Keep it Minimal Every bride starts off saying, “We're going to keep it simple.” Nine months later, they’ve got 20 things to set up on each and every table. Consider that it takes 3 to 5 minutes to set each element. So for table runner, centerpiece, and candles, that's 12 to 15 minutes per table. If you've got 20 tables, that's going to take a while. Once you’ve found a great idea, check the wedding boards on The Knot or search wedding blogs to see if someone else has done it and read their advice. Send a message to that Pinterest user to get more information. Email the product seller and get specifics about equipment required and set up instructions. Just remember, that the more you add, the more help will be required.
Keep it Light Heavy accessories like glass jars, wood discs, stones, and corn hole games are hard to transport, set up, and pack up. Consider how you're going to move these things in and out. They also require more time to set up. Make sure the venue has hand carts, and that they will allow you extra time to load in and out. If they will let you bring the heavy stuff ahead of time, even better. And if you are depending on someone who is in the wedding to do this, they are going to need time to go home and shower after. It’s hard to look you best after moving 150 bricks! Hiring some extra labor works best.
Keep It Low If you plan to make and hang banners, garlands, lanterns, or lights, be warned that these are major installations that take a lot of extra time. First, check with your venue before ordering. I can't tell you how many times brides have come with bunches of hanging items only to find that staple guns or nails are not allowed. Or there are no ladders, scissors, or hammers to be found. Perhaps the desired effect could be accomplished with something easier -- just one cluster of lanterns hung from a center chandelier, or canned lights that are easily plugged into a wall to project light or color onto the ceiling. This is one area where a rental or décor company might be the best – and safest option. Hungover groomsmen on ladders=bad idea.
DIY Flowers You went to the florist and returned with a bit of sticker shock. So you decided to do the flowers yourself. After all, there are fresh flowers available in the grocery store, the farmer’s market, even online. How hard could it be? Well, it’s not hard, if you have time. And space to work. And tools to work with. It’s not as simple as just plopping some flowers in a mason jar. The flowers need to be sorted, cut, and arranged in a pleasing way. I’ve found that it takes 15-20 minutes to do one arrangement. Bouquets and boutonnieres take even longer. Flowers are perishable, so you can’t do them too far ahead. And sometimes the beautiful pink roses you saw at Sam’s in January just aren’t there in July. (BTW, the quality of grocery store flowers is also undependable.) Then there’s the cleanup. Who is going to remove all the water, vases, and flowers at the end of the night? That being said, it can be fun to have a flower arranging party with your girls the day before the wedding. Western North Carolina is blessed with some great cut-your-own flower farms. But if Aunt Betsy has planned a bridal shower for Friday, you may not have time to do both. You definitely won’t have time day of. Does it really save money? Well, to be honest with you, by the time you order all the supplies (at full retail price), DIY flower projects can be costly. So be sure you are taking this on because you love, love, love the idea, and not just to save money. And consider using a florist for at least part of the décor, and DIY the rest. Most are happy to compromise.
Free Favors or Favor Free? The whole favor thing is sometimes blown out of proportion. Remember, a favor is simply a small token of thanks to the guest for coming to your wedding. It does not have to be big, or practical, or useful. It's no thanks to require your guest to carry some heavy jar, plant, or, God forbid, fish, home with them. If you must create this type or favor, don’t make one for every guest. Wedding guests are favored out – many just won’t take them. It’s better to make simple favors, like a fabric square filled with candy, or a chocolate bar with a personalized wrapper. The time and money spent to create and set up 100 favors might be better spent on décor. Just be sure to thank your guests in person at the event, and in your thank you notes.
The Y in DIY Remember that on the day of the wedding you will be busy getting ready, getting your hair done, getting dressed, getting photos, and, hopefully, getting to hang out with your friends and family. You cannot be the You in Do-it-Yourself on the big day. Relying on family or friends to do it is not fair to them, either. You'll need a day of coordinator or a team of hired hands to do it for you.
One Last Piece of Advice My friend Beth Stickle, florist and owner of Bloomin’ Art, tells a funny story about DIY from her own wedding. She and her fiancé decided to save some money on rental costs by picking up and setting up the ceremony chairs themselves. Because they would not have time to do this the day of the wedding, they asked their friends to stay after the rehearsal to help. So they set up the folding chairs in a lovely spot by a lake and took off. Next morning they returned to find a flock of geese had enjoyed the new “roosts” overnight. And the friends? Too hung over to make it to the early morning set up session. “So instead of spending my morning decorating for my wedding and getting dressed, I spent it cleaning goose sh** off 200 chairs. Not pretty.” Something to think about!