A to Z of DIY Weddings: An Ultimate Glossary of Tips, Tools, and Techniques
Consider this your handbook to the handmade.
Putting a personal touch on wedding details can be as easy as A-B-C (we promise!). With our smart strategies, a few chic and simple ideas, and the right resources, you will soon be pulling off custom elements for every part of your celebration. Consider this your handbook to the handmade.
A is for Approach
Before you say you’re too busy or just not crafty enough to attempt anything DIY, remember there’s more than one way to put a signature spin on your day. But first, a few ground rules for keeping your sanity: Pick easy projects (like the ones on the following slides!) and plan ahead. We’re all for being ambitious, however trying to bake a wedding cake or arrange your own flowers in the hours before your nuptials—unless you’re a pro—is a one-way ticket to crazytown (believe us). Instead, think about what you’re naturally good at and would enjoy doing with your friends or family in the weeks or months beforehand. Whatever your skill set, we’ve got you covered.
B is for Bone Folder
To make the straightest and sharpest folds in everything from cardboard to tissue paper, a bone folder (available at crafts stores) is indispensable. Just think how handy this slim guy (no longer always made of actual bone) will be when folding 100 ceremony programs.
D is for Dipping
If you can dunk a doughnut, you can do all these projects. We reached for find-it-anywhere Rit liquid dye and good old-fashioned food coloring to prettify these printed paper goods. For the escort cards and menus, dip one corner of the paper into the dye, and let dry completely before dipping into another color (we used teal and royal blue, $4.50 each). If the paper wrinkles, iron it flat on the backside. The same technique works for the muffin cups: Mix 10 drops of blue with two drops of green McCormick’s Specialty Extracts Food Color ($2.50 each).
E is for Easy Embossing
Warning: Once you pick up a handheld embosser, you’ll want to use it on everything. To create a custom design, choose a monogram or motif (see “M” for icon ideas) and e-mail a PDF of it to The Stamp Maker (from $49.50). Then press it onto envelopes, cocktail napkins, place cards, favor boxes—you name it.
F is for Fringe Scissors
G is for Glue
To secure any project, you need the right stuff. Here, a roundup of the best ones for the job:
Hot glue instantly bonds with no drying time, and is particularly good for filling in crevices or small gaps in projects (Art Minds mini glue gun, $4).
No-mess Glue Dots fasten lightweight items to virtually any surface and come in removable or permanent versions ($5/roll).
Its ultra-fine tip is ideal for applying small details like glitter and stickers (Martha Stewart Crafts glue pen, $3).
Our go-to for permanently affixing stones, gems, and beads to ceramics, metal, and plastic (E6000 crafting glue, $5 for 4 tubes).
This spray adhesive mounts photos and attaches fabric (3M Photo Mount adhesive spray, $18).
Aleene’s Tacky Glue works on most papers and fabrics, and creates a flexible, not stiff, hold when dry ($1.25).
H is for Hang
Suspending lanterns, garlands, and other décor from above is one sure way to wow. Check that your venue allows it, and then enlist our favorite medium for invisibly elevating things: Beadalon “Supplemax” monofilament illusion cord. It’s clear, so lightweight decorations appear to be floating ($3.50 for 164 feet).
I is for Invitations
Embellish your invites with any of these super-simple ideas, counterclockwise from top.
Personalize Your Postage
Play Up a Pattern
Add a Fave Fabric
Apply a tactile backer by coating cloth with spray adhesive and pressing your invite on top. Once dry, trim off excess fabric with a rotary blade (Indian cotton voile, $16/ yd).
Place a stylish motif on stationery elements using a custom stamp (make one at Rubber Stamp Champ) and colorful ink.
Tie One On
Bundle your entire suite with string or butcher’s twine for a casual twist on gift-wrapping (“Divine Twine” in oyster, $16.50/240 yds).
J is for Japanese Hole Punch
This mighty gadget ￼￼￼can punch through almost anything, including leather (Martha Stewart Crafts screw punch, $25).
K is for Kids
A little goes a long way when it comes to entertaining your smallest guests.
Set the Table
Put down a paper runner or place mats, along with markers and crayons, so kids can channel their inner Picasso.
Bind inexpensive coloring books, word searches, and Mad Libs–style games with twine and place at each setting.
