Recognizing when DIY projects aren't worth it

February 18 | Guest post by Kirsten Hansen
Project - making our own petticoats - 2
Photo by Amy Dawson
I read an awesome article recently about a 22-Hour Piñata, which I think we should all consider applying to our weddings. Sometimes projects are just not worth an insane amount of work. Some projects do not deserve to be priorities. For some people, that means the whole damn wedding.

Yes, you heard me.

Maybe your wedding does not deserve the amount of attention you're giving it because you could be doing something more important. Like what, you ask? Living your life. Enjoying the moment. Having a relationship, doing your homework, playing with your kitty. But there might be other things that actually matter to you more.

I've been there, actually. My poor husband ended up pulling two all-nighters to do the art for our wedding invitations — a first one doing an amazing digital image, and a second after I pointed out that the first image would not work with the invitation I'd designed. Grand scheme of things, not really worth all the lost sleep and frustration on his part. I'm betting the custom labels I put on all the Jones Soda bottles count, too.

I've seen a lot of posts on the Offbeat Bride Tribe about trying to get all these amazing projects done, finding out things are more expensive or time-heavy than expected, and yet still pulling through with it — only to lament it later.

Maybe it's just smaller, DIY projects. I remember when I first saw black bridesmaid dresses at a wedding (15+ years ago, so it was pretty surprising). I remember putting up twinkle lights and blowing up balloons for another wedding. I remember paper fall leaves at another. In general, though, I don't remember invitations, thank you cards, the food, etc. I remember having fun or feeling awkward.

One month after your wedding… will you wish you'd spent your time and energy on something else?

What I'm trying to say is that it really is worth thinking about how important certain projects are to you. Or, to help you evaluate this better, how important is it going to be a month after your wedding? One month after your wedding, when you're starting to settle down, are you going to care about that? Will you wish you'd spent your time and energy on something else? If certain projects really matter, awesome. Do it! If not, then don't. Or just do a quick job of it. Get it done to a level that it deserves. It does not all need to be Martha Stewart-perfect.

I'm getting better at recognizing this sort of thing myself. We did not end up making origami dragons and ferrets. The invitations I made were relatively simple (for me) and, once the art was done, they were fairly quick to prep. I didn't put my heart and soul into labels for the food. I used pinking shears on the edges of the table cloths instead of hemming them. I was busy and our wedding was still fun. That's all that really matters in the end.

  1. Awesome. this really helped me put things in perspective. Im gonna make a list (im one of those pesky list makers) of my top priorities and let the diy stuff fall to the bottom from most need to least important. I don't want to be bogged down with all the stuff I have to do. I want to spend time with my family. thanks for posting this :)

    1 agrees
  2. Thank you for permission to cut at least 10 unnecessary DYI projects out of my wedding that were weighing me down.

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  3. Ah, so timely. As our May date gets closer I had a vision of incorporating tons of paper flowers. 5 hours and a tiny box of just-the-petals-put-together I can't help thinking that time suck isn't really worth it. Are these cool paper flowers REALLY important. Will people just die if they don't see them at the wedding? Will the whole day be ruined without PAPER FLOWERS? Do I really WANT to spend ALL OF THIS TIME on these damn things? Do the couple finished ones look cool? Hell yea. But is all that time and energy worth it for hundreds of paper flowers that I will struggle to give a home to post-wedding?

    Meh.

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    • Totally this. It was taking me FOREVER to fold all of these little petals and I just hit a wall on night and decided "screw it". So, I went to a produce place near my house and had them do the flowers for a really good price. Definitely worth it!

      1 agrees
    • Depends on priorities and interests. I'm an origami ninja, and my partner-in-crime and I are both allergic to "real" flowers, so I'm working up kusudama (flower balls). Guess it's all different for everyone, eh? :)

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  4. This is a tough one for me. I committed to making the lace for a full-length mantilla veil. yes, you heard me right – I'm making the actual lace and then attaching it to the veil. I estimate it will be about a 200-hour project. At the same time, I'm setting out with the intention of making it a family heirloom. I have 2 sisters and 2 cousins who have already asked if they can wear it, and my intent is that my (or their) future daughters (or sons!) can wear it if they so desire. Sometimes its a 22-hour waste of time, sometimes it isn't :/

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    • Oh totally. Sometimes it is worth the investment of a heck of a lot of time. That sounds like an amazing project that will continue to be meaningful. :)

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      • Making my veil (though admittedly NOT the lace) was really important to me because I expected the Beddekken to be far more intimate and personal than the actual ceremony. And I was right. My favorite picture from the whole day is me staring at my husband with absolute adoration as he places the veil on me. Some projects are worth it.

