DIY vs the Pros

Posted By The Mrs. on October 25, 2015

When I Do It (2)

A lot of our wedding was DIY, or a combination of DIY and pros. It had to be! What florist is going to carry hylian shields for boutonnieres?  But I very quickly learned that while it makes sense to do some things on your own, other things…other things get some pretty hilarious outcomes when you try but have basically zero training. Even worse is when you hire someone else to do it, think you’re doing the right thing, but oops…you forgot to check for a portfolio.


So Many Terrible Things Happen That Way


Of course, there are also DIYs that turn out amazing! (I still have some of my moss terrariums from the wedding, and they look great around the house!) I’m also super glad to have worked with the range of amazingly talented professionals that I did, and I know that there is no way we could have done the things we did without them! The trick is knowing what to delegate to professionals, and which professionals to hire.

DIY? Or DI-Don’t?

There are some things that you obviously can’t do yourself…like the photography(though a selfie stick wedding is bound to happen) But realizing that you can’t(or shouldn’t) DIY something isn’t always that easy. We started by looking at a few factors:

  1. How hard is the craft?
  2. How long will it take?
  3. How good am I at the steps required?
  4. Is it actually cheaper for me to do it?
  5. Is there a fall back plan if it fails?
  6. How long before the wedding can it be done?
  7. Do I know *exactly* what I want the end result to look like?

Each of those considerations are very important, and I would say that #7 is the most vital. If you don’t have a clear picture in your mind of what you’re trying to create(or even, dare I suggest it, a sketch!) it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to hit the mark. You’d probably be better off working with a professional who has done it often enough to really understand your request.

There’s no requirement that you have to be the one to do anything but sign the marriage license for your wedding! I have a long list of things that I thought I would craft, and that I had all these great plans for….that didn’t happen….and many of those were intentional decisions after looking at what it would take to do it well.

The bouquet is one example. Initially I was planning on doing the whole thing myself, then after a quick trip to the google that showed me what fake flowers look like, and explained that I would have to assemble a fresh bouquet the night before my wedding and store it in the fridge overnight…ugh.

No thank you!

I reached out to some recently married friends to find out who they’d used and heard great things about the local grocer, and they all turned out to be true! Gorgeous results and a great price. <3 I did still end up making some of the pieces, so this was a combination of DIY and Professional. I just love how it turned out! Details in an upcoming post, but here’s a sneak peak for now! 😉



I Can’t Handle the DIY, But I Have this Friend…

How badly do you want to stay friends? I know…harsh question! One of the surprising things about weddings is the friendships lost over fiascos, and even if your friend has the skills to do the assignment under ordinary conditions…dealing with brides takes a special skillset. No matter how laid back you are, it’s basically guaranteed that something during the planning is going to trigger your cray cray- or theirs!

That’s not to say you can’t involve people you know…I had some friends(and especially my Mom! <3 ) help out with the crafts, Lauren McGee is a close friend who happens to be a pro MUA and our officiant was a long time friend of ours who has done a few weddings.

A Few Favorites Done by/with Friends

Now, photos wouldn’t make sense for this, but one of my absolute favorite friend projects was the ceremony written by our Officiant. He worked with us very closely to write an amazing secular/Zelda themed ceremony…he even did it in record time, because our original officiant dropped out 3 weeks before the wedding! Now the original is someone that we used to know, and I’m still sad about the loss…but also frustrated, because it didn’t need to happen the way it did.

I know from my participation in the Offbeat Bride forums(which I highly recommend) and friends that have gotten married, that our experience with that particular friend isn’t unique…there are brides who ended up with never hearing from someone again because the photos didn’t turn out, or they flaked on DJing, etc. But those stories are just words of caution, because for every tiff had as a result of our wedding there’s a dozen experiences with friends/family that went so perfectly…I wouldn’t trade those for anything. <3

So if you’re going to forge ahead, with say, your baker friend doing the cake, there are a few things that would have helped our fiasco, and I hope that our hindsight ends up being useful to others:

  1. Keep communication open and regular
  2. Have a backup plan
  3. Make sure they know about it

Making sure that they know you have a backup plan gives them the opportunity to bow out gracefully, or decline without hard feelings. It decreases the pressure; combine that with open communication you will prevent things from hitting the boiling point before you realize the heat is even on.

