Wedvice: D.I.Y. . . . A “What To” Guide

*Please be aware that this ENTIRE entry today is from my cute little soapbox. You don’t have to agree, take my advice, or even listen… but I’m just looking out for you and your best interest. Promise!!*

Classic NOW Tabletop, to see more, scroll to the bottom of this post!

That’s right, I said it. NOT a “How To”, but a “What To”. It seems as though weddings bring out the crafty side in all of us [brides, moms, friends, aunts, neighbors from across the street and the ladies at churches]. But some things are just better left to the pros. I hate the be the bearer of bad news on this, I just have to say it! Read the below guide to determine ways to make your life easier by NOT doing it yourself.

Now, there are items that are perfectly acceptable to D.I.Y. that we must not discount. These include:

Paper Products such as invitations, programs, place and escort cards, menus, table numbers, and any other details you may think up. Should you have the capability, time, and resources, I am 100% for your D.I.Y. project that will likely be fabulous, personal, and inspiring to us industry folk.

Table Runners or other small fabric items. If you know a great seamstress or ARE a great seamstress, then by no means let us stand in your way! Make table runners, place mats, table overlays, center squares, napkins… whatever you’d like. I support this thought and notion!

But, really, my bigger concern is the things that should NOT have the corners cut on them, no matter which way you slice it. Here they are, and more importantly, WHY:

Slideshow. I’ll be honest on this: I’ve had probably 10 to 15 slideshows in the past few years that the couple has toiled over putting together themselves. I cannot honestly think of ONE off the top of my head that went smoothly, according to plan. This is because, as I repeat myself which is common, the couple is typically not wedding pros. It’s almost inevitable that something will be forgotten. Most times, it’s the audio hook up. I beg, I plead, I implore you… HIRE your DJ to run your slideshow. They will have proper equipment. A screen, a way to play your DVD, and a way to run the sound from said DVD. Typically the situation is that we’re using the venue’s screen paired with Uncle Lou’s projector [that he borrowed from work] and then the slideshow is saved on the groom’s laptop, which is dead and needs to be charged because we were up all night finishing it…. Can you sense the nightmare about to unfold? At some events just to figure out the slideshow, it can take up to one hour!! Talk about throwing off a timeline. And all to save a few bucks to not have the DJ involved. It’s not worth the time and stress to try and assemble all of the pieces when you really aren’t sure about the whole puzzle. Go ahead and CREATE the slideshow yourself [though I have seen some incredibly killer slideshows created by videographers- mind you], but when it comes to putting it together and playing it on the big day- hire, hire, hire!

Cake or delivery. Do not be fooled: creating a tiered cake is difficult. Please do not try to re-create something out of Martha Stewart Weddings unless you do so on a regular basis. And more often, be VERY aware of the fact that cakes are difficult to transport and set up on one’s own. It’s common to find a father of the bride’s thumb print on the side of a perfect cake that had to be set up by him. He’ll feel awful. And that’s the BEST case scenario. Please, just pay the delivery fee.

Anything involving ceremony “assembly”. This includes the bamboo arch that your dad is making and bringing with him on the day-of. I have, in my experience, had to wait and hold the wedding until the dad has returned from showering and changing. I have had a groom bring their arch, in pieces, with him in the limo when he arrived, 20 minutes before the scheduled walk. I have had family members pick up chairs from rental companies and be setting them up themselves, in their formal attire. I tell you this much: it’s never worth it. Give that project to someone capable. Even if it means handing it off to your planner who can designate someone to do these things, please do it. Do not leave that pressure on yourself or your family. The goal of the day is to show up and be there, be FAMILY. Greet guests, shake hands, kiss babies, watch you get married.