Keep children satiated with grab-and-go packs of universal favorites like gumdrops, popcorn, and juice boxes.
L is for Labels
Easiest. DIY. Ever. Smooth personalized labels onto favors, welcome boxes, wine bottles, and more. Hit up the local office-supply store for blank labels that you can customize on your computer, or add your info to predesigned labels at Minted or Wedding Paper Divas. For rustic charm, purchase blank chalkboard labels from Paper Presentation and handwrite your own sweet message.
The Details: Martha Stewart Crafts “White Cherish” labels, $3 for 15, michaels.com; marbled sticker set, $4.50 for 12, katieleamon.com; silver embosser foil seals, $8 for 32, papersource.com; Argento “Soho,” style B7, $10.50 for 40, and chalkboard labels, $10 for 10, paperpresentation.com; gift label stickers, $5 for 25, jampaper.com.
M is for Motifs
N is for Numbers
O is for Online
P is for Pretty Packaging
Good things come in nice packages. Gussy them up in four ways: wrap mini wine bottles in butcher paper; stuff goodies into a wooden box; circle-punch a favor box to show a layer of fabric; or tie a fabric bow over a jar of jam or nuts.
Q is for Quick Fixes
Last-minute adjustments are par for the course. Keep these workhorses handy to repair any snags: a Stitch Witchery for undone hems ($7.50); X-acto knife for precise trimming of fabric and paper ($7); Gaffer’s tape for temporarily securing items to walls or floors ($23 for 3 rolls); and Zipties for fastening cables or cords ($4.50 for 100).
R is for Ribbons
S is for Simple Sewing
T is for Transfer
U is for Upcycling
When guests sip out of Mason jars at cocktail time, that’s upcycling—giving an old item new purpose—￼￼￼and it’s both creative and environmentally sound. Other ideas: Use maps as envelope liners, or cut slits into corks to hold place cards. Even having your florist move your ceremony marker to the reception space counts. Going green has never been so festive!
V is for Vessels
Whether for flowers or candles, think beyond the ordinary for containers. Try (top row, from left) a milk-glass vase, $6.50; “Ai” bud vase, $10; or brass julep cup, $4. Middle: silver cylinder, $5; “Cut Work” luster bottle case, $6; “Optical Line” bud vase, $4; or “Marta” double old-fashioned glass, $2.50. Bottom: medicine-bottle bud vase, 6 for $12; Nouvel Studio “Twist” tumbler, $24; or “Ai” bud vase, $10.
W is for Washi Tape
Confession number one: We’ve long been obsessed with this Japanese import, typically made from natural fibers. It can be as strong as duct tape—but it’s so much cuter. Cut strips to close welcome-bag snacks, affix escort cards to a board, or seal envelopes. Browse literally thousands of colors, patterns, and widths at Cute Tape, Paper Source, and Wishy-Washi.
X is for Xyron Machine
Confession number two: We turn to this gadget, which can make a sticker out of nearly anything, when we need flair in a flash. Run fabric, ribbons, coins, or any other relatively flat item through a Xyron machine (#150 sticker maker, $15), and watch as it magically comes out the other end with an adhesive backing, ready for use. To make these decorative trims, we gave lace ribbons the Xyron treatment and cut to the length of the linen.
Y is for Yarn
￼￼This homespun staple has upped its fashion game lately with a stunning variety of weights and textures. Tie it around boxes or string up escort cards for a colorful touch.
The Details: Knit Collage “Cast Away” yarn, $37.50/68 yds; purlsoho.com. Cascade “Eco Duo” yarn, $20/197 yds; purlsoho.com. Koigu “Kersti” merino crepe yarn, $15/114 yds; purlsoho.com. Habu cotton “Gima” yarn, $14.75/265 yds; purlsoho.com. Knit Collage “Pixie Dust” yarn, $37.50/35 yds; purlsoho.com. Habu “Silk Wrapped Silk” yarn, $15.50/121 yds; purlsoho.com.
Z is for Zero Stress
When you’re feeling bogged down in the details, or find yourself behind whatever schedule you’ve set, this message is for you: Sit down, relax, breathe. Everything will work out, and don’t be afraid to ask for help (that’s what ’maids are for!). Grab your best friends, crack open some vino, and craft your way to your most memorable day.