Pinterest wedding fever: When DIY (dried lavender and glitter paint) overshadows the wedding

August 17 2015 | Guest post by Ginny Bartolone
A bushel of dried lavender photo from Etsy seller WoodlandSecrets
A bunch of dried lavender photo from Etsy seller WoodlandSecrets

About a week before the wedding, I was pretty unsuccessfully slicing our ceremony programs with the paper cutter at work. I frantically texted my bridesmaid to ask if I should quickly order a bushel of dried lavender to glue a sprig on each program, and make them look better… because right now they looked pretty busted.

The great friend that she is (who always promised to tell me if I went too far) paused and finally asked, "But why?" And all I could think was, "Because it isn't enough! I haven't done enough!"

It didn't end there, oh no…

Ribbon curtain from Brittany & Thomas' garden wedding in Baton Rouge. Photo by Apple Eye Photography

After my failure to construct a ribbon curtain for our outdoor ceremony, I stopped on the way to our venue at a garden center for some potted plants. My confused fiancé asked me why we needed them, to which I responded, completely in zombie bride mode, "My ribbon curtain failed. We have no ceremony decorations! You have to have those!" Later, during the ceremony, I remember snorting at myself a bit when seeing the $40 potted plants I fought so hard for, tipping over in the front of the lawn where we got married. The ceremony was outside. Why did I need plants?

Our ceremony picture with tree planting ceremony. homemade bouquets, and potted plants in the background. (Photo by Kim Craven Photography)
Our ceremony picture with tree planting ceremony. homemade bouquets, and potted plants in the background. (Photo by Kim Craven Photography)

Now it wasn't until the end of planning that the stress caught up with me. I was told otherwise I stayed surprisingly low key throughout the process. But now that I look back, I see how the seed was planted: Pinterest, The Knot, and hundreds of articles I sought out that only show the good (and never the ugly) sides of DIY. They were like crack for a budgeting bride, and the lanterns and birdcages were how I got my fix.

When planning a wedding (in regard to my own and while helping friends), there is the inevitable feeling that your list will never end. And it's not only your things-to-do list, but also your shopping list. Personal touches and ways to impress your guests are wonderful, but when do these things start to overshadow the marriage itself? And, once you've bought into the idea that someone else managed to make their wedding "that cute" with little money and "little effort," a modern-day pressure to craft grows into an obsession with obtaining a blog-worthy wedding. At least this is what happened with me.

There is a Buddhist idea that we are always waiting for the next thing to complete us. We are waiting for the next relationship, the end of the week, the next paycheck, the next cup of coffee. That thing will make us complete. And because of all this waiting, we are missing the fact that the last thing arrived, and it wasn't enough. This was how my wedding planning snowballed for me.

Tambourine by Etsy seller Punch Phoenix
Tambourine by Etsy seller Punch Phoenix

It wasn't until I was spray-painting 150 small hand-stamped tambourines with glitter paint that I asked myself, "What am I doing?" Here I am with the wind blowing glitter paint all over my apartment door (it's still sparkly) two weeks before my wedding. I'm making inside joke wedding favors that most people will not even take home. All because I learned that you are supposed to get personalized favors. I was proving my worthiness through homemade dollar store props. And with each addition of things, I never felt that complete feeling I was searching for. Even after the wedding was over, I still stressed looking through the pictures that maybe I hadn't done enough.

But what actually matters is that I had one of the best days of my life. Everyone was incredibly loving and generous, no one cared when little things went wrong, the food was delicious, the idea to DJ it ourselves worked out, people DANCED, our made-up cocktail was a hit, and my husband Ben and I got married!

Since we arranged our own flowers, this is me preparing the flower girl's homemade basket and petals.
Since we arranged our own flowers, this is me preparing the flower girl's homemade basket and petals. (Photo by Kim Craven Photography)

This realization continued to help me past the days of hot gluing ribbons to Mason jars. When it comes to my job, my artistic career, decorating the house, and even on our honeymoon, I remind myself a lot that our Pinterest idea of things is not going to bring happiness.

