocha card layer no.1
– patterned Laura Ashley wallpaper (bought in the sale)
– mocha card layer no.2
– ribbon layer
– mocha card layer to cover the ribbon
* The ‘Bride’ and ‘Groom’ text was a free download from weddingchicks.com
‘Will you be my Bridesmaid?’ cards
I searched for weeks to find a nice card to ask my sister and Mr M’s sister if they’d like to be Bridesmaids, but I couldn’t find anything I liked! So I made these using some cream card, patterned paper, and ivory pearlescent paper (and a computer and printer).
I simply typed my message onto a Word document on the computer and printed it out onto ivory pearlescent paper. I then used some cream card to make the ‘card shape’ and cut the patterned paper to the right size and stuck it on.
I cut out the messages on the pearlescent paper, and layered them onto the patterned paper to give them a 3D effect and stuck it all together!!
Once I knew the look I was going for it was all finished in about an hour (including the computer and printing part)!!
Wedding Planning Scrapbook
Recording all your thoughts, plans and ideas as you progress through your wedding planning will prove invaluable to you, not only as it’s a way to make sure you don’t forget all the small, yet vital details you get bombarded with whilst talking to suppliers etc, but it’ll also be the most amazing memory to keep for the rest of your lives.
Most brides go into marriage with the aim that it’s only going to happen once, and therefore shouldn’t you make the most of spending time planning and recording it?
For me, my scrapbook is a wedding lifeline! It doesn’t contain important details as such, but I’m a bit of a craft geek and I’d love to have something, not not only get me through the post wedding blues, but have something to show Mr M and I’s children when they get older.
Apart from the initial cost of a scrapbook which can be picked up for £3 or £4 in most good craft shops, and glue, creating a book of memories and inspiration is basically free!
Whilst your reading wedding magazines or surfing the net, cut or print out pictures or images that take your fancy and stick them in, in dedicated sections. Have pages for colour inspiration, table centrepieces, bridal and bridesmaid dresses, themes etc and you’ll end up with a comprehensive idea of what you want your wedding to look like!!!
You don’t have to be a really “crafty” person to make one of these…I’m sure most people can use a pair of scissors and a glue stick, but their value in terms of leaving lasting memories is priceless! No more so than when your grandchildren in 60 years time see it and have a good laugh at fashion in 2011!!!
HOWEVER, if you aren’t up for cutting and sticking, then download the computer programme SMILEBOX. Its a free to use package which turns your photos into online scrapbooks, so if you are technology minded, this may be the way to go!
Once I’ve progressed a little further I’ll upload some photos for you all to see!
Writing what has been described as a “report” has been a popular thing to do in recent years, started on the wedding forums. Its also an idea I LOVE and can’t wait to write myself! The basic idea or a “relationship story book” or “report” is that you tell the story of how you met, the ups and downs throughout the time together so far, the engagement, the run up to the big day, and the wedding day itself.
This is a brilliant idea, and something I am most definitely going to do! I think its an excellent way to record your amazing relationship, and will be totally personalised to you and your partner; a lovely keepsake to show your children when they get older.
Because it is YOUR story, you can do it in any way, style or format you like! All you need to start it off, is a scrapbook or notepad, photos and your memory!
To me, creating memories is a really important part of life, whether it be through a private diary, photo albums, or scrapbooks. I am a craft geek, and so I like to mix photos with written pieces, and put them all into a scrapbook so that there is a lasting and tangiable item that can be looked at over and over again.
If you want some inspiration of how to write about your own relationship stories, check out the “Newly-wed” section on the You and Your Wedding Forum. Loads of the ladies on there have written amazing “reports” and are so touching and heart-warming to read.
Bridal Party Clothing
Something that has become increasingly popular in recent years, and a good way of making all members of your Bridal party feel involved, is to get “Bridal Clothing”. This usually comes in the form of a t-shirt, dressing gown, trackie bottoms, or shorts with usually a diamante phrase or wording on the back of them.
There are loads of companies which will do this for you, package them up and send them off to you; but for a price. And usually quite an expensive price considering they’ll probably only be used on the day of your wedding!!
However, you can quite easily make these yourself!!! And quite cheaply!! All you need is the item of clothing you wish to personalise, and the diamante transfer.
