DIY in the Wedding Industry: Making it or Breaking it?

DIY in the Wedding Industry:  Making it or Breaking it?

An article written by Heather and Kimberly

If you’ve ever looked at wedding photos from the days of your parents - church basements, VA halls, a few family photos, streamers, and a piped white cake - you’re probably well aware that weddings have come a long way in style and character.  Today’s fétes are well choreographed and time-lined productions requiring the talents of multiple professionals working in concert to create a day that reflects a couple’s personal style, celebrates a union of two families, resonates emotionally with all involved, and of course throws a party that people will talk about for years to come.  The notable weddings that achieve this don’t need to be $250,000 affairs or pompous exercises in self-aggrandizing - however, they should have one thing - wedding professionals at the helm.  

If you’ve consumed just about any mainstream wedding media in the past four to five years, you may have noticed that the industry itself is having an identity crisis.  The rise of reality shows looking for real world drama quickly clued in on weddings as the ultimate love story {it’s been a staple for novels, movies, and television for time and memoriam}  As with any industry, attention brought out the craziness and we had the rise of prima-donna wedding pros, bridezillas, and 72 day ‘for profit’ marriages.  Is there any wonder there is a DIY {do it yourself} backlash against this?  So the wedding industry would have you believe two things at once: you must spend astronomical amounts on your wedding to even begin to have something attend-able AND do it all yourself otherwise how could it possibly be unique to you?  

What is a bride supposed to do with these messages?  It’s cynical to believe that money is the key to a gorgeous wedding that your friends and family will love.  It’s pedantic to insist that one’s level of creativity {let alone technical skill} to conceive, make, and create décor, flower arrangements, music playlists, gourmet invitations and menus, and a touching ceremony somehow reflect your commitment to your wedding {and in turn your relationship.}

But DIY itself {in all its well intentioned ways} is having its own major repercussions on the industry.  This is an industry that is made up of small and local businesses.  Wedding planning is one of the few times that you will work closely with small business owners all together for a common {and emotional} goal.  It’s also one of the only times that you don’t approach a business in a ‘repeat customer’ capacity.  While some unscrupulous vendors will take advantage of this fact, we believe that the core and majority of the industry are ‘passion people’ who take the responsibility of a wedding with the gravity it deserves.  As a blog, we hear from brides everyday with success stories of vendors that go above and beyond.  We also hear the horror stories of building floral arrangements until 2am the night before their wedding, being pestered all wedding day with questions without a planner to delegate to, and physical harm by the scourge of paper cuts from DIY-ing their invites, programs, and escort cards.  When someone chooses to DIY a part of their wedding not because they have the skill and vision to do so, but because they feel like it’s the trendy or popular thing to do, it imperils the small businesses that make up one third of the wedding industry and the wedding day itself.

There are 3 components to the wedding industry that keep it vibrant:  Clients {brides and grooms}, the media {wedding blogs and magazines}, and the wedding professionals {wedding coordinators, wedding photographers, DJs, honeymoon planners, etc}.  In order to keep the businesses that make up the wedding industry afloat, all of the different parts have to support each other.

The Wedding Industry Flow Through:  Brides and grooms hire wedding professionals, wedding professionals advertise on wedding blogs and in wedding magazines, wedding magazines and wedding blogs collect the wedding industry’s best ideas and photographs to publish and share with the brides, therefore supplying the brides with a reason to hire the wedding vendors.  

If DIY is here to stay as a measurement of how much one cares about their own wedding, then what is to be said for the wedding industry?  If the flow of the wedding industry (as shown above) is true, what happens when one of those parts is gone or much less active than before (in the case of DIY, this would be the hiring bride)?  Can professional wedding businesses survive on passion and love alone?  Can bloggers and wedding magazines continue to thrive if they aren’t supported by advertisers?  We don’t believe these things are realistic.  As a growing wedding website in this industry, we chat with wedding professionals on a daily basis and can knowingly say that they {who shall remain nameless} don’t like or support DIY.  Not only does it harm their own businesses, but it corrodes the perception of skill that is involved in creating their product.  As weddings become more and more, forms of art and expression, the professionals in the industry that thrive, are more akin to artists and craftsmen than hired hands.  We know wedding planners that have décor, floral, and even architecture backgrounds.  Photographers and wedding film makers attend hours upon hours of ongoing education each year.  Florists are living encyclopedias of color theory, botany, and local sourcing.  They know the ebb and flow of a wedding day - how to stay in the backstage of the event and still remain effective.  

