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Confessions of a DIY Bride

It's time for me to come clean

Sam, Semi-professional Writer & Stew, Professional Nerd

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Last year, in September, I married my dinosaur-for-life on a beautiful morning, in our home country, South Africa. We cried, we laughed, we ate, we danced. It was fab.

But, I feel like I need to come clean before continuing… My name is Sam, and I was a DIY bride.

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And, I don’t mean we wrote our own vows. I mean we designed a bespoke monogram, we hand-stamped favour bags, strung-up escort cards, and made beribboned swizzle sticks to match the paper straws in the mason jars. There were hand-tied bouquets, cutesy fabric buttonholes, handmade cookie favours (with hand tied tags), hand-stitched (don’t ask) programs and incredibly complex self-assembled paper invitations, homemade chalkboard menus, carefully collected soda bottles… And you know what? I friggin’ loved it.

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We DIYed for a couple of reasons—sometimes, it really was cheaper; it matched the laid-back, slightly wonky feel we wanted for the whole day; it allowed us some control over the finer details (we were planning a wedding in Africa, from London); but mostly—because I love making stuff, and I have a verypatient partner. I find solace in creating things and can happily lose myself in a day (or a year) of gluing, folding, and cutting.

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Don’t get me wrong—it wasn’t all paper roses. There were moments (say, half-way through the eighty-ninth invitation) when I literally wanted to set fire to all the craft supplies scattered around our house. But, then there were also other moments. Like the evening me, my husband-to-be, and my future dad-in-law, sat painstakingly ironing (I know—craziness) the pre-folded outer covers of those same invitations in a pokey little room in Wales, watching cr*p TV and generally bonding. It is one of my most treasured and favourite pre-wedding memories.

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Because, to me, that’s what the handmade DIYing was about—putting a little piece of ‘me’, of ‘us’ into as much of the wedding ‘stuff’ as we had the energy to do.

And, it turns out, on the day, there were somany more people in all those little details—my ninety-two-year-old grandpa who made all the menu chalkboards and signage for us, the cake baked by my (new) mom-in-law, and decorated by my aunt-in-law—the table runners my (poor, frazzled) mother sewed up. The hanging bottle wall my ex-sailor dad created proudly using ‘navy knots’. The cookies—baked in my grandparents’ house, using my grandmother’s secret recipe. The confetti bags, grudgingly filled by the one close friend stupid enough to cadge a lift to the venue the day before, who inevitably got roped into helping set-up.

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And, yeah, on the day, all the control-freakiness I’d had about things looking too homemade or mismatched, disappeared—replaced by much bigger feelings. And yes, I didn’t think about or (much) care about any of those details as I married my patient, caring and completely wonderful partner.

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But. There was a moment, when I stood back, and looked around at the happy smiles and goofy grins of all our favourite people, and literally felt surrounded by love.

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Because there it was—hammered into the menus, baked into the cookies, sewn into the seams of the table runners and sprinkled into that darn confetti. So if the crafty crazy is getting to you, don’t worry too much. Because it’s neverabout the details you get out. It’s about the love you put in.

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The Info—Photography: Jacki Bruniquel / Venue: Netherwood Farm, South Africa / Sam’s Dress: Sam’s grandmother’s dress (it was sixty-four years old!), expertly altered by Chambers Bespoke Tailors / Stew’s Suit: M&S / Bridesmaids Dresses: Joules

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