Rhode Island Wedding Ideas – The Dangers of DIY for Brides on a Budget

Hello brides to be! Happy Spring!

Many of Emily Things followers are from the Rhode Island area looking for places to have a wedding and most of all – save money! We all know that wedding bells bring wedding bills, and savvy, crafty, DIY brides are always looking for ways to be resourceful and ultimately save on the overall wedding cost. But are there dangers in trying to plan a DIY wedding if you are on a tight budget? Could your efforts to save money be ultimately countered by what you end up spending in trying to make everything yourself?


Take it from a previous RI bride and craft guru herself – I’ve been there and done that.

Like you, I knew I was clever enough to figure out how to make things myself and diligent enough to not get carried away with spending. I was incredibly blessed to have parents who provided a very opulent wedding at Glen Manor House, but honestly, I truly wanted to keep everything as simple and stress free. The very principle of spending a lot of money on a wedding just seemed so outrageous to me that I wanted to figure out how to cut costs wherever I could. So why not save on all the wedding stationery and decorations if you can just make them yourself, right?


Before I got involved in the stationery, wedding planning, and wedding accessories business of Emily’s Enchantments, I did not have a wholesale license or any fancy shmancy way to get access to bulk shimmery paper, ribbons, lace, jewels and all the other wonderfully splendid wedding decorations that you see on Pinterest. Chances are, unless you are a professional stationer, you don’t have this either.

1. DIY Wedding Invitation Cost Reality

Crafts stores and online shops are a RIP OFF for invitations!

Did you fall in love with a lace invitation on Etsy or Pinterest and thinking of DIY? Good luck. Joann’s Fabrics charges $4-5 per yard. From experience in making lace invitations by hand, I know that you need about 1/3 of a yard of lace per invitation. So you’re talking $1.66 just for the lace!  Basic, single sided faux silk ribbon is about $4 per spool and from my experience that gets you only about 6 invitations, because they obviously don’t give you very many yards.

Here’s a breakdown of other invitation components if you were to look at (PER INVITATION):

  • Lace $1.66
  • Pocketfolds $0.80-1.25
  • Card stock $0.40-1.99
  • Ribbon $0.50-$0.75
  • RSVP envelopes – $0.20-$0.30
  • Mailing envelopes – $0.23-$0.35
  • Rhinestone buckles – $0.75-1.99
  • Rhinestone brooches – $1.00-10+

Then you have to factor in (for someone who doesn’t have professional printing and cutting equipment):

  • Basic paper trimmer – $30
  • Glue for all of the invites – $7-15
  • 60-70 hours of your time (depending on how many and how involved your invites are)

You could be thinking that you’re saving when you see at the register $20 here, and $20 there as you make several trips to the craft store or make several online purchases from different retailers. But you never realize how much that really adds up. What is your time worth?

 * I will, however, suggest that if you are willing to wait 4-6 weeks to receive craft supplies and take a gamble on the level of quality you receive, eBay can be a pretty good hit or miss option for finding many invitation making supplies for a bride with LOTS of time who doesn’t care if she wastes $30 here and there and several weeks of time waiting around for something that could end up being nothing like the photo and complete crap. Sometimes you can luck out though but just take that into consideration.


2. DIY At Home Rhode Island Wedding Venue Reality

Ok, so I really and truly entertained the idea of hosting our wedding at my then-fiance’s home in Cumberland, RI. He had a gorgeous colonial home and a big, very private back yard with lots of luscious grass and space. Plus there was plenty of parking on the street for guests. I figured this will be PERFECT and we will save on having to spend $5K at a venue somewhere in Rhode Island. We all know that most of the East Bay and Providence wedding venues charge an arm and a leg just to have your wedding there with nothing else included.

But here was what I learned when I did my research and priced out what it would actually cost to have a wedding at home in Rhode Island:

Let’s talk about RENTALS!

You want to host your own wedding at home in RI but chances are you don’t have 50 or even 100 chairs nor do you have event tables and other very important items. So what are your options for renting?

Rhode Island Rentals

Newport Tent Company

Rentals Unlimited

Quality Rental


I have a pros and cons list for each of these companies but those would really require separate blog posts. For now, let’s just do a break down of what things would cost to rent items for a small, backyard wedding.

