7 DIY Wedding Tips from 7 Brides and Grooms

Inspired ideas and terrific tips from those in the know to help you plan your big day

Thinking of planning your own big day? It can be a daunting task to take on, but it’s also the most affordable way to do it. And so, we’ve scoured the Mother City and spoken to a number of recent (and soon-to-be) brides and grooms to simplify things for you and bring you some of the top tips and tricks to organising a DIY wedding. Forget hiring a planner and rethink that larger-than-life budget, because we’ve got all the advice you need to keep the event stress free, manageable and within your means!


1. Plan Ahead
If there’s one piece of advice for organising your own wedding that we cannot stress enough, it’s plan well – and by this we mean well in advance! Pulling off a successful day can be a gargantuan affair and there are usually 1001 details to be remembered. So the best way to stay ahead of the game is to begin drafting and crafting as soon as possible – as they say, never leave for tomorrow what you can do today! It’s also advisable to keep a timeline of when you’d like certain aspects to be completed by; this way, you can tick off things as they’re done. For a head start, check out our wedding checklist guide.

2. Outsource to Friends and Family
Everyone’s got that artsy friend or family member who’s a creative in the making. So, why not pool together all readily available resources and recruit your cousins, siblings and BFFs to help you with the details of your big day? One bride, Rhonda Knott, whose beach-themed DIY wedding was a roaring success, had her dress made by a designer friend, who gave it to her as an unforgettable wedding gift. Otherwise, those in your circle might also be able to help you out if you’re looking for a snazzy car to drive you to the ceremony or a holiday hideout for your honeymoon.

3. Think Again When Hiring a Venue
As far as the details that need to be organised are concerned, a wedding venue tends to be at the top of the list – and take the largest chunk out of the budget! To keep things affordable, take advice from groom Duan Prins, who opted to host a ‘private function’ at a Mother City eatery rather than booking out an expensive wedding venue on a wine estate. Not only did he save mega bucks on the venue, but also spared extra cash on decorations, entertainment and catering, as resaurants come equipped with food, music, furniture and décor basics. Although Nadia Knoke's butterfy-themed reception was held at an estate, she was able to find a place that, in lieu of charging a hiring fee, required her to pay per head for the food.  After saving on venue hire and basic set-up, all that was required was to add the finishing touches!

Still on the topic of venues, local groom Frank Lohmaier had the unique idea of making use of a public space for his wedding and booked out the Noordhoek Common. Parks and communal areas can be picturesque and pocket friendly, and in Frank’s case, only a donation was required. Otherwise, there’s always the option of a beach wedding, and with Cape Town being home to some of the world’s most scenic stretches of sand (not to mention, great weather in summer), a coastal ceremony could be positively dreamy.

4. Opt for a Buffet or Food Platters
Why not avoid the fuss, and expense, associated with a standard three-course meal and rather opt for a self-service buffet? Not only will guests have the freedom to pick and choose what they’d like to eat, but brides and grooms will also save on costs by not having the additional service charge. That being said, the recently wedded Malu Lambert, a foodie fanatic who pulled off a gorgeous vintage/rock ‘n’ roll-inspired wedding, argues that a buffet can become a messy affair after the first few guests have plated up. So she suggests rather going for a feast table or organising a number of finger-licking food platters. An extra bonus of platters is that they stimulate conversation and serve as an excellent ice breaker for shy guests.

Another useful titbit of advice is to make use of a single company (if you’re hiring a catering firm) to take care of the fare, service and cleaning up afterwards. Separating these duties amongst businesses can create added costs and make it more difficult to keep track of things. In terms of drinks, keeping a constant flow of boozy bevvies can become pricey. Rather, consider simply having a few bottles of wine per table or putting a limit on the bar tab. Placing a cocktail jug (think sangria) on each table is also a great idea and can add a nice decorative touch. 

5. Embrace DIY Décor
One way to avoid breaking the bank on wedding decorations is to opt for simple statement pieces that you can put together yourself – think glass jars with a single flower as opposed to over-the-top floral arrangements. Keeping it basic can be just as effective, and often more dramatic! Take Tarin Johannessen’s décor idea, for example: she passed on the blooms and instead chose to decorate the venue with scatterings of beautiful photographs. Then there’s groom Justin Peters, whose wedding theme was black-and-white Art Deco with a Mad Hatter twist. He also voted against the floral trend and rather decorated the venue with origami mobiles, bunting and handmade confetti. Not only are these paper options perfect for the purse, but they can also easily be made at home and could even serve as a fun pre-wedding activity for couples. For some inspiration, make use of platforms like Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram and check out Tarin’s suggestions: The Pretty Blog, SA Weddings and SouthBound Bride. 

6. Cut the Costs on a Cameraman
Everyone wants to remember their special day vividly, and no doubt, having a photographer at the ready to capture all those happy snaps is the best way to do so. But top shutterbugs can be ridiculously expensive, so why not follow our outsourcing advice and see if there’s someone in your family or friendship circle who could take on the job for free? Otherwise, up-and-coming photographers who are looking to bulk up their portfolios are a great, more affordable option – just plan well and think through exactly what you’d like to be photographed and where to save you time and money. Though, if all else fails, take inspiration from bride Rhonda Knott, who offered a prize to the guest who took the best picture on her special day – and ended up with over 2000 photographs! Although not all of these were picture perfect, there were definitely some gems, and the guests revelled in the fun.

7. Organise Affordable Entertainment
Rising stars who’d like to show off their skills could be a good place to start as far as entertainment is concerned. Artists in the making are likely to perform for a fraction of the normal price – or maybe even free of charge, if you’re lucky! You could also shy away from the traditional wedding band and hire a DJ instead; just be sure to time their working hours well so that you don’t have to pay extra (no one needs a DJ during the ceremony or speeches). Generally, just try to be inventive, and perhaps take a leaf out of Rhonda Knott’s wedding book: she organised an art exhibition much to the delight of her guests. It was a win-win situation as Rhonda didn’t have to pay extra for entertainment and the featured artists had the chance to promote, and even sell, their work.

By Georgina Selander 


Looking for the perfect place to get kitted out for your big day? Why not browse our overview of wedding dress shops and tuxedo suppliers in the Mother City or else pay a pick up a made-to-measure wedding suit at our favourite tailor MORE’s.


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