DIY Wedding Contest

Instant Grit



 Voting is now over. We will announce the winner tomorrow!



Our panel of judges has narrowed it down to 10 finalists, one of which will win a three-day, two-night stay at the romantic Princess Anne Hotel in Asheville, NC! You may vote once per day for your favorite finalist. In no particular order, here are our judges' top-10 picks:



Casey Rutherford Jones


"Rustic Barn Wedding"


Wedding location: Oakley Farm, Moncks Corner, SC


Approximate cost of DIY project(s): $1,000


"Our rustic barn wedding was full of DIY. I hand made the groomsmen's boutonnieres using feathers, twine, plants, and a cranberry ribbon. The bridesmaids and I carried bouquets with handmade origami paper flowers as the focus, and cranberry-colored wild flowers and baby's breath as fillers. To tie in our love of books, I also made paper cones using pages from our favorite novels and filled them with dried lavender for our guests to shower us with during our send-off. The cake was made by my bridesmaid, and included a cranberry color gradient and fondant succulents. The favors were real succulents, which I wrapped in burlap and tied a paper heart with twine, which had our initials and wedding date handwritten. We also decorated mason jars using burlap, lace, and twine to place along the tables and fill with flowers. The flower girl's basket was made from a recycled metal pail with a burlap flower and lace, and we filled twine baskets with moss and baby's breath to line the aisles. A lot of time and DIY went into making our day special, and the end result was the best day of our lives so far."


"This is a close-up of the bridesmaids' bouquets. The origami flowers were made from dictionary pages to show our love of books by me and my maid of honor, and the rest of the flowers were handpicked from a local flower shop and put together by two of our good friends."


"I made the groom's and groomsmen's boutonnieres using feathers, plants, twine, and cranberry-colored ribbon to match their suspenders."


"I added burlap to each of our succulent favors to match our rustic theme. I used a heart-shaped hole punch and different scrapbook pages to tie a paper heart to each one, on which I wrote a 'J' for Jones, and our wedding date, 11-2-14."


"One of my bridesmaids baked our cake for us, right from her kitchen. We chose a cranberry gradient, and added fondant succulents to match our favors."


"This shows an overview of all of our efforts! Our wedding was full of DIY projects, which not only turned out unique and special, but brought us closer together as a couple. Our dearest friends and family lent their talents as well to give us the wedding of our dreams. Not pictured are the table flowers in hand-decorated mason jars using twine, burlap, and lace, or the cones made out of book pages and filled with dried lavender used for our send-off. Thank you, everyone!"


Carolina Davila Jewett


"My Shabby Chic DIY Wedding"


Wedding location: Carolina Yaught Club, Charleston, SC


Approximate cost of DIY project(s): $2000



Place Holders: "My husband painstakingly cut each cork while I wrote the table number on each one. My sister so sweetly added each guest's name to a vignette price tag, and my mom and I added the wax seal to each tag to show what meal the guest wanted. I then slid each tag into the cork, and we placed the place holders on coffee beans...there was meaning behind it all. Coffee is my family business, and the corks represented our trip to Napa, where we first realized this was not just another relationship."


Spanish Moss Nests: "My mom and I gathered Spanish moss and molded it into little nests. I then took lacquer spray and sealed each nest. We then put two chocolate-covered espresso beans for guest to have a little amuse-bouche. They are still great little moments! I have one on my desk."


Centerpieces: "About five weeks before the wedding, my mom and I gathered as many glass pieces as we could and had my aunt in California send me pallets of succulents. We then bought sand and rocks and made terrariums for the centerpieces. These were ready at least three weeks before the wedding, so there was no stress of having to make these right before. The best part is I still have lots of them, and the rest went to special family and friends as gifts!"


Party Favors: "My mom and I made sheets of watercolor poppies, then cut them into strips and added a thank you note, as well as instructions on planting poppy seeds and what they symbolized. Then, I bought little linen bags and stamped our logo onto each bag and filled them with poppy seeds that I ordered online."


Invitations: "Rather than having someone design my invitations, I cut the middleman out and went straight to a printer. I worked with the letterpress team and delivered a final design to them. Because I had the files, it was easy to create a 'look' that I used throughout our whole wedding, making a stamp to use on everything as well. If you have the programs to do it, designing your own invites cuts your cost in half! And, if you are able to do letterpress, you get to also keep your plates as mementos!"