        But other projects, like the guest book, STILL aren't finished (five years later) and you know what? I don't really miss it.

        1 agrees
  5. As we're planning for our June wedding, I've danced the in the spaces of "we can fit in more diy" and "No. We'll pay for it"/"It's just not worth it." I just finally sorted out my flower situation. Making 25 six inch pomanders for centerpieces has gone on the wayside, to be replaced with simple hydrangea blooms. Making (well, learning, sourcing and practicing ) boutonnieres and corsages got got outsourced, but I've wanted to make my own bouquet for years, so that stays. In the end, I had to pick and choose, even though it's months away. I would have never given myself time to if I really executed all of these diy projects.

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  6. Great article. I think a couple really needs to consider what their strengths are, and how much time and effort they want to put into something, versus the cost to just pay to hire or purchase something.

    We're doing our own save the dates, invitations, bunting, table decoration, brooch bouquet, and signage. For us its been great fun having an excuse to scour charity and vintage stores in search for various different elements, and I've loved the design aspects of the save the dates and invitations. And well I just love creating things and organising large events, so I'm actually really enjoying the planning stage. But I can totally see how some people would hate it. In that case farm it out!

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  7. This is fantastic! I had several projects that got shelved at the last minute and it didn't have a lick of impact on the wedding. One thing I will say is that I wish I had more pictures of the stuff that I DID end up spending time on. In my last-minute rush I didn't have time to write up a list of detail shots, thinking my photographer would get them. She totally did, but not as many as I wish we'd have had. If something was important enough to you to spend all the time on it, document that shit!

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  8. I remember I wasn't wild about the 2 choices we had for table cloths provided by our venue. I spent a few minutes online looking at table cloths when I realized it would turn into an obsessive quest for just the right texture, shade, size, price etc when I had a bar exam looming overhead. So I picked one of the venue's options. To this day, I don't remember which option I picked without looking at a photo. I was too busy having a blast. This also applies to a few DIY projects I had in mind for the wedding.

    3 agree
    • I'm getting married in November right after my July bar exam and this really rings true for me. We ultimately decided to go with a venue with most things included to save me the stress of decision making and DIYing. I'm so happy we did. The location still has enough character that I feel the wedding will be very personal without costing me much time.

      1 agrees
  9. As a wedding blogger whose daughter just got married a few days ago, I can definitely relate to this post. We are NOT diy'ers. For our family diy'ing would have been an exercise in futility or just aggravation. In my blog I label projects EEEBCDI (Easy Enough Even Bill Could Do It) better known as my husband, the uncraftiest of us all has tested them and was able to complete them without a lot of hassle. Still we avoided diy projects other than videos to show during the wedding (TY animoto.com for the easy project), invites which were only semi-diy, and programs (template diy). Yes we did some fun things for her bridal shower but nothing that was hard to execute. So while DIY is great for some brides, for others, like my daughter (and me, her mom), diy would have done us IN! So we didn't. It didn't mean her wedding was any less personal or special, it just meant she made choices that other people executed. Now I'm sleeping for a week! She gets a honeymoon, I get a week of sleep! So don't overdo the DIYing—unless it's something you love to do and are enjoying doing.

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  10. Hey this is a great point. There's no point in saving a bit of money if you and your family are exhausted by the time the day comes around.. diy is a lot of work.

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  11. Thank you, I needed this post. I've got time before our wedding (year and a half) so I have been putting pressure on myself to figure what I can make for our wedding since I have the time to do it. Thinking about what is really important has made me realize it is not worth the stress. If I get a few projects done, cool, at least I will be focusing just on what makes me happy!

