Stories from Your Wedding Friend - The Wedding Planner's Blog
In case you're new to this blog or haven't yet realised it yet, I LOVE community wedding venue spaces. Yes, some can be a bit ropey and sure some are a bit old fashioned, but you really shouldn't write them all off too quickly for your DIY wedding. There are some amazing venues out there that with a bit of work can become even more beautiful, with a little bit of guidance.
My own wedding receptions were in a village hall (wedding breakfast near our church) and a sports centre function room (for our evening reception). It was a great way to save money and do what we wanted. Back then we didn't even think about decoration in the same way as we do now. Yes, I am officially that old! But there are so many ways now that you can take a plain room and transform it into something awesome, and yes maybe even Instagramable!
Community space hire fees commonly start from as little as Â£250 for the whole day and for maybe Â£50 more you might get some access the day before too. Popular traditional venues will insist that everything is done on the same day as your wedding, leaving you potentially stuck having to use their suppliers or paying people to do everything for you. With a community space you get to DIY everything - decorations, bar, seating, food - it truly is your wedding your way. You could also use your own preferred suppliers with very few restrictions, so you're not stuck with having the same DJ the venue uses all time or the same traditional menu as everyone else. If you want to mix a Spanish Paella provider with a fish and chip van, you can!
Choosing the right community space with parking and outdoor areas, and easy access, is key to the success of your DIY wedding. I know what to look out for and can advise on some of the best in my area and beyond.
If you want to create your own pompom back drop with fairy lights and bunting, then go for it. If you want drapes to cover up ugly walls or to recreate a marquee feel, then I'd suggest using a professional. A bespoke wedding marquee could cost you upwards of Â£6000 but lining a village hall with drapes will cost you significantly less and still look amazing. Hiring a venue decorator can also help if you're restricted to on the day set up, as many will help with some other minor elements. If you're setting everything up yourselves, just make sure you allow more time than you think you need, to be sure you're not having to rush decisions - practice your table settings at home and take pictures of how you want things to look, but allow a bit of flexibility for tweaks you might want to make once things are in situ. The pictures will also help if you're leaving the set up to other people - it gives them a vision to work from. One final wedding dÃ©cor tip - chair covers take longer to put on than you might think, I allow about a minute per chair but you might take a fair bit longer until you get the hang of them, but they're an awesome way to dress up ugly, mismatched, or old chairs.
Whether you bring in all the food yourselves, or hire a food van, or have a catering company provide a traditional 3 course wedding breakfast meal for you, community venues usually have a great kitchen facility. From fridges and stoves to crockery and glasses, but it's always best to do an inventory of their supplies. They might not have full sets of everything you need, or it might be more of a mix and match deal. If you're okay with random stock, the other thing you may need to bear in mind is who is responsible for the washing up. Recruiting your guests to help as you go could be a good bonding exercise or your catering company may do it all for you. Of course, the other option is to ditch the ceramics and go for paper instead, and instead of lots of glasses or plastic choose one glass for each guest and put their name on it - that way it doubles as a place finder and wedding favour!
These are probably the three biggest areas you'll be considering for your DIY wedding, whether large or small, but obviously this isn't the end of the story. If your DIY wedding vision means you have a tight budget or by DIYing you give yourself a little more wriggle room to afford other things, you need to understand how to make the most of what's on offer.