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Lots of brides and grooms want to DIY their weddings, but is it a good idea? I think it depends if you have the time, the skillset and the manpower to do it, more than anything else. Before you commit to DIY, ask yourself the following three questions:
1. Do you have time during the day to make phone calls and do occasional meetings with vendors in the months leading up to your wedding?
Most wedding vendors work the same hours you do, and because they have so many evening events, they're unlikely to be available for phone consultations on nights. You'll need to be able to talk to vendors during regular business hours, even if that means taking off a few days through the course of your wedding planning to get it all done. But remember— you still have to schedule calls with vendors ahead of time when you take a day off because there's no guarantee they'll be available to talk when you want them on that day. This is especially critical if you're planning a destination wedding someplace where "island time" is standard and getting ahold of people is a challenge.
2. Are you crazy organized? Do your friends tease you about OCD? Do you like color-coding and Excel spreadsheets?
From dealing with contracts to writing the vendor schedule, planning a wedding involves a superior amount of detail-oriented work. You'll be responsible for everything from A to Z if you DIY the wedding. True, you can hire professional vendors to service your wedding— photographer, caterers, etc.— but you're the one who must make sure balances are paid on time, rentals are coordinated, dinners are ordered, and that everybody knows where to be and when to be there. If they don't show up, you need to have their contact info at your fingertips on the big day.
3. Will your family and friends help you execute the setup and teardown of your actual wedding?
While the caterers will set up for the reception service and clean up their own mess, you'll be responsible for decorating, putting those place cards out in alphabetical order, hanging lights, moving furniture, and doing every other little thing that must be done for your wedding ceremony and reception. You will need help— many hands make light work. And truth be told, you really need a bossy friend or family member who is willing to be you on the actual wedding day. You'll be too busy getting beautiful to be setting up the chairs when the rental company delivers them two hours before your wedding. And please don't forget to plan ahead for the cleanup. What goes up, must come down. Your decorations, lights, and anything else that's there will need to be cleaned up either after your wedding or early the next morning. Do you know in advance that you have a team of willing volunteers?
If you answered yes, to all three of the questions above, DIY may be a perfect match for you, so go for it! But if you said no, to one or more of the questions, hire a professional wedding planner before you start something you can't finish. There's a reason why people do the job full-time— it's a serious commitment.
Sandy Malone is the owner of Sandy Malone Weddings & Events, a full-service traditional and destination wedding planning company and Do-It-Yourself wedding planning consulting service for DIY brides and grooms based in the Washington, DC area. Sandy is the star of TLC's reality show "Wedding Island," about her destination wedding planning company, Weddings in Vieques. Sandy's book "How to Plan Your Own Destination Wedding: Do-It-Yourself Tips from an Experienced Professional," will be released on March 1st, but is available online for pre-orders now where books are sold.