Weddings are a large expense, and the wedding industry works hard to perpetuate the idea that weddings need to be large, custom-made, and expensive in order to be great. The term “DIY”, which stands for Do It Yourself, has a somewhat negative connotation in wedding-related manners; it brings up either thoughts of poorly-made items due to not being a “crafty” person, or a ton of stress related to the DIY process being time-consuming. Many people assume that they can’t incorporate DIY into their own weddings as a way of cutting costs because they don’t consider themselves to be “crafty” people. Push all of those negative thoughts right out of your head – DIY is not only an option for those who are skilled in the crafty arts. There are many different options for the bride who doesn’t consider themselves creative or crafty which don’t require training in a particular trade.
Stationary is one of the easiest areas to put your own unique style in your wedding, as well as make your own materials according to your needs, thanks to the new digital technologies that are available. If you or a friend is comfortable with a computer and programs such as Photoshop, you can make your own graphics to be used thematically throughout your wedding paper materials. (Of course, you can also hire a graphic designer as well; put up ads at your local college design department to look for students wanting to build up their portfolio!) Not so computer graphic savvy? Not to worry, you can still use your computer! Paper printing websites, such as overnightprints.com and vistaprints.com offer easy-to-use design templates to personalize for your needs. A great way of using these websites is to create Save the Date postcards; they look professional, and you can print as many as 100 for around $30. You can also use the printing websites for other stationary needs to maintain a theme, such as creating custom postcards to serve as the invitations, matching business cards for your RSVPs, and brochures for the wedding programs!
Another digitally-designed option is to create a personalized photo guestbook. Sites like kodakgallery.com, snapfish.com, and shutterfly.com offer hardcover photo books in multiple sizes for very reasonable prices. Pick your favorite photos of you and your love, and use the easy set-up program on the websites for the photo books. Alternate the layout styles of your pages, and leave some picture spaces blank on different pages to allow room for your guests to sign. It serves as a “yearbook” of your relationship for your guests to admire, and it allows them the room to sign something more interesting than their name.
Not interested in computer-designed products? You can still use your computer to make your own products, if you have a decent printer. You can create a very lovely invite with two different colors of cardstock and some glue. Use a light color to print the necessary information, and glue to a larger-sized, different-colored piece of cardstock. You can add interesting details by cutting the smaller cardstock piece with edging scissors, or punching the corners with decorative craft punches. (Both items are found in the scrapbooking sections of your local craft store!) Squares and rectangles are the easiest shapes to mass-produce. You can then make smaller versions for your RSVP cards, and variations on the cardstock colors for your place cards and the table numbers, simply printing the necessary information on a light-colored cardstock and attaching it to a darker-colored coordinating cardstock to make the piece stand out.
Is the aforementioned idea still a little intimidating? Many craft stores or mass general stores such as Target or Wal-Mart sell elegant and easy-to-use card kits that basically follow the same process outlined above, but they do all the cutting and trimming for you! All you need to do is print out the information on the appropriate pieces. Place cards are also simple to make on your own, as the same types of stores sell lovely blank place cards. They’re even easier if you use transparent labels you can print on to print the names of your guests – simply peel off the label and stick it on the blank space on the place card. Easy, fast, and cheaper than custom-made place cards!
Favors are one of the easiest ways to make your own without necessarily being creative! The simplest solution is to buy favor holders (look at crafts stores for shaped paper, plastic, and fabric boxes and bags to hold the favors) and edibles such as personalized M Ms;, pastel mints, or some other sort of cute candy that ties in with your wedding or themes. (Please don’t buy the Jordan Almonds… no one likes them.) Add a little personal touch with personalized ribbon to decorate your favors. Voila, done! They are simple, elegant, and a very easy crowd pleaser!