Meredith Little 


"Whimsical Wedding"


Wedding location: Bluffton, SC


Approximate cost of DIY project(s): $200


"I love making things and being creative with decoration. Our wedding was a real testimony to that. Ben and I spent the three months of our engagement (yes! we were only engaged three months!) building things, painting, crafting and creating a wedding that was cost effective but also beautiful. There were so many aspects of the ceremony and reception that we intentionally thought about. Details that were specially chosen in order for the day to be a reflection of both of us. From hand-lettered signs to strands of sewn paper shapes, we created a whimsical wedding from a fairy tale!"


"Ben is a carpenter and furniture builder here in Charleston and built this table for us to eat at for the first time as husband and wife. The wood is reclaimed barn wood from his family's farm in Illinois. He spent his childhood playing in the barn. When the barn was torn down a couple years ago, the wood was saved, and he used it to build this table."


"This sign was also made using wood from the barn; there were many different signs for the wedding, but this one was our favorite. We used something old, the wood from the barn, but the words on the sign signify that on that day we were becoming a new thing! All that was used for the sign was the wood and white acrylic paint."


"This was my favorite decoration at the wedding. I made giant 'wreaths' from hula hoops and hung them from a big oak tree draped in moss. I bought three different sized hoops from the dollar store, then spray painted them dark green. After that, I bought some fake greenery that I hot-glued around the entire hoop. On the day of the wedding, we added the real flowers and the burlap, and my dad looped them up in the trees!"


"I wanted to have the look of long tables at the reception but struggled to find table runners that weren't terribly expensive. After some research and creativity, I bought a huge roll of craft paper that cost about $20 for 800 feet. I rolled out 22 feet at a time and used acrylic paint to make designs. Each of the five long tables had different geometric designs. It was time consuming but all in all cost about $25!"


"This cross was also built by Ben and made from the barn wood. I love the simplicity of the roughly hewn cross with the hydrangeas."


Ashley E. Zager


"Make It Personal, and It Will Be Perfect!"


Wedding location: Ceremony, Blessed Sacrament Church, West Ashley; Reception, The Boathouse at Poplar Grove, Ravenel


Approximate cost of DIY project(s): $700


"We wanted to do enough DIY to make it personal and keep costs down, while also not driving ourselves crazy. There wasn't one HUGE project but a lot of small accents, which added up to a day that was truly ours. We put together a mix of flowers into jars we spray painted. We used ribon and twine to pesonalize candles. Chalkboards are a must for fun personalization, from welcome boards to menus people knew what was going on where and when. If we could print it, we did. Our MadLibs-style guest book, notes for our 1-year and 10-year anniversaries, the programs, schedules, and A–Z all-about-us table decor were all made on our own and printed at Kinkos, home, or work. We also made my veil and the 'Thank You' sign we held to create 'Thank You' postcards to send out after the big day. I added military flare where we could as it is a huge part of our lives, from bullet-case cufflinks to my camo TOMs, to presents for the groomsmen of personalized magazines. It was all pulled together to follow the theme."


"This one sums it up! We made this 'Thank You' sign using extra ceiling paint, burlap pieces, and stencils printed out from Microsoft Word. In this photo, I also made my own veil."


Family Fireplace: "Our venue was gorgeous! We just added a few sentiments of love and warmed it up even more. We asked our parents and grandparents to bring photos of their wedding days or their favorite young photos. We had five generations back represented. We also painted all the jars the flowers are in and made the candle holders simple, with a blue stripe to add to the nautical theme."


"Our MAD Guestbook and Jars for later, a twist on the game MadLibs—we created a personalized version for our friends and family to leave us notes. We LOVED reading these after the fact. We also left paper with jars for our 1-year and 10-year anniversaries. These notes we will wait to read and now are displayed in our living room."


"A mix of things In this photo, clockwise from top left: (1) a small flower from my mother's and aunt's wedding dress was added to my bouquet; (2) our DIY cake toppers—glued-together mini chalkboards and craft sticks; (3) chalkboards, of course; (4) centerpieces, both painted jars and assorted flowers with framed A–Z lists of our favorite things; (5) favors, palmetto roses with a history and note tied to each from the bride and groom."


"All things Army. The men wore bullet-casing cufflinks, and I wore camo TOMs. I wanted to be comfortable and figured if Ben was in his Army uniform, I should be in camo, right? We also had the honor of having Ben's Army Chaplain, who he served with in Iraq, come to Charleston to perform our ceremony."


Caitlin Cahill Pape 


"My DIY Floral-Themed Wedding"


Wedding location: Mount Pleasant, SC


Approximate cost of DIY project(s): $100


"I created several DIY projects for our wedding, which was at a marshfront house that we rented in Mount Pleasant. One of my favorites was the photo booth. I knew I wanted to have one; to me, it's one of the most fun parts of a wedding! All of the options/companies I found were way too expensive, so I did some research and found a program that turns your Mac computer's front camera into a photo booth. It was definitely a hit! I created a backdrop with a floral tablecloth, fairy lights, and tiny paper lanterns, and found a vintage velvet loveseat on Craigslist. Voila! I now have a Facebook album of hundreds of photos of my friends having a blast."


