A Walk Down the Aisle: DIY Style

Every bride has a vision for her wedding day, but what happens when a part of that vision can’t be bought? If stores don’t sell that perfect touch, take matters into your own hands. Don’t be afraid to dream big; all you need is the DIY determination to back it up. Get inspired by five fabulous weddings that prove do-it-yourself decor can unite a wedding in crafty matrimony. Also, get hands-on with some craft tutorials and get tips from the pros of TLC’s I Found the Gown on finding your perfect dress.

By Katie McPherson

South Carolina Creative

Lovebirds on a budget need look no further than this wedding. Christin and Strait were on a tight budget but created a gorgeous wedding nonetheless. They were married at home surrounded by pristine landscaping prepared by Strait and his friends who also built most of the tables and benches used for the reception. Christin’s mother owns an antique store and provided many of the furnishings and décor, like vintage mirrors and oil burning lanterns. Guests could customize their own favors at the candy bar by filling favor bags with old-fashioned treats before sliding onto the benches covered with rustic quilts. This is the ultimate DIY southern wedding with a very low price point. Photos courtesy of Virgil Bunao Photography

DIY Autumn Artists

Amy and Nate chose an autumn theme for their DIY wedding. While the leaves here in Florida may not change, incorporating fall colors with creative touches can bring the same seasonal feel to any wedding. These two had a clear vision of their big day so where stores and rentals failed, Amy took over. Using an old white picket fence, she built and painted her own wedding signage to direct guests about the grounds. She designed her own napkins and cake topper, ring pillow, programs and table numbers as well. This couple is proof that dream weddings come true with a little do-it-yourself inspiration and the elbow grease to make it work. Photos courtesy of Jodi Miller Photography

Designing Their Big Day

When two designers get married, a new level of DIY bliss is unlocked. Angela and Eugene struck a beautiful balance between modern and retro while including personal touches significant to them as a couple. Many of the larger furnishings were flea market purchases the couple would later use in their home. A small mailbox set and antique typewriter made the perfect DIY guestbook for friends and family to leave sweet notes. Cheerful paper flowers punctuated the reception hall, like the back of the bride and groom seats alongside the matching Mr. and Mrs. screen prints. The couple’s charming wedding is topped off by their personalized cake topper, complete with their two furry friends. Photos courtesy of Erin J Saldana Photography, erinjsaldana.com

Soft & Southern

What could be more DIY darling than a backyard wedding? Sarah and Scott were married on their family’s property where simple paper lanterns, a rock-lined path and a humble streamer backdrop set the stage for the ceremony. Like a true southern bride, Sarah was wed in a lace gown and cowgirl boots while her bridesmaids’ dresses were pastel mint and coral hues. The outdoor reception took a turn for the rustic thanks to secondhand antique barrels, wooden crates and lanterns found by the happy couple. Local produce and flowers were scattered throughout the reception in honor of the newlyweds’ agricultural ties to the community. They also styled their place settings and favors. A classic red pickup created the perfect photo op spot at the end of the evening. Photos courtesy of Josh Elliott Photography, joshelliottstudios.com

Best DIY Ever

Trisha and Justin decided that after working together on the production of Coachella for so many years, the desert was the perfect venue for both the concert and their big day. This couple built and crafted just about everything for their wedding. Hubby of the year Justin built the dance floor, altar, signage, escort card display, tiers for food tables and even made his own string lights. Leftover wood was used to make centerpieces. The seating chart was made clothesline style with paper heart nametags clipped along the colorful strings. The heart theme continued in the courtyard of the venue where blue and yellow hearts on sticks studded the turf along with the phrase “best day ever.”Photos courtesy of Amelia Lyon Photography, amelialyon.com


A Sweet Thank You

To-go hot cocoa and s’mores kits are two sweet favors to end the evening. Guests can enjoy them the next day or even on the car ride home. Sending them off with a treat is the perfect way to thank friends and family for sharing in your big day.

