Alina Sewing and Design
Hello, folks! Finally, the long-awaited wedding deets. First, I will say that I could probably write a book about the process of DIY-ing a wedding (because of how many details there are, not because I am an expert), so I’m going to do my VERY best to be concise when summing everything up. There were so many hours put in to planning, researching and dreaming before we ever got to the doing part. I was completely and totally guilty of wedding brain (when everything you do, say, think, write is done so in the context of something wedding-related. Sorry to any of my co-workers who fell victim to wedding brain).

First-off, let me say that until I had planned my own wedding, I had no idea how many details there were to be considered. I will have a whole new appreciation at the next wedding I attend.

Second, let me also say that it was my goal to spend as little money as possible. This made it interesting, challenging and a little more fun.

Third, as many people also want, I wanted our wedding to be unique. I wanted every detail to say “us.” I wanted people to see everything and say, “wow–this so fits who you guys are as people and who you’ve become as a couple!” This also provided many opportunities to think outside of the box!

Finally, we never bought anything from a wedding web site or vendor. Time and time again, I would see products selling for double the price just because it had “wedding” in the name or description. For example. we had a sparkler send-off. When researching prices, I compared prices on one wedding web site to the non-wedding web site I ended up choosing. Because I chose regular, you’d-buy-them-for-4th-of-July sparklers, I paid less than half of what I would have paid for “wedding sparklers.” And the kicker? They looked exactly the same!

So, before I get to my lists of vendors, budgets and DIY projects, let’s look at some pictures! (My favorite part.)

Sigh…yes, Jackie IS marvelous. And brilliant. And amazing to work with. She also did our engagement photos that so many of you loved. (And if you missed our wedding video by Brickhouse, check it out here!)

I’m going to do my best to break things down (we’re already 2.5 months post-wedding and my frazzled brain is healing without trying to remember all of the wedding planning details!), but if you have any questions, please ask!

Things we DIY-ed
(future posts coming to detail most of these!)

