Wanna know the fastest way to drain a bank account?
Start planning a wedding.
I could build an entire, house, feed myself for a couple of years, or build a school in a third world county for less than the average wedding cost.
Which, by the way, is over $30,000 in the U.S., I just googled it.
Here’s the thing though, weddings are expensive because people who have stacks of money forming end tables in their foyers are willing to pay a small fortune for things they don’t need.
Like engraved programs or hundreds of little takeout boxes with personalized fortune cookies inside that EVERYONE THROWS AWAY. (I know, you saw them on Pinterest and hhhaaaaaaadd to have them.)
Throwing a budget wedding doesn’t mean you have to limit the guest list, resort to Dixie cups, or require payment at the door.
It just requires a little creativity instead of paying for crap you don’t need.
Keep your money in the bank and DIY the hell out of this thing to have your cake and eat it, too.
I searched high and low to help all my bride-y friends with DIY wedding decor ideas to help create a beautiful space indoor or out that isn’t going to leave you with a pile of newlywed debt.
In case you haven’t been watching HGTV as much as I do, rustic is the new chic.
Joanna Gaines made us all want to move to the country and farmhouse style has completely replaced the world of glitz and glam, especially in weddings. Even though I have no clue what shiplap actually is, if Mason jars make you giddy and lace ribbon is in your veins, there are so many DIY wedding decor ideas to display your skills into a rustic décor wedding theme.
Rustic Outdoor Wedding Decorations
Flowers: For a rustic DIY wedding decor, replace every pricey flower with inexpensive baby’s breath, it looks perfect and is still dainty and purdy. You can also replace overpriced roses with wildflowers, sunflowers, or succulents.
Backdrop/altar: Start by gathering rustic elements like pallets, barrels, mason jars, wooden crates, metal tins, hay bales, and tree stumps. Ask family and friends for items they’re willing to part with. The more supplies you have to work with, the better the results.
Once you have a collection, begin to plan your décor based on the items you have.
Flatware, dishes, cups, etc.: For a rustic wedding, think finger foods. That replaces the need for flatware and dishes. Use mason jars for drinks, or even disposable (gasp!) flatware.
It’s a barn people, you don’t need fine china!
Centerpieces: Keep the centerpieces simple with natural elements you can find for FREE like logs, branches, etc. Thanks, Momma Nature.
Add inexpensive candles, mason jars, and again, using lots of baby’s breath instead of more expensive florals, and a little bit of ribbon and you’re all set.
Lighting – pink lights – sparklers – candles: Creating lighting in a barn can be tricky because, well, it’s a barn and horses don’t usually require nightlights. What they do in the dark is their business.
The easiest way around this problem is to have a daytime wedding, but if you need lighting, you can use mason jars to create DIY chandeliers, hanging lights, or paper lanterns from the ceiling.
Photo booth area: Use what you already have for DIY wedding decor. Bring in barrels, wheels, hay bales and wooden tables can be used for the food or photo display.
And for props, find free printables and tape them to popsicle sticks. EZPZ.
Aisle decor: If you’re creating an aisle down the middle of your outdoor venue, use inexpensive muslin fabric for a clean white look. You can use tree stumps with candles for a romantic feel, and use those same candles in your reception area when the ceremony is over. That’s a two-fer!
Seating – chair covers: How hard is it to wrap with bows?! Grab some burlap, because by now you have it rolling around your house in piles. Or, skip chairs all together and use hay bale seating instead. But please, cover it with a simple cotton fabric so I don’t have hay up my ass all night long.
Signs: Pallets make great signage, and you can usually find them for free at landscape supply companies. You can also use wooden crates for displays, signage, or décor.
Party favors: Keep things simple. Remember, most people throw the favors away, so they better cost next to nothing, or so damn good everyone will cherish them forever.
If you have a grandmother who’s willing to help, homemade jam jars would be awesome for a rustic theme, or, maybe personalized bug spray, or a unique trail mix created of your favorite snacks.
OK, so let’s say that your style is less Pioneer Woman and more Martha Stewart.
That’s cool as long as you don’t actually need sleep to survive. You can still create cheap wedding décor that includes less dirt and more glam while maintaining a reasonable budget.
Backyard Outdoor Wedding Decoration Tips
The venue is typically the most expensive part of the wedding budget, so if you have parents, grandparents, or even an aunt you barely know who has a great backyard, it’s time to call in a favor.
A backyard wedding can be completely stunning if you put your time and effort into the right areas and collect all the best DIY wedding décor ideas from your BFF Martha.
Flowers: If you’re already in an outdoor setting, maybe you don’t need a ton of flowers on the tables, in the backdrop, and on the cake.
Instead, let the outdoors speak for yourself and keep your flower budget to the bouquet and boutonnieres.
Backdrop and altar: You don’t want to choose a mountain wedding only to cover up the mountains with a giant backdrop or altar.
You chose an outdoor wedding because you wanted a beautiful setting, right? So, use what God already gave you. Add a few tall flower pots, hanging lights or beautiful draping fabric and you’re done.
Flatware, dishes, cups, etc.: Premix your drinks to avoid the inevitable budget woes caused by an open bar. Use cute jars or inexpensive glassware to have all the drinks mixed ahead of time to save on the cost of a bartender and the cost of liquor.
