Wedding do-it-yourself? Do-it-never

So I’m kind of crafty. I like to make fancy desserts and paint canvases and sew things. My absolute hands-down favorite website on planet Earth is Pinterest. I still think pretty much everything Martha Stewart makes is amazingly beautiful. So when it came to the subject of “do-it-yourself” or, DIY, for my wedding, I thought, hey, why not?

When you are planning a wedding, you are bombarded with all types of emails, websites, books and magazines all giving you their best advice and tips for making your wedding the event everyone will remember. This is a cheap farce. First of all, all the advice conflicts with each other. It’s like all those fancy diets out there – every day there’s a new diet that seems to be the “best” way to eat. Gluten-free, sugar-free, fat-free, vegetarian, cabbage diet, cleanse diet, etc. Basically the only way to be safe is to just eat things that are green and grow on your front lawn.

So I kind of have an excuse why I was confused about this whole DIY thing. I fooled myself into thinking, “Hey I’m kind of crafty” (see above) so I thought it was a good idea to DIY some things for my wedding.

Now, all these “experts” tell you not to overdo the DIY-ing, and that choosing only a few things can be rewarding and fun. The experts also say that DIY can be a fun way to bond with your bridesmaids, as well as a cheap – but still nice – alternative to the crazy expensive options. Also, DIY-ing is “unique” and “you can have something at your event that no one has ever seen before!”

Gam and Emily spray painting.
Gam and Emily spray painting.

DO NOT FALL FOR THIS. It is a trick to make you spend money and go totally insane. It will make you buy a $25 6-ounce bottle of Martha Stewart paint or spend $200 on colored glass mason jars. Unfortunately, the only people who could give me knowledgeable advice on this subject were the same experts who also claim crafting things for your wedding is not time-consuming.

I thought I was safe. I chose to only DIY my centerpieces, guestbook and table cards. I started with the centerpieces – 6”x12” baskets made out of paint sticks. The end result is meant to look something like THIS. Awesome and I got some free paint sticks from Home Depot and built a sample one to make sure it would work. It looked super cute and I decided to go for it. One order of 300 paint sticks later and we were in business.

I asked my bridal party plus mom and grandmother to help out. My maid and matron-of-honors chose to bow out – one was on vacation that week and the other’s daughter had a bunch of softball tournaments. So it was just me, my fiancé, my three sisters, my mom and my grandmother. Armed with all the supplies plus a few pizzas for bribing purposes, we started to work.

Almost immediately, two of my sisters started complaining. Now, I completely sympathized with them on this – these baskets are super cute but a total bitch to put together. Each time you staple gun the wood it either splinters or gets crooked. The wood glue doesn’t dry for hours so it’s practically pointless to use it. It’s awkward as crap to try and hold it together with only two hands while also simultaneously stapling it together. It’s very difficult … but not totally impossible.

Which is what I replied to my sister after she said “Emily, this is really hard … like, really hard.” I was having a difficult time too, but I was trying to put on a brave face for everyone because, well I basically forced them to help me, and I wanted these damn centerpieces to work, because I knew they would be awesome. So we kept plugging away.

Three hours later, and only my mom, Awesome and I were the last ones standing. My one sister had to leave for work, my other sister had given up on the centerpieces completely and was stuffing napkins instead, and my third sister was just kind of helping the conversation along, which was much appreciated, because by that time I was so sweaty and frustrated that I could not form coherent words.

It was a miracle of life that we actually assembled and painted 25 of these centerpieces that day. We started at 12 and ended at 6. At the bitter end, my fiancé was sleeping in my mom’s armchair (I wasn’t mad – he did 80 percent of the assembling) and I was pouring sweat in the backyard spray painting boxes while my grandmother looked on and said things like “Oh so that’s how you use that stuff” and “Jeez it’s hot out here” (see photo).

My final advice: DIY can be fun. It can be a cheap alternative. It can be beautiful. But don’t do it for your wedding unless you can handle half a day of sweating, swearing, complaining and worrying if it’s going to work out and if you are going to have to start all over again.

Tune in to my blog a few weeks from now when I describe the DIY we went through for our guestbook and a refurb of a second-hand dresser that I just had to have for the wedding because I am a glutton for punishment. I promise you it’s more fun to read about it then to actually do it.