In a recent article, I talked about how to decide whether to use a professional planner to help create your wedding dreams. It seemed only fair that I also talk about how to decide whether to create most of your wedding from scratch or not.
I’m going to come right out and say that I was a total DIY diva for my wedding. I love to make things by hand, and I hate to spend money on paying someone to do something I’m more than capable of doing for myself. Further, I felt that putting my handwork into the day was part of putting my heart into the event. On top of all that, we had pretty much two shiny nickles to spend on making a day that our friends and families would remember fondly. We just plain didn’t have the bucks to spend on a lot of pros…but even if the budget had been more flexible, I think I would have done the DIY thing pretty much to the level I did. See above in re: putting my heart into the day.
I’ve known brides who have made their own gowns, grown the flowers, deisgned and printed invitations, baked their own cakes, made the wedding feasts in their own kitchens, designed and made all the decorations…I think about the only thing I haven’t seen yet is a bride who cobbled her own wedding shoes. I’m equally sure that somewhere out there is a lady who has done just that.
Still, it’s not for everyone. And that’s why you should ask yourself the following questions when deciding whether or not to DIY and to what extent:
How crafty am I? If the last thing you tried making by hand was that macaroni picture in the third grade, you might not want to begin with your wedding. If, on the other hand, you do lacemaking demonstrations publicly as I was doing at the time I started my wedding plans, chances are you’d be able to do plenty of things yourself. Be honest with yourself about your level of skill, confidence, and ability to learn new things quickly.
How elaborate do I want things at my wedding? If you want simple sheaf or nosegay bouquets, nearly anyone with two working hands can put that together. That makes a great DIY project that will save hugely on a florist. If, on the other hand, you want an elaborate cascade and have never tried tying any sort of bouquet, do not try it at home. Bring in the pro and pay a fair price. If you want a very simple gown and are a reasonably accomplished home sewer, chances are you can produce that on your own. But unless you’re good enough to go pro yourself, don’t try to reproduce that strapless, bustled ballgown of a confection you saw in some fantasy photo shoot.
How much time do I have to do this in? If you’re getting married in three weeks, don’t try to grow your own roses now. You just won’t be able to do it. Some things can be done quickly and easily at any time, but others require a lot more hours to accomplish. Be practical about it.
How important is it to me to do this myself? In many ways, this is the one that trumps everything in my book. If it’s really important, then it’s worth reconsidering time frames and learning new skills. For instance, it was really important to me to make my own lace for my wedding gown. It’s a skill that defines me in some ways, and something that made the day more personally fulfilling. It’s also something that takes a long time to do. In fact, it took a year. For another couple of my acquaintance who are both avid gardeners, the most important thing to them was to have flowers from their own garden used. Again, that took a long time and careful planning. Again, they both felt it was well worth the time and effort because it added something so personal to the day.
Is this really a practical thing for me to do myself? In other words, some projects can be done ahead of time and are perfectly reasonable. Others can’t be done until the very last minute and may be more stressful than anticipated. Do you really want to wake up on your wedding day and start stuffing mushrooms for the reception? If you choose to do something like catering by yourself, think carefully about creating a menu that can be prepared in advance and only needs reheating/setting out. Then appoint a crew to help with that. And please don’t try to take your formal portraits by yourself, not even if you have a camera with a timer and a tripod. That just plain isn’t going to work.
Will this save a significant amount of money or add something special to my day? If the answer to both of these questions is no, then why put yourself to the trouble? For instance, I went with a commercially available invitation. I had no computer or hand printing skills, Mr. Twistie didn’t have the time to put into it, as long as the invitiations were reasonably pretty and got the information across I wasn’t actually that worried about their specific design, and then I found some really pretty, really inexpensive invitations at my local stationers. In fact, the deal was so good it would have cost me more to make the invitations. At that point, I decided that invitations were something to buy rather than make. I’ve never regretted that decision one bit.
Will doing this myself stress me out, calm me down, or otherwise strongly influence my mood at my wedding? This goes right up there with personal significance as a decision maker in my book. As I noted in the wedding planner article, some of us are calmer if someone else takes care of all the details for us. Some of us are only content when we are handling things ourselves. Most of us fall somewhere in between. Think about how you want to approach your big day for maximum comfort to you.
Doing projects for your wedding can bring a great sense of personal accomplishment while adding a clear indication of who you are to your wedding…but as I said, it’s not for everyone. Think it over, then do what works best for you.