DIY: Yay or Neigh?

DIY: Yay or Neigh?

Marissa & Dan DIY - Suitcase Card Holder📷: She of the Woods

With all of the aspects of planning a wedding (colors and flowers and cakes, oh my!), hiring a wedding planner might seem like the easiest option. But if you want to save money or add a few personal touches, do-it-yourself details can make a large impact on your big day. Some projects are going to be harder than others, however, so it’s important that you choose wisely on which tasks you take on yourself. Taking on the wrong job could mean stress overload and trust us, no one likes a Bridezilla. Here are some of our picks on what to DIY and what to LTTP (Leave-to-the-Pro’s… New wedding term? We think so!).

By Chelsea Carney

General Do’s:

1. Consider the Cost

This goes for the mental, physical and financial costs. Taking on DIY projects are going to bring up unexpected costs that you may not have had with a wedding planner. Take into account all of the trips to the craft store you’ll have to make and the hours you’ll spend putting together your DIY favors.

2. Limit Yourself

Although you’ve been dreaming of making everything DIY, the truth is that you might be taking on too much. Granted, if your wedding is over a year away compared to just a few months, you’ll have more time to complete a few more projects; but don’t overload yourself. If you spread yourself too thin, you may end up putting more effort into one project over another. Remember that less is more. (Tip: Make a list of 10 DIY projects you may want to complete. Now, cross the last two off the list. You’ll subconsciously write the ones that matter most to you first and can spend more time putting your effort into those.)

3. Ask For Help

Whether you ask your friends or professionals, you’ll most likely get much-needed advice. Professionals have dealt with many DIY brides and will have plenty of tips and tricks to throw your way while good friends can be there to physically help put things together. Either way, it’ll relieve some of the stress you may be feeling.

4. Set Deadlines

You do not want to fall asleep the night before your big day racking your brain about what you could have possibly forgotten to do. Set deadlines for each individual thing and stick to those; that way, you won’t have to worry about it the week before the wedding. Do the big things months ahead of time and leave the smaller things, like paper decorations, until a few weeks before (that way they’ll also have less of a chance of being damaged). PSA: Setting earlier deadlines is also great in case something goes wrong; you’ll have time to enact a back-up plan.Jacquie & Josh - Wooden Letter GuestBook DIY_sm 📷: Ashley Daubenmire Photography

Get creative with your guestbook: For something like this all you need is a few giant wooden letters from Michael’s and black spray paint!

General Don’ts:

1. Take It on All by Yourself

While you might not enjoy handing off the reins to someone else, delegating tasks will absolutely help in the long run. Get all of your girls over for the day and thank them with pizza and wine (Because who doesn’t love that?). This way you’re putting less pressure on yourself, but you’re also making a fun afternoon out of it. Plus…isn’t that what bridesmaids are for?

2. Expect Professional Results

Chances are you’re not a professional baker or florist, so stay away from expecting that everything will come out Pinterest-perfect. (You’ve seen Pinterest fails, right?) There’s a reason they’re called professionals: they’ve put their blood, sweat, and tears into perfecting their craft. If you’re going to bake your own cake for the wedding, keep it simple. Instead of adorning it with intricate piping, keep it to one or two tiers and only add simple decorations.

3. Wait Until the Last Minute

Plan, plan, plan. Even though setting deadlines will help with this, you never want to wait until the last minute to do anything. If something goes awry, that’ll just cause unnecessary stress. Plan to have all of your DIY projects finished at least a week before the wedding and just in case something does go wrong, there will be enough time to fix it.

4. Stress

Easier said than done, right? But just know that, eventually, something will probably go wrong (Hello, Murphy’s Law). Maybe one of your decorations will fall down mid-ceremony or your flowers might start to wilt. But whatever it is, remember that your guests will most likely not notice or care. They will appreciate all of the effort you put into your DIY wedding. In the end, always remember that nothing is perfect. What matters most is that you enjoy your day.
Erin & Chuck - Book Fold Sculpture DIY_sm

📷: Blueflash Photography

While undeniably awesome, something like the carved book pictured above is no easy task, so save yourself the headache and order a custom made creation from Etsy.

Do It Yourself:


Décor items can get tricky because you’ll have to make so many, but if you plan ahead it should be manageable. Keep it simple for the ceremony, especially if the venue is pretty as is, by placing tea light candles around the aisle. For your reception, use custom chalkboards to describe the food menu or the times in which things will happen.  Set a schedule for when you’re going to create certain DIY decorations so that you don’t overwhelm yourself during the last few weeks before the wedding.

