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A great DIY wedding

Here are some tips

Thursday, January 26, 2012
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Those thinking about tying the knot in the months to come may be discouraged by how expensive weddings can be. But with a little ingenuity and a hands-on approach, couples can have a wedding that is inexpensive and memorable at the same time.

According to CostofWedding.com, on average, U.S. couples spend $26,542 for their weddings. This does not include the cost for an engagement ring or wedding bands. With such a high price tag, some couples may wonder if they can afford their dream wedding or if there are ways to cut costs. Having a backyard, DIY wedding can be the answer.

Although some may envision a backyard wedding with picnic benches and Dad at the grill , it can be a much classier affair than that. Smart couples are realizing that the money they would normally spend on a big wedding at an outside venue can be put to better use, either through buying a new home or fixing up one they may already own.

GETTING STARTED

A DIY wedding is one that will take much more work than simply hiring vendors and leaving the details to them. But the money saved with sweat equity can be substantial. A well-planned wedding is the best start.

Grab a notebook and start making lists of all the things you will need:

-- location

-- tables and chairs

-- linens

-- food

-- silverware and glassware

-- invitations

-- photography

-- music

-- officiant

-- music

-- centerpieces and other decor

-- cake or dessert

-- ighting

-- attire

-- flowers

WORKING IN ADVANCE

Many items necessary for a wedding can be bought in advance. Some couples find that purchasing low-cost items at discount stores turns out to be less expensive than renting. For example, inexpensive glasses and silverware can be bought at dollar stores or chains like Ikea. Later on these items can be kept, sold or even donated to shelters.

Tablecloths don't have to be the traditional kind. It may be less expensive to purchase pieces of fabric and dressing them up oneself. Candles can be stockpiled relatively easy and provide a very affordable means of ambient light. Plan out centerpiece ideas and figure out which components can be bought and stored. Then items can be assembled at leisure. Wedding stationery is one thing that will have to be bought well in advance so there will be time enough to print out save-the-dates, invitations and response cards, as well as mail them.

An informal wedding may mean couples can get simple attire. Buying off the rack may mean a smaller price tag for gowns, suit jackets and pants. (Make sure to build in time for any alterations that may be needed.)

Enlist the help of family and friends to get many of the tasks completed. Upon asking, many couples find there are members of the family who have skills in certain areas which can be tapped for the wedding. There may be a gourmet chef, a disc jockey, a photographer or even someone who can officiate the vows. Having these people on board means a great reduction in costs.

VETTING THE VENUE

Because couples will be doing the work themselves, it's best to start several days in advance of the wedding (weather permitting). Be sure the grounds are well groomed and landscaped. Ensure there are no tripping hazards and that there is a sturdy surface for placing tables or creating a dance floor.

It may pay to ask an electrician to help string some lights to better illuminate the area, especially for when the sun goes down.

Set up the tables and chairs to finalize placement the day before. Figure out where the ceremony will take place. A small arbor can mark the area and make a nice photo backdrop. Dress the tables with linens and settings the morning of the wedding.

One splurge couples may want to make is hiring a wait staff to help set up food service areas, serve as bartenders and clear away dishes and other messes. This way the bride and groom can mingle with guests.

Other tips and tricks

Here are some other ways to save money on DIY weddings.

-- Fruit is less expensive than flowers for centerpieces.

-- Include postcard response cards in wedding invites. The postage is less, and you don't have to spend money on an extra envelope.

-- Be sure to check with your town if you need a permit or variance for having so many cars parked by the house in the event of a backyard wedding. Otherwise you could be facing a fine.

-- Many different foods can be cooked in advance and frozen instead of hiring a catering service.

-- Consider favors that also double as table centerpieces.

-- Bouquets can easily be made with store-bought flowers, some floral tape and decorative ribbon.

-- Restrict the bar to wine and beer, and you'll save money on expensive liquors.

 
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