Do I DIY?

Some weddings are made to look as though each element has been crafted by hand—even if it hasn’t. From the carved table numbers and the chalkboard menu to the lace tablecloth and the hand-written escort cards, these weddings are eclectic and cool with touches of craftiness or rusticity. But they are about as handmade as a Subaru.

More likely, a professional wedding planner has worked with a crew of professional designers, florists, lighting and paper specialists, caterers and other vendors to create a wedding that feels handcrafted as one of grandma’s doilies. These pros have honed and perfected their ability to create such a beautifully handmade feel.

Other weddings become DIY weddings when the bride, groom, their family and friends work together to create and organize the elements of the ceremony and reception because that’s what needs to happen. Sometimes DIY projects—printing the invitations and programs on your little inkjet, friends officiating the wedding or cook the food, and decorating the venue with your bridal party—is not about style. It’s all about saving money.

For both types of brides, there are suggestions—nay, rules!—to DIY by. There are certainly plenty of resources for the crafty bride, such as Pinterest or online classes from the Denver-based website Craftsy. But the pros say it really depends on the bride, and it depends on the project.

“A bride who loves the idea of creating the details will have more fun with it,” said Heather Dwight, owner of Calluna Events in Boulder. “A bride who is not creative may struggle. With Pinterest and Etsy, there are so many resources for inspiration. But as long as the bride has creative energy and time, it’s something worth pursuing.”

But Dwight counters that by saying, a couple shouldn’t tackle DIY projects just for the sake of tackling them. Instead, she suggests, they should focus on elements they are comfortable with, rather than working on elements that could cause stress, strain on the relationship or procrastination.

“If you are doing the flowers but you have no background in floral design, it’s gonna cause you to stress out,” she said.

But if you and your husband brew your own beer, consider brewing something special for your wedding guests. If canning is your specialty, leave your guests a little jar of preserves. If you rock at calligraphy, take control of the escort cards.

Similarly, Dwight suggests that crafty brides and grooms should focus on personal touches. If your grandma collected China and you want that to be a part of your wedding, work on collecting China. If you’re of a certain heritage, consider creating something that reflects your family culture. And so on.

“It should reflect the couple,” Dwight said. “It should be a nod to who they are or where they are from.”

Here are the dos and don’ts of wedding DIY-ing.

1. When to DIY

Personal touches are a great way to make your guests feel like a part of your big day. Jolene Greenbaum Peterson, who was a Calluna bride and now works for the Boulder planner, sent blank cards with all her wedding invitations. She asked guests to write their well wishes, love poems and congratulations on the card and send it back to her. They then hung all the cards from the chuppah under which they were married. “It was like all those little love notes were hovering above us,” Greenbaum Peterson said.

1. When Not to DIY

For cash strapped brides, Dwight says she should identify the three elements of the wedding that are most important for her and her groom. These are the elements that they should definitely seek out professional help with. “What are your priorities? What is going to make the wedding day for you? If it is not exactly your vision, will that be OK?” she said.

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