Picking a Pro

Once you’ve decided to delegate to a professional instead of taking on a task yourself there are still considerations to be made! Not everybody for hire is truly skilled…and price alone won’t tell you what they can actually do. Often those that are new are…overly optimistic about their ability to deliver. Meanwhile a very skilled photographer may have a different style than what you’re looking for.

That’s why my number one tip to anyone planning on hiring someone for any type of event is read the reviews and check the portfolio. Don’t bring someone on if they don’t have those two things! Sure, some people are new, but if they’re trying to get started they should go about it the right way, apprenticing to someone who does it or simply bringing their camera to friends weddings to grab some shots to build their portfolio.*

Sidenote: these things are doubly true if you want(or feel obligated) to work with a friend/relative. If it’s been their lifelong dream, and yours would be their first wedding, that’s a great feather in their cap, but it could come at the expense of your memories! Proceed with caution!

One of my favorite wedding memories is the night we picked our photographer. Cuddled up in the living room with chinese takeout, our favorite beers and some portfolios to review. It was a fantastic date night! I got the portfolios by asking Lauren who she recommended, since she does so many fashion shoots, and through a site called Thumbtack. Thumbtack allows you to put out a request for service during an event, and people get back to you with proposals.

I did a quick google, and it may have actually been this

I did a quick google, and it may have actually been this wedding…lol

We didn’t have to go through very many before we realized that the premium price tag from Naomi Leu was actually a fantastic deal. To save enough money to really justify sacrificing quality on the longest lasting part of the wedding we were getting pretty close to the bottom of the barrel…From the guy who only had buildings in his portfolio, to someone whose portfolio consisted of a single wedding that I’m 90% sure was Honey Boo Boo’s cousins, there weren’t many that we seriously considered after that.

It’s not just photography. Everything you work with a pro on should involve sampling of some kind before you make a selection or sign anything. Anyone providing food should offer tastings, anyone providing any kind of decor should have photos, example fabrics, you name it! Until you have the opportunity to see enough of their previous work to feel confident about their delivery don’t spend(or commit!) a dime.

On top of that, it’s a good idea to do a little research to prepare before talking to them. Well in advance of the first appointment with the vendor run a quick google search: “Questions to ask *insert vendor type here*.  Most people today aren’t experts on the details behind serving 50+ people, and more than one bride has been surprised at the last minute when the caterer provided plates but not forks!

You should also have some idea of what you want when you walk into the appointment. I’m notoriously indecisive, and easiest way I found to figure that out was to go crazy pinning things that caught my eye. Try a search for your wedding color/theme/season and the word wedding on pinterest. You’ll probably get hundreds of results, or you can also just browse the wedding category to get an idea for feel. On a number of my pinterest boards you can see me going crazy first, and then slowly narrowing in on the end result. The best example is the one for the bouquet:

My Bouquet Pinterest Board

- Please recheck your ID.
See More Pins from this Board

I’ve saved the least pleasant consideration for last. Budget. Before you even start any of this you should already know your total budget, and have an idea of what you want to spend on each piece. I spreadsheeted the wazoo out of our wedding. I’m so glad I did because it was shocking how quickly all of it added up! There are so many little pieces involved that it’s easy to forget the cost of cake knife(or even the bouquet!) in those early stages of planning. So don’t sign a thing until you’ve broken all of it out!

This makes picking a pro sound like a lot, but really it just boils down to a few list items:

  1. Check the Reviews AND the Portfolio
  2. Sample Sample Sample!
  3. Have Ideas(Colors, Flavors, Style, etc)
  4. Prepare Questions Before Appointments
  5. Budget Well

That’s really all it takes, the pros will take care of the rest! All that’s left for you to worry about is heading off into that sunset! <3


Photo Credit: Naomi Leu Photography



* Allowing them to grab shots/contribute if they want to(or as a gift) is not the same as “hiring for exposure”. Hiring for exposure is rude. It assumes that they owe you the time, skill and investments that they put into their work. If you’re going to use them as the primary person to do something then you should stop and really think about the expenses that you’re asking them to take on. When you do that, and realize how much you benefit, hopefully you’ll see that the least you can do is pay a market rate.

**My dad is a professional fish breeder, and has been working caring for fish for more than twenty years. He handled ensuring that their environment would be friendly(Water PH/aging, Temperature, Sun Exposure, etc) and everything went well. If you also feel the need to have animals involved with your event please use caution and involve professionals who can take care of them properly!   <3

(Photos of our wedding done by Naomi Leu)

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