When Pinterest was invented, it was created to share ideas — which is dandy! I still love to use Pinterest for that. But when it comes to things in our lives that we believe we are judged for (money, career, weddings), Pinterest can become a social peacocking site.

Just us, with my homemade bouquet.
Just us, with my homemade bouquet. (Photo by Kim Craven Photography)

But to all those planning now, remember that the personal touches and projects that bring you joy are the ones to keep around. There is no need to go past that. There are plenty of other logistical tasks to throw your energy into, including caring about your relationship and your guests, the whole reason you're planning all this in the first place. The day will be stunning because of the beauty of your relationship, and that is always more than enough.

  1. I probably won't do much of what I'm "supposed" to do. Originally I had a bunch of ideas, mainly centered around succulents. So guess whose succulents are refusing to propagate this year, lol. I hope to manage enough decor for the day to feel special, whether it's DIY or discount, Pinterest-worthy or not.

    • That's so interesting, I also had a succulent plan that needed to go out the window. Maybe they tend to be fussy when they know a wedding is on the way. I will say that coming up with all of these ideas are a wonderful part of the brainstorming period. It's just about knowing when and which ones to let go if you need to. It's so great that you can see that, and I'm sure you will do a beautiful job! Thanks for reading!

  2. Great post! We're hand making a lot of the decorations … actually, perhaps all of them? In any case, I haven't yet stumbled across a project that I hated doing. I've so far enjoyed every single project I've started. Maybe it's because I've never been on Pinterest and avoid theKnot like the plague? I've never opened a bridal magazine and aside from OBB I don't really read any wedding related anything. I guess since all the projects I've done so far came from either my own or my fiance's imagination it hasn't become a case of "we need this" but was always a case of "we want this."
    This was eye opening though because it made me think "If I start a project, and hate how it's going, and dread doing it, it IS okay to just scrap it." That's a really freeing idea and as we get closer to the end of our journey when time and money gets tight I'll keep that thought in my back pocket 🙂

    4 agree
    • Thanks so much!:) I think it's incredibly impressive that you are working on projects independent of online pressure. Even though I am in a creative career, I felt lost on where to start on the wedding front. That's really fantastic. I'm so happy this was helpful though! Have a wonderful time with your planning!!

  3. This is a freeing philosophy, but sometimes a difficult one to adopt! I've found that general laziness (Oh, did I forget to make a whimsical sticker guest book that looks like our dog being carried away by balloons? Guess that's not happening) has been my friend in that process. Even with things I really couldn't not do (no room in the budget for fancy invitations, but need to let our guests know when our wedding is), it helps a lot to tell myself "Even though you have to finish this project, it does not need to be perfect. No one will look at the two of your tears of joy as you kiss at the ceremony and think 'yeah, this is nice and all, but those invitations were so sloppy.' No one will even notice half of the mistakes you do." And sure enough, when I sent out homemade save the dates that I thought were filled with flaws I wished I had time to fix, I got a ton of compliments on them. And a lot of people looked at our website, so even if someone thought the save the dates were terrible, they still did their job.

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    • That is such an excellent point! Because at the end of the day, I still would never discourage someone from tackling the crafts they enjoy making. But the reminder that you can leave the standard of "perfection" behind to have pride in your work is a fantastic point. I guess it all goes back to, "What is the intention behind making this?" If it's because you love creating it, then that's all that matters. Thanks for your input!

  4. Pinterest offers some great ideas, but engaged couples should not try so hard to keep up with trends. Instead, they may want to develop their own concepts for their weddings. Experienced wedding planners boca raton can help couples come up with unique designs and qualities to make their ceremonies and receptions truly unique.

