As the DIY movement gets a stronger and stronger foothold in the wedding planning world, I think it's important for each of us to step back and ask ourselves, "How do I personally feel about DIY? Will DIYing aspects of my wedding make me feel more connected to my wedding or will it stress me out? Is our wedding the perfect opportunity to express ourselves creatively or do I simply feel pressured because everyone else is doing it? Will DIYing help us save money or will we end up spending more once we factor in our time and energy?
The answers are different for all of us.
For Matt and me, the hand-crafted route was the one we wanted to take intentionally. In some cases, it allowed us to make our wedding special with sincerity rather than money (like by embroidering our life story along the bottom of my $15 dress). In other ways it helped us save money (like by making our invitation postcards out of supplies we had in our craft closet and making our own ceremony program fans). It also helped us lessen our impact on the environment (like by making Matt's tie out of an old dress of mine). And, at times, it started to drive us insane (like making enough cloth napkins for our Welcome Picnic and our Wedding Reception).
I also noticed that we started to take on more and more unnecessary projects as our engagement stretched on (like sewing flower pins for everyone in the wedding party).
Overall, however, DIYing many aspects of our wedding was an important part of our process. It brought us closer to our wedding. It allowed us to share ourselves with our nearest and dearest.
Even for those of us who find meaning and purpose through the process of making things, there can be a fine line between crafting and losing one's marbles. Whenever I undertake a DIY project, I inevitably progress through the six stages from pure excitement to regret and frustration to sheer pride.
There also comes a moment when I have to calibrate my ambition to the reality of my time/skills/ability.
Take my most recent Picnic Placemat Project, for example.
I had every intention of making eight of these for my friend's birthday. I figured eight was a good set. I tried to buy enough fabric for all eight placemats, but after I was finished cutting, I realized I only had enough for four placemats (since it takes two pieces to make each one). Oh well. I decided to go with Plan B. I figured four would make a sufficient and satisfactory set as well.
But then I actually started sewing them. Although each one didn't take too long, it was Friday night and I was tired. Her party was the next day. That's when I had to come up with Plan C: Make two placemats instead.
And you know what? Two were perfectly fine. Because, at the end of the handmade day, it truly is the thought that counts.
Matt and I had to apply the same "Plan B Philosophy" to our DIY wedding projects, too. When the thought of sewing more than 80 napkins threatened to drown us, we decided to trim the edges with pinking sheers instead. When the prospect of hemming our sheets-as-tablecloths was about to break us, we opted to fold them under.
At the end of the day, we each have to find our own balance between hand-crafting, maintaining our sanity, and saving money. There's no easy answer, but the questions are definitely worth asking.