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The Ultimate Guide to DIY Wedding Set Up and Break Down

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If you’re planning a DIY wedding, you’ll need to consider how you’ll set up and break down your event. Check out this guide to get organized and prepared for your big day!

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The Top 3 Steps to DIY Your Wedding Set Up and Break Down – get organized so you can avoid stress and simplify the process.

You have carefully planned your wedding day, and you have been eagerly anticipating experiencing every moment for months (if not far longer). But the careful planning you have done for your wedding day cannot end once you officially sign a contract with the final wedding professional on your must-have list. Instead, as the months and weeks dwindle to days before your wedding, it’s high time to determine your game plan for setting up and breaking down your wedding day. 

Deciding to work with a wedding planner is one of the best things you can do for your peace of mind. However, we understand working with such a pro is not within everyone’s budget. If you’re planning to continue to take on the all-too-important role of wedding planner, we do suggest having a plan in place for your wedding day — and much of it revolves around organization. 

Below we’re detailing how to best organize yourself, your stuff, and your crew for your wedding day. We promise it’s all possible, and it’s all possible to complete while still enjoying your day (in fact, this is how you will enjoy your day). 


Step One: Organize Yourself

While couples do plan weddings in a matter of days or even weeks, it’s far more likely that you’ve been planning your wedding over the course of many months (many couples plan for a year or more!). During that time, you have likely accumulated a lot of stuff from tangible items to tons of documents. Now is the time to pull it all out and do the following: 

1. Review and print all of your contracts. 

2. Place all of your contracts on Google Drive, and share the folder via email with key family members and even friends (maid of honor, best man). 

3. Print all of your contracts and place them in a folder that will be brought to your wedding by you or a trusted family member or friend just in case. The point is to have these documents on hand in case any questions arise!

4. Separate your personal items (i.e.: items you plan to wear) from items that will go to the wedding (i.e.: wedding stationery, favors, etc). 

5. Purchase containers or collect boxes, and make sure you also have clear bags, masking tape, and permanent markers! More on this in a moment. 

6. Gather together the phone numbers of your go-to family and friends and start thinking about the roles they will play with set up and break down. Keep in mind these loved ones will also need to have time to get ready. Again, more on this below. 

7. Create a wedding day timeline (this article details our best tips!) and remember to always add more time than you think you will need. It’s far better to run ahead of schedule than it is to have to try to make up time (hint: in most cases, you will not make up the time). 


Step Two: Organize Your Stuff

Organizing your personal items and those that will be at your wedding ceremony and wedding reception is the most important step in having a streamlined and simple setup and breakdown process. Here’s how to make it happen: 

1. Gather all of the items that will be at your wedding (your personal items should not be included in this grouping). 

2. Separate them by ceremony and reception. 

3. Separate everything again by the area in which they will appear (i.e.: escort card table, gift table, anniversary photo table, lounge, guest tables, and so on). 

4. Once everything is organized by both item and area, place the items that you can into clear bags or even boxes to keep them together. Once contained, add a piece of masking tape or slip a piece of paper inside that details what is in the bag and where it should be placed. 

5. Add your grouped items in bags or boxes to Tupperware containers. Try to continue to keep things grouped by area or time (i.e.: wedding ceremony vs. wedding reception or cocktail hour vs. late night). 

6. As you’re bagging and boxing your items, create a master list of everything. On this list, you can note what the item is, how many you have, and where they should be placed. This list will be viewed as actual gold by those who are setting up and breaking down (and if your venue is assisting, they will be thrilled!). 


Step Three: Organize Your Crew

Because you and your partner should both be enjoying your wedding day rather than making it happen, you will want to assemble a team of trusted friends and family members who are comfortable and confident to handle setup and breakdown. This is the best way to get and keep everyone on the same page: 

1

Identify Potential Wedding Helpers

Consider friends and family members who are handy, trustworthy, and will likely be more than willing to lend a hand to set up and break down your wedding. Keep in mind, these people will also transition into being guests (as they should!), and they will need time to get ready. As a result, we do not suggest asking parents or wedding party members to help. 

2

Ask Your Wedding Team for Help

Before you officially announce your team, ask them if they’re on board with helping. The worst thing you can do at this stage is to appoint someone to a position they do not want or have time to complete. Willing participants are key!

3

Organize Helpers’ Contact Info

As we mentioned earlier, once everyone is in agreement, ask for their phone numbers and email addresses. Then compile all of the numbers onto a Call Sheet that you can not only email to the group but also to your wedding vendors. The idea is everyone will call each other rather than call you or your partner. Do list the number of someone (parent, sibling, maid of honor, best man) who is in the know and can speak on your behalf should someone have a question or need an executive decision made. 

4

Organize Helpers’ Contact Info

Send everyone a detailed list of instructions about how every item should be set up and include the list you created of all of the items that will be going to your wedding. Encourage everyone to print these pieces! Not every wedding venue has great wifi, so having physical copies of these documents is important. 

5

Have a Planning Meeting with Your Team

Set up a time to meet with everyone either over the phone, via Zoom, or in-person to run through the items and your intentions for them. Wedding planners routinely do this with their clients in order to fully understand how the couple wants everything set up. 

6

Share Your Wedding Timeline

Share your wedding day timeline with those who will be helping to set up. This way they will know where they’re going (include addresses!), when to arrive, and how long they have to complete their job. 

7

Label Boxes for Easy Organization

Ask your setup crew to keep boxes and bags organized for all items. As long as this happens, the friends and family who will clean up at the end of the night will have a smooth time completing their roles. 

8

Discuss Break Down/Delivery for Post-Wedding

Let those who are breaking down your wedding know where to place all items after the wedding. They might be keeping them in a car trunk, bringing them to a hotel room (if this is the case, make sure someone has a hotel key!), or driving them to a family member’s garage. Make sure this is a reasonable plan for those involved (weddings typically end late at night and everyone has had a long day). 

The Savvy Way to Organize Wedding Set up and Break Down

As long as you get and remain organized, it’s completely possible to DIY your wedding day’s setup and breakdown plans. The key part? Great people! Family and friends make the world go-’round, and in this case, they can allow you to enjoy your wedding day. Make sure to love them well. 

Are you planning to set up and break down your own wedding rather than turning to a professional? What plans do you have in place? How can we help? We’ll be continuing the conversation in our community!


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The Budget Savvy Bride is the #1 Online Wedding Planning Resource for couples who want to plan a beautiful wedding on a budget they can actually afford. Check out our best-selling book on Amazon, The Budget-Savvy Wedding Planner & Organizer!