The answer: it depends.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for DIY, especially for weddings. I’ve always loved making things and when I got engaged I went a little overboard with it all. That’s how Haus of Ariella and my brand new bridal shop, Lace Over Heels, came into being. I’m making our cake toppers, my veil, a wedding/reception dress (I haven’t decided which it will be), and many of the decorations, but there are a lot of things that we are buying/hiring someone to do or omitting altogether.
The trick, I think, is to prioritize your DIY projects much the same as you prioritize items in your wedding budget. If you’ve spent much time in the wedding blogosphere, you’ve undoubtedly read about amazing couples who had their 100 person wedding in the rustic barn behind their cottage. They’re the ones who made their own wedding cloths, hand painted 10,000 mason jars, folded 1,000 paper cranes, wrote the wedding ceremony, hand cut every invitation, brewed their own beer for the reception, baked a wedding cake, and self-catered a full-meal for their wedding. Oh, and they did it all in about 3 months.
Most of us realize that as cool as all of that is, those people are also freakin’ nuts. Everyday life doesn’t stop just because we’re getting married, despite what some bridezillas might think. Just because you can DIY something doesn’t mean you have to or even that you should. Here are a few things to ask yourself when deciding whether to take on a DIY project or leave it to the professionals.
How important is it?
One of the great things about DIY wedding projects is that it gives your wedding a personal touch and makes the items you made even more special to you. If you’ve always dreamt of baking your own wedding cake or sewing your own dress , and you have the ability to do so, then do it. If you think that making your own bouquet would make it that much more special to you, then put it higher on your list than the decorations that you think will just cost less if you DIY them.
The importance of the item can swing the DIY factor in the other direction too though. If you’ve been fantasizing about the perfect tiered wedding cake with intricate fondant flowers, but you’ve never decorated a cake in your life, go with the pros and DIY another project instead.
How much will it cost?
The most common misconception about DIY projects is that they always save you money. In fact, some of them could cost you more than it would to buy the items in the first place. As any crafter who’s ever spent a bit too much time in Michael’s or Joann knows, crafting supplies can add up fast. Plus, you may only need two feathers for your fascinator, but your going to have to buy the whole bag anyway. If the material is something you’ll use again, then it’s not a big deal to buy more than you need, but if it’s something that’s just going to sit around your house until you get sick of looking at it and throw it away, you need to take that into account.
Of course having some extra supplies is a good thing when you’re DIYing something, because you have to take the learning curve into account. Even experienced crafters who’ve made something 100 times before mess up every now and then. If you’re completely new to making a particular item or using a certain technique, then you should count on a few failed experiments before you get things right.
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t do a DIY project just because it won’t really be any cheaper to buy it/pay someone to do it. However, it’s
How long will it take?
Don’t forget that your time is valuable. If you’re DIYing something to save money, just ask yourself how much an hour you would expect to be paid if you were doing the project for someone else, then add your “hourly wage” to the cost of materials for it. Will you still save money in that calculation? If not, go back to “How important is it?” and decide if it’s something that DIYing would really make special or something that you would really like to DIY.
When does it have to be done?
Your time is valuable anytime, but even more so in the weeks leading up to your wedding. You’ll probably be chasing down those last RSVPs, coordinating everyone’s schedules, and finalizing details. You also might be stressing/freaking out a little bit. The last thing you want to be doing the week before your wedding is making 500 paper flowers that should have been done months ago. It’s important to try to start DIY projects for your wedding as early as possible (I should follow my own advice here).
Some projects, however, can’t be done that far in advance. Making your own bouquets with fresh flowers, baking your own cake, and self catering your wedding are all projects that can’t really be done more than a few days in advance. If you decide to take on a project like that, try to make it easier on yourself by not procrastinating on other projects that can be done ahead of time. Also, do a lot of advance preparation. Don’t just assume that the alternation to the recipe you’ve made 100 times won’t be a big deal – try it out well in advance of your wedding.
Will you enjoy making it?
To me, this one trumps the cost/time factors. If you don’t like making things, then don’t start just for your wedding. DIY weddings may be all the rage right now, but I assure you there are plenty of brides out there who still do things the old-fashioned way and just buy items or hire people for their wedding needs. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Even if you’re a crafty person who enjoys making things, not everyone likes every type of project. If you love sewing, but making paper flowers bores you to tears, don’t make the paper flowers and spend your DIY time making the ring bearer pillow or accessories for your bridesmaids. Keep both your strengths and your preferences in mind when deciding what to DIY.
And remember, DIY doesn’t have to be all or nothing even for individual projects. If you’re dying to have a wedding dress that’s uniquely yours but don’t have the time or sewing ability to make your own from scratch, buy a plain dress (which you can often get relatively cheaply) and ad d your own lace appliques, beads, or flowers. The same goes for items like veils, shawls, and clutches.
One last word of advice – don’t be afraid to delegate! DIY doesn’t always have to mean do-it-yourself, it can also mean ask-a-friend-to-help. Friends and family are often very willing to help out with DIY wedding projects. Even if they don’t feel up to gettin’ crafty with it, they might be willing to help in other ways, such as tracking down those RSVP-less guests, leaving you more time for DIYing.
What did you decide to DIY for your wedding?