    1 agrees
  12. Great post! And it reminded me of our own struggles… But we had a great idea (or I hope so)!
    This Sunday we will have a little DIY-Party with our friends where we will make all the stuff together that the both of us would like to have but just don't want to spend that much time on (like paper flowers, signs etc.)! This way we can spend time with our beloved ones, drink some beer AND get all the small DIY-Projects done without the feeling of wasting our time. I think I'll post some pics and Info afterwards and let you know if it really worked… ;-)

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  13. Pew Cones. On the night of my rehearsal, they still weren't done. Instead of staying up all night to finish then, I recognized that no one would notice if they weren't there. Not even me. So I said eff it. And I got a good nights sleep and was totally right, I forgot all about them not being there! It was a good choice.

    1 agrees
  14. A great idea to put things in perspective. Some details count. Months after out November wedding – I remember the look on my mother-in-law's face when she saw I had used HER grandmother's hand-carved, Swedish cheeseboard – a gift at her 1920-something wedding – as the base for our unity candle. Surrounded by the flower ring (made by me, all 12 of them)… That's a detail I do not regret. Had a ball doing it too… Some details don't… no one cared that I had NOT put up the fancy outdoor hanging lanterns. They were all too busy boogeying. I also remember all the guests coming up and saying "Best Wedding EVER!" So all details aside, something went right. :)

    1 agrees
  15. Thank you for this. I really needed this right now. One of the things I am known for with my friends and family is being a calligrapher (amateur, I am nowhere near to being professional!). I initially wanted to do our invitations by hand, but after a few trials and tears I decided to just take them to the printer when the time comes. I simply don't have the skills yet to do what I want and make it look how I want. That being said, even if I did, it is a time consuming project to make approximately 50 wedding invitations with hand done calligraphy in about 7 different colors. I know how frustrated I get. It isn't worth my time or sanity to even attempt it. I have gotten grief from one of my friends and one of my Uncles for not doing it, even after I explained my reasoning. I know why they think I should, because it is "me" and it is one of the biggest "me" things I could put in the wedding. But it still isn't worth it. I will be hand addressing the envelopes though and making those look awesome.

    But thank you for saying its ok to NOT do these things. I feel better now.

    2 agree
  16. I really needed to hear that this week, thank you!! I'm getting a little bit ahead of myself thinking I can complete a zillion projects before June.

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  17. Been here! As a graphic designer, I had all kinds of projects in mind to create myself: photo booth, paper flowers, invite package… the list goes on.

    Now, under 5 months to go, I've narrowed my DIY down to designing the save the dates (came out SUPER cool!), my pedestal table numbers, and only about 3 dozen paper flowers. I've let my friend (who is an AMAZING graphic/invitation designer) design my invitations, letting my mom and culinary-student sister work on the edible favors, ditched the photo booth and hired pros for everything else.

    Time management is key! I plan on taking advantage of the cold nights and weekends to get stuff done. Also know your limits. There's so many details that are already involved in a wedding. You don't need to add more and drive yourself even more crazy.

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  18. I am DIYing custom favors because I have a medical condition that makes me unable to work and drive, so I am home alone all day while the fiance' works. Basically, I am using it as something to keep me busy/keep my sanity, even though I know that a lot of people are going to just kind of glance at them, shrug, and not remember to take them home. There will be people who absolutely love them, though. But I am not doing it for them. I am doing it for me.
    In contrast, my artistic fiance was going to design our invitations. He drew out a sketch of a pretty awesome design. When we were trying to figure out the logistics of how to color it, how to get typed text on it, how to print it, etc. We kept hitting brick walls. So we looked on etsy and found an invitation that we loved. The lady basically made a design that we could customize with our colors, send her the written info we wanted on it, and she emailed us a completed design as a pdf file for $10. We then printed them ourselves. So we saved a buttload of money and a lot of stress by getting help from a professional.
    Basically, pick your battles. Love this post.

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  19. Currently planning my own wedding, and my florist recently made a very poignant comment: "Sometimes I wonder if people put half as much thought into their marriage as they put into their wedding." In the interest of our sanity, we're choosing our battles, DIYing things we are inclined to do anyway (graphic design for me, chuppah construction for him) and farming out the rest to people who know what they're doing.

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  20. My partner and I don't have a lot of money to play with, so we are making our own invites as he is a graphic designer and I enjoy card making and cross stitch, and for the cake we will be making our own as I do love cooking. But otherwise it will be the help of professionals that will make the day, after all the money you could save by doing it yourself means you can put it towards the future, but also think of the people you will be giving work too, if you aren't a DIY. You are helping your local businesses to stay in business. So forgive yourself if you can't do everything and plan your future together. I know I will have a lovely day when I get married this year on the 19 July and will be spending it with the people that matter the most.

