3 Projects for a Cheap and Easy DIY Weddin

"3 Projects for a Cheap and Easy DIY Wedding | DIYRock.Com - Enjoying Your DIY Life Here!"

Joe Pappalardo

A wedding can consume money like a wildfire devours trees. Figures vary from those who follow the numbers, but according to the Bridal Association of America, U.S. couples this year are spending an average of $30,000 to get hitched. Ironically, as costs spiral upward, the event can become less personal. But there are ways to defeat the wedding industry jackals that thrive on overcharging for what couples with some time and moderate technical skills can do on their own.

Four years ago, on July 23, my wife Heather and I married on a dual-masted schooner sailing from Baltimore harbor for a small fraction of the cost cited above. To afford the four-hour cruise, we pretty much had to do everything but sail the boat ourselves. We cooked the food for our 100 guests, sewed and stuffed pillows for the boat furniture, arranged the flowers, mixed our soundtrack and printed our floppy magnetic "save the date" cards. Heather did her own hair. Hopefully some of our tips and methods will help other romantic but frugal couples save money for things that guests will really appreciate—like an open bar.

The first thing to do is marshal your forces. Who has skill sets or raw enthusiasm that can be harnessed into free labor? Heather's family is incredibly crafty—her mother makes clothes to sell at renaissance fairs, and she created a personal and gorgeous dress. Two professional photographer friends graciously shot the event until sunset. We recruited others to cut invitation paper, carry food and escort people, when needed. Who needs an event-planning staff when you have friends? Instead of feeling put out, our friends actually enjoyed feeling like wedding stakeholders.
3 Projects for a Cheap and Easy DIY Wedding

The talent pool of your guests is just luck, but there are plenty of things that the bride and groom can handle on their own to save cash and put a personal stamp on the event. Wedding cakes are a great example. BAA says the average cost of a cake and "cutting fee" hovers at $543. Our solution: Buy cupcakes from a local bakery and coax Heather's father, Don Alexander, to build a nice three-level stand to present them. The cost of materials—galvanized pipes, plywood and decorative paper— was minimal, and the price of the cupcakes was well below the average. We ordered 200 cupcakes for 100 guests, and not a one returned to the dock.

DIY Accommodation and RSVP Cards.

You can easily design your own invitations, which the Bridal Association of America says eats up almost $900 for an average wedding. This seems crazy to me: All you need is a computer and a layout program such as InDesign or Quark, or even MS Word, to make your own.

Lily Malcolm, who works with Heather at Dial Books for Young Readers as the executive art director, has some good advice from her experiences designing invites for friends and family: "Take a look at other invitations to see how they're worded, how each line breaks and whether or not the type is set to the left, right, or centered. Once you've figured out the size of the invitation and the wording and placement, the only thing left to do is to find a font you like and then decide on colors for the paper stock and the font. If you want to add a little something extra, Dover Clip-Art has tons of images." If the whole thing is too daunting, try a site like Printablepress.com to work within a formatted template. After the design is set, you can print it out at home or bring the design to a print shop.

When it came time to construct the invitations for our wedding, Heather led the charge. First she picked a paper that would work as a theme for all the stationery for the entire wedding, like the band around the invitations and around favor boxes. "Then I got all the other components needed, like pre-cut cards. That saves time and helps accurate printing." She found our fonts—Chelsea Studio and Century Gothic—at 1001freefonts.com.

After the cards were printed, they had to be assembled into multipage invitations including maps of Baltimore, hotel information and so on. The cards were held together using grommets, which you can get at any scrapbooking supply store. The bands that wrapped around the invitation also served as a pocket for these cards, for which she employed a rotary cutter and a mat with a straight edge to cut the strips to size. Then she folded over the edges to form the pockets. For the invitation cards, she used industrial-strength double-sided tape to hold the pieces together. She also created a wax-seal effect with a hot glue gun loaded with a colored glue stick. We stamped the image into the wet glue, one invitation after another, exchanging stories about the guests as we worked.

Heather got almost everything at Paper Source, but other good sources are envelopments.com and envelopme.com. Scrapbooking paper can work well for bands and other flourishes. "Papermart.com is the best source of ribbon I've ever found," Heather says.

We personalized our favor boxes by using the same paper we used for the invitations, tying the boxes shut with the same ribbon we used on the invitations. It was very easy, and used up our leftover supplies.

In the end, it's the goodwill of the guests that make the wedding. There's no reason a couple—or more commonly, according to BAA, in-laws—has to fork over tens of thousands of dollars just to get married. But I also feel lucky that Heather and I had such a hands-on approach to our nuptials. We didn't feel like guests, we felt like hosts.

