Catalyst Ranch is Chicago's most creative Meeting and Special Events Space.

Welcome Guest Blogger, Meg White!  Meg and Josh got married in the Cha Cha Room and had their reception in the Polka Room at Catalyst Ranch earlier this year.  Here’s some advice from a savvy bride who’s been there!  Meg is a Chicago-based writer/editor and the managing editor for REALTOR® Magazine. 

When I got engaged, I got a ton of advice. Some of it was spot-on (“Get a new e-mail address just for the wedding”—yes, your spam folder will thank you later.) The advice was right most of the time, but not all the time (“If a vendor doesn’t call you back right away, they don’t deserve your business”—true when you’re talking about the big dogs, but some awesomely creative people don’t have secretaries and need a little slack.) One piece of advice that I got from several people who were apparently aware of my difficulty with delegating was, “Choose only one thing to do yourself, and leave the rest to the pros.”

Brian Kinyon Photography

Brian Kinyon Photography

Now, I’m definitely a DIY-type of gal. Not only was I on a budget (which is not an easy thing to stick to in a city such as Chicago), but my fiancé, Josh, and I really wanted this day to have our fingerprints all over it, both literally and figuratively. We had a vision of a rock-and-roll inspired, mid-century cocktail party. But there were definitely limitations and lessons to be learned throughout the process of DIYing (DIOing?) our wedding. Here are three of them, complete with examples from our experiences:

1.        Start early. Josh popped the question in October, and there was no way I was going to a) get married during a Chicago winter or b) have less than 11 months to plan. So we shot for early spring and found ourselves with about a year and a half to, among other things, craft hair pins for our lady attendants and make a number for every table in Catalyst Ranch’s Polka room.

  •    The how: We bought a whole box of glass perfume bottles from Uncle Fun before they closed up shop, along with a couple books of sheet music (purchased at Brownstone Antiques), which we used to papier-mâché the bottles. Then, in the oven, we warped some old 45s (also from Brownstone) and stuck them to the bottom of the bottles with a glue gun. Finally, we wrote up descriptions of our favorite music venues (along with the shows we’ve enjoyed together at each club) and used those to mark each table.
Brian Kinyon Photography

Brian Kinyon Photography

  •    The how: For the lady attendants and my veil, I spent a couple hours sewing these easy little flowers using a tutorial I found online, while sitting in front of the television in the depths of January. It was therapeutic; I swear!
  • Brian Kinyon Photography

    Brian Kinyon Photography

    2.        Know when to call a pro. They key to melding professional help with your DIY vision is to describe what you want clearly, in multiple ways. Josh and I knew we wanted to base our invites on those corny old concert posters from the 50’s and 60s. However, neither of us are graphic designers, and boy do we know it.

    •     The how: Josh and I shot photos of each other in vintage dress and sketched a few layout ideas. We also used Google Image Search to find concrete examples of posters we liked and kept links to our favorites (though we probably should have just broken down and joined Pinterest.) We shared our sketches, visuals, and specific language with an amazing graphic designer, Jennifer Baddour, and she brought it all together. She came back to us with a draft, and we made a few minor tweaks and ran with it. She designed these beautiful coasters for our homebrewed beer, and also helped us create files that we sent in to a site that makes custom guitar picks, which our flower girl tossed instead of rose petals.
    ©Jennifer Baddour

    ©Jennifer Baddour

  • Another example of needing pro help: While Josh gladly spent the better part of a year compiling and refining a kick-ass playlist, we knew neither of us wanted to be in charge of making sure the music rocked the right moments, so we asked a DJ friend to help out on the day of.
  • 3.        Thrift shops (and vintage Etsy searches) are a DIYer’s best friend. It’s lucky that Josh and I actually enjoy digging through vintage rubble. While we found some great raw materials for our DIY wedding projects at shops online and off, it did take a lot of time sifting through it all.

    •     The how: I turned a funky little Easter basket from Shangri-La Vintage into a flower girl guitar pick receptacle with a few extra homemade flowers leftover from the attendants’ fascinators and some ribbon. We also found some adorable vintage wedding cards from Shangri-La to decorate our card/gift holder (a cute banjo case we already had around the house.) Brian Kinyon Photography
    •     The how: Our ceremony backdrop was a vintage tablecloth purchased at the last minute from this Etsy shop. Wait, does measuring the wall and hanging fabric up on a couple of hooks count as DIY?
    Brian Kinyon Photography

    Brian Kinyon Photography

    The bottom line is this: If you want to be a DIY bride, you don’t need to quit your job and become a crafty Pinterest slave. You’ve got to know your own talents (and limitations) and create the things you enjoy creating. Finally, be realistic about your own time, and know when to call in the pros.

    Creative Juice Readers, do you have a wedding DIY Do or Don’t to share?  Please leave your tips in the comments!

     

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