Planning a wedding is hard work, and, unless you’re lucky enough or wealthy enough to know a wedding planner or be able to hire one, chances are you’re doing almost all of the prep work by yourself. That means picking a venue, choosing table settings, flowers, invitations, guest list, menu, bridal party, music, dress, décor, reception – the list is endless.
Even when you plan to have a small wedding or keep things within your budget, unexpected situations can arise that’ll have you opening your wallet more times than you can count! While it can be fun to splurge on a lavish party, going into debt for a wedding seems silly and, frankly, downright irresponsible.
Fortunately, you don’t have to sacrifice your dream wedding, so long as you have a little creativity and willingness to go the DIY route! You’d be amazed at what you can make for just a few dollars that would normally cost you hundreds! From décor to food to venues to music to the reception, we have 25 hacks that will be sure to make your special day amazing (and hopefully limit some of the stress you’re already under). Just consider us your own little (free) wedding planner!
25 Photo Wall Instead Of Photo Booth
Photo booths are cute and all, but they can be extremely expensive! Ditch the pricey photo booth and photographer and opt for DIY-ing your own photo wall instead!
Hang flowers (plastic or fabric), use streamers or tulle, or even fashion a wall of balloons for the perfect post-worthy space!
If props are your thing, you can easily DIY those too, pick some one-of-a-kind finds from a nearby thrift store or hit up your local dollar store!
24 Go Paperless
Anyone who has ever organized a wedding or been part of helping to organize one knows how much cash is spent on throwaway items like invitations and save-the-dates. It’s a cute idea, but it sure does put a dent in your wallet!
Go paperless instead and do your bank account and the environment a solid by using digital save-the-dates and invites that will go right to your guest’s inbox. Since we’re all always on our phones all the time anyway, you can be sure they’ll get it! Check out sites like Greenvelope, Paperlesspost, or Punchbowl for options.
23 Programs Double As Fans
If you are opting for something more traditional and paper-based during your wedding, like a program (which is more common in weddings with larger guest-lists), how about making them double as fans?
When it's hot, anything slightly resembling a popsicle is the move.
If you’re having your ceremony outdoors during the hot summer months, simply stick a sturdy Popsicle stick to one side of the program to allow your guests to keep cool while you exchange “I do”s. (Not into wedding programs? A chalkboard at the entrance outlining the itinerary for the day will do the trick!)
22 Grab Your Own Drink
Wedding photos can take a long time and, if you’re forgoing appetizers or canapés during your reception, your guests will likely get bored, hungry, and grumpy. Keep their bad moods at bay by having a “grab your own drink” station – especially adorable if you’re going for a rustic vibe!
A rowboat, canoe, or flower box can be filled with ice and stocked with a variety of beverages to appease every palette, which will loosen up the guests and give you a little more time to snap that perfect pic. Just make sure your venue is okay with it first!
21 Have Bridesmaids Create Their Own Bouquets
Flowers are one of the biggest expenses when it comes to weddings, and floral arranging can make that cost even bigger. Instead, hit up a farmer’s market early in the morning a couple days before the wedding with your bridal party and have everyone create their own bouquets!
If you’re particular about which flowers to use, set some parameters, and then have fun with it!
It’ll make your bridesmaids much less likely to lose their bouquet if they actually worked to put it together, and make it more meaningful for all of you!
20 Food Trucks As A Fun Alternative To Pricey Catering
If your venue allows outside food and doesn’t require you to use their catering, consider yourself #blessed and get a little funky with your options instead!
Food trucks at wedding receptions are having a huge moment right now, and renting one with a limited menu for the day will definitely help to cut down on cost, as long as you agree on a rate ahead of time. Plus, the option of having food even after the reception, when all your guests are famished from dancing will make you the best bride and groom ever!
19 Dollar Store Frames As Table Cards
Centerpieces can get costly as your guest list grows and grows, but you can cut down on cost by clearly showing your guests which table is theirs by DIY-ing a dollar store frame (or an IKEA option, which is super versatile and only costs $1!).
Use pretty paper to line the backdrop or draw a number directly onto the glass with chalk marker!
Plus, you can spray these little cuties any color you’d like, to match your theme – and if you mess up, who cares, they were so cheap!
