Make It Or Buy It?

By Sharon Naylor

July 16, 2010 5 min read

In an effort to help brides and grooms plan their dream weddings at affordable prices, just about every wedding magazine, website and book suggests making, rather than buying, certain wedding items. It's a way to save money and put a personal touch on your big day. Most wedding couples love the idea of do-it-yourself wedding projects, not only for the budget help but also as a way to have fun working with each other, as well as with the moms and bridesmaids in a group effort -- self-catered and often with Champagne or margaritas and snacks! The party setting allows favors to be made quickly, and it also can be a highlight of the weeks leading up to the wedding. But before you plan to make everything for your wedding day, keep in mind that not every wedding element is ideal for DIY savings. Some items, such as the wedding cake, are not to be scrimped on. Here's why: Professional bakers know how to construct a cake that will hold its shape and weight on, for example, a rainy evening. They have experienced staffers creating, decorating and transporting the cake, which is extremely important if you don't want your cake to slide around the trunk of a car. Dana Larue, founder of the award-winning wedding blog "The Broke-Ass Bride," says: "I recommend DIY projects that can be done well in advance, because your to-do list will likely start overflowing a few months before your big day. Also, choose projects that speak to your talents. Let's be real; now is not the time to teach yourself graphic design or sewing. On the other hand, weaving your special skills into your wedding can make it very personal and special, so try to fit them into your design wherever possible." Don't forget that you can do the DIY thing on a smaller scale for the other events in your wedding weekend. For instance, rather than buy a $75 sheet cake for the rehearsal dinner, you or a loved one could make a cake quite prettily for less than $30 in cake mix and d?cor supplies. And again, you get the personalized touch. Here's a list of recommendations on what to make and what to buy: --The Wedding Menu: BUY. A professional caterer knows how to make an immense number of hot and cold dishes, timing them perfectly and creating ideal presentations of food to your guests. While the pro works in the kitchen, you enjoy your pre-wedding hours stress-free, getting ready and posing for photos with your family and bridal party. --Centerpieces: MAKE for small, subtle weddings, especially for trendy "rustic chic" weddings or if you love the idea of pillar candles with just simple floral touches on each table. BUY if your wedding vision is one of opulence with lots of mixed, elegant flowers in elevated displays. A pro floral designer knows how to make blooms pretty and how to make them last and look fresh all day. --Invitations: MAKE if your wedding vision is informal, with classic black or trendy colored print on simple card stock. You can use inexpensive invitation-making software from Mountaincow -- as well as the company's colorful invitation papers and card stock -- to design and create your own invitations, as well as your programs, place cards, "save the date" cards and other printed items. If you love the look of more formal invitations on cards with pearlized borders or other specialty papers your printer wouldn't handle well, BUY. --Maps: MAKE. Use the free interactive tools at to customize your own wedding weekend maps, and print them out. --D?cor: MAKE pew bows and flower petal aisle markers, as well as personalized iron-on transfer aisle runners on quality fabric. Check out the book "The DIY Bride: Crafty Countdown," by Khris Cochran, founder of the popular website DIYBride (where you'll find helpful, free DIY video tutorials!). --Wedding Dress: BUY. Expert construction and top-tier fabrics determine how wonderful the dress will look on you, and this ruling applies to having a talented seamstress custom-make a gown for you, which may cost less than what you'll find in bridal gown shops. This spotlight of your day is one of the most important elements of your wedding, so shop wisely to get a great deal from a reputable dress designer or store. --Favors: MAKE bags of candy bought in bulk or chocolate chip cookies, brownies, iced cookies, chocolate candies or truffles. Individual favors, including pretty personalized labels you make, will cost less than $1 apiece, and guests prefer edible favors to those little silver frames or bells (which cost $2 to $5 apiece!). --Photos and Video: BUY. Nothing beats the eye and talents of a professional photographer or videographer who gets every shot you could want. You can MAKE additional albums from friends' digital photos and the pictures from your one-time-use cameras, such as the new floral-print cameras from Kodak, which cost less than $5 apiece. Sharon Naylor is the author of more than 35 wedding books. COPYRIGHT 2010 CREATORS.COM

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