  5. Man, this was a relief to read. I'm deep into craft crunch time in wedding planning right now. I think, too, as creative types we see our weddings as not only indicative of how good of brides we are but how good of ARTISTS we are. For instance, I had this nagging, subconscious thought that if I hadn't hand-drawn the illustrations for our save-the-dates and our invitations, then I might as well be setting my visual arts degree on fire with our unity candles. Now if someone whines that I haven't "personalized" something by not doing it myself, I have a comeback for them: "I did personalize it. I personally picked it out myself." 😉

    8 agree
    • Hahaha, this is very true! I found myself holding the wedding to the standard of my career many times as well. It's wonderful that we have artistic discipline, but it's definitely difficult to take a deep breath at times and remember that this is a massive undertaking to as only two people. I think that's a perfect response if anyone infers that. Best of luck with the final days of your planning, I'm sure it will be incredible.
      Thanks for your comment!

  6. I read this while decoupaging a handmade card box with tiny sheets of origami paper I brought back from a year teaching in Japan so I'm basically bleeding irony right now. Thank you for this post! I'm having a really hard time in the remaining two months before the wedding of letting go of the little projects and inside jokes so this helped.

    2 agree
    • Sounds like a beautiful project! It's so tricky to let all the littles ones go since it's a lovely way to give a nod to everyone you love that day. But they will understand if it comes down to the project making you happy or not during the final weeks. Best of luck!:)

  7. I really enjoy this post, and I learned a lot about DIY. I mean it would be nice if you could made something special for you own wedding. these are priceless, always valued.

    • I absolutely agree! The things we did end up making are very special to us, and mostly now on our mantlepiece (other than the tambourines, which we still have 50 of haha). Thanks so much for reading!

  8. This is an article that all brides should print out and staple into their wedding planning folder or stuff into their wedding planning purse. Maybe I was the only bride to have a wedding planning purse.
    When I got married in June 2014 after a January 2014 proposal I was unprepared to plan a wedding, and was pretty oblivious to sites like Pinterest. OBB became my saviour when I googled "wedding dresses for brides who hate wedding dresses" and found it. I'm grateful for my little bubble after helping a very dear friend, an uber crafty bride get married this July. She Pintersted everything and was crushed to see that many of her darling original ideas weren't so original. Then she had to think of ways to top what she had seen, even though I know she liked her original concept better.
    I'm sure that some of my original ideas for our wedding (ie we wrote a personalized cookbook as a guest favour) were all over Pinterest, but since I never had a Pinterest board and only looked at the pins friends sent me, I still feel like our wedding was unique and wonderful.

    1 agrees
    • I love that you had a wedding planning purse, that's incredible. And yes, Pinterest did absolutely get me started. I knew absolutely nothing about putting this together. I sadly only discovered OBB and similar sites toward the very end of planning, but I was happy to have them then! You're also right that it can be a struggle to feel original after seeing your projects online. The internet sometimes reminds you that a lot of people out there are having similar ideas to you, but that definitely doesn't make them less special or personalized. You are still telling your personal relationship's story through those projects, so they will always remain unique and incredible to you. Thanks for your great feedback!

  9. Haha, so you mean I shouldn't decide on a new craft idea (confetti hearts in all the succulent plants since they look a little scraggly) four days till my wedding? This is a VERY good article for me to read right now!

    • Hahaha, congrats on your wedding in four days!!! I know how tempting it can feel. I was creating a lace "plant skirt" for our outdoor decorations two nights before. It's hard to stop. I'm sure everyone will love them. Best of luck!

  10. Great post !

    Indeed, I often tell "my" brides and grooms stop stressing about doing things for their guests and doint things by yourself.
    Instead focus on the love for each other. If everything else doesn't bring joy, but stress, frustration and fight within your couple, really, it is not worth being done.
    and actually, that's why you have bride's maid for, right ? 😉

    • Thanks so much!! It's such a tricky balance, especially since personalization was so special to us. But there is a balance in everything, crafting included I suppose! My bridesmaids were total rockstars with helping out, I wasn't the best at delegating work, but when I did let the reins go a bit, they were incredible.

