There are various reasons why one might choose to execute a DIY wedding and use do-it-yourself decor, the most novel being the desire for a unique, handmade touch. Cost can also be a motivating factor, however if not selective about the way in which materials are purchased, cost can quickly exceed that of traditional decor. If planning on attacking a wedding centerpieces project from a DIY stance in order to save money, then I would advise setting for yourself and respecting some basic ground-rules.
First, scout out your materials, make a wish-list, and begin investigating where to buy. Multiple retailers sell the exact same items, but at varying prices. In my case, I was on the hunt for red glassware, of any size and any type. I found that craft stores are the best options for small colored glassware. I had to expand my search to Pier 1 Imports for larger and specialty pieces. Pier 1 did stock the same small items as craft stores, but even when on clearance, they did not compare in price to everyday craft store prices. IKEA also keeps an array of colored glassware, and they usually have unique shapes that other places do not carry.
Second, never buy materials without a coupon or other discount applied. Paying full price is simply unnecessary, and can be easily avoided. Craft stores like Michaels and Hobby Lobby usually have a useful weekly special and always have coupons available. Make sure you check their websites weekly for sales applicable to your needs and stock up whenever possible. Coupons for Michaels and other such stores can be found by simply searching on Google for store coupons by using the keyword coupon along with the store name. For example: “Hobby Lobby coupons”. You’ll find plenty of trustworthy websites on the first page of the search results that offer coupon codes to use online as well as printed ones to be used at the store. Pay attention to the fine print, and alter your shopping strategy accordingly. Some coupons may discount individual items rather than the entire amount, therefore when using these you should target the big-ticket items on your wish-list. Coupons for percentages off an entire purchase should be used for the inexpensive items on your wish-list that you might need in great numbers, and for those that would otherwise not be worthy of use of a single-item-discount coupon.
For circumstances when a coupon cannot be found, investigate the availability of unwanted giftcards for the desired stores. Sites like Cardpool, Gift Card Bin, and ABC Gift Cards offer giftcards that can be bought for anywhere from 5% to 30% less than the face value. Shipping is usually free and requires 3-7 business days. The value on the card is guaranteed and doesn’t have an expiration rate. They have never failed me. We employ this strategy even in our everyday purchases, procuring and using cards from Target and Walmart to do all of our necessary shopping. When planning, for instance, an IKEA trip, we first check an aggregator site like Gift Card Granny, which pulls in all the available gift cards from trading sites to one place, saving a ton of time. P.S. We will dive into my IKEA love affair during a future encounter…
Moving on, avoid over-buying materials by being aware of your capabilities. It can be difficult to accurately project the amount of materials you will need for your venture, because you probably haven’t executed a practice run (who does??), so buy these items as you go. While this practice can slowly eek the cost upward, which could potentially allow your spending to get out of hand, this strategy on the other hand also prevents unnecessarily spending money on materials that you can’t possibly exhaust. In my case, my basic materials were scrapbook paper, glue, and paperclips. Although over time I did use the equivalent of over 2,000 paperclips, I clearly did not need thousands of them in my arsenal because they can be reused. When I first started folding flowers, I had no idea how many clips would be in use at a given time, so I started with one pack and went from there. I did make the mistake of buying more paper than was necessary, which, although not tremendously expensive, was a cost that we had to eat, and ultimately money that could have been saved. So this third rule is one that I’ve realized in hindsight, and am passing along in hopes of preventing others from making the same mistake.
Next, make initial estimates based on your vision, set a budget based on that projection, and STICK TO IT. You will invariably at some point experience a moment when you suddenly think that you haven’t prepared enough of whatever it is you are making. Don’t freak, this is natural. Channel the great Coco Chanel and remind yourself that less really is more, and move on about your business.
But, with that said, last but not least, know your wedding venue before making initial estimates, and do be realistic about the decorations that your venue can support. It’s best to do this at the appropriate time, i.e., after your venue has been determined. One cannot plan what to decorate how unless the where is known. If your venue ends up being a location unfamiliar to you, then document it’s layout extensively. Even if you are visiting for the first time just to check out the area, do not do so without a camera in tow. You never know, this could be ‘THE place’ (gasp), and what’s more, you may not get the chance to visit the site again until ‘THE day’ (double gasp). Please do not try to rely on your memory because it will fill up quickly.
If you’ve got additional tips I’d love to hear them! I’ve since applied these strategies to my current craft and hobby ventures, as well as to my everyday purchasing life, so any advise is welcome.
Perhaps throughout your DIY wedding adventures you will also develop a new, unanticipated hobby… saving money.