Backyard Wedding Rentals Checklist:



  1. TENT – please, please, please DO NOT think that rain will not happen. I will keep my fingers crossed for all of you that it won’t rain a drop on your wedding day but in New England we all know that it is completely unpredictable. If you are having any sort of outdoor wedding, you absolutely need to have a tent!!! No ifs ands or buts! This is #1 on the list of priorities for your backyard wedding rental list.
  2. Hallman’s Portable TOILETS – you are probably laughing out  loud thinking that I’ve lost my mind. You might be rolling your eyes saying, Really? Toilets?  Ladies and gentlemen, this is NOT a joking matter.  Do you really think that your guests even say a small group of 30-50 people are not going to clog your toilet? Think again! I was at an event once where children clogged someone’s home toilet by throwing salad down it. The little girls were incredibly adorable and giggling, but the scene of the overflowing toilet made by the next user who did not know it was clogged, not so adorable…DO NOT LET THIS HAPPEN AT YOUR WEDDING. You are a smart bride, you know better. I have wonderful things to say about Hallman Toilets and I’ll write a separate post later, but just trust me, you cannot forget to rent these.
  3. Dance Floor – unless you have an enormous patio or do not plan on any dancing at your wedding, you need a floor space. These rental companies provide pieces of flooring you can snap together yourself to make your own floor. You can get anything – floor that looks like wood or even faux stone. DO NOT assume that everyone will want to dance on the grass. And again, remember the rain possibility…even if you faithfully followed my suggestion #1 with the tent, grass will be wet, and dancing on wet grass even in casual attire is just a don’t.
  4. Reception tables (for guests to sit and eat…obviously)
  5. Buffet food station tables (assuming you are going with a buffet style as it’s more affordable with caterers than sit-down and serve)
  6. Tables for music (DJ or you can save money using an iPod, you would just need to rent speakers which cost about $1000 to rent)
  7. Tables for a bar area
  8. Table for gifts or guest book
  9. Chairs for Ceremony
  10. Chairs for Reception (you could use the same chairs for both ceremony & reception…just think about who is going to be coordinating the moving of them. Hope you’re paying for a wedding planner!)


For a 40 person wedding, you are looking at $6,800 in rentals for the above mentioned items.

This pricing has been compared between all 4 of the top RI rental places and they are all within the same price ranges +/- $62.00

Oh and in case your caterer does not provide these items you will need:

  • Plates, Glassware, Flatware, Napkins (unless you wanted to do BBQ style disposal plates, napkins, glassware, and flatware then you will need to rent these items!)

Factor in another $800 for a 40 person wedding

So $6800 for just rentals??? This means that you’re already shedding close to $7K on having a 40 person wedding at your house. You could have almost rented a fancy spot in Newport for that price. Yikes!!


Other DIY Backyard Wedding Expenses and Issues to Consider:

  1. Catering – you may be charged additional fees for the caterer to come to a home versus a commercial building. There is liability and other issues involved with hosting food and having a bar set up at your house in addition to the extra time spent on the caterer’s part in traveling to you and setting everything up.
  2. Parking & Neighbors – do your neighbors like you? Well, hopefully they still will! You want to make sure your neighbors are fine with you having a wedding at your house, on their street, within their earshot. And where will your very small 30-50 person group of guests park? Oh, on the street? So 15-28 vehicles can fit on the street and won’t block any traffic or upset neighbors? Hopefully not!
  3. Clean up – my instant thought is bride in yellow rubber gloves. Caterers will usually clean up all the food and beverages, but they are not going to be cleaning up everything else. Who is putting away chairs, breaking down the floors, folding up tables and everything else? Hopefully you have factored in a wedding planner to be your savior in this situation, but if you’re a DIY bride, chances are you think that “wedding planner” and “the bride” are one in the same.


Hey, I’m a DIY everything. I love DIY and I was definitely bride & wedding planner at the same time. I’m not hating on DIY weddings or brides. I’m just giving you the whole honest truth and showing you a reality so that you can make the best and most informed decision. Maybe you see things that I mentioned that don’t apply to you because you’re doing it completely differently. I am so impressed and inspired by those who have DIY weddings and can really pull off saving money. Anyone who has had success in it, please send along your story so I can share with our fellow brides. I hope this has been helpful in your wedding planning journey!


(And don’t forget to rent those toilets!!!!)

10 Unique Save the Date Cards

I’m still trying to decide on which direction to take for the save the date cards. I know I should get crackin soon since they are supposed to be mailed out at least 6-7 months before the wedding, especially if the wedding is close to a holiday (which ours is, falling on the weekend before Thanksgiving). Now that my valentine’s day card frenzy has come to a rest, and I took a couple weeks off from crafting & blogging to focus on booking important wedding vendors, I can finally get focused on the fun stuff – the cute little details!

I browsed around online for some inspiration and thought I’d share some of my top favorites with you to get your creative juices flowing for your own save the dates. Take a look at these top 10 cute and unique save the date cards!