18 Airbnb Instead Of Traditional Wedding Venues
Wedding venues can be extremely pricey, especially when it comes to all the add-ons. Pretty soon, you find yourself charged for cake cutting and display, corkage, forced to use their catering, and not permitted to purchase outside beverages. It adds up!
Instead, check out Airbnb for some truly gorgeous wedding options. Since anything with “wedding” in the search will automatically increase the price, these vacation rentals are the way to go if you want to do things your way. As an added bonus, you can go to bed right upstairs after you’ve partied your hardest!
17 Design Your Own Chandelier
For a rustic, romantic vibe, get the flattering lighting you’re looking for by DIY-ing a chandelier out of twinkle lights, some fabric, and a Hula Hoop!
Who would have thought a hula hoop would feature in a wedding?
Using lace, tulle, fabric, ribbon, or greenery to cover the colors of the hoop (and make it look less like a child’s plaything), it actually doesn’t take all that much time or effort to create something that is straight out of your Pinterest daydreams! Find a step-by-step guide on how to do it anywhere on google.
16 Do A Dessert Table
Wedding cakes are crazy expensive (again, with typing “wedding” into any searches, you’ll bump up the price), but wedding cakes aren’t everyone’s favorite, anyway! Instead of wasting your hard-earned cash on something that only some of your guests will eat, try a dessert table instead! This way, you can cater to even the pickiest of palettes.
For a little extra cost-cutting magic, you can talk to close friends and family and see if they would like to donate their favorite dessert dish to really amp up the community vibe. With the right plating, everything will look cohesive!
15 Blow Up A Bunch Of Balloons
Balloons are pretty inexpensive until you start blowing them all up with helium. Instead of having gigantic floating balloons for all those staged photos with your girls, think about balloons in more creative ways to keep your wedding looking magical and the cost way down.
Balloon arches are huge right now, and if you stick them to an existing structure or shape, you won’t have any need for helium!
No such structure in sight? Up the glam factor by dipping them in glue and covering them in glitter – and then hang them upside down, as seen on sisterssuitcaseblog.
14 Spray Paint Centerpieces
If you’re not finding centerpieces that are to your liking, why not create your own? Using things like glass bottles, trays, or cups in a random assortment can look much more streamlined with the help of a little spray paint. Whether your color scheme is pastel, metallic, or monochromatic, there’s a paint for that!
Use them to act as table numbers or as vases as you can see here, and no one will be the wiser that they’re made from dollar-store bottles or junk you found at a flea market!
13 Whimsical Photo Tree
At a lot of weddings, the bride and groom will have a table with a board of photos of themselves throughout their time together, or an album that guests can leaf through.
If you’re having an outdoor wedding, how about taking things up a notch with a photo tree?
Not only is this a gorgeous photo op with the addition of twinkle lights, but it gives guest something to do while they’re waiting by circling the tree to see all of your shared memories.
12 Glam Up Your Glassware
Paint has come to save the day again! Make cheap glassware look way more glam with the addition of metallic paint – or any paint color that strikes your fancy!
Dip the bottom of your glasses (stemware or standard glassware) to give them a little extra something without breaking the bank. Be sure to check with your venue beforehand that you’re allowed to bring in your own glassware, as some venues prohibit this, and then get crazy and creative!
11 Flea Markets For Floral Arrangements
One wedding I went to had an adorable idea for their floral arrangements and centerpieces that involved hitting up as many flea markets in their area to scope out candelabras.
Each one looked different, with different heights and holders, and all looked spectacular against her rustic-inspired wedding.
Flea markets are a great place to hit up if you’re looking for wedding décor that isn’t too matchy-matchy. From glass bottles like the ones pictured here to the afore-mentioned candelabras, embrace the imperfect for a one-of-a-kind look.
10 Make Metallic Paint Your BFF
Seriously, metallic paint is every DIY-er’s dream product, because it can be used in so many ways to take things from ordinary to extraordinary, especially come wedding time!
Ideal for centerpieces, like painting these cute little pumpkins with gold accents for a fall wedding, metallic paint can be used to glam up some plastic fruit for centerpieces purposes, create cute placeholders, add some sparkle to a dollar store garland, and even glitz up some cheap décor! (Don’t worry, we’ll never tell!)