  • My mom and I designed and hand-made our wedding invitations
  • I designed and printed our programs and the sparkler holders
  • We designed and built our cupcake stand from trees downed after a storm (so, it was free!)
  • I made and hand-painted all banners and props used in photos and decorating
  • I sewed the flower girl dresses and ringbearer pillow 
  • I handmade the paper flower pomanders for the flower girls to carry
  • I made faux craspedia for the bridesmaid bouquets/boutonnieres and then put together all of the bouquets/boutonnieres a couple of days before the wedding with fresh flowers–even my bouquet! 
  • In lieu of a traditional guest book, I designed comment cards for guests to leave us comments, marriage advice, etc. 
  • We built an “I Do’s” sign to direct people around the barn
  • I collected Goodwill and dollar store frames, spray-painted them white and designed a timeline photo table to illustrate all of the times we’d been in the same places with the same people and somehow never met! 
  • My mom and I made twine globes and hung them over the candy table with yellow and gray patterned paper lanterns from a large branch
  • I overhauled a thrift store suitcase to create a place for guests to drop their cards. 
Vendors
I’m sure there were other little things here and there that I’m forgetting (mostly just gathering supplies for the DIY projects), so if you see something that I haven’t mentioned, please ask!
Budget & Top 10 Wedding Tips
At the beginning, I was doing a great job of tracking expenses and trying to be careful to be as frugal as possible as we thought of more items that needed to be bought and included (if we even decided we really needed them). We decided to forgo a meal, as the wedding was at 3:00 in the afternoon, which saved a lot of money. As things got more hectic and stressful right before the wedding, I stopped tracking every little expense for the sake of getting things done. All in all, though, I estimate we spent between $5,500 and $6,000, with the help of our parents. If you’re like me, you’re thinking that’s a good chunk of change. But, friends, I know with all of my heart that we saved SO much money. Here are my tips:
  1. Think about getting married in the off-season; by having a December wedding, we got our location for half-price, simply because it was their off-season. 
  2. To second my note above, stay away from anything labeled “wedding” just for the sake of being labeled. I saw so many prices doubled just because they had “wedding” in the name!
  3. Think ordinary; our cupcakes were bought in bulk from Sam’s. We heard (I didn’t have time to stop and eat one!) that they were awesome. They also looked pretty because my mom insisted that we cut out cupcake wrappers and top them with a monogram.
  4. Do it yourself; you can see for yourself the list of items we made ourselves above. By simply spending the time creating the things we wanted, we cut out all of the expenses we would have incurred in paying someone. For the items we didn’t have time to make, we tried to use local businesses and Etsy shops. What you’ll end up with is something totally unique and completely personalized.
  5. Cut down on fresh flowers; the only fresh flowers we bought were babies breath, ranunculus and a couple of bouquets of simple white flowers they already had in the store. If I could do it over again, I wouldn’t even special-order the ranunculus. They were beautiful, but accounted for over half of our total flower cost ($120 total, if you’re wondering), and they had so many beautiful white flowers I could have also used (which I did end up doing since the ranunculus were so small). I’ll do a post on flowers later, but these are my initial thoughts!
  6. Do your research; we were able to buy $100 custom suits and all of the ties were under $15 (some were even $5!). That’s less than renting a tux for each guy AND they all came out of the deal with a custom suits, folks! By doing your research to find the best price, you can feel confident in what you are buying. 
  7. Shop on clearance and thrift your heart out; my shoes were bought on clearance, my dress came from a consignment shop, our mason jars came from thrift shops/Craiglist/friends, everthing (except the mason jar drinks dispensers) from World Market was on clearance, most of the glassware was thrifted…rarely did we buy something for full price, but if we did, we did our research first (see #6). 
  8. Decide what’s important and spend your money there; I’ve always said that pictures would be the most important for me. My feelings are that your big day are gone in such a flash that all you’re left with is photos, memories and maybe even a video. So, photography took the biggest chunk of our budget, which was 1000% OK since we planned for it. From there, we were able to allocate the remaining money to everything else. It helped us to pare down and sort through the list of possible items to include. For example, we didn’t have a DJ, so we set up a Spotify playlist on my Mac and had a friend in charge of making sure everything ran smoothly. F-R-E-E! (Thanks, Ben!)
  9. Let people help you; this one was hardest for me. Not because I wanted to control it, but because there were so many little things I was picturing, I had a hard time communicating and delegating it all. Probably the biggest help to me was when my mom came down for the weekend and sat me down to research and order things we needed (like the candy). I needed someone to make me focus on getting it done, rather than spending my time stressing about it. (Thanks, Mom!) We also made our twine lanterns (interrupted in the middle by an earthquake!) and I finished the flower girl dresses that weekend. Oh, and my Nana came up a day earlier and we took care of buying all of the paper goods. Not only was it a huge help to me having them there, but we also created some fun memories. So, have a girl’s night with your friends or get together with your family and knock those projects out!
  10. Finally, know that your big day is going to go fast. By preparing myself for that, I remembered to stop at different times during the day and try to freeze that moment in my memory. I missed things, yes…I didn’t get anything to eat or drink and I didn’t see the kids eating candy or people enjoying the fires outside, but I do remember what my thoughts were when I woke up, I remember seeing my friend Krissy on the couch as I was leaving for my hair appointment, I remember the quiet time spent with my mom, Jackie and Kayla as I was getting my hair done, I remember the looks on the groomsmen faces during the ceremony, I remember the things my daddy whispered to me when we were dancing (he made me cry big time), I remember the hugs we got right after the ceremony, I remember seeing precious friends that live far away, I remember the moment we decided it was time to leave and I remember being on cloud 9 as we drove away. That day was truly the best day of my life and I’m still so elated as I sit here remembering. 
So, that, my friends, in the best nutshell I can muster, is our DIY December barn wedding. Project details to come; get excited!
For those of you who have planned a wedding before (yours or someone else’s)–what tips do you have? Do share!

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