Here's a good rule of thumb: If you can do it months in advance while, say, you're watching TV at home, go for it — save-the-dates, invitations, welcome bags, favors. But if it's time-sensitive or just too big of an undertaking, don't risk it. The final days before your wedding will be very hectic: last-minute errands, family in town, seating charts to finalize, ceremony rehearsal and rehearsal dinner, packing for the honeymoon, and more. There won't be any down time to arrange flowers or bake the rest of the wedding desserts.
So, to help you figure out how to use your time effectively, here are the five things that are really best left to the wedding professionals.
Maybe you saw some "simple" mason jar centerpieces on Pinterest and thought to yourself, "Hey, I can do that myself!" But doing your own wedding flowers is a lot more complicated than it seems. Since blooms are perishable, you'll need to time the flower delivery so that they arrive shortly before the wedding, leaving you only a day — sometimes even hours — to arrange everything. That's precious time better spent getting your nails done with your bridesmaids and relaxing with your family. Also, any good florist can deliver beautiful arrangements at a reasonable price; or, you can enlist a few crafty friends to take on the project so that you don't have to.
2. Your Hair
If your wedding-hair vision involves the words "Old Hollywood," "blowout," or "side chignon," hire a stylist. A professional can do your hair twice as well as you could (even if you practiced and practiced) and in half the time. Keep costs down by having your 'do done at the salon the morning of the wedding (instead of having the hairstylist come to you) or booking with a junior stylist.
Sure, you're super organized, you know exactly what you want, and you have a ton of friends and relatives who've promised to help. But having a professional run the wedding day can mean the difference between an event that feels polished and inviting, and an event that feels disorganized and chaotic. And whether you choose a full-on wedding planner or a day-of coordinator, their main goals will be to make sure you and your groom are relaxed, stress-free, and fully enjoying yourselves — and that the wedding looks as good in real life as it did in your head.
These days, everyone knows someone with a quality digital camera and a good eye (and a killer Instagram feed). Before you agree to let your groom's cousin or your coworker's husband take your wedding photos, you should know that there are many advantages to hiring a professional wedding photographer. A pro understands the flow of the wedding day and will be able to anticipate what's happening next in order to get in position for the best shots. He or she will also understand where the lighting is best, what time of day is ideal for different kinds of shots, and will think to get different candids that a family friend might not consider.
A professional will also know how important it is to get close-up detail shots of all the elements you've worked so hard to make. Your wedding photos are the only tangible thing from your wedding day that will treasure for years to come and are worth the investment.
Wedding guests love to rave about a good meal and complain about a bad one. So, while asking your mom to make your favorite dishes or baking 50 pies yourself the week of the wedding might seem like a way to personalize the day and save money, the food is really best left to a caterer. A professional will know how to properly estimate the amount of food to buy and how to prepare a meal on a large scale, when to serve different courses, how to combine you and your groom's tastes into a cohesive menu, and how to accommodate guests with dietary needs or restrictions.
If you're looking to save money, consider skipping the traditional three-course meal and opt for a cocktail party-style reception instead, where tasty drinks and hors d'oeuvres are flowing the entire time. Professional caterers will also have lots of ideas on ways to save on your food budget.