SOS! We’re about to give up!” came a frantic email from a lovely couple who needed help deciding whether or not to ditch their DIY screen printed t-shirt-slash-wedding-invitation in favor of a mass market invite kit from a big box craft store. They were in over the heads with a technique neither had tried before yet they had spent almost $1,000 (a large chunk of their budget) on supplies and couldn’t really afford to start over. They were frustrated, worried, and didn’t know what do next.
I get emails like this every week.
Though do-it-yourself weddings have been commonplace for years now, the advent of image sharing sites has ramped up interest (and increased social pressure) for couples to have the hippest, most creative DIY wedding ever. Many couples, seeing thousands of great wedding images and projects on Pinterest or wedding blogs, are excited to get hands on with the creation of their dream weddings because the images make it look so easy. But the reality is that many couples, riding on a wave of “we can do it!” enthusiasm, commit themselves to doing too many projects or chose projects that are totally wrong for them. That’s when overwhelm sets in. Projects get abandoned. More money gets spent on replacements or hiring professionals to fill in the blanks. It doesn’t need to be that way!
While the entire DIY Bride team loves inspiration sites, we’re trying to bridge the disconnect between “OMGAwesome!” wedding project photos and realities of actually creating them. Many crafts are deceiving; what looks simple and effortless often takes a great deal of effort, expense, or planning to get right. I recently worked with a bride to create “ombre mason jar luminarias” for her centerpieces. What she had estimated as an 8-hour project ended up taking about 80 hours, when we factored in things like sourcing the materials, prepping the jars, applying color, and allowing for drying times between layers. Luckily, she started way ahead of her wedding date and had some time to spare. Another of our couples spent a week of their time and $650 on DIY-ing their wedding cake that, quite tragically, got smushed in the back of the groom’s SUV on the way to the reception. Their favorite local cake maker would have charged $575, about $75 less than their DIY disaster, for the cake — and delivery.
This isn’t meant to scare any of you would-be do-it-yourselfers! My goal – and that of DIY Bride – is to help guide you choose the right projects and successfully complete them. By sharing real-life dilemmas and disasters, I want to raise some awareness that a successful DIY wedding doesn’t just happen. It takes some serious thought and planning.
Here are my top 6 tips on how to have the DIY experience without losing your sanity or blowing your budget:
1. Budget Your Time. The #1 reason a DIY project will fail is the couple underestimates how much time it’ll take to complete. Just like having a financial budget, you’ll need to know how much time you have available to do your crafts. Before you commit to any projects, take a realistic look at your available free time between now and your wedding date. Cut that in half because life gets busy and things happen that’ll need your attention. How much of your free time are you and your partner willing to give up? A couple of hours after work on weekdays? Entire weekends? 1 hour a month? Knowing how much free time you have to devote to projects will help you weed out things that aren’t right for you.
Tip: Don’t try to schedule in any crafting during the week of your wedding. That week is almost always jam packed with other concerns and activities. Plan accordingly.
2. Decide What’s Important to You. Instead of DIY-ing everything you think you possibly can, pick a few key projects that you’d love to do; things that you’d be most proud to showcase or that have the most personal meaning to you and your guests. Whatever creates an emotional connection between you and your wedding is often the very best project to do because it’s the most memorable. Cut back on the rest or leave it to the professionals when budget allows.
3. The One Wow Project Rule. Try not to go all out with “wow!” projects; you’ll go absolutely bonkers. A single “wow” project like an ultra-cool save-the-date, a yummy interpretation of your grandma’s favorite cupcake recipe, a quirky cake topper, or custom ties for groomsmen goes a long way in creating visual impact without overwhelming you and your guests. Projects simply done (or done simply) are often just as satisfying as an over-the-top one. Don’t underestimate the power and beauty of simplicity!
4. Double-Double. For every project you choose, double the amount of time you think it’ll take you to complete it; also double the amount of money you’ve budgeted for it. Have a safety net of time and money just in case something goes wrong (and it always does!).
5. Know Your Crafty Comfort Zones. Do you love learning new craft techniques, or do you prefer to stick with what you already know? A huge source of overwhelm with DIY weddings comes from couples overreaching their crafty comfort zones. Learning to screen print or make wedding rings or picking up power tools for the first time to make a cake stand can be overwhelming! While we encourage every couple to explore new crafts and techniques, we also caution you from trying too much new stuff when you’re already overburdened with work, family, life, and wedding planning. This should all be fun and not stressful, right?
6. Let Go of Perfection. Remember this: many of those beautiful photos of weddings and crafts are carefully curated, styled, and edited to make them as flawless as possible. They don’t reflect the 100s of shots that were deleted or altered; the dozens of prototypes that didn’t work; the hundreds of dollars in props or high-end materials; or the countless hours in tweaking, styling, lighting, and Photoshopping. With a lot of wedding stuff, you’re being sold a wholly unreal fantasy. You are human. You will make mistakes, smudge ink, get paper cuts, misspell words, drip paint, crush flowers, get lipstick on your dress … and everything will be okay.
How Do I Know All This Stuff?
DIY Bride began, in its earliest form, as a way for me to share my resources and DIY projects with other brides way back in 2000. It’s hard to imagine now, but there were very few DIY resources available back then that encouraged couples to get hands-on in celebrating their unique style and personalities. In 2003, I began the DIY Bride blog, and in 2007, I released my first DIY Bride book. The last 12 years have been devoted to helping couples create amazing weddings regardless of skill-set or budgets.
For more support and advice like this, please visit DIY Bride: www.diybride.com.
I want to thank Khris so much for the great opportunity to have her, and DIY Bride, as our guest blogger today in Wedding Friday. For more information about DIY Bride, visit their fantastic blog for ideas, creative resources, vendors and information to help you design your very own signature wedding with DIY touches. Follow them on Twitter, and visit their Facebook fan page for lots of great ideas and advice. Happy Friday loves!