How to Personalize Your Wedding
(Even if DIY is so Not Your Thing)

DIY rainbow gift wrap

Photo: Anna Williams © More Last-Minute Knitted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson, published by STC Craft | Melanie Falick Books, 2010

What do real brides have to say about the wedding planning experience? Well, it's not all happy tears at the bridal boutique and indulgent cake tastings. Over the next three weeks, guest blogger Anna Maltby will share the ins and outs of narrowing down your bridal style, snagging your dream wedding location, taking the perfect engagement photo, and more.

A sad fact I've had to face in the wedding planning process: I'm not a crafter. Like, so not a crafter. This doesn't in any way affect my everyday life, but I'm planning my wedding in the age of Pinterest—and I live in Brooklyn, for Pete's sake—so it's hard not to feel like our celebration will be somehow lacking if I don't sew the bridesmaids dresses myself and our guests leave without handcrafted favors using locally-sourced materials.

But it turns out, you can plan a fun, down-to-earth, and—dare I say it—quirky event even if you don't collect glue guns and pinking shears. So if you're feeling like I was, here are a few things you can do:

Personalize the invitations. There's no rule that you have to send out perfect letterpress invites on buttery-soft ivory paper with one of those fancy little pieces of tissue paper. (Side note: still not clear on what those things are for.) If that's your dream—or what your mom is insisting upon—then great! They'll be gorgeous. But if not, consider opting for a cool design from an artist on Etsy, or customizing your own invites on Wedding Paper Divas or Minted. We selected a pretty, feathery design on Minted and were able to customize the wording, layout, and colors to fit our specifications. Sure, we aren't going to spend hours laboring over a handmade stamp, but the invites are pretty, personalized and, well, pretty dang cool. Bonus: Minted also sent us tissue paper inserts, so we'll get to stick them in anyway! Double bonus: Our invitations ended up being less than half the cost of fancy letterpress ones. Cha ching.

Consider the escort cards. Because of their small scale and simple, personal purpose, escort cards are ripe for the DIY picking. A thoughtful escort card was my favorite personal touch at several friends' weddings. One stand-out was my popcorn-obsessed friend Lauren's Mason jars of popcorn kernels and flavor packets, tagged with guests' names and their assigned table number—and they doubled as favors. For our Bronx Zoo wedding, we were considering attaching name tags to boxes of animal crackers, but settled on something else altogether—which brings me to...

Pick the experts' brains. My favorite pseudo-DIY touch at our wedding (so far, anyway!) actually came from our florist, Kea Morgan of Sweet & Flower. She suggested incorporating gold spray-painted animal figurines as part of our decor. All you have to do is buy mini-animals in bulk on a site like The Big Zoo, and spray paint. (Check this Pinterest inspiration board for more on the project.) I may not know what to do with stencils and knitting needles but I'm pretty sure I'll have no problem with spray paint. The animals will serve as our escort card holders—if your name is attached to a little golden poison dart frog, you'll go to the poison dart frog table. Yes, I did just say, "poison dart frog table."

Do easy stuff! Knowing that I liked the DIY aesthetic but not the DIY process, my day-of coordinator, Sojourner Auguste of Erganic Design (who sort of serves as a wedding planning guru throughout the process), suggested narrowing down possible projects and doing test runs to make sure they're feasible by about six months before the wedding day—giving me time to make adjustments and/or completely scrap DIY ideas in favor of store-bought stuff, should that seem wiser. It's brilliant advice: Pick stuff you can actually do. For inspiration, check out this great list of 31 easy and insanely clever DIY projects—several could be adjusted to make awesome wedding gear.

Outsource your projects. My friend Eran—who is pretty much the most crafty, handy, creative, all-around amazing person I know—did an incredibly wonderful DIY wedding right on down to the food, which was a stunningly successful potluck! (Actually, E, I'm wondering if maybe I should blame you for some of my DIY guilt...) Anyway, one brilliant move she made was enlisting friends, family and coworkers to help with her myriad handcrafting projects. Through a series of really fun get-togethers (including her bridal shower and random weeknights at her apartment during which we filled the entire place, floor to ceiling, with paper chains), we helped assemble the blankets upon which guests would sit during the ceremony, cute candle holders made from old aluminum cans, and bags of coffee beans for tossing at the "You may kiss the bride" moment. I'm sure she could have made it work even without her army of crafters, but having backup made things go much more quickly and smoothly—and it was actually fun!

Skip it altogether. Guess what. If you don't DIY, no one cares. Here's what your guests probably actually remember: Your dress, whether your groom cries during the ceremony, the looks on your faces as you recess, whom they get to sit with at dinner, whether the food is awful (but probably not what they actually eat), whether the bar is open or cash, and how awesome the dancing is. Personal touches are great, but face it—your wedding day is going to totally rock, with or without them, because it's yours.

Browse more wedding favor ideas here.

—Anna Maltby

You Might Also Like:
Find Your Escort Cards
Edible Wedding Favors
Wedding Favors Your Guests Won't Leave Behind

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