DIY Weddings – Turquoise Marketing’s Do’s & Don’ts!

DIY Weddings – Turquoise Marketing’s Do’s & Don’ts!

Following my We got hitched! Highlights of our wedding day ❤ blog post, here is my DIY Weddings – Do’s & Don’ts! based on my personal experiences with planning my own DIY wedding.

SET YOUR BUDGET

Definitely not the most fun part of wedding planning, but an absolute necessity, especially if you are doing a DIY wedding. Try to estimate how much you will receive from your family and friends and add to that how much you are willing to spend out of your own pocket and that should give you a pretty good idea of your budget. So, get it over with asap so you can focus on the fun things and be on the same page as your future spouse as to how much you are both willing to spend and on what. Speaking of what,

SPEND WHERE ITS WORTH IT

Do you love food as much as I do? Do you think an open bar is a NECESSITY? Its important for you and your future spouse to sit down, go over all the components of the wedding and decide where you’re willing to go all out (for us it was food and booze). Everything else that to you, might not be super important, like – extravagant decor, a vetted professional photographer, etc. – can go out the door.

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First course: gnocchi, by me, Elise Bernier-Gravel (2019)

TRY TO SAVE WHEREVER YOU CAN / DIY AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE

Staying on the topic of money, this is a no-brainer, but do your best to save money wherever you can. Got an aunt who would love to make some homemade cookies for your Sweets Table? Say yes please and thank you auntie. Got a knack for floral arrangements and an available maid of honor and sister? Spend a few hours together creating your DIY floral arrangements (like we did for my wedding).

For me, it was super important to have fresh flowers, but I wasn’t willing to pay the price for professionally made center pieces (quotes I got were priced at about $1000). I spent about $200 at Costco for an assortment of flower bouquets (roses, carnations, spider daisies, baby’s breath and hydrangeas) and had way more flowers than what I needed to make 13 center pieces (I bought the vases for my center pieces second-hand on Facebook market place and 100% intend on reselling them).

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Floral center pieces, photo by Eliza Zahirovic (2019)

I also loved the idea of a photo booth, but A) did not want to spend $500+ on a professionally hired service and B) I really wanted people to use a polaroid camera (worst case, people could also just use their phones). So, besides the cost for the polaroid which is not a one-time sunk cost, film and props cost about $150.

But of course, everything in moderation, right? As much as I would have loved to, say, prepare the charcuterie and cheese boards for the cocktail at my wedding (you literally un-package things and spread them out on large boards/plates) you can’t have the bride doing that on her wedding day. So, make sure it makes sense for you to do something yourself before you commit to doing it.

The same goes for anything you get for free; make sure that the person offering you, say, to be your photographer for free (true story), is committed to doing her/his job and that they have minimal credentials (i.e. good camera and some experience). Ask them to see a small portfolio of their best work photographing people; that should give you a good enough indication of whether or not they’ll be able to capture one of the most important days of your life.

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Photo booth, photo by Emanuela Buonamici (2019)

KEEP IT SIMPLE

I cannot stress this point more. The one thing I kept telling Alex during our DIY wedding planning process, was to keep.it.simple.

Picture yourself in 10 year’s time, or, not even, in a year. Will your guests remember the favors you gave out at your wedding, which could end up costing you $1000? I think not. What about the elaborate decors at the sweets/midnight table? Highly doubtful.

So, there’s actually two reasons to keep it simple. 1) You want to minimize the amount of work and things to worry about on your big day and 2) You’ll end up saving money on things people don’t even care about.

GET A DAY-OF-ONLY WEDDING PLANNER

I don’t want to spend too much time on this point, as I’ll be dedicating an entire blog post on this subject, but if you are organizing your own wedding, please get yourself a day-of-only wedding planner. This is not a task you want to burden your mother or your maid of honor with, or even worse, yourself. Where are the extra napkins for the sweets table? The bar ran out of ice and someone has to go buy some. The chairs used for the ceremony need to be moved to the reception room. Trust me, these are all perfect tasks for your day-of wedding planner to handle.

What’s really cool with this? I got really lucky with Eleni, my cousin’s colleague, who was also getting married just a couple months after me. We agreed to an exchange of services (hello collab), where she and her fiancé would be the wedding planners of the day at our wedding and we would then return the favor at their wedding.

Obviously, we got extremely lucky with Eleni and Neil as they really did an outstanding job. They went above and beyond what they were meant to do and dealt with all the unexpected so that Alex and I could fully enjoy our day.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why you want a day-of-only wedding planner, if you’re organizing your wedding yourself. I’ve heard that some agencies/planning services will do it for a fee of roughly $500 a day, which to me seems like a fair price. Of course, you can always contact me and I’ll be more than happy to provide you with that service!