📷: Paul Robert Berman Photography, Blueflash Photography, Dawn Temple Photography

Invitations/Save the Dates/Seating Placement CardsMarissa & Dan DIY - Dino Card Holders

Custom invitations and save the dates can cost hundreds. Instead, head to your local paper store to buy a DIY kit or your favorite color paper in bulk and print off custom wedding invitations. If you want to get even craftier, cut designs out of creative wallpaper to spruce up the invites. Be warned: the bigger the invitations, the more they’ll cost to ship.

But if you have no patience for paper cuts, we suggest you go to Aucoin for all of your stationery needs.


Keep it simple by wrapping up a small baked good for every guest. It adds a personal touch and you definitely can’t go wrong with a little more dessert. Sharing family traditions can be a big hit for favors as well. If your family makes homemade jam, give a small jar to every guest. That way they can take home a part of the wedding and feel as if they’re a part of your family tradition for a day.

📷: Maria Burton Photography, Flavio D Photography


Doing your make-up yourself (because who knows your face better?) or having a skilled friend do it for you is a great way to save time and money. You won’t have to worry about someone being on time or finishing up in time to get to the venue. Make sure you do a trial run a few weeks before and take pictures so that you know what make-up will look good and won’t drown out your face in the photos.

DIY Project-Don’ts:


This is probably the most important don’t on the list. Photos are one of the few things from your wedding that you’ll be able to keep for the rest of your lives. Your loved ones may promise that they’ll capture every moment but you want to make sure that whoever is taking photos is focused on the event at all times and snapping high quality pics. A picture is worth a thousand words and even though it’ll cost quite a bit, it’ll be worth every penny in the long-run.

Some local picks: Blueflash Photography (and too many others to name! Check out our real wedding section in the 2017 edition of Engaged for a sample of our faves.)


Although you might think it’ll save you money instead of hiring a DJ or live music, playing your own music will just be a hassle for you on your wedding day. You don’t want to be in charge of taking requests for songs or turning down the music during speeches. You’ll be stuck with a pre-made playlist consisting of only songs you and your soon-to-be hubby like. Instead, opt for a DJ where you can add some of your favorite songs and spend the night getting down on the dance floor.

Some local picks: Signature Sounds, Pro Sound DJ Entertainment and South Coast Entertainment


Flowers are a last-minute item, aka another last-minute headache. Though it’ll save you money, just remember that you’ll have to set up all of the bouquets and centerpieces. That means lots of snipping and lots of cleaning up afterwards. It’ll take up a lot of time that could be spent focusing on make-up and hair. Despite the fact that it’ll cost quite a bit, your florist will ensure that all of your flowers look exquisite.

Some local picks: Cherryhill Florist, Michelle Jean Floral Design, and the Local Bouquet

But if flower centerpieces really aren’t your shtick, why not dream up a few hand-made alternatives that fit in with your theme?

📷: Maria Burton Photography, Sara Desirey Photography


All brides are stressed out the day before their wedding but there is no reason to add this stressor. Whether you miss an ingredient or the tiers are tilted, you do not need a cake catastrophe. Even if you’re a professional baker, leave this one to someone else. Decorating and transporting a cake can get difficult and you don’t want to walk down the aisle covered in frosting.

Some local picks: SinScrumptions and LaSalle Bakery 


To go along with cake, don’t be in charge of food. No one wants a bride constantly running to and from the kitchen to check on how the chicken is coming out. Plus, it’ll be hard for you to make that much food for so many people and keep it hot the entire time. You also need people to serve it, unless you plan on having Uncle Bob do it all by himself. Caterers have the means to make it all happen in a timely manner and make all of your guests happy.

Some local picks: Blackstone Caterers, Cozy Caterers and Chelo’s Catering


You’re already going through the headache of wedding planning, why waste even more time and energy trying to sort out the specifics of something that’s supposed to be fun and most of all relaxing. A travel adviser will not only make the whole process seamless and stress-free, but also find you the best locations, deals and accommodations.

Some local picks: Destination Wedding and Honeymoon Planners


Final tip: Most of all, you should try to have some fun with your wedding planning… and what’s more fun than a giant game of Jenga? Just get your future spouse to do the grunt work 😉

Harbor Lights wedding photos by Nicole Gesmondi Photographer, LLC |

📷: Nicole Gesmondi Photographer

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