How to combat "DIY-er than thou": an interview with Khris Cochran, author of DIY Bride

I recently had the chance to interview Khris Cochran, author of The DIY Bride: 40 Fun Projects for Your Ultimate One-of-a-Kind Wedding and editor of diybride.com. Keep reading for her take on the projects that didn't make it into the book, how to overcome "DIY-er than thou" competitive issues, and what one project even the most enterprising of DIY brides should probably hire someone else to handle.

What's your favorite project that didn't make it into the book?
There were a few favorites that didn't make it in because they were either cost-prohibitive to the average couple or they didn't fit well into the overall tone of the book. My favorite of those, however, would have to be the bridal shoes made from an heirloom wedding gown. They were hot!

How do you suggest combating the "DIY-er than thou" frenzy that some crafty brides work themselves into?
Ah, the Dark Side of DIY! I'm seeing this competitiveness in the ranks as DIY becomes such an accepted (and expected) part of the wedding experience. Part of that competitiveness is benefiting the community by giving us some truly great DIY projects and inspiration. The other part is eating the souls of the innocent.

I'm not exactly sure what the "craftier than thou" cure is. I do know that worrying about what other people do for their weddings (or what they think of one's own) is a one-way ticket to Crazytown, USA. There will always be someone with a better idea, a larger budget, or whatever-pushes-your-insecurity-button.

One of the things I stress with brides is that DIY doesn't mean Do It ALL Yourself. It's perfectly ok to set limits on the projects they make, the money they spend, and they things include in their celebration. My best advice is to pick a few projects that are meaningful to both the bride and groom and stick with those. Do them to the best of their ability, take pride in those efforts and filter out the rest. (And stop looking at wedding craft p0rn after you finish your projects!)

What projects do you think brides shouldn't DIY?

I don't have really have a list of projects that shouldn't be attempted. Instead I try to get brides to assess if certain projects are going to be the source of added stress and problems before they decide to take them on. One bride may have a higher threshold for learning new techniques so something like silk screening her invites might work for her but it might not be appropriate for someone else who hates to get her fingers dirty or who can't reasonably afford $300 on a Gocco machine.

The "is this project for me?" assessment:

1. Do you have the extra budget to buy all of the tools and supplies for the project?
2. How much free time do you have to learn the procedure or technique to make the project?
3. Do you have enough free time to create the project without killing yourself?
4. Do you have reliable helpers to help design, assemble, or deliver/set-up the project?
5. Can you let go of perfection, even a little bit, if the project doesn't turn out to your exact specifications?

That said, I'm very cautious when someone mentions they want to do their own catering. Feeding a lot of people takes a tremendous amount of time, preparation, skill, and a full army of willing, reliable helpers. And then there's safe food handling issue which is incredibly important and somewhat complex. It's not impossible. It's just not realistic for the average couple to do this on their own, do it well, do it safely, and still have time to enjoy their own wedding. Even the pro chefs I know outsource the catering for their weddings.

  1. I bought this book as soon as it came out. It's got some really great ideas in it Her STDs/Invites are great.

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  2. So glad to see this interview. I just found this book over the weekend, raved about it to friends and families over how excited I was to find a DIY book that didn't have that corny-icky factor! Those ideas are superb!

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  3. The two wedding blogs I track religiously have come together. I love it. Thanks for the interview. Definitely some helpful tips!

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  4. this is really juvenile, but… i love references to wedding STDs. hehe!

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  5. i totally DID read this book when i was planning my wedding! very inspirational!

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  6. I love the "is this project for me?" assessment quiz. I had planned on making the invitations but my partner in life knows how obsessed I am with perfection and talked me out of it. Which, in retrospect, I'm so glad he did. I would probably take me a year and tons of money (that we don't have!) to get them JUSTRIGHT!

    And, Erin, thank you – I thought I was the only one that giggled like a 12 year old boy when I see STD on wedding sites!!

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  7. As a (dreaded) health inspector/ environmental health professional….

    Food poisoning has many contributing factors, but TIME and TEMPERATURE are the two most important. Your average kitchen simply isn't equipped to process so much food all at once, and something will likely end up sitting out too long that shouldn't be.

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  8. That last bit about the catering? totally agree! Just helped my friend make all of her cupcakes for her wedding and that was enough! cant even imagine if she had stuck with the idea to do all her own food (thankfully her dad talked her out of it)

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  9. Allot of people forget crafts are time and money consuming. I also consider self catering a big no no. The worst wedding I went to was self catered. The food was done before the ceremony and was gross by the time we got to eat:P

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