As a mobile DJ for over 15 years, and a bride myself, I’ve probably gone to more weddings than the average person. By sharing my experience (both personal and professional) I’m hoping to help you have the beautiful wedding you’ve dreamed of.
Many brides are budget-conscious, most of us don’t have access to unlimited funds so we have to make do within our means, hence the birth of the DIY wedding.
First you need to prioritize. There are so many things that you can spend money on at your wedding, you want to focus your energy (money) on the things that matter most. How do you decide what’s most important? A good guideline is to think back to the last wedding you went to and think about what stands out in your mind. The things that are important to you will stand out in your mind. Very few people mention party favors, shoes, linens, chair covers, flowers, etc., but they ALL cost money.
What things seem important now probably won’t be such a big deal after the day is over, so don’t drive yourself crazy over the little things.
As far as your DIY wedding, some things may seem easier than they are. I hired a friend to do my photography – I had seen her work and she had some gorgeous shots, but since she wasn’t a professional wedding photographer, she missed several shots with members of my family and what would’ve been the best frame-able photos were heavily shadowed or underexposed. At minimum (for ANY photographer) make a list of the pics you want to have. If you have a favorite uncle or cousin, be sure to include them on your list. Sometimes, it is worthwhile to hire a professional (I wish I had.)
If you want to make your own centerpieces go for it – as long as they’re not something that has to be assembled the night before your big day. If you’re up till 2 a.m. stressing about getting them done, you won’t be at your best for your wedding.
If you’re not using a professional caterer, decide (in advance) who will be serving champagne, cutting & serving cake and clearing plates. I have seen brides IN THEIR WEDDING DRESSES busing tables and taking huge garbage bags to the trash. I think it’s a crime! This is your special day. Even if you hire a couple of teenagers to do this, it’s well worth it.
FYI If your caterer is not professional, they may not know that they shouldn’t start serving your guests dinner before you – you are the guest of honor and should ALWAYS be first.
As far as music goes, with mp3’s and iTunes music is readily available. I think you can customize a playlist for your cocktail hour or dinner. For the ceremony or dancing – here’s another time when I think hiring a pro is your best bet. Your iPod can’t take requests, fade out a song that’s not working, adapt to what’s getting good dance response, and put together music sets that build the energy and keep people dancing. Nor can it make announcements or coordinate with your photographer & caterer so everything runs smoothly.
Most people remember one thing – if they had fun. So focus on the things that make it fun and keep in mind … if you don’t have fun at your own wedding, you should’ve saved the money and just elope.