The easiest, and most effective item of clothing to personalise is a t-shirt, and after speaking to many Brides, they’ve all said they found the best and cheapest ones at.. PRIMARK! So just buy a plain, t-shirt or vest top in the colour of your theme for each of the members! Remember that if you have different sized bridesmaids you probably should consider what they’d feel comfortable in. For example, a curvy size 20 girl may not feel as comfortable in a spagetti strapped vest top as a petite size 6 would…
Now for the transfers. Ebay is a god-send for these! You can find a variety of different styles of writing, colours and design, ranging from £2 each and upwards. You could probably get some kind of discount on p&p or the total cost if you are buying quite a few- but you will have to ask for this, the sellers won’t offer it!! Also, remember to view the seller’s feedback; if they have got loads of complaints saying the transfers are rubbish, then obviously don’t buy from them!
You can save quite a lot of money on something like this! On average, a vest top from a shop like Primark is approximately £2 (I should know…!), add on the price of the transfer you choose at approximately £4 and you’ll be spending around £6 on something shops charge £10 and upwards for! Okay, so a saving of £4 per person isn’t a lot, but if you have:
1 Mother of the Bride
1 Chief Bridesmaid
1 Maid of Honor
Then you’ll save yourself at least £24!! That’s £24 to add to getting an extra amazing pair of shoes, or that set of jewellery that’ll finish off your dress perfectly!
Or, if you are feeling really creative, grab yourself some plain tops and fabric pens and design something unique for each of your members! I personally love the idea of making something for my Bridesmaids like the image below…!!!!
Rating: ** (or **** if you are using fabric pens or paint)
Ladies Bathroom Toiletries Basket
A thoughtful idea appreciated by all female guests at a wedding is a toiletry basket found in the ladies bathroom at your wedding/reception venue. These can be made for relatively cheap, but will be appreciated by everyone!
Using a basket is optional, I know a number of brides who just arranged the items next to the sink and managed to create the look they were after.
Below is a comprehensive list of items most female guests would appreciate.
Spray deodorant – think plain and simple smells, nothing too flowery or pungent. The brand Sure is usually a good bet, and their range of no-white-mark sprays would be perfect for spraying around evening outfits.
Hairspray – medium hold is usually good idea as it is neither too light or too heavy
Nail file – essential! The amount of times I’ve caught and broken a nail but had no file to hand could be counted on about 5 peoples hands!
Clear nail varnish – not only good for repairing any varnish chips, but also holds together ladders in tights!
Baby wipes – good for babies, good for adults!
Chewing gum/mints – a handy remedy for garlic breath!
Gaviscon – for dodgy tummies!
Paracetamol – handy for sore heads! Especially for non-drinkers who have headaches from noisy music!
Ibuprofen – ditto to paracetamol!
Plasters – blisters. Need I say more?
Hair slides – for mid-evening hair repairs!
Hair bands – as above!
Cotton buds – fixing make up dilemmas!
Pantiliners – for lady disasters!
Hairbrush – for taming those unruly locks!
Lint roller brush – for tidying up suits and dresses!
Body spray – to replace the worn away perfume!
A nice little addition is to leave a note explaing what you are leaving for them. The best one I’ve seen is as follows:
“So happy you’re hear to share our special day!!
But should something happen to go astray,
Please help yourself to the contents within,
Hairspray, lotion, gum and even asprin!
Use only what you need and leave the rest,
It may be useful for another guest!
So repair the damage that may have been done,
Then hurry back to join the fun!!”
Print it out and put it in a photoframe to give it an elegant and classy look!
You could also do this on a smaller scale for the men’s toilets!
Include items such as deodorant (Lynx is usually a popular choice), hair gel, condoms, plasters, paracetamol, ibuprofen and other handy items!
Rating: * (since when has spending money on toiletries been hard?!)
Bridal Party Survival Gifts
I recently came across the idea of “Bridal-Party Survival Kits” – a kitsch (and inexpensive) token to give to the members of your bridal party!
Each item in the kit has a special meaning and is relevant to the position each member of your Bridal Party is playing in your wedding.