Flowers. I know, this seems like the first on the list for the ultimate D.I.Y. bride. But, hear me out. There’s a reason I’m opposed. First off, the knowledge of a florist is a big deal. They may seem “pricey” but flowers themselves aren’t cheap. The “mark up” the florist’s are chagrining you is threefold: for their time, their design experience, and their skill to execute. Add that to the fact that the more experienced they are the more they are the more connections they have and yes, they’re an important vendor. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve worked with a few D.I.Y. flower brides. But, I’m no advocate. If you don’t know your way around flowers, it will be difficult. Really though, my main reason for being anti on this point is pure and simple: time constraints. Flowers are delivered and assembled anywhere from one or two days before your wedding. Who, in their right mind, wants to be spending that precious time being engulfed in a stressful situation that they really aren’t 100% confident and comfortable knowing their way around? When you’ve got family flying in, a mani/pedi appointment, rehearsal dinner, last minute projects, and everything else jammed into that final week, I beg of you to grab your sanity back and hand over that flower project to a pro! In the end, even if it’s $500 you’d be saving by those petals…. It’ll be worth every dime!

Moment of reality for you all: I will, however, say this: if you’re insistent on D.I.Y. flowers, armor yourself with as much knowledge and skill prior to the big day as possible. There are wonderful opportunities these days at local community colleges- and even through florists- to take a crash course on how to assemble and care for your flowers. A one-day seminar for you and a couple VIPs will help immensely! I know Christine Saunders of The Spiraled Stem has just launched a new side project called Flower DIYvas for this exact reason! One of my personal clients actually took a course [a small, one day group lesson] through Casey at Flower Duet. As long as you’re willing to research and really dig in there properly… at least you’ll be much more aware of what you’re in for!

Basically, the idea behind all of this is, for me, to allow you to BE on your wedding day. When I’m working with a client, even for just the Day-Of, I want to know that I can pick up their items the week of their wedding, and be picking up their WEDDING the week of their wedding. I want your last few days as an engaged couple to be filled with love and family and the inevitable feelings that come with marrying one another [a little nerves, a lot of excitement, a little stress and anxiety… but mostly an overwhelming notion that this is all really, really happening]! The few things that I chose to mention are merely examples of token pieces that a bride often thinks they can take care of. But as someone who cares for you, who wants to see you nothing but happy on your big day and wants the best for you and nothing else: don’t give in! If it means re-working the budget, cutting money out of other areas, or downsizing your guest list… in the end, it will all be worth it if you let us do what we do best.

Now, for pretty pretty pictures! I honestly can’t remember which ones I used to post with my other blogs, so bear with me if these are repeats. Yikes!!

This table top was 100% inspired by the chairs. These chairs are the “new” chiavari chair and, although not as available or popular- yet, they are fabulousness like nothing else. I found the fabric for the aisle runner and quickly whipped it up along with the matching napkins.

As the design, in my head, started to flesh out more, I wanted the color scheme to reflect an Alice in Wonderland feel. Simple, traditional, classical, and yet a playful color scheme and really cute combination of elements. Kristin at The Treasured Petal totally loved the idea that I had of making the centerpiece an oversized bouquet that was placed on top of a classic ivory square cake stand.

We wrapped it with a huge thick silk bow in our blue, and then went one step further for the favors- mini bouquets for each guest, on their napkin. The guest plates matched the cake stand but were long rectangles- a modern element which I love. Something unexpected and untraditional paired with such classic ideas became a refreshing picture.

Of course, Jonilyn was there, working her butt off to get the amazing angles and details that you see in the pictures. We loved that this table was “no fuss”- truly a clean and simple design that easily blends the modern to the classic.

Deep burgundy/mahogany and french blue. What can be better??

Hope you loved! Don’t hate me for my soap box! Love me for my honesty [and my pictures]!! We love you for yours!


