“I do” now means you can do it yourself, from how much ribbon at $11.75 a yard you’ll need for 16 tables to how much double-stick tape you’ll need to keep everyone’s dresses just so. But do you want to?
According to wedding industry statistics, budgets continue to boom, with the average wedding today costing $28,671 — honeymoon excluded — depending on the region, season, day of the week and style. Wedding planning sites The Knot and Wedding Channel ratchet it up to $30,000 and rising, and, as a result, do-it-yourself weddings are also on the rise.
Carencro resident Casey Miller has been a DIYer since last April when her fiancé proposed and is surprised by how big her small wedding has become.
“Even the simplest (wedding) comes with hundreds of items you need to check off,” said Miller, who’s getting by with help from her friends and family. “You’ve heard it takes a community to raise a child? It takes one to marry one off.”
Miller’s stepfather sought online ordination in order to marry them — he can perform marriages, baptisms and funerals — her nephews are concert musicians and one has a girlfriend who sings