But here's the thing, the vast majority of DIY weddings I see are absolutely beautiful, wonderful celebrations, and are definitely not the messes that many people assume DIY weddings to be. And, as a wedding coordinator, I see a lot of them.
Are there little bumps and surprises at DIY weddings? Yes, of course. Is the average number of these surprises at DIY weddings likely higher than other weddings at traditional wedding venues with a full team of professional vendors who work together on a regular basis? Yes, of course. But does that mean that DIY weddings in general are a bad idea? Absolutely not. They are often an incredibly beautiful coming together of family and friends, and a truly-one-of-a-kind way to start a marriage.
If you're going the DIY route and are worried about things not being "picture perfect," here are tips to keep your wedding on track.
1. Keep expectations in line with your budget
Things can run amok when a couple has champagne taste on a beer budget, because too much money is spent on the champagne, and not enough is spent on other things like water, ice, and cups (all of which are relatively boring, but much more essential for a large event). The very best, most organized DIY weddings are when the couple is well aware of what their budget can and cannot buy, and prioritize accordingly.
2. Speaking of that — prioritize
Think through what things are essential to holding a large event, and spend just as much — if not more — time planning those things as you do picking out bridesmaid dresses, centerpieces, and other wedding items.
3. Do your research
Before committing to DIY some aspect of the wedding (like for instance, handling reception music with an iPod), learn what that really means. What equipment will you need to rent or buy? Who will move the equipment from the ceremony to the reception space? It's only when you've fully thought something through that you are really prepared to DIY it.
4. When soliciting help, be aware of how much people are taking on
Family and friends are often the saving graces of DIY weddings and are often the reason DIY weddings are a beautiful coming together of community. In most cases, though, there is a tipping point where people helping too much can begin to feel tired, stressed, and ragged. Prevent that by either divvying up the work more, or deciding to cut back on the work that needs to be done
5. Take the simplest route possible
Weddings — DIY or otherwise, but certainly DIY — are a lot of work. During the days leading up to the wedding, you will likely have more than enough to keep you and a few of your nearest and dearest very busy, so whenever possible, keep it simple. This includes doing DIY floral centerpieces and other DIY projects such as guest books, seating assignments, and all the other details you could easily get bogged down in if you let yourself. Remember that in most cases, less is more.
6. Let go of the idea that a wedding needs to be picture perfect
If you and your partner are married, and everyone had an awesome time at your wedding (and by "everyone," I particularly mean you and your partner), it's more than OK if everything did not go exactly as you expected it to. As long as you've done your planning thoroughly, you'll be in great shape. "Perfect" is a really challenging goal to meet, and sets you up for disappointment if one thing is off ever so slightly. I say strive for "pretty darn amazing" instead. Plus, it's way more fun than trying for perfect.
This post appeared on Bustle.com.