How to Plan a Successful DIY Extravaganza
What an amazing wedding! It’s in downtown Asheville in an off-beat venue, it’s a DIY extravaganza, and the bride has tons of amazing advice in this Hindsight interview–everything from researching on the internet, to managing, like, a million DIY projects, to finding details that fit your style and that honor your guests.
I know you’ll enjoy this one as much as I do! MWAH!
Briefly tell us a bit about your wedding:
My wedding was on November 26, 2011, and there were around 175 guests in total. The ceremony was a traditional Catholic Wedding Mass at St. John the Evangelist Church in Waynesville, NC and the reception was at an Education, Arts, and Science Center called Pack Place in the middle of downtown Asheville, NC. By the end of the planning process, I felt like my wedding had become a weird mixture of formal and casual and quirky all mixed up. I was a little worried it wasn’t going to be coherent but I think it all came together in the end.
As far as my planning process is concerned, my older sister, Stephanie, got married in July of 2010 so I had a huge unfair advantage in terms of where to start, what vendors to use, the order of all of the logistics that had to be worked out, etc. But in terms of inspiration for the style and theme, most of it came from hours of looking at example weddings on Wedding Gawker, Pinterest, and other random blogs I came across. I was definitely aiming my search for cool DIY projects because doing as much as I could myself was a big goal. I just graduated with a Fine Arts degree in painting and I was really eager to take a break from painting and just do a bunch of fun crafty things for a while.
Another major goal was to find cheap cheap cheap DIY projects. My parents paid for the wedding, but because my sister just got married the summer before, I knew it wasn’t easy for them. (I actually ended up starting a little private competition with my sister to see who could have the cheaper wedding. She won in the end, but that is only because she had the hook-up on catering from a job she worked in high school and college).
So looking at the website and blogs, I would bookmark anything that I thought was really cool and cheap. Then when the time came to start cranking stuff out, I would decide what was the cheapest and easiest thing to do, and if it was practical in terms of the way it would be used for the wedding.
What are some things you’re glad you did?
I’m really glad I did so many DIY projects. I was just throwing things together that I liked, but in the end it really really was a reflection of both my husband and I’s personalities individually and as a couple. I think any chance you have during your planning process and wedding to add something unique to yourselves, you should, because this is not just a wedding day, its YOUR wedding day and you want it to be reflective of that. Also, a lot of people thought I was crazy to do some of the projects that I did because of how time consuming they were, but in the end I’m really glad I did them.
For example, for each persons escort card I stamped their name on a paint chip in ink and for their place card, I stamped their name on a flattened spoon with metal stamps. This is for 175 people…one letter at a time! It sounds crazy now but I am so so glad I did it, because it gave me a chance to really know (very well) exactly who would be there and maybe showed them that I was so happy they, specifically, were there. And I have heard a lot of people are hanging the spoons on their christmas trees so its cool to think that they might remember the day every time they see it.
Things you wish you had done
I’m really happy with everything we accomplished. It really was everything I wanted and I don’t think adding anything else would have made it better. BUT of course there are always a few crafts that I would add if I had had more time such as an I Spy card for the kids, to give them something to do at their dinner tables. Or something funny to read on the wall in the bathrooms while waiting in line. But all in all, it was perfect!
Anything you wish you hadn’t done?
When picking the date for the wedding, we decided to have it the weekend after Thanksgiving so all of the family would be there and we could make it one big event. This sounds like a great idea but I think it caused unnecessary chaos. In my family, Thanksgiving is the biggest holiday. We really do the whole Thanksgiving week with lots of food and lots of traditions. This year, there were 37 people at my grandparents house, and it was a blast, but….crazy! I really didn’t want to put any stress on my family members but unfortunately I think that is exactly what happened. I would suggest avoiding any kind of major holiday or family event so everyone can come and have fun and not worry about anything else.
Anything you wish you HAD worried about?
I wound up with quite an extensive craft list by the end. I did a great job time managing that aspect to make sure everything got done the way I wanted it, but I kind of forgot about the “Day Of” logistics and working out how everything would come together. My goal was to be 100% completely done with everything by the monday before my saturday wedding. I wanted to do this because it was a holiday week and I wanted to be able to enjoy the time with my family and not worry about wedding stuff. So….did that happen? Of course not! The main thing I was working on up until the late hours the night before the wedding was logistics. Thank God my sister was there to tell me it needed to be done and how to do it, because it would’ve been complete chaos otherwise.
