They may have a cool, fresh, punk-rock-sounding name, but DIY weddings are nothing new. In the olden days, they were the only option for most people. The bride, her family, and her friends made or altered the wedding dress, arranged the flowers, cooked the food, and invited the guests.
Eventually, this homey style gave way to the limo-and-catering-hall wedding we’re so familiar with today. With the current financial crunch and a resurgence in crafty chic lifestyles, the DIY wedding is making a comeback
What exactly is a do it yourself wedding? It simply means not having a wedding planner. In this scenario, you shop around and hire the vendors yourself, as well as do all the organizing and booking without the guidance of a professional. It’s a lot of legwork and it also means getting creative and putting those hours of TLC and HGTV marathons to work.
The DIY couple handles most or all of the wedding and reception details like floral arrangements, invitations, food, and decorations on their own instead of hiring others to provide them.
Before deciding whether a DIY wedding is for you, ask yourself some vital questions and answer them honestly. You can always book a wedding planner if you discover the DIY thing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, but you’ll save yourself time, money, and hassle if you know what you’re in store for before plunging into the deep end of DIY wedding planning.
Pros of Do It Yourself Weddings
They are less expensive
This is the primary reason most couples choose a DIY wedding. With the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. pushing many thousands of dollars, many couples are not financially equipped to pay, especially if they have their eye on other expenses in the near future, like purchasing a home or having a baby.
The natural choice for some couples is to create their own wedding so they have absolute control over the budget as well as the style.
They allow you to be creative
For brides who are “crafty” a DIY wedding can be a dream come true as well as the ultimate challenge. She knows what she wants her wedding to look like, and she has the ambition and innovation to make it happen. Best of all, she doesn’t have to accept anyone else’s ready-made idea of what her wedding should look like.
They get the family involved
When it comes to weddings, “do it yourself” usually doesn’t mean actually doing it all by yourself. It’s a big job, and most brides enlist the help of family and friends to ease the burden.
Is your mom a great organizer? Does your best friend have a nose for good food or wine? Having the people you love involved in the details of your big event can make it all the more meaningful, not to mention fun!
They give you a chance to express your “green” side
More and more, wedding vendors and planners are catering to those who want to throw an Earth-friendly bash. If you’re having trouble booking one or have found them to be out of your price range, you can take matters into your own hands.
With a bit of legwork and research, your DIY wedding can feature sustainable elements throughout. For instance, salvaged glass jars filled with locally sourced, organic flowers can be a charming and eco-friendly centerpiece.
Cons of Do It Yourself Weddings
The biggest drawback of the DIY wedding is stress. With any wedding, there’s so much to do, it can be hard to keep up with it all.
This is true when you’re simply booking, ordering, and confirming things, but when you are actually taking care of the details yourself, things can get out of hand quickly.
Unless you are very crafty and very organized, or you know people close to you who are, you might want to reconsider a DIY wedding. Also, be prepared – your decorations might have a homemade look, even if they are done properly. Some brides like this, others … not so much.
Would catching a glimpse of a slightly wonky centerpiece at your reception cause undue stress? Is the thought of having to talk to a single vendor on your wedding day more than you can handle? The answers to these types of questions should help point you in the right direction.
Making DIY weddings work for you
While it’s possible to successfully organize a fabulous DIY wedding, it’s best to approach the option with a good dose of reality – those TV or magazine DIY couples probably had some styling help!
This can be done, but you need to know what you’re getting into before you take the plunge into the challenging, but often rewarding, world of do it yourself.
Before committing to a DIY wedding, make a list of everything you would have to do and honestly evaluate how you think you would do with each task.
As you’re going through your list, don’t feel pressured into thinking you’ll have to do everything yourself! You can still save money by having a “hybrid” wedding, in which you provide, say, the invitations and the decorations yourself, but you cater the food and cake.
Know that whatever approach you choose — entirely DIY, a hybrid, or entirely in the hands of a planner — and whatever life throws your way, there are always professionals available to step in and assist you with anything that starts to feel overwhelming.
Part of the beauty of the DIY attitude is that you get to decide what direction you take!
Be certain you have the time to DIY your wedding
The planning phase of your DIY wedding will be pretty intense, but with a lot of organization, the outcome can be spectacular and well worth the effort.
Unlike banquet halls or hotel ballrooms that may offer an all-inclusive approach to your big day, you will be the one to decide what happens, when, where, and how.
This can be both exhilarating and overwhelming. If you have a full-time career that is more demanding than it is flexible with your time, or if you’re a full-time student with an aggressive class schedule, you will have to determine how much time you can realistically devote to the project, especially if it involves handmade crafts.
You know your schedule and temperament best, so it’s important that you are realistic when adding up the amount of free time you have to handle these tasks and balancing it against the needs of a DIY wedding.
Keep calm and carry on
If you’ve found that you’ve hit your DIY wedding wall and you’re overwhelmed by certain projects, take a moment to celebrate the goals you’ve conquered and cut yourself some slack – not everyone can macramé their own hanging plant holders out of fake ivy on their first attempt.
Just remember to stay organized and stick to your calendar; and know that it’s not an admission of defeat to reach out to a wedding professional when a task is out of your skill or experience level.
Recognizing personal successes and knowing you can hand off the project if you need to will alleviate a lot of the feelings of stress and anxiety that can accompany a DIY wedding.
Keep your expectations realistic
If you’re having a DIY wedding, be confident in your decorations, food choices, and other aspects of the celebration. It may look different than your friend’s wedding, but that’s the point: originality.
If you’re planning to craft decorations, place settings, floral arrangements, etc. for your event, it’s important to consider whether you realistically have the talent to take on these kinds of projects.
Not everyone has a little Martha Stewart hidden away in their psyche, and that’s OK.
In general, DIY projects work best for brides and grooms who are interested in and/or experienced with crafts. Martha Stewart, the goddess of craft, and sources like the DIY Network have tons of approachable project ideas for the crafty DIY-er.
Give a project a whirl to see how you like using your hands and the results. This will give you a feel for how it will be to plan and execute your own wedding décor, table settings, and so on.
Still watch your wedding costs
When dealing with any wedding product or service vendors, communicating your budget needs honestly at the onset ensures a positive experience on both ends of the relationship.
This is especially true when you’ll be taking on many or most of the projects yourself . Be realistic about your expenditures and take the time to educate yourself about current prices in order to recognize when you’re getting a good deal or if your needs may be met more feasibly elsewhere.
Planning opulent centerpieces and lots of other fun details? Price out your materials, including those small necessities — glitter, glue guns, fake flowers, etc. — because they can add up fast. You’ll also need to factor in the time and gas you’re spending when purchasing and transporting everything you need, including those second — or possibly third — trips to the store.
You don’t have to do it ALL yourself
The “Y” of DIY doesn’t need to be taken literally. Reach out to trusted friends and family who can readily and ably assist you.
You’re your own wedding planner and you have the final say, but sometimes it’s appropriate to delegate some responsibilities to people you know have the ability to perform the tasks and who will be gracious enough to help.
A DIY wedding can be a great time to bond with friends and family leading up to your big day. Need some help with those reception favors?
Pick up a few bottles of wine and a cheese platter and invite your pals over for a crafting party! Having a support system around you can keep you on track and in great spirits.
Lisa is a special needs teacher and a hugger. She always makes time for everyone and lightens up everybody’s lives with her presence. When she is not chasing her students around the yard, she finds time to write about what she truly loves, and you guessed it, its people and relationships.