THE BLOG
04/08/2014 06:52 pm ET | Updated Jun 08, 2014

5 Realistic Ways to DIY Your Wedding Without Going Into the Red

It's no secret that wedding planning can be a rabbit hole to an empty bank account if you allow yourself to get too carried away. That's why more brides (and even their supportive grooms) are turning to do-it-yourself projects as a way to cut costs and create a completely customized aesthetic. But it's easy to underestimate the amount of work (and precious time) it takes to achieve a certain look. Before taking the DIY plunge, it's important to establish a creative vision for your big day. From there, you can then separate the details into "to DIY" or "not to DIY" categories before embarking on a craft supply spending spree, only to realize you could have saved money by renting or hiring someone to execute certain elements.

For those of us who aren't queens of crafting (let's be honest, that's most of us) or don't have bottomless budgets, making wedding décor can be a daunting task. Here are five simple elements you can DIY that are (practically) foolproof and won't break the bank:

1. Centerpieces and Table Décor. Collect various vessels of different sizes, shapes, colors and heights such as vintage bottles, teacups and drinking glasses from your cupboard. Group them in interesting ways, placing anywhere from three to seven in the middle of the table, and fill them with different florals, feathers, berries, pinecones and even pods, acorns or sticks collected from your yard. For example, one table might have a vintage brass pot with a succulent planted inside, a low ceramic vase can hold large bright blooms, while a delicate glass beaker with long ethereal greenery adds a lush feel. One of our favorite couples collected miscellaneous vessels for months, saving bottles from grocery items, perusing flea markets and dusting off family heirlooms. They grouped them at each table with florals of different heights and shapes hand-cut from their garden in addition to loose ones from the florist. The result: a boho-chic menagerie that delighted guests and made for great table conversation.

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Photo credit: Amanda McKinnon Photography

2. Favors. Invite guests to take one of your handmade table setting arrangements with them at the end of the reception. If you want something more uniform, baked goods in brown paper bags tied with baker's twine and a tag have a homemade feel. One of our couples knew there would be excess dessert at their wedding, so they placed brown paper boxes near the table towards the end of the night, and invited guests to take treats to go, sealed with a custom sticker ordered inexpensively online. Favors don't have to be extravagant, just thoughtful.

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Photo credit: Rad + In Love

3. Programs. You don't have to be a graphic designer to make eye-popping programs. While you may want to get some design inspiration from an Etsy vendor, or a website like Wedding Paper Divas, it's easy to add that little something extra to your printed pieces. One of our couples glued one side of their card-stock program to large popsicle sticks for instant fans -- perfect for their orchard wedding in the heat. They had their program file printed, and painted the sticks for added pizzazz.

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Photo credit: Joanne Leung Photography

4. Photo Booth Props. Lots of couples are opting for photo booths to capture images of their guests on their special day. The best part of the photo booth is, of course, the props! We've found it's so simple to cut out bow ties, mustaches and lips from funky patterned paper and attach to striped paper straws. Collect old hats from friends, family or thrift stores along with boas and glasses. You can also make crowns out of paper, and embellish them with rhinestones, ribbon or feathers from your local crafts store. Put all your props in a basket with a hand-drawn sign or chalkboard.

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Photo credit: Sergio Photographer

5. Cake Topper. Forgo the porcelain bride and groom figurines. Think about what is special to you as a couple. If you met at a baseball game, that ball you caught, causing you to fall into your destiny (literally), might make the perfect topper. Fresh flowers from the rose garden you so lovingly tended together, or fresh pine branches from the spot he proposed are all easy, inexpensive and meaningful ways to add that finishing touch to your cake. Some of our favorite cake toppers have included fresh cut greenery with a few well-placed blooms on a plain white cake and a bird's egg found outdoors in a nest, embellished with the couple's name and a few craft feathers.

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Photo credit: Amanda McKinnon Photography

Remember, your guests are there for you -- not to be wowed by an over-the-top affair. Above all, have fun and know that all these little things add up to one special day that signifies the beginning of your new life with the one you love the most.

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