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(Re) Introducing: The APW How-To Series


by Meg Keene, Editor-In-Chief

We’re starting a bit of a new series this year… or restarting an old series, really. It’s the APW How-To series, and it could be more accurately titled “The lazy girl’s guide to making sh*t.” Because here is my confession: DIY tutorials bore me to tears. To. Tears. I don’t read them, I don’t need those step by step instructions, I don’t care. What I want is a sort of general overview. A way to think through the project, and decide if I want to take it on. An honest idea of how much energy it took, how they approached the project, and how it turned out. That’s all I want, really.

But more specifically I really, really don’t want to lionize the DIY wedding. Because you know what? Sometimes making stuff is fun (when you have enough time). Sometimes making stuff is necessary (when you don’t have extra money). Sometimes making stuff is really not worth it (when you realize you have no idea what you’re doing and it would cost so much less money and emotional energy to just pay someone to make the problem go away… or just not have the d*mn thing at your wedding at the first place). Sometimes making stuff is really rewarding. And sometimes, making stuff is ok if you can delegate it.

So the APW How To series is not about putting DIY weddings on a pedestal. It’s about giving you enough advice to figure out if you want to take on a project, and enough guidance to get started on a project if you decide to take it on. But we won’t be giving you endless step by step instructions. Because they are boring… and not that helpful in the end (at least if you’re a slightly lazy crafter like me).

We’re re-launching the series first thing tomorrow, hooray! If you crafted something (by love or necessity) for your wedding that you’d like to share, email Lauren at Lauren at apracticalwedding dot com with your submission and some pictures. We might tweak it, or make it simpler (better for the lazy among us), but you can bet we’ll be super grateful.

And don’t worry. I’ll be writing some of my own posts too. Like how we made our chuppah, or how we made my dang hair flower. Because lazy-girl making? That’s something I can get behind.

So, in the comments, please throw out your requests for APW How-To Posts (and volunteer to write them if you want to!  And, while we’re at it, a cheat sheet of some of the best APW How-To posts:

(Editors note: Maybe you shouldn’t try all of these projects at once, yes?)

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. For more than you ever wanted to know about Meg, you can visit MegKeene.com.

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  • http://twentyfivetowife.blogspot.com Amanda

    Oh yay! My favorite was actually your ‘how to have a blog-chic wedding’ (mostly because it was all of like 3 steps long). And ‘how to make a wedding dress’ was great because it helped me realize that that’s a lot of work and I’d never finish/get something I like if I tried that particular project.

    Can’t say as I have any requests at the moment but I’ll let you know if I think of any.

    I might be able to send in a “how to screenprint your own invitations” if I manage to do it well. I’ll try to remember to take in-progress pictures just in case.

  • http://www.heybabestudio.com Michelle

    This new series is a genius idea. I’d like to contribute a post called How To Make Your Own Birdcage Veil In 3 Easy Steps for $20.

    Case in point, the one I threw together AT THE RECEPTION for my sister’s wedding last week: http://www.flickr.com/photos/heybabestudio/5312650598/

    Easy as me at senior prom ’99.

    • http://AustinGastronomist.com Kathryn Hutchison

      Dang! I can’t see the picture because of privacy settings. :(

      • http://www.heybabestudio.com Michelle

        fixed!

        • Katelyn

          I vote for this one! Stellar stuff.

  • http://modernspartan.wordpress.com Nadine

    Yay!

  • margiemive

    I really love these! I would submit something, but alas, I am a DIY cautionary tale. You can count on me to find a more expensive, more time-consuming way to do just about anything – but I’ll have made it, dammit! My husband would slowly approach me in the weeks before the wedding, softly murmuring “Set down the glue gun… nice and easy…”

  • Katelyn

    I recently made my own custom pattern for a convertible dress similar to this one:

    http://rowena.typepad.com/rostitchery/infinity-dress.html

    I’ve never made a garment before in my life and was able to do it (it took the whole weekend but it felt so awesome to make something!)

    It would be a fairly complex how-to unfortunately. So I don’t think it belongs here at APW. I’ll eventually get around to putting it somewhere on the internet….

    But let me know if it does belong and I’ll start right away :)

  • abby_wan_kenobi

    Um, I love you Meg. Lazy girl, way too busy girl, girl logistically too far from wedding site to haul craft projects – it’s all right up my alley.

    I had a lot of “handmade by others” things at my wedding and I do feel just the teeniest-tiniest bit of wedding shame whenever people ask if I made the pretty things in the pictures myself. I’m like “I made the 400-mile trip to the ceremony… My wonderful aunts made the centerpieces, my sister made the french horn blue, the glorious women on Etsy made the programs, bouquets, jewelry and invitations.” “So you didn’t make anything?” “I made the vows.” “Oh! you wrote your own vows? How romantic!!” “Um, no we used the vows the preacher brought. But I did say them and I totally meant it.” Awkward?

    So anyway, thanks APW for reaffirming my suspicion that not DIYing didn’t make me a bad bride (or more recently a bad wife).

    • ddayporter

      bahaha “Um, no we used the vows the preacher brought. But I did say them and I totally meant it.” Exactly.

  • Trisha

    Oh, exciting! I’m looking forward to this new feature.

  • http://jolynn.wordpress.com jolynn

    Well color me excited! That’s how I do things too, and I live in AWE of those who do stuff.

