Do It Yourself (DIY) wedding decor has had a steady hold on North American brides for the last decade. With the rise of Pinterest and Etsy, the realm of the DIYer expanded from ramshackle house repairs to the delicate and high stakes task of creating the centrepieces, gift bags, and signage needed for a stylish wedding and reception.
DIY wedding decor seems like a great way to save money and have fun savouring the months leading up to your big day. But taking into account all of the time, money, and stress that DIY can cost you, is it really worth it?
The Rise of DIY Wedding Decor
The average cost of a North American wedding has climbed steadily for the last two decades, according to research carried out by The Knot.
In 2019, the average cost of an American wedding, including the engagement ring, totalled $33,900 USD—plus a honeymoon costing $5,000 on average for a total cost of $38,900 USD or just under $50,000 CAD.¹ (In 2020 this number fell to an average of $19,000, but this data point is considered an outlier resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.²)
So there you have it: approximately 38,900 reasons to try saving a few bucks by firing up the hot glue gun.
This impulse to save money without sacrificing the grandeur of a big wedding is understandable. Couples want to throw the bash of the century but struggle to justify spending the cost of a typical Canadian bachelor’s degree on one event.
But a difficult question arises: does DIY decor actually save you money? And are the savings you might see actually worth the time and effort required to DIY your way to the perfect big day?
When DIY Decor Isn’t Worth It
If it’s going to make or break your day, don’t DIY it. Leave it to the pros.
This is a tough pill to swallow because “the pros” are often the most expensive elements of a wedding day. Think florists, calligraphers, and bakers—these vendors charge big bucks because they are uniquely skilled to deliver a high quality service.
So, while these vendors can be costly, it’s probably too risky to attempt a DIY fix. A poorly scrawled “L” can look a lot like an “I” and a cake baked with love but not skill may topple before you can cut it.
Save yourself the stress and the highly likely mishaps—invest in vendors you trust, don’t DIY it.
But what about lower stakes decor—the objects and knickknacks that can have some imperfections without derailing the day?
There’s still a fine balance to be struck. If you’re having a big wedding, for example—say you’re hosting a 300 guest reception at Arras—and you elect to prepare a gift bag for every single guest and vendor plus extras, you might find yourself quickly lamenting that decision.
DIY projects that take up too much time, feel too tedious, or cost too much in supplies can quickly cease to be worth the trouble. After all, hot gluing your ten thousandth rhinestone onto a vase isn’t nearly as fun as going out with your friends to celebrate your impending marriage.
While it may seem sweet to hand pour 300 candles in a bespoke signature scent for your guests to take home, remember that time is also a finite resource; in the weeks before your wedding, you should be relaxing and enjoying yourself, not stressing over wax melting points or drying times.
The bottom line: don’t bite off more than you can chew for goods that may only have a small relative impact.
DIY Decor Classics
Fear not: DIY decor still has a place at many weddings. Whether or not a DIY endeavour will be worth it is a function of the time you have, the patience you possess, and a realistic outlook.
The key is to select projects that will pack a big punch but that derive much of their impact from their character (read: irregularity).
It’s nearly impossible to create identical foliage decorations for 300 place settings; instead of agonizing over every detail, lean into the rustic feel that comes with embracing the natural variation of your raw materials.
Zero in on DIY projects that will have the greatest impact on your guests. Getting married on a hot day? Assemble a “comfort station”, with baskets of reusable folding fans and decanters full of homemade lemonade. This DIY project will bring aesthetic value to your wedding day and keep guests comfortable.
For couples looking to save money, DIY decor can be a good option. But it’s important to know when to go the DIY route and when to simply invest in high quality goods or services. Above all, couples should spend on the things that will save them time and stress in the lead up to the wedding.
Don’t lose perspective: saving a couple bucks is not more important than enjoying yourself on your wedding day.