  11. We got married 3 weeks ago and had a brilliant day. But now we are paying all the bills I've realised how much all that DIY crafting actually cost – and I know that lots of people didn't even notice some of my props etc. But I won't forget a lovely day making bunting with my Mum, or my daughter helping to decorate the big MDF initials. These are now hanging on the wall down to our basement garage – so we get to see them ever trip down to do laundry or grab something from the freezer. The mosaic I made to illustrate our stationery is framed and on the wall as another permanent reminder of our lovely day – and the vows we made. And the bunting will come out for summer parties for years to come. So my message would be to do a few things that give you pleasure – especially if the making itself has lovely memories. But keep an eye on what you are actually spending and remember that people who are having a lovely time will be too busy talking, laughing and dancing to notice the finer points of your DIY decoration.

    1 agrees
    • Hi Lori, congratulations on your wedding!! Thank you so much for this, I never even touched on cost, and this is an excellent point. I was shocked at times at how much certain "budget aware" projects can cost. The Mason Jar people sure are making a killing. So I think this another factor in finding that balance when it comes to choosing projects. But I am so happy that these crafts are such a wonderful part of your life now. They are absolutely irreplaceable. Thanks for your comment!!

  12. Thank you for this. There's an article on The Knot right now about all the wedding trends that have changed since the magazine started in the late 90s (and, implicitly, that the magazine is somehow responsible for?). Spoiler alert: weddings are a lot more "personalized" and involve a lot more guests activities and unique favors. Which is great if you like those things…but probably MUCH better for the WIC and Pinterestland waiting to tell you what the next big thing is and how your wedding just isn't quite good enough yet.

    • That's so interesting, I'm going to check it out. I've had a lot of people say that to me, even couplets that got married as little as 10 years ago or so. You went through wedding vendors and that was that. I don't think that extreme would have been perfect for me and my husband's creativity or budget either, but there is definitely a balance, and a way for the wedding industry to cash in on this trend. Thanks for sharing!!

  13. Well said Ginny! I suffered a near brain hemorrhage over cleverness and design, again and again. This is why I try to rate how much time it reeeeeally takes, what the cost is, and what the happiness factor is of that DIY project in nearly all of my DIY blog posts.

    It all looks so innocent and easy to do. But it's 100 of those or 35 of these and then it leads to absolute insanity. Your last line encapsulates it what we should all keep in mind for any of these crazy Pinterest projects. "The day will be stunning because of the beauty of your relationship, and that is always more than enough."

    • Thank you so much, Stacey! That's incredibly smart to break it down that way. It's hard to imagine what it's like to make 100 of something until you really need to sit down and find the time and concentration. It's absolutely possible, but not always easy to see the reality when the idea first comes to mind. I really appreciate your encouraging feedback!

  14. My mother is an artist and my father is not. I've taken to heart his saying to my mother "It doesn't need to be perfect. If you try to make it perfect it will never get finished. It just needs to be Good Enough."

    As an artist and craft-person myself I think that's helped tremendously.

    1 agrees
    • Absolutely, it's great to have that balance. And in art, what really is "perfect" anyway? Like he said, it's all about finding what's good enough to have pride in your work. Thanks for sharing!

      1 agrees
  15. AAAAAAAAMEN!!!!!!!!
    I spent the last two weeks before my wedding crafting crafting and crafting, in 35-39 degrees celsius heat I ran from shop to shop to get all the last minute things I needed and when we went to our wedding venue the day before the wedding I was busted and fell asleep at 9 in the evening, very untypical for me.
    On the day of the wedding, I spent 4-5 hours with decorations and only 1 with my makeup and hair and I still had the feeling „this looks like nothing at all, you can barely see how much work it took me. And in the evening at the reception we had rain coming in on our outdoor-dinner and I was crying a little when we had to leave all the decorations done by me in the rain and go to the inside of the restaurant. When my best friend shaked me and said „Omg, who cares about the decoration??? Look, all your guests are having the best time and want to party with you and you are here crying about the decoration???“ I figured, she was absolutely right. This was all just absolutely crazy! I just married the man of my dreams and here are all of my beloved friends and familymembers, that came from very far just to spend this day with us and I worry about the decoration while nobody else is?
    I wish I had not done so much for the decoration. The venue was absolutely gorgeous and overpowered the look of the diy-stuff anyways and the restaurant was so pitoresque and the food fantastic, it did not even need anything else. It just made me super-nervous the weeks before the wedding and cost me a lot of time and energy I could have invested in my gorgeous husband!