Just making sure you think through every second of the day and who will be in charge of what, and making a schedule for anyone involved is incredibly helpful. It just makes it that much easier to get things done quickly and seamlessly. I should have been worrying about it much sooner, but luckily we were able to get it all done in time.
What is your very best hindsight advice?
As soon as we finished my sister’s wedding last summer I told myself the one thing that was really really really important for me to try to do during my whole process was HAVE FUN. Enjoy it! Don’t do any of it if you are not enjoying it. And figure out any way possible not to stress if you don’t have to. This is a major event in your life and you don’t want to look back on it and cringe. The reality is that the details don’t matter to any one but you, so if something doesn’t work the way you wanted it to, no one will know but you, so brush it off and enjoy everything else. I can honestly say I didn’t really stress during the entire year long engagement until the day before the rehearsal dinner. And I think that was possible because I made the conscious decision in the beginning not to. You just have to decide you are going to enjoy it, and then remember that in every decision.
- Leaf curtains to mark reserved pews in the church, and then hung over the bar at the reception – made out of sticks, string tissue paper and pearl beads.
- Unity candle and the wire stands for the candles that were used to light the unity candle – I photoshopped a design and then melted it onto the candle. The stands were made out of wire that I spray painted black.
- Ring book (it was a book rather than a pillow) – I got an old library book I had bought, cut out about a 1/2 inch deep square from the pages, mod-podged the pages together, stamped a little message and glued a string to tie the rings to.
- Veil, Sash, and Date – My mom sewed my veil and sash and also sewed my “something blue” – the date, onto the inside of my dress.
- Signage at reception – we spray painted masonite boards with chalkboard paint to make the signs that directed people at the reception.
- Escort cards and stand – I collected paint chips from walmart and then stamped the guests name and table number on each card. The stand to display them was made out of wire, string and a block of wood. I hung the cards with mini clothespins on the string for the guests to take to find their table.
- Table decorations – I used three different sized cylindrical vases in the center of the table. We made covers that went around battery operated tea lights out of thread and then put them in the vases.
- The table numbers I made out of wire then spray painted black.
- At each place setting, I put the spoon “place card” with the name of the guest, another paint chip that was the same color as their escort card which I stamped an animal reflecting their food choice (chicken, cow or plant), and a pack of jordan almonds.
- On the jordan almond packs, which I made out of brown paper bags, I stamped my husband and I’s initials, the date, and a plant like stamp that I carved on the front, and then glued a description and thank you card on the back.
- Surrounding the table number and vases, I folded origami table leaves out of silver tissue paper – around 25 for each table.
- Guest books – I cut and folded scrapbook paper and computer paper to make a small 10 page book that went on each table. On, the book I stamped a question for the table to answer. Ex: What is your funniest memory with us, or where should we go for our 5th anniversary, etc.
- Photo Display – I bought an old frame from Goodwill, spray painted it green, hung string across it and clothes-pinned pictures of my husband and I over the years.
- Dance Floor – We bought about 275 sq ft of laminate hardwood floor from lumber liquidators and used that for our dance floor (WAY cheaper than renting and we can use it somewhere else).
- Photobooth – we had made a photobooth for an art show event at school that I borrowed for the reception. I spray painted an old trunk for the seat and filled it with props. I purchased a photobooth computer program online that automated the process of taking the photos and printing them. We used my computer and hooked it up to a printer right outside the booth so the people could take their pics with them. It also saved them to a folder on my computer so I have digital copies.
- I made my necklace, to match my engagement ring, out of a pearl beadand sterling wire. I also made the same necklace for my bridesmaidsas their gift.
- Our save the dates were postcards of a photo – taken by Giedre, that I just added the text and had printed I made our invitation on Photoshop out of a combination of different invitations I had seen online that I liked.
- My hairpin, I bought from an antique shop for 6 bucks. It was actually a gold shirt pin, so I bought silver leaf and made it silver and just used bobby pins to attach it to my hair.
- My shoes I got on etsy. they were from the 1960s.
(Whooowee, was that all?!)