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Friday, March 13, 2009

Wedding Experts as DIY Educators

A special thank you to photographer Chung Li for this photo

I think we can all agree that recession or no recession there have always been and will always be DIY brides. I was one myself though I was probably what most would consider an over achieving DIY'er. LOL with a lot of Flirty Ideas and only a 5 month engagement I probably would have been better off choosing to do less and delegating more :P

A special thank you to photographer Chung Li for this photo

In any case when 4 local wedding professionals, and I, were asked to participate in a DIY wedding presentation we all did our best to deliver valuable information to the audience gathered at the Crowne Plaza Cabana Hotel a couple of weeks ago. Seated here are Jewel Savadelis, Ron Grandia, Sabrina Moyle and Sachi Yamazaki.

When it comes to DIY there are 4 elements to consider:

1) Cost: Will you really save money and how much can you save?

2) Time: How much time will it take to create or execute this idea or element and do you or will you have that time available?

3) Timeline - Try to focus on projects that you can complete before your wedding day

4) And the most important is Support - are there people you can rely on who will help you to execute these ideas?

My best advice to you is not to try to do too much and DON'T try to do everything yourself:

I brought a few pictures from my own wedding to share with you illustrating how I incorporated several levels of DIY.

When my Friend Christina offered to help make my origami centerpieces...

I offered to take her to lunch first, and wasn't so sure about things when she ordered this huge margarita right before I was going to show her how to make the flowers... I was thinking Uh Oh origami under the influence, maybe not such a good idea

But here are the finished centerpieces and as you can see she did a great job. Christina made about 25% of the flowers I needed and saved me hours of time

Another Option is to Both DIY and Hire a Professional

So here on the back of my wedding gown I wanted this cascade of fabric flowers. I made about half of them myself from a book and found a designer on Etsy who made the rest.

For those of you who don't know about Etsy, it's a website where individual artisans and crafters create boutiques and sell their work online, often at incredibly affordable prices.

And I also shared my thoughts on unique and memorable ideas that you can do yourself that don't have to be expensive:

So this idea cost pennies and was by far our guests favorite element of all of the flirty ideas we used at our wedding.

And it was our decision to NOT have a head table and instead move from table to table dining with all of our guests throughout the dinner hour.

We printed up the place card you see here and since we only had 72 guests we were able to spend 7 minutes at each table actually sitting and dining with them.

So I hope seeing these few ideas and the ideas our panelists are about to share with you, will help you to have a stress free, DIY wedding experience.


Wedding Music - The iPod Wedding

Professional DJ Ron Grandia kicked off our presentation. If you read his blog you'll know that when it comes to giving great advice about how to select a DJ, Ron is a local expert. But last Sunday rather then talk about who to hire he shared great ideas about how to DIY your own wedding music. In particular he answered one of the most common questions I've heard floating around for the past year or two when it comes to DIY'ing wedding music... And that is: What are the pros and cons of using an iPod to play your reception music? Is it a good idea or not?

Turns out Ron's key suggestions were:

1) Use iTunes on a laptop rather then an iPod for smoother transitions. An added benefit? If internet access is available you can even jump online to go to iTunes to purchase a requested song during the reception.

2) Use an iPod with your iTunes so that you can mix your transitions simply by overlapping them so that your music runs together more like club music.

3) Rent the proper sound support which includes a mixing board, speakers speaker stands, audio cables and a microphone. 2 mics are even better. To save dollars you can use one wireless and one wired mic to save more dollars. A rental package will run you somewhere around $200.00 and you'll most likely have to go pick it up, set it up and return it yourself so make sure you have a reliable volunteer to help you out with this. CLICK HERE to view an iPod audio rental package.

4) With no DJ or Band Leader onsite you'll need to assign a Master of Ceremonies to let people know when key moments are about to take place such as dinner being served, toasts, the first dance and cutting of the cake.

5) Provide adequate music selection to meet the needs of all of your guests.


