Deciding What to DIY
Plan Along with Me Series – Step 3: Deciding What to do Yourself
We’re moving right along in our wedding plans now and really starting to check big items off the list with those first five vendors we hired last month. Now’s a great time to begin deciding what to DIY for your big day, and what you’d rather leave to the professionals.
Everyone’s level of skill and craftiness is different, as is the amount of support and helping hands you have too. When you’re deciding what to DIY, you’ll want to factor these things in to determine how ambitious you’ll want to be.
Are you doing it all yourself, or are you going to have your bridal team armed with glue guns and enthusiasm behind you all the way? Do DIY projects bring you oodles of joy and fun, or are they typically a source of frustration?
There’s no right or wrong answer here, I promise! Just make sure you’re honest with yourself and you’ll make the best decisions for your day.
Here’s some rules of thumb to use when weighing the pros and cons of each DIY project:
1) Pick projects that can be completed at least one month before your day.
Trust me, you don’t want to be crafting all night the week of your wedding. In the weeks before your big day, family starts to come into town that you’ll want to visit with, you’ll probably have mani/pedi or hair appointments to go to, or you’ll be trying to wrap up last minute details with your vendors. You’ll also need get your marriage license. Finishing DIY projects during this time is only going to make things more stressful.
The key to picking projects you can finish over a month out, is finding ones that don’t depend on your EXACT guest count. Things like fancy handwritten seating charts or personalized favors come with the need to know the precise number of guests, and often you’ll need your seating chart nailed down first, leaving you even less time. These items can change a bit as you find out a couple can’t make it to the wedding or discover last minute a couple can now come, leaving you scrambling to adjust what you made.
On the other hand, things like centerpieces and table numbers are more general. For example, if you end up with that extra centerpiece or two, those can easily be repurposed for décor on the gift or guestbook tables and not go to waste. You can make items like these well in advance and pack them up early, ready for your big day.
Great ideas for projects you can get done early are things like: signs for the ceremony or bar, table numbers, unity ceremony items, unique guestbooks, cake toppers, photo booth backdrops, non-personalized favors, napkin rings, or centerpieces.
2) Think through the setup and breakdown logistics of the project.
Anything you provide yourself will need setup and breakdown, so you’ll need to plan for this. Whether you have a wedding planner that can handle it for you, or you enlist the help of friends or family, you’ll want to have a strategy for who puts it out and cleans it up on your wedding day.
For example, if you buy your own linens, you’ll likely need to steam or iron them ahead of time and have a plan for cleaning them afterwards. You’ll need to have a way to get them on the tables before the florist brings the centerpieces and catering sets the place settings. If you’re hanging lights or draping, you’ll want to have things like ladders and attachment ties on hand.
There’s a lot of logistics that go into DIYing flowers that often aren’t thought of. Things like having a cold place to store them when they arrive AND after you arrange them. Having a place the week of the wedding you can make a mess cutting stems and arranging, is a biggie too (a hotel room won’t work for this, for example). You’ll also need a way to transport the arrangements (full of water) to the reception site.
If you work out the strategy ahead of time, you won’t be trying to figure out ways to solve these problems when it’s crunch time. Some have easy solutions and are worth doing it yourself, others come with more headache than they’re worth once you break down all that goes into it.
3) Pick projects that tell your love story and add meaning to your day.
My favorite DIY projects are the ones that share more pieces of a couple's love story with their guests. Personalizing details that tell more about how you met, things you love to do together, or who you are as people are so much more memorable and meaningful. These are the details your guests will remember about the day because it brought them into your unique story.
Fun examples of these are things like: “His, Hers, and Ours” favors with the candies you each like; unique table names, instead of numbers, that are places where you met, got engaged, or love to visit; or even boutonnieres made from favorite Lego superhero characters. Vintage family wedding photos of your loved ones or pictures from your proposal are awesome examples too.
The more you tailor the day to what you both love and is unique to your story, the more intimate and special your day will be. The possibilities are endless!
4) Don’t automatically equate DIY with a cost savings.
Have you ever done a home improvement project yourself to save hiring someone, only to find once you bought the materials and a tool or two, it was double the cost of what you would have spent on the professional? This is the same kind of thing.
Before you commit to a project, do your research. Check out the cost of the materials you’ll need, any special tools, and factor in the cost of your time. See where you can pick up items on sale and where you can buy in bulk. Look through Facebook Marketplace for couples selling items from their recent weddings for great deals as well.
Also, contact a professional vendor to compare. Be honest with them about what your budget is and see if they’ve got ways to work within that. Many are super creative about finding you the best bang for your buck. They might come in under what you would have spent in time and supplies yourself, taking one thing off your plate.
Side Note - Hiring friends and family for your vendors
Your wedding is such a wonderful time for the ones you love to show you how much you mean to them and help in any way they can. When a friend or family member also has legit skills and offers them to you for your day, it can be an awesome way to save a bit of money and get really lovely, personalized service. There’re some things you’ll want to consider though before you accept.
When your friend or family member isn’t a true professional, this help is really along the lines of a DIY project you’re delegating to them. As a hobbyist, who’s doing it as a favor for you, life can sometimes get in the way of completing it, their taste may not match exactly with yours, or they may not have the full skill set needed to pull it off.
There’s also a huge potential here for miscommunication. Make sure you really communicate what you’re hoping for, if you’ll need them to handle the setup or delivery as well, and if you’re compensating them in any way (like paying for supplies or time spent). Don’t assume anything! It’s better to talk it out and avoid the drama later.
When your friend or family member happens to be a real professional in their area of expertise, that’s amazing! It’s STILL incredibly important that you communicate with them everything just mentioned. Ask to sign their contract, even if they’re not charging you. It locks in the expectations on both sides and makes it a real commitment between you both for their services.
Now that you’ve picked your projects, get creating!
Hopefully these things can help you when you’re deciding what to DIY for your big day. Have fun with the projects you pick to do! I know you’ll add creativity and love to your wedding with that personalized touch!
Check in next month for tips on your engagement photos, engagement party, save-the-dates and registry ideas! Step 4: Celebrating Your Engagement
Until then, happy planning!
PS. We’d love to hear what projects you’re working on creating for your day! Contact us or comment below and share!