Handmade Wedding Ideas: A Few Tried and True Projects and a Big List of Tutorials
My husband and I got married right after we finished graduate school, so we were spread thin and on a very tight budget. Fortunately we met while working on our MFAs so almost all our shared friends are artists and were willing to pitch in with wedding preparations. We were able to put together a small ceremony and very fun party with the help of our creative friends and a lot of research into DIY wedding crafts. Since wedding season seems to be almost in full swing, I thought I’d share some of my favorite handmade wedding projects that we came across while planning our big day. I’ve also created a big list on Pinterest of the best DIY wedding ideas and craft tutorials on the web for you to peruse. Feel free to bookmark it as I’ll continue adding to the list!
1. Handmade flowers
Real flowers for centerpieces were out of our budget, so with the help of four ladies and two jugs of wine we created about 300 crepe paper flowers in just one night. The tutorial I used comes from Martha Stewart (of course!). The flowers were each on their own piece of floral wire, wrapped in floral tape, then stuck in foam in the bottom of our centerpieces. Guests took them home as favors at the end of the night. They were a hit and were very inexpensive to make, costing us only about $45! Here are several other great tutorials for different styles and methods of creating your own paper flowers:
Cupcake liner paper flowers from Oh, Hello Friend
Crepe paper flowers from A Field Journal
Also try having flowers delivered to save you time and money on the big day.
2. Hand painted aisle runner
Michael and I designed a logo for our wedding, using folk art as the inspiration. The logo was on our wedding invitations, rehearsal dinner invites, save the dates, ceremony programs and we painted it on our aisle runner. I found a logo was a great way to tie together all our handmade and low budget decorations. To create the aisle runner logo we printed the design off onto an overhead transparency then projected it onto the fabric. I traced the outline with a pencil and painted it with fabric paint. Now that I know about using freezer paper as an iron on stencil, I would have tried that instead! Here is a great step by step tutorial with pictures on how to create your own custom aisle runner.
3. Handmade centerpieces that double as gifts
A friend of ours, Jenni Brant, is a ceramic artist and she created some lovely dessert bowls we filled with paper flowers as centerpieces. At the end of the night we gave these to the wedding party and our parents. This made clean up easy and also helped us stay on budget. We found the rest of the vases, candlesticks and votives we needed at antique shops and thrift stores and just kept colors consistent to tie them together. We now have these scattered throughout our home and since they were all my favorite colors, they tied in nicely with our home. Antique green Ball jars were one of my favorite things we found, and we tied ribbon around the neck and put candles inside. They did however get very very hot. A napkin may or may not have caught on fire at the reception, but it was fine. Planting herbs for guests to take home is another lovely idea for table decorations. Here are a few great tutorials for some unique DIY centerpieces:
Fabric trees by WhipperBerry
Decoupage lace containers by Urban Comfort
4. Making invitations from scratch
My husband and I were a little crazy and created handmade paper and printed our invitations on a letterpress. I know most people don’t have access to this equipment and we would not have either if we weren’t involved with a university. However, you can make your own paper at home and here’s a great tutorial. Many handmade papers can be printed on with simple relief blocks created from soft rubber or linoleum, and you can find usually find these at your local craft store. A handmade touch on an invitation sets a really nice tone for the wedding before your guests even arrive. Stressed out enough and not wanting to hand print your invitation? You can find very nice handmade papers like Rives BFK, cut them down to 8.5″ x 11″ and put them through most home printers. Add a small handmade touch with a handmade stamp, watercolor, or even a drawing or hand stitching on each invitation. Rives BFK is a very nice sturdy paper that holds up and can be lightly spritzed with water and pressed to flatten it out again. Here are a few other tutorials on hand printing:
How to create a potato print from Craft Nectar
5. Unique seating cards
I found so many different seating card ideas on the internet it was very difficult to choose one for our wedding. Because our celebration logo included two birds, I decided on creating paper birds with each guest’s name and table assignment. I purchased some manzanita branches online and set it up like little trees, then hung the birds on each branch. Each table was named after a bride in our family, and we included framed wedding portraits on each table. We heard a lot of great conversations about our family histories when people saw the pictures. Our seating “tree” was a manzanita branch with small paper birds that included each guests name and their table assignment.
Having been at many weddings over the last ten years, I’ve seen many creative solutions to seat guests including a chalkboard, seed packets, sugar cookies, and small ceramic monkeys. Here’s a quick tutorial with a downloadable template for creating your own seed packet place cards:
DIY place cards with flower seeds by Mette Morgan
6. Edible handmade favors
Our paper flowers doubled as favors, and we also included edible goodies on our tables. Some of the place card ideas just listed above are also a great way to have decorations double as favors, but edibles are also always popular gifts for guests. We recently went to a wedding where the groom brewed his own beer and then printed labels with the couple’s name and wedding date on them. The bride and her mother also made sugar cookies for each table. It was a really sweet and wonderful way to thank guests, and we loved having a late night snack. Here are a few unique DIY edible favors for you to consider (and one for the birds).
Hot cocoa mix favors from Bowties and Bliss
Cupcake in a Jar Tutorial from Cakies
Birdseed wedding favors from Craft Gossip
7. Buy Handmade
A handmade wedding makes your celebration special and unique, even if you don’t make everything yourself. I chose to buy many of our handmade decorations from artists on Etsy and even purchased (or traded) for a few items handmade by my friends. I wanted every aspect of our day to have some touch of the hand, and I was willing to accept many of these items in lieu of wedding gifts. For example, my good friend Sarah Barnard-Blitz created porcelain stephanotis flowers on long wires, and I had the florist include them in my bouquet. Sarah created wooden blocks to hang each flower on the wall of our home, and now we get to enjoy them every day as a reminder of our wedding You can read more about Sarah’s beautiful work on our blog this week. Sarah just had a lovely baby girl, Eve, and is currently working from home creating custom flowers like these in addition to lovely furniture knobs. Pieces like Sarah’s flowers are some of the most special memories I have of our wedding.
Here are a few images from our wedding day, with some examples of the projects I mentioned.
Our entire wedding, including my dress, hair, the venues, hotel, food, the sea bass groom’s cake, decorations, invitations and all sorts of miscellaneous expenses came in around $8,000 – a lot of money to us, but definitely a very low budget wedding. Our wedding day was simple and sweet, and we focused on the things that mattered most: each other, friends, dancing and food. It may not be as fancy as the weddings I see in magazines and websites (or the royal wedding!), but it was absolutely the best day of my life. Best of all, we had money left over to go to Vegas for our honeymoon!