(click each image to be directed to the link)

1. Thumbprint Save the Date

thumbprint save the date handmade card

2. Matchbox Save the Date

Match box save the dates unique creative

3. Ribbon Save the Date

ribbon save the dates unique handmade

4. Equation Save the Date

creative save the date photo card

5. Video Save the Date

6. Board Game Save the Date

board game scrabble save the date unique card

7. Clever Photoshop Save the Date

photoshop save the date unique

8. Vintage Hankerchief Save the Date

vintage save the date creative ideas

9. Spinning Wheel Save the Date

spin wheel unique save the date idea

10. Message in a Bottle Save the Date

message bottle unique save the date creative ideas

Busy Bride Guide – Stress Free Wedding Planning

Hello there crafters! I know I fell off the face of the earth for over a week which I suppose is very bad blogger etiquette, so I’m sorry about that! I have a new spring themed pop up card coming soon that I’ve been working on here and there and I’ll share it with you. Anyone have anymore tutorial requests? I do love teaching. Perhaps a video tutorial would be easier to follow?

In the mean time here is what I’ve been busy with – being a full-time working, part-time MBA student and a wedding-planning bride. Yes,  that’s right, with everything else going on right now I am also a BRIDE!!!

So I thought I’d share some useful tips to the fellow busy brides out there who have a packed schedule and are trying to find time to make all the arrangements AND stay within a reasonable budget. I’ve got to admit – it’s quite a challenging balancing act, but it’s doable.

Glen Manor House Wedding RI

Our Wedding Reception Location – Glen Manor House

Here was my biggest rule of thumb that has helped me book all of my wedding vendors (including the caterer & reception venue) in 6 short weeks:  Book vendors who are email-friendly.

I realized that there are two types of wedding vendors:

1. Those who email basic information upfront to give you a general idea of what their all about

2. Those who don’t email anything – whatsoever.

If you are a busy bride, like me, you don’t have time to sit and interview with 6 different DJs only to find out that just 1 person fits within your price range.  And maybe the decently-priced DJ has not-so-great reviews online so you may end up back to the drawing board to email and interview with yet another 4 DJs until you find one that works. That sounds like way too much for me to realistically fit within my schedule. Yes this is an important day, but I don’t have the luxury of making this wedding my full time career, and quite honestly, I really wouldn’t want to!

So here are some of the steps I have taken to find the best wedding vendors:

* Check out this book – The Busy Bride Bible

I love this book because it is easy to skim through – has all bullet points and simple instructions, so you don’t feel like you’re sitting down reading a long novel. You can simply whip it out at lunch and poke through the different chapters that give awesome tips on planning and budgeting. I highly recommend purchasing this book for your busy bridal life:

bridal budget busy bride wedding planning


* Use Preferred Vendor Lists

As mentioned in a previous post: Rhode Island Wedding Venue Reviews: Finding the Perfect Place, my fiance and I are having our wedding at the Glen Manor House in Portsmouth, RI. Like many venues, the Glen Manor has a preferred list of vendors with whom they work closely.

While sometimes, vendors on these lists can be EXPENSIVE, there are some who are reasonable and the best part about picking vendors from a preferred list is that they are familiar with the venue, have worked with the venue coordinator, and many have worked with the other vendors on the list too. So you basically are getting a whole team of high caliber vendors who are all very familiar with each other and the place. Why wouldn’t you want something as perfect as that?

* Choose Vendors Who Email Prices & Basic Info

The next important part of booking vendors as a busy bride is being able to get basic information and a general price estimate upfront right in an email. The most important things for me to know right away are: Is this vendor available for our wedding date? And is this vendor affordable? Since we are busy, we don’t have time to make phone calls all day or interview everyone and their mother in the limited precious free time that we have available – only to find out that they don’t have our date available and they are way out of budget. Plus, people who are email-friendly are probably going to be a lot easier to work with as the months and weeks draw closer to your wedding date. If you have a simple quick question, don’t you want someone working for you who is capable of emailing you back right away? It’s a bad sign when a vendor doesn’t have much of a website (or no website at all!), hardly any information on the site, and doesn’t even have an email address…

* Read Online Reviews About Vendors

The best thing to do to determine if the vendor is really fantastic is to read reviews. Do what you are doing now – read blogs that review your local wedding vendors or go on one of these wedding message boards listed below to discuss with other brides and learn their personal experiences with the vendors you are interested in. Nothing beats hearing someone else’s first hand experience! And I’m all about doing my research online before I make any purchasing decision – whether it’s an eye makeup product or a wedding florist – I want to learn about it on my own, from the comfort of my home, with my MacBook on my lap.

Wedding Wire

Wedding Bee

The Knot

* Narrow Down Choices and Meet with Vendors

Once you have the basic info in an email you can easily compare the prices and information between the different vendors, and based on your online research you can pick which ones are worth your time in meeting with.