What you’ll need:

Graham Crackers,
Hot Cocoa,
Clear Baggies,
Craft Baggies,
Baggie Tags,
To-Go Cups, and Straws

Fill clear baggies with two graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolates and staple shut using baggie tags.

Add hot cocoa powder and marshmallows to craft baggies and staple on bag toppers to seal.

Put labels on to-go cups and add straws, cocoa packets and extra marshmallows. Printable templates for the bag tags, toppers and cup labels are available for free on greenweddingshoes.com.

 Source and Photos: Smitten on Paper for Green Wedding Shoes


Here Comes the Bride

To add a unique DIY element to any wedding, craft up a banner to be carried down the aisle just before the bride makes her grand entrance. Not only can this adorable project be customized to fit any theme or color scheme, it’s another way to get little ones involved in the procession if the ring bearer and flower girl jobs are taken.

What you’ll need:

Watercolor paper,
X-acto knife,
Hot glue gun

Paint designs of your choice on watercolor paper.

Print out phrase on computer paper and attach it to watercolor paper with removable tape. Using the stencil, cut out each letter with the X-acto knife.

Using knife or scissors, trim banner into the shape of your choice.

Adhere the banner to a dowel using a glue gun. Add ribbon or other embellishments to the dowel to fancy it up.

Source and Photos: Smitten on Paper for Green Wedding Shoes



Be Your Own Florist

The bride’s bouquet is her most eye-catching accessory, besides the ring, of course. Purchasing the flowers from a local farmer’s market is a cheap alternative to hiring a florist and lets you hand select every bloom. This DIY bouquet has a backyard wedding feel and is a budget-friendly alternative to hiring a florist.

What you’ll need:

Flowers, Your flower budget money, in cash, Buckets of water for the drive home, Fabric Swatches

Get an idea of the colors and flower types you want, but be flexible in case vendors don’t offer those varieties. Arrive early to the market to be sure you get first choice of the flowers offered that day.

Bring your flower budget in cash as an easy way to stick to your price point. Place blooms in buckets for the ride home.

Arrange flowers into bouquets. Blunt cut the stems and tie them together with a fabric swatch. For a vintage look with frayed edges, tear the fabric strips instead of cutting.

Source: The Bride’s Café; Photo Credit: Marvelous Things Photography


Ready, Aim, Sparkle

At the end of the day, the bride and groom will make their grand exit past all their loved ones. Rather than tossing bird seed or white rice, try giving guests these DIY confetti slingshots. They’ll get some real air and make for colorful photo ops of the newlyweds.

What you’ll need:

Y-shape Deer Antlers,
Craft Paint,
Paint Brushes,
Painter’s Tape,
Rubber Bands,
Hot Glue Gun,
Leather, Vinyl or Fabric,
Clear Polyurethane,

Start painting! Layer paint for brighter color and wait until dry to continue.

Use painter’s tape to mark where you want the next color to start. Get creative with designs like stripes or chevrons, but wait until the paint dries before gently removing the tape.

When painting is done, apply one clear coat of polyurethane to seal and prevent chipping.

Cut the pouch for the slingshot out of the leather, vinyl or fabric of your choice. Cut a small slit on both sides.

Cut two rubber bands so they are each one long piece. String one end through the slit and knot. Wrap and hot glue twine around the rubber band to create a polished look. Repeat on the other side.

Tie the other end of the rubber band to the sling shot. Wrap twine over the rubber band and hot glue.

Display the slingshots with confetti pouches at dinner tables so guests will have them in hand for the big send-off.

Source: Christie & PJ of Going Lovely for Green Wedding Shoes; Photo credit: Kirsten Julia Photography


Nuptial Know-How From Vows

Vows Bridal Outlet, located just outside Boston, is owned by Rick and Leslie DeAngelo. A cursory glance suggests this is just another bridal boutique, but TLC fans know better, because Vows is the star of the show I Found the Gown. Rick and Leslie have built a business and a hit TV show based on brides with budgets, so we sought out their expert advice on finding the perfect dress at the perfect price.

What’s the story on Vows?

