Planning your wedding on a budget – some DIY tips!

Today’s post comes courtesy of one of the Southern Bride Community – Jess Free. Jess lives in Dunedin with her new husband Jesse and their cute dog Winston. Jess and Jesse used Southern Bride Verified members Be My Guest and Angela Port Celebrant for her big day. Today she’s sharing with us some of her tips for how she planned her wedding on a budget.

Weddings can be expensive, especially if you’re not quite sure on where or how you could potentially save some pennies. I’m here to share some tips and tricks I learned while planning my own wedding that not only saved me money, but made my wedding so much more special to my husband and I.


DIY can sound scary, but really it’s pretty fun! There are so many things you can do or make yourself and save a pretty penny. Armed with my glue gun and some supplies from Spotlight, I made the button-holes for the boys and I got so many compliments on how cute they were!

diy groom buttonholes
Photography by Dave Strydom

Trawl through Pinterest for tutorials on how to make things and give it a shot. If it ends up being a Pinterest fail, laugh and move on. You can always try again or source what you need from somewhere else!

If you’re planning a rustic/vintage wedding, why not try making your own bunting? All you need is some cute fabric, string and a sewing machine. You can even jazz it up with some pinking shears!

What I’m trying to say here is, think outside of the box! Let your creativity flow, because nobody ever went to a wedding and thought “Oh look, the bunting is cut crooked”.

Do your venue research

In New Zealand we are blessed with some truly gorgeous wedding venue options, many of which don’t cost a fortune! Check out community halls, historical buildings, halls of residence. All these venues can be made to look truly magical with a little imagination, and add a sense of nostalgia to your special day.

pukehiki hall dunedin wedding venue
Photography by Jess Free

As most of these venues are 100% do-it-yourself, you won’t incur extra charges for decorating/clean up etc. You might just want to get your family onboard for the cleanup the next day though!

rustic wedding invitation - blackboard themed wedding
Invitation by Be My Guest

Beg, borrow, steal

Okay maybe don’t steal, but you can borrow! Keep an eye out at friend’s birthdays or when you’re visiting, as there may be things that you can borrow from a friend for your big day. I had wonderful friends and family who lent me drinks dispensers, beer buckets, and even some gorgeous vintage suitcases.

wedding cards and thumbprint tree diy wedding
Photography by Dave Strydom

Remember, everything you buy you’re going to need to either sell or store after your wedding, so it pays to not hoard too much stuff!

Rope in the family

Do you have family members who are particularly good at something? My sister-in-law is an ace baker, so she baked my gorgeous cupcakes. I shudder to think what 100 cupcakes from a cake store would have cost! By all means, if you prefer to go pro, then do it, but why not include a family member who we all know is secretly dying to pitch in?

cupcake stand and cutting cake at diy wedding
Photography by Dave Strydom

Of course, if you love doing something yourself, refer back to point one! I made my ‘top cake’ which was shared by all the family the day after the wedding. Baking is one of my favourite things to do, so it was fun to bake my own wedding cake.


This is my final piece of advice. Prioritise what is important to you. Is a fancy dress not your thing? Don’t buy an expensive one just because everyone says you should. That money could be used for something that is a priority, like cake! The dress wasn’t a priority for me, so I bought one that I loved off ASOS. On the day I didn’t panic that it was dragging in the mud while we had photos, which relieved a lot of stress for me.

wedding planning on a budget - diy tips from jess free
Photography by Dave Strydom

Think about the traditions, and whether you want to opt into those or not. Your wedding day is about you and your spouse-to-be, so spend money on the things that are important to you. At the end of the day, you’re the only one that will remember the intricate details of the wedding. Your guests will remember the love, the fun and most importantly, the dancing.

Thanks Jess for your insights, tips and advice! I’m sure if you have any questions, Jess will be happy to answer them – pop them in the comments below or read more from Jess at her blog Mindfully Kind.

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