By enlisting friends and family to help with the flowers, the photography, the cake, the officiating, and some of the set up and decorating, the McShanes saved money and added a uniquely personal feel to their summer wedding.

“We wanted our wedding to be really personal and to demonstrate who we are as people and as a couple,” Cyndi explained.

To achieve that, the pair incorporated homemade elements as decorations and party favors, chose and played their own music without a DJ, and made decisions based on what they really wanted instead of what tradition would dictate.

“We made a list of everything needed for a wedding, and realized we knew someone who could do almost everything and do it well,” Joe said. “Nobody turned us down!”

The bride’s mother made the flower bouquets and decorated the arbor. Wood for party favors came from the groom’s family’s property. A cake decorator friend made the cake, another friend took the photos, and another even officiated the ceremony. The result was a day that felt special, relaxed, and extremely personal.

The couple shared their tips for making your wedding fun and personalized:

Be flexible and open-minded. The McShanes weren’t set on a town or location when they began searching for a venue. Once they realized how much of the wedding they could put together themselves, they decided they didn’t need an official venue with a built-in staff.

They rented The Farm at Worthley Pond in Peru, a 14-room retreat with a hot tub, sprawling lawn, and private beach. It provided a picturesque backdrop and a place for the wedding party to stay the night of the wedding. It also allowed the newlyweds to have a mini-honeymoon, as they could stay and relax for a few days after the wedding.

Browse the Internet for ideas. With sites like Pinterest chock-full of ideas for themes, décor, and party favors, there’s plenty of inspiration out there. Good ideas can be customized to fit the couple getting married, and many can be handmade instead of bought. The McShanes went nontraditional with a wood slab guestbook and also gave out mix CDs of songs that are important to them.

Don’t try to take on too much. While adding homemade, handmade touches will be fun, allow professionals to take some of the major details off your hands, even if you have to pay for it. The McShanes hired out for the tent, dance floor, tables and chairs, and the food. It allowed them to be relaxed on the wedding day and know that some of the bigger jobs would be taken care of. Planning ahead will also help you stay relaxed on the big day and leave less to do on the day of the wedding.

Following these guidelines resulted in a fun and special day for the McShanes, during which a lot of family and friends pitched in to make sure things went smoothly.

“It looked great even though we did so much of it ourselves,” Cyndi said. She also recommended keeping things in perspective when wedding planning gets overwhelming. “It’s a party … it’s not your marriage.”

Support from friends and family went a long way toward maintaining that perspective.

“We weren’t feeling a lot of pressure to have a certain kind of wedding … everybody was really supportive and happy for us,” Joe said. “The wedding was very ‘us’ and it was great to see everybody having as much fun as we hoped they would.”

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