What to DIY vs. What to Leave to the Pros on Your Wedding Day

Make informed DIY choices that will help save money and relieve stress on your big day.

Handling some wedding tasks yourself can be a great way to personalize your event and save money. But don't go too far, says wedding expert Annie Lee, principal planner for event planning firm Daughter of Design. Her rule of thumb? "If you can do it months in advance while you're watching TV, go for it," she says. "If it's time-sensitive, don’t risk it. And whatever you do, don't bake."

CI-Ann-Ovasapy_Ampersand-wedding-chair-back_h

CI-Ann-Ovasapy_Ampersand-wedding-chair-back_h

Handmade food items like this bottle of olive oil make great DIY wedding favors.
Photo courtesy of Heather Waraksa Photography

©Lucky You Lucky Me

Lucky You Lucky Me

The final days before your wedding will be hectic: last-minute errands, family in town, seating charts to finalize, rehearsal and rehearsal dinner, packing for the honeymoon and more. There's no room for anything unnecessary. See below for Annie's suggestions on what to DIY and what to let the pros handle on your big day.

SMART DIY CHOICES:

Invitations & Other Paper Items

CI-Susan-Stripling_menu-on-doily_s4x3

CI-Susan-Stripling_menu-on-doily_s4x3

A wedding dinner menu stamped on a paper doily is an expensive way to add a charming touch.

Photo by: Susan Stripling Photography

Susan Stripling Photography

If you're crafty — or you have a friend who's a nifty graphic designer — DIY invitations can be a highly personalized touch that won't cost you a fortune. "You can even cut your own envelope liners from wallpaper to dress them up," Annie says. "I also had a client make a rubber stamp of her menu, which she inked and applied to paper doilies. You could get a calligrapher or do it yourself on the computer." 

Decor Items

DIY Wedding Sign

DIY Wedding Sign

Decor items such as signage, table decor and other reception focal points are totally doable, as long as you plan ahead. "One of my brides is trying to fold a thousand paper cranes for her December wedding," Annie says.

Fashion Accessories

DIY Bow Tie

DIY Bow Tie

Why pay for an expensive piece of wedding wear when you can make it yourself at a fraction of the cost?

Photo by: Clara MacLellan

Clara MacLellan

These aren't easy for everybody, but if you have the knack, handmade earrings, necklaces and belts can be fantastic wedding party gifts. You can even custom-dye your bridesmaids' dresses if that skill is something you're known for, and it will be meaningful to your friends to wear something made with love. 

Favors

CI-Something-Turquoise_DIY-wedding-favors-coffee-bean-jars_s4x3

CI-Something-Turquoise_DIY-wedding-favors-coffee-bean-jars_s4x3

Photo by: Something Turquoise

Something Turquoise

This is one place where DIY food items can be really special, as long as they can be prepared well in advance. "If there's a meaningful family tradition, all the better," Annie says. "The father of one of my clients made jam, for example, and it was a big hit."

LEAVE THESE TO THE EXPERTS:

Music

CI-Cory-Ryan-Photography_DJ-2-turntables_s4x3

CI-Cory-Ryan-Photography_DJ-2-turntables_s4x3

Photo by: Cory Ryan

Cory Ryan

"I'm not opposed to reception music coming from an MP3 player," Annie says, "as long as there's a person whose dedicated responsibility it is to monitor it, turn it down during speeches and so on. Creating your own playlist can actually be really nice. But the exception would be classical music — when you can see that the musicians aren't there, it feels really fake."

Food

CI-She-n-He-Photography_Southern-Wedding-Cookies_s4x3

CI-She-n-He-Photography_Southern-Wedding-Cookies_s4x3

©She-n-He Photography

She-n-He Photography

"The last week before your wedding is so stressful," Annie says. "Don't give yourself the added chore of baking 150 pies — unless you own a bakery. Well, not even then."

Flowers

Lush Bouquet of Peonies

Lush Bouquet of Peonies

Photo by: iStock/OkorokovaNatalya

iStock/OkorokovaNatalya

Because flowers are by nature a last-minute item, doing your own arrangements is a bad idea even if you're a talented decorator. It's much more hassle than you realize. "For one simple wedding we did, we had what sounded like a very minimal job: just an order of hydrangeas to snip and put in vases, and candles to line up on the tables," Annie says. "But it took forever to unpack everything, remove price stickers on vases, clean and dry them, fill them with water, arrange all the tables, haul out the garbage and sweep the floors. My assistants and I were exhausted — and that was just setup." If you do all of your own reception decor, you'll have to break it down yourself afterward, which is probably not how you envisioned spending your wedding night.

Photos

Maryville Wedding Photographer - Willow Tree Cove - Caitlyn and Jordan Married

Maryville Wedding Photographer - Willow Tree Cove - Caitlyn and Jordan Married

Photo by: Amber Lowe Photo

Amber Lowe Photo

Although you aren't likely to take your own photos, you might have a friend you're thinking of asking, but don't. "I’d rather have someone skip flowers and food than skip a good professional photographer," Annie says. "There is nothing worse than seeing a bride and groom disappointed in the outcome of the photos. It's your wedding. You can't hit rewind."

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