Anyone who has planned a wedding knows: there is always information you walk away with after your event that makes you think, “I wish I’d known that when I was planning for our wedding” or “I would have done that differently had I known x, y, or z.” Before becoming a wedding planner, like many of our betrothed couples, I found myself with a heightened level of excitement, stress, and confusion at the beginning of the process, unsure if our budget could be stretched to achieve my desired look and feel. At times, I even contemplated a courthouse wedding! I had a real lack of understanding of the wedding industry and the vendors who make the magic happen. With dozens of decisions and even more logistical details, planning a wedding can be daunting to even the most organized, DIY savvy, and “like to take control” person or couple aka, ME.

Confession #1

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Not to toot my own horn here (TOOT TOOT!!), I rather fancy myself as someone with an eye for style and artistic penmanship with a genuine passion for crafts and details. My hubby (at the time, to-be) is a chef, with skills in welding and carpentry. When we started planning, we really wanted something unique and personal so we decided to give our guests a meaningful experience because that’s who we are. Imagine if you will a 1940’s circus themed wedding; red velvet draped curtains, a carpet runner, vintage Edison bulb lit signs along with string lights, an array of food stations and bar mixers with vintage candy, desserts and popcorn stations. It was wonderful!!!

I DIYed all the signage, even the marquee letter signs. Plus, the velvet curtains, the larger furnishings along with the dessert and popcorn stations. What was I thinking?! Now, I must say it turned out beautifully but, I didn’t factor in all that would need to be carried in, set up, and then at the end of the evening, taken down, cleaned and packed up. Creating so much decor really took a lot of time which became time lost because I thought, maybe we could save a few hundred dollars. I learned the hard way that my time and peace of mind are worth so much more than that!

Confession #2

Talented Friends and Family vs. Wedding Industry professionals.

We had the crazy idea, because my husband is a chef, to create our own menu! Don’t get me wrong, it was unique and absolutely delicious and we had friends cook on the day but, all of the prep work fell on him. This took an incredible amount of time and effort right before our wedding. No groom/bride/couple should be prepping their own menu, especially my groom!

Of course, your family and friends are beyond excited to help with your monumental day, just as ours were. We are truly grateful for their love, assistance, and well intentions. Just as our chef friends worked on the day of, our wedding party along with close family members assisted with decorating and clean up. In hindsight, I wish they hadn’t. Instead, I would have them all enjoy the day and not have to “work” at all.

Confession #3

Why didn’t we INVEST in a Professional Wedding Planner and/or Coordinator??

Aside from saving my poor groom, family, and wedding party all the prep, set up, and clean up time, a planner would have given us a completely different experience throughout the day and the reception. The one thing I regret the most is that although both my hubby and I were on top of all the details and the timeline, we didn’t really get a chance to enjoy each other. We did have fun but, we didn’t get to spend as much time together as I hoped. The only reason that there are any photobooth pictures with my hubby in them, is because I made it a point to find him and take him to the booth myself. Having someone else focus on who and what happened next, could have made it 10x easier on us. In all honesty, if I were to do this all over again, I wouldn’t change who I married, where I got married, or my vision for my wedding, but I would have definitely sought out the advice and guidance of a Professional!!

DIY DO’s & DON’Ts:

DO:

  • Invitations-If you’re crafty — or you have a friend who’s a nifty graphic designer — DIY invitations can be a highly personalized touch that won’t cost you a fortune. Just make sure to send them out with enough time to receive RSVPs.
  • Signage-Talk this over with your wedding planner/coordinator. Decor items such as signage, table décor (not florals), and other reception focal points are also doable, as long as you plan ahead and hire a team to place all items on the day of.
  • Table décor(hot tip)-if you need multiples of something, i.e., glass vases, lanterns, wood chargers etc. that you will not use in your home or ever again, renting is a great idea! This way you don’t have to pack up anything at the end of the evening and/or be stuck with items you will never use.· Accessories-If you have the skills to make any fashion accessories do so, they make a great wedding party gift! It will be very meaningful for them to wear something made with love that they can also wear again. I made my own feather fastener/birdcage veil. I love it and still wear it from time to time.
  • Favors-as long as they are prepared well in advance, this is one area where DIY food items can be really special.

DON’T:

  • DJ/Emcee-There is nothing wrong with creating your own playlist, but don’t DIY or skip on having a DJ. You’ll need a professional to transition from event to event and to get your crowd going!!
  • Food-Do not prepare, plan and/or cook any foods or baked goods for your special day, even if you’re trained by profession. You gotta trust me on this one.
  • Flowers-they are by nature and necessity, a last minute project so, even if you’re a talented decorator, it is a bad idea. It’s much more hassle than you realize, hire professionals.
  • Photographer/videographer-This is memorable and you will want amazing pictures of this day. Your cousin who does great work for their art and/or film class is not the same as having a very experienced wedding photographer.

Handling some wedding tasks yourself can be a great way to personalize your event and save money. Plan ahead and if you can do it months in advance, go for it, but whatever you do, don’t create/DIY items that are time-sensitive and need to be completed a few days prior or the night before. The days before your wedding will be a bit hectic with last-minute errands, visiting with family from out of town, finalizing other details and Oh! Don’t forget the rehearsal and the rehearsal dinner.
And, if you do ask a favor of a friend who doesn’t normally work events/weddings, you’re going to have to do some of the heavy lifting such as making a photo shot list, writing out a ceremony timeline and/or making plans for delivery/pick up. Be sure to consider whether this extra time and responsibility is worth it.
Last but not least, an investment in a wedding planner pays for itself. It’s a lot to handle. Of course if you want to go all out, hire a planner well in advance. However, if it comes down to budget, investing in wedding day management (min. 3 months before) or day of coordination is worth its weight in gold.

It is my hope that the experiences and missteps of my wedding story serve to help you and your betrothed make the most of this journey and that you both plan to fully experience all the precious moments of your wedding day. Because in your dreams, every detail matters.