There are some misconceptions about do-it-yourself weddings. First, including DIY elements isn’t an all-or-nothing deal, as it’s often made out to be. Many couples may hire vendors to organize most of the ceremony, but leave one or two things to make by hand or thrift. That leads to a second common misconception: DIY wedding aren’t just for those who have tight budgets.
While opting to do some of the planning, decorating, or cooking yourself can definitely save some money, DIY projects are opportunities to bond with family and friends, adding special personal touches to the details, or are a chance to use a hobby that will bring enjoyment to the couple and their guests. Making things for your wedding isn’t just for small, rustic ceremonies. With a long enough timeline and the help of loved ones, even the most lavish weddings can feature some DIY touches that fit with any theme or idea.
Here are ten weddings of all sizes, budgets, timelines, themes, and levels of DIY that will spark inspiration for anyone wanting to add their own personal style to their wedding.
Photos: Brandi Potter Photography
Sarah-Jean and Kent wanted a small and intimate wedding at the courthouse with their families in attendance. Sarah-Jean wore a dress hand-sewn by her mother and carried a bouquet of beautifully-crafted blue, purple, and white paper flowers. Sarah-Jean’s 20s-style net veil and Kent’s simple white shirt, dress pants, and suspenders gave the ceremony a classic vintage feel. The newlyweds and their closest loved ones celebrated at an Irish pub with cupcakes they made themselves for dessert instead of a traditional cake.
Photos: Aleksa and Mina
Sofija and Elliot, both jazz musicians, held their wedding in Sofija’s native Serbia. The couple and their parents planned the ceremony themselves, crafting many of the elements. Sofija and her family helped her with her absolutely gorgeous custom dress, the cake design, and the floral centerpieces for the reception tables. Sofija’s parents are both painters, so they used their talents to paint the invitations, using a different design for each one. Somehow, they pulled everything off for their breathtaking wedding in only four months!
Photos: Cassandra Zetta
Even though their entire wedding was DIY, Lacey and Tiffany enjoyed a relaxing morning and a fun-filled evening with their friends and families’ help with the details. With only 14 guests at their Colorado mountain wedding, everyone helped assemble the bouquets, bake the cake, and cook breakfast, all while enjoying one another’s company (and bottomless mimosas). Lacey had sewn both wedding gowns herself; they paired the dresses with leather jackets to keep away the mountain chill while looking amazing. After the ceremony, everyone convened at a nearly lodge for a fun and intimate reception.
Photos: Brian Hatton Photography
Monica and Chris had originally planned a large wedding in a New York City loft, but realized that a smaller, simpler wedding was how they wanted to celebrate their marriage with a small gathering of friends and family. The couple happened to find a small botanical garden in the Lower East Side that made an enchanting backdrop to their ceremony. Monica and Chris made all of the decor and arranged the florals themselves, opting for soft pinks, lavender sprigs, and touches of yellow for the bouquets and boutonnieres. The newlyweds and their guests had dinner at Edi & the Wolf, which matched their garden wedding with its sprawling plants and glass roof.
For Jackie and Luis’s vintage wedding, Jackie wanted to use her love for crafts to make the centerpieces and paint the charger plates for the reception. The cute bird plant holders with name cards and the blue and peach theme were combined with vintage class in Jackie’s intricately beaded wedding gown, a Great Gatsby-style car, and the lovely reception at Sheraton Tysons Hotel.
Photos: Emily Dykema
Nicky and Nicole moved to New York City two years after meeting each other in Ann Arbor, Michigan; they knew right away that they wanted their wedding to be in the beautiful woods of their home state. Their nuptial celebrations were three days at a YMCA summer campground they rented and included a potluck feast featuring freshly-hunted meat and fish courtesy of Nicole’s father and his friends. Nicky’s mom also made the cookies for the wedding day, and Nicky’s family organized the cocktail hour. The decorations and the bar were handmade as well, adding to the weekend full of not only the wedding ceremony itself, but both families bonding and having a great time.
Photos: Ella Sophie
A bit of rain didn’t stop Aubrey and Jake from having a beautiful outdoor wedding huddled in coats against the chill. Aubrey’s wedding look consisted of a dress with the skirt handmade by her mom and a ring that had belonged to her grandmother. Their autumnal decor was also either vintage or DIY, tastefully mismatched, for a cozy barn reception. The rain let up later that night to allow for a bonfire and releasing paper lanterns and lighting sparklers.
Photos: Leah Moyers Photography
Joann and Dawn brought their family and friends together from all over the world to their Mexico destination wedding, using the long weekend to get to know each other. Dawn arranged all of the bouquets, using white and blue flowers for the bridesmaids and pink for both brides. They had a beautiful cascading effect and incorporated shells and starfish — they were the perfect touch for the couple’s photos by the ocean and around the hotel. Their reception was on the hotel’s outdoor pavilion overlooking the beach so they could enjoy the view while they danced and swam in the pool (the brides jumped in while still wearing their dresses!).
Photos: Jamie Carle
After spending a long time planning a wedding, Andi and Jess realized that a large, expensive wedding wasn’t going to work out or make them happy. The couple eventually decided to turn their already-planned engagement party into a surprise wedding ceremony. All of the decorations were done by Andi and Jess with some help from two friends who were also the officiant and makeup artist. The couple wanted to recognize the queer women who fought for LGBTQ+ rights, so Andi and Jess included vintage pictures of women who lived during a time where their relationships were seen as criminal to honor their journey which allowed Andi and Jess to be able to get married. They also printed copies of their vows for the guests to keep. While they were worried that the surprise would mean some people might miss the ceremony, more than fifty people were able to come. Since Andi and Jess lived in an apartment that wouldn’t be able to comfortably accommodate everyone for post-ceremony celebrations, they moved the afterparty to a bowling alley.
Photos: Matthew D'Agostino of Love Life Images
Maggie and Whitney incorporated their love for craft beers into their wedding by holding their ceremony and reception at Right Proper Brewing Co. Their hand-made decor was inspired by their venue. Whitney’s dad grows his own hops, so they included some hops wreaths in their centerpieces and on the altar that was built and stained by Maggie, who loves to build things. Instead of vases for the flowers, they used growlers, and had some of the larger arrangements on top of wooden crates by the altar for the ceremony. The couple included a unity ceremony that consisted of the two choosing their favorite beer from Right Proper, blending them, and offering the blend to their immediate families. Maggie and Whitney made sure that the bar was open before the ceremony so their guests could join in the toast to the beginning of Maggie and Whitney’s lives together as a married couple.
Michaela Dietz is a graduate from the University of Cincinnati, where she studied English Literature, Women’s Studies, and Electronic Media. What started as an internship with Catalyst turned into writing and editing the lovely Real Couples posts regularly featured on the site. When Michaela isn’t working, she’s reading, watching movies, or researching for fun like a huge nerd.