    1 agrees
  21. One of the best "inside joke" photos from our wedding is of my newly-minted husband looking closely at the ribbon edge that I basically drove myself crazy sewing onto my hand-made veil. I really wish I remember what he was saying at that moment, because it's a great photo. But I am NEVER DOING THAT AGAIN.

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  22. YAY! Thanks for this!! my hubs to be & i recently decided to scrap one of our biggest projects that we haven't started yet, with just over two months to go, because it just isn't that important/no one will notice or care. let me tell you — it's a HUGE relief to not be making 50 lace covered mason jar candle holders.
    i've done a little DIYing (brooch bouquet, cupcake toppers, photobooth props) but it's all stuff that i like doing so it isn't stressful. it's fun & way easier to keep it all in perspective.

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  23. An excellent post. And, DIY is not mandatory, period. Whether you're on-beat or offbeat, whether the budget is large or small, whether the engagement is long or short. A wedding doesn't have to be DIY-tastic to be you-tastic…especially if you aren't a DIYer in real life. Yes, like me. I had squeamy moments early on in the planning, like I might be an offbeat failure for not being DIY-tastic. But, I live in the real world where the crafting I do isn't professional grade and I know I'd be unhappy with sloppy looking stuff. It isn't always cheaper, I don't have room to store a bunch of stuff and works in progress, and it'd just stress me out. My mom would shoot me before taking on wedding DIY. My friends with crafting skills are BUSY. Not that they don't love and support me, but they have demanding jobs and one is very active in local theater and the other's father is critically ill. None of us have the time and patience, so there will be very DIY in my wedding. And that's completely fine, both in an objective way and with me.

    1 agrees
  24. This is a really good post. Yes. some projects are still worth it. The veil further up sounds amazing and it sounds like you _really_ want to do it, but some things just aren't.

    I changed sourcing glass bud vases and making over 80 different boxes for favours to Organza bags and picture holders which were far easier and probably looked better and I was far less stressed.

    I also gave up on centerpieces and chair covers. My Chief bridesmaid and her husband made the centerpieces (I didn't ask them, they offered) and the wooden stars for the backs of the chairs with ribbon attachments.

    If you can picture the wedding without x and it still looks good then maybe you could do it a different way.

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  25. I was browsing around on the site and noticed this with my photo, and all my goodies to incorporate to our wedding craft nights with friends and family. I am surprised to see you used my photo but at the same time I hope it shows everyone is capable of a DIY wedding.

    But there are some serious things you need to work out before you do anything, do DIY for the laughter for the 5 bottles of wine you and all your girl friends drank to complete your 60 handmade flowers. Don't do it to stress yourself out to the massive and to assume that while your stressing out that it's all going to be worth it. My guess it won't be, I chose to do DIY touches because of our friends and family we don't have big family's and my groom's family and friends are 1,000 miles away so to get together with those near meant so much to us. I made my own brooch bouquet as pictured in the photo because it meant more to me to have all of our friends and family near and far to send a brooch and have them apart of the day even if they couldn't travel to be there.

    I guess what I am trying to say is DIY is great, it's unique and gives your wedding an edge to everyone else's. But even with out it, your wedding will be just that YOUR wedding not anyone else's you don't need DIY projects to clarify that for you.

    So if you choose to do it, do it for yourself.
    I have to say having our wedding craft nights have been the best stress relievers for us I may have too many glasses of wine but it's just a night to enjoy the loved ones we hold dear and the memories we continue to make.

    3 agree
  26. A bit late to the party I realise but glad I read this. It seems that so many blogs seem to place low budget and/or DIY heavy weddings on a pedastal, thus creating (at least for me) a sense of pressure that if you don't DIY those bouquets and invites, etc that you have failed somehow. Personally I am poop at DIY. The outcome would never match the vision I have in my head. We will be attempting some projects but only ones we have a talent for or that are so simple a 5 year old could do it :-) Ths other stuff? Well with the help of my partner and articles like this we are evaluating what is really important to us and the things that are will be worth spending money on.

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