    • Thank you so much for sharing!! I'm so sorry to hear about the stress the crafting caused, and for the rain! But how wonderful that you have a friend to remind you that everything was still beautiful, because I remember it was very very hard to convince me as well in the moment. What a wonderful story though and I'm so happy that you can out the other end knowing it was an incredible day.

  16. I'm 4 days away from our wedding, and have spent the last few weeks crafting all of the things. It did get a bit out of hand to the point where my groom had to remind me that spending time with him and enjoying the process of preparing was more important than all the little details. However, since I pushed to get things done early, now that the wedding is so close, I've actually been relaxed about it for a few days already since it's such minor things left to be done. I'd rather have the stressful part earlier and relax the last week beforehand knowing that if something pops up unexpectedly I have the time to deal with it.

    Based on a lot of comments and other things I've read on various sites, I think we actually did a lot less DIY than some people, which is a strange concept to me because we're such DIY people. We have 2 home-based business that our friends refer to as "high maintenance hobbies, and have our own cutting machine that can scan and create custom designs instead of just pre-made die cuts. We actually made our own custom wedding favours based on our apple butter business. We each picked our favourite flavour and altered our usual labels to make them "bride's choice" and "groom's choice".

    Our venue is such a naturally beautiful location, a glass and wood greenhouse essentially, in the middle of a conservation park, that we went really minimalistic on the decor and I'm really glad we did. I feel like we got just the right amount of personalized details that are really important to us without having gone overboard.

    • Hi Andrea. Congrats on your upcoming wedding!! It sounds like you are in a wonderful mindset, which is very commendable. Also, I find what you said about not doing a lot of DIY even though you're usually a DIY person is very interesting. I remember my husband and I talking about this. Perhaps having an outlet in your day-to-day life for crafts did not make you feel like you needed to overdo it with the homemade elements. Since I am not a huge crafter, I suddenly found the wedding to be an excuse to try and learn all these new things, and then it just got away from me. So by being a professional crafter, you had a great outlook on what was practical.

      Your venue sounds lovely as well! Best of luck with everything and thank you for sharing your story!

  17. Where was this article a few weeks ago? I just got married on the 12th, and nearly stressed myself so much that I was going to miss my own wedding due to the overwhelming panic attacks. Looking back now, I so wish I hadn't worried myself to death over all the Pinterest crafts that I just HAD to do to make my wedding stand out. Words of wisdom to brides-to-be – it's not worth it! Just enjoy the day with your loved ones. They couldn't care less about the DIY programs, favors, and centerpieces.

    • Hi Amber, congratulations on your wedding!! And yes, I completely agree. I remember the day before I was sitting and cutting up this lace tree skirt for one of our ceremony decorations, and driving myself nuts. It's very hard to let it is all go when you've worked hard for so many months, but there does come a time to accept it's going to be beautiful either way. Thanks for posting!!

  18. Our wedding is in 24 days…. I can't say thank you enough for this post. You nailed everything I'm feeling right now and have just recently deleted my pinterest boards and things I swore I'd have to have to make it PERFECT. It's perfect because it's US. And that is so exciting. Thank you again.

    • Hi Kristin! Congratulations on your upcoming wedding!! I'm so happy this post was helpful to you. I think deleting your boards were a very brave thing to do, that's really fantastic. Even after the wedding (before I wrote this post) I would glance at them and think, "Oh I never did that!" And it was so silly. It's all so unnecessary. Like you said, it's perfect because it's about the both of you. And everyone witnessing your marriage will feel that as well:) Happy New Year!

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