Wedding Invitations

If you read bridal magazine's you've almost certainly seen the featured work of invitation letterpress specialists Hello Lucky.Their very fabulous new showroom is located South of Market in downtown San Francisco. Now, aside from being co-owner of Hello Lucky with her sister Eunice,  Sabrina Moyle is the co-author of Handmade Hellos, a DIY card making book, published by Chronicle Books... And she is currently working on a new DIY wedding book with Shana Faust, who is the former senior style editor at Martha Stewart Weddings, which will be available in Fall of 2010.

1. Fun
2. Creative - particularly when it uses an existing skill or talent
3. Save $
4. Make your wedding more personal and unique

1. Labor intensive
2. Depending on project, may require high level of skill to achieve desired results
3. Can be more expensive than hiring a pro

Top DIY Tips:
Focus on singles, rather than multiples
Keep each project simple
Get the right tools and materials
Start well in advance
Throw a part(ies)!

Wedding Flowers

I know it's tempting. You may be thinking you'll just buy some vases at your local craft store, pick up some flowers at Costco, add some water and your centerpieces are done. Or you'll pick up a dozen roses and tie them together with a ribbon for a hand tied bouquet... Yes, both of those ideas will work. But, if you invest more creativity and flexibility instead of dollars into your flowers? What might have been a fairly ordinary centerpiece or bouquet? Can become something more extraordinary while still being affordable. So here are the tips that Sachi Yamazaki, one of the lead designers at  Fleurty Floral Design Studio in Mountain View, shared with the audience last Sunday.

1) Research! Research! Research!
- Learn how to process, and care for your flowers. Many flowers must remain moist at all times to prevent browning of delicate petals and some lilies need two days to fully open and others may take ten days.

2) Consider taking a class on wedding floral basics.
- You may need to learn how to wire flowers, work with floral foam, grid a vase for structural support.

3) Practice makes perfect!
- Do practice at least a couple weeks before your wedding to know if you CAN do it on your own. Also, with time on your side you can troubleshoot any unforeseen obstacles that may have otherwise been overlooked.

4) Know when to say when.
- Consider doing a portion of your florals and hiring a professional to do the rest.

5) Stay Flexible!
- Sometimes flowers can be darker or lighter, bigger or smaller depending on many different reasons... do not expect the flowers to look exactly the same all year round.

Wink, Smile and Be Fleurty!

Savadelis Films

Our final panelist was Jewel Savadelis. Some of you may recognize her name from the cinamatic wedding movies Savadlis Films have become known for over the past 6 years.... And I got straight to the point: It's a fact that not all couples choose to hire a professional wedding videographer. In fact, videography may be the one area of a wedding most often entrusted to friends and family to "deal" with.

The video sample below illustrates some precious moments that a bride couldn't see were it not for video. To me these moments are priceless and aren't necessarily the ones an amateur would know to film.

Click to find out: Quicktime or in Windows Media

So the question I asked the audience that day was: If this is one of, if not THE most important day of your life? doesn't it deserve more attention and consideration? IMO DIY'ing a wedding video is always the better choice over having no video at all... The reason I asked Jewel to be on the panel was because she came prepared to teach those friends and family members how to capture the many details and moments of your wedding in the same manner a professional wedding videographer would.

Take this image for example. It would be a great photo. People are laughing and obviously having fun. But as Jewel asked the audience does anyone know why they're laughing? Are you wondering why they're laughing?

Click to find out: Quicktime or in Windows Media

Jewel brought along the professional equipment that can be rented to allow your volunteer camera crew to shoot better quality footage for you. Items included a camera, tripod and lavalier microphone and receiver. View a standard rental package by CLICKING HERE


  1. I think another consideration for a DIY project is the level of which it is important to you to customize the element. Not every DIY project will save you money (and rarely will it save you time), but if it's important to have your special touch on something, go for it. For my wedding, I designed every single paper element, from the invitations right down to drink lists on the table. It wasn't necessary to do drink lists, I suppose, but I loved the idea of continuing the graphics through additional pieces. We may have paid a little extra for ink and cardstock (actually left over from our original invitation order), but to me it was worth it.

  2. Stacie, thank you so much for this post and for doing an awesome job moderating the DIY Panel!

    If I can add one thing, it is to stress the importance of using high quality materials. When things look high-end and effortless, it's because the product does not fall apart.

    Enjoy & Good luck!


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