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Guest Post: Master Bridal Consultant Karen Brown Debunks DIY Myths

Master Bridal Consultant Karen Brown Debunks DIY Myths

Photos: Top, courtesy Karen For Your Memories~Centerpiece, D. Jones Photography~Rings & Cake, Nhan Nguyen Photography

Today we’re really excited to feature a guest post from Houston-based Master Bridal Consultant (that’s the Association of Bridal Consultants’ highest ranking, btw), Karen Brown of Karen For Your Memories. Thinking of acting as your own wedding coordinator, florist, designer and decorator, to try and save money or put your unique imprint on every element of your big day? Don’t dive in until you read Karen’s post, which debunks many major DIY myths. We’d love your feedback, too! Do you plan DIY all or part of your wedding? Which parts do you plan to leave to a pro? Drop your comments and let us know!

Today’s brides are bombarded with ideas for décor, favors, desserts, flowers, etc., many of which encourage the DIY concept. For some reason the DIY idea is touted as something that is supposed to be 1) fun, 2) less expensive, and 3) a reflection of the bride’s unique personality. But is this really the case?

Fun? “Do-it-yourself” can be a misleading title, which implies that the bride herself is going to take on all or part of the tasks necessary for the production of her wedding. However, in most cases, it really means relying on the participation of the wedding party for tons of tasks, along with dutiful assistance from family members, with the bride directing. But can a group of amateurs with good intentions really replace the expertise and efficiency of a professional with years of experience? AND have fun while doing so? Not likely.

Sure, it can be great fun for family members or friends to get together to address, stuff and stamp invitations, or for “the girls” to gather, chat, eat, drink and laugh while assembling bags and tying ribbons around guest favors. But what if you happen to be the “volunteer” who was recruited for some element of the event that ends up in a YouTube video that never seems to go away (dreadful décor, cake catastrophes, flower fiascos, musical malfunctions…you get the picture)? Surely it can’t be much fun  to be ridiculed internationally when you were just trying to help.

Less Expensive? Yes, professional wedding services cost money. Just like professional medical services, professional auto repair services, professional legal services—or any professional service that is based on years of specialized education, training and experience. Let’s consider the service of wedding flowers as an example. Here are just a few of the things you’ll get for the money you pay a respected professional Houston florist:

  • Personnel who order the exact flowers you want from the part of the world where they are at the peak of their season at that time of year.
  • Staff who pick up and transport the shipped flowers in special vehicles at special temperatures to preserve their freshness and beauty.
  • Staff who put the flowers through a series of processing procedures to activate the opening and enhance the longevity of the blooms.
  • Experienced designers who use complex techniques to create exactly the look you have requested, ensuring that the designs will withstand handling and last beautifully through the day.
  • Specifically controlled refrigeration to store the completed floral arrangements until set-up time.
  • A team to deliver, set up, and, after the event, remove all props and arrangements, in the allotted venue time (while you’re getting primped, dressed and enjoying unforgettable pre-ceremony moments with friends and family).

On the other hand, DIY flowers often begin with inferior product that are not handled correctly and sometimes need to be replaced before the event, are not designed in the most flattering or stable way, are not stored or delivered in the proper temperatures, cannot be properly set up in the allotted time allowed, and most likely will not hold up through the entire event. And what about all those vases and containers and votives? What will you do with them once the reception is over?

A similar scenario can be applied to any professional wedding service. You get what you pay for if you use reputable, experienced professionals. And you’re likely to save money in the long run. Remember that cost is relative. What price do you put on being able to relax and enjoy your special day instead of working and worrying?

A reflection of the bride’s unique personality? I like reading and viewing wedding information on the internet—especially the Houston Wedding Blog—as much as (or maybe more than) the next person. But your wedding is your wedding. The best way to achieve an original look is to hire professionals with the talent to take your inspiration and create something fresh and exciting, someone who makes each wedding tell a different story, not the same story in a different color.

Maybe we should redefine what we mean by DIY.  Don’t Impel Your friends and family to participate in anything but the joy of the ceremony and the celebration of the day. Do Invest Your money on quality services provided by those who do things the right way. You will save time and avoid costly mistakes along the way. Definitely Interject Yourself into all aspects of your wedding and hire professionals who can interpret and bring to beautiful life your vision while you relax and enjoy the process.


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8 thoughts on “Guest Post: Master Bridal Consultant Karen Brown Debunks DIY Myths

  1. I don’t agree with a lot of this post – especially the scare tactic approach.

    In my opinion, DYI doesn’t necessarily mean hand-craft every single thing yourself. It simply means that the wedding is a true reflection of the individuals getting married – their direction, creativity and personality shining through – without the help or vision of an event planner.

    I think taking on something like this depends upon the nature of the couple. My wedding is DYI and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Does that mean I didn’t hire a single professional to help? Absolutely not. But I’ve planned many huge events in the past. I’m creative. Both my fiance and myself work in interactive marketing and design. There is no reason for us to hire any sort of planner.

    We designed our own invitations, as we’ve done for all of our friends and family in the past. No sense in hiring someone to do that or ordering something generic. We’re also designing all paper goods – signs, programs, etc.