    Except I might skip over some of these just because I don’t want to think “oh, I could do THAT!” :) Could. Probably shouldn’t. ;)

  • http://rachael-maddux.tumblr.com Rachael

    Would love, love, LOVE to see How To Make Your Own Photobooth/Smilebooth! (PS, hello, first comment ever after reading APW for a way long time and then finally actually getting engaged recently and automatically feeling NOT BAD for all the somewhat pre-emptive browsing…!)

    • http://eclpse.livejournal.com Kimberly

      Oooh, that’s a good one, I’ve seen a lot of people around the blogosphere who have been interested in looking into that.

      • meg

        Tune in tomorrow then….

        • http://discerningdilettante.blogspot.com ka

          AWESOME. I keep thinking, “how hard can it be” about photo booths, and then thinking I must be missing something…

          (And congrats Rachael!)

  • http://misallocationofresources.blogspot.com/ Jenn

    Too soon!! I am about to try out my make-your-own-letterpress (press is made, but I haven’t taken it for a test drive yet.) I might have something to show (if it works) by the end of the month…?

  • http://bride-sans-tulle.blogspot.com Sharon

    How fun! Sadly, the only “how-to” post I could write would be “How not to feel guilty if you are artistic but into making wedding crafts.” ;) But I can’t wait to see how this feature proves to be an amazing resource for the APW community!

    • http://bride-sans-tulle.blogspot.com Sharon

      “NOT into.” Not. Decidedly not. (Sigh, sometimes my fingers are faster than my brain.)

      • sophia

        Your how to have an ipod dance party was super helpful. It could just be linked here if you and Meg don’t mind. I found that a lot of people had ipod reception music but there weren’t many how to resources out there..
        just sayin’

  • http://lilapuppy.blogspot.com Meghan

    OOOH I’ll do beer!

    • Melodious

      Awesome! I’d definitely like a beer tutorial. May I request a Belgian Trippel?? :D

  • http://thinkingwedding.blogspot.com Rhiannon

    I know I’m late to the party on this – I was offline over Christmas – but YAY! for no step-by-step, breath-by-breath instructions when you can pretty much work it out.

    That’s the kind of DIY tutorial I like.

  • http://bondingcarbonunits.wordpress.com/ the Sarah formerly known as Sarah K.

    Very cool. I love this version of DIY tutorial; the steps are great, the actual process is what’s important. If anyone wants it, I can do a post on DIY personal flowers (i.e., bouquets/bouts only). :)

    • Shotgun Shirley

      Yes please! In, like, the next 15 days? ;-)

      • http://bondingcarbonunits.wordpress.com/ the Sarah formerly known as Sarah K.

        You sound like you need some time-sensitive advice!! I’ll give you a quick ‘n’ dirty version.
        Quick context: one bride, one groom, thirteen boutonnieres (!!!) and six bouquets.

        – Go wholesale, and get something in season and hardy. We got 150 long stemmed roses for $90 at Costco. We got white and red roses, and they were great. I loved the monochrome look of JUST roses, which made it easy and cheap for us to do our own flowers.
        – Get florist’s tape, get plastic handcuffs, get pins and ribbon. Then PRACTICE. It sounds like you don’t have a lot of time, but even a couple practice-tries will do you a world of good.
        – YOUTUBE. Google search for “bouquet video” and see what you get. It’s helpful to watch someone do it. Great boutonniere video.

        – Bouquets: start with one or two flowers (your largest blooms), held together, then slowly add flowers going out, and slowly lower, so it ends up looking like a dome. When it looks nice, grab a plastic handcuff and tighten it at the top of your hands when you’re holding it, at the base of the blooms. Use another plastic handcuff to secure the bottom. Decorate with ribbon.
        – Boutonnieres: EASY (seriously). Use the tightest blooms for boutonnieres. Chop the stem down to a couple inches past the bloom. Remove extraneous leaves, but save them to garnish the boutonniere. Hold it all together (awkwardly), and use floral tape to secure. Key with floral tape: you have to pull it for it to be sticky, and it only sticks to itself. The handiest way to make boutonnieres is to SPIN the flowers, and hold the tape taut (check out the video I linked). Lather, rinse, repeat.

        -Storage: somewhere cool! We didn’t keep ours in the fridge, but they were in an air conditioned house. Plastic baggies for the boutonnieres, little vases for the bouquets. We didn’t wrap the bouquets with ribbon until the morning of the wedding, so they could stay in the water longer. To keep the bouquet stems hydrated, put wet paper towel wrapped in tin foil attached to the end of the bouquet.

        Our flowers were STUNNING. I loved them. I didn’t want to spend $2000 on stuff that DIES. Flowers get the most attention in photos and during the ceremony. After that, they were tossed on the food stations and I barely noticed them.

        The hard part was the timing. The flowers themselves were fine; picked up at Costco two days before the wedding, assembled the day before the wedding. We arranged all the bouquets/bouts in only a couple hours. It was stressful for me, but that’s because my mother was ignoring the task at hand, and my bridesmaids weren’t super interested in doing flowers. Since this is something you really do need to do last-minute, make sure you have people to help you.

        Photos of our flowers: Photo of the bouquets. Decent shot of my bouquet. An ENTIRE bouquet, where you can see the plastic handcuffs, lol.

      • abby_wan_kenobi

        Hey Shirley – I’ve done bouquets using silk flowers before. Advantages are you can do them whenever and they keep until the wedding and they’re lightwieght and durable. We ended up tossing our bouquets in the truck in 90-degree heat and they were no worse for the wear. They looked fantastic in person and even better in photos, people were shocked they weren’t real.

        If you want any pointers (or moral support or to see some pics) on that option, shoot me an email at marlasinger84 [at] yahoo [dot] com.