You want your wedding to showcase you and your future spouse’s personalities, and a great and cost-effective way incorporate your characters is by DIY-ing certain aspects of your day.
Perhaps you’re loving the fact that you can potentially save thousands of hard earned dollars by making absolutely everything yourself. But before going ahead and booking in your weekly crafternoon sessions for the next year or so, consider what you’re getting yourself into and what’s best to leave to the professionals.
Thinking about the amount of money you could save, it may seem ideal to make everything yourself but realistically, you need to consider how much time making individual items will take you.
How much time do you have to plan your wedding? The number of hours you will dedicate to planning your wedding will vary depending on the type of budget, style, number of guests, and assistance you have.
The average wedding takes 250 hours to plan, so it’s no wonder that brides span their wedding to-dos over the course of 9 to 12 months. On top of your wedding tasks, you need to account for your day job and any other commitments you have. A word of advice from those before you – it will take longer than you anticipate!
In addition to the time it will take, you’re going to have to be brutally honest about your talent. If you’re super crafty with endless skills then you should be able to manage. But if you’re planning on learning how to cross stitch table runners, crochet a wedding dress AND master flower arranging, pre-wedding may not be the best time to up skill. Don’t take on more than you can capably do already.
Consider also how much help you have on hand – are your bridesmaids, family, friends, and future husband happy to pitch in with the DIY? You don’t want to be forever crafting solo – the workload will be too much, and you won’t be enjoying the once-in-a-lifetime wedding planning process.
And finally, take into account your wedding priorities. If something is super important to have on your wedding day, then it is better to leave it to the experts.
Things you should not DIY
The truth is, there are a number of aspects of your wedding that you should leave to the professionals. Save yourself the stress, heartache, time, and possibly even money, by seeking help from experts.
What should you leave to the professionals? For any aspects of your wedding that you want to be absolutely flawless on the day, call in the experts. Hire a reputable supplier who has plenty of work experience and they should be able to deliver amazing results.
Shop around to find a supplier who understands exactly what you want, and can do it to suit your budget.
If you’re imagining your wedding night with everyone dancing the night away, then book a professional band or DJ to look after the entertainment instead of someone’s iPod randomly plugged into the venue’s sound system.
There are bands, DJ’s, singers, duos, and more that play at weddings more often than you can imagine, and they are true professionals who know how to read a crowd and steer the night the way you want it to.
Speak with your chosen entertainer so they know what you expect for the night, and leave the rest up to them, while you bust a move on the dance floor!
If you’re looking to save costs, consider hiring a local student for your ceremony music!
Hair and makeup
Sure, you can do this yourself – but it’s your WEDDING DAY! Allow yourself some pampering and feel even more beautiful than you normally do with some special attention from someone who knows how to contour flawlessly!
Once your wedding is over and you’re back from the honeymoon, the only tangible things you will have left from your wedding are photos.
Photography is an absolute art, and you can’t rely on your guests to take all those shots you really want. Invest in a good wedding photographer whose sole job is to capture the special moments and details of your big day.
If you want to have video footage of all the best bits, hire a professional videographer to ensure the key moments and fun parts are filmed, while you and your guests are too busy having fun to capture the memories!
Have you ever catered for 100 of your closest friends and family? Probably not. You simply cannot prepare, serve, and coordinate food service at your own wedding without missing out the bulk of the party.
If having plenty of delicious fresh food is a priority, let the caterer or venue look after it rather than trying to cram everything into your own kitchen.
Extensive styling or décor set up
Keep in mind that some venues have restrictions, so check first before you scour the net for killer piñata instructions, vintage drip candles or on-trend cocktail jug recipes. They may not be able to guarantee early access to give you enough time to set everything up on the wedding day.
We cannot stress enough that you do not want your wedding morning to be filled with excessive prop placement. It’s a time for you to enjoy, with your bridal party, family, pampering and a glass or 2 of champagne!
Jugs of cocktails
OK for a home ceremony, but otherwise most venues won’t allow it – plus that ice is time-sensitive!
Anything on chair backs (especially if you’re having a large reception)
This one definitely takes a lot more time than you think, and if they’re not all identical (for example when 5 of your friends are pitching in to tie them), then the whole room will feel it.
Do not drive yourself ANYWHERE or your wedding day. At the end of the night, you want to be able to relax, fall into someone else’s car, and be taken to your accommodation. Keep the stress levels to a minimum!
Unless you are simply picking up whatever is available in the markets that morning, floral arranging is more complicated than throwing a few flowers in a vase or pinning together a bunch for a bouquet.
If you love cake, then you’ll want your wedding cake to be both beautiful and delicious – and big enough to feed all of your guests. Making a big, beautiful cake may be doable, but remember you’ll have to do it as close to the wedding as possible – not too feasible when you’ve got a thousand other things to plan! Leave this one to a pro. A lot of venues also have a cake knife, so save dollars by not buying a big fancy knife that you’ll only use once for a photo opportunity!
