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How to Get Started Designing Your Wedding

You are engaged! Yay! Happy day! After you’ve bought all the wedding magazines, bookmarked all the blogs, followed all the instagram accounts, and dove headfirst into The Knot and Weddingwire, it’s time to think about design. As I’m sure you can guess, the design is my favorite part. Grab your wedding planning binder and open up your Wedding Planning google drive folder, let’s talk visuals.

Every wedding has a design. Whether you think that wedding design is part of the dreaded wedding industrial complex or not, you are going to have to make design decisions for your invites, your dress, and your flowers. Minimal is a design aesthetic, as is opulence. Wedding design might be down low on your personal priority list, that’s cool, but let’s get at least an understanding of the design choices you’ll have to make while planning this event.

Your first step to designing your own wedding: Research.

As with the beginning of any project, research is the key to taking that first step in this massive project. For the majority of you, this is your first wedding, the first large party you’ve planned, and the first time you’ve had to even think about what kind of paper quality you like in an invitation. Research is the key to keeping your wedding design process organized.

Specifically in regards to wedding design, take a few weeks and research the following:

  • Wedding specific visuals you are drawn to:
    • Grab a few magazines. Wedding magazines have been quietly ceasing publication the last few years, but there are still a few gems out there: Martha Stewart Weddings is now publishing a twice a year issue, the local and national issues of The Knot, and Grace Ormond.
    • Start on some quick searches in Pinterest for wedding inspiration and pinning them to your wedding design board. (now is a good time to get that board going. I have a free 5-day course about designing your wedding on Pinterest. Sign up right here.)
    • Google image search your venue, if you have one, or general wedding themes and color palettes that you love.
    • Blogs are still relevant! Some of my favorites for wedding inspiration are Junebug Weddings, Every Last Detail, and A Practical Wedding.
  • Creative Wedding Pros you want to hire:
    • Start researching the creative pros you want to hire to make your vision come alive.
    • Event designers: an event designer or wedding planner that offers design is crucial if you really want a wedding with a lot of personal details that you don’t personally have to manage.
    • Stationery designers: Either a pre-made invitation design or an independent designer, gather some names of companies that you might want to use for your invites.
    • Flowers: Start a short list of florists in your area that draw you in with their style. One of my most popular blog posts, How To Hire a Florist, will help you.

So, go start researching. Take this weekend to sit down with a few magazines and your computer. Gather all the intel you can.

Want real life, down to earth, advice from other couples and wedding pros while designing your wedding? Consider joining my Weddings Well Designed Facebook group. It’s in it’s humble, beginning stages, and I’d love for you to be one of the first people to join us!

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3 DIY Wedding Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

DIYing your wedding decor and flowers sounds easy. Right? It looks like a great idea online. It seems like DIYing everything will save you money, be more fun, and give you the opportunity to add a personalized touch to your wedding day. All those things are true. It’s how you approach DIYing your wedding decor and flowers that matters.

10 years ago, I made the mistake of trying to DIY my own wedding invitations with a Gocco machine. In 2009, Gocco machines were all the rage in the wedding DIY community. A Gocco is a home screenprinting machine made by a company in Japan. It was discontinued, although the materials were still floating around ebay. I thought – “great idea, Michelle. Teach yourself a whole new DIY technique using an outdated machine with hard to find supplies. WONDERFUL.”

As you can imagine, it was a total disaster. The screens never developed properly, I was running out of paper, the inks were blotted. It was a mess. I eventually smartened up and sent my invite designs to be printed at a local print shop. I ended up spending the same amount of money it would have cost to hire a professional stationery designer. Then I incorporated some DIY elements into the suite – like fun stamps and a wax seal.

This leads me to the 1st mistake that couples make when trying to DIY decor and flowers for their wedding:

DIY mistake #1: Learning a new technique or new tool simply for a wedding DIY

Don’t make the same expensive, time consuming mistake that I did by convincing yourself that you can learn how to screen print/calligraph/website design/floral design/wood work/insert craft medium here in the months before your wedding day. You’ve got enough going on with managing a budget, booking vendors, and dealing with family stuff. Trying to learn a new DIY technique should not be on your wedding to-do list. Investing in the unknown territory of a new-to-you tool means you’ll need to find extra money to buy all the supplies you don’t already own, space to complete the project, and time to troubleshoot. Because we all know that DIY projects do not turn out perfect on the first try.

Instead, decide to tackle DIY projects that you already know how to do or have super low bars on entry, like cheap supplies and quick results. Examples of simple DIYs to tackle are: cutting and gluing projects (like envelope liners), painting projects (spray paint or with a brush), and straight line “sewing” (use fusible webbing and an iron to hem fabrics).

Use your strengths to your advantage.

DIY Mistake #2: Not giving yourself enough time

The time constraint shows it’s ugly head in two ways: A) you procrastinate to start a project until the last minute, or B) a project takes you way longer than you anticipated. Always give yourself double the amount of time to finish a wedding DIY project than you think. When I say “time”, I’m talking about minutes, hours, days, weeks, and months here. Think applying vintage postage stamps to 100 envelopes is going to take an hour? Block off three hours of time. Oh, those eight bridesmaids bouquets should only take about thirty minutes, right? LOL. Try four hours, at least. Really want to hand calligraph all of the signage for your reception? Start at least two months before the wedding date.

My best tip for DIY projects (SERIOUSLY, TATTOO THIS ON YOUR ARM): Time yourself with the stopwatch app on your phone making ONE of whatever you are working on. Start the timer, apply those vintage stamps onto one envelope, stop the timer. Now take that amount of time and multiply it by the number of envelopes you have to stamp. Ta-da! Now you know how much time you need to block off to get them all done. Queue up some Netflix and get to work.

That stopwatch secret eliminates the awful feeling of being half way done with a project and getting angry that it’s taking so long. DIY projects are supposed to be enjoyable!

DIY Mistake #3: Not Getting Help

I see this happen all the time with wedding DIY projects. You are putting your heart and soul into a project, you have a very specific vision on how you want it to look, so you do everything all yourself because you don’t want someone else to screw it up.

Your family and friends want to help you. But you won’t let them.

Yes, you’re right, they aren’t going to do it exactly the same way you would. What you’ll lose in perfection, you’ll gain in free time and self-care. Do not make the mistake of not asking for help out of fear that you’ll A) be a burden, or B) the projects won’t turn out exactly how you want. Loosen the reigns on your vision a little bit, give people very, very specific instructions, and let them help you. Then with all that free time of yours, grab everyone to go to brunch. With lots and lots of mimosas.

There are other ways of getting help too, often highly talked about in the working parent world: hiring housekeepers, cleaners, dropping off your laundry, ordering grocery delivery, using taskrabbit and postmates to run errands for you. These are versions of help you could get too! Obviously, crafting help would let you get the projects done faster. But household help would give you the time to do them all yourself.

Either way – invest in crafting help from friends and family or paid household help.

I could probably keep going here, but you get the idea. Avoid these top 3 mistakes for DIYing your wedding decor and you’ll be golden. There is nothing worse in this world as a stressful crafting experience. Smartly plan the DIY projects you are going to tackle, block off extra time to get them all done, ask for help, and for the love all things craft, do NOT try to learn a new skill.

Happy crafting!

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How To Stay Sane Using Pinterest For Your Wedding

Ah, good old wedding planning on Pinterest. When I designed my own wedding way before I ran this company Pinterest didn’t exist. I literally had a folder of images on my desktop that I saved from blogs. Honestly, it was much easier. Pinterest gets so overwhelming so quickly when looking for visual inspiration for anything – add in the stress you are already under planning a wedding (budgets, family drama, making a gigantic life decision) and simply opening the page sends your heart into overdrive.

Here’s the thing: Pinterest is great in the beginning and the end of your wedding design process. It’s not so great for the middle stuff. Let me explain:

When you get engaged, you immediately get thrown into planning and designing the biggest party you’ve ever done without any knowledge of what the heck you are doing. Off to Pinterest you go. The search for inspiration in the beginning is exploratory – you are figuring out what a wedding even looks like, what decor pieces are needed, what types of flowers and colors are you drawn to. Are any of you in this beginning stage right now? Stay sane by blocking off sections of time to concentrate on searching the site, then shut it down, and come back a few days later with fresh eyes.

At this point your wedding pinterest board is probably taking shape. The aesthetic, colors, and theme of your wedding are starting to become apparent because everything you pin starts to look the same. This is progress! When your board reaches about 50 or so pins, stop searching. You aren’t going to find anything new that you haven’t already seen.

The middle of your wedding design process is when decisions are made, vendors are booked, decor is ordered, and stuff is happening. It’s when you are making that wedding Pinterest board come alive. During this time, do not search for any more inspiration. Just don’t do it. Staying off of the site during this middle period will keep you sane.

As you get closer to your wedding date, say two months out, you’ll need those final decor pieces to bring it all together. I’m allowing you to get back on Pinterest now. Find inspiration on Pinterest for those tiny details: your guestbook, table numbers, place cards, welcome bags, welcome bag goodies, and favors. The design of these items is not going to impact your overall aesthetic. You could honestly choose anything and it would be FINE. Of course it’s preferred that every visual element of your wedding looks cohesive, although if it’s down to the wire order what you find on Pinterest that you like. Don’t search for hours trying to find a welcome bag in the exact color of blue to match your palette. Trust me.

A month before your wedding, get off of Pinterest. All of your decisions have been made. You don’t need more inspiration. It will only cause you to second guess yourself.

Stay sane, my engaged friends! As with any piece of technology, limited your Pinterest use to what’s absolutely necessary to get the job done.

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