How to tackle DIY detail without putting pressure on yourself

Today is a bit of an odd post, perhaps, but I’m pretty sure it’s one that’s never been written before, by anyone. 

I, like every other human being, am sometimes susceptible to cracking under pressure. It’s only temporary (and it doesn’t stop me from ultimately getting on with it) but it can really suck the fun out of doing something that I should be enjoying if I’ve bitten off more than I can chew. 

Wedding planning was just the same. I was completely neurotic about detail. If I saw anything, from serving plates to seating, that didn’t fit the theme perfectly, it was out. I wanted everything to be one seamless, explosive experience of flowers, colour and fun. Basically, I wanted to customise everything. That was the principle I was working on and it was probably the wrong way to look at it.

Halfway through, I was frazzled – and by the time the wedding was weeks away, I was totally overwhelmed. I realise now that it wasn’t the devil in the detail that got to me, it was the way I thought about it. The way you approach something can make all the difference to how much you enjoy doing it. So, to stop you lovely brides falling down the detail rabbit hole, I’ve put together a little guide that will help you keep it together. 

How to tackle DIY detail without putting pressure on yourself

Make lists and prioritise

The key to detail is organisation. Rather than getting swamped with big ideas and panicking if you can’t follow them through, start like this:

Make a list of all the items you need on your wedding day, I mean absolutely everything, from food, to the plates the food is served on, to booze to wedding day programmes and absolutely everything in between. This could take some time but it helps you to think of everything. Have another couple of pairs of eyes (preferably people who have planned a wedding before) go over your list and make sure you haven’t missed anything out.

Then next step is to go over your list and mark items 1, 2 or 3.

1 means you will definitely match this item to your theme.
2 means you would like to match this item to your theme if it is possible and there is time (things like knives, forks and sugar cubes were on this list for me)
3 is lowest on the priority list but still on your radar.

For items that can’t be matched to your theme, make them as plain as possible so that they don’t stand out on their own and clash. For example, if you’re having vintage china but can’t stretch to dinner plates, make sure the plates you do use are very plain white or in your wedding colours so that they don’t look jarring.

Sure, you’d like everything to be perfect – but make sure you prioritise with the view that any extra projects would be a bonus, rather than a necessity.

Map out projects

Go over your list and take out all the items you’ve marked with a “1” for now. Go over each one and think about how long it will take and how much it will cost. For example, I thought that sewing 100 napkins would take me a week. And maybe that would have been true if I’d ever used a sewing machine before or knew how to measure things. Looking back now, it’s pretty funny, but at the time I hated my own wedding for weeks because I felt like I had to follow through with these blooming napkins! The very same napkins that I forgot to mention were wedding favours and every single one was left behind – and all this after my mother in law stepped in to sew sixty of them and save my behind.

Basically, when we really want something, we tend to be overly optimistic and plan an unrealistic timescale and cost for everything. I say, if you’re not sure how long something will take, do a sample and see if you find it easy or not.

Sometimes, it’s also easier and cheaper to buy than DIY, so have a shop around online and see if you can take the pressure off of yourself for some of it. We spent months collecting china crockery from car boot sales and in the end gave up and rented it – it turned out cheaper.

Look at how much time you have until the wedding vs how much time the projects will take. Remember to leave in time for relaxing too when working out how much time you can spare. See if you can draft in help with any of it, enthusiastic or crafty friends, for example and work out a budget for materials.

Those. Bloody. Napkins. Image © Satureyes 

Plan something simple

Simple projects like sprayed gold fruit or initialled doilies take little time to implement but can look lovely on the day. Give yourself options when you’re planning projects. For example, I’d love to do something more ornate for decorations, but if I run out of time, I can spray gold grapes and put them in bowls on the tables. (Disclaimer, make sure your guests don’t EAT said grapes unless you’ve used edible colouring).

Have fun

Don’t start something you’re going to dread doing. Make sure you play to your strengths, BUY the things you don’t want to make, and make the things you enjoy making.

If you find something very difficult, doing it day in day out is going to put you off and suck all of the fun out of preparing for your big day.

Invite your friends round for craft evenings to get things done in bulk. All the planning in the world sometimes can’t prevent a project from spiralling out of control, so if that happens make it into a party instead of struggling on by yourself.

I’ve said this time and again – planning your wedding is meant to be fun. So don’t let yourself get bogged down with detail – do what you can and plan something that blends seamlessly for the rest. Good luck!

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