D-I-WHY!? Confessions of a non-DIY bride

Updated May 31 2016
Guest post by Kaitlin T
Shoes
Photo by Crystal Liepa

In a community of artists, seamstresses, metallurgists, and crafters, I am awed at the DIY talent that abounds on Offbeat Bride. So many of the women and men here lightly discuss projects they've done that would make my head explode. They sewed their own dresses! She made 400 book-page roses! He forged an iron bouquet/weapon of mass destruction! They friggin' self-catered!

I always fancied myself creative, but I don't have the passion, the patience, or the prowess to do the massive projects undertaken here on a daily basis.

It's not even that I'm bad at crafting, necessarily. I enjoy things like woodworking (though I can't, in my little apartment), and I am good at turning abstract concepts into working designs. But while I can follow directions as well as anybody and thrash my way through hands-on projects well enough if I need to, I'm not the type to, say, hand-emboss invitations that I could just order online.

I was discussing venue options with my boy today — venue is a top concern for us — and he pointed out that we've been steering toward buildings with a raw, urban feel, or wooden beams and lots of windows looking out upon nature. Venues, in a nutshell, that do most of the decorating for us.

While I absolutely drool over the meticulously-detailed, gorgeously-festooned weddings, frankly, making decorations just isn't appealing to me. I'd rather dangle a bunch of wholesale Chinese lanterns or drape some white organza strategically, and be able to call it done. Making the beautiful things just isn't worth the effort, to me.

I mean, there are some things that I want to do. We're purchasing folded invitations designed like a book, and I plan to buy library index cards as RSVP cards, stamp them with dates, and glue them into the "book." I'm planning on making fruit bouquet centerpieces (think edible arrangements, only not $80 apiece), which is a pretty big project that has to be done with virtually no lead time. I may even make our cupcakes.

But for the most part, my time is worth enough to me that I'm willing to pay to not have to DIY. I know that, for me, most DIY stuff would feel like a chore, and I would rather forgo dรฉcor at my wedding than spend 50 hours on wedding projects, and grow to resent it all.

We'll see how I feel once money starts rolling out of pockets and paralyzing me with horror — who knows, I might suddenly decide DIY is the way to go!

But to sum up: You guys and your crafty hands and hearts are very inspiring and wonderful… but for me, satisfaction may lie in convenience over gorgeousness.

  1. Good for you for sorting that out before buying supplies, starting a project, THEN deciding it's too difficult/expensive/time consuming/unsatisfying.
    Even so, making fruit centerpieces last-minute seems like a truly creative venture. I hope you have done a few practice runs just so you'll know what to anticipate.
    A wedding, or any event, doesn't have to be DIY to make it your own. You & your special someone(s) are making the decisions and inviting YOUR people that matter, that is what makes it your own. Having your day your way will make it wonderful!

    • We're still a long way out, but you can bet I'll try out the fruit bouquet things about five times before it actually matters. xD I figure I'll build one until I love it, then make a blueprint so it's easy to recreate for every table.

      Thanks for your kind and happy words! <3

  2. Good for you. I am a SUPER creative person who always assumed I'd do a ton of DIY/DIT projects for my wedding. And yet, I've found that with everything else going on, I don't have much creative energy left.

    We've been assessing what I like to call the "convenience tax" — if it's something I can look at and say "that seems like a lot of work, and I'm not sure I have the energy to do it, even though I know I could and it would turn out great" then we evaluate "what price (increase) are we willing and able to pay to not have to deal with this item."

    • "convenience tax" … YES.

      My partner and I have used this concept in planning big & little projects for years (including our weeding). Now we have a term for it! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I am WITH you. I have been a DIYer all my life, but I don't view my wedding as the time to be too crafty. We are constructing our own centerpieces and I may do my own makeup (maybe hair), but that's about as far as I am going on this.

