March 18, 2011

The DIY Conspiracy

I constantly hear that one can save money on their wedding by doing things themselves rather than buying them somewhere else.  It sounds reasonable, but theories like this often do at first.  But it's not.  It's insane.   DIY is a conspiracy.  It's been invented to make people believe they can afford a wedding by doing it themselves.  Or to make those of us who are less domestic feel really bad about ourselves because we're just buying everything and not putting anything "personal" into our weddings.  Or to sell glitter, who the hell knows?  But does anyone ever sit back and really consider what's actually involved in this magical money-saver?

Think about it. 

First, you go to your nearest craft store to collect materials.  If you're lucky, they have exactly what you want and everything you need.  If you're not lucky, you have to try store after store until either you get lucky, or you have to compromise your vision.  Then you go home, set up your work zone, and get out your how-to instructions.  Just to be safe, you begin with a rough mock-up to get an idea of how it will look when it's done.  Probably the end result is ten kinds of hideous, but hey, it's only a mock-up.  The final product will be gorgeous. 

Now it's serious business time.  There's no looking back.  You've got your glue-gun in hand, you're making cuts in the fabric/paper/ribbon that can't be uncut, you're folding and spraying and stencilling, you're a DIY machine!  A few hours later, you're covered head-to-toe in glitter, you've got a papercut, there's an ink-stain in the carpet, your manicure is ruined and your neck hurts from bending over your work, but you've got your first real, finished DIY project sitting in front of you.  And it sucks.  Except you don't know it sucks.  Some part of you might have an inkling that it sucks, but you don't know.  It doesn't exactly look like the picture, but that's okay - you're not freaking Martha Stewart.  It's fine.  It's better than fine.  It's perfect, it's personal and best of all, it was cheap

So you call your fianc√© in to behold your work (and maybe massage those DIY kinks out of your neck) but he gets that squinty look on his face like he smelled something bad and it's back to the drawing board.  Into the garbage goes your first effort, back out come the crafting supplies, you re-read the instructions to figure out what you missed.  More cuts, more glitter, more glued-on craft feathers.  Voila!  Attempt number two! And it's better, it's so much better than the first one!  Oh man, you're so on fire with this shit!  Another squinty face.  So maybe it's the cheap materials, or the misleading instructions. Spend an hour or so Googling yourself up an easier-to-follow tutorial, hit the craft store to refill your glitter pots, refresh your supplies with better quality pipe-cleaners and glue-sticks, and off you go again!

Repeat as needed.

Eventually, you're done.  You've made all 35 centrepieces yourself, and they kick ass.  This time, nobody can convince you that they're not one-hundred-percent FABOO.  You've posted them online for other DIY brides to ooh and ahh over, and none of them said anything about the visible paperclip holding on the feather, or mentioned the wrinkles in the paper.  You've spent too much damned money on stick-on rhinestones and worked too many hard hours for anyone to ever convince you that it's ugly as fuck.  And it is, I assure you, it is.  Unless you do actually happen to be Martha Stewart or my freakishly-domestic aunt who could MacGyver herself a wedding dress out of napkins and paperclips, it's ugly.  But you've invested so much time and so much money and so much blood, sweat and tears, and no way are you ever going to believe that it still doesn't look like the picture.  It's sloppy.  It looks homemade.  And the number one rule of DIY is that if homemade looks homemade, you're doing it wrong.  Observe:

After you've hit this wall, your options are as follows:

  • Stick with it.  One day you'll look back and realize the mistake you made, but whatever.  You've worked too hard to let little things like "reality" get in your way.
  • Realize your error and start over, further compounding the cost of craft supplies and your time (not to mention sanity).
  • Realize your error, give in and just buy the damned things from a professional.

Regardless of what happens, when you calculate the total cost of supplies, gas, your time, and the intense therapy it's going to take for you to recover from this madness, you actually haven't saved a dime.  But your wedding has a personal touch!  Good job.  I guess me and my still-perfect manicure over here will just have to live with that.

Yes, I will bend to the fact that there are crafty women out there who are capable of baking beautiful cakes and penning pristine calligraphy.  But those women are typically the ones who do that shit all the time!  They, unlike you and I, don't have to go to the craft store to get their projects started; they already have embossing stamps and glue guns on hand because they have a frequent need for them, and they know how to use them without out step-by-step instructions found online.  They are not cheapass girls who spontaneously decided to bust out the scissors and construction paper to save a couple bucks on their table numbers.  They're the scrapbookers and seamstresses of this world.  And if you're not that woman today, you are even less that woman the day you first put on your engagement ring.

Being a bride on a budget does not automatically transform you into a DIY pro.  Not DIYing a damned thing does not make your wedding any less personal or less special.  There has to come a time when a bride comes to terms with these truths, and says to herself "my dignity is worth more to me than this shitty tissue-paper rosette".  For me, that point came well before I ever started making one.


  1. I'd rather eat my own arm than attempt a DIY project. I prefer PSE (pay someone else). I got a "C" in art class in high school, so I never even dreamed of completing any DIY projects. Thank goodness my now-husband felt the same way!

  2. Lol! Mine totally agrees with me on this one too. I'm sure I could do a decent DIY if I really tried, but the time and effort involved just aren't worth the tiny savings you MIGHT have, and definitely aren't worth the risk of it looking cheap and homemade. I'm not an expert, which is why there are experts out there who offer their services for a fee.

  3. I was getting a little angry at your post until I got to the part where you basically said if you were a crafter before getting engaged its a different story...I'm quite proud of my DIYs! lol, but I definitely agree that for most people it can actually turn out to be more expensive! Basic supplies aren't cheap, and if you're never going to use them after the wedding they aren't worth the investment!

  4. Crafts are always more expensive than just buying things for me, and I'm at least slightly more crafty than your average bear. Most people should just back slowly away from the crimping shears.

    My problem is not with crafters, it's with this DIY generation, which has encouraged NON-crafters to get out the glue gun for no reason other than "that's what they're supposed to do". I feel it's only fair for someone to tell them they don't have to - or even that they shouldn't. Especially when they can't.