I am currently planning a DIY wedding - stretch tent in our garden for around 80 - and the big day is less than 3 weeks away. We wanted a smallish party with friends & family (my fiance is from Sri Lanka - 80 is small by his measure). We weren't too thrilled by standard hotel packages, all the hotels within our budget looked slightly shabby or a bit corporate and the whole affair would have costed around £25k + honeymoon. So after several non-traditional ideas we decided on DIY wedding in our garden and I count myself exceptionally lucky to have such a large garden. So in January, we started planning ...
With 3 weeks to go, here's my experience ...
1) It can be very cost effective but It's easy to go over budget because there is sooooo many things to think about (currently working on generator wattage) and you are bound to forget budgeting for something. The quotes tend to be hard to compare as one person offers a+b but not c, whereas the other offers b+c but not a so I'm never sure I'm getting the best deal but sometimes I just go on practicality. Delivery charges are my biggest enemy so go local whenever possible, I think I spent close to £1k on deliveries so it all adds-up. Having said that - I think I can still land this at around £15k for 80 people (excluding honeymoon), including some accommodation & flights for family from outside UK.
2) I'm stressed out of my mind right now, sorry, no ringing endorsement of DIY here.... There is endless researching, quotes, chasing suppliers, co-ordinating suppliers and incredible attention to detail that are required. I'm experiencing occasional Pinterest madness with resulting confusion and disappointment of not having $100k wedding in California (my boards seems to be centered on California weddings for some reason - we live in Hertfordshire - not quite the same). I'm really not particularly enjoying the planning process, my home is full of boxes with various decorations and I am panicking right now. Just being upfront about it, i'm sure that it is manageable, but good to be prepared for the emotional and practical impact of it. The key for me was making decisions fast, which my fiance is really good at. I offer researched options, he drives the fast decisions.
I think I used this post to offload a little bit. I stress again - it is perfectly manageable and I'm sure it will be all right on the day.
3) I can't guarantee the look on the day will be exactly what I want because the decorations start to add up really quickly and I had to reign myself in quite a bit. I'm relying on guests being primarily interested in food, alcohol and dancing. We spent a fair bit on all of those, very little / nothing on stationery or favours for example. My primary interest is the dress, I've gone for ball gown bought online from US (Saks 5th avenue and all the other major US department stores offer shipping to UK - really smooth and painless experience. No time limits on refunds), so saved a bit whilst still getting a great looking dress. They also stock far better designer selection and price ranges compared to UK. Prioritisation is key.
4) I am relying on a super capable best man + my brother on the day. We have another 4-6 friends/family helping and I really hope I can delegate rather than being my usual hands-on control freak. I don't have a bridesmaid to help. I'll let you know how that goes.
Please don't let me put you off but I wanted to be realistic. There are days when things really come together and I get really happy and excited about the day.
Good luck with whatever you decide.