    I made my prom dress and it was a NIGHTMARE and more expensive than any I saw in stores. I have hosted parties and I am no good at timing all the food appropriately, while also socializing. I have crafted invitations for 150 people, and it's a LOT of work. My back still hurts from last year. Just no. When Vistaprint makes adorable invites and offers Groupons? My friend spent a few hun on DIY invites for a couple dozen folks. It just doesn't work out the way you hope sometimes.

    There are many places where DIY does make sense, or is important enough to be sentimentally created (maybe my guest book since I keep it), but there are more things that have become an industry for a reason, and are actually cheaper to shop around for.

    As a poet (lover of metaphor), an artist, and a momento hoarder, I can still get on the "not at my wedding" train with confidence in terms of the DIYing I always dreamed about. ("WHY would anyone PAY that much for a CAKE??" I hear my teenage self laughing about. Because strangely, it's a kind of practicality.)

  4. So.much.yes!

    A friend shared a gorgeous necklace from Etsy with me on Facebook, and another friend commented "oh, you could totally make that Stina!" Yes, I probably could, but why would I when someone else has already put the time and effort into making it and probably enjoyed making it far more than I ever would.

    I'm doing my fair share of wedding DIY, but all of my crafting ventures are being driven by the fact that I have several very crafty brideslaves and girlfriends that truly enjoy doing these things. These projects (along with the DIY projects of other friends) are something we are doing together and a way of bonding. If that weren't the case, you can be sure I'd be buying most of the stuff off the internet.

  5. Great read! DIY isn't for everyone and I absolutely see where it would be worth it to go the other route for some things instead.

    I was one of those that diy'd everything about my wedding. I started a year in advance making stuff. It got pretty overwhelming — and I LIVE for making stuff.

    Do what will not drive you crazy in the end, after all the wedding is just one day in a lifetime of days. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. I'm right there with you! We are going to DIY our invites and I'm making book page flowers for my bouquet, but that's it. In fact, we are getting married during a baseball game so I don't have to worry or plan a single thing.

    I *love* the idea of your invites. Would you mind sharing where you found the invites shaped like a book? They sound adorable!

    • During a baseball game–I love it! PLEASE tell me you're wearing a pinstriped dress or something.

      I actually designed the invitations myself on Vistaprint; basically I got a high-res picture of a lovely, classic book cover, uploaded it to the front of a folded card, and used Vistaprint's text and images to personalize. On the front I titled it "For the Long Haul," put a little picture of a tandem bike under it, then wrote "by [FH] and [me]." After I got my wording down on the inside, I had to call them and ask them to put the it on the left side instead of the right, so I could paste the library index cards (cheap on Amazon) into the 'back inside cover.'

  7. Agreed. I decided early on that I wasn't going to do crafty projects just to do crafty projects, so anything essential to the wedding was purchased. Everything else – if I feel like I've got the time, energy, and interest in it, I'll do it. Otherwise, we'll probably be fine without it. The other thing I feel like I did right stress-wise is pick vendors who were happy to customize for me, so it doesn't feel cookie-cutter even though I'm not DIYing everything, and who I felt like were going to make this EASIER for me.

  8. This post is a breath of fresh air! I feel so much pressure to DIY elements of my wedding to make them "personal" – but there are some tasks that I know would drive me nuts. I'd rather feel pride in the few things I do DIY than feel anxiety, stress, and resentment because I've taken on more than I can handle.

    I just helped some friends put together handmade foodie favors. There were six of us working together, and since we all love cooking, pickling, baking, etc – it felt like a really fun project rather than some onerous wedding task. I think you should only DIY if you're going to take some joy in the making process, not just in the final result.

    • Exactly! That's why I'd consider making cupcakes–I love baking cupcakes. But sewing a dress… ye gads. I'm pretty sure I'd be more likely to sew my hand to my face. And that wouldn't be fun now, would it.

  9. We definitely did DIY light. There was one point, about halfway through making my broach bouquet, where I seriously wondered what the hell I was thinking (it turned out so awesome that there were no regrets, however). Things like my manga decopaged shoes? Those I had made, along with anything else that I wanted and knew would be easier to buy. I wanted a good combo of "Yeah, I did that!" And low stress. And that's what I got. Do what works for you.