9 Guests’ Names On Glasses
When you’re at a wedding, there’s a lot going on, from dancing to dining to toasts to photos to speeches – the list goes on! To help ensure your guests all remember whose drink is whose, especially if you’re doing an open bar and reusing the glasses (like one wedding I was a part of), why not get guests to write their names on their glass?
It's cute and trendy, as well as practical and affordable!
Using a bit of chalkboard paint or labels, and some chalk markers, guests won’t have to guess if what they’re sipping on is theirs, and putting them in mason jars adds a trendy, rustic touch!
8 DIY Décor With Paper Lanterns
If you have a more whimsical vibe in mind for your wedding, why not try out some paper lanterns for some cheap but easy décor? Another IKEA wedding hack, these round paper lanterns give off a gorgeous glow and can be strung up just about anywhere. Hang them across your entire venue for an extra striking effect!
You can also dress these up by adding ribbon or greenery for a more organic look. As a bonus, these come in a variety of sizes, so you can really play up their fantastical element!
7 Build Your Own Spotify Playlist
When it comes to weddings, entertainers are likely to jack up the price. Getting a DJ or a band can be extremely costly, though.
So why not save yourself some time, energy, and cash by splurging for a paid Spotify account and creating your own playlist?
As long as your venue has a great sound system (or you know someone who can lend one to you), your phone can be the DJ all night! Get your guests to write it what they’d like to hear on the RSVPs to ensure everyone gets out on the dance floor while saving big!
6 De-Slip Your Soles
This might sound like a simple idea, but people still forget it! New shoes are slippery, and dance floors can make them even worse. Avoid pulling a Chandler Bing and de-slip your wedding shoe soles the day before, using sandpaper! No one wants to trip and fall on their face when they’re about to go for that first dance as husband and wife!
As an added bit of advice for your shoes, be sure you break them in beforehand. No one wants to remember their wedding night as the time they got the worst blisters of their life!
5 Class Up A Store-Bought Cake
If you have your heart set on cutting into a cake at your wedding, there’s no need to splurge on something you’ll only get a bite of.
Instead, get a little creative with a store-bought cake you can pick up from any supermarket and have fun with it!
Use fresh or fake flowers, ganache, watercolor frosting techniques, rock candy, herbs, or fondant to change your cake from store-bought to spectacular! There’s no need to spend a ton of cash on something that usually looks better than it tastes. So have it both ways (for way cheaper!) and make it tasty and pretty!
4 Get Creative With Your “Something Blue”
Rather than add to your wedding stress by figuring out what you’ll have for your “something blue” (if you’re into that kind of thing), go the DIY route! Painting the soles of your wedding shoes with a blue paint is a cheap way to follow this custom.
Or, if you’re in the mood for something equally subtle but with even LESS work, grab a blue Sharpie and get your bridal party to sign their names all over the soles of your shoes! It’s a cute keepsake and super easy to do!
While you could shell out some cash to buy a banner declaring your newly married status, going the DIY route allows you to customize your banner to your exact specifications.
It's affordable, cute, and more personal to make one yourself, anyway!
If your wedding is looking to be more of a country affair – think greenery, mason jars, and natural elements – a burlap number (and the one above) might be just the thing for you! More into something with patterns? Check out hitched.co.uk! Or how about forgoing the words altogether and opting for colorful streamers? We’ve got you covered!
2 Create A Candy Spread
It’s become less and less common for weddings to offer favors to their guests. A scented candle, a hangover kit, a jar of jam – usually, they’re small trinkets that the guests wouldn’t miss if they were gone, but they can increase your budget if you’re not careful!
Instead, why not DIY a fun candy spread with bags for guests to take what they like and leave what they don’t? Choose your favorite treats for a personal touch, put them in pretty glass jars and bottles with scoops and spoons, and voila! Easy wedding favors!
1 Sheets & Curtains Save Big As Tablecloths
Linen can be expensive for a wedding! Think about it: tablecloths, table runners, and napkins for tons of people, all of which need to be washed or dry-cleaned before being sent back to whatever company you rented them from. It’s a boring component of your big day that shouldn’t be that pricey.
Enter IKEA to the rescue!
Buying up some cheap lace curtains for a table runner (just trim or tie it to fit as you can see here) or getting some sheets that will drape nicely over a table will have your guests oohing and ahhing over your interior design skills while being none the wiser!