The Truth About Wedding DIY - 12 Tips for Sanity

DIY wedding cake with flowers

I'm going to apologize up front to Martha Stewart, Pinterest and the other agents of the do-it-yourself movement. This post contains the wedding DIY dirty little secrets that few are willing to talk about. The secrets behind the beautiful photos. The truth about the time and effort that it takes to truly do things for yourself, and, do them for your wedding. This is the truth about wedding DIY. What it takes to pull of DIY projects for your wedding, your bridal shower, your engagement party and every celebration in between your engagement and your big wedding day!

Pinterest and the DIY wedding bloggers out there have some amazing projects, but there are a few (OK a lot!) of things that you need to know before you start any DIY project for your wedding! These are all the DIY secrets that no one will tell you to your face as you are making the 100th trip to Michaels and ordering more and more supplies off of Amazon! Read on for the best advice for wedding DIY projects that you need to read before getting started.

bride wearing DIY floral wedding garter

I'm The DIY Queen

Why me?? My life is one big DIY project. From hemming my jeans to knitting Christmas presents, to making invitations for parties, to taking care of my daughter (Do you know that they just let you take babies home from the hospital? No instructions. Nothing!) to painting furniture, to making some sort of dinner each night (my DIY list is endless, by the way!), I'm always trying to do things myself before I'll ask for help. Sometimes to a fault.

Sometimes, I come up with some real DIY gems, like the creation of my stylish wedding garter company. I started The Garter Girl after I couldn't find a garter that was pretty and feminine and stylish like my friend, so I just made it myself. This was a DIY project gone right - for me!

For my own wedding, I made quite a few DIY projects. We designed and printed our own save-the-date invitations. We designed and printed the "to do" on the wedding weekend cards that were inserted into the wedding invitations. We designed and printed our wedding ceremony programs. Some of these projects I really wanted to do and some of them I was forced to do because I was too late to have it done professionally. 

The Truth About Wedding DIY Projects

I've learned a few things along the way and I want to pass on a few kernels of knowledge to brides, bridesmaids, mothers of the bride and anyone else attempting to DIY projects for their wedding instead of hiring a professional. I don't care if the project for your wedding is to print your own invitations, sew your own wedding dress, make soap as a wedding favor for all 200 wedding guests, DIY your bridal bouquet or bake your own wedding cake - everyone, regardless of DIY skill level, needs to pay attention! The list of possible wedding DIY projects is endless!

These are tips from someone who has been there and done that when it comes to wedding DIY projects!

This is the raw truth from one bride to another! 

DIY wedding welcome gifts

12 Tips for Wedding DIY Sanity:

1.) Start Early

Nothing will kill a wedding DIY project faster than not starting early enough. Starting early gives you enough time to experiment, redo and get it right, or give it up and hire someone. It is a given that your project will take longer than expected. I'm classic for waiting until the last minute to start my projects, so don't beat yourself up too much if you are up the entire night before the big day. Just remember that I told you so!

2.) Plan Ahead

I usually DIY not because I don't want to pay for things, but because I'm usually so last minute with my decisions that it is too late for me to ask someone to do it for me. (Well, that and i really like the challenge of DIY!) If you are getting married or planning a party, spend some time looking through Pinterest, blogs and magazines in advance of your event.

Really think about the specific things that you want included in your big day, so that you can plan ahead for the things that you are going to hire out and those that you are going to DIY. 

Don't do like I do and wait until the last minute (aka the week before your wedding) to decide you want to hand pour custom scented candles as a wedding favor for all of your wedding guests!

3.) Make A List, Set A Schedule

If you are DIY-ing for a big event or your wedding, make a list of all of the things that you want to do yourself and then set a schedule. Include on your schedule all the little, nitty gritty details like going to the craft store, gluing rhinestones and folding paper.

Once you see all the items down on your schedule, you can get a grasp for what it is going to take to accomplish your DIY project, and you can plan accordingly.

If your list is really big, you might consider budgeting out a few hours one night a week to work on your projects preferably well before your wedding!

4.) It Never Works Out Like You Plan

Once you get into a DIY project for your wedding and really start putting the pieces together, it never goes how you envision it in your head (or those amazing pictures on Pinterest!), even if you have the best directions.

Inevitably, the glue won't stick, or the paper cutter isn't cutting straight enough, or the icing is melting all over the place, or the printer color isn't just right or you can't find enough of the right material, or the yeast isn't rising properly on the bread!

Whatever the issue, know that the unexpected will happen when it comes to DIY projects, especially when it comes to your wedding.

If this is a project that you really want to do for your wedding, the best thing to do when problems arise is to just keep at it! Don't give up until you are satisfied! (This is another reason why it is so important to start early and make a list!)

On the bright side, some of my best DIY efforts are the result of some major trial and error.

5.) Multiple Trips To The Craft Store Are A Given

As referenced in wedding DIY tip #4, things never work out as you plan. You will have to go back to the craft store or order more items off of Amazon to get something you forgot or to make up for something that didn't go according to plan. Hence, why waiting until the last minute (or the week before your wedding!) is not good when it comes to DIY projects!

6.) Don't Skimp On Product

As you are budgeting for certain items for your wedding DIY projects, be it pieces of paper, ribbon, sugar, flour, wax, whatever, always get more than you think you will need to complete the project.

You will mess up and you will want to start over. Save yourself the time on the back end and get extra materials to start with. Most importantly, as you go along with your wedding DIY project, you will get better and better, so much so that those first few items that you made will not be great, and you are going to want to ditch them.