  10. Thank you!!!!
    I needed this today. I am hardly doing any dyi and have been feeling increasingly guilty about it. I had originally planned to diy so much, and had a very long engagement, so that it would be doable.
    Now I feel guilty. Guilty like bc I won't give the time and energy to diy my wedding, that I must not care as much as other brides. Or I worry that I am being judged (by myself and others) as spoiled when I fork over the dough so that I can cross something off my list with little/no effort on my part.
    I like to think I am a very creative and capable person. Pretty crafty and also a bit of a seamstress. But wedding planning has been so hard, that I don't think it would be fun for me to diy anything. Plus, I feel like I would put so much pressure on myself, that my diy results would not be able to meet my neurotic standards. For an example, all I want is a simple one-layer raw-edge tulle viel. And everyone seems so shocked (in my anxious mind, that is translated as disappointment) bc I don't want to make it myself ๐Ÿ™
    So luckily we had the long engagement. Not bc I needed time to diy the wedding. But bc I needed time to save up the money to pay for everything that I won't/can't do.
    I LOVE what someone else said about a convenience tax. I hope that can really help change my perspective and get back to happy wedding feelings ๐Ÿ™‚
    Thanks!

  11. I took on a massive DIY project (paper roses for all floral stuff), but it was because I love arts and crafts and my partner hates live flowers. But we picked a mostly full-service venue. We don't have to rent or buy linens or flatware or dinnerware or glassware. We're not baking our own cake or making any food. We're not doing our own hair and make-up. We're not constructing our own attire.

    There are all sorts of flavors of offbeat. Ours is mainly forgoing tradition, as opposed to infusing our wedding with lots of "us." So we're not hiring a florist and we're skipping cutting the cake and I'm not wearing white, etc. But we're also trying to save money and not stress too much, and DIY is often more stressful and often not cheaper than just buying something.

  12. DIY can be a great way to save money, but sometimes time is money. When I was planning my wedding, I wanted to DIY everything. But considering that I'm the type to put things off and lose interest quickly, I would lose time on that. But even if I did go with good time management, there was still the issue of planning a wedding in just a short time span that I'd be pretty much burnt-out if I did everything myself.

    I still wanted a bit of DIY put incorporated into my wedding, so the only DIY thing I ever did was making my own bouquet. I used origami paper and made awesome origami lilies! But man, even that took up a lot of effort and frankly, I was getting tired of doing the same thing over and over again. :/

    DIY can be great but I agree; it may not be for everyone and sometimes you just gotta pay the 'convenience tax'. ๐Ÿ˜›

  13. Yes to this. I should note that I am entirely crafty and capable of DIYing with the best of 'em. Heck, I even have a degree in art. However, I didn't see my wedding as necessitating the devotion of crafts on top of crafts. Some of these reasons include:

    1. At the end of the day, my wedding involved me getting married and having a lot of fun with friends and family doing so. Crafting objects is not central to either of those things happening.

    2. My mom was hell-bent on a crafty-crafty wedding. She said, more than once, that people would "everyone would expect it" from me (and from her). Well, I've done pretty well for myself not bending to society's expectations. Who knows if people actually expected it or if it was something in my mom's head. Either way, if you tell me that "everyone" thinks something, it is probably wrong and I tune you out.

    3. Weddings are an economic institution. It felt good to put my (financial) investments into companies, organizations, and people who supported me, great causes, and great people. I was happy to pay artists for minimal decor rather than make it myself, because these people live off their work.

    4. I, too, chose a pretty venue, which did not need anything to spruce it up. I compromised on small center pieces that also served as parting gifts and personal kitchen decor.

