Tuesday, March 6, 2012

To DIY or Not to DIY?

Happy Tuesday, readers!  This is my first article of my new column over on US Daily Review.  Not gonna lie, kind of feel like the Carrie Bradshaw of weddings, you know, minus the fancy shoes and cool NY apartment.  I will be featured there about once a week as their Weddings 101 expert so make sure you check it out!  Enjoy!

       The average cost of a wedding in America is almost $30,000.  In a time of economic hardship, and with many brides and grooms now footing the bill for their own celebrations, this sum seems a little unrealistic.  How much should you spend on one day of your life?  Of course, it is an important day, but still, $30,000 could be a down payment on a house.  It could pay off student loans.  $30,000 could start a small business or become a college fund for future  children.  Many brides and grooms are searching for ways to lower that thirty grand average, and the easiest solution is just three little letters: DIY.
       For those of you who are not part of “Generation Wed”, DIY stands for do-it-yourself.  A term coined in reference mostly to projects around the home, it is now the catch phrase of current wedding trends.  Why pay for favors when you can offer your guests homemade cookies?  Why spend a couple hundred bucks on an officiant when your bff can get ordained online for free?  Why hire a professional photographer-- who can cost as much as $5000--when you can book a student for under a grand?
       These are not random examples, in fact, they are all three things I did at my own wedding.  The cookies tasted delicious and the bff officiant didn’t leave a dry eye in the house.  The student photographer?  Well, she did a great job with the photos I was given, but lacked professionalism and missed some major moments (like the bride walking down the aisle, for example).  If I could go back, I would fork over some more cash to have higher quality pictures.  All said and done, I had the wedding of my dreams for under $15k.  The DIY elements of my day, for the most part, worked out exactly as I had imagined them.
       Some wedding professionals would shoot me for saying this, but I love a DIY wedding.  Nothing makes a wedding more personal than having friends and family involved in the creation of the big day.   However, before any brides begin the DIY wedding process, there are some things to consider.  Yes, I DIYed a lot of my big day, but I also have a background in wedding coordinating.  Before I even had my rock, I had been to dozens of weddings and seen what works and what doesn’t.  I also am lucky enough to have uber talented friends and family.  While I did rely on some “non-professional” vendors, everyone who had a major role in my wedding (florist, photographer, DJ) had experience in their arena.
       My overall advice for DIY brides is to think carefully about the areas where DIY can be implemented.  If you have a cousin with a degree in graphic design, by all means, ask him to craft your wedding invites.  But if you don’t know how to change the font in Microsoft Word, don’t expect to be able to design your dream stationary on your own.  If you ask your brother to be your iPod DJ and he has never spoken in front of a crowd before, don’t expect him to be able to smoothly emcee his way through major moments like your first dance.  Know your limits (and the limits of your “friendors”) and DIY accordingly.  If you are unsure about your skills in any area, call in the pros.  There are lots of budget-friendly options out there and many vendors offer custom packages to meet your exact needs.
       Most importantly: even if your entire wedding is DIY and vendor-budget-friendly, hire a day of coordinator!  Yes, I am biased, but do you really want to spend the morning of your wedding hanging paper lanterns and setting up place cards?  Find someone who can take your lovely, painstakingly hand-crafted décor and set it up for you.  It is one wedding day decision you will not regret.

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