How to Plan a DIY Wedding in Less Than 100 Days

wedding

99 to be exact. Hi, I’m Lindsay, one of the editors for Make It Yourself magazine, and on May 31st I got engaged! My future hubby and I (that’s him and I below) chose to get married on September 6. It’s Labor Day weekend, still great weather out, and that extra vacation day is perfect for our traveling guests. The only downside is that it gave me 99 days to plan an entire wedding–on a budget.

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I have a few things on my side:

  • I’m super organized (Excel charts and to-do lists are my thing)
  • I like research (no stone unturned in my search for the best deal)
  • I’m a crafter (perfect for budget decor)

Along the way, I’ll be blogging with tips, tricks, and tutorials for planning a quickie wedding with DIY touches! It definitely won’t be a comprehensive guide for wedding planning, but hopefully it provides a starting point for the beautiful brides out there that want a personal (and budget-friendly) wedding.



Day 1: Enjoy your engagement! Pop open some bubbly, kiss your more-than-bf, and call your family and friends!

Day 2: Get an account at theknot.com. It’s your personal wedding planner (and a total lifesaver). It tracks your budget, has a helpful checklist of to-dos, provides a free wedding website, organizes your guest list, and has a comprehensive list of contacts, pictures, and tips for your big day. Plus, there’s a free app, so you can plan on the go.

Day 3: Get a notebook and binder you love. This will help you organize paperwork and receipts, keep to-do lists, and take notes while touring venues. Paste any clippings from magazines, color palettes you like, and more into the notebook as inspiration.

Day 4: Choose a date! Write it down in your planner with little hearts around it. Although it may seem backward to pick a date before researching venues, having a set date makes choosing a venue a process of elimination–perfect when you’re short on time.

Days 5-6: Choose a venue! A quick Google search (or a listing on theknot.com) can turn up hundreds of choices, which is overwhelming. Read my blog on choosing the perfect venue for a DIY wedding here. Then narrow down your choices and start calling. Eventually, one of them will have an opening and you’ll say “book it.”

Day 7: Make a guest list. This is where any excel doc. skills you may have will come in handy. Make a row for names, addresses, invites sent, RSVPs received, number of guests in each party, food choices, gifts received, and thank you notes sent. (If you’re not a super organizer like me, you may have less categories.) Sit down with your fiancee and write down names of every family member, friend, and acquaintance you may want to invite. Now narrow it down. Things to consider: how many people your venue fits, how large a wedding you want, how hurt your mother will be if you don’t invite her best friend’s kids, etc.

Day 8: Choose your wedding party! This one is particularly fun, because the people you ask are always super surprised and really excited. Since you’ll soon be asking them to spend money on wedding wear, planning you a bachlorette/bachelor party, and basically being your wedding-day slave, it’s nice to ask them in a special way, so they have something fond to look back on. See creative ideas for asking them here.

Day 9: Open a bottle of wine, put Gilmore Girls on Netflix, and start pinning! (Not like you needed another excuse to be on Pinterest…) Take advantage of secret boards, so nosy friends and family can’t see your plans. Make separate boards for wedding day looks (dresses, hair, makeup, etc), color palettes you love, drool-worthy decor, and flowers and bouquets. Having multiple boards will make it easier to see groups of images when you’re making final decisions. Need help? Follow our “Wedding DIY” board for ideas.

Day 10: Choose a color palette. The color combination you pick will determine what your wedding party wears, your invitation design, the decorations, your bouquet, and more! So it’s important you pick one you love! See my tips for choosing your color palette here.

Day 11: Get a wedding hashtag. Yes, we’re being serious! Start using it now to Instagram key wedding planning moments, so people will recognize the official hashtag. By the wedding day, your guests will use it without nagging reminders, so you can see a nice online collection of moments from your special day! Need help choosing one? Try this website.

Day 12: Get your dress! Trust me…after 11 days of planning, the dress will become an obsession. Grab your mom and best friend and hit the stores. (Hint: if you’re looking for something a little more understated and a lot cheaper, ask to see their reception dresses.)

Day 13: Start your wedding registry. Registering for gifts has gotten a lot more convenient! Many stores now let you shop for your registry online from the comfort of your home. Give your significant other the password so you can both add things you love. In a week, if you decide you need three more dish sets or don’t want that china bowl anymore, you can simply edit it online.

Day 14: Block off rooms at a hotel or two. Hotels usually offer discounted rooms for weddings and reserve a certain amount without any liability or charges to you. Things to keep in mind: the total number of people who may need hotels, how many couples versus families you have coming, the proximity to the wedding venue and the airport, whether a pool and continental breakfast are musts, etc.

Day 15: Schedule a date night. You’re probably dreaming about weddings, and talking about weddings, and planning your wedding at every possible moment (hey, you only have 85 more days!). Be a normal engaged person for a night and go on a date. Put wedding talk off-limits, so you can appreciate your loved one and relax.