"Renting a photo booth was too expensive, so I created a backdrop, set up my Mac, and used Sparkbooth. The customizable photo booth program only costs $55 and uploads the pics to Facebook for free. (Also notice the floral sunglasses I had as wedding favors...they were a big hit. Found on ebay for about 25 cents each in bulk.)"


Flags: "I had the measurements of the tent, so a couple of friends and I spent an evening watching movies and creating yards and yards of pennant flags from fabric I'd bought. We then hung them with paper lanterns I got online."


Flowers: "A friend was my florist, and I spent the months before the wedding collecting colored-glass vases,  jars, etc. from thrift stores to use for all of the floral arrangements."


Dresses: "I let all of my bridesmaids pick their own dress, as long as it was a white background with a floral pattern. The mismatched effect was perfect."


"My talented cousin created the wooden signs for our wedding. In the background, you can see our DIY altar, which we made from hanging tall, sheer curtain panels from a line along with glass globes filled with flowers."


Laura Westby Cannon


"Cannon Wedding"


Wedding location: Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, Charleston, SC


Approximate cost of DIY project(s): Dress,: $350; Stamp, paper, and ink, est. $200 (+/- $75)


"Matthew and I got married in May 2010 at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. The most significant material piece of the ceremony that day was the dress I wore; it was both my mother and grandmother's dress. Originally purchased for grandma's wedding in 1952, my mother then used it in 1985, and then I again in ours. I had it altered by taking the sleeves and high collar off, but otherwise the material was in tact after all those years. To make the wedding invitations, I purchased a DIY rubber stamp pad from Artist & Craftsman and hand-carved a reproduction of ivy leaves my father had sketched at one point. Along with a good friend, we printed, inked, hand-pressed, and tied ribbon to roughly 100 invites while we sat and drank iced lattes on the porch of the old Hope and Union downtown (now Brown's Court). You also see the love letter Matthew and I wrote to our attendees for the ceremony day. The paper was all purchased at The RSVP Shoppe down on Broad and Queen Streets. Rough-hewn though it all was, I've often been told that the love upon opening and reading the letters was palpable. Our wedding day was a beautiful gathering of true friendship and love, but even before then in its careful preparation came care and tenderness. I remember sitting at my parents' coffee table with my father one night and hand stamping 1/8 lb. coffee bags to fill for our guests. Over the course of several months, my mother eagerly assembled a conglomerate of used mason jars to hold blue hydrangeas at each guest table, and friends and I discovered glass water holders at SCAD's Paris Market in Savannah. The months leading up to our wedding were full of these experiences, and I readily believe this is the beauty of the DIY wedding—the coming together of those you love to produce something beautiful from the heart and imagination. I learned this: time spent creating the event together renders the spirit it holds within it."


Laura and Matthew Cannon, post-ceremony


Walking down the aisle


Invitation and ceremony letter


Close-up of the stationery from RSVP Shoppe


Hillary King


"Reclaimed Wood Tables"


Wedding location: Wide Awake Park, Hollywood, SC


Approximate cost of DIY project(s): $250


"My husband and I really wanted to create a Lowcountry backyard wedding feel for our wedding, but we were very disappointed with our options when it came to renting tables for the reception. So, I decided to DIY the tables! It was certainly a labor of love, and took pretty much every weekend for about six months leading up to the wedding. All of the tables were built out of reclaimed wood from historic buildings in downtown Charleston. In the 'workshop' (my own backyard!), I removed hundreds of nails, cleaned and milled the wood to size, and then built nine tables. We intermixed some rented tables, covered in tablecloths, and ended up with a setting that was perfect for us and a huge hit with our guests."


The bride built this table, and eight others, using wood salvaged from buildings in downtown Charleston. 


 The centerpieces are cut wine bottles, another DIY project completed by the bride and groom.


A patterned table, made by the bride using reclaimed wood from downtown Charleston, displays the wedding cake. Both the table and cake highlight the Lowcountry backyard wedding theme.


A patterned table, made by the bride using reclaimed wood from downtown Charleston, created the perfect sweetheart table. The bride also restored the two bentwood chairs and refinished the seats with new padding and fabric.


The tables built by the bride helped set the perfect wedding scene.


