Why I DIY


by Meg Keene, Editor-In-Chief

Why I DIY | A Practical WeddingThis was Project Wedding Weekend. We shopped for wedding dress fabric, we put together our Save The Dates, we finished our wedding website. At one point, late on Saturday night, I looked around the living room and there were scraps of silk, stamps, card stock, and inspiration pictures all around us. It was such a happy feeling. It was my first moment of wedding planning where I thought – ah, this is what I’ve always dreamed of.

Some moments from the weekend:

  • I had lots of time as I sat hand addressing Save The Dates to think about our discussion about WIC vs DIY. Why do I DIY (or ‘make stuff” as I call it in my head)? I realized sitting there that I make stuff because I want it to be mine, to be ours. I want something that’s not a product someone marketing to us, but something we thought through and put together with our own hands. It was particularly nice to feel like we were sending something we’d thoughtfully created out to guests. It felt like sending them a little bit of us.
  • Each time I walked into a fabric store someone would ask me “What project are you working on?” and I would flinch. I’m used to trying not to tell people that we’re getting married in stores, because I hate that moment when it seems like dollar signs flash across their eyes. So, I sighed and said guardedly “we’re shopping for fabric for my wedding dress.” Each time there was a pause, and then shear un-guarded delight beamed from their face. “That’s so wonderful!” they’d squeal, “Thats so exciting!” That reaction was reason enough to DIY. And if you ever go to Britex, look for Douglas on the silk and lace floor. He’s my guy now. He told me, “When you find a fabric that speaks to you, that’s your fabric. Just no point in looking after that.” And he was right.

If you DIY, why? What to you get from making things? For me, when the world gets crazy, when I feel like being a bride is nothing more then being an advertisers dream, the simple act of putting something together with my hands brings me back to the moment, back to what I care about, back to what it’s all about. The saving money is nice too, but I don’t think it’s the point.

Picture: my living room floor on Sunday morning

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. Her first book, A Practical Wedding: Creative Solutions for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration, was published in January 2012, and has been a top three bestseller on the wedding bookshelf ever since. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and son.

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10010855220044881380 Krista

    Wow … what a fun reason to DIY. I never thought of it, but I enjoy that sense of accomplishment when I’m done, and the sense of ownership that it’s mine. And you so perfectly described that feeling!

    As for buying fabric, you make it sound like a fun experience!

  • http://downtomysoul.wordpress.com/ downtomysoul

    I DIY (or WE are doing it ourselves) because it feels good. And (although it may be a headache at times) it’s on the whole heaps of fun!
    I couldn’t imagine hiring someone to do it all for us, that would be so weird.

  • http://cmanas.wordpress.com/ Manas

    I agree completely – it feels good! My partner and I knew from the first that we would make our own stationery (or at least design it) because we are both really interested in design and type and have some practise. And then when I sat down only last weekend and realised that I could make my own veil – that’s when I think I had my real ‘bride’ moment. Suddenly /everything/ seemed more exciting! I think that the more I work out I can do myself, the more exciting it will get.

  • http://www.bathtubbrewery.com mel

    I’ve adopted the idea of DIT (do it together) with my fiance because we don’t have the budget to support a big WIC wedding, nor do we want one. Like you said, it’s our way to show people who we are, and give them a little piece of that. Plus, I’d rather make stuff myself because I am having the hardest time finding what I want for the price I want.

  • Missus Grumplebottom

    I DIY because I like to look back at what I accomplished and know that I got exactly what I wanted, and my wedding choices won’t be dictated by what is currently offered in the retail world. Selfish? Yes. But when it’s supposed to be the biggest party you’ve ever thrown, you’re on a $10k budget, and you can’t find the centerpieces/raffia boxes/invitations you want … well, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. :D

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15362619565392680707 bekapaige

    I DIY because I love taking the time to design and create, to talk about what we want with my fiance and then make something together. We’ve tried to make things that we’ll not only enjoy at the wedding, but use afterwards, and I like that we’ll be reminded of our wedding day as we’re living our marriage by the things that we made together.

    Even if half the time (ok 75% of the time) they don’t turn out quite the way we had thought they would… :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14195851663105565823 Globetrottingbride

    I love to DIY for so many reasons.

    Most importantly, I’m very creative and I love to put my mark on everything.

    I often see things in stores for a million dollars and think to myself. “Wow, I could make that myself.” and then I enjoy the challenge of doing it.

    Sometimes I want something that just doesn’t exist : ). I could not find wedding invites that I liked so I ended up making my own. This was a huge project but it was so worth it when everyone raved about them. Plus, it was a bonding moment.

    Anyway, sorry to babble. Great post!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18158492409598444709 Terry

    I DIY becuase I grew up in a household where suffient money was readily available, but time was often at a shortage. So, taking the time to make something with my own hands, rather than just buy it, is my way of showing those around me that I love them. Even when those items are nominaly for me, our wedding was an event largly for the guests, and I wanted them to feel that we had lavished time on the evening we were sharing with them.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03208244458086146065 Blablover5

    I like to make things as I have this wild creative energy that can’t really get used up in my work (science kinda frowns on that) so I need an outlet. It seems like I put my hand in a little bit of everything at some point.

    And I can really understand not wanting to mention that you are getting married or using something for the wedding. I would actively try to avoid saying I was the bride whenever anyone asked. In fact at one store the sales lady thought my MOH was and I was in no hurry to correct her.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12020607748960628571 E

    I DO NOT DIY, much as I’d like to. The truth is, I’m too lazy and I don’t have a creative bone in my body. On those occasions when I HAVE tried to do DIY projects, they come out so terribly, that I ultimately end up buying what I tried to make in the first place, which is NOT a strategy for saving money.