A. Auer

*all images by Jonilyn Photography

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19 comments on “Wedvice: D.I.Y. . . . A “What To” Guide

  1. I couldn’t agree with you more. I was a DIY bride. I made everything plus my own centerpieces and bouquets. While we saved a lot of money, I lost out on the most important thing…. being emotionally present at my own wedding. After all the scrambling and running around, I was so frazzled that I didn’t get to appreciate all of the details I had slaved over. I was too tired! If I could do it all over again, I’d just let my coordinator handle everything;)

    Thanks for sharing this. It is fantastic advice.

  2. What about not having family or friends serve food at the reception or do the decorations so they miss the ceremony? LOL! I understand saving money, but this is a day to enjoy with loved ones.

  3. Thanks for the advice. I had grand plans of doing much of the wedding ourselves, but as the day gets closer – the list gets longer! I am a frazzled person on a normal day so I can only imagine how I will be ont he wedding day. I am DIYing all of the things that can be done beforehand but I am enlisting the pros and family for the day off.

  4. Wow, I love how much pictures come out on these blogs! They look so crisp and vivid. YAY.

    Anne- so sorry that you had to go through it to learn! I had to go through NOT having a professional coordinator to end up being one. :)

    Melissa [1]: I thought that was a given! Having friends/family act as servers on your wedding day is a total bummer for them- no matter if they offer or not. Allow them to be your friends and your family on the big day. They’ll have much better, more vivid memories!

    Melissa [2]: YAY for you allowing yourself to let go! Once you’ve worked a DIY into the budget [despite how irrational it may be], it is very very difficult to give that idea up! I’m proud of you, and hoping for only the best from the professionals to you on your big day!


  5. mainfr4me writes...

    As a photographer, I’ve gotta advocate also don’t skimp on the images. These are what you’ll be looking at for years to come. I’m not saying to spend a fortune either, but make sure you get someone who’s familiar with shooting weddings and not cousin Joe who just got his new camera, and even if you don’t choose to make an album right away or with your photog or studio, a few years down the road you will want to for your kids and family, so make sure you have the ability to later on get your images or get them right away on disc or something to prepare for that.

    Also, as a photog, the slideshow is something I agree should be left to those who are skilled in producing something like that. I’ve been to too many weddings where yes, the laptop is dead, they don’t have the right cords, the screen isn’t big enough, etc etc etc.

  6. Well said, sis! Homemade touches are precious, but some projects cause way more stress than they’re worth. For example, I DIY’d my own wedding flowers, and even though I’m a florist for a living, and had at least 5 assistants helping me, I was still stressed out to tears. Don’t do it!!!

  7. l3r0wnEyedGurL writes...

    Eeep. this post was a (light) slap to my DIY-craving hands/brain. But please don’t fear, Amanda….I only DIY within reason and my own capabilities. I refuse to be still putting things together the night before my wedding. =)

    And absolutely LOVELY table arrangements! you’re right, the vivid colors just pop off the white blog background.

  8. elizabeth writes...

    amanda – this tabletop is SO gorgeous! i love the deep deep red with the blue, such a great contrast!

  9. Thanks for all the kind words! I was kinda worried about this post just because I wasn’t sure I’d fleshed the idea out enough to be helpful, but it seems as though it’s done it’s job! Yay! :)

    And Ami- thanks for the compliment on our tabletop. We heart this one too, big time!

  10. Hi ladies! Thanks for the post and all of the great comments. Christine from FlowerDIYvas/The Spiraled Stem here. I did my own flowers for my wedding, and even with years of experience, my best friend who had more experience than me, the use of a full service retail flower shop, and having done several weddings already, it was not terribly easy and there were a lot of other things that went undone, were late, or didnt happen because my focus was on the flowers. I had done as much of the other stuff as I could before the flower days, but even some of the things I delegated to my MIL a week in advance went undone until the night before (like organizing the placecards according to table assignments…)

    There was more stress than there needed to be and many hours leading up to the wedding that I could have spent better (like sleeping!), but as a floral designer I couldn’t have imagined having anyone else but myself do my wedding flowers (I didnt set up the reception BTW) and by the time things didnt go as smoothly as they could have, I didnt care anyways! But looking back there are some things that I think of, some of which showed up in pictures, and am like ‘doh!’