Nikki Seibert Kelley


"Farm-to-Table Wedding"


Wedding location: Johns Island, South Carolina


Approximate cost of DIY project(s): $2,500


"As a localist and farm advocate, it was important that my wedding featured all of the amazing businesses and farmers I work with and sharing the incredible culture of the Lowcountry with my friends and family. We coordinated the entire bohemian event ourselves and only had help the weekend of from friends, family, and Coastal Charleston Events. The ceremony was held at a secluded waterfront property along the Bohicket Creek on Johns Island, SC. We had a simple setup with live oaks surrounding us, the marsh behind us, and a small number of friends and family there to share it. One of my dear friends played an acoustic version of 'Is This Love' by Marley as my processional while guests sat in a warm breeze in white chairs (Ruth's House Rentals) under the shade of the oaks and spanish moss. Daniel and I were married by one of our best friends on a waterfront property on Johns Island under a handmade bicycle wheel and flower archway. Flowers were harvested from the farm and artfully arranged by farmer Jim Martin of Compost in my Shoe. Natural materials and handmade products were used when possible, including my sash (burlap, lace, feathers), necklace (crystal, lace, metal), and our rings (wood, antler, copper, turquoise). The reception was hosted at a restored barn at Walnut Hill Plantation, owned by the Limehouse family. The property is home to Rosebank Farms and Dirt Works Incubator Farm (the project that I oversee). The wedding style was farm chic with floral influences and a hint of bicycle. Muted tones of blues, greens, purples, corals, and yellows were found in the bottles, fabrics, invitations, and floral arrangements. There were antiques, distressed wood, tin, chicken wire, and burlap to compliment the fresh-cut flowers from the farm and my collection of glass bottles. Guests enjoyed wine from Bottles, beer brewed by our friends, fresh herbal tea, and local food made by Dellz Uptown with produce from Joseph Fields Farm. Instead of cake, we had pies from The Cake Farmer, using North Carolina apples from Limehouse Produce and peeled by friends and family. Our guests were entertained with a farm tour, photo slideshows, toasts, music, DIY photo booth, and dancing the entire evening. The event was all captured by my dear friend from North Carolina, Sarah Whitmeyer Photography."


A local love affair celebrating the beauty and the bounty of the Lowcountry on one of Johns Island's iconic local farms


The bride's farm-fresh bouquet


Handmade wood, antler, copper, and turquoise wedding rings


Pie from The Cake Farmer


A barn reception overflowing with handmade, locally sourced, farm-centric decorations and food.


Morgan Smith McBride




Wedding locaiton: Cottage on the Creek, Shem Creek, Mount Pleasant, SC


Approximate cost of DIY project(s): Wedding budget, $25,000; DIY projects, $500 or less


"We got married on April 11, 2015 at the Cottage on the Creek on Shem Creek. We have always been big time DIYers and have repurposed a lot of the decor in our home. We are always looking for innovative ways to do things, so we knew that our wedding would be no different! We wanted our guests to get an authentic Charleston feel at our wedding since most of them came from out of town, and so we focused on a colorful coastal theme. We used a lot of wood and rope to have hints of nautical throughout the wedding decor. Our color scheme was navy, shades of teal, and pops of pink. In addition to the coastal elements, it was important to us to incorporate personal things into the decor, such as the figurines of our pets or our childhood photos on the table numbers. Whenever we told someone at the wedding that we had made the cake stand or the string art or whatever it was, their mouths dropped. Making our wedding DIY made it so much more special because we knew that we had really created our wedding."


"We knew from the start of wedding planning that we wanted cupcakes instead of a traditional wedding cake. Cupcakes come in lots of fun flavors and are easy for guests to grab without necessarily needing a plate. We ended up selecting a variety of flavors from Cupcake Down South in Mt. Pleasant. However, the big question was how to display the cupcakes. Sean built this nine-tiered display from driftwood gathered on Folly Beach and slices of a tree from his dad's backyard. He simply arranged them until they met our liking and then screwed and glued them together. Our cake toppers were polymer clay figurines of our dog, CiCi, and our cat, Bear. I sculpted them out of white polymer clay, baked them in the oven, and painted them with simple acrylic paint."


"Our reception featured a station-served dinner, but we had seating for each guest. We had round tables with navy linens and navy and white striped table runners that I cut and sewed from fabric. Our centerpieces featured a variety of glass vases in our color scheme and pink and white flowers. Sean designed our menus to coordinate with our invitations and wedding stationery. Each silverware bundle was tied together with a piece of white rope. How knot-ical! The favors were homemade pecan pralines that we baked and bagged two days before the wedding, sealing them with a little note from us thanking our guests for coming."