* Consider What You Can Do Yourself

Ok, I’ll admit that there were a couple times that I’ve had sticker shock in this process. But don’t be let down by it. I’ve found that many great vendors are willing to work within your price range, without sacrificing quality. It might be a good idea to think of things that you can do yourself – especially if you know that you’re crafty and creative! That way you can still have a person in charge of let’s say the flowers, but you can add your own personal crafty touch by making your own candles or decorating your own vases. It will add charm to your wedding decor and help keep the cost down.

* Get it Booked!

I’m getting married to the love of my life and that’s the most important part with all of this. I don’t want to be one of those brides who ends up pondering every little aspect and painstakingly fussing over each element of the wedding. Yes, I want it to be lovely, but it needs to happen within reason.

All brides, please remember:


Do not let the wedding become larger than life. You can’t sacrifice the things that are important to you – like graduate school, your full-time career, your credit, or your personal relationships with your bridesmaids who are in it for the long haul. Yes, make sure you do your homework and pick the right vendors, but don’t let this drag out too long. Make firm decisions and get things booked promptly so that all you’ll have left to do is to sit back and get excited for a wonderful wedding.  Also, once all the big stuff is squared away, you’ll have many months to think of cute crafty ideas and lovely little details to add to your wedding, making it one of a kind.

* Make Your Wedding Unique and Packed With Cute DIY Details!

Check out my latest blog obsession: Style Me Pretty, recommended to me by my photographer, Jill Knight, who is also a friend and sorority sister from college.  She previously worked for BRIDES magazine and recently had her own beautiful wedding in North Carolina. Check out her photography work by visiting: http://www.jillographyblog.com/. She is traveling to RI for our wedding so for those of you who are not RI brides, you could book her for your own wedding too!

Here is who I have picked for vendors for our wedding in Rhode Island:

1. Glen Manor House – Reception

2. Sayles Livingston – Florist

3. Jillian Knight – Photographer

4. Engagements DJ – DJ

5. La Bella Musica – String Quartet

6. Pranzi Catering – Caterer

7. AA Transportation – Limo

Hope this helps you out in your wedding planning! More craft projects coming soon and please feel free to continue to email me with your tutorial requests! Thanks and have a lovely day! 🙂

DIY Green Wedding: Recycled Glass & Beeswax Candles

I’m getting more ideas for our wedding decor for our reception at the Glen Manor House in Portsmouth, RI which is only 9 months away! (Coming up in November 2012)

DIY wedding beeswax candles green wedding

I love flowers very much, but I’m trying to keep things practical for the wedding. I love DIY wedding decorations and thought this idea might be nice. Instead of decking out the manor in large tall floral arrangements, I have decided to have the centerpieces be large recycled glass hurricane globes with beeswax pillar candles inside. Around the base of the hurricane globe, I want to put little tealights (also in recycled glass holders) and have some rose petals scattered lightly around the center of the table.

The best parts about this concept is that we can keep the costs down and keep it a little more green, all while making the Gilded Age style mansion even more beautiful with twinkling candlelit tables and fireplace mantles. This historic manor is so richly decorated that it doesn’t need much added to it, and thus we can get away with a bit less.

Checkout some of these links for where you can purchase recycled glass hurricane globes, votive & tea light holders. I have also provided links for you to purchase your own 100% beeswax candles with cotton wicks – much healthier for the air than those paraffin wax candles made in China.

1. Recycled glass holders at affordable price (Large one is $14.99).

Visit World Market to see the other recycled glass products and candle holders.

Recycled glass hurricane candle holder globe

2. Beeswax pillars, tapers, tealights, votives, and more – range in price based on the size of the candle. They are a little more expensive than regular paraffin wax candles but, think of how much you would spend if you had a floral arrangement for your centerpiece? I found that Beelite Candles had reasonable prices of around $11-15 per large pillar.

beeswax candles DIY green wedding

Happy DIY wedding-planning to all the new crafty brides out there! 🙂

DIY Save the Date Cards

Making my own save-the-date cards and wedding invitations is something I always knew I’d be rolling up my sleeves for. I’ll probably end up typing the real things since my calligraphy can get a little sloppy…and by the time I’ve done 50 of them, I might have carpal tunnel. I’m still trying to figure out the colors too. I never thought picking colors would be so complicated or that there were so many rules involved with this stuff.

What I do know is that I’m pretty sure the bridesmaids will be wearing floor length navy blue dresses for our November 2012 wedding. And maybe they’ll have red-colored flowers? I actually really like red mums. Anyways…I’m still brainstorming but felt that I needed to do a practice session of DIY Save the Date card-making. I think I’ll do a few different styles until I figure out the right look, then get my card stock stacks and trimmer ready for mass production of them. At least save-the-dates don’t need to be mailed until 6 months before the wedding! I have time to figure it out. Hope this practice card take # 1 looks ok!

save the date card DIY

save the date card diy card making

Save the Date DIY wedding

Save the Date Cards Handmade