DIY Bride #1: So You’re Planning Your Wedding

It’s official: you’re getting married. You and your fiancé are very excited and can’t believe that this is the year two separate lives will come together as one. The first thing you do is run out to the grocery store, pick up the latest from Bride Magazine, and read it cover to cover. The next couple weeks are a delight, sharing your new commitment plans with everyone, and making a conscious effort to put your hand down because you actually have to work and not just stare at your glittering ring all day.
Two months and 1,000 magazines later, you have now ingested enough information to confidently decide you are going to plan your own wedding. You brave soul. I mean after all, it’s cheaper, right? And then you get exactly what you want… right? Yes on both points – IF you put in the work, time, research, and negotiating skills.
There’s a reason couples prefer to hire wedding planners, coordinators, designers: Planning and executing a wedding is fricken hard.
Swingin’ Dolly Events is a wedding planning company whose number one goal is to help you with your wedding. So, we are starting the year off with a recurring segment: The DIY Wedding. We will be taking you through the step-by-step of planning your own wedding and giving you insider tips on how to keep the work of planning a wedding easier. It’s never easy, but maybe we can make it a little less hard.

The Timeline

Let’s jump in with the broad strokes and some basic information that you’ll need. Planning a wedding takes between 9 – 12 months, typically. You have instances where you can do it in less time and occasions when it takes longer. For the most part, between 9 – 12 months is the average. That is also contingent on whether funds are readily available. If you must save up the $1,000 deposit for the venue, you’re going to want to extend that time guideline by a bit.
The timeline is also affected by things like: wanting a specific date, special guests that need time to save to get out to the wedding, the venue’s availability, weather, and of course if the flowers you have your heart set on are going to be in season. Also, there are cultures that favor certain times of year for weddings and certain times where weddings should be avoided.
If there is anything I can impress on you from the very beginning is that there are hard decisions that are going to need to be made. Especially for the DIY bride, there are sacrifices that will need to be made, and I’m not talking whether to serve chicken or fish. Tough decisions, hours of research, negotiating with vendors, touring venues, auditioning entertainment, and taste testing everything – there’s plenty to stress over. At the very beginning, make a pact with your spouse that the final decisions are going to be made and carried out by you (as a couple) and you (as a couple) alone.
I know that seems like an obvious one but it’s so important. I have seen it time and time again where family members and friends – with the best intentions – steam-roll couples into their idea of what a wedding should be and how it should be executed.
Another benefit of hiring a wedding planner is: they deal with the unruly and overbearing people without the couple being involved.
Make this pact clear to your family and friends – politely – letting them know that the wedding is going to reflect the life you are about to have together and the people you truly are. Family and friends will support you; they just want you to be happy. That’s true for the most part. There are people in our lives who tend to take over special events and insist on certain traditions regardless of the feelings of others involved. Be clear. Be polite. Stand by your statements. It will make things much easier in the long run.

Get Your Budget On

The next biggest task to address isn’t the date, it’s the budget. The budget is going to be your guiding light for your wedding. You want it perfect but if you spend more than you have, guests are going to need to BYOF – Bring Your Own Food! For those of you who have a budget that is limitless – good for you! But don’t rub it in; most of the DIY Brides are DIY to save a couple bucks, not spend it.
While taking into consideration your budget, you are going to want to speak with your family members about contributions they can make for your wedding. Going by European tradition, the bride’s family pays for the wedding. The groom’s family pays for the honeymoon. In more recent times, I see the couples themselves paying for their wedding and getting a much smaller contribution from the families since those past traditions were new. Now, I have seen weddings cost $1,000 and I have seen them cost over $50,000; both the dream weddings of each couple. It’s not about having a large budget, it’s about having the perfect wedding for what you can afford.
wedding budget
Your budget is going to guide you to the promised land!
When speaking with family members, you will want to nail down exactly how much each member who can contribute, will contribute. There have been plenty of instances where assistance is promised but never delivered and then the couple is let down. Speaking frankly about the needs of pulling off a great wedding is vital to its success. Keep track of the contributions you receive (for several reasons but also to make sure to give gratitude where and when it’s due) and follow up with people who may be a little slower at pulling out the ol’ wallet.
Contributions don’t have to come in the form of cash either. Family members willing to ‘gift’ things for the wedding like one buys the cake directly. One will deal with the DJ or band. One with the caterer. That’s a great way to delegate and take some of the pressure off the couple. But it’s a give and take. Third parties who are ‘gifting’ things for your wedding are more likely to choose vendors and products based on price and not quality, which can result in a huge issue. You must be able to depend on the vendors or on those products for – what could possibly be considered – one of the most important days of your life. Unless the ‘gift’ is from someone who is also a vendor, I would recommend to those who want to contribute, to give money.
A great way to give money so the couple can use it without issue asap is with a prepaid credit card. Credit Unions and Banks have options for secured cards and – depending on the financial institution – can have a balance of $1,000 or higher with the option to add more funds at a later time. Other options are PayPal, gift cards or gift visa cards, or even a GoFundMe.
The next step is setting the date and picking your venue!!! I’ll have that one out next week. Take care everyone and if there are any questions, feel free to email us at

*This post was originally published 01/05/17*

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