DIY, Don’t Buy: 12 DIY Wedding Ideas From A Practical Wedding

You’re in love! And getting married! It’s all so exciting, and you’ve got great taste and an ambition for crafting. We are so here for that. If your wedding plans involve DIY, then our best advice is to go for projects that are high-impact and low-effort (and won’t take a team of professional stylists to set up on the day of your wedding.) Most wedding tutorials you’ll find online involve some combination of traditional wedding materials (flowers, wood, maybe a chalkboard here and there.) But if you’re more inspired by the local hardware store than the “WedCraft, Inc.” aisle of burlap and plastic wedding bells at the craft store, then read on. These are the projects for you.

The Backdrop

One of the best ways to get a ton of craft bang for your budget buck is to create a backdrop. You can use it for your ceremony, and then move it to a wall behind the dance floor or photo booth or any other highly visible space during your reception. The best part is, you can make a fantastically modern backdrop with unexpected materials for way less than you’d expect. Just make sure you have a plan to get it installed and removed from your space, and have a realistic sense of how long that will take. Here are some of our favorite backdrops. Bonus: many can be repurposed after your wedding, either in your house or as gifts or in any other number of creative ways.


Styling by Winston & Main, Photo by Marble and Rye Photography for A Practical Wedding.

Printed Paper Flower Backdrop

Do you love flowers? Have a printer? Great, you can do this. Just print the PDF files available here, cut out the flowers, and tape them to a wall using washi tape. Don’t have time to tape all those flowers up (or for that matter, to take them down?) Tape them to wide white butcher paper beforehand, then tape that to the wall at your venue. It’s really that easy.


Allison Andres Photography for A Practical Wedding

Geometric Hexagon Boxes

These hexagon boxes only take a laid back afternoon to paint, if you enlist a friend or two. Plus, the boxes all nest together for easy transport. All you have to do is paint the inside of your boxes with your favorite colors, then affix the boxes artfully to a wall using UHU Tac adhesive putty. The one catch is that you (or someone who loves you) will need enough time to install it at your venue on the day-of, but don’t worry, we’ve got a little hack for that too: buy a pipe and drape backdrop frame, affix boxes to foam core, and use Gorilla Tape to attach your foam core to the frame. Hint: use boxes as shelves for very light décor items, like single flowers heads.


Allison Andres Photography for A Practical Wedding

No-Sew Painted Fabric

This no-sew backdrop wins for highest impact with lowest cost factor. All you do is outline a pattern in painters tape on a dropcloth from your local hardware store, then fill in the shapes made by your tape using whatever colors suit your fancy and your wedding. It does require a bit of an artistic eye (or the ability to make a good copy), but you’ve got that locked down, right? As for installation, this is one comes with options. You can use or make a variety of frames, ranging in cost and attractiveness—check out the specifics right here. As for what to do with it after your party, the options are endless: hang on a wall in your home, use as a picnic blanket, and the list goes on.


Allison Andres Photography for A Practical Wedding

Bohemian Wedding Arch

The arch is actually more of a cousin to the backdrop. Many of the building options are the same, and, again, it can be moved from your ceremony site to your reception for photo booths, special solo dance floor mini-stages, or entryways. This one is inspired by the wedding scene in Season One of HBO’s Girls, and while it’s not the cheapest option in the world, it looks amazing and is definitely more budget-friendly than an arch you paid a florist to cover in orchids. Again, there are some options here: you can use birch poles or PVC pipe for the frame, and then just go crazy layering trims and ribbon and fabric to your heart’s content.

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Allison Andres Photography for A Practical Wedding

Carnation Backdrop Arch

The perennial drugstore flower looks phenomenal re-imagined as large-scale wall décor (we swear.) This high-impact backdrop reads as modern, cool, and actually pretty fancy. It takes some time to get all the flowers properly strung and attached to your frame, but it’s worth it, especially if you have friends or family who have offered a helping hand. (Plus, carnations are nearly impossible to kill, meaning you can easily prep this a day or two in advance.) This project is perfect if you’re getting married under a pre-existing structure, like a gazebo or tree, since it’s quick and easy to string up the carnations once you’ve got them on your fishing line.

Non-Floral Centerpieces

When you think of wedding centerpieces, you probably think of flowers. But floral centerpieces can get expensive, and require specific timing to pull of (you can’t arrange them a week in advance). Plus, they might just not be your thing, visually, and that’s cool. These centerpieces are easy, fun, and modern, but most importantly, they’re affordable. You’re welcome.


Allison Andres Photography for A Practical Wedding

Metallic Centerpieces for Fall

This seasonal centerpiece is shamefully easy. All you need are decorative pumpkins, spray paint (we recommend at least one metallic because it’s more fun that way), and leaves (fake or real). Spray paint the pumpkins, and arrange them on your tables. Here we cheated, and mixed in a few fake metallic pumpkins in the discount bin in the craft store. Paint your leaves and place them on plates. Bonus: you don’t have to worry about is centerpiece being too tall for people to talk over. If pumpkins aren’t your bag, this technique works for any interesting object you care to paint and arrange. We’ve seen it used on books, plastic animals, and fake fruit, all to excellent effect. Just make sure you have someone with an eye for what’s good looking arranging them on your tables.


Winston & Main for A Practical Wedding

Geometric Block Centerpieces

Not only are these painted blocks super cool looking, they are also practical. Use them to designate your tables, in spelled out numbers or thematic names. (Bonus: they’re a great visual tie-in with the geometric no-sew backdrop above.) Simply tape off the blocks with vinyl letters, then paint with as many colors as you want. Bonus: use them as weights for balloons (more on balloon lettering coming up), and/or place spray painted objects on top of them.


Winston & Main for A Practical Wedding

Balloon Centerpiece with Lettering

Balloons are perfect for large spaces, and just a few can make a big impact. For this centerpiece, decorate a length of ribbon, blow up the balloons (you have to use helium, for obvious reasons), then use vinyl letters to write out words or phrases on the surface of the balloons, and attach the balloons to a decorative weight (those geometric block centerpieces would look fantastic, for one.)

Other Fun Details

There are lots of other little ways to add decorative flair to your wedding, without making yourself crazy. Here are a couple of our favorites.


Winston & Main for A Practical Wedding

Simple Cocktail Stirrers

The surprise ingredient in these cocktail stirrers? Metallic gumballs. Just buy wooden skewers, trim to size, and stab them into gumballs of whatever color(s) you want to use. This tutorial also includes instructions on setting up a display for your stirrers, but if you’ve got a bartender, don’t worry about it.


We Are For Each Other

A Million Ways to Use Flagging Tape

What’s flagging tape, you ask? You’ve seen it marking off lawns at public parks, roping off the subway, and on construction sites. It’s only $0.02 (yes, two cents) a yard, and available in many many colors and prints. It also happens the secret ingredient that professional designers use on all those projects that look like they have a million yards of ribbon (because ribbon in large quantities is prohibitively expensive). There are limitless ways for using flagging tape: make flags and streamers; affix to one of the arches described above for a “curtain” or decorative arch situation; attach to backs of chairs; use for table runners; hang from existing walls, lighting fixtures; create a backdrop or swag; make an aisle literally anywhere (but use tape to hold it down in wind). Because this stuff is so cheap, you can get the abundant look required for high impact in big spaces on even a super limited budget. Be sure to buy more than you think you’ll need and have fun.

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