"I wanted our wedding to have a nautical feeling, and I wanted my bridesmaids dresses to look like sea glass. I chose three complimentary shades and a flattering halter neckline to achieve that effect. I made personalized rope hangers for each bridesmaid's dress by twisting thin wire into the shape of each girl's name, lining the outside of the wire with hollowed-out rope, and drilling them into the inside of the hangers. The groomsmen wore grey suits and teal ties, and each were given a pair of Star Wars socks that matched their personality as part of their groomsmen gifts."


"Our venue had a beautiful outdoor deck right on the edge of Shem Creek. We wanted to encourage our guests to hang out outside and did so by decorating the space. We made a large (six foot long) string art spelling out our wedding hashtag, #HereComesMcBride, by staining a board of wood, hammering small nails in the shape of the letters, and winding thin white rope in various directions around each letter. We built a directional arrow sign pointing guests towards the ceremony, the reception, and a variety of locations that are important to us. Sean crafted a bar sign from beer bottle caps to spell out 'BAR' under the gazebo. We hung paper and metal lanterns around the gazebo and the tent and decorated the entire space with florals similar to those inside the reception room."


"Sean designed all of the paper goods for our wedding in photoshop. They featured a navy background and a white rope border. Our place cards were the same stationery tucked into monkey-fist knot balls that we hand-tied around marbles. The table numbers featured images of each of us at the age of the table number. Sean and his friends are huge Star Wars fans, so I surprised them by having an authentic Storm Trooper visit the cocktail hour. He was a huge hit on Instagram."


Brian Robbins


"Book Lovers"


Wedding location: Oakley Farms, Moncks Corner, SC


Approximate cost of DIY project(s): $500


"My wife, Shasta, and I fell in love through books. We like to think J.R.R. Tolkien brought us together. To pay tribute to the literary world, we set out to create an epic book-themed wedding. To construct our storybook wedding, we incorporated literary elements in all aspects of our wedding decor. For example, we repurposed old books to create one-of-a-kind bouquets and boutonnieres, elegant table runners, and decorative banners that jumped off the page. Everything from the wedding cake to the wedding favors were inspired and touched by the works of our favorite authors. All of the countless hours we spent compromising, creating, and crafting enabled us to tell the story of our love with all those who shared in our special day."


Book Invitations: "We enlisted our friend Morgan Rice, who is gifted in Adobe Illustrator, to help design the front of the invitations. Shasta and I came up with the 'Chapters' and the library check-out RSVPs. We used library book pockets for the inserts to truly make our invitations feel like a book you would check out of a library. I wrote the summary for the back of our book invitations."


Bouquet and Boutonnieres: "They were crafted from The Lord of the Rings book pages. A flower shaped cookie cutter was used as a template. Shasta followed a YouTube tutorial on how to curl the petals and glue the flower pieces together with a hot glue gun. Green flower wire stems were attached with glue to each rose. A can of glossy sealant spray was applied to each finished rose to maintain the shape. Upwards of 100 roses were made to be incorporated in our decorations at the venue, as well."


Pamphlet and Banner: "We used legal-length stock paper and a Microsoft Word template to lay the ground work for the pamphlet. My sister-in-law collaborated with us to create a unique and humorous pamphlet to outline the evening. It also included a 'Fun Facts' quiz about Shasta and I for our guests to enjoy. Half-inch-thick wood rods and multi-colored card-stock, along with a banner template, was used to create the banners. Brasta is our first names combined, and we decided that the social media hashtag for our wedding would be #TeamBrasta. We thought it would be perfect for all of our guests to have a banner to wave in celebration after I kissed my bride."


Table Runner and Centerpieces: "To create the table runner, we used old pages from two large books. Clear glue was used to put the table runner together. For each side of the table runner, we used an embroidery deep-edge punch to create the embroidered illusion. Shasta and I hunted down old-style books at our local library's giant book sale for our center pieces. We spent countless hours at this book sale to find the perfect books to use."


Wedding Favors: "For our wedding favors, we wanted to create a library of our own making that our guests could visit to take a book home with them. This library consisted of carefully selected books, including Shasta and my favorite authors. Not only did we hand-select works we cherished, we were able to take into consideration the interests of our guests because our merry celebration consisted of 50 guests. Of all the projects associated with our wedding, this was the one we were most passionate about. Throughout our engagement, we scoured thrift stores and local library book sales to collect the perfect wedding favors. We also created a custom stamp and stamped every book (over 100!) in our wedding-favor library. A second part of our wedding favors (not pictured) were custom-made bookmarks. We used book-themed card stock paper and cut and laminated about 60 bookmarks for each guest."