Not a fan of the edible favor? Another nice idea is a small candle and candle holder. Many garden and craft websites offer good deals on candles and candle holders in bulk. Having a garden-themed wedding? Buy flower seeds, and print out the instructions on cardstock to attach to the seed packet. (Feeling spurred to make them more personalized? This site offers an easy template for cutting out and making your own seed packets out of your own paper.) A very popular and easily personalized craft that makes a great favor is marble magnets. A great how-to can be found at Not Martha’s website. The process of marble-magnet making can be time-consuming; a tip to speed it up is to buy a circular hole punch in the ½” or ¾” size, depending on your needs (the hole punches are found in the scrapbooking section of craft stores). Not Martha also has an easy tutorial on lovely beaded wine charms – if you’re feeling ambitious or spurred by creativity, you can also make wine charms with shrinky dinks! They even make shrinky dink paper that can be printed on via a computer printer. If you’re worried about the amount of time it takes to make individual favors, make it more enjoyable and easier by asking your bridal attendants and family members to gather for a favor-making party. You provide the sustenance, and they can provide the manual labor!
Let’s face it, floral design is not the easiest thing to master even for those who consider themselves talented crafters. It’s definitely an art, and not something to be attempted by the novice crafter for such a big event. There are many non-floral options for centerpieces, though, that can be easily produced. Some of the easiest centerpieces still use vases, but fill them with alternates to flowers. The easiest way to go is to buy large single candles and surround them with marbles (either flat marbles or round ones, depending on the container). Another idea involving candles is to buy different candle heights and stack them in the center of the table to show off the various heights; this can look especially lovely on top of a mirror. Also lovely is to fill a fishbowl or vase with water, floating candle(s), and something of interest at the bottom of the container, such as marbles or a striking flower (real or fake). If you’d still like a floral element in your candle centerpiece, flower petals or individual hydrangea blossoms scattered around the centerpiece can be quite romantic. A tip: Avoid scented candles, as the scent will interfere with the smells of the food you serve.
If candles won’t work with your decor, or your venue won’t allow them, try edible centerpieces. One idea is to fill vessels of interesting shapes with colorful candies. This can be a very fun and light-hearted option, as well as solving your favors issue if you allow your guests to dig into the centerpieces at the end of the wedding. Avoid melting and sanitation issues by using candies that are individually wrapped. Look into vintage penny candy or bright pieces of hard candies in clear cellophane. An elegant edible centerpiece trend is to replace the traditional tiered wedding cake by having a decorated single-tier cake at each table for the guests to cut and serve on their own! Each cake can look a little different but use the same color scheme, or they can all be the same. (You can make the cakes multi-functional by having the table numbers written on the cake as part of the decoration!) A fun variation would be to use cupcakes in lieu of cakes; the cupcakes could also serve as a very tasty take-home favor. This is a great idea if you or a friend is a baking enthusiast.
A way to handle music yourself is also born of the technology age – the iPod DJ! Naturally, it doesn’t have to be an iPod, any portable MP3 player or a laptop computer with iTunes (or a similar program which allows the creation of playlists) will work fine. There are two ways to play the mp3 player for output: either via a mp3-player-specific speaker dock or by hooking it up to a traditional sound system. Keep in mind that doing the music yourself does require a lot of pre-planning, organizing, careful thought (as you will want to play music that appeals to you as well as your guests!), and someone to administer the music and transitions the day of the wedding. If music is really important, and you are afraid of a DJ playing the chicken dance when you requested them to not play it, then this might be an option for you. It’s not the easiest route, but it is doable. Here is an article by a wedding DJ by trade who provides tips as well as dangers of the iPod wedding.
Outsource the DIY:
You might not consider yourself to be a crafty person, but maybe you are blessed with close friends or family members who are talented artists. It certainly doesn’t hurt to ask them if they’d be willing to offer their services; many people will be flattered that you admire their talent, and will be honored to contribute to your special day. Be respectful of their skills: Don’t expect one crafty friend to do several different projects unless they offer to do so, and either offer to pay them (especially if they make their living off their talents), pay for the supplies, or ask if they will consider it as their wedding gift to you and your groom. While creating special wedding crafts can be very enjoyable, it can also be overwhelming considering the nature of the event for which the crafts are being made – it’s a very important day. Don’t be too offended if your crafty friends are afraid to take on a large creative task for you, as they probably are afraid of disappointing you if it doesn’t turn out just right. Still, it certainly never hurts to ask!
Hopefully the ideas mentioned in this article will inspire you to try to take on a few aspects of the wedding. DIY is not simply the domain of the craft fanatic. It can add a fun, unique touch to your wedding, as well as save a little money in some areas. So even if you don’t consider yourself the creative, crafty type, don’t be afraid to try a little DIY to put a special spin on your wedding day!