Getting extra materials for a few spares is key. On the flip side of getting extras, remember to save your receipts so you can return what you didn't use after your wedding.

DIY wedding floral garter

7.) Get Help

If it is big DIY project for your wedding like stuffing the envelopes for your wedding invitations, have someone help you, especially if it is last minute. if you are a bride staying up the night before your wedding folding your wedding ceremony programs that isn't good for anyone.

Enlist the help of those bridesmaids you so dearly love or your partner, a friend or anyone who is willing to help you out!

Also, don't micromanage the help for your wedding DIY projects. If you ask people to help you complete your DIY projects like sealing your wedding invitation envelops or icing your cookie favors, show them what you want and then trust that they will do it right. Sometimes, especially when it comes to DIY wedding projects like baking hundreds of mini cupcakes, done is better than perfect! Only you are the ultra-perfectionist who will notice if the line isn't perfectly straight on the wedding ceremony programs! Get over it and move on!

And, make sure you say THANK YOU to the helpers!

8.) DIY Doesn't Always Save Money

Do an honest cost-benefit analysis before you just jump into a project for your wedding. Ultimately, you should be DIY-ing because you WANT to do it and you enjoy the challenge or you are a crafter and you just love projects, like me! You shouldn't always do DIY projects for your wedding, because you want to save money.

Many times, there isn't much price difference between DIY-ing and hiring a professional. It is expensive to buy all the flowers for your bouquet and for your reception tables and the ceremony alter. It is price to buy all the jars to put the home made granola to make as a wedding favor. It is super pricey to make 50 welcome bags for your guest staying in hotels for your wedding!

The headaches and hours of your time lost will more than make up for the extra money.

Make sure that you are DIY-ing for your wedding for the right reasons. Strongly consider other ways to cut costs for your wedding rather than immediately turning to DIY.

9.) It Isn't The Thought That Counts

When it comes to gift giving, it is most certainly the thought that counts. But, not when it comes to DIY wedding projects. You don't get an "A" just for the effort! If the 20 pies that you bakes for the pie bar at your wedding aren't good, your guests will notice! If the candles favors don't smell good or if the flowers start to wilts because you don't know what you are doing - your wedding guests will notice and do you will you!

If you aren't 100 percent happy with the DIY product you put out there for your wedding, it will bother you and eat at you until you fix it or get rid of it. So, when it comes to wedding DIY projects and how-to's save yourself the distraction and either don't do the project or follow my tips to help save yourself the personal drama.

10.) DIY Isn't Always Fun

Sure, the end product is something that you can and should be proud of, like 200 baggies of your favorite trail mix as a favor for your wedding guests. But, sometimes in the thick of production for your DIY wedding projects you are annoyed and hating your project.

Sugar coating 100 batches of almonds, and tying ribbon around 200 boxes is tedious and takes a lot of time.

When you are tired, step back and take a break. Come back to it later and do your best to power through. Avoid getting sloppy at the end, just to get the project done.

Most of the time, you are the hardest judge. Wait to see the final product put together before honestly assessing it. You really need to wait until all the pieces are in place to make an analysis.

DIY wedding cake with flowers

11.) Be Honest

They (you know who i'm talking about!) make DIY look so easy and simple, I know. The Martha Stewarts of the world and the DIY wedding bloggers all over Pinterest and those cute little projects that you see in wedding magazines or at the craft store, seem soooooo easy and the picture is so gorgeous!

If you aren't crafty in other areas of your life is your wedding or your best friend's bridal shower really the time to start being craft? Maybe it is. And, good for you, have at it!

Maybe your wedding isn't the best time to get all crafy and you are better off having someone else make your wedding invitations or your homemade soap wedding favors. Or just skipping the project all together! It is OK to miss out on somethings for your wedding - you don't have to have every little thing to make it an amazing and special day for you and your partner and your friends and family!

Your bridesmaids will still love you even if you didn't bake them a custom cake to ask them to be your bridesmaid! A simple hand written note can be just as special, if not more! Your family will still love you even if you don't send spend hours folding paper fans for your wedding ceremony outside on a hot day. Your friends will never notice that you didn't bake 200 cookies as a wedding favor!

If DIY-ing isn't your thing, don't be sucked into the craze and the seemingly simpleness of projects because, my friends, DIY is never what it seems, which leads me to my last tip for wedding DIY sanity...

12.) DIY Pictures Don't Tell The Truth

You see a beautiful picture of a DIY wedding project on Pineterst and you think: how hard could that be? It will be fine to hand tie 400 bells onto these fans for our wedding ceremony exit. No problem!

I get it. I've been there.

The truth about wedding DIY projects and their photos is that many of those pictures are staged and they took a 1,000 photos just to get one or two that would look decent. They aren't showing you all the mistakes and the trails and the projects that ended up in the trash.

The DIY wedding bloggers and wedding magazine writers aren't letting onto the fact that they are probably a professional DIY-er who has many of the supplies on-hand or that they are used to making things because it is their job! What is easy to them might not be easy to the rest of the world!

I'm not saying that there aren't amazing, well-crafted DIY wedding projects out there. I'm saying that the pictures only show the end product (even in the pictures of the directions), not the labor that it took to get there.


So, that's it! Those are my tips for wedding DIY sanity and the truth about going it alone for wedding projects. It was kind of hard to limit it only 12 pieces of advice for taking on a DIY project for your wedding. maybe i'll have to do follow up post…!?

Good luck and happy doing-it-yourself for your wedding! I hope that you find sanity and joy in the wedding project to-do list!