Event planning is overwhelming because there are so many factors and variables to consider. The first time that I faced this challenge on a grand scale was for my DIY wedding. My family put together big Christmas parties so I was used to doing a lot of work for a celebration, but this time, I was in charge. (cue panic). It would have been a lot easier to have an event planner, elope, or find a destination where you show up and all of the work is done. However, I thoroughly enjoyed planning and designing my wedding from start to finish.
It was a little more tricky to be the planner, coordinator and bride, but there were only a few sleepless nights. Here are four things that helped me along the way:
- Wedding Happy – a great planning app. I did not follow it exactly, but it did remind me to do things that I probably would have forgotten.
- A notebook and a purple pen. I had ideas pop into my head throughout the day and night. Writing them down helped me to remember them and think through them.
- Choosing a handful of people to help me plan and make things. I struggled with this because I had a hard time trusting that others cared about making things “perfect” but communication and letting go were key to getting everything done.
- Deciding my theme and sticking with it.
I searched google for wedding ideas and a paper flower arbor surfaced. I did not really think through what that meant for hours of labor, but I loved the look. If you choose to go the paper route, be ready to spend all free moments of your life folding, gluing, and piecing together tiny paper parts and sacrificing your hands. Once again – all free moments.
My mom and I visited Hobby Lobby’s clearance section often as we were able to find poster boards and scrapbook paper for good prices. The wedding party wore paper pinwheels for bouquets and boutonnieres. The parents, grandparents, and musicians wore an assortment of paper flowers that coordinated with the overall decor. We built the ceremony backdrop from old doors we found on Craigslist, fun and fantastically colored paper flowers and pinwheels, and hand-sewn kites. Tory and I have reused the doors as a desktop in our first apartment and as a wall in our second. We are waiting for when we can use them in a house. These were probably our best wedding purchase.
The reception took place in the church gym. It was against my mother’s best judgment, but my dad and I thought we could get it done. Sometimes mothers have really wise ideas to which you should listen. But when you are getting married and have an idea in your head there is no such things as being rational. A family in our church owns a dairy farm and let us use milk crates and pallets they had and my brother took daily trips to Lowe’s to gather up as many pallets has he could fit into his truck. With my family’s help, we were able to add Chinese lanterns, patio lights, pinwheels, and games to festively decorate the reception hall.
Since I taught, I knew that there would be a lot of kids at the wedding. Weddings were always so boring to me when I was little, so we incorporated a kids coloring table and some games: Giant Jenga, Twister, Ker-Plunk, and hula-hooping. I recommend considering this if you know there will be kids at your wedding. Choose games based on your preferences and space allowance.
We had a lot more chairs at the wedding than I was anticipating. This messed up my open floor concept, but better here than in my dream home. We had to scrap our original floor diagram and start from scratch. The final design left all seating and games in the center of the gym. We stacked the food tables at the entry way end of the gym and the Peace, Love, Little Donuts cake at the other end. We placed the drinks and coffee bar opposite from the entry way to allow people to come in and out easily. When you set up a room design, think about high traffic areas and place them as far apart as possible to allow guests easier access. After setting everything up and experiencing the day, there are things I may have done differently, but overall, the set up provided great flow and we received many positive comments from guests about the reception.