With the average wedding these days costing in excess of the average new car, it is certainly tempting to do as much of it yourself as possible. However, some things are simply best left to the professionals. The last thing you want to do is repeat my mistake of spending the short hours between my rehearsal dinner and my morning wedding (when I should have been sleeping) cursing over the stems of the organic roses I ordered online, trying desperately to create professional-looking bouquets in the middle of the night. If you are on a budget, the best thing to do is to prioritize your desires, and then decide where you can splurge, scale it back or use a DIY option.
What to DIY
If you are an organized bride or groom-to-be hoping for an average-sized wedding, then it is likely not necessary to hire a wedding planner. Instead, you can find helpful timelines online or purchase inexpensive wedding planning apps for your iPhone to help keep your plans on track. Many couples do like to hire a wedding planner for the big day, though, simply to have someone experienced on hand to direct traffic and get the ceremony started on time.
The Non-Floral Décor
Unless you are using live plants borrowed from a nursery, it is probably best to leave the flowers to the experts, because it involves so much last-minute hands-on effort. However, you could certainly prepare non-floral décor in advance of the busy week before the wedding. Custom candle holders, place cards, photo displays, wedding favors and the like could all be fun projects to work on in your spare time in the months leading up to the wedding to add creative touch to your special day. Some of these also could make fun projects to work on with friends as part of a bridal shower.
The Wedding Slide Show
Creating your own customized wedding slide show can be a really fun collaborative DIY project. You and your spouse-to-be can spend time poring over childhood photos, scanning your favorites, organizing the snapshots and setting them to music. Five years ago, my husband and I had a lot of fun trying to find complimentary pictures in our family albums. Our slide show, alternating back and forth between the two of us, featured photos of similar baby facial expressions, both of us playing soccer, each of us making the peace sign as oh-so-cool middle-school kids and splashing at the beach before we reached photos of the two of us together after we met. Guests shed more tears at our rehearsal dinner during the slide show than during the wedding itself.
What Not to DIY
It is best to leave this area to the professionals. A professional caterer will have ample sanitary oven and counter space to prepare food, and they will be the ones to worry about things such as serving food at the appropriate temperature. They will know how to deal with food allergies and dietary restrictions in a delicious fashion, if alerted in advance.
A professional baker can create a multi-layer cake without having it collapse and will know how to safely transport it to your reception venue. Even if delivery costs extra, it is worth your peace of mind. If you are tempted to do any DIY food, the best thing to do would be the groom's cake, which is a less crucial component, and it would not be a disaster if it didn't turn out right.
Even with the best planning, most weddings are actually not a day to relax, enjoy and savor. Instead, they are a whirlwind of emotions, a blur of family and friends, and an eventful day that is difficult to recall in fine detail after the fact. One of the best wedding investments is hiring an excellent professional photographer who will help you remember your special day for years to come and who will help create a wedding album that is a family heirloom, rather than a family joke. Y'all might not look quite as cute when you're growing old and gray together, so have a professional capture this moment in time.
If you hire professional musicians or DJ, they will know how best to handle the acoustics, wiring and other technical details of your chosen wedding venue. They will bring, set up and troubleshoot the sound equipment. All you will need to do is listen and enjoy. If you get a DJ, they can even help serve as an MC and keep the reception moving according to your predetermined plans, such as announcing the first dance, alerting guests that it is time for the cake-cutting and preparing guests to send you off on your honeymoon.