Thoughts on DIY Projects
I’m at a Cricut conference this week in Salt Lake City (check out my instagram stories) learning all about the newest and coolest craft supplies the company is creating. I work with Cricut throughout the year to product DIY projects specifically aimed at weddings, like these spoons these save the dates and this leaf backdrop. The timing of this conference along with some interesting conversations with fellow wedding pros has led me to write a little (well, this post isn’t very little) opinion piece on DIY content and the wedding industry.
I’m in a few Facebook groups full of wedding pros. In these groups, we ask each other for advice, show off our proudest work, and have healthy (most of the time) debates over current events in the wedding industry. In the past, these debates have been about anything: the best place to advertise, if wedding companies can refuse service to the LGBTQ community based on their personal religions, is it a good business model to re-sell centerpieces after a wedding, and most recently, do DIY projects devalue wedding pros? More specifically, when a blog posts a DIY bouquet, aren’t they technically telling the reader to not hire the florist that has paid money to advertise on the blog?
Two posts have made the rounds recently: one was a DIY on how to create a dramatic hanging installation on a huge home decor page and the other was a sponsored post from a faux flower company on a large wedding blog on how to make your own floral wreath using faux flowers.
I’ll tell ya what, florists were MAD. Angry. FUMING.
Mad at the DIY video for making it look “so easy” and “simple” for a couple to make their own hanging installation of greenery and florals. That their years and years of mistakes and learning meant nothing, and were worth nothing, when someone could “easily” rig a 7′ piece of chicken wire to a ceiling with airline cable and fill it with 50lbs of florals that are going to look fresh for the next ten hours and not fall down. And if someone could throw this thing up in a wink and a shimmy, then why would they pay a professional florist thousands of dollars to do the same thing?
Anger at the faux floral article because they paid to advertise on that blog, which then put out a post paid by another advertiser, about how not to hire a florist to make your bridal bouquet. You can make it yourself with these faux flowers, was the message, forget about the hardworking, small business florists in the vendor guide who are paying hundreds of dollars a year to try to turn readers of the blog into clients. Why should the florist be paying to advertise their skills at arranging fresh flowers to engaged couples when the vehicle for advertising, the blog, is showing the couples why they don’t need a florist? And who’s advertising dollars are worth more money here – the large faux floral company or the small neighborhood florist?
Isn’t teaching others to do what we do, teaching them the skills that we’ve spent years refining, convincing prospective clients not to hire us?
My unpopular opinion among some other florists is….no. By producing DIY content that teaches couples how to create decor for their wedding, it teaches them to trust us. It shows them that the person who created the content knows what they are doing.
It builds trust.
Building trust gains clients. Especially in the wedding industry, where all of the importance is being put on one celebration, unconditional trust in a creative vendor is paramount or else the client/vendor relationship is going to be strained. As professionals, we can build trust with couples by showing them what we do – step by step.
Producing this DIY content also educates the client about exactly what goes into a hanging installation, for example, and why they are being charged $2k for my team to create one. They’ve never bought flowers for a dinner party of 150 people before. The price is often shocking, no matter what their budget is. The price is higher than they estimated because it’s difficult to be educated in the complexity, artistic value, and mechanics required to successfully make 20 centerpieces that are delivered on time and don’t wilt.
The DIY projects support our pricing. When a prospective client pushes back on the price of an installation, send them the link to a DIY project and say, “OK, here are the instructions. You’ll need three more people, a 20′ ladder, and four hours to complete it. Should I take it off the estimate?”
The sheer quantity of wedding flower DIYs on the internet is enough to teach you how to produce hundreds of weddings. Short centerpieces, boutonnières, tall centerpieces, installations, flower walls, etc. It’s all available with a quick google search. I mean, it’s how the majority of us learned floral design in the first place. Those DIY posts. Believe me, six years ago when I had no clue I was googling “wrist corsage DIY” on YouTube. At this point, the industry is saturated with DIY projects, it’s not worth getting angry each time a new one surfaces because I’m sure another version is available.
The couple that is going to teach themselves floristry – or calligraphy, or graphic design, or letterpress, or cake baking – are not your clients. They aren’t my clients either. They thrive on creating things with their hands. The creativity is pouring out of them. They value the experience of learning calligraphy, spending 40 hours perfectly calligraphing their envelopes, instead of paying someone else to do it. They get excited to wake up at 5am the day before their wedding to spend too much money at the flower market and spend all day making their own centerpieces. That experience is more fun to them than relaxing with their friends at the spa. Being able to say “I made those with my own two hands” holds more value then spending the money for a professional.
Guess what? That’s OK.
Guess what again? That little DIY post on how to make a floral wreath did not convert them. They’ve been like that since birth. It didn’t convince the couple to throw their floral budget out the window and do it themselves. A larger section of the population wants to hire us to create beauty for them. Concentrate on those people. Those are our clients. Only a small subset of the population actually holds the patience, creative fortitude, and free time to create any kind of DIY decor for their own weddings.
And there is nothing wrong with that. We should be grateful for the DIY posts that teach couples how to create decor for their own wedding. I’ve gotten paid to produce a ton of wedding DIY content for A Practical Wedding, The Knot, Green Wedding Shoes, Ruffled, Wedding Chicks…etc, etc, etc. It’s led to clients gaining trust in my creativity and aesthetic. It’s gotten me brand recognition and thousands of re-pins. It’s gotten me sponsorship deals with companies like Cricut, that let me get paid to craft and help couples decorate an amazing wedding.
The couples that don’t have a creative bone in their body – they hire me too.