Wedding industry experts share savvy saves for commonplace do-it-yourself wedding snafus

CTW Features

When it comes to weddings, the DIY route may save you money and is ideal for personalizing your event – but there are occasionally hiccups along the way. Here are four possible conundrums you might come up against, with smart solutions.

1. You can BYOB … But Who Pours it?

Your caterer will likely be willing to pour your self-procured alcohol for an additional fee. Otherwise, you should look into hiring servers from a beverage company, says Kelly McLeskey-Dolata, founder of A Savvy Event in Sonoma, Calif. “The liability is huge if you use a friend or someone who isn’t licensed to pour alcohol.”

Another option is enlisting servers from a local bartending school. It may be more affordable, and these motivated students are probably more reliable than your buddy who bartends on the weekends.

2. You’re doing your own flowers. How do you ensure you’re not still arranging them as the guests are arriving?

“If you’re the sole [floral] designer, then consider creating centerpieces out of potted plants and flowers,” says Mette Morgan, co-founder and editor of “It’s a brilliant way to both save money and be able to prepare the flowers ahead of time without having to worry about them wilting.” For a vintage or country-style touch, Morgan suggests using old tea tins (lined with a plastic bag if they aren’t 100-percent watertight) or antique bowls or jars. Or for a “tall look,” try arranging your small pots on cool cake stands.

If you’d rather have fresh-cut flowers, your safest bet is assigning the task to a loved one who isn’t in the wedding party. But either way, remember that practice makes closer-to-perfect, and remember to keep it simple. Only feature one or a few different blooms, says Morgan, and use small, slim vases or antique bottles with small openings so the blossoms will have lots of stem-support and sit together naturally.

3. You want to make your own wedding sweets. How do you avoid ending up chin-deep in flour instead of enjoying your rehearsal dinner?

Because solo baking for the masses can be pretty tricky, only attempt it for a wedding with 50 guests or less, advises Morgan. You’ll also be better off forgoing a tiered cake in favor of treats that can be made days ahead, such as meringues (serve them with fresh fruit, berry/vanilla spread or ice cream), a variety of sheet cakes (top them with a simple frosting, berries, chocolate shavings or nuts just before serving) and different versions of fruit tarts.

4. You’re making your own invites. What’s the best way to prevent your recycle bin overflowing with mistakes?

McLeskey-Dolata recommends doing a sample invitation from start to finish first, and timing yourself. Make sure making 100 more won’t eat up all your free time, it’s cost-effective and you like the result before embarking on the rest. One expert tip: Order approximately 20-percent extra paper, or consider having them printed professionally but assembling them yourself. Check out local stationary stores and online retailers for cards that come complete with borders and helpful templates.

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