Day 16: Make your website. Even if you have no html experience, theknot.com makes building a website so easy. Upload photos, add your registry, pull in pics from your wedding hashtag, share wedding-day details (like times, hotel options, transportation, and local attractions), and set up your website to take RSVPs online. Guests have questions? Direct them to your website!

Days 17-18: Order your stationery. You can make your invites as simple or elaborate as possible. Just make sure they give all the necessary information and incorporate your colors and wedding theme! Need help? See my tips for designing your wedding invites here.

Days 19-20: Find a photographer. A photographer is probably one of the most expensive purchases you’ll make for your wedding, so you better love your photographer. Love. Love. Love. Here’s my guide for finding your photographer soulmate.

Day 21: Book your officiant. Whether it’s a priest, a judge, or your best friend, let them know to save the date and what readings/songs/poems/etc. are important for you to include in your ceremony.

Day 22: Dress your ladies! Now that you know your colors, shop around with your ladies for the perfect bridesmaid’s dresses. They can be totally matching, the same color but different styles, or all slightly different colors and styles. It’s all up to you! Let  your bridesmaids know if you have a preference on shoes and jewelry, too.

Day 23: Dress your man. This could be a painful shopping trip, but you have to do it! Whether you’re renting or buying, make sure it’s something he’s comfortable in and something that will match your dress and theme. Don’t forget the small things like socks, belt, cuff links, tie, etc.

Day 24: Scan the market. Basically, visit your fave crafts stores and party stores. Take pics of what supplies are out there, what the prices are, and what colors are available. But don’t buy anything! Later on, you can compare prices and styles from the comfort of your own home, then plan a more official shopping trip. Don’t skimp on the pics, either! The more you have, the more ideas will pop into your head for DIY decor and gifts.

Day 25: Reserve transportation. Check into any limos, shuttles, or trolleys you need for your wedding. If your reception is far from the hotels, you may want a shuttle service so guests can drink without worry. See if the hotel has a shuttle to and from the airport, so guests from out of town don’t need to rent a car. List any transportation info on your wedding website so guests know their options.

Day 26: Date night! You’ve met with a lot of people this past week. Take time with your significant other to decompress, spend time together, and relax!

Day 27: Find your cake baker. Meet with them and bring any pictures you have (steal them from your Pinterest board), any favorite cake flavors, and ideas for displays and toppers to fit your theme. Need cake topper ideas? See some of our fave DIY ones here.

Days 28-29: Decide on food and drinks. Make a complete list of food you need for the rehearsal dinner, the cocktail hour, and the reception. Make restaurant reservations for an estimated number of people, look at menus, make a list of any food or drinks you’re buying yourself, and research and call caterers. Don’t forget to ask about delivery services! And keep an eye on sales for things that will keep longer (like drinks and snack food).

Day 30: Book your DJ. Decide on the tone of your wedding. Do you want dance music for the reception? Classical for cocktail hour? Records spinning over a laptop? Then find someone who can fulfill your wedding music dreams! Make sure you let them know any specific wedding requests, like your first dance, the father/daughter dance, and any other special songs. Are you DJing your own wedding? Read some tips for making your playlist here.

Days 31-32: Send your invites. This will give guests a month to respond and you a month to prepare for the correct number of guests. Address all the envelopes, add the stamps, and put finishing touches on your stationery. Want ideas for adding a DIY touch to your invites? See my ideas here.

Days 33-34: Pick your flowers. Make a visit to the local flower shop to talk to their floral designer. They’ve probably done a lot of weddings, so can suggest flowers based on your colors and the theme of your wedding. They’ll also know how much of everything to order based on how many bouquets and centerpieces you need. Don’t forget boutonnieres for the men and corsages for the mothers! If you’re feeling the urge to DIY your flowers, places like Etsy sell plant cuttings so you can grow your own flowers (this is much cheaper than buying in bulk). A quick YouTube search will also give you step-by-steps to arranging bouquets and corsages.

Day 35: Get an Amazon Prime subscription (or become best friends with someone who has one). You’re about to buy a lot of things and free two-day shipping will become the most important thing in your life.

Day 36-37: Buy eating necessities. This includes silverware, plates, napkins, cups, bowls, serving utensils, etc. You can incorporate your theme into these elements for pops of color and pattern on the table or stick with one color for a uniform look. Be safe and buy more than you need. There’ll always be a few people who make multiple stops at the dessert table or drop their fork on the ground. Having extras will be one less thing for you to worry about on your big day!

Day 38: Buy gifts for your wedding party, parents, and anyone else who may be providing extra help during the wedding. It could be as simple as a favorite bottle of wine or something more personalized like a monogrammed watch. You may also want to give special wedding-day wearables to the wedding party such as jewelry and ties to keep their look uniformed.


More to come as I continue planning!


Happy planning! Lindsay

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