  • http://wemetinabar.com Heather from the bar

    We just finished gocco’ing our save the dates. As we stood there looking at all of them we said “they are a tiny bit crooked” and “the white isn’t super white” and then “but they are us. we made these. and I love them”. That is why I DIY :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01299895022531090290 Molly Jean

    First, I don't really LOVE the term DIY because it seems like such a frivolous way to describe something so meaningful & time consuming, but here are reasons I love it & think making things is important:

    -it's a healthy way to exercise our creativity…we are creative beings for a reason & neglecting that part of ourselves would be sad/unhealthy
    -the process of bringing an abstract idea to life feels good
    -there's this compelling aspect to it, it's interesting that we are compelled to spend time on a project as opposed to watching TV or doing something else
    -creating something builds confidence, whether or not we realize it
    -the pride factor is priceless
    -there's something to be said, in a time marked by technology, for making something with your hands
    -makes you appreciate craftsmanship & other people's work
    -gives perspective-you can make things as opposed to buying them, you're not a slave to consumerism

    Well, long post, sorry, but I'm really passionate about this subject. What can I say, I love making things! Enjoy the blog, keep up the great work!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12383152078380104490 a mindful bride

    First of all, thank you for always having the right thing to say. I tried out a couple DIY projects this weekend with mixed success. Then I just felt frustrated–we are still going over budget, so what is the point of me sitting on the floor gluing things together. And I guess the answer is partly to save money where we can and partly because its fun and partly because its personal. Thanks for reminding me to keep perspective.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15899239356088557995 Amanda

    I like putting love and sweat and good energy into things. Right now I’m knitting socks for my dad for Christmas–not because he needs socks, or because it’s particularly cost-effective to do so–but because there will be a lot of love in those socks when I’m done with them. When I give my friends pickles I brined and canned myself made from cucumbers I picked by hand, I’m letting them know that I worked hard to give them something, and that I love them enough to do that.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10044595180736126664 Melissa

    I DIY because it makes me happy to create something. For our wedding we did most of the stuff ourselves with the help of our family and friends. It was a lot less expensive but more importantly it was really nice to have our wedding filled with our handmade details.

    I can’t wait to see your dress! :)

  • Anonymous

    Sounds like a productive weekend, Meg! I’m in awe you and your family are making your dress. I can’t sew on buttons so I am always impressed with people who are dress-makers.

    Although me and my boy are not big DIY’ers, we are going the DIY route on some aspects of the wedding (website design, Save-the-Dates, wedding programs). While I’d love to do more, the reality is big projects make my inner perfectionist kick into gear and I drive myself crazy with minutiae. So we’re doing the bit that’s easy and won’t make me nuts. ;)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13781314774264492284 blind irish pirate

    Point #1 was the main point of DIYing for our wedding. Wedding Swag is so… lifeless and impersonal.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07527646197854912136 Kiana

    I’m doing some DIY for our wedding…I love it because it feels so good to see the finished product and be proud of something that turned out so great. And of course, it adds that personal touch that you could never get anywhere else.

    http://www.dottheiwedding.blogspot.com

  • Peonies and Polaroids

    I DIY because I love handmade things but I can’t afford the prices that artists charge for the things I love. When I have the time and I can figure out how to do it, making things myself seems like the most sensible thing to do. Sometimes I enjoy it and sometimes I hate it, but I do it for the love of the thing I’m trying to make! I’m shallow, I love pretty things and if I can’t buy them and I ahve the time I will make them instead!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12051581432652556410 Marina

    I like Do It Together, like someone above said. This weekend we started working on our wedsite, which my guy insisted on building from HTML and CSS up, not getting a prefab mywedding.com one, and I’m so glad he did! It’s the first wedding project we’ve really been working on together, and it’s so much fun to see something grow that is completely both of us. So far most of the things have been mostly me or mostly him or mostly impersonal, so it’s wonderful putting together something that really combines our tastes and talents. I want to do more of that. :)

  • Jenny

    I am not an artist or a creative writer, so DIY for me has been an artistic outlet. For my fiance and I, creating our wedding has been a way to articulate a vision of who we are not only for ourselves but as a part of a community. We really believe that concrete physical things can reflect profound meaning. Designing aspects of our wedding, from centerpieces to invitations, is almost like a meditation for me, part of a ritual that prepares me for the transition I’m about to make.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11125377384036548652 melissa

    I totally agree with your post. I DIY because I enjoy being crafty, creative and wish I went into a career like interior design, culinary school, or was Martha Stewart’s intern. We are doing alot more DIY for our wedding than initially planned because I am just fed up with the wedding industry. WE want to be in control of how things look as well as how much things cost. There is no reason that just because “wedding” is attached that things need to be twice as fancy and 4 times as expensive.

  • http://thecreatist.wordpress.com the creatist

    I DIY because it makes me complete. Because I am creating something – solely for pleasure, not for any reason.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05071674216050577377 Kari

    I DIY because I want things having to do with our wedding to be “OURS”. Like you said, I dont want something that was marketed to me. If I can DIY or find a way to DIY, I will. If I love something thats way out of my budget, I can look at it and figure out how to DIY, it almost always comes out better!
    I like hearing people compliment me on the things I’ve done myself too. I want people to be at our wedding and think “this is so great! so much love and thought went into this! its sooo them!”

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06975157334086968704 {furi kuri} travels

    I love DIY, however have no talent for it….

    I am blown away by the talent in your family. I can’t wait to see the final product!

  • alma

    I love your sentence “being a bride is nothing more then being an advertisers dream” it’s so true, I am getting married soon and I am making my own wedding dress with a duchess satin and emroided lace, thank you so much for your inspiring post – all the site is so inspirational to me….
    take care