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Floral center piece, photo by Emanuela Buonamici (2019)

BOOK YOUR VENUE ASAP

We got engaged end of November 2017 and by early January 2018, we had booked our venue for end May 2019. The research for our perfect venue was done in maximum a month’s time and right after the 2017 holidays, we started visiting potential venues (well, just two really). Because of our timeline, had we decided to get married in 2018, our venue would not have been available for our desired date, let alone a peak wedding season date (there were only a few October and November 2018 Saturdays left). That’s why we settled on May 2019, as we figured it would give us about a year and a half to plan the wedding (life complicated things a bit for us when we decided to buy a house in February 2018 and had to focus our attention on that). So, definitely, the first “real” thing to do after getting engaged and setting your budget, is booking your venue, especially if you want a sought after venue like ours, because it is very affordable.

VISIT YOUR VENUE AS MANY TIMES AS YOU NEED

Speaking of the venue, since you’re all by yourself (quite literally) in this planning process, its important for you to understand your venue inside-out. Will the caterer have all the materials they need? Are there enough washrooms? Where do the speakers go? Are there even any speakers? So, take the time to visit it multiple times if you need to. Especially in our case, since you literally just rent the venue (there’s no coordinator that comes with it), you need to know everything about it.

We also chose to visit our venue with our photographer the week before and it turned out to be a great idea. We were able to scout out all of the different locations for the different photos we’d be taking and so when the big day came around, we didn’t lose any time figuring out where we would take said photos.

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photo by Emanuela Buonamici (2019)

DON’T WAIT TILL THE LAST MINUTE

Ok, this one is obvious, but we were definitely guilty of this. Apart from nailing the venue a year and a half ahead of time, we get zero points for the rest of the planning process. We quite literally planned a 100 person wedding in less than 5 months, starting in January 2019. So, please don’t be like us and start planning things earlier; sending out “Save the date” emails/Facebook messages (that’s how we invited our guests), getting a caterer, etc.

DIGITAL IS THE NEW BLACK

I don’t know about you, but I definitely could not be bothered to A) spend hundreds of dollars on mailed paper invitations and more importantly B) getting like 70 people’s addresses when I can barely remember my own (sorry not sorry – also that’s not true, I very much know my address, I just thought it would be funny to say that). Plus, think about it on the bright side; you’re being environmentally friendly! Win-win!

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Our wedding invitation (2019)

HAVE A “CHEAT SHEET” FOR YOUR GUESTS

Although everyone told me they had a great time at my wedding, there were some little problems that could have easily been avoided. For example, my dad told me he was starving by the time the first course was served (also doesn’t help that the whole wedding schedule got delayed by about an hour) because he didn’t know there was a cocktail going on in between the ceremony and the reception (to be fair, its also his fault for not paying attention, because everyone else knew lol). As well, my mom told me she didn’t know there was a Sweets Table on the first floor, in the cocktail room and only figured it out when she saw a bunch of people coming up the stairs back into the reception room with desserts. So, rather than just printing copies of the menu for every table, it could be nice to also include a little “cheat sheet”, which is somewhat of a schedule of events for the day that also includes locations, if your wedding is taking place in more than one room.

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Cookies from the Sweets Table, photo by me, Elise Bernier-Gravel (2019)

DON’T LEAVE ON HONEYMOON THE NEXT DAY

This one might sound weird, but trust me, if you are planning a DIY wedding, you CANNOT leave on honeymoon the day after your wedding. Why? Because you’re going to have a million things to do, including but not limited to: returning a U-haul truck, washing dirty dishes, returning dinnerware rentals, returning un-opened alcohol bottles, putting a million things away, etc. (these are all things we had to deal with post-DIY wedding). So, give yourself some breather room and book yourselves a nice vacation a month after the wedding (which is what we did, but mainly because it worked out that way with my husband’s schedule).

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Alex and I at Château de Chambord (2019)
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Alex and I at Château de Chenonceau (2019)
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Alex and I in Paris (2019)

SEEK COUNSEL FROM OTHER DIY WEDDING BRIDES

Depending on the people involved in your DIY wedding planning process, too many opinions can be a nuisance more than anything else. Plus, if they are not directly involved in the planning process or aware of your budget, then their suggestions can be worthless. This is something I did not do, but wish I had. Sit down with a bride or two, who went through this DIY wedding planning process themselves and ask them about how it all went, what they would do differently, their must-haves, etc. I’m sure you won’t regret it and their input will be much more valuable than your great-grandma’s opinion!

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Alex & Elise 25.05.2019, photo by Emanuela Buonamici (2019)

But, most importantly, remember that at the end of the day, this is YOUR special day, to you and your future spouse; not your mom’s, not your Maid of honor’s and no one else’s. It’s also a once in a lifetime event that you want to fully enjoy as much as possible. If, after reading this, you are jumping with excitement, then event planning in general is probably for you.

If, however, you are even more skeptical about this whole process than you were before, don’t hesitate to contact me for all your wedding planning needs! I may have only organized 1 wedding (my own), but I have more than 10 years of event planning experience (including 5 years of professional event planning experience in the corporate world and I’m the face behind all of Turquoise Blog’s Foodies & Bloggers Dinners and Insta Foodie Dinners), a Master’s Degree (M.Sc.) in marketing with a focus on event planning and a passion for events 🙂

– Elise
eliseberniergravel@gmail.com
514-775-4191

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