    Since I was a DIY flower bride and it turned into a very successful floral design career, I can’t knock DIY flower brides for trying, but of course I recommend that a bride book a pro, especially for flowers! However, every week I am at the flower market, I see the DIY brides with their eyes all aglow, and overhear their conversations, and just cringe. Its painfully obvious that many of them have no idea what they have gotten into, and I’d be so curious to see how their eyes have gone from aglow to bloodshot 24 hours later.

    Hence the birth of FlowerDIYvas. We didn’t see anyone in the market who was giving these brides the hands on experience, practice, and instruction they would need to successfully pull of a DIY job. And we realize that many brides who DIY’d their flowers would probably make a different choice after the fact, but by then its too late. Through the FlowerDIYvas workshops brides will get a serious reality check on what they are up for, and if they decide to go for it they will have all the tools they will need to do it as well as possible. We’ve created the cirriculum to force the bride to think of every detail, every constraint on their time, every logistical situation, etc. If they decide they dont want to take it on, they can hire us and apply a portion of their workshop fee to their package.

    With the economy the way it is and people trying to save money, we figured this would be a risk free way for brides to figure out ahead of time if DIY’ing their flowers is really worth it or not, before its too late! I hope this helps clear up the intent behind FlowerDIYvas, be prepared if you are going to DIY! :-)

  11. Amanda! I just got so excited when I saw this post! I’ve been looking for someone to use this color combination of french blue and burgundy. I think I want burgundy is a little pinker (deep raspberry) and with some navy and gray. What do you think? Do you have any other inspiration for me?

  12. Michelle [My Wedding Report]: so glad you love it! Grey could be a fabulous addition!! I have a few more pictures and angles of this tabletop over at my website, but really we just kept it plain and simple. So glad we’re on the same stylish page!! xoxo!

  13. Rose (yes, really) writes...

    Great points from everyone. After a life-long love for flowers and helping a few friends with their wedding flowers, I undertook my own in December 2006. It was a joy and welcome distraction, but my cuticles and fingernails were NOT pretty after all that work. A post-flowers manicure is REQUIRED if you take the DIY route. Also, I would not have survived without the free use of my employer’s industrial-sized kitchen with large walk-in refrigerator!

  14. Andrea writes...

    Has anyone DIY flowers out of silk flowers ahead of time? I know, all the florists out there will cringe at the thought of not using real flowers…. BUT I am on a very limited budget ($1000 for whole wedding) and have 2 options:

    1) Kill myself, my mother & any other unsuspecting friends trying to obtain/prepare/arrange/keep fresh the real flowers in the last couple of frantic days before the wedding OR

    2) Go ahead and make silk arrangements, out of the nice, “real touch” flowers, at my own pace, and then store carefully, protected from dust & mis-shaping, for the next 2 months.

    However, I’m having a really hard time finding any help on doing this other than the craft stores websites.
    Also, if someone has used good-quality silk flowers, is it really that obvious in the wedding photographs?
    Thank you for your help… I’m newly engaged, with 4 1/2 months left to go, and a lot of questions. If I could find how to do so, I would set up a blog on here myself, lol!

  15. I think a what to do list is a great starting point. Once that is done the decision can be made on who and how those things are done based on budget, skills of friends, time available etc.
    We have had some couples who have done a lot of the work themselves and they got exactly what they wanted, others found that they took on too much. Pick the things to do yourself (or with the help of others) that you know you can cope with.
    One of the most important things is to make sure that on they day you are relaxed and happy with whatever choice you go with.

  16. Anika writes...

    I have the same question as Andrea. Is the stress/panic due to DIYing fresh flowers? I was thinking of having paper flowers at my wedding (crepe paper ones) which I could make well in advance, that and they’re more environmentally friendly.

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