Heather says she only has one regret. (Not that one.) She never got a cupcake.

DIY Three-Tiered Cupcake Stand

Project by Don Alexander

This stand holds approximately 200 cupcakes.

1 sheet ¾-inch plywood (½ inch could be used, but screws are short and don't hold well).
4 floor flanges for ¾-inch galvanized pipe
3¾-inch galvanized pipe nipples, 10 inches long
16 No. 12 galvanized flat-head wood screws, ¾-inch long

Layout and cut the following circles on the sheet of plywood. Be sure to mark the center of the circles. You will need them later.
1 – 36-inch diameter
1 – 24-inch diameter
1 – 12-inch diameter

Center one of the floor flanges on the top of the 36-inch circle and screw it in place;
Center one floor flange in the center of the top and bottom of the 24-inch circle and screw them in place;
Center one floor flange on the bottom of the 12-inch circle and screw it in place.

Screw a 10-inch pipe nipple into the floor flange on the 36-inch circle.
Screw the floor flange on the bottom of the 24-inch circle to the top of the 10-inch pipe nipple previously screwed onto the 36-inch circle.
Screw a 10-inch pipe nipple into the floor flange on the top of the 24-inch circle.
Screw the floor flange on the bottom of the 12-inch circle onto the pipe nipple previously screwed onto the 24-inch circle.
Paint or finish to suit. Heather's father, Don Alexander, used the coordinating paper on the different layers of cake stand. "First, I used bookbinding paper around the edges, cut perpendicular to the edge about an inch apart to make it lay smoothly on the curves," he says. "Then I used Mod Podge and a foam brush to glue down the paper and add a sheen."

You can use cabinet-drawer knobs for feet if you want to raise the stand off the table.
To aid in positioning the floor flanges, cut squares the size of the final circle and draw lines from corner to corner. Once the circles are cut, the lines will allow you to align the screw holes in the floor flanges as well as the center hole to better center the flange.
You can make a square stand and eliminate the circle-cutting for easier construction.
Circles can be adjusted to provide more clear space on each layer.

How to Make Your Own Wedding Dress

Project by Joanna Alexander

Anyone with experience and nerve can either copy a wedding dress from a photo or memory or use several different commercial patterns to achieve a beautiful original gown.

First, the bride needs to pick a gown for inspiration. It might be a designer original that can't be copied without written permission from the designer. Given that caveat, you can copy the style and lines of the original and by giving it your own touch can style it yourself.

When Heather was married, the gown she liked so much had a tea-length skirt of eight layers of silk tulle netting, which drove up the cost. It turns out this tulle was silk. Frankly, the way it was used in the dress, it was hard to tell the difference between the look of silk and the look of polyester. The lace for the sleeveless top was much easier. Less than half a yard of very beautiful lace was enough for us to make the simple top, by draping the lace on her body and pinning it to her shape before cutting, then sewing it together so the lace pattern was intact. The openings needed no facings. The material for an underskirt came from silk from a parachute Heather's grandfather acquired during World War II.

You don't need to use a single gown pattern; feel free to mix and match. The neckline can come from one pattern, the bodice from another, the sleeves from a third, and so on. If you make it in wedding fabric it will look perfect. Just make sure the pattern pieces fit together, or be prepared to trim them to match.

Things to remember:
1. Measure yourself carefully.
2. Measure your patterns very carefully. You'll find in a lot of cases the pattern doesn't accurately reflect the measurements on the envelope, so don't trust them!
3. Adjust the measurements and make a prototype from an old sheet or cheap muslin.
4. Put it on inside-out. That way, you can pin changes along the seams. Use safety pins if it's going to be moved very much.
5. If you need boning, don't bother with the plastic bones available at most shops. Get metal ones online if you can. Other ideas include construction banding (look in the back of big-box lumber stores); the metal hangers at the tops of hanging desk files work well. You will need to soften the ends or you'll cut through your fabric. (Try hot glue for the ends.)
6. Don't hem your own gown—that's a two-person job. Put on the gown and have a friend mark every 4 to 5 inches where it meets the floor. If it's shorter, use a yardstick and measure the exact length from the floor up. Cut at the measurement line. Never measure the skirt length down.
7. Embellish to your heart's content. Heather's dress features a purse and satin sash.
8. If you want to do a headdress, look for hat frames in fabric stores or online under "millinery supplies." There are lots to choose from


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