Centerpieces: Don’t waste huge amounts of money on dead plants, pick up some flowers from Costco and throw together some super simple centerpieces. They are going to be looked at for less than 8 hours and then thrown away.
Lighting: If your venue is outdoors, lighting is critical. Check outlets and voltage first so you don’t blow a fuse from lighting overload. Think of simple things to use like candles, sparkles, or Christmas lights (the best kept secret of cheap wedding décor). Before you plan lighting, visit the venue after dark so you know what you’re in for.
Photo booth area: You’re outside. Mother Natty already gave you the best DIY wedding décor. Pick a nice garden spot, throw in some balloons, and you have a photo booth for $5 – tada!
Aisle décor: Think seasonal elements. If you’re getting married in the spring, use seasonal buckets filled with baby’s breath. For the summer, go for potted plants or big palm leaves depending on the climate. For fall, line the aisle with pumpkins or apple buckets. For winter, get an indoor venue – are you seriously that crazy?
Seating and chair covers: Rental chairs cost as much as my first car. While metal folding chairs might not fit your ideal day, they are easy to find and can be easily covered with white chair covers and tied with ribbon. Your bridesmaids will be happy to tie ribbon on a few hundred chairs, that’s why they are there.
Signs: If your wedding location is a little difficult to find, directional signage is helpful. It can be made from painted scrap wood from Home Depot. You can also use wood signage or make your own inexpensive chalkboards for signage detailing the program, menu, and seating assignments.
Party favors: For outdoor weddings, the best favors are something that’s actually useful for the outdoors. You can make thin blankets out of inexpensive fleece or flannel, or DIY your own tiny bottle of water and sunscreen.
Delegate these simple tasks to your maid of honor rather than doing it all herself, make that bitch earn her title.
Indoor Wedding Decoration Ideas
If you’re getting married in the rainy or winter season, a backyard or barn venue is probably not the best choice. You can lessen the price of an indoor venue by creating your own DIY wedding décor.
Most venues allow you to bring in whatever you want for cheap decorations and flowers. You can still create the wedding of your dreams without the maxed-out credit cards.
Flowers: Throw out any idea of what your favorite flower is (no one cares that you love lilies), and just use whatever is in season. Use flowers only where absolutely necessary and fill in other areas with greenery, baby’s breath, or succulents.
Backdrop and altar: You can make a seriously awesome indoor backdrop with PVC pipe. Simply make a stand, and wrap it in tulle, fabric, glitter, or paper streamers. Then you can hang $100 bills from the top to represent all the money you just saved.
Centerpieces: Use things you already have. Spray paint wine bottles rather than buying new vases. I know the wedding stress is causing them to pile up.
Add a few flowers or sprigs of green or a little glitter and you’re good to go.
Flatware, dishes, cups, etc.: Most indoor venues should provide flatware. Use what they are offering. It’s so much cheaper than reinventing the wheel.
If you must customize every step of this blessed event, add colored linens or unique napkin rings, but please just use the damn plates you’re given.
Lighting: For an indoor wedding, I’m going to assume you picked a venue with electricity included. If not, you should keep looking.
Of course, you can add some paper lanterns, twinkle lights, or candles for ambiance, but don’t overthink it.
Photo booth area: Use ordinary birthday balloons leftover from God knows when, and paint them to make new and glamorous gold leaf balloons around the photo booth area.
Aisle décor: Tulle is the cheapest fabric on the planet and it’s also a wedding staple, so use it to its fullest. Drape it along the chairs to create a beautiful aisle without a lot of effort. You can add a little baby’s breath, twinkle lights, or colored ribbon along the way.
Seating and chair covers: If you are booking an indoor venue that doesn’t include chairs, book another venue.
If they only offer basic folding chairs, you can use fabric covers. Sometimes you can hit the jackpot on sites like Craigslist or eBay from brides trying to unload the stuff leftover from their own wedding.
Signs: Use large frames you already have, remove the pictures and use whiteboard markers on the glass to make beautiful signage.
If you have a family member or bridesmaid who is an artist or badass at calligraphy, ask them to hand paint canvases for signage. And it doubles as a gift.
Party favors: Let’s get one thing straight, no one said favors are required. So, if you want to skip them completely, let’s do that. Otherwise, think of something worth the time and effort. A popcorn bar, water bottles, or something simple from you and your groom is all that matters.
Don’t toss out your Pinterest dreams simply because you have a budget that’s smaller than expected. All those cutesy ideas, elegant photos and must-have setting are completely doable when you know you can DIY them.
Sure, it might get a bit stressful, you may burn off your fingerprints with a glue gun, and it might take some blood (damn sewing needles), sweat (do you know how heavy hay bales are?), and tears (you wouldn’t be a bride if you didn’t cry every day) – but you don’t have to do it alone!
Use your network to think of the craftiest, most organized, talented people you know and bring everyone together for the most kick-ass DIY wedding décor the world has ever seen.
Oh, and remember those ladies who just spent two hours bitching to you about the dresses you bought them? Make them earn their place in your wedding line. Enlist the help of your bridesmaids to get through this with you. That’s what they are here.