wedding tips & ideas: 5 tips for planning (and executing) a DIY wedding!
So you’re crafty and engaged- congratulations! Not long ago, I was in your shoes and wow, what an emotional rollercoaster the experience was. I wrote this post to share some key takeaways from my own experiences and to share resources I found to be helpful. I hope it helps future brides and grooms!
1. Know yourself and your limits.
Before anything- decide if this is truly the right path for you or if Pinterest has clouded your brain. You know yourself the best. This is a time where it benefits no one by lying to yourself about you and your partner’s capabilities. Ask yourself:
Are you an organized person?
Are you good with communication via phone and email?
Can you work within a budget?
Realistically, what kind of time can you dedicate to your wedding outside of your work and life responsibilities?
Will members of your wedding party be ready and willing to help?
Doing things yourself and customizing your wedding doesn’t have to be an “all or nothing” obligation, but it is helpful to be honest about what you can and cannot handle.
2. Keep wedding-related items separate from your every day.
This is something that helped me maintain my sanity: places to put everything. If there was ever a question about anything wedding related, I knew exactly where to find it. Things that I did to stay organized:
Maintained a binder for contracts and pamphlets from wedding expos.
Kept a folder on my computer to keep wedding related files together.
Created a separate wedding email address for reaching out to prospective vendors and to communicate with guests and vendors.
Wrote lists (and more lists) on a legal pad that I kept with the wedding binder.
Distilled viable options from my “wedding wishlist” Pinterest board onto a new, more concise Pin-board of projects and images that I would realistically use for the wedding.
3. OVER share with everyone involved.
If you’re anything like me, you might be living in your head and not fully communicating with others about your grand plan for the big day. That’s fine for a while, but make sure you create ways to share this information with your vendors, your wedding party, your family, and your soon-to-be spouse! One resource that made it easy for me to do this was the floor plan creator on Weddingwire.com. This tool allowed me to visualize the space early on, but also served as a key for setting up the day before. I added in the colors of the tablecloths, the table number placements, the amount of chairs, and the types of décor for each table with Photoshop after the floor plan was created. When it came to be setup time, it was easy to hand the map over to someone else to handle and know that things were getting done in the way I had envisioned.
This same idea was important when it came to the schedule. I worked with my photographer and DJ to craft a detailed (with plenty of added buffer time) schedule for the whole day. This schedule was then shared via email with the entire wedding party and parents. It was no secret what was going to happen and where (include addresses!) and if anyone forgot, they could check their email. Creating the schedule was crucial and I couldn’t have done it properly without the help of my vendors because you should . . .
4. . . . Talk to your vendors!
Your vendors have experience with weddings of all varieties and will serve as great resources! It also helps to build trust and open communication about everyone’s needs before the big day. Hopefully, you’ll only get married once, but they’ve been through it hundreds of times! The most helpful vendor for me was actually our rad DJ- they’re the MC of the whole event, so hashing out details with him helped to ensure that the ceremony and reception flowed smoothly.
5. Make sure your guests are clued in.
You want everyone to be comfortable and happy to be celebrating your love, right? If you’re having a non-traditional wedding/venue, do not assume that your guests will just figure shit out. If you’re ditching seating arrangements* because it doesn’t seem necessary, make sure folks know. One of the biggest questions we got asked ahead of time (we got married at a summer camp): what do I wear? I immediately added a section to our wedding website clarifying this. Having a comprehensive wedding website was the best decision for my sanity; it was easy to answer potential questions ahead of time and in a format that anyone could look up on their phone on the fly.
* I haven’t seen this often, but I have and I think it’s not a great idea. Even if you’re not having a traditional sit-down meal, guests will feel better when they have a “home base” to at least store their coats or dance shoes.
Even if you decide to not do it ALL yourself, hopefully these tips will help spark ideas to keep yourself organized and honest about the process of planning. One major thing I took away from this process: I TOTALLY understand why couples hire wedding planners. The amount of follow-up emails I ended up writing to non-responsive vendors was unbelievable- it truly felt like I was working a day job. Good luck and congratulations!
Photos courtesy of Stephanie from Mizfam Photo and Two17Photography