Whether you're scouting out pre-owned items, baking your own sweets for the dessert table, or arranging your own bouquets, the question remains, "How much does a DIY wedding cost?"
Before we get into the costs, I just want to say that a true DIY wedding does not necessarily mean cheap. It means creative, personal touches and details that truly make the day your own.
Unless you are forced to keep to a very limited budget, you are going to spend wherever it best suits you. For example, you might decide to splurge on the venue of your dreams and cut costs elsewhere by getting creative with the decorations.
DIY is not all about the price tag. Many couples choose to go this route because in order to have everything they envision for their special day, DIY is the only way to go.
Now let's talk dollars!
The Venue --
Whatever your budget, there are a wide range of beautiful private estates to choose from. Whatever style of venue you have you heart set on, there is a perfect match out there. From rustic barns and plantation properties to beachfront vistas and Hollywood mansions, the estates listed with Estate Weddings and Events range from $1,500 a day to $25,000+.
Estate prices differ greatly based on a variety of factors including time of year, the size of your guest list, location, and use. The best thing about DIY weddings are that you are able to making massive savings elsewhere meaning you don't have to make sacrifices on the venue. Luxury venues also come with a host of other plus points, for instance the gorgeous backdrop and setting require little dressing up as they are already stunning.
To give you an idea of what you can expect for different price ranges check out the following examples:
The Atlantic Beach Estate, Florida -- Breathtaking 1.7 acre oceanfront estate surrounded by palm trees and panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean. Rentals start at $1,500 a day.
Valentino Estate, Rancho Santa Fe -- Beautiful equestrian estate set on 16 acres complete with rolling lawns, picturesque lake, and exquisitely manicured rose gardens. Rentals start at $3,500 a day.
Marina 5 Penthouse, San Diego -- Luxurious penthouse with floor to ceiling windows that provide breathtaking views of downtown San Diego. Rentals start at $5,500 a day.
Holman Ranch, California -- Charming gardens, stunning mountain views and serenity, with historic old world charm teamed with modern amenities, the Holman Ranch is a unique and memorable setting for weddings. Rentals start at $8,000 a day.
The Sky Loft, Los Angeles -- Featuring an impressive 16,000 square feet of event space on 2 levels, The Sky Loft in LA is the perfect backdrop for a super chic wedding. Rentals start at $10,300 a day.
The Dress --
If you're a DIY kinda gal then chances are you'll need to custom order a wedding dress to get what you want, otherwise you'll have to settle for an off-the-rack that's based on the idea of your gown, but just isn't your gown. When it comes to the cost it really is all about who you know. If you're lucky enough to have a dressmaker in the family or in your close circle of friends, then you'll only end up paying for the materials. Depending on your choice of materials and the embellishments, you can create a gorgeous handmade dress for as little as $300.
Other DIY options for your wedding dress include buying second hand from online marketplaces or antique stores, as well as recycling a pre-owned gown such as the dress your mother wore when she tied the knot. If you're around the same fit, with little alterations and additional elements you could be the proud owner of a upcycled vintage wedding dress for less than $100.
The Invitations --
If you're already lucky enough to own at least some basic craft supplies then you can easily get the cost of DIY wedding invitations down to an average $1 a pop. It's easy enough to go out and buy a batch of generic invites at the dollar store for $0.20 an invitation, but if you're after something a little more fancy then you've only got two options; DIY or enlist the services of a pro.
Professional wedding stationary designers can charge anywhere between $2,000 - $4,000 for the entire invitation suite whereas if you've got the know how and the equipment at your dispenses (or you can borrow bits and pieces from friends) you can achieve the equivalent for about $300 which is pretty impressive savings if you ask me! It's not just the savings though that count, personal touches go a long way at a wedding and you certainly won't be short on compliments about how beautifully unique your invites are when your guests finally start receiving them.
The Flowers --
If you've starting looking around at the cost of flowers then you've probably realized that they are super expensive, especially for something that dies in a day! If you're able to find a decent source of gorgeous, local, and inexpensive flowers, and you don't have your heart set on specific types then you can save a TON of money without compromising on quality.
One way to help save money on flowers is to dot empty mason jars around the venue such as on the dessert table or alongside the welcome drinks for bridesmaids to place their bouquets in after the ceremony. Another great idea for couples that want to skip real flowers altogether is DIY paper or fabric blooms. By DIYing your own wedding flowers you can most likely do all the flowers for the entire event for the price of what one traditional bridal bouquet would cost which is around $150. Pretty impressive stuff, huh!?
The Food + Drinks --
Even the most die hard DIY enthusiasts rarely attempt to DIY their own wedding food. No matter the size of your guest list, this is a mammoth task and one that will quickly unravel if not super organized. With that in mind, let's just say that you happen to have a very dear friend that is also an incredible chef, and he /she is adamant on making the food at your wedding. With your friend taking care of all the eats, costs could tot up to anywhere in region of $1000 - $2000 for a guest list of 100, but this doesn't include the cost of caterers to serve at the event etc...
For beverages you can supply your own refreshments and mix your own cocktails for a very reasonable $500. If you'd rather not splurge your budget on drinks then after the initial champagne toast, a cash bar is one way to make savings if needed, but who knows...one of your friends might step up and offer to donate beverages in place of a traditional wedding gift.
The Cake --
Making your own cake, or enlisting the help of a talented friend, is definitely cheaper and if you love baking then it's a really fun project to do. For weddings of about 100-150 guests you can make a 3-4 tier cake to feed everyone for around $150, but including all the test batches to pick out your favorite recipe and / or a practice run to avoid any last minutes surprises it's probably going to cost all in all with ingredients and stand an estimated $250.
The equivalent store brought cake could end up costing you anywhere up to $450 so by opting for a DIY wedding cake you will save a couple hundred bucks, but if there is no real enjoyment factor involved it's not really worth the extra stress!
The Decoration --
DIY wedding decorations are by far the most variable cost because it all depends on you as a couple and how much extra details you want. Like I mentioned earlier, if you're already blessed with a gorgeous venue it will do a lot of the decorating for you. Personally I think it makes sense to start with a place that already looks lovely, then all you need to do is add the finishing touches. However, if you chose the DIY route the likelihood is that you have some pretty big ideas when it comes to decorations and that means you are just going to have to spend whatever you need to spend to make those dreams a reality.
From gathering vintage glass bottles in all shapes and sizes from your local thrift stores to spray painting pumpkins and adorning them with love inspired messages, there's a lot to consider when DIYing all your own decorations. Some DIY brides have managed to get away with spending just under $200 for their decorations and centerpieces!
The Bottom Line --
Now we've covered the main elements let's tally up the numbers for a 100 person guest list, and let's just say that for the purpose of this example the wedding will be hosted at the Valentino Estate:
1. The Venue - $3,500 (per day)
2. The Dress - $300
3. The Invitations - $300
4. The Flowers - $150
5. The Food + Drink - $2,000
6. The Cake - $250
7. The Decoration - $200
Total Cost - $6,700
Of course there are also additional cost considerations to take into account when budgeting for your DIY wedding such as photography, videography and entertainment. I chose not to dive into too much detail for these because the reality is you either know someone who can help you out or you don't. If you know someone then it won't cost you a cent, if you don't...unfortunately these are just costs that you will have to incur.
Hopefully this has given you a starting point into how much a DIY wedding will cost.
Remember, making the most of your existing network is going to go a whole lot of further that trying to take on a ton of projects will!