Tying the Knot in a Meaningful and Memorable Way (Without Losing Our Savings or Sanity)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Guest Post: Taking the Self-Doubt Out of DIY

By Diana of The Backyard Bride
Hello, loyal 2000 Dollar Wedding readers! I’m very grateful to Sara for allowing me to share my thoughts with all of you while she’s off enjoying her new baby.
When my fiancé and I got engaged, we knew instantly that we didn’t want a formal, ballroom-style wedding. We’re low-key people so one of the first things we did was brainstorm ways that we could celebrate our marriage in a way that’s meaningful and special, but still relaxed and fun. We quickly settled on a casual-elegant barbeque bash at my mother’s church. I'm hoping our big day will feel a lot like this:

I must confess that we aren’t resisting all aspects of the wedding industry. With 115 people to feed and no semi-professional photojournalists among our family and friends, we did end up hiring a caterer and photographer. But basically everything else will be DIY: favours, flowers, music, dessert table, decor, you name it, I (with the help of my lovely friends and family) am DIY’ing it!
Unless you are a decorator or stylist who creates fab things for a living, DIY is sure to create self-doubt. Can I really pull this off? What if I don’t get it done in time? What if it doesn’t turn out? While I am by no means an expert, here are some tips I’ve found for staying true to my vision in the face of a wedding industry that treats every little detail as something that requires professional intervention.
1. Read wedding blogs, not magazines. Ok, seeing as you’re reading this on a blog, I assume you’ve got this one down. Magazines are filled with delicious eye candy, but they tend to assume that weddings should involve as many vendors as possible - which makes sense, seeing as vendors buy ad space in those magazines. Fortunately, there is a wonderful online community of wedding bloggers, who provide plenty of creative alternatives. Instead of reading a magazine article about how to choose the right DJ, you can read a blog post about how to DJ your own reception with your iPod. Instead of perusing ads for 47 different reception halls, you can see photos of couples who got married in fields, forests, libraries, backyards, barns, science centres, and art galleries. Seriously, how awesome would this be?


If all you read is wedding magazines, even the slightest deviation from the Wedding Industry can seem scary - I know it was to me. I thought I was nuts for even thinking about having two friends and their iPods DJ our reception...until I read a few blogs and realized that plenty of people do this, and so can I. Sure, the slick, professional wedding blogs sometimes feature events that are out of most people's budgets, but they also gush over simple and beautiful backyard weddings.

2. Get your friends and family on board. It’s easy to brush off random vendors who seem shocked that you would even consider doing your own flowers/favours/cake - and many vendors I spoke to (and did not book) were indeed shocked at the slightest outside-the-box thought. But what if your friends and family are the ones asking, with a look of genuine concern, “are you sure you’ll have time to do that?” So far, I’ve found that involving them in the planning is key. I’ve been test-driving recipes for my guest favours and dessert bar, buying flowers from a local flower wholesaler to make practice arrangements, and sharing the results with family and friends. Many people have since gone from “are you really going to bake 350 cookies, and arrange all those flowers?” to “let me know when you’re doing the baking and flowers, I’d love to come help.” Their support (and free labour!) really go a long way in reassuring me that I can, in fact, pull off a DIY wedding.

Pumpkin cheese cake bars: an early dessert table experiment

3. Make sure you're DIY'ing things that you enjoy doing. I certainly don’t mean to suggest that you need to have home-baked favours, floral centerpieces, and a huge dessert bar at your wedding. I just happen to enjoy baking and flower arranging. If I didn’t enjoy doing this stuff, I might hire a vendor to do it...or it might just not get done. I also have some ambitious plans involving making bunting out of repurposed material and place cards out of salvaged scrabble tiles, but if that doesn't get done it's no big deal. And you know what? No one will even know it was missing.

My future mother-in-law gave me some great advice when I was debating about hiring a caterer. She said, "In 10 years, nobody will remember what they had for dinner or what colour the flowers were. Everyone just remembers how happy the couple was, and the people they got to spend an evening with." So true.

So that's my story: I'm hiring a couple of vendors I don't think I can do without, DIY'ing as much of the rest as I can, and not stressing if a few things get left off the list. A wedding, after all, is about marrying the person you love - the rest is just gravy.

Diana is a PhD student from Toronto, Canada whose greatest ambition is to become a contestant on Jeopardy. She and her fiance Dave foster cats, play old video games, and are strangely addicted to BBC nature shows. They're getting married in August 2011, and Diana blogs about the wedding planning process at The Backyard Bride.

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jacin {lovely little details} said...

great advice, diana!

Anonymous said...

My fiance and I are getting married in a year. My fiance and I want a DIY wedding. Him and I will be making just about everything for our wedding. Him and I are trying to keep our wedding very low key and cost effective as well. Him and I are paying for half of our wedding. My parents will help out a little bit as well. I feel greatful for them for doing that. My goal for this wedding is to have it be way less than a $10,000. I think that my goal can be reached. Now, the wedding industry might not agree with me. I know in my heart my fiance and I can do this! I do not support huge lavish weddings... shows!!

We've chosen to get married at my church. Our reception will be held in a very old hall that was built in the early 1900's. The hall is owned by the womens association. The hall is just beautiful! The hall will provide us with tables, chairs, plates, silverware and more. Not only that, the hall is very inexpensive to rent. It was the cheapest place in town to rent and the most beautiful. I chose to rent this hall because it felt cozy to me. I wanted our wedding reception to feel cozy and not stuffy. I'm so excited to be having our reception in this hall.

As far as wedding vendors go I've chosen to use local vendors. I support people who aren't out to make money. The cater that my fiance and I are going to use is actually my moms friends brother. His prices were the best I'd seen. Not only that he caters to people who can't afford a lavish wedding. That just makes me happy. He also buys his food at your local grocery store as well.

The DJ that were going to use for our wedding is actually a banker. That is his main job. For fun, he like to DJ parties.

My fiance and I also plan on getting people we know to take pictures at our wedding.

I will be buying a wedding dress from my moms friends dress shop. I do want to support her business. She's a wonderful lady and I can't wait to pick out a dress from her. What is so wonderful about her dress shop, is that she doesn't sell dresses that are thousands of dollars. She knows that brides shouldn't have to pay that much. Her dresses aren't over the top either. It's another reason why I've chosen to buy a dress from her.

I'm excited to get married next year because I know my fiance and I are getting married for the right reasons. We love each other with all our heart. Our wedding, will be about our love. Not all the fancy details.

I love the advice that Diana has given. That same advice is what I've been thinking all along. Thanks again for the wonderful advice!

-Jodi :)

Amanda said...

oh my gosh, I JUST wrote in my blog about our DIY wedding! I was SO committed to not going into debt and keeping everything humble, but at the last second I panicked and thought, "What am I doing??" I wish I just would have stayed calm and not bothered with the self-doubt.

Jillian said...

Go for the bunting. I made it hundreds of feet of it in a few hours with two sewing machines and 4 women total (Although the triangles were precut earlier). It packed a huge visual punch and ended up being one of my favorite things at our carnival themed wedding.

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