diy? do this first!

In Tuesday's post about DIY projects for weddings and other events, I outlined an assessment process that I recommend to my clients who are interested in taking on a DIY project for their event.  Today I'd like to look at that more closely.  In fact, let's just walk through a hypothetical project: Let's say you're planning your wedding, and you've decided that you'd like to do all the floral arranging yourself.  Let's also assume that you have no prior floral design experience.  So you'll be starting pretty much from scratch here.  Now, let's run through the bullet points I gave you yesterday:


  • What are your talents and interests?
  • How much time will this project take?
  • How much will the project cost?
  • What restrictions might you face?

First, what are your talents and interests?  Really be honest with yourself here.  Do you enjoy working with flowers?  Do you enjoy designing in general?  And if the answer to both of those questions is "yes", then did you enjoy those things before you got engaged, or is this a totally new interest for you?

If you can honestly say that you enjoy the type of work involved in the project you're considering, then yay!  You're already ahead of the game.  Be careful, though, not to mistake excitement about beautiful flowers (or whatever your end goal is) for excitement about the process.  The end result and the process of getting there are two very different things.  Your engagement is a special time you'll never get to live again.  Don't waste it on projects that drive you around the bend.

Next, how much time will this project take?  Since we've already established that you're new at this floral design thing, you're not going to know the answer to this question.  You're going to have to figure it out on your own.  How do you do that?

You could do a couple of things:  You could ask around with friends or acquaintances who've done similar projects.  You could even ask your wedding planner or a professional floral designer for some input.  But since you'll be the one creating the designs, you should also plan to do a couple of practice runs.  Pull together everything you'll need and make an arrangement similar to what you have in mind!  You'll kill two birds with one stone:  You'll find out about how long it takes you do complete a single arrangement, and you'll find out whether or not you really do enjoy the process.  Plus you'll have something pretty to put on the dinner table when you're done.  Three birds!

Flower market

Moving on, how much will the project cost?  This is mostly a simple research project.  Shop around and figure out where you want to buy your flowers, then call and find out how much you can expect to pay for the number of stems you'll need.  Be aware that prices vary by season, so you'll want to ask specifically for the expected price on the date you'll be ordering them.  Don't forget to include the price of containers for your flowers, and any other supplies you'll need.  For example, you'll need large containers in which to condition the flowers, you'll probably need ribbon and wire, and you may also need Oasis foam and/or some frogs and adhesive.  You may need more specialized tools and supplies depending on the type of flowers you plan to use.

If you're not sure what tools and supplies you'll need, then set up a little meeting with someone at your local floral wholesaler.  There's usually someone on staff who's happy to talk with you about your goals and how to get there.

Finally, what restrictions might you face?  This last point is really important.  In fact, you might want to work through this question first, because if you find out that you can't DIY your project for some reason, then you can save yourself the time of answering the other questions.

Some venues only allow professional vendors to do floral work in their spaces.  It's not because they're trying to keep you from saving money or expressing your creativity; it's because the pros know how to add flowers -- which almost always come with water -- to a space without damaging any delicate surfaces.  Also, the pros come with insurance that you don't have.

You might not have the space to do your own floral design.  You're going to need a lot of workspace and cooler space, especially if you're having a large event (more guests means more tables which means more flowers; more wedding party means more bouquets and boutonnieres which means more flowers).  Where are you going to condition all those stems, and where are you going to store the arrangements once they're done?  Also, how are you going to transport them?  There's no sense spending money and time on creating your own floral designs if you don't have a way to keep them fresh and get them to the venue(s) looking beautiful.

Think through your project carefully and address and potential bumps in the road up front.  It's no fun to get to your wedding day, amazing DIY project in hand, only to find out that you can't use it.

.   .   .


I'm afraid some of this post sounds negative, like I'm trying to talk you out of undertaking a DIY project for your wedding or other event, and that's truly not my intent.  I'm a big fan of DIY -- I love helping couples put their own unique stamp on their wedding celebration and I also love seeing them become invested in the planning process, and DIY accomplishes both of those things.

The thing is, I'm also a huge fan of planning things to ensure success.  No surprise there, right?  So all I'm saying is that you should approach a big DIY project with a healthy dose of reality.  DIY projects are a lot of work, but they can also be a lot of fun!  And they're always a lot more fun when they work out then when they don't.  Do your homework first, then play (that is, plan first, then have fun with your project).  I promise you'll be happy you took the time to do things right.

Bouquet photo and flower market photo via Wikimedia Commons.