    5. I tend to make art because it is relaxing and good for my mental health. Crafting is a release. My blood pressure drops like crazy. Want to raise my blood pressure? Tell me I need to make 100 identical anything with too few resources and too little time. Which gets me to my last point…

    6. I am a busy woman. The engagement process actually didn't change the amount of time I devote to anything, and I prefer to spend my time in other ways.

  14. Yes! thank you for writing this. My step mom is a DIY queen. When she and my dad got married, she made their tiered cake, made her own dress, made the invitations, made our bridesmaid dresses, and possibly even arranged her own bouquet! It was amazing to see how much thought went into it, and DIY has never been my thing. I'd really like to enjoy doing it. and I'd like to be good at it! But … I'm not. Now I am getting married, in August, and for our wedding I have chosen a few things that we (I) feel comfortable enough to DIY that it's not stressing me out. Our invitations came in a box, with envelopes and RSVP cards, and instructions for how to design and print them out using your own computer and printer. $10. We still have to do that, one of these days. Eek! lol We're huge procrastinators, our printer is still new, in the box. We're going to turn a watermelon into a simple, whipped cream-frosted, berry-adorned cutting cake. And in lieu of cake for guests, we're going to buy cookies from Subway by the dozen, and individually bag 2 for each guest. Our Venue is a gorgeous vintage train station, so the only decorations needed are petals on the "aisle", and our reception afterwards will be at a restaurant. We're not hiring a florist, so a grocery store-rose bouquet, stems wrapped in lace by me, will do the trick ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. SO MUCH YES TO THIS POST!!

    Like the OP, I'm in constant awe over the amazing DIY prowess of the OBBs who have been featured on the site, and I've toyed with the idea of doing some DIY projects myself. However, with a year to go to plan a wedding and with my Masters thesis to complete, there is no way I can do most of the things past me pinned on my Wedding Pinterest board – and that's ok. Yes, I'll still have a couple of DIY projects to do but we will end up paying for/buying most of our wedding items. And that's ok with me because my crafting skills are questionable at best lol and I just plainly don't have the spare time.

    This is why I love OBB – it celebrates doing what's best for your own personal situation ๐Ÿ™‚

    • That's just it–as said above, we're all busy women! Just because we aren't as crazily skilled as some ladies and gents here doesn't mean we're not special snowflakes. You and I can just drool together over the mastery of our kinswomen…….or hire them. ;D

  16. YES. A thousand times yes.

    I've DIY'ed some aspects of my wedding, but with under two weeks left now I've found myself buying things that I *could* make, had I not been busy with a jillion other things in the last few months. I was actually starting to feel guilty about it (buying hair flowers for example, because that IS just a fake flower glued on a clip for heaven's sake) until my partner pointed out that, at this stage, I am buying TIME.

    Do what you can/can be arsed with, don't feel bad about the rest.

  17. With all do respect to the fabulous, fabulous people who DIY everything and enjoy it, it's starting to feel like "do it yourself" is the new "wedding industrial complex," where, intentionally or not, it's getting touted as The Way to do things. Obviously DIY can be awesome and I love seeing and hearing about other people's projects, but as someone who will be DIYing NOTHING (because I know I will drive myself crazy trying to achieve a perfect standard I'll never meet) this post helped me feel less bad about my craft-less proclivities.

  18. This is so good to see. I got married in November and didn't DIY a damn thing. My sister really pressured me but I stuck to my guns because I knew I was just way too busy to make it happen. I was finishing up my fellowship and going on job interviews all over the state in the month before my wedding. Then, a week and a half before our wedding I got a week long case of food poisoning followed by my (thankfully passing) bar exam results. I ended up in the ER with dehydration and then on discharge immediately needed to schedule my admissions ceremony while my last name still matched my bar admission documents! The Monday before my wedding was my admissions ceremony, I had a job interview Tuesday, bachelorette party Thursday, rehearsal Friday, ceremony Saturday, and started a new job the next Wednesday. I was so glad I wasn't dyi-ing anything because it would have ended in disappointment when life intervened and I couldn't get an important detail sorted. Fortunately we had a historic venue that needed no more decoration than the flowers provided.

