Monday, April 8, 2019

When a perfection striving handyman and a style obsessed creative get engaged, a DIY engagement party is just about the only option.

From the moment we started dreaming, we couldn't resist putting everything together ourselves! Scott turned to me almost immediately and said, "what can I build?",  and with that,  my list of creative projects consumed our weekends for the next 6 weeks.

I turned to a lot of creatives to spark our initial ideas, and so I thought I'd repay the favour by sharing all the tiny details. From what we made and how we made it to costs and organisational tips to help you plan your own magical engagement party or wedding!

B U D G E T : $2500
A C T U A L  C O S T : $2200
P L A N N I N G  T I M E : 6 weeks
C A P A C I T Y : 100 guests

T H E  G R A Z I N G  T A B L E

Along with hot food, we had this snack table of our dreams to make sure than absolutely none of our guests went hungry! Not only is it the perfect way to fill people up, you can also make it look really impressive and decorative, without having to splurge on unnecessary decor.
There are a lot of catering and platter companies that you can hire to set these up for you, but naturally you will pay a premium for their time and resources.
But if you have a bunch of boards, servers and an extra hour or two, doing this yourself will save you heaps!
We started by costing out a big shopping list then headed to the fruit market and supermarket the day before the party to grab everything we needed. On the day, we couldn't put things out until the last minute and underestimated how much time it would take to lay out SO MUCH food!
Our best tip for this one; allow a bit of time to cut up the fruit and get everything onto the table, and if you're doing it yourself, have a few friends help you on the day!

T O T A L  C O S T : $306.86

T H E  C A K E

Believe it or not, our cake was a Green's packet mix cake! We used four packets of the Traditional Vanilla Cake Mix which are $2.50 each. It comes with icing and everything, although we did need to make up a little extra icing as we used some between each layer.
Each tier has two layers, which we squared off with a knife and stuck together with icing and dowels from Bunnings. To ice, we just used a big spatular and went round the outside, I wanted it to look rough anyway, so I wasn't too stressed about this part!
Between each tier we also had cake cardboard to give it support, which worked perfectly!
As for decor, I got a simple heart shaped cake topper from Etsty and used some spare flowers to add the finishing touches!
The biggest cost was actually in buying the cake tins, which we didn't already have! We bought a 3 tier set from Spotlight but only ended up using the two.
Everyone seemed to love the cake, and much to my disappointment, only a few pieces were left at the end of the night!

T O T A L  C O S T : $63.58

T H E  W I S H I N G  W E L L

This is probably the piece I am most proud of! I fell in love with the idea of a perspex wishing well but when I saw that they retail at $300 - $400 I quickly ruled buying one out. Luckily for me though, I am marrying a seriously handy guy who loves a challenge, so when I showed the concept to Scott he quickly confirmed he could make something similar.
We bought a sheet of perspex, the gold hinges, latch and lock all from Bunnings and got to work! While Scott seemed to measure it up and cut all the pieces effortlessly, actually gluing it together is where we nearly came unstuck (pun intended).
As we were working with clear materials, there was no room for error! We both had to hold the pieces together while the glue dried, doing our best to avoid any spillage. It tested our team work as we had to sit very still and avoid letting the pieces slip!
There were a few accidents and start-overs and we didn't avoid all the spills but the end result was exactly what I envisioned.
For the front decal, I sourced the sticker on eBay which was just $6.00 including postage, score!

T O T A L  C O S T : $52.00

T H E  F L O W E R S

Flowers. Everywhere! We used flowers as the main decor, from a giant centrepiece, to scattered vases, spread across the grazing table and even on the cake!
The day before the party we took a trip to Sydney Flower Market and picked up two HUGE tubs full. This is a trader market, so you can get fresh flowers direct from farmers at really affordable prices. The two tubs we bought totalled just $200!
I didn't know what flowers would be available on the day, but the market has a huge variety and it felt like you could almost get anything you wanted, in season or not! I opted for natives, roses and fresh greenery in a neutral palette, plus a pop of maroon!
We had more than enough to fill all the vases we owned and then some!

T O T A L  C O S T : $200.00

T H E  B A R

Ok, so we kinda cheated with this element of the party! Not only do we own an excessive amount of alcohol thanks to Scott's own cocktail blog, but he also used to have a mobile bar, so all the glasses and a lot of the equipment for the bar, we didn't need to buy or hire.
Scott made up two big cocktail jugs which we a huge hit! To show people what they were drinking, we had a custom sign done up on the other half of the perspex which was leftover from the wishing well. We used a local sign printer called SWS Singage to print my own design which I did up in photoshop. They made the whole process really easy and had it done really quickly for such a tricky design!
Scott also made some amazing garnishes to add a hint of sophistication to the drinks! We used orange peels and dehydrated lemons which we pegged to each of the cups.
We also had buckets full of wine and beer for guests to enjoy!

T O T A L  C O S T : $458.12

T H E  P I C N I C S

Hosting 100 people came with one complication; having enough seating! But rather than hiring or buying chairs we used what we had and also set up a big palette picnic that guests could relax at.
We got the palettes for free from Bunnings (you can usually find old ones there that they give away) and used picnic rugs and pillows we already had to create comfy seats!
The only cost for this feature was a few extra cushions which we got for $4 each from Kmart!

T O T A L  C O S T : $16

T H E  L I G H T  A R C H

To light up the yard and add a little magic to the whole night, Scott built a huge light arch that extended from one side of the yard to the other. It really did make the party and was easily my favourite element!
It was also the most expensive, the timber itself was pricey and getting that many fairy lights wasn't cheap either, so in total it cost us around $500 to have.
We totally could have gone without it but since we saved in so many other areas we decided to splurge, and justified the cost knowing that we will be able to repurpose the materials again for the wedding, or even sell the whole thing second hand.
It was well worth it, Scott got to live out his dreams of constructing something and I got to see my vision come to life! A lot of our guests took photos in front of the lights too, so we think they appreciated such a pretty backdrop!

T O T A L  C O S T : $500

The entire process, from concepting to executing to finally getting to enjoy our perfect night, Scott and I LOVED putting together the engagement party!
We both kind of saw it as a way to practise the whole DIY thing, to test how much we could handle and what it would be like if we wanted to do our wedding a similar way.
It's likely that we will, because we are naturally drawn to crafts and it was so special to have so many handmade elements as part of our night. I just don't think we could do it any other way!

That being said, we will likely have a mix, with things like food and cleaning (the pack up was rough!), we will likely hire staff so that both us and our families are not burdened on the actual wedding day, but anything we can do ourselves in the lead up, consider it done!