They are super simple to make, the instructions are below. (I have based quantities on the basis that you make one for each of the following (obviously change the amounts to suit your bridal party):
Mother of the Bride
Maid of Honour
Bridesmaids x 2
Father of the Bride
Groomsmen x 2
8 medium-large sized organza bags (all items go into this bag) – approx size of bags 15cm-20cm high (ITEM A)
4 gem stones (for the females) – the inexpensive type you get from seaside shops (ITEM B)
4 Love heart candy (mini packs) (ITEM C)
4 wrapped mint imperials (ITEM D)
5 mini notepads and pencils (approx size of note pads 10cm x 6cm) (ITEM E)
4 wrapped straws (the type you get on juice cartons) (ITEM F)
6 small plastic shot glasses (ITEM G)
4 plasters (ITEM H)
4 safety pins (ITEM I)
5 small packets of tissues (ITEM J)
4 marbles (ITEM K)
1 small fabric flower (ITEM L)
2 tea bags/coffee sachets (ITEM M)
3 haribo rings (ITEM N)
3 emergency speeches (download for free from Google) (ITEM O)
8 luggage tags (or similar to write their name on) (ITEM P)
You should be able to pick up all these bits to work out for less than £5 per person! Don’t forget, you can always use things you’ve already got lying around. For example, if you have a flower button, don’t go out and buy a small fabric flower! The items themselves probably won’t be used, but its the meaning behind them that counts!
Mother of the Bride
ITEMS: A, B, C, H, K, I, J, L, M, P
Father of the Bride
ITEMS: A, C, D, J, K, P
ITEMS: A, E, D, G, N, O, P
Maid of Honour/Bridesmaids
ITEMS: A, B, C, F, G, H, I, J, E, P
For each person, place the items that are listed under their position into the organza bag.
Finally, you need to explain the purpose of each item, and why its relevant to them! Simply list the items that are in the bag on a card, or rolled up piece of paper (like a mini scroll), and the meaning of them….
Love heart candy (this can be different depending on whether it is for the Mother of the Bride or the Bridesmaid)
Love heart candy… because I will always love you!
Gem Stone… to remind you how special you are to me!
Marbles… to replace the ones I caused you to loose!
Safety pin… incase of minor dress emergencies!
Tissues… to wipe away those tears of joy!
Flower… if Mum’s were flowers I’d pick you!
Tea bag/coffee sachet… so you can relax at the end of the day!
Plaster… to soothe the blisters from those new shoes!
Notepad and paper… for all the phone numbers you’ll get!
Straw… so you don’t spoil your lipstick!
Shot glass (this can be different for Best-man/Groomsmen and Maid of Honour/Bridesmaids)
Shot glass… to help steady the Groom’s nerves/ … to toast the happy couple!
Spare ring… incase you loose the real one!
Emergency speech… just incase you need it!
Mint… to help freshen the Groom’s breath!
You could also do these for your partner’s parents, your soon to be brother and sister in laws, or other people who are involved with your big day! You could even add mini photos or other items of significance into the bags!
Rating: ** (only because it takes time to put it all together)
This is a brilliant, fun and quirky idea, guaranteed to bring a lot of laughs on your wedding day. It is also a considerably cheaper option than renting an actual photobooth from a specialised company.
Below is a list of items you could incorporate into this fun attraction, plus all the necessary equipment!
Camera (digital or instant are both good)
Black or white material (felt, or a duvet cover is a good option)
Photo frame (no glass or backing)
Blow up accessories
Dressing up clothes
Your imagination is the only limit!! Think about what could match your theme. For example, if you are having a vaguely nautical theme, then pirate hats and a parrot would suit. A castle wedding could incorporate princess hats, crowns and tiaras.
For your photo booth, you need to find a place that has average lighting (not too dark and not too bright)
It also needs to be somewhere that the material can be hung up. Ask your venue if they have a pin board used for conferences that you could use.
Once you have this, you need to set up your tripod, so that it can be set up for people of all heights. You want to minimise the amount of contact guests have with the camera (especially if they’ve been drinking). An average height person is a good measurement for this. Obviously you want to get their upper body and face in so set the camera up to capture this.