    Enjoy the extra time and hopefully lower stress this route will bring! I'm sure your wedding will still be gorgeous and unique.

  19. This is exactly how we felt! Found an 1800's Mansion that does it ALL! All we have to do is show up with clothes and guests. Had to find someone to make our cake (luckily for us my cousin is a pastry chef and is doing this for free, yahoo!), a photographer, and flowers (which I had to talk FH into the $40 charge for delivery, which I think is totally worth it!). Tat being said it is a small wedding, 41 people including us, because we couldn't afford the cost for 150 people. So, small 41 person wedding and fromal reception to follow, but a picin style Reception 2 days later at my Mom's House for 150 people we wanted to invite. We are doing this part ourselves, but it's uber casual, shorts teeshirts, pool to swim in, minimal decorations, Mom is doing most of the cooking, etc. Crossing my fingers for no rain!

    I ended up getting bronchitis a week before the wedding from my parents stressing me out; I now screen their calls. I have to work right up until the wedding, long story, so DIY wasn't even a plan or thought.

  20. My wedding is self-catered, I am making the bouquets, boutonnieres, corsages, and center pieces. I also made the favors. But I have some pretty amazing people helping out in what they are good at. My best friends are photographers and doing our wedding as a wedding gift to us. My sister is applying her mad cooking skills to the reception. We did order all of the cakes & cupcakes however. My sister spent three days with me decorating jars for centerpieces, putting ribbon on candles, and decorating anything that would stand still. I am applying my decorating skills to set up the reception hall. We have enjoyed every minute of it (so far) and saved a ton of money. But if it is not something you can sink yourself into without losing your mind, then I agree it is not worth it. I had a blast making and decorating my own invitations (and I saved like $200, costs more to ship then than make them in fact).

  21. I'm right there with you! I've always been very crafty – give me the choice to spend an hour shopping at Nordstrom or shopping at Michael's (craft store), Michael's wins every time. But I think the idea of DIY'ing my wedding wasn't appealing because I'm a terrible perfectionist – and the pressure of having to have it all turn out perfectly-beautifully just killed any joy I would get from crafting. I'm also better with A project, not 100 projects. Once I'm elbow deep in crafts and there seems to be no end in sight – well, it's not pretty. I tend to melt into a blubbering, "oh who cares!" mess. It is a tragic and funny.

    I have decided to DIY a few things. My DIY: I'm spray painting all the containers for my centerpieces white to look like milk glass (and making them food safe of course). I'm also making some other prop for the guest table. And that's it. I chose these items because they were actually cheaper to DIY than buy, which isn't always the case I've learned, and because they were projects that a) I could do in a day, or b) I could hand over to someone else to do if need be, and not feel like I would have to micro manage them so that it would turn out just-so. That was important to me too: I needed to have a DIY back up plan, so I chose projects that leaded themselves to easy detachment should I have to pass them to another. I mean, it's hard to screw up spray painting bowls white.

    I also chose a venue that is self-sufficiently decorated also – and requires little in the way of propping up. Honestly this has been the best thing we did, in terms of decor. The venue is open to the public prior to a wedding so we got to see a wedding be set up – and it happened that their tastes were similar to ours. We saw how easy it was to personalize our venue with just a few touches. Good luck with all your planning- and whether you DIY or DDIY (don't do it yourself) enjoy all of it. The time does fly. ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. Yes! I watched so many friends Pinterest and bedazzle their way to the big day. I had all these crazy plans for my 5 year renewal in September and I realized I just didn't have the patience to make ribbon flowers or paint invites. I just want to enjoy my day without wondering if something I made looks tacky.

  23. We have 6 years of planning, and I'll be doing my 2 attendance's, my two daughters, and My Bouquets and the center pieces and our jewelry, I have 6 years for our weddig, so it won't be really bad. Who knows I might get help from my hubby!! In the end it's our day, we do things differently and that's what makes us unique and off beat.

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