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DIY Weddings: How Much Should You Take On?

Should you ever DIY any part of your wedding? The answer is a little more complicated than a simple yes or no. It depends on your budget, your skillset, and a realistic look at how much you can take on before your big day.

The most important thing to remember is that doing something yourself–or asking a loved one to take on the task–should never, ever be a purely financial decision. If you think that you’ll save money by going the DIY route, you might be sorely disappointed. Not only are materials often more expensive than you think, but the time and pressure can take a real toll on you during an already stressful time.

We’ve ranked wedding DIY projects from the most doable to things that only a true expert should take on.

Music

The easiest do-it-yourself wedding task is the music. While there’s real value provided by a live band or DJ, including the ability to read the room and adjust the playlist accordingly, you can get away with Spotify and some really good speakers. Make sure that you’ve paid for an ad-free service, queue up your favorite tracks, and press play. Be prepared for technical difficulties, however. Murphy’s Law seems to apply double to weddings, so if something can go wrong, it will.

Wedding Favors

Depending on the type of favors you want to have at your wedding, going the DIY route could be a good choice. This is really a case of calculating time versus cost. If you want mini Mason jars stuffed with candy and tied with purple ribbons, then the biggest challenge isn’t the skill involved but the labor. Making a hundred (or three) favors by hand will take longer than you think. Enlist help or plan to get started way, way earlier so that you’re not rushing.

Invitations

While a traditional wedding invitation, handwritten in beautiful calligraphy, adds a certain class to your celebration, DIY alternatives are out there. It’s not that difficult or expensive to get custom printed pieces online. What is difficult, though, is designing an invitation or save-the-date card that actually looks good. If you’ve never done any kind of graphic design, then this might not be the time to start. (It’s tacky to ask a professional friend to design it for free, by the way.) Another factor? The labor of stuffing, addressing, and mailing all those envelopes. Are you sure you don’t want to hire someone to do it for you?

Flowers

Are you a florist? If the answer is “no,” then proceed with caution. You might be able to tie a simple bouquet or boutonnieres, but it might not look quite as Pinterest-worthy as you hoped. As for decorating your venue with DIY floral arrangements, we’d advise against it. There’s a lot of planning and prep involved to ensure that those blooms look as fresh as possible on the big day.

Jewelry

Wearing a handmade piece of jewelry can be a wonderful way to celebrate a special person in your life. However, where some folks go awry is by seeing a picture of a stunning piece of jewelry and thinking, “I could probably make that myself for a lot less money.” As with the floral arrangements, unless you (or a loved one) has a lot of experience working in a similar style to the piece you want, then you are better off just buying it already finished.

Photography

One of the most common wedding horror stories is finding out that you have no decent pictures or video. Sometimes, this is because the “pro” you hired lacked the skills to take the kind of pictures you wanted. More often, this happens when a couple decides to cut corners. You might think that anyone can get a decent picture on their phone these days, so why bother spending hundreds of dollars on a professional? For one thing, if you task one of your guests with being your photographer, then they won’t get to enjoy your wedding. For another, you probably won’t end up with the kind of pictures you want to frame on your wall.

Oh, and as with pretty much every other DIY project on this list, please don’t ask a loved one who makes money as a photographer to shoot your wedding as a favor.

Wedding Cake

Is it technically possible to bake your own wedding cake? Yes. Is it a good idea? Probably not. Even if you’re a very talented baker, it comes down to timing. Do you have the bandwidth to bake a multi-layered cake, assemble it with proper boards and doweling, and decorate it to a professional standard? This is a multi-day process, and there are so many possible ways it could go horribly, horribly wrong. We’d advise not risking it.

Reception Catering

Take everything that could go wrong with baking your wedding cake and multiply it by a thousand. If you’ve ever tried to cook a holiday meal for 10 people, then you know that it can be a stressful and exhausting mess. Realistically, unless you’re having a very small ceremony or already own a professional restaurant kitchen, then catering your own reception is never a good idea. If you simply don’t have the budget to pay for a formal sit-down meal, then change your plans. DIY-ing this one won’t save you money.

Your Dress??

Making your own wedding dress (or suit) is so far beyond the scope of most folks that it wouldn’t even cross their minds. If you’re a professional garment maker, then maybe you could take on this project. For most of us, this is a job that needs to be left to the professionals. That includes alterations on a purchased dress, too. Your cousin who owns a sewing machine is not a great alternative to a professional tailor.

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