What + Why We Chose to DIY at Our Wedding

When Jason and I got engaged, we had talked enough to know that we wanted something different. While Jason wanted to “r-u-n-o-f-f,” I was dreaming up a different idea in the back of my head. And when I finally joked to my mom “Why not have it at the river?” She said “Let’s do it!” and that was that.

I kid you not friends, in 8th grade I had 5 friends spend the night at my family’s river house (Not an unusual occurrence!), and after a few times running up and down the spiral stairs on our porch, they all said “you TOTALLY should get married here one day!” Now, I’ve never been the kind that planned my wedding as a young girl (or even on a secret Pinterest board), but I did give it some thought that night. My friends and I even designed a two piece wedding dress that had a swimsuit underneath–for our exit off the end of the pier onto our family’s boat, of course! (What were we thinking?!) After that night, however, I never thought twice about getting married at the river. But once we were engaged, it just made sense.

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Here’s the deal: We decided to DIY our wedding for many reasons.

I knew that I wanted my creativity to be evident in our wedding. But I also wanted it to be about US and not about ME. I also knew how significant our wedding location was to the both of us: it was the place I grew up, where we went on one of our first few dates, where we spent countless summer days, and where Jason proposed. I knew to tell our story on our wedding day, we wanted the most important people in our lives to play a role in it as well. 

But do you want to know what ultimately shaped our decision to DIY our wedding? Weddings are EXPENSIVE and all of the options were overwhelming. All of the things mentioned above were so important to us. But realistically, we wanted to be intentional about the details, keep it cost-effective, and I wanted to stay as far away as possible from potential bridezilla moments.



SO, HERE’S WHAT WE DECIDED TO DIY, AND WHAT WE DECIDED TO LEAVE TO THE PROS.

INVITATIONS AND PAPER (DIY)

I got into searching for invitations, and if you know anything about my business, you know this is where Workman Creative Co. was born! I simply couldn’t find anything that was in my price range that I loved, and was overwhelmed by all of the options out there on the internet. I taught myself how to use Adobe Illustrator, spent a lot of time in a local print shop learning from the professionals, and created our wedding invitations, programs, and table numbers. My cousin, Becky, helped me address many of them (she does lovely lettering, too!) and my mom and MOH Abby helped me assemble each one. I dip dyed each of our escort cards to match our invitations, (with my friend Jamie’s help!) and hand-lettered each one with our guests’ names.

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Signage and Decor (DIY)

My grandfather helped me carefully cut all of the wood we used for our signs and table runners out of standard plywood, old pallets, and driftwood (from our front yard!). My dad built our “altar” using old fenceposts from my grandparents home. My other grandfather cut all of the wood slices and tree trunks we used (to hide tent stakes, hold flower arrangements, etc.) from his Christmas Tree Farm. My mom and I created a large canvas cloth covering that I used to hide our bar-top on our porch. (This would become our cake-table). I created a large timeline that was displayed over our gift table, a friend generously donated an old mailbox that I painted and used for cards, and I painted all of the signs we used.

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Rentals (Pros)

We chose to go with a local rental company that had EXCELLENT customer service, and it was well worth the investment! When a few miscalculations almost led to us having to completely restart on our backyard wedding plans, they worked with us and even provided a tent out of their personal collection that better fit our space. Ultimately, there was no stress we had to deal with when setting up the tents, chairs, tables, or dance floor.

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Photography (Pros)

I can’t say enough how well worth the investment our photographer was. They were so helpful (they even worked to help get my dress bustled!), organized, and we didn’t have to worry about any photo opportunities were missed. We LOVE our wedding photos and were so thankful for the generosity of the girls at Nancy Ray Photography.

Venue (DIY)

You already know by now that our venue was our family’s home–and while I didn’t wear a swimsuit under my dress (my 8th grade friends might be disappointed), we were able to leave on the boat my grandfather built. It was so special to get married at a place that held so much significance. Now, every time we are back at the river I cherish those memories and am reminded of the sweetest day of our lives!

Catering + Cake (Pros)

I have always loved the idea of a pot-luck wedding, even if most people think it’s probably not the best idea. However, with the amount of guests we invited, we knew that would not be a practical decision. We trusted our caterer and cake lady, and loved every bit of our meal! We did, however, choose to DIY our cocktail hour food, and our dear friend Laurie cut every bit of the fruit and veggies we served! (She is a rockstar!)

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Flowers (DIY+Pros)

We met with a family friend prior to making any decisions about what to do with floral arrangements. Before we knew it, she + her husband and my best friend’s parents (plus their kids) were camped out in the garage of our home doing ALL of the florals for our wedding! We did hire a Floral Designer to create the bouquets, boutonnieres, and wrist-corsages that the mothers/grandmothers wore. All of the other greenery + floral arranging was done by sweet friends who clipped greenery out of their yard and neighbors ditches, and worked tirelessly in our garage the week before the wedding. We did order some flowers from a supplier as “filler,” but that did not quite work out as planned. More on that story (and how it worked out to our advantage) here

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Parking (DIY)

I’m including parking here because lets be honest–if you are going to have a wedding in your backyard, you have to figure out a place to put all of the cars. We were so fortunate that our neighbors down the street generously offered to let our guests park on their land. A few other neighbors offered to shuttle guests back and forth from their car to our home via golf cart . As we were watching guests arrive, it was the most special thing to see friends and family walking, talking, and laughing on the way to our wedding! A few friends mentioned how much they loved the walk down our road. I think it broke the awkwardness that is sometimes felt at the beginning of a wedding when most guest are sitting silent waiting for the bridal party, and again, it was so fun to watch everyone spend time together before our wedding!

Music (DIY + Pros)

We carefully curated a short list of cocktail hour/dinner music that we simply loved. As we would hear music, we would say “quick, add it to the playlist!” and would add it to our Spotify playlist that we shared with the DJ. We selected a few songs that were absolute “must-plays” during our dance party under the lights, and had a few conversations with our DJ to share the feel and genres we were looking for. We built a relationship with our DJ and trusted him to a wonderful job, and y’all–he did NOT disappoint! There was not a moment the dance floor was empty, and we had the best time dancing the night away.

We know that a DIY wedding isn’t practical for everyone, but for us, it was the best decision. We look back on our wedding day (and the week leading up to it) and can’t help but feel overwhelmed with the way our friends and family served + loved us well.

If you decide that a DIY wedding is right for you, and have any questions, feel free to reach out by contacting us or leaving a comment below! We would love to answer any questions and share our favorite resources!

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All photos in this post by Olivia Suriano of Nancy Ray Photography

Andi Workman