If your venue includes a wedding coordinator – use her. If you’ve never tackled planning a wedding before, there is more to it than first meets the eye.
Some couples enlist the help of a friend who may work in some of the above fields. This is of course a great way to save money or allow the friend to offer their services in lieu of a wedding gift. However take into consideration that this friend will not be able to experience the wedding as a guest, as he or she will be working the whole night.
Things you can DIY
Things that are totally do-able to DIY yourself include anything you can drop at the venue and go, or drop and the venue can easily set up for you. Consider:
Ceremony décor, signage, cones, and programs
Ceremonies are generally simple and pretty short – just you, the celebrant, and seating for your closest family and elderly guests. Use the existing space if it is already beautiful, with just a few added styling if you wish. You won’t be there for long, and you can move the decorations to the reception venue afterwards if it’s close-by.
It’s not necessary to provide a printed program or have your guests throw rice, but these are easy to DIY. Simply fold up some card into a cone and tape on the inside, and fill your choice of confetti – traditional rice, lavender, birdseed, dried flowers, coloured sprinkles.
Simple signage and programs can be made or printed using online tools and your printer at home, or enlist the help of a friend who’s handy with a hammer. Consider fans, sunglasses or parasols if it’s hot, or small bottles of bubbles if there’s kids attending – they’ll love them!
Save-the-dates, invitations, place cards, menus, seating plans, guest book, thank you cards… stationery in general!
You can do some or all of these yourself, there are hundreds of free resources online that allow you to design your own stationery and print it yourself.
Memory table/gift table
There are plenty of lovely ideas you can create to honour those who can’t make your special day or for your guests to leave gifts or share their wisdom.
A table full of sweets can be done easily and affordably.
All you need is a few large bowls or vases, some DIY signage, and you can buy bulk amounts of your favourite sweet treats. Keep it simple – you don’t need 20 different varieties of chocolate and lollies. You can sometimes get a discount when buying large amounts from lolly shops or wholesalers, or even online.
Polaroid photo booth
Photo booths are still insanely popular – and why wouldn’t they be!
Instead of spending hundreds on a booth and attendant, it’s very easy to buy (or make) a bunch of props, place them on a table that your venue can provide, add a camera or two, set up a coloured backdrop or a wooden Instagram frame … and voila! Instant photo booth!
Simple table centrepieces
You really can do anything for your centrepieces! Candles are terrific (check with your venue if you can have open flames or electric only), and they come in all shapes, sizes, colours, and styles.
Also easy to DIY are balloons, lanterns, vases, bottles, candelabras, book stacks, table runners (burlap, plain, textured, a bold colour or patterned) or any items that represent you, your interests and your relationship.
Generally it’s best to leave flowers to a professional stylist or florist, but it is doable yourself if you are really laid back you can pick up a seasonal mismatch of flowers cheaply from the markets last minute.
You can get creative with your table numbers and tie them in with your colour scheme or theme. Bonus: there’s only one per table, so you don’t have to make TOO many – and you can really have them stand out!
Another aspect with endless choice, you really can make anything that you think represents you as a couple, and that your guests will enjoy and remind them of your wedding. Thinks edible treats or thoughtful handmade gifts.
One word: YouTube. You can make this entirely your own style – maybe just learn a few moves, then invite everyone onto the dance floor to join in.
Get your bridal party to join once you’re ready, or enlist them to get others up and dancing.
All your personal touches can of course be done by you, as always just keep them simple (it’s easy to get carried away!). Check if there are any restrictions with your venue in regards to hanging things or other limitations, and how early you can set up. Many won’t be able to guarantee until much closer to the date, so have a backup plan and posse in case.
Writing your own vows
Give yourselves plenty of time to write these – very rarely does it come quickly, easily, and perfectly. Do loads of research online for inspiration, read books, watch movies, and most of all – keep it simple and true to you and your partner.
Think about what you love about him or her, write down the promises you want to make to each other, and include the commitment.
The key things to keep in mind for anything DIY is to keep everything simple, realistic and doable. Allow yourself more time than you think. Do not overstretch yourself, your budget, and your friendships by trying to do too much. You also want to enjoy your entire day, not stress midway down the aisle that you didn’t fill the centrepiece vases with enough water!
There are always exceptions to the above – if you want to make a playlist and set it on Auto Play on you iPod, of course go ahead! If you’re happy with a simple no-fuss cake, then enlist a friend to make it and deliver it on the day.
And if you are planning the most laid-back backyard wedding ever, then by all means do everything yourself. Just remember not to get excited (easier said than done!) and go overboard with more and more – and always always always delegate.
It’s important to note that if anything goes “wrong” with your DIY ventures (the flowers are a little droopy, you didn’t print enough menus, nobody used the photo booth) – it doesn’t matter. Anything that happens on the day will pale in comparison to the fact that that you’ve brought together your love, your friends and your family, and had a fabulous day.