For many people, DIY is a pure expression of their skill, creativity, and ability that they can bring to their wedding.  For example, organic gardeners and urban homesteaders can home-grow favors for their own wedding, avid knitters and crafters can adorn their wedding with all kinds of homespun objects that have sprung directly from their own minds.  This is something that comes naturally out of their existing lifestyles.  However, if creativity, time, or even the desire to DIY your wedding doesn’t come naturally to you, then don’t!  There are so many talented and willing professionals who will work with you in as much or as little capacity as you need.  

{Your comments are welcome and appreciated!!  Agree with us?  Don't?  We want to know either way.}

XO~ Heather & Kimberly

Photography: Style Unveiled

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Reader Comments (8)

We think this topic is HUGE right now ... what are your thoughts? We'd love to chat with you here in the comments section!

XO~ Heather & Kimberly

Well written! DIY does not have to be 'all or nothing' .... We encourage brides to bring personality into their event, and sometimes that takes the form of heirlooms or personal items that we incorporate into styling their wedding. Sometimes it's a handmade / DIY project. DIY has really always been a group effort (family, friends, wedding party) and more and more, the 'group' includes the venue and planner (and Etsy storekeepers!)

Incredible article. Very true too!

December 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCassy

I serve mostly DIY brides and many are extraordinary, but the common denominator : they hire professionals to execute the big stuff. I advocate a live DJ or band over iPod, recommend that a florist to do at least your personals like bouquets if not all your centerpieces, and advise that a pro photographer to capture moments you otherwise wouldn't have imagined or seen. And of course, hire a planner to help the DIY bride navigate these choices and bring her hard work to life (and troubleshoot) on the big day. After all, we pros get to do weddings many more times in a year than a bride does, hopefully, in her lifetime. :-)

December 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVera

AMEN! I love this... so very well said! I believe the exact same thing- while DIY is awesome and is a great way for a bride and groom to display their own unique style and personalities, I think "handmade" is even better- in which vendors are hired to provide those personal touches that will still reflect the bride and groom. The funny thing is, most of the awesome "DIY" weddings that are seen in mags and on blogs were most likely done by a couple with super creative and amazing friends/family. Not everyone has that, you know? Which is why I'm definitely a proponent for the "handmade" wedding movement!! :)

December 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLauren @ Every Last Detail

This is very true. I definitely agree with that last sentiment. If DIY doesn't come naturally, don't make your wedding the place to experiment!

December 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnna of

I would love to hire people to do my wedding for me if it didn't end up costing about two years salary!!! I think DIY comes more out of the outrageousness of a $75,000 day. DIY is just friendlier on the budget. Somewhere along the line vendors have forgotten that not every bride is a millionaire and that is the issue with so many weddings these days

December 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJj

It is certain that DIY has had a major impact on the wedding profession. Weddings are a business, from start to finish. The good aspect of an abundance of DIY out there is that many brides see the downfall of trying to have an elaborate wedding and trying to do it all themselves. But the good aspect is that the wedding industry has opened up significantly because of the onslaught of DIY'ers. Just a few years ago you had a fully staffed wedding or a small homemade one because you couldn't afford the professionals. There was really no in between...and so the Indie wedding was born. Everyone has a talent or at least a desire to have a talent, so weddings began to reflect that. And brides wanted something unique and to have more control of the final product, the wedding day. In the recent past wedding professionals could be domineering and opinionated to the point that brides were ushered along into having a wedding that was universal in feel, or adhered to the current trends, and many brides felt like their day was way too generic. Add to that a very closed and secretive wedding industry where information was closely guarded by the professionals. But blogs like this are the major influence in the revamping of the wedding industry. And guess what? I think all sides have benefited! There is a happy medium now, where brides can design their wedding their way without feeling like they are not following etiquette or be a slave to industry trends. I see more local businesses every day that cater to weddings. Vintage rental businesses are booming, handmade wedding crafters are exploding (just check Etsy, for one) and planners are more in demand because they offer real services that brides can see because of blog and magazine exposure. So DIY is a good thing for all involved! But just like any good thing it suffers when overindulged in. I serve the DIY wedding community and I love the whole idea. But brides still hire me as a planner, and they definitely hire me for their invitations and paper goods. The abundance of DIY on blog and websites often overwhelm brides and they see they can't do it all! So more exposure is a good thing, helping brides find that one project they can contribute to their wedding and finding help for ALL the rest. Maybe more exposure about DIY disasters to show brides the down side of trying to do too much....and probably many blogs don't want to venture there, lol.

December 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCheryl Ann @ Oh So Beloved

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