I think it's important that we set realistic goals for ourselves especially when planning a wedding. When I look back on what we tried to wiggle ourselves into (i.e. do it yourself projects) I can't help but laugh because I have absolutely no idea what we were thinking. It's funny how you see something in the store or in a photo and think, "OMG, look at this! This would be so easy - we can totally do this!" Yea, except a lot of the times you can't. There are hundreds of entire websites dedicated to this very concept and Pinterest has made it worse. I know that most of us have been there, but when you are in high stress mode and pressuring yourself to budget with ideas of DIY in mind you need to be careful. Be prepared for the realization that what you want to make versus what you will ultimately end up with might be very different things.
My Mom, husband and I had this vision that we could do so much of our decor ideas on our own. Hours and hours of hard work went into the smallest of details to make our big day perfect.
We became constant patrons at Paper Source (one of our favorite wedding prep stores) where we purchased paper, funky scissors, envelopes, and found inspiration by trolling through their example books. :) My husband is very skilled at creating designs for those sort of things, however, even without those skills there are lots of templates that can be found online- all it takes is a printer, good ink, thick paper, downloading some neat fonts from the internet and sizing everything up right. It doesn't have to be overly complicated.
The other things we focused on were reception and cocktail hour decor. To do this we turned to what we had. For example, we turned an old dresser cabinet into a place to store programs during the ceremony. This took two colors of Martha Stewart paint, painter’s tape, and Anthropologie knobs and finished! Banners are also super easy to make. Visit Hobby Lobby and buy the fabric, cut it and hot glue it to whatever fabric you want. Utilizing inexpensive finds to fit with your needs is another strategy. For instance, we painted two old doors bright yellow and used them to hold our photos. To really make a statement at cocktail hour, my amazing mother made tablecloths for each table (20?) in Vista West Ranch's Biergarten. None of these things happened over night. It may be time consuming, but it was perfect and got us the look we wanted.
Other projects of course were serious failures. I won't get into project specifics but I will say that we made multiple trips to the hardware store, made large messes and royally ruined the projects we were working on. :)
After months and months of constantly working on these smaller, aforementioned projects we began focusing on the big picture.
Flowers are an expensive decor element and at some point, one of us had the brilliant idea to do our own floral arrangements (I'm pretty sure this was me...). I signed mom and myself up for a local DIY floral workshop, so we could learn how make our own centerpieces. I don't know what I expected to happen during that $200 2-hour workshop, but what I ended up with was a floral arrangement consisting of six cream roses wrapped together and placed in a mason jar. Nothing else, no other frills, no talk of varied heights or varied florals or ways of making these pieces bigger or more impressive. It was just six cream roses in a mason jar. On the car ride home, mom and I were discussing the workshop and trying to decide how this would work if we did it ourselves. I could feel the panic rising up my back as we discussed the logistics of DIY florals. We would need to bulk order whatever florals we decided on. This opened up it’s own can of worms. What type of flowers? How many? Searching high and low for glassware and props for each table setting, make bouquets, boutonnières, aisle/ceremony decorations, and centerpieces all the day before my wedding with no cooler. It was then that I realized what my biggest fear was for my wedding... walking down the steps into the reception hall and having this feeling of dread because we decided to take too many short cuts. I could see this amazing space, naked with sad flowers and pitiful arrangements. All of the work that we had put into our big day would be wasted. If the place that’s supposed to have the WOW factor doesn't WOW then what’s the point? As fun as the idea was to go out and buy a bunch of glassware/props for our tables or learn how to make flower arrangements or me having a breakdown sounded, there came a point where we just had to hand things over to professionals. So we made concessions, realized that we were not mini Martha Stewart's - we were just us and called in someone who knew what they were doing.
They say it takes a village. For us this was our florist and event designer, Petal Pushers, who took over the final stages and was able to complete the look and bring everything together beautifully. With just a snap of my fingers the problem was solved. This freed up enough time to allow us to make a giant Jenga game, corn holes, directional signs and more DIY stuff. These items just added to the awesomeness of our wedding. We were able to recognize that we had hit a stopping point to our skill level when it came to flowers and I think it's very important to listen to yourself when you reach that point. Whether your big issue comes with planning, inspiration needs, or florals, go forth with the best of DIY intentions and know your limits. If you hit a hard place, ask for help.
Photo Credit: Nathan Russell Photography