Listen- I get it- I’m married to a craftsman, and I’m hopelessly crafty, myself. I’m guilty of dismembering and storing sentimental T-shirts from High School to sew into a quilt (“one day”), and meanwhile the pile of “to-be-polyurethaned” projects continues to collect by the washing machine. Our cat eats out of a ceramic bowl I threw on the pottery wheel, and my husband and I sat in our backyard hand-sanding and staining our baby’s crib when I was 40 weeks pregnant. D.I.Y. crafting is in our blood, and there is a significant amount of satisfaction that comes with looking back at our hard work, at the imprints of our hands, and knowing that nobody could have done it better (or with more love) than we did…
But – and I truly mean this – weddings are a completely different type of animal.
That’s not to say that you can’t have a custom wedding that reflects the crafty, artistic talents of you and your partner, but there are many ways you can lighten the load from your already busy wedding planning schedule, and steal back the reigns from the right half of your brain. Your stress level – and wallet- will thank you.
Below are some pointers and advice about D.I.Y. impulses.
D.I.Y. WEDDINGS & YOUR BUDGET
Many people jump directly into a D.I.Y.-style wedding because they have a very, very tight budget & believe that they can save money this way. The only time that a truly D.I.Y. wedding will save your budget is if you resign to have a 25-person casual reception in a backyard, with simple decorations and homemade food. As soon as you rent a park or estate and invite scores of friends and family, your D.I.Y. wedding can become just as expensive, if not more expensive than having it at a wedding hall because…
…YOU BECOME THE VENUE AT A D.I.Y. LOCATION
There are many unappreciated perks to having your wedding at a proper venue, as opposed to a “blank slate” venue such as someone’s barn, personal property, or a public park. When compared to the other locations, a legitimate wedding venue has bathrooms, (and staff to keep them clean & fully stocked), has potable running water, has an ice machine, refrigerator and places to store your goods securely, and takes care of all the trash removal. Think – you need to take care of ALL of this if you host your wedding at a venue you found on VRBO – and each item adds an extra line to your total budget! Once you add up the costs of a bathroom trailer, ice delivery, trash removal and a tent in case of rain, your cheap rental suddenly became more expensive than many of the lovely venues in town!
Solution #1: GET THE RIGHT VENUE
There are many incredible venues that offer a “rustic wedding” vibe- including converted barns and untamed fields – while still providing the amenities of a traditional wedding hall. They will also have the proper permitting to host weddings and serve alcohol, and have the necessary staff to handle setup, bathrooms, and rain emergencies.
Solution #2: ALWAYS USE A PROFESSIONAL CATERER
If you are determined to have your wedding at the park you and your partner first kissed, hiring a professional caterer can fill in a few – but not all – of the gaps that are missing. Typically, they can organize your rentals order, set up & break down the reception area, and handle all of the food service and cleanup that they normally would. You will still need to order a considerable amount of rentals so that they have the gear they need to cook onsite, so don’t expect this to be a cheap route.
D.I.Y. PROJECTS WANT TO CANNIBALIZE YOUR (PRECIOUS) TIME
Once you have your venue in place, you can really get excited about customizing your event. You don’t want your day to look like any other wedding that has been there before, and you want your guests to feel as though they are immersed in the creative spirits of you and your partner. But before you know it, your pre-wedding project list includes embroidering vintage cloth napkins, carving tie pins, painting vases, knitting lacy shawls and pocket squares for the bridal party and welding your centerpieces out of reclaimed mid-century kitchen appliances.
Unless you decide to quit your day-job and put pause on your social life, the sheer time that D.I.Y. projects consume is monumental. And, once again, the familiar ‘budget’ word rears its ugly head, when you realize how much that organic, hand-spun lace wool is going to cost you on Etsy – forget about the weeks of knitting that the final projects are going to take. I’m probably laying it on a bit thick here now, but those of you who have the itch to forego storebought-everythings & dive right in with your own hands understand my sentiment. The bright side is- there’s hope!
Solution: Make a list of ALL of the projects you envision, and next to each one, write down the time they’re going to take you, and the cost of raw materials. Although the reclaimed material centerpieces may be cheap, you do not have 5 hours to work on each one of them for your 25 tables. Find a compromise, and pick your favorite one or two projects- tops.
Can’t decide? If each project triggers sentimentality in you, then consider sticking to homemade favors. That way, you can leave the custom design to your planner, the heavy lifting to the vendors, and still send your guests home with a little piece of you and your partner that they can keep for a long time.
Bonus Advice: DON’T DROWN IN PINTEREST!
Pinterest is an incredible resource for ideas and inspiration. However, some of the projects you see on craft blogs or pinterest were not fully tested or vetted by the person who posted them. I only use blog recipes from well established bakers, for example, because people who post untested recipes just leave you with a clump of wasted of ingredients. So don’t get carried away with every project you see online, sometimes it’s just an image you’re falling for.