Wednesday, October 12, 2011

KC's Eight Simple Tips for DIY Weddings

One more month and life will be back to normal. No more party planning.  No more (hopefully) sleepless nights from stress.  Paychecks that will actually stick around for a while instead of being pre-spent on some wedding-ey necessity. And the best part...I will be a Mrs. instead of a Ms. 

That being said, here are some things I learned about DIY wedding planning that may help keep you sane when it's your turn to plan your own special day (or for that day you get roped into helping somebody else plan theirs).

1. Be prepared for sticker shock. Weddings are expensive. (I know-Obvious statement of the century!)  You start planning out things like favors and napkins thinking, "Oh, these would be great and their only xxx cents/dollars.  Fantastic!"  And then you realize that you have to multiply that by the number of guests (100 in my case) and your great idea might not seem so great any more when you see the final price tag.  Don't get discouraged though, because it still may BE a great deal in comparison with other options or you may be able to pair down one aspect of it and it'll end up costing less. Shop around before deciding on anything.

2. Make a monthly schedule for spending. If I had to pick only one thing I did brilliantly during this process, making a plan for our spending was just that.  Put together a list of all the things you think you need, even if you don't know exactly what they'll look like, as soon as you possibly can after getting engaged. Know you want centerpieces but haven't decided if they'll be roses, orchids, or daisies?  Put it on the list.  Need a building to get married in--church or otherwise?  Put it on the list.  Then, sort out major purchases, like the expenses for the venue, and space them out on the calendar between now and the date you're getting married.  Place the expenses for all the little stuff in between the larger items.  That way, the payments will be spread out and you won't be emptying your bank account in one full swoop the week before your wedding.  As an aside, it also helps should the disasterous happen.  6 months into our planning, Nick lost his job.  At that point, I had enough wedding supplies hoarded away and FULLY paid for, that we could have still held our wedding had he not found another job right away.  And because I had spaced out the payments for those items, we still had enough in the bank to meet living expenses for those couple of months he was out of work.  Bonus:  It's a good habit to get into after you're married and paying bills together!

3. Make a space. Be it a rubbermaid container, a closet, a cardboard box--make one area for all your wedding related items and only your wedding related items.  They won't get lost and you can better protect them from everyday dirt, hairy beasties (i.e. naughty dachshunds on the loose) and/or little hands.  Keep all your reciepts together, and put paperwork for any vendors in a dedicated folder or notebook.  It makes things a lot easier when a vendor calls you out of the blue and you have to look up information, you have to make a dispute over a payment, or if you need to return something because your plans have changed or you just bought too much. 

4. Don't get too caught up in the details. Still can't decide if you want roses or orchids for those centerpieces?  Skip it and come back to it.  Don't get so worked up you become overwhelmed. One, because in all honesty, unless your plan is something way over the top, nobody is going to remember which flower you picked a month after you're married anyhow and two, you never know when something else will spark an idea for you. For example, I chose a dark turquoise color for my bridesmaid's dress.  The color was nearly impossible to match.  I was having a hard time choosing flowers for Kellie because I was afraid of them blending in (and not being seen when held against the dress) or clashing with that same color.  I decided to skip it and start working on my own bouquet.  For myself, I choose a white orchid with pink edging around the throat. That same shade of pink is what ended up being the color we went with for the bridesmaid's bouquet. It is something I NEVER would have thought to choose on it's own, but it turns out it looks fabulous when paired with that turquoise.

5. Be realistic in your expectations of the groom.  He may want to help out everywhere, or if he's like Nick, even something as simple as getting an opinion is like pulling teeth. (Hello, cake flavors??) If he's not willing to help, don't force him.  It just makes more headaches for you when you have to go back and re-do the task you assigned him.  Is he unhappy with your plans after-the-fact?  Tough.  If he didn't want to chime in when you asked him the first 6 times, he doesn't get veto power once YOU've made an executive decision, so as to get something done. (Unless you're being completely unreasonable of course...but that's another matter all together.) It's his day too, so give him the opportunity to help, but respect it if he just wants to bow out and let you take over.

6. Enlist help wherever you can get itEven if it's just for ideas. One of my great resources in planning was my MOHS group on Ravelry.  The ladies in that knitting group were wonderful to bounce ideas off of, and one is even sending me a bunch of lights to help decorate our reception!  (Yay for re-using and spending less money!)  Our plan for favors?  Given to me by one of the MOHS ladies.  You never know who will give you a great plan, or be willing to volunteer time or materials to help you out.  Just ask! (P.S.  A special thank you to all my Rav girls!  You rock!)

7. Know when to hire a pro and when to DIY.  Even if it's something you can do yourself.  Do you really want to?  I had originally planned to make these cute paper flowers to use in our centerpieces.  I could have done it, and at a reasonable price, but after folding only 2 in an hour and seeing how many more I still needed, I lost interest really quickly.  For just a little bit more money, I was able to get help from the floral designer at work.  My flowers look even better and I now have all that time I can be using for something else.  The flip side is knowing where you can save a few bucks by investing your own time.  For me, that was the wedding cake.  I've taken the Wilton cake decorating courses at work and I'm confident in my abilities to make the cake I've always wanted for my wedding.  The same thing from a professional bakery would probably run close to a thousand bucks (or more).  I refuse to drop that kind of cash, so I'm doing it myself. It all boils down to what you're more comfortable with and where your priorities lie.  If hiring a pro will give you peace of mind, it's money well spent in such a stressful period of your life.

8. Finally, Don't forget planning is supposed to be fun. Stop and take a breath every once in a while and remember what you're planning for.  That's right...the happiest day of your life.  It's a celebration for you and your soon to be husband.  If planning is stressing you out too much, make a date night with your boy and vow NOT to talk about anything wedding related.  It will give you a little perspective when you get back to it.  Enjoy it since the goal is to only do it once forever and ever.

So those are my tips.  Have any more suggestions for Brides to be?

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