With the average cost of a wedding in the United States in 2016 ringing in (pun intended) at $35,329 and the average engagement lasting 15 months, it’s natural to look for ways to cut costs. Save money and avoid sacrificing style with these DIY projects.

Select Simple Wedding Centerpieces

Flowers are pretty and can easily complement your wedding’s color scheme, but they don’t determine the success of your reception (or your marriage). You’ll probably want some flowers for the actual ceremony, but you can definitely save money by choosing a different kind of centerpiece.

If you are going to use flower centerpieces, be sure to order those that are in season for better prices.

Growing flowers: $20–however much you want to spend

floating floral centerpiece with tealightsWith some advance planning, you could plant your own wedding flowers for a truly DIY project. The cost of seeds will vary by type, but they are nowhere near the cost of ordering all your flowers from a florist (anywhere from $200–$2,500). Plus, you can have fun decorating.

If your thumb isn’t quite as green as you’d like, contact a local landscaping professional for information about what grows best in your area and how much you should plant. Even after the wedding is over, you’ll have a daily reminder of a very happy day.

Floating floral centerpieces: $50–$75

For a scaled-back floral centerpiece, choose a flower with a large bloom, like a Gerber daisy or water lily, and let it float in a small bowl, vase, or wine glass that you don’t care about losing should it break. Set it off with some floating tea candles—inside or outside of the vase— and you now possess finished centerpieces.

Pro Tip: If you want to add some color to the vases, use aquarium stones. You can go with the natural browns and greens or add an accent color to make the bloom pop.

Pro Tip #2: Varying the height of the vases or glasses also adds dynamics to the table.

Baby pictures in decorative stands or frames: $20–$100

family looks at photo albumEveryone loves baby pictures, and everybody cries at weddings, so why not combine these traditions in the form of a centerpiece?

Depending on how many tables you need to accommodate your guests, frames can get a little expensive. Even so, they’re still much cheaper than floral arrangements. Plus, you don’t have to worry about anyone being allergic to your centerpieces.

The cost of picture prints is typically $10 or less. Do NOT, repeat, DO NOT use sentimental originals for the actual centerpiece. People spill things at weddings. It’s never on purpose, but you still don’t want to risk losing anything meaningful.

As an alternative to frames, you can make your own picture holders with a wine cork, a paperclip, and a boxcutter. Just cut a slit in the wine cork deep enough to place the paperclip in, stick the pictures in the paperclip, and you’re set. It’s almost too easy.

When you calculate the time needed to make 2 holders per table (roughly 10 minutes) and the minimal cost of the supplies (approximately $25 for picture prints, paperclips, and corks), you’re looking at savings of hundreds or even thousands of dollars when compared to extravagant floral arrangements.

Make Easy Wedding Favors

Everyone loves favors, but you don’t have to spend even two percent of your budget trying to impress your friends. Your friends and family are there because they are happy for you, not because they want an awesome favor. If you have the money to spend, great. If not, don’t fret.

Seed sachets: $40 for 144 muslin sachets, $25–$30 per pound of seeds

wool sachets tied with twineIf you have somewhere around 140 guests, you can make your own seed sachet favors for about $0.62 per person if you buy 144 sachets and 2 pounds of seeds. Compare this to the usual $2–$5 per favor, and you’re looking at savings of at least $200.

The best part about using seeds for wedding favors is that your guests don’t have to plant them immediately. They can wait until spring or plant them before the chill of winter rolls around.

Of course, the seed cost will vary depending on what kind you buy. If you can spend a little extra, consider filling the sachets with the seeds of the flowers that you used in your wedding.

If you want to make it as cost-effective as possible, a wildflower variety is perfectly acceptable. Add some ribbon or twine to attach a cute thank-you note and a cheesy pun about watching love grow for maximum wedding bliss.

Birdseed favors: $8/lb., $2.05 for 190 feet of twine, plus the cost of small stationery

If you’re looking for a new way to incorporate birdseed into your reception, consider making birdseed hearts with a small thank-you note looped through a hole. It’s easy, cute, and a fun alternative to taking a birdseed shower. You’ll also need a few household items, like flour, gelatin, a cookie cutter, and a chopstick.

If your guest list is 140 people, you’ll need to make 7 batches. If you round up, you’ll need one big bag and one small bag of flour, about 9 pounds of bird seed, 21 tablespoons of corn syrup, 17.5 tablespoons of unflavored gelatin, and 3.5 cups of water

These figures are rounded up and will probably make a few extra favors. Even so, when combined, the cost comes to a total of $115, or $0.82 per guest.

If you still want people to throw something at you on your grand exit, choose an herb like lavender. It smells better.

Helpful crafting tools for favors:

  • A monogrammed stamp will add a little flair to the muslin bags or any notes you might want to attach to your favors. It should only cost you $25–$30.
  • Heart- and flower-shaped hole punches are handy for making your own confetti and creating the notes to go with your favors. They should cost between $20–$30.
  • A single hole punch helps out any time you need to thread twine through something, like a note. These run anywhere from $1–$50.

Your Day Should Happen Your Way

table with guest book favors and flowersHaving a wedding does not have to mean breaking the bank. There are plenty of ways to have fun and cut costs with your centerpieces and favors. Fewer flowers creatively incorporated can make as large an impact as extensive floral centerpieces.

Cutting down on centerpieces and making your own favors will reduce the amount you have to spend, and if your guests choose to plant the seeds you give as favors, they’ll make a positive impact on the environment. Whether you choose to make a birdseed heart or a seed sachet, your guests will have a memorable treat to remember your wedding by.