A good tip would be to have a couple of members of the bridal party (Groomsmen or Bridesmaids) to have control over the camera during the photo sessions. For example, if your reception is 4 hours long, announce an hour mid way through for guests to have their photos taken, and give two of the bridal party a half an hour stint each for taking the photos. This way you are more likely to get quality photos, and come back with a camera intact!
And there you have your very own DIY photobooth! Fun photos guaranteed!!
Rating: **** (easily to find all the bits and bobs, just a little time consuming putting it up!)
Thanking your guests for attending your wedding is all well and good, but can be pricey. Think outside the box, and there’ll be no need for sugared almonds (although everyone loves a traditional almond!!) Here are a number of ideas you can make at home; tried and tested!
Gingerbread men can be used as both an edible snack for guests and table name places. Bake a large batch of g.men (don’t forget extras in case of any breakages), and ice the guest’s name on the tummies. Wrap them in cellopane and decorate the bag with a ribbon.
Easiness rating: **
Perfect for a summer or country themed wedding! Unless you are a jam-maker, or have a family member who makes jam this may be one to avoid. But if you are a daredevil then its definitely one to impress the guests!
Easiness rating: *****
Everyone loves sweets. And you dont have to stop at sugared almonds! Create pick and mix jars using your favourite sweets. They can also double up as name places if you tie name cards round the neck of the jar. Jars can be bought off ebay pretty cheaply, or places like IKEA. This kind of favour would be perfect for an Alice in wonderland, or tea party style summer reception!
Easiness rating: * (so easy it almost doesn’t require a star at all!)
Super cute and easy to make! You can get ready cut shapes from sellers from ebay, or if you are good with a saw, grab some mdf and cut then yourself! Paint the pieces of wood black (do a few coats) and then write the guest’s name on them – ready made place names! Also good for any children you may have attending!
Easiness rating: **
Hot Chocolate Jars and Marshmallows
This is the favour we are planning on giving to our guests, and is also perfect for weddings taking place in the winter. We are using small jars and filling them with chocolate powder, and attaching bags of mini marshmallows around the neck. They also double up as name places for the tables as we are adding a name tag to them.
Easiness rating: *
Everyone loves chocolate don’t they?! Melt large bars of cooking chocolate, or if you like it dark chocolate is actually best and pour them into molds. Either put them in favour boxes straight from the molds, or use confectioners foil to wrap them up and then put them in either boxes or little organza bags.
Easiness rating: ***
This sounds expensive, but you can find small vials of current perfume for between 50p and 80p each on the internet. Pop them in organza bags with some mini sweets and you have a modern and different favour for your guests! Check out www.fragranceonline.co.uk for the perfume!
Easiness rating: *
Pick up romance novels from charity shops, re-wrap them in paper to suit your theme and attach a luggage label with their name or a personal message. Quirky and perfect for a vintage themed wedding!
Easiness rating: *** (only because its time consuming)
Other Ways to be a DIY Bride
Mr M and I are cake fans. There is no other way to put it. Despite this, the wedding cake isn’t as important to us as friends and family would think. I have researched many companies that create the most jaw droppingly amazing cakes known to man. But jaw droppingly amazing means jaw droppingly expensive. Cupcakes for example. £2 per cake. 100 guests with a few extra cakes incase any get “broken”, or most probably eaten. That could work out at over £200 for a bit of egg and flour. And that doesn’t include a cake for cutting which can be an extra £80 for something basic. The answer: supermarkets! Supermarkets do a wide range of wedding cakes for a fraction of the price that you’d pay a proper cake company. For a three tier traditional white wedding cake you could pay £100 as opposed to £300. They also do more elaborate cakes with iced flowers etc on, which cost a bit more, but nothing compared to the cake companies.
For bits of paper, wedding invitations are very expensive! Although having a company make and print them for you is less time consuming, it also makes a big dent in your wallet. On average, personalised invitations, and by this I mean, the couple’s names, venue etc, costs about £2.50 per invitation. Which for 100 guests is £250; quite a large amount if your total budget is £3000.
Which is why being the craft geek I’ve decided to find a cheaper way of getting what I want, but for non-extortionate prices. The answer for me is.. Vistaprint.com. You can choose one of their pre-made designs, or upload photos or images to make your own! Sign up to their website’s newsletter and you will get loads of fab deals sent to you.. freebies, money off, 3 for the price of 1…