Are you looking for some expert DIY wedding tips to make sure your day goes off flawlessly? According to this article in The New York Times "Offline, D.I.Y. Weddings Aren't So Picture Perfect," you're not the only one. Doing a DIY wedding by yourself can be stressful, and we've all heard the DIY wedding horror stories: not enough drinks (particularly on a hot summer's day), seriously delayed wedding ceremonies (as in hours), and I've even heard about a tented wedding in a grass field without bathrooms (just a minor oversight, right?). According to the BBQ caterer I heard the sans bathroom story from, even the grandmother had to "pop a squat." Yikes!
But here's the thing, the vast majority of DIY weddings I see are absolutely beautiful, wonderful celebrations, and are definitely not the hot messes that many people assume DIY weddings to be. And, as a wedding coordinator, I see a lot of them.
Are there little bumps and surprises at DIY weddings? Yes, of course. Is the average number of these mini crises at DIY weddings likely higher than other weddings at traditional wedding venues with a full team of professional vendors? Yes, of course. But does that mean that DIY weddings in general are a bad idea? Absolutely not.
If you're going the DIY route and are worried about things not being "picture perfect," here are tips to keep your wedding on track.
1. Keep your expectations in line with your budget
Things can run amok when a couple has champagne taste on a beer budget, because too much money is spent on the champagne, and not enough is spent on other things like water, ice, and cups (all of which are relatively boring, but much more essential for a large event). The very best, most organized DIY weddings are when the couple is well aware of what their budget can and cannot buy, and prioritize accordingly.
2. Speaking of that — prioritize
Think through what things are essential to holding a large event, and spend just as much — if not more — time planning those things as you do picking out bridesmaid dresses, centerpieces, and other wedding items. Likely, no one is going to think back on the wedding and remember the bridesmaids' dresses 10 years from now, but they may remember if they got to the buffet and there was no food, and they had to go to McDonald's on the way home.
3. Do your research
Before committing to DIY some aspect of the wedding (like for instance, handling reception music with an iPod), learn what that really means. What equipment will you need to rent or buy? Who will move the equipment from the ceremony to the reception space? It's only when you've fully thought something through that you are really prepared to DIY it.
4. When soliciting help, keep it to a minimum
Family and friends are often the saving graces of DIY weddings and are often the reason DIY weddings are a beautiful coming together of community. In most cases, though, there is a tipping point where people helping too much can begin to feel tired, stressed, and ragged. Prevent that by either divvying up the work more, or deciding to cut back on the work that needs to be done.
5. Always take the simplest route possible
Weddings — DIY or otherwise, but certainly DIY — are a lot of work. During the days leading up to the wedding, you will likely have more than enough to keep you and a few of your nearest and dearest very busy, so whenever possible, keep it simple. This includes doing DIY floral centerpieces and other DIY projects such as guest books, seating assignments, and all the other details you could easily get bogged down in if you let yourself. Remember that in most cases, less is more.
6. Let go of the idea that a wedding needs to be picture perfect
If you and your partner are married, and everyone had an awesome time at your wedding (and by "everyone," I particularly mean you and your partner), it's OK if everything did not go exactly as you expected it to. As long as you've done your planning thoroughly, you'll be in great shape. Using the tips above is a great start, and you may also want to check out our DIY Wedding Planner's Guide for a little extra guidance. "Perfect" is a really challenging goal to meet, and sets you up for disappointment if one thing is off ever so slightly. I say strive for "pretty darn amazing" instead. Plus, it's way more fun than trying for perfect.
For more wedding ideas, check out Bustle on YouTube.