How Do I know What to DIY at My Wedding?
“D.I.Y.” — Short for “Do It Yourself”, this phrase is the motto of capable people who can take the world by the horns and make their own dreams come true. Before the modern DIY revolution, people had to hire someone to do every single thing they required. Now, people know the power of Pinterest, and they have the blood, sweat, and tears of the people who tried before them archived and conveniently pinned. Why reinvent the wheel, when you have instructions for literally everything right in front of you, and sometimes with a YouTube video included?
We love when brides (and grooms) take the initiative to DIY, and we encourage you to do as many things as possible yourself for your own wedding. Not only is it more frugal, and the way to make your budget go a lot farther, but it also means that “you” will be within every detail of your special day.
But, how do you know what NOT to attempt to do yourself? Here is our handy guide:
Flowers — Flowers are a tricky one, because you could go either way on this item. I have an aunt who is famous for making the most gorgeous bouquets you’d ever imagine, and essentially what she does is pick out really beautiful grocery store flowers by the single stems, duct tape them together in the perfect arrangement, and then cover the tape with satin ribbon and pins. It’s genius, and it stays together, at the fraction of the price of a florist. The downside to DIY flowers, is that they don’t travel well, so if you’re not getting married in your hometown you really need to consider hiring a professional. Additionally, if you don’t have someone who can watch over them the night before carefully, water and refrigerate them if necessary, and carefully transport them to the ceremony, you may also want to invest a few extra dollars toward a pro.
Officiant — If there is someone special in your life that you’d like to officiate your ceremony, feel free to ask them— they can get certified easily online in one of a few churches of your choice, and you’ll be able to pay them a reduced fee. Often, when a friend marries you, they’ll donate the services as your wedding gift. Of course, you’ll need to make sure they are licensed in the state in which your ceremony will occur (and they need to be there up to a week earlier, in many cases, for paperwork) — so if that’s not possible you may need an officiant who knows local and regional laws.
Decorations — Decorations are a do-it-yourself item all the way. Check out Pinterest for your favorite ideas, and make them come together using items from garage sales, craft stores, discount stores, and even by ordering from overseas, via stores like AliExpress.com and wish.com. By checking sites like Facebook Marketplace and VarageSale, you can even find already made decorations from another couple who doesn’t need them anymore at a fraction of the original price.
Favors / Gifts — Favors and gifts are another one that you can easily do yourself. Try browsing the above mentioned sites for items that you can buy in bulk, or find something you like and find a way to copy it. When I didn’t want to pay the $12 per votive holder that I saw featured in an upscale boutique, I bought plain glass votive holders and spray painted them myself with chalk paint at a cost of .83 cents per holder.
Photography — Photography is going to be a “hard no” in our opinion. Your wedding day will only come once, and it needs to be captured correctly. We understand that photography is expensive, but you can find the right person who can stick within your budget (and we will happily recommend some of our favorite budget friendly photographers). The price is expensive because the right equipment is expensive. Trust us on this one, we have seen too many amateur photographers ruin weddings (not of our clients) to know what can happen — you won’t get a chance to catch those precious moments again, so it’s important that it be done right the first time.
Videography — Same with photography, we definitely feel that you should hire a professional on this one. You can certainly ask your friends and family to film your special day with a cell phone camera (turned horizontally, please), but that should only be as a backup. If you want a video, you should make sure you hire someone with the right equipment, especially a tripod. Otherwise, you may end up with a ceremony video that looks like the Blair Witch Project.
Photo Booth / Reception — A photo booth, or any other fun reception game, is something that can easily be done yourself. Check out Pinterest and other sites (or photo booths in the area) for the setup that they use, and copy their frames and props. If you have any amateur photographers that would like to help out with your wedding, this is where they can be useful!
Invitations — Invitations should be purchased for the more traditional brides or grooms, but there’s no reason why you can’t make them yourselves. You can also order them from etsy or a local small business or independent contractor for a fraction of the price that you’d pay a professional invitation shop. You can also try sites like Upwork or Fiverr to connect with graphic designers who can design custom invitations for as cheap as $5 a template, as well as with calligraphers who can address them for you.
Food — We’re pretty sure that you don’t want to be in the kitchen on your wedding day! This is something you can absolutely farm out to friends and family, especially if there’s a special recipe among your clan. Be careful though, if you’re traveling into New Orleans from somewhere else, you may just want to hire a local to avoid food spoilage that comes from traveling with food. Also, you’ll want to make sure to check with the venue, because many do not allow outside food, and then you’ll have a lot of hungry guests.There aren’t many venues that we can think of offhand that let you bring your own food in the New Orleans area.
Venue — A venue is something you can find yourself, but it’s probably not a good idea — at the very least you’ll want a place that has been used before (and troubleshot) for weddings, as well as a place that carries some kind of insurance.
Licensing — Licensing can be a very tricky thing, and if you’re not sure what you’re doing, it’s best to get your officiant or wedding planners to help you. The last thing you need is to not legally be married. You should also make sure you’re complying with the laws and regulations of the city, town, or (in our case) parish where you’re tying the knot, especially if you’re doing something like having a second-line or parade to accompany your ceremony. Your wedding is a joyous occasion and shouldn’t be smudged by tickets or fines.
Entertainment -- If you have a friend or relative who is a performer you may save on entertainment that way, but you definitely want to make sure you know the performer in advance. Otherwise, it’s better to choose someone who’s reputable, who will bring all of their own equipment (and not rely on you to set up speakers in your wedding dress), and who has all necessary insurance and permits for the venue and city. If you’re going to have a second line parade or outside music, it’s especially critical to make sure that the proper permits are in place.
Wedding Planning — Last but not least, are your wedding planners. Of course you can wedding plan yourselves, most brides and grooms do a large portion of the wedding planning whether they hire someone or not. After all, you may have decided what colors and theme you wanted for your nuptial ceremony when you were six years old. The difference though, is that a wedding designer is there to implement your vision and make it come to life, so that you can do what you’re supposed to do on your big day — enjoy it, and be married. By splurging on the wedding planner(s), you’ll be treating yourself to a better experience. You don’t want to worry, you don’t want to stress— you want to have fun, after all of the work (and money) you’ve put into your big day, and a wedding planner or designer is the best way to accomplish that and make sure everything goes off without a hitch, while you get hitched!
For more information on weddings, planning, and do-it-yourself, especially in our home state of Louisiana and city of New Orleans, contact us at PK Events, firstname.lastname@example.org, http://www.IDoNewOrleansWeddings.com
Your New Orleans Wedding Planners,
Patricia & Kristen