Guest Blogger: Heart of Light, DIY details

Categories   Wedding Advice

With any wedding, it’s possible to get caught up in all the details – those special little touches that photographers love to feature in glossy spreads. I admit to having a severe case of weakness for details, because they do go a long way towards setting the overall feel of the day and they lend such a beautiful handmade touch to everything.

But with all the focus on details, it’s easy to feel like your wedding has to have all those little touches. And it really doesn’t. So if you’re one of those people who simply doesn’t care about custom Gocco’ed napkin rings, feel free to skip away from this post. I’m not offended. Sometimes I wish I didn’t care about these things. Fellow detail-addicts, read on for how to handle those DIY projects without getting so stressed out that you forget the reason for the day.


{image c/o Taryn Kent}

Make tough decisions early on – The sad fact of the matter is that you simply can’t do everything without going a little crazy. So let go of the crazy and sit down and decide which details you really want and can make happen, realistically. You will see loads of fabulous details in magazines and on blogs, so train yourself to resist feeling like you have to have every single one.


{image c/o Jose Villa}

Set up a schedule – I set up a calendar for the months leading up to my sister’s wedding. Every week, I scheduled a few projects for myself. The goal is to have absolutely everything you can do ahead done a few weeks before the wedding. Because other things will come up that you didn’t anticipate and you want to leave yourself time to deal with them. Really, the only projects that must be done in the days leading up to the wedding are food or flower related, if you’re ambitious enough to be taking those on.


{image c/o Jose Villa}

Stay organized – As you knock out those projects, cross them off your list. Have plenty of storage boxes on hand and when you finish a project, pack it all up and label it neatly. The only thing more frustrating than spending an entire week of your life struggling with tissue paper pom poms is misplacing those pom poms and tearing the house apart looking for them.


{image c/o Picotte Photography}

Make day of arrangements ahead of time – DIY details take time and someone has to set them up. A gorgeous tablescape with hundreds of mismatched glass jars filled with twinkling votives is cheap, it’s true. But someone needs to run around right before the reception and light hundreds of candles. If you have a wedding coordinator, make sure you set up a meeting ahead of time to discuss how things will be set up. If you don’t have a WC, you must find a friend or family member willing to step in. You won’t have time to focus on all those last minute touches yourself, trust me. Your neatly labeled boxes will come in handy at this point – just remember to toss a couple of nice lighters in with all the candles.


{both left side photos by Jill Thomas, lower right corner photo by The Image is Found}

Make it fun – Ideally, you’ll enjoy the process of handcrafting your wedding. Watch movies you love while you work on projects. Bring in friends for the big stuff and treat them to dinner. When we did the flowers for my sister’s wedding, we invited tons of girl friends over and ordered pizza. It ended up being a really fun activity to do a couple days before the wedding. And if you find yourself absolutely hating a project, just let it go. No one else will miss one tiny detail and your sanity is much more important.

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AngieP2B on Mar 18, 2010

These are all such important tips. I am a DIY and detail addict but nothing is worse than scrambling at the last minute trying to get everything done. One needs to be realistic when planning DIY projects for their wedding. Allow yourself plenty of time and never think it's too early to get started.

Tonia on Mar 18, 2010

Such great advice! I am in the midst of planning my wedding and we are DIY-ing basically everything. It's a lot to take on, but thanks to lots of helpful and crafty friends and family, I think we'll be able to pull off most of our crazy ideas. I know we will look back on the process and remember the fun moments we had together making all of the decorations. :)

Jessica on Mar 18, 2010

LOVED this post - it's so realistic and helpful. I plan on doing my own flowers, and read in this post that you did it a few days before the wedding...would you mind sending me some advice for how to keep them fresh looking? my email is: [email protected] Thanks! :)

marta on Mar 18, 2010

rachel always serves up serious wisdom. thanks for the tips, they work well for any event, not just a wedding. xo.

Amma on Mar 19, 2010

These images are lovely I am getting so into backyard weddings. on Mar 19, 2010

Love the garland and banner flags! I heart the small details!

Rachel (heart of light) on Mar 19, 2010

@ Jessica - We ordered our flowers wholesale (luckily we had a friend that is a florist and she let me place an order with her supplier) but you could also get them at the flower market. Regardless, I picked ours up on Wednesday for the Saturday wedding. As soon as I got them home I cut a couple inches off the stems with a pair of sharp pruning shears and then placed them in large buckets of cold water. You'll want to keep them somewhere shady and cool. Florists put them in walk in refrigerators, but a nice cool part of the house is good enough if you close the blinds. Two days before the wedding, we had our floral party with lots of good friends. We arranged the flowers in vases with cold water and nestled them into boxes. Again, put them in a cool area, away from the sun. If you're doing your own bouquets, those are particularly vulnerable to wilting. You want them kept cold, so ideally you should put them in a tall glass of water and then stick them in the fridge. They'll keep best this way. If you keep your fridge super cold, you might want to do a test run with the flowers you'll be using beforehand. But in general, flowers are pretty happy in the fridge and they stay fresh. How fresh your flowers stay and how long they last depends on how fresh they are when you get them and how well they're treated once you get them. Sun and heat are your big no nos. Some flowers last longer than others, so if you're going to take on all your own flowers try to choose something that holds up well. We used white hydrangeas and they were great. Roses are pretty sturdy so they are a good bet. In my experience, delicate flowers like sweet peas or freesia aren't going to hold up nearly as well.

Dannii on Mar 21, 2010

Thanks so much for this handy and realistic post! Am 3/4 of the way through planning our wedding and, with 2 months to go, have been anxiously mulling over which DIY projects it's time to just drop. You're absolutely right, I saw a thousand amazing details on so many gorgeous wedding blogs and inevitably wanted to do them all. Thanks to your post, I feel much better knowing the fun DIY ideas that I'm continuing with are do-able and I don't feel quite as bad about letting the others drop!

Emily on Mar 21, 2010

Rachel, Your week of posts have been immensely helpful - a million times thank you! Floral question: How far in advance can you get away with making boutonnieres and corsages? I'll use sturdy plants and will refrigerate post construction. I'm hoping to make them two days before the wedding. Is it nuts to have them out of water that long? Any suggestions?

Rachel (heart of light) on Mar 22, 2010

@ Emily - I'm no floral expert but I think you'd be okay doing these two days ahead, depending on which flowers you plan to use. Just for peace of mind, I'd recommend doing a test run as soon as possible. Just make up one or two, pop them in the fridge and check on them to see how well they hold up. We made ours two days ahead and they were fine (using dusty miller as the greenery and hydrangeas as the flowers). Good luck!

Wholesale Costume Jewelry on Jun 4, 2011

Its like you read my mind! You seem to know a lot about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you could do with some pics to drive the message home a bit, but other than that, this is excellent blog. A fantastic read. I'll certainly be back.

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