Ask the Wedding Expert

Q: I’ve been planning to use a florist and stationer, but my mom insists that we can save cash by making our invitations, bouquets, and centerpieces ourselves. Is it worth it to DIY?

A: First of all, tell Mom to put down the stencils and glue. Before you find yourself knee-deep in invitation kits, you need to decide whether these projects fit into your wedding-planning strategy as a whole.

I, too, was seduced by the idea of DIY. (I worked for Martha Stewart at the time, which fueled my fantasy.) For our 2005 wedding, my husband and I made our own place cards, menus, even the floral centerpieces. Not only did those turn out to be a total time suck, I wasn’t all that thrilled with my own handiwork. Apparently, I’m not as crafty as I think I am. And at the end of the day, I didn’t really save all that much cash, either. Add up materials, shipping, printer cartridges, and time commitment, and it was pretty much even. Likewise, I’ve heard of a bride who bought an iPod, giant speakers, and a plethora of iTunes songs so she could DIY her music, but ended up spending so much on the accessories that she could have hired a quartet.

The lesson here: Sometimes it’s just more time- and cost-effective to call in the pros. The exceptions? Your wedding date is a long way off, you’re a florist and/or graphic designer, and you truly like making things like table numbers yourself. But if DIY means investing in new tools or signing up for a $200 class to learn new stamping techniques, it’s just going to add to your stress level. Before you decide to DIY, make sure you account for all the expenses of a project, from start to finish. And don’t write off professional florists and stationers without actually getting some price quotes. Usually you can find good deals by shopping around or by choosing a less elaborate package.

Donna Garlough
Weddings Editor