Here's a list of what I used for the project. As always, there may be a cheaper or better way to do a few of these things so use your imagination.
Large 2" Binder Clips
or any office supply retailer)
1" Poster Strips
or any other office supply retailer)
of your choice (Buy-LEDs-Online.com
or multiple other web-based supplier, eBay etc. See next step for LED buying tips
CR2032 Lithium Batteries
or multiple other web-based supplier, eBay etc.)
3/8" Polypropylene Rod
or other plastics retailers)
1/16" Acrylic sheet, Precut into 3-1/4" x 2" Rectangles
or other online plastic retailer/fabricators) Can you cut acrylic yourself? I wouldn't recommend it unless you have done it before. To do it efficiently you'll need special saw blades. To do it the hard way by scoring and breaking it would take forever. Trust me, getting it pre-cut was fairly inexpensive and well worth the time savings and gave me prefect cuts which I could probably not do myself.
(I used a bar clamp)
(If you don't have one, borrow one)
A Dremel rotary tool
if you have one. If you don't then this Dremel Engraver
or at your local big-box hardware store) which is pretty inexpensive.
#11 Drill Bit
( 4.8514mm .191") OR a close equivalent. Note: If you cannot get the exact size you may need to ream out the hole a bit if you have a smaller bit, or use crazy glue if you have a larger bit. You can find this size bit online
but might have trouble finding it at your local hardware store.
(or access to a printer)
or other cutter (Outdoor snips for cutting branches might work. Anything that can give you a fairly clean cut on the polypropylene rod)
Metal Cutting Blade from a Reciprocating Saw
There may be other blades that give the same width cut, but this is what I had lying around. I rigged up a little handle for it and used it to make the slots. (I wouldn't recommend actually using a reciprocating saw, just use the blade form one and do it by hand)
I only used Earplugs (the engraver is loud), but if you'd like to be extra careful I believe the manual for the engraver recommends safety glasses and a dust mask whenever using it. I think the dust mask is more for when you are engraving glass or metal, but whether you want to use it or not is up to you.
Earplugs How To Put In Earplugs
Most people don't do this the right way
Thin plastic sheet for pull-tabs
Of course everything at your wedding is being done on a budget and one of the main reasons people like to DIY is because it cuts down on the cost of professional services for things like invitations etc. These place cards will probably end up being more expensive than a standard paper card (unless you were planning on something super fancy) but in the grand scheme of things they aren't too bad.
My best estimate on the cost for materials comes out to ~$1.25 per card plus maybe a little bit of shipping depending how much you get online. Keep in mind couples get one card, so for a wedding of ~150 you'll be making maybe ~90 cards. As with any project though: Always order 10% more than you need so you have extras
The Only tools you may have to buy are the Dremel Engraver which is about $20 and maybe the drill bit, saw blade, and tubing cutter which are each a few bucks a pop. Overall you should be able to do a wedding of ~150 people for $150-$200. It's not the cheapest way to make table cards but people will definitely think you spent more than that to make something like this