DIY wedding- not all its cracked up to be

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  • Posted: 8 Jun 2018 14:56

    DIY wedding- not all its cracked up to be

    Bit of a long story, I got engaged in October 2017 which was a big shock as my other half really hadn't expressed much interest in getting married before. 

    Both of us want a low key, relaxed informal day with a bit more of a party in the evening in 2019. We did look around a couple of venues in the winter which turned out to be not what we were looking for. We put the planning on hold for 6 months as i was studying and now are looking again. We also booked a village barn with some green space thinking we could DIY a lot of it. 

    Now it's come down to planning, and i am getting cold feet about the whole DIY idea. For two reasons- i don't want to be the point of contact/arranging things on my wedding day and two- have 0 experience in and from what I've read, it involves a lot of input from friends and family which i don't imagine we will get. 

    Now I'm thinking about abandoning the whole idea and started to look at venues, however some of the quotes are outrageous- £7k+ for venue hire without food or anything else. i thought our budget was reasonable (£12k) but turns out that is quite small! 

    Has anyone any experience in hiring a wedding planner/coordinator for a DIY wedding? I don't mind organizing small things like decorations, etc. but not caterers. We're based in Sussex, and our numbers are small for the actual breakfast (30) and more like 80 for the party/reception, and most of the venues have minimum numbers or would just feel like we're rattling around in a big place! 


  • Posted: 12 Jun 2018 14:13

    Re: DIY wedding- not all its cracked up to be

    Firstly, if you decide to stick with DIY, make sure you can go to the place the day before to set up, and the day after to take everything down, because you definitely DON'T want to be doing that on your wedding day!

    We're doing a bit of a combination - we've booked a venue where we have free rein to organise our own bar/caters/decor etc, but the guy who runs it will also help with the set up, and will assist our suppliers on the day so that we don't need to think about it. Maybe look around for something like that? Most venues seem to have some sort of coordinator person who will assist as much as you require them, which means you get the help without having to pay out for a dedicated wedding planner. 

    Budget-wise, unfortunately, whilst your quotes are a little higher than what I've had (I'm in Somerset), I wouldn't say they were totally shocking, considering your proximity to London. The only thing you can do is keep looking, and maybe try negotiating what you get for your money. If you try and book something soon, you might be able to get it for 2018 prices, or you could try going to wedding fairs - especially when they are held at venues you like - as they often give a discount.

    Or, if you don't have a date fixed, you could wait and try to get a last minute deal from a cancellation, but obviously there are no guarantees with that. 

    Some friends of my chap got married last year in Sussex, and it was a nice sized venue for the numbers your are talking about - I'll try and find out the name for you - have no idea on prices though I'm afraid!

    Try not to panic, it will all work out in the end!

  • Posted: 12 Jun 2018 16:01

    Re: DIY wedding- not all its cracked up to be


    I'm based in Sussex and know a decent number of venues. The DIY option isn't a bad idea (we did it ourselves too) but yeah, it does take a bit of effort, things catch you off guard and unless you are an Etsy diva it'll be cheaper to get an all in one venue.

    12k isn't a bad budget for 30 guests at all, but a load more people in the evening will be. Also, many venues in Sussex cater for numbers between 60-130 guests and are priced based on that (in a minimum fee aspect).

    Places that hold smaller numbers (as in all in ones) are Horsted Place, Buxted Park, Pangdean Barn (maybe)

    As for DIY / Dry Hire, Iford Village Hall is a peach, Grittenham Barn is nice and larger. Ummm Brookfiled Barn possibly. You've made me think now. Oh yes, Angel House in Brighton is one of the nicer (non hotel) venues,

    Personally I'd look at Iford Village Hall. Easy to get to but remote. And cheap to hire. Holds 30 really well but you'll need to move some tables for the evening guests (but always factor in a few to several won't turn up).

    If it was a summer wedding I'd recommend a field and a couple of Capri tents like we had. Along with an afternoon tea and a BBQ in the evening.

    But 12k? Totally do-able on your numbers.

  • Posted: 23 Jun 2018 21:34

    Re: DIY wedding- not all its cracked up to be

    Hello, We are getting married in Sussex (Brighton - Hotel Du Vin) this August and we have 80 people for the day and a further 25 in the evening. We have a budget of just under yours and we are serving everyone with 3 courses and further food in the evening. However, I am not wearing a wedding dress - just a "nice" dress so that reduced of the costs. 

    I didn't want to do DIY as I have a lot of other things going on and am not crafty at all. 

    Best of luck - it is definitely possible!

  • Posted: 23 Jun 2018 21:56

    Re: DIY wedding- not all its cracked up to be

    My daughter is doing a diy wedding and finding it hard, its a lot of work but it will be your wedding. Shes getting married in a small church in Sussex then tipi's in a friends field. 

  • Posted: 27 Jun 2018 17:24

    Re: DIY wedding- not all its cracked up to be


    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.

  • Posted: 28 Jun 2018 11:38

    Re: DIY wedding- not all its cracked up to be

    Thanks everyone, about 2 days after this I did find the perfect place! We did have to stretch the budget a bit (up to £15k) but have managed to keep that DIY feel without doing all the DIY. 


    If anyone is looking for a relaxed, lovely venue in Sussex then we went for Wooton Farm Estates who provide the food & alcohol, make sure the event runs smoothly, run the bar, have a camping field and car park, and a cute farmhouse for some guests. 


    We did have to source a marquee but only from companies who have experience of the site, know what generator to bring etc. 


    Just in case that helps anyone :) 



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