Leslie: We started the store over 20 years ago after our own wedding. I wasn’t able to find a designer dress for less so after the honeymoon we started brainstorming and opened the store eight months to a year later. We had 50 gowns in a small second story space.

Rick: We’re like the TJ Maxx of bridal stores. We work with retailers, designers and manufacturers to buy samples, overstocks and last year’s gowns. We typically price our gowns 50 to 80 percent off and we work hard to make sure we have lots of different sizes. To accommodate a variety of sizes we have our own line called Liv Harris. We buy those in large quantities to save customers money and they go up to size 24.

How did you get involved with TLC?

L: As we grew, so many people were saying we should have our own show, and Rick said ‘why don’t you call the production company?’ We connected with the production company for TLC and introduced ourselves, and it turns out three of their employees had purchased dresses from our shop. The rest is history!

How has I Found the Gown affected business?

L: It’s a national show so now we get calls from all over. Last season a bus of brides came from the tri-state area, and we might have another bus coming from North Carolina soon.

What is the importance of having a budget for the dress?

R: The whole genesis of the store was brides on a budget, we love them. Most people have a budget so we really try to keep our prices down.

L: Our brides are smart and they want designer gowns for less. They don’t want to sacrifice the experience for lower cost. They’re thinking ‘do I want a new living room set when I get back from the honeymoon or four hours in a more expensive dress?’

Do you have any tips on sticking to budget in the face of more expensive gowns? How can brides resist temptation?

R: If you’re looking at cars, you don’t drive the Rolls Royce first because everything else will be disappointing. When you go to the store and try on a gown that’s double your budget, that’s disappointing, too. When brides want to try them on I say ‘don’t do it!’ Tell your consultant your price point and the look you like and they’ll work with you to find the right gown.

L: Rick always uses the analogy of test driving a car. Typical guy! Stay within your means; you can get the look for less.

How can brides prepare for shopping or an appointment with a consultant?

L: Do some research. Look at magazines. Definitely keep an open mind and try on lots of different styles if it’s your first outing. Listen to what the consultant has to say. They know what gowns are flattering and what cuts will look good on what figure. Come with the right undergarments like a strapless bra or Spanx.

R: Our website is very informative. We have a lot of tips and designer profiles. We shoot our own gowns so you can zoom in and even see the beading and embroidery there.

What should women keep in mind while trying on dresses to keep from getting discouraged?

R: Narrow the silhouette down. Once you pick your shape it will be less overwhelming. And don’t let your family discourage you. Fashion is subjective so they may not like your day-to-day wear either, but it’s important the bride loves her dress.

L: Try to stay focused on your goal but keep an open mind. It can be overwhelming on the floor, but our consultants are trained to help the bride narrow down what she wants. They listen to the customer and keep them focused. And try to think of it as a process. It should be enjoyable.

How many dresses do women try on average before finding the one?

L: Ten to 15 is normal, I would say. I met a bride who was making her way up the east coast and when she put on her first dress in our store she said it was her 76th!

How many people should go dress shopping with the bride?

L: Don’t bring a large entourage. I say just one or two close family members or friends.

How can women find the right dress for their body type?

L: Do some research, but this is what we train consultants to do. They listen to the bride’s concerns. If she’s worried about her waistline, the consultant will look at empire waist gowns. I think sometimes people are intimidated by the consultants, but if it’s a reputable shop, they should work with you based on your budget and requests. But you can’t go wrong with an A-line; it’s the most flattering silhouette. A trumpet cut or fit and flare shows off curves.

What are some upcoming fall bridal trends to look for?

L: Coverage is coming back, surprisingly. Strapless has been in for a decade. Now they’re showing silk organza necklines, lace capelets, long lace sleeves and more coverage above the bust line.

Lastly, how can a girl be sure which dress is the one?

L: Most people don’t want to take the dress off when they have that moment. A lot of brides will start dancing up on the podium like they’re imagining themselves at the wedding.

Don’t miss more from Rick and Leslie on TLC’s I Found the Gown when it returns in the spring for its third season. For more pro tips and information on Vows, visit bridepower.com.

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