DIY is a great way to save on wedding costs (don’t forget to put a value on your time!). Plus, you get to put a personal spin on your big day. However, while some elements are ideal for DIY projects, there are certain aspects of a wedding that are better left to the professionals. Let’s look at what you should and shouldn’t take care of as a bride.
Wedding DIY Dos
Place Cards and Seating Charts
If you are creative or have a knack for calligraphy, consider creating your own place cards and seating charts. It’s low stress and you can gradually make them in the weeks leading up to your wedding. You can also order fun and festive papergoods and print them yourself with any of the thousands of fancy fonts available these days.
ProTip! Canva has lots of gorgeous wedding designs for those who don’t have the budget to spend on professional graphic design or calligraphy!
Table Layouts and Décor
Spend a lot of time finding inspiring décor and table settings on sites such as Pinterest? This is also something you can take care of yourself for your wedding. Not only can you plan the layout of your tables, but it’s not difficult to source odds and ends to complete the look of each table. Work with decorators and florists for all of your place settings and centerpieces!
If you are planning to give each guest a small gift, put them together yourself. This can include anything from treats and drinks to plants and small trinkets. Plus, receiving a personalized gift makes it more special.
Some of the handmade favours I have received over the years are custom wrapped chocolate bars, cupcakes made by an auntie, flavoured oil made by the couple, hand painted Christmas ornaments, jars of honey from the couple’s bees, vegetables grown by the couple, candles made by the couple, hand stitched coasters made by the mother of the bride, a hand stitched and dyed tea towel made by the bride…and the list goes on!
There are so many great ideas you can choose from and it’s especially nice if the favour reflects something personal about your life.
Depending on how many guests you plan to invite, wedding invites are an ideal DIY project. If you don’t want to create them by hand, there is always the option of creating an online invite or wedding website. Canva makes it so easy, and you can quickly change designs to match your own colour scheme and theme!
Don’t forget the rsvp cards and envelopes! You could even make your envelope seals yourself! I made ours with silver hot glue and a wax seal stamp. Hot glue is flexible so it won’t break in the mail the way wax often will.
Wedding DIY Don’ts
In some parts of the world it is easy to get ordained online and start performing marriage ceremonies. That is not the case in Ontario! Here your Officiant must be a registered religious official, a justice of the peace, a judge, or a municipal clerk. Each licenced and registered Officiant in Ontario has a number assigned to us by the government that we must put on every marriage licence we file for our couples.
The Criminal Code of Canada states there is a 2-year jail term for impersonating an Officiant and asking your friend to pretend to be one runs the risk that one of your guests could contact the Office of the Registrar and your marriage licence being flagged.
This American trend has crept into the minds of couples here in Canada and as much as most Officiants welcome your friends and family taking part by doing readings, you do run the risk of getting into a lot of hot water and a charge of fraud on top of not being legally married if someone who isn’t licenced performs your ceremony.
Professional Officiants are trained and experiences in all the ways a ceremony can go sideways and all the ways to keep things on track. We coach you through you vows, breathing to stay calm, and getting your wedding party through the ceremony and their nerves. We know what to do at every moment – when to hand off your flowers, when to hold hands, how to put your rings on, and how to work with your other vendors.
I really see the different when I start a ceremony with lots of feeling and emotion – cadence and tempo is so important – and then a friend comes up to do a reading in iambic pentameter and it sounds like a child in grade 2 reading for the class. It’s lovely that your friends want to take part – but leave the heavy lifting to the professionals.
It can be tempting to DIY your wedding flowers once you get a few quotes, but it is not recommended. Not only does it require extra time, but you need to know how to keep them fresh up until your wedding day. If the quotes you are receiving seem to be too high, consider changing up some of your flower options or opt for smaller bouquets.
I have florist friends who constantly tell me they have been up all night rescuing a bride who bought bulk flowers and the night before her wedding suddenly remembered she has no idea how to make bouquets and centerpieces.
Save yourself the stress and agony – stick with the professionals for your flowers!
Unless you’re a professional baker or bake every other weekend, it’s best to leave your wedding cake to a professional. You can save money by going the DIY baking route, but your cake might not end up looking as photo-worthy as you’re hoping. If you are not dead set on a cake, you could always make a few cupcakes yourself or have a small treat table for guests.
Think about it – do you really want to spend the night before you wedding baking and frosting hundreds of cupcakes? Oh and then how do you get them delivered to your reception? Professional bakers know what they are doing and have delivery vehicles and methods that will keep your baked goods in great shape and your stress at a minimum!
Your wedding dress is a big part of your day, but it can also be one of the more costly items in your budget. Attempting to make your own wedding dress can be incredibly stressful, mainly because it requires a lot of time. If you do want to go the DIY route, get a friend or family member who has made wedding dresses before to assist you. If your budget is tight, browse a few thrift stores – you never quite know what you will find.
If you have never sewn, this is not the time to try to learn – when you find out just how technical making a wedding dress is, it might be too late to get one ordered in time for your big day.
I have performed over 200 marriage ceremonies and only 2 of my brides have made their own dress – one is a very skilled seamstress, and one is a textile designer and seamstress – both of these brides knew what they were doing long before their husbands popped the question!
Hair and Makeup
You want to look your best on your wedding day and getting your hair and makeup just right shouldn’t be something you should worry about. Plus, there is nothing worse than having to deal with your own hair when it is being unruly, and you are super nervous! Imagine trying to style your hair and makeup with shaking hands you can’t control!
Use your wedding day as an excuse to get pampered and look picture perfect and bring in a team of makeup artists and stylists who have all the best products and equipment to make your hair and makeup last all day and aren’t nervous!
You might have a friend who takes great photos, but this doesn’t mean they should take your wedding photos, especially if they don’t photograph weddings on a regular basis. Your photos will take you back to your wedding time and time again, which is why hiring a professional is worthwhile. Plus, they have all the right equipment and processes in place to keep your photos safe.
Professional photographers also know how to work with other vendors…especially your Officiant. In Ontario it is quite likely your Officiant is in fact a minister and should be treated as such. Your friend with a camera might have no idea how to work with an Officiant to first of all, get you the very best photos, and second of all, not piss off your Officiant to the extent they get told to go sit down and stop disrupting the ceremony.
After you get married, all you are left with of your wedding day are each other, and your photos. Don’t take risks with either!
If you know a lot of talented people, there’s no reason why you can’t make most of your wedding a DIY project. Lead the conversation by asking how much they would charge you – don’t assume friendship means freebies! And don’t assume your friends care as much about your wedding as you do – I have heard hundreds of horror stories over the years about friends who flaked days before the wedding and left the couple stranded without a cake, music, photos, flower…and anything else you might have opted to DIY.
Remember the old saying…you get what you pay for.
By all means, use your skill to create as much as you want for your wedding, just make sure that you are not taking on too much and don’t end up feeling overwhelmed and fed up in the days leading up to your special day. No bride wants to walk down the aisle stressed out with puffy eyes from crying over cake and flowers!
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