When inquiries cross my desk, there is a sizable fraction of couples who say they are planning to go DIY for their wedding. As a lifelong crafter, I applaud anyone who wants to be creative and embrace this part of the event. However, few know what that actually entails. Before you go on Amazon and grab the hot glue, let's discuss what makes a successful DIY wedding.
What do you want to create?
Take some time to go on Pinterest and see what you want your event to look like. Once you have those images, think about what it would take to create what's in the image. Analyze each image to see the level of involvement it would require. For example, a candle based centerpiece would require the candles, candle holders, and some greenery. If you are opting for a floral piece, figure out how it's made. What kind of holder do you place it in? Do you get foam to carefully place each flower? Where are you sourcing the flowers? Do you feel confident in arranging the florals to look like the picture?
When hiring a florist, they specialize in the whole spectrum of all things event decoration. They know how to source their inventory by default. No project is too big or too small. Everything comes at a price no matter the direction you go in.
Know your limits.
Take a step back to figure out if your ambitions match your skill level and follow-through. If you are eager to learn, there are plenty of tutorials online to master the art of making the perfect decorations. It's like learning ballroom dancing. The purpose of learning may be for the wedding, but it would come in handy in ways you'd least expect. Having some experience in crafting beforehand and knowing your way around the craft store is a bonus. If you're overwhelmed, do not be afraid to buy pre-made kits from third party vendors or seek out a florist.
Decoration done by the bride:
Decoration done by kit and candles from Amazon:
You can even make some items yourself and ask a florist to fill in the gaps. See what flowers florists are including in their designs and see if you can match on your end. A good example of this would be to have the florist help with the more labor intensive pieces like the ceremony arch and its decor, while you handle centerpieces.
Count it up.
So you are not sitting on extra inventory, see how much you need per table or space, along with how many tables, rows, etc. are needed. For example, if you are doing a candle based centerpiece, it could be 3 holders per table times the number of tables. For safety's sake, buy a little bit more in case something breaks or the venue space needs to be filled in a bit more. This needs to happen for every line item so you have the right amount of supplies. Excel sheets are perfect for keeping track of your inventory. Otherwise, you can buy kits specially designed and counted out for each part of your event. However, you have less control over the aesthetics.
If it's overwhelming, a florist takes care of that for you. They just need a head count of guests, bridal party, and how you want your venue decorated.
What happens to the inventory?
After the event, where do the decorations go? Would they be taken home or given to guests? You can opt to sell on Facebook Marketplace and hope someone will buy. There is a large community on the lookout for pre-loved decor. If it's discounted, it's appetizing for those on a budget. If you have friends who need what you purchased, you're a good samaritan for sharing.
A florist has set inventory they can provide. Depending on what you get, certain items go back to the florist for them to use at another event. Other items are disposable. The wonderful part is that you or the guests can take home the actual flowers from the event.
Quality vs budget vs time
This is a fun one to weigh out. Consider how big a priority flowers are in your budget. If it's a super low priority, opt for a kit, easy DIY decor, or very simplistic pieces from a florist. If you have the ability to DIY, you can make high-quality pieces, but check to see if it turns into the price of what a florist will provide. I can weigh checks and balances for a bit, but it comes down to paying with your time or someone else's.
Decoration done by a florist (done by Carousel of Flowers in Somerville, NJ):
Labor: investing in your time, other people's time, or your money.
The labor to create, set up, and take down has to come from somewhere. Are you sacrificing your time or someone's else's time to make decor for you? Would you pay to not have to worry about that?
A venue's job does not include setting up non-personal decorations. This includes centerpieces, ceremony decor, bud vases for the cocktail hour, and anything normally provided by a florist. As a result, the planner is asked to handle this part of the wedding setup. Planners will do it, but it would cost extra on top of their main job or coordinating the day. This can go to where the focus is more on labor and not coordination if the team is small or hiring extra people to do both the labor and the coordination.
This can also fall on your bridal party, but in all honesty, they should be focused on getting ready and supporting the bride and groom. Yes, it's free labor, but it could potentially derail them from being on schedule.
A florist has a built-in team that comes with a large truck to professionally transport, handle, and set up the decorations. Florists and their teams have the skills to handle decorations that in my opinion, should be left to a professional. This includes arch assembly and decor, and anything involving a ladder and/or ceiling. If you go DIY with ceremony decor, the safest approach is a consumer based arch you know how to assemble or pedestals with decorations on them.
Florists interface with the planners to make sure they are good to go and work independently on setting up. This lets planners and coordinators focus on the client and schedule. Labor and transit fees are factored into cost proposals. To keep costs low, hire locally and avoid anything involving intense installation work, like ceiling decor.
You made it to the bottom of the post. Go you!
I hope this article can help you make an educated decision on what to do. I'm not formally opposed to one over the other. It's a matter of knowing yourself, the process and evaluating time versus budget. No matter the choice, you are making an event that suits your needs and vision for the day.