Re-run: DIY Weddings–Dessert

September 15th, 2014

The homemade sweet table can be both pretty and tasty.

The homemade sweet table can be both pretty and tasty.

Here’s another good DIY idea:  Dessert!  While I strongly recommend that you do not cater your own wedding, dessert is a completely different matter for doing it yourself.  Better yet, get other people to do it for you.

I’m not talking here about making your own wedding cake.  While I’ve seen cakes made by talented friends and family members, that’s a job that is probably best left to professionals.  I’m talking about sweet tables.

We all know people who make fabulous cookies or pies or cupcakes.  You can take advantage of this by asking people–instead of bringing gifts–to bake for your wedding reception.

DIY sweet tables, like all DIY projects, do require a little more advance planning and coordination.  You’ll need to ask people enough in advance so that they will have time to bake.  Your caterer will need to be alerted to the DIY nature of dessert.  People who bake will need to drop off their baked goods at a specified time.  (Your coordinator and caterer will help determine the right time.)  You’ll probably want to coordinate your bakers so that you have some variety.  It’s also a good idea to have your volunteer bakers include a list of ingredients with their baked goods so that people with allergies can find out what is in each dessert.  And you’ll have to be sure the quantity is sufficient.

If you feel like you can handle all these things, the DIY sweet table is definitely an option.  It might not be as fancy as a sweet table from a bakery, but it can save money and be a way to have your friends and family closely involved with your reception.

Re-Run: DIY Weddings–Invitations

September 1st, 2014

Will your invitations look the way you imagine them if you do them yourself?  If so, then go for it!

Will your invitations look the way you imagine them if you do them yourself? If so, then go for it!

If you want to choose just one item to do yourself for your wedding, invitations could be on the list of choices.  As with most things you’ll want for your wedding, invitations do require a certain amount of skill and time, but if you feel up to the challenge, you can probably pull it off–depending on what you want.

If you must have traditional, engraved invitations or letterpress invitations, you’ll have to hire a pro.  Some of that equipment is very expensive!

But if you want something more casual, there are lots of options.  One of the easiest things you can do is go to a stationery store, paper store, or even an office superstore to find paper or cards you like.  Then you can run them through your printer. The hard part is figuring out what you want the invitations to say, laying it out, and formatting it.

You can also do your own graphic design, including the text, if you have the skill.  This is beyond what I can do, so I have no idea what goes into it.  I have seen it done, however.  Sometimes, a friend or family member can do this part.  If not, though, you’ll probably want to hire a pro.

You can also do the layout and design yourself and take it to your local printer for reproduction.  That saves on design fees but means you don’t have to slave over your printer for hours.  Some home printers are also not up to the task, so be sure to do a test run or two–and have plenty of spare ink on hand if you are doing the printing yourself.  If you’re doing 300 invitations, also be sure you have a very sturdy printer.  Most of the inexpensive ones won’t stand up to this kind of treatment.

Leave plenty of time if you are planning DIY invitations.  Save-the-date cards should go out six months in advance, and invitations should go out six to eight weeks before the wedding.  Plan on spending several weeks getting invitations ready before your projected mailing date.  And don’t forget that it takes time to address, stuff, and stamp the envelopes!

Re-run: DIY Weddings–Photography

August 25th, 2014

Today’s DIY topic is:  Photography.  I’ve updated the original post a little here.

You might look at the cost of professional photography and think you’d be better off without a professional photographer.  You might be right.  Or you might be very disappointed.  It all depends on how important photos are to you.

Here's a photo I took with my point-and-shoot camera and limited photography skills.

Here's a photo I took with my point-and-shoot camera and limited photography skills.

If having high quality photos of your entire wedding and reception is not your first priority, you can ask a friend or relative to document the day for you.  Someone with good photography equipment can probably take decent photos for you.

But if having professional quality photos is important, it’s difficult to get them without paying professional prices.  Professional wedding photographers have equipment and skills that ordinary mortals lack.  The best consistently take copious, excellent photos that capture the essence of your day.  They are on the spot and work hard so they don’t miss any important moments.  It’s also important that they are not guests, but are hired to work for the entire time, so they will be alert and sober until the time they leave.  They know what to look for and how to take good (and often stunning) photos of your wedding.

The same cake in a photo taken by Agnes Malorny, professional.

The same cake in a photo taken by Agnes Malorny, professional.

If you have a friend or relative take photos, they may or may not have the same equipment.  Unless they are professionals or truly talented amateurs, they probably don’t have the same skills.  And you won’t know until the wedding day if they will be paying attention (and sober) for the whole evening.  At some point, a friend or relative is going to stop working and start enjoying the party, which is an option a paid professional doesn’t have.

As with all DIY projects, think this one through before you make a decision.  There is a definite difference in quality between amateur and professional photos.  Decide what is important to you, and then pay a professional if you can’t live without those photos.

Re-run: DIY Weddings–Dishes

August 11th, 2014

How many cake plates do you need?  Photo courtesy of Artisan Events.

How many cake plates do you need? Photo courtesy of Artisan Events.

Here’s more on DIY for you.

When you see the total cost of rental dishes from your caterer, you might be tempted to go to Ikea and buy dishes instead of renting them.  Depending on your circumstances, that might be a good choice–or it might be a really bad one.

I know someone who bought enough dishes to serve about 50 people at her wedding. They got married in their own home, had a good caterer, and had places to store all those dishes after the wedding.  It can work.

On the other hand, if you are having 150 guests at a rented venue, you might run into some unexpected difficulties.  For example, keep in mind that all your dishes may need to be washed before they are used.  That’s 150+ full place settings.  Your catering staff probably won’t do that for you without an additional charge, if they would do it at all.  And it would be hours out of your life to wash them, even with a good dishwasher.  You would also be responsible for delivering all those dishes to the venue on the day of the wedding, or the day before.

Next, think about what will happen to all those dishes at the end of the night.  The kitchen staff will scrape them and pack them up in whatever boxes you provide for them.  Then you or your representative would have to pick them up from the venue the day after the wedding and take them somewhere to wash them for a second time.  And then you’d have to figure out what to do with 150 place settings.  That might not be how you planned to spend the first day (or two) of your honeymoon.

This is not to say you shouldn’t buy dishes instead of renting them, but you should think it through all the way to the end before taking the leap.