In March of 2020 I was putting the finishing touches on our June 2020 wedding while my now husband was deployed. We had a guest list of 200 people, had bought super expensive save the dates and invitations, was getting ready to order the cutest favors for the guests, and my bridal shower was later that month. We were going to be married at my church in Florida and use their banquet hall for our reception. Growing up I always had a dream on what my wedding day would look like. However, that dream quickly changed when COVID hit.
My husband and I made the decision to cancel our big wedding during a 5 minute phone call while he was in port during his deployment. We told everyone we would have a big celebration sometime in 2021. It was honestly a really hard decision to make especially since he was away. The day of our wedding came and we got married in the church with our parents, siblings, and baby nephew. Our photographer who was a friend of mine still came and took pictures for us and my mom hosted a dinner for us in my parent’s backyard. I stilled danced with my dad and my husband danced with his mom. My sister and his brother still gave the toasts that they had planned. And we still shared a first day. It was a great day and I would not change anything about it.
In September of 2021 we still had made no plans for a reception but decided it was time to plan something. However, this time we were going to do things differently. I wanted to try and do more stuff on our own and just focus on celebrating.
Here are some of the simple ways to DIY your wedding!
My first tip would be talk about what is most important to you guys. For us it was good food and photos. I love flowers but didn’t want to spend a lot on them and figured we could do most of the décor ourselves. My husband and I are big food people so we wanted the food to be yummy plus we wanted a pretzel bar (highly recommend) with jumbo hot pretzels and a variety of dipping sauces. We also wanted photos to remember this special occasion that we waited 2 years to celebrate!
One simple way to DIY your wedding is to create your own save the date! I highly recommend creating a Canva account if you are planning a wedding. You can use it for other wedding décor which we will talk about later. So I created a super simple save the date and even had it printed through Canva. They turned out just as nice as our original save the dates but felt more personalized since I created them.
The next thing I highly recommend when it comes to your vendors is asking your friends and family for recommendations. Most of my vendors were recommended to us by my sister. Her boss owned a floral business and she loved the photographer she used for her family photos each year. My sister is a picky person, so I knew I was in good hands asking these particular vendors. My uncle is a DJ and offered to DJ our wedding as a gift which was super sweet. And finally, the caterer was someone who my dad used for business functions and who also did my sister’s wedding.
When it came to table decorations, we kept it really simple. We had floral arrangements on each table and instead of table numbers we did important dates from our relationship. I made these myself once again in Canva and then purchased these tiny easels to sit them on. I am not going to lie I was unsure how this was going to look at first but it ended up being really cute.
I also created all the other signage we needed in Canva and printed them myself. This included a sign for the bar with the details of our signature cocktail, a sign telling people to sit wherever (we did not do assigned seating) and a sign for our pretzel bar that said “We tied the knot.” (my husband and I love puns).
The think I struggled with the most was a favor for the guests. Originally, I was going to fill little burlap bags with sunflower seeds, but I honestly did not have time for that. Then I was just going to do nothing. But then my mother-in-law offered to make Bombonieras.
Bombonieras are an Italian wedding tradition(my husband is Italian). They are 5 sugared almonds that are placed into a pretty box or bag. The 5 almonds signify 5 wishes for the couple: health, wealth, happiness, fertility, and longevity. So, if you can make your own favors or if your family has a tradition like this I highly recommend it. Its simple but can hold special meaning.
Planning a wedding can be stressful (trust me I planned two) but you should still find ways to have fun. Do not be scared to delegate tasks to others. That is something I did the second time around but not the first. And if you need help with invitation design or other signage let me know! I would be happy to help!
However, the most important thing to remember is this is your and your partners special day and at the end of the day all that matters is that you are married and get to spend forever together.
About the Author:
Caitlin Pilarski is a proud Coast Guard Wife, writer, social media guru, designer and small business owner of Content and Coffee LLC. Content and Coffee creates digital branding and design content, social media content, websites, and invitations for small businesses and individuals.