DIY is a huge trend in — well, just about everything these days. It seems like everyone is trying to branch out into some kind of creative, artisanal niche, whether it’s homebrewing their own beer or crafting Zooey Deschanel-worthy headbands. While I’ll be more than happy to see the beer trend pass by (seriously, your seasonal IPA is not better than the great stuff they stock at good liquor stores, no matter how much I pretend to like it), I see why the DIY impulse is so appealing when it comes to weddings. Weddings can be insanely expensive, but they don’t have to be if you plan correctly (and have some talented friends). The all-powerful WIC wants you to think that you need to spend tons of money on every single detail down to the napkins, but savvy brides are catching on that it’s not actually necessary.
Here are a few things I’ve seen done very creatively at weddings, at a much lower cost than you’d pay for someone else to do it:
- Pretty much everything that guests will end up holding. From favors to napkin-holders, these are easily disposable items that shouldn’t be a headache or a high-cost issue. People are going to end up leaving these or throwing them away, so don’t waste your budget on them. This doesn’t mean they have to look cheap — you can still make fun, creative things like these noisemakers that show guests to their tables without involving a stationary store.
- On that note, I think some of the best favors are ones that are personal, useful or just plain fun. They don’t have to be fancy to be meaningful — the idea is that guests remember what a good time they had at the wedding, not wonder how much you shelled out for whatever trinket they’re taking home. Maybe the bride and groom are caffeine freaks — why not give a little bag of coffee beans to everyone? Or, even better, the idea of recycling things used during the wedding as favors, like these mason jar flower centerpieces — a two-for-one deal.
- Pretty much everything else that involves paper. Sure, making sure that every single piece of paper in the room has exactly the same font can be soothing to some people, but there’s no reason to shell out a ton of dough on something that, again, is more likely than not going to end up in someone’s recycle bin (hopefully you have the kind of friends who recycle!). Invitations, in particular, can be a huge stress for people — yes, you want your invitation to look, well, inviting, but that’s nothing that can’t be managed in Photoshop. If you have time, it can be fun to design something to represent exactly what you want it to say without spending hours haggling with a “consultant.” Better yet, if you have a graphic designer friend, bribe him or her into helping you with it and, voila! A professional invitation, without the professional price tag! (You should buy your friend dinner or something, though. This stuff ain’t free)
- Music. This is extremely dependent on the couple and bridal party — some people really want the sound of a live band, and if that’s what their hearts are set on, then they should absolutely do it. Everyone loves live music. But lots of people also just like dancing, whether the music is coming from a guitar, turntable or speakers. Plenty of people already know exactly what music they and their friends want to hear — and if they already have in on their iPod, why waste money putting someone else in charge of it (especially if that someone has his own opinions about musical choices)? Again, music is a very personal thing, but guests will almost certainly have more fun dancing to a really good playlist than a mediocre DJ.
Now, while I support the DIY trend in general, especially in the interest of saving money that could be better spent on something that will be more useful to you as a married couple, I don’t think that the whole wedding should necessarily be made from scratch. There are a few things that probably should be reserved for the professionals, unless you or someone you trust is extremely talented.
- The dress. Dresses are complicated beasts, and wedding dresses even more so. I’m not suggesting you need to shell out the insane amounts of money that most dress designers want you to, but unless you have a professional seamstress in the family, it’s probably best to seek your garments from someone with some experience making them.
- The cake. On a similar note, baking is not as easy as our grandmothers made it seem, and wedding cakes are an art unto themselves. Not everyone goes in for Ace of Cakes levels of madness, and maybe you really do just want a simple cake like the raspberry one your aunt always makes. If that’s what you’re looking for, then by all means go for it, but remember that it’s a lot of pressure for the baker, too. If you don’t want your aunt panicking over whether messing up the cake might ruin your wedding, everyone might be better off with the confections in the hands of trained experts. Plus, from what I’ve seen, you practically need an engineering degree to build those things correctly.
- The photographer. You guys already know how I feel about this one.
What about you? Did you DIY anything for your wedding? Have you seen any great crafts, or any that looked like they would have been better left to a professional? Is there anything that absolutely can’t be done on your own?