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.

Re-run: DIY Weddings–Catering

July 28th, 2014

Ready for more on DIY?  Here you go!

Of all the things you might want to do yourself for your wedding, the one I would recommend against without hesitation is catering your wedding reception yourself.  You might think this would be obvious, but I have talked to people who thought they could do it.

Did I mention that presentation is a professional catering skill?  Photo courtesy of Artisan Events.

Did I mention that presentation is a professional catering skill? Photo courtesy of Artisan Events.

I have actually heard of self-catered weddings that were pulled off with a lot of help from friends and family.  I know it can be done, especially if there are people with special skills involved.  So, I won’t say you should never, ever do it.  I’m just going to give you a lot of reasons not to.

Caterers do a lot more than cook in quantity.  They also manage the kitchen; order and return rental items; keep the food (and so your reception) on schedule; hire and manage serving and bar staff; set up tables, chairs, and linens; set the tables; and clean up and take the garbage out.  Caterers also have food sanitation licenses, meaning there is a low probability of spoiled food or food poisoning from their kitchens.  They know how much ice to buy and bring.  Some of them own serving equipment that they provide at no charge.   And that is just the minimum of what a professional caterer has to offer.

On your wedding day, you are going to be very much occupied with, first, getting married.  Second, you will want to spend as much time as possible greeting your guests.  You’ll probably also want to have your photograph taken with many of your friends and family, not to mention with your spouse.  These things will take up most of your day, leaving you no time to be the caterer at your own wedding.

I would say that unless you are able to provide everything a caterer brings to the table, and unless you can also delegate all the catering on the wedding day to a trusted party, hire a professional and save cooking for a crowd for another day.

Re-run: DIY Weddings–Music

July 14th, 2014

Here’s another post on DIY weddings from a couple of years ago.  Enjoy!

After decor (which I’ll talk about in a few weeks), the most frequent kind of DIY I see at weddings is in the music.  I have coordinated many weddings where all the music was provided by a laptop or MP3 player.  At the risk of alienating my musician and DJ friends, I have to say that this is one area where you can get away with doing it yourself.  But there are definitely things to be aware of if this is your plan.

The important thing is that everyone is having a good time.  Photo by Magical Moments Photography.

The important thing is that everyone is having a good time. Photo by Magical Moments Photography.

A professional DJ or band brings to your wedding two very large advantages:  a sound system and a Master of Ceremonies.  These things can be arranged for otherwise, but by paying professionals you are also obtaining these two important things.

Sound systems can be rented (for a price), but you also need someone to set up and run the sound system.  You will have to put in a good bit of time in advance making play lists.  And someone needs to press “play” on the MP3 player.  The biggest drawback of DIY music is that the play lists are all made in advance and they can’t respond to the mood on the dance floor the way a DJ can.  They also can’t get dancers on the floor and get the party going if that is what is needed.

You might have a friend who is an appropriate choice for MC.  You will need someone to make announcements at your wedding.  Typical announcements include:  introducing the bridal party; announcing the cake cutting; introducing those who are making toasts; announcing the bouquet and garter tosses; and any other important events that happen at the reception.  If you have a friend act as MC, it might be important to impress upon her or him the necessity of remaining fairly sober until all the announcements have been made.

DIY music is definitely a viable option for your wedding reception.  (And don’t overlook another way to do it yourself:  If you have musician friends, ask if they can play for the ceremony or the reception.)  As with any kind of DIY project, it requires forethought and planning and some extra time to make it happen.