How to have a DIY wedding like Bette Midler's daughter

Wedding reception outside in the backyard. Bride and groom with a family dancing.
A back garden wedding is cheaper than hiring a venue. (Getty Images)

The coronavirus pandemic has impacted almost all aspects of life, but one of the areas most affected has been weddings, with millions of 'big days' put on hold.

As a result, we've seen a rise in couples choosing to scale back the celebrations and do things themselves - and even though the world of weddings is slowly returning to normal, DIY or homespun weddings are on the rise.

While weddings are often painted as an all-out affair complete with a ritzy venue, 100 strong guest list and all the fancy trimmings, there's been a surge in couples looking to get married on their own terms.

Pinterest has reported a 190% year-on-year increase in searches for “small back garden wedding" and a new study from Premier Polytunnels shows that 56% would be happy to go low key with their wedding plans and host a DIY wedding in their own back garden.

So even now that big weddings are back, brides and grooms-to-be seem to be opting to pare things back and do it themselves.

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Even celebrities are catching the DIY wedding bug, with Bette Midler's daughter Sophie Von Haselberg recently opening up about her own "homespun" wedding to Harry J. N. Guinness, which took place amid the pandemic.

"We really had not planned to do it," she told Today. "We just decided to do it when COVID hit because all of a sudden, the realities of what the world is today really rained down upon us. So it was eleven people. It was teeny, teeny tiny."

Von Haselberg went on to reveal how the couple had enlisted the help of friends and family to curate the whole day themselves.

"What made the whole thing so special was just that we did everything ourselves," she said. "We didn't hire anyone to do anything. We cooked ourselves. My mom did all the flowers. My dad and I had done the menu planning. My husband figured out all the wines.

"Two of our best friends did the ceremony and it was just so special.

"It really just felt like a really fun dinner party which to me is exactly how I would want anything to feel. It didn't feel like this lavish thing. It just felt really cozy and lovely and loving."


The rise of the DIY wedding

Though some couples have always favoured adding a DIY element to the big day prep, wedding planner Liz Taylor of the Taylor Lynn Corporation believes this is a trend that is on the up.

“There has long been a tradition that family and friends get involved in creating some aspects of a wedding, even luxury ones," she explains. "But most recently, it’s become a growing trend with couples inviting support from family and friends to create the day of their dreams.

"This is everything from auntie baking a wedding cake, to sisters creating the bouquet and in one recent case, a cousin painting a graffiti backdrop for the kids' chill out room at a wedding."

Taylor says it is not all about cost cutting either, but more about wanting people to feel involved – so the wedding becomes more intimate and personal.

“Since the pandemic, it feels like a greater emphasis is being placed on the family role. Giving key people a part of the day to organise makes the wedding a focus for people that, perhaps, haven’t met up or had close contact for 18 months," she explains.

Creating your own wedding decor is one of the easiest ways to add a personalised aspect to your big day. (Getty Images)
Creating your own wedding decor is one of the easiest ways to add a personalised aspect to your big day. (Getty Images)

Dean Drury, business development management at Party Ingredients agrees that the rise in couples wanting to do things themselves is about more than saving money.

“Many couples and indeed their families want to be involved in the happy couples' big day, regardless of budget," he explains.

"Particularly this year when weddings have been smaller, we've seen couples rolling up their sleeves and creating things to make their day more personal. These have included making their wedding cake to granny's recipe to handwriting their menu cards.

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"We have had a couple wanting to supply their vegetables as they are keen gardeners, which would have worked for very small numbers but not when you're catering for a large number of guests, so they supplied the garnish for the cocktails which is more manageable," Drury adds.

"Couples have also been keen to keep large items like flowers more manageable by growing their own and keeping things organic and rustic rather than formal large arrangements, with all the family chipping in to grow the amount needed."

Read more: The best wedding gifts for every type of couple

More couples are having DIY weddings. (Getty Images)
More couples are having DIY weddings. (Getty Images)

How to have a homespun wedding

Alessia Armenise who held her own DIY wedding in 2019 and is about to have a book published about her experiences and Ashley Waugh, who saved £21K on her own wedding have put together some top tips for brides and grooms looking to do things themselves.

Choose the right venue

"If you are organising your own wedding, especially if you are trying to keep it sustainable, the location is the most important thing to focus on," Armenise explains. "The more the location incorporates the atmosphere you want at your wedding, the less you will have to add to it."

Make a detailed plan

"Make sure you do lots of research before you start doing or buying anything," Armenise suggests. "If you are organising your wedding by yourself, you will have a long list of things to do so it's good to have a plan of action, otherwise, you will certainly forget something and waste money."

Get friends and family involved

"We wanted to do most things ourselves so we made sure we had a small, manageable wedding but it doesn't mean that you can't ask your friends for help!" Armenise says.

"We got one of our friends to play the guitar while I was walking down the aisle, one of my bridesmaids, who is a designer, designed my dress and the bridesmaids dresses (and a bowtie for the man in the group!).

"Another one of our friends was our Master of Ceremonies and helped us keep everything on track during the ceremony and the party. It's very hard to do it alone but it's super manageable if your loved ones can help!".

Read more: A second-hand dress and a homegrown bouquet: Thrifty couple save thousands on their DIY wedding

Work out your priorities

When you're doing things yourselves, it is helpful to understand the most important thing for you and your partner when it comes to the wedding. "We wanted people to have fun, that was the most important thing and we made sure we concentrated the most resources to achieve that," Armenise explains.

With this, I mean that you should organise your budget accordingly – we, for example, spent more on music entertainment and less on clothes and wedding favours.”

Ashley Waugh and her husband Luke created their own DIY wedding. (Supplied/Thinkmoney)

Do your own decor

"We did every aspect of the décor ourselves - myself, my husband Luke, my brother, my mum, and my friend Katie spent the day before dressing the Wedding Breakfast room," Waugh tells thinkmoney.

"We bought centrepieces from Home Bargains, chair sashes and covers from Wish or AliExpress for 40p a pop and favours from B&M, but it looked as if it had been professionally dressed.”

Swap a DJ for a playlist

"We also didn’t have a DJ just a playlist we made together and controlled from our phones," Waugh adds.

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