Love the idea of putting the personal touch into your big day? Wedding stylist, Toria has some words of wisdom, before you go all glue guntastic…
“When I hear the term ‘DIY wedding’, my brain involuntarily throws up an image of a bride in her full wedding outfit, holding both an electric drill and a glue gun. She has a look of pure, if alarming, concentration on her face, and there are hints of the hysterical about her. It would be comical if it weren’t entirely possible that this figure exists somewhere out there.
“And as much as the image of DIY weddings has moved on from decorating mason jars and (thankfully) shrugged off the “arts and crafts” label, there still seems to be a feeling that only certain couples have DIY weddings.
“This is simply not true. Everyone has a DIY wedding; it’s just that some are further along the spectrum than others.
“From one end of the scale, where you are determined to do every single item on the to-do list yourself, to the other end, where selecting the most comprehensive service in a wedding planner’s suite is the natural choice for you, every couple has to contribute to the process. Even with the best will in the world, a wedding planner cannot – and will not – make all the decisions on behalf of their couples. They cannot, for example, establish how much you are willing to spend on said wedding, or name all the friends and relatives who you wish to invite. They can help control your budget, yes, and they can hone your guest list with your permission, but they cannot know your family tree or understand the subtle nuances that make your particular families tick along. In short, they will still require your input; you will still have to Do [this part] Yourself.
“What they will do, however, is save you time. Huge, bucketloads full of time. And this is essentially what you are paying them for. Skill? Yes. Insider knowledge and a web of trusted contacts? Yes. But mainly, time. It is no secret that most couples cannot fathom the costs of the wedding industry (and I’ll agree that there are some jokers out there), but a lot of the costs can be attributed very easily to the amount of time these suppliers take to deliver their work. And to quote Benjamin Franklin: ‘Time is money.’
“However, if you are one of those lucky souls, who has the time, or is willing to make the time, to work on your wedding planning, then you can absolutely save money by Doing [more] Yourself. And if you happen to be a fan of research (and I mean reading through a lot of literature both online and offline, and not becoming hypnotised by Instagram for an hour and coming away from the computer feeling like you have done some work), then that is certainly half the battle. And if, furthermore, you are also partial to bargain hunting, and travelling around to source the perfect and most inexpensive props and suppliers, then going full-out DIY is going to be great fun for you!
“But if you are not so keen on the research element, and if the idea of reaching out to multiple outlets and suppliers fills you with dread, then it may be wise to come slightly further away from the hardcore end of the DIY spectrum. It’s not that you necessarily need to call in a planner, but your budget should perhaps be spent on the areas that you do not naturally find so easy, or for which you do not wish to learn an entirely new skill set. In essence, play to your strengths. Not great at graphic design? Outsource your stationery. Want mismatching cutlery but don’t want to spend hours in charity shops or hanging out at auction houses? Outsource your prop hire. Have great ideas, but wouldn’t describe yourself as a details person when it comes to creative work? Call in a stylist.
“Whichever end of the scale you lean more towards, it is imperative that you give away as much of the to-do list to other people in the final week leading up to the wedding date. Even if you enjoyed jaunting around the country looking at venues, and take great pride in your new-found calligraphy skills, you do not want to be the person who is having to scroll through multiple accommodation sites to find rooms for your cousin who you thought wasn’t coming and who now is, and is bringing a plus one, but didn’t RSVP to say so, and then broke up with them and now needs a single room not a double one. That is Doing [too much] Yourself.
“And as a final note of caution, never, ever underestimate how long all the little details take to set up on the day. Those personalised touches that communicate your story to your guests (which is often the reason that couples set out on the DIY trail to begin with) are usually the most time-consuming. Don’t believe me? Try tying a single piece of ribbon around 180 pairs of knives and forks. That is a task that you definitely don’t want to Do Yourself.”
Top advice from Toria! Will you be going the full DIY route? Christina x
Wedding stylist Toria Clarke-Adair runs Arrow and Twine from her home in Aberdeenshire, and loves nothing more than helping couples create an individual, personal style for their day. From sourcing off-beat props from salvage yards to helping brides who have reached peak wedmin burnout, she loves everything about planning a wedding.
Photos copyright of Suzanne Li