    We have a goody bag for all of our out-of-town guests when they arrive at the hotel – inexpensive draw-string muslin bags stamped with a custom-designed stamp we had made at a shop in midtown shop. 100 bags for a total cost of around $60. I couldn’t order that many custom bags for less than $500.

    Flowers are all hand-sewn, custom dyed distressed muslin craft flowers. Completely gorgeous, vintage looking and original. Am I doing it? No. I found someone one Etsy to do 5 bouquets and a flower-girl pom for $260.

    I purchased 15 vintage milk glass vases on Etsy for centerpieces for $81, including shipping.

    I purchased votives, votive holders and mason jars for centerpieces and to decorate our ceremony along with craft items to decorate them. Over 200 individual candles and holders, decorated for approximately $225 and 6 hours of work for myself and my fiance.

    I’m renting some vintage pieces from Recollection Vintage Rentals. My photographer is fabulous -and a professional who happens to be a friend of mine and is giving me the friend rate. Our videographer is my fiance’s former employer where he spent 2 years editing weddings. He’s giving us the video as our wedding gift.

    I designed my own dress and am having a seamstress friend sew it, along with the bridesmaids and flower girl dresses.

    And we’ve hired a day-of coordinator to make sure everything runs smoothly.

    Everything about our wedding is being created by us or by individuals we put a lot of work into finding to make our day exactly what we want it to be. No planner. No over-the-top expensive vendors. We’re paying for it ourselves and have gone above and beyond to make sure our friends and families just have a great time.

    I find it offensive that you insinuate that doing it yourself will result in a below average or disastrous event. If the bride is resourceful, creative and has experience planning big events it can be just as amazing and even more personal than anything a planner can pull off.

  2. Ali, thank you so much for your comment—and congratulations on your upcoming wedding! It sounds like you’re putting some amazing work into it, and we strongly encourage you to submit it as a featured Real Wedding afterwards. I’ll leave it to our guest blogger to clarify her post. But I did want to point out that both Karen Brown and indeed many of the DIY-ers we’ve featured in past (we like to showcase a range of perspectives) encourage or support brides in DIY-ing parts of their weddings, including invitations, favors, place cards, table numbers and sentimental décor items among other things. But in our lengthy experience, we’ve found that many brides who take on the entire planning and decorating of the wedding, while energized and exhilarated during the lead-up, find themselves stressed out and overwhelmed in the days immediately before the wedding, and day-of. And yet other brides who book vendors directly end up paying much more than if they’d had a professional planner’s vendor relationships and negotiating power (and, of course, many of these vendors themselves are indeed individual craftspeople, artists and specialists). Of course, plenty of our brides do DIY flawlessly, beautifully and with limited stress. We certainly hope you’ll find yourself in this latter group, and we hope you’ll give us your feedback post-wedding! And again, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us, our guest blogger, and most of all, our brides. Happy planning!

  3. I think it’s important to keep in mind in this economic climate, DIY is a wonderful way to add personal style to your wedding; however I’ve experienced many clients wanting the planner to personally complete DIY projects when they become overwhelmed with all that goes into doing such. I don’t think it’s fair to either party. As a planner/coordinator my job is solely to focus on the “wedding day” and making sure the bride encounters limited stress. It’s hard to do the job in which I was hired to do when the bride is constantly putting additional stress (additional DIY projects) on her plate. My recommendation for the DIY bride would be to focus on a LIMITED amount of DIY projects and be sure to have them completed 6 weeks prior to your wedding date.

  4. Thanks- I’ll definitely submit my wedding. And to be clear, it’s not that I don’t see the value of a planner for some people. I absolutely do. I’ve even toyed with going into the profession myself at times.

    I just really took issue with the tone of this post. It insinuates that DIY weddings can’t be successful, put stress on everyone else, possibly makes them look stupid and will overall be a disaster.

    It’s so dismissive. It insinuates that it would be stupid to take on wedding planning on your own. I’ve been to over 30 weddings in my life. I can maybe think of 6 that possibly used a planner. And every wedding was great in its own right.

  5. The tone of this article made me cringe as well. Certainly any bride who takes on too much might struggle with the process and feel dissatisfied with the end result. That can happen with DIY, wedding planning and life in general. However, DIY projects can be a really enjoyable part of the wedding and I enjoy DIY as a way to bring a personal and special touch to the wedding process without spending a fortune. Further, I’d suggest that if the wedding planner is overwhelmed by DIY projects they look for someone (like me!) who specializes in DIY to lead the bride through these fun and rewarding projects.

  6. As someone who conducts DIY wedding workshops and also offers full event services, I believe you can DIY your wedding and do it well. It just takes careful planning with the type of things that can be executed on the day prior to the wedding. We also recommend that DIY brides use a “Day of Wedding Decorator” and attend workshops to practice techniques with a professional. This helps pull your creations together and takes the stress out of the wedding day. The brides still can save over 40% on the cost of their decor and have someone there to give them a backup plan if anything does not go off as planned. Whether you DIY your entire decor or just elements of it, it does help to have someone that is not a part of the celebration to consult with to make your dream a reality, planner or no planner.

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