Personal touches make a wedding celebration extra special, and what better way to add your individual style and taste than to take care of some of the components yourself? Don’t worry. You don’t have to do it all! Make it a family (and friend) affair by enlisting the help of your crafty loved ones.
One of the easiest ways to relieve some pressure off making decisions and your time is to loosen up on your wedding party fashion requirements. “A big trend in weddings is not to match the bridal party,” says Laurie Schneider, owner of One More Time clothing consignment in Wakefield. “Everyone has different body types that certain styles look good on them.” Plus, what bridesmaid wouldn’t want to feel confident and look her absolute best? Set a general color scheme and allow your attendants to wear their own choices. The slight variety in hues and styles will add personality to your photographs and you can still have an elegant event even if people don’t match perfectly. Reduce the number of people in your bridal party, perhaps with just a maid of honor and best man, and you'll keep your big day (and your budget) a breeze.
If you’re having a rustic or beach celebration, ask gentlemen to wear khaki pants, white shirts and colorful bow ties. Ladies in dresses in shades of light blue and accompanied with nude shoes will complement the look. For a more formal occasion, consider gray or navy suits instead of renting tuxes: If they don’t have one already, it is a great piece for them to add to their wardrobe. Complete the look with matching ties and pocket squares. Add shine to your bridesmaids by requesting sequined or beaded rose gold, blush or platinum floor-length gowns. And you won’t have to spend a lot of money to say "yes" to the dresses. “Resale stores usually have a lot of options that your bridesmaids can purchase for up to 75 percent off of retail. Usually the gowns have only been worn once or even still have the price tags,” Schneider explains. “A good time to look is around the holidays and in spring when a big influx of dresses come in.”
You don’t want to be arranging flowers or setting the table the morning of your celebration. However, if you have willing volunteers you trust, then go for it. “Your location will determine if you need rentals,” says Dan Gamache from South County Party Rentals in South Kingstown. “You can save money if the event is at a private home and if you are willing to do some of the planning.” Loosen your expectations and embrace the results.
Good flowers to choose for DIY bouquets and arrangements are statement blooms, such as hydrangea, sunflower, peony and baby’s breath, which look beautiful on their own and can be ordered in bulk. For the tables, especially for a vintage or backyard soiree, rent rustic farm tables and borrow chairs, plates, flatware and glasses from friends and relatives for a romantic and meaningful mix.
To keep sane on your big day, the best things to DIY are what you can do several weeks or months ahead of time. Grab a can of metallic spray paint and coat rocks, shells, pinecones and even mini pumpkins to match your theme and season. Fill glass containers with them or group around a collection of borrowed candlesticks and even stacked vintage books for centerpieces.
Hand-written signs continue to be a trend, and can be made with items from your local art supply and craft stores. A framed chalkboard or mirror can take place of the wedding program to save costs on printing them and a few trees in the process. There are myriad ideas for escort cards from small easy-to-care-for succulents and sand dollars to tagged vintage keys, jars of jam and personalized chocolate bars. “Keep it simple,” suggests Gamache. “Don’t worry about what others think. This is your day, so make it special for you.”
Food & Drink
Food, like the flowers or decor, can be a challenging DIY wedding component. Most wedding venues have a catering service, or at least a preferred vendor list. If you are holding your celebration at a private location, there are some things you can do to help with the cost.
A delicious pre-dinner nibble is a cheese and charcuterie station. Simple ingredients – dry cured meats, cheese, sweets and crackers – can be purchased at local specialty food stores. “It’s good to taste items first a get a good feel for what you like,” suggests Stephen Caniglia, who co-owns East Greenwich’s Chef-a-Roni with his father, Henry. “You want to be confident about what you’re serving.” Henry adds that before purchasing components, consider what else you are serving as an appetizer, such as a raw bar or passed hors d'oeuvres, to help determine how much you need. Both food experts agree that if you want guests to be able to quickly grab something, have the cheeses and meats pre-cut into small bites. “To give guests a way to mingle and converse, serve choices, such as brie, with a knife to slow things down,” says Henry. He also says that it is good to have a mix of three different types of both meats and cheeses for visual and flavor interest. “You want a soft, medium and hard cheese,” he explains, “and meats ranging from mild to spicy. But not too spicy to ruin the palate.”
For drink offerings, you can hire a bartender, who will be able to help you stock a full or limited bar. With a full open bar, guests are able to order anything they want from a spritzer to a Manhattan. With all the options for liquor and mixers, this can get pricey. Consider providing a limited bar of beer, wine and a signature cocktail or two and set up a serve-yourself station with elegant glass drink dispensers for water and other non-alcoholic drinks. A DIY Prosecco bar, set up with sliced fruits, peach puree and cranberry juice, is also a fun alternative to cocktail service; however, it is a good idea to have the bubbly poured by a server. “Prosecco is more cost effective than Champagne,” says Jessica Norris Granatiero, founder and proprietor of The Savory Grape & The Savory Affair in East Greenwich. “For instance, you can get a really nice bottle of Prosecco from $10-$15, whereas a nice bottle of Champagne will start at $35.” She suggests having a range of wines and beers to cover different palates. Have three types of beer, such as light lager, an India Pale Ale (IPA) and a seasonal brew. For reds that are “food friendly as well as soft and enjoyable on their own,” choose a Pinot Noir or an Italian Sangiovese. “For whites, I recommend unoaked Chardonnays, Sauvignon Blanc or a fresh vibrant Italian white like a Vernaccia or Vermentino. These styles are typically very good on the wallet.”