Updated: Apr 11
So when I started this DIY wedding blog a few weeks ago, it's been amazing how many of my friends and customers wanted to share their amazing DIY wedding stories with me and I cannot wait to share them all with you. But I have to choose Rozi and Mathew as the first DIY real wedding story as they took DIYing their wedding to the next level!!
Now I know this wedding wasn't cheap (and sometimes doing it yourself doesn't always make it cheaper), however I just love how they were so resourceful by including as many friends and family as they could and looked at ways they could make it cheaper where possible BUT still having the wedding they wanted THEIR way..........
"We looked at a few venues but were always conscious of our budget and the fact most venues had a fairly early end time – our priority was having a big party and being able to carry on until the early hours! We therefore decided to have the wedding at home in a marquee in my dad’s garden. We were legally married at Sutton Registry Office the day before, and then had a ceremony for the wedding guests at Dad’s house on the big day, which was officiated by one of Mathew’s best friends.
We had to hire the marquee, tables and chairs, as well as table linen and toilets. We shopped around and used suppliers that were reasonably priced but also who we felt comfortable with and had a good feeling from – sometimes the cheapest isn’t always best and with independent suppliers we found it more important that we felt the supplier communicated well and was genuinely interested in our big day.
We didn’t buy the groomsmen suits but simply asked them all to wear a suit they already had – we weren’t fussed about them being matching, but did ask if they had a navy suit that they wore that one. But we weren’t fussy. We then just bought them all a green tie and pocket square so it was clear they were part of the wedding party.
We hired the glassware, crockery and cutlery from a lady named Ellen – her company is ‘Harriet’s Table’. She was lovely from the start and made us feel as though we were her complete priority. With Mathew being half Iranian, we chose caterers that could prepare Persian stews, so the crockery we hired was chintzy vintage in style, with a nod to the middle east (gold and red trimmed). We also ordered a massive kebab delivery from our favourite kebab house!
In addition to the glassware we hired, I bought a lot of mis-match small glasses from charity shops over the months leading up to the wedding – we used these as shot glasses at the bar.
The budget was limited so we did as much by ourselves as we could. We built the bar from scratch using timber from a local timber merchant as well as scrap we sourced from skips. The top of the bar was an old kitchen work top we found in my dad’s garden. It took about 6 weeks to build as my brother-in-law had to help Mathew so there was limited weekend time when they were both free. We really wanted a big bar to be the focal point of the wedding – it looked great, we had a neon sign which we borrowed from someone and a big photo of Mathew’s dad who sadly passed away in 2007, so he was still part of the day.
We borrowed a shelving unit from my sister which we decorated with ivy from the garden and gin bottles to make the table plan seat finder. The table themes were different gins (we love Gin!) and the full bottle of gin on the seat finder had labels with the names of those on each table – there was then a corresponding empty version of the same bottle on each table with fairly lights in. These bottles were later scattered around the marquee and the garden to create lights. The full bottles from the seat finder were then used behind the bar for the gin bar in the evening.
The florist made big greenery crowns which were hung from the marquee – the cost was limited because they used a lot of greenery from gardens of various family members. We didn’t have big flower centre pieces on the tables, but instead just had jam jars (which we collected over the months before) with greenery and cheap white flowers in. We did splash out on White Company scented candles but I really don’t think it was necessary as the marquee was so big that no one noticed the smell!
We borrowed things wherever we could – from lanterns and garden candle holders from Mathew’s cousin, to ice buckets and troughs from my sister and a friend. We also borrowed blankets from a friend that had recently hosted a garden party; just cheap IKEA ones but the oldies appreciated them in the evening.
We created a seating area at the top of the marquee using the sofa and chairs from our garden furniture. Basically anything in anyone’s house/garden that could serve a purpose at the wedding was used.
In regards to the booze, we considered joining a wine club or Costco (or similar) to buy beer etc. in bulk. However, we actually it found it more cost effective to just buy all the drinks in bulk from the supermarket whenever a promotion took place. That also meant we stocked up a lot of Nectar points which paid for our Christmas food shop later in the year!
We hired a band for the evening do, but a friend played the piano as I walked down the aisle. For the daytime, we simply played a playlist on Spotify using a speaker that Mathew borrowed from his office.
To cut the costs of the food down a bit, we didn’t have a sit-down dessert course but instead asked friends and relatives to bring cakes and just had a big cake table. One friend made an extra special cake which doubled up as a wedding cake.
I think my favourite part of the day which we did ourselves was the light tunnel that my brother-in-law created for us. We bought cheap garden arches from Amazon and simply wove fairy lights (which we already had from Christmas) around it. The side passageway was the entrance to the wedding so in the evening it really stood out.
We saved money by cutting out the traditional ‘night before’ stuff. Mathew was still busy at the house with his best men setting up the night before, while I had a cheap dinner out with my bridesmaids and parents. I decided not to stay in a hotel the night before so after dinner the bridesmaids went back to their own homes (we all live locally) and I went home and spent the night there with my sister and the boys (Mathew stayed at my dad’s house with him). The bridesmaids and my mum met up at my house in the morning before the wedding and we all got ready together there – it was much more relaxing than a hotel and completely free! We then just got Ubers to the wedding venue!
Another tip to save money – if your wedding is going to go on till late, don’t bother booking a fancy hotel to spend the wedding night in (unless your wedding is at a hotel of course). You don’t get there till very late, and then just wake up and check out. We just went home with the boys after our wedding – it didn’t end till almost 4am so we would only have spent 6 hours in a hotel!"
Thank you Rozi and Mathew, your DIY wedding story is truly inspiring and I hope it will help others on their wedding journey.