Putting a personal spin on your event doesn't require you to be super-crafty or creative—really! Los Angeles–based event designer Jesi Haack shares her advice on punching, cutting, and gluing your way to wedding-day glory.
Event designer Jesi Haack.

Don't be intimated by DIY. Do-it-yourself isn't necessarily about starting from scratch to come up with your own idea. It can also mean crafting something that's been done before and making it your own. Even if you don't consider yourself artistic, there are so many templates available online [including at marthastewartweddings.com/clip-art]. You can buy nice paper and print a template on it to make a tag, for example. Then, put your favorite treats into a kraft bag, attach the tag, and voilà! You've DIY'd your wedding favors.

Save money on paper goods. Day-of printed materials, like programs and menus, can add up quickly, especially when you consider you'll end up ordering one for each guest. Instead, make one oversize program to display at your ceremony: Buy a large wooden board from home depot, cover it with chalkboard paint, and then write on it-or hire a calligrapher to do it, which would cost a little more but still less than having a stationer create separate programs. Similarly, we've written menus on wooden doors and big pieces of Plexiglas that are visible to an entire room of people. Another idea: have one menu per table and paint it on something cool, like a metal sheet.

Go for goof-proof décor. For a ceremony marker or as decoration behind a bar or photo booth, apply a stencil to a big swath of canvas or paper [check out designerstencils.com for oversize designs]. Bam, you're done! Another doable idea: simple garlands. They take nothing more than paper, scissors, and tape. If you'd like to tackle something more complicated, there are so many cool projects online; the blog Design Love Fest has some of my favorites. If you can read and buy the materials, you can execute the idea.

But leave some things to the pros. It's extremely difficult-and time-consuming-to arrange your own flowers. Sometimes they need more than just water, like floral tape or foam. No matter how budget-friendly your wedding, it's worth spending money to hire someone if it means you, your family, and your bridal party get to enjoy a stress-free day. And if you do want to DIY centerpieces that are every bit as eye-catching as floral ones, source thrift-store pottery and plant succulents-they're hard to kill!

Get organized and ask for help. Decide, early on, what you're going to do and when. Make a timeline, then invite friends over for a "crafts night": crack open the wine, and get an assembly line going-one person punches paper, another affixes the string, whatever. Just don't try to do it all on your own-I couldn't, and I do this for a living!

For info on Jesi's event-design services, visit jesihaackdesign.com.


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