Planning a wedding is no easy feat, and as much as you’d like to add your personal touch (and save a few dollars), some things are best left to the experts. Here’s a rundown of the items that should be outsourced and what you can tackle yourself.
1. DIY: INVITATIONS
Why pay for an overpriced set of impersonal embossed stationery when you can make your own save-the-date cards and wedding invites? Whether you use an online service, call in a favor from a design-savvy friend, or craft them yourself, they’ll not only be much cheaper, but they’ll allow you to put your personality on full display.
2. LEAVE TO THE PROS: PHOTOGRAPHY
You may have a friend who majored in photojournalism, but just because she can take a well-crafted photo doesn’t mean she can pull it off at a wedding. Professional wedding photographers are great at snapping high-quality shots, but they also have a sixth sense for the flow of proceedings and know just where they need to be in order to get the perfect angle on a groom’s face. After the wedding, photos will be one of the few mementos you’ll have, and you’ll certainly regret not seeing special moments captured.
3. LEAVE TO THE PROS: FLOWERS AND BOUQUETS
It’s true that flowers are ridiculously expensive, and to add insult to injury, they’re perishable. When you price out the cost to DIY bouquets, it might seem tempting, but resist. It’s not a project you can prep in advance, and the last thing you want to be doing the night before your wedding is arranging flowers—a difficult art form to master on its own—for bouquets and boutonnieres.
4. DIY: CENTERPIECES
Despite what tradition might tell you, table displays don’t have to be floral. With a little creativity, you can devise noteworthy centerpieces using everything from lanterns and candles to birdcages. It’s also a clever way to infuse the couple’s interests, whether it’s with a tray of wine bottles, a stack of old books, or a collection of photos in ornate frames.
5. LEAVE TO THE PROS: MUSIC
Plenty of couples swear by a homemade playlist blasting from the loudspeakers, but unless you have someone willing to spend their evening chained to the computer screen, relying on a piece of technology for such an integral part of your day is a big risk. There’s a decent amount of finesse involved in cueing up songs for entrances or cake-cutting ceremonies and in fading out songs that have people fleeing the dance floor. Save the stress and hire a DJ.
6. LEAVE TO THE PROS: DAY-OF COORDINATOR
You’re incredibly organized, overly prepared, and have a list of friends and family members offering to help. Still, you should hire a wedding planner—or at the very least a day-of coordinator—who doesn’t also happen to be on the invite list. Having someone there whose sole purpose is to ensure your vision goes off without a hitch will mean the difference between a chaotic frenzy in which you’re always watching the clock and a polished event you can actually enjoy.
7. DIY: DRINKS
If your venue allows it, bring in your own alcohol. Better yet, offer guests their choice of wine, beer, or a signature cocktail. You’ll save a lot of money not paying for copious varieties of liquor (and bartenders who know how to serve it) and will be able to amplify your wedding’s theme with a festive drink.
8. LEAVE TO THE PROS: WEDDING CAKE
Unless you have a cousin who happens to own a patisserie, even the most avid baking enthusiasts in your family probably aren’t up for the daunting task of making a cake themselves. It will literally be center stage, so it needs to look just as good as it tastes. If budget is a concern and paying a premium for a multi-tiered confection isn’t a priority, you’re better off nixing it entirely. Many modern weddings opt out of them anyway.
9. DIY: PASTRY TABLE
If you do want to show your sweeter side, do so with a special desserts table. You can enlist relatives to help whip up oversized batches of their most beloved recipes in advance, and present them all on a table of family favorites. Or, with a trip to the flea market and a big-box store, you can easily create a candy bar devised of glass jars filled with licorice, bubblegum, and lollipops.
10. DIY: NAME CHANGE
For many couples, a major rite of passage that comes with getting married is changing their name. If you plan to make a new last name official on more than just your social media accounts, you will spend your first months of newlywed bliss drowning in paperwork for a new driver’s license, Social Security card, voter registration, passport, frequent flyer miles, and so on. Download this helpful, comprehensive checklist from Allstate to keep track of all the moving pieces, or use an online service to update your documents for you.
11. DIY: HONEYMOON
You could easily hire a travel agent to set up the tropical getaway of your dreams, but every booking they make on your behalf will come with a markup. Plus, studies have shown that a great deal of the positive emotions associated with a vacation come from the planning stages, so take the opportunity to book your own flights, research your own excursions, and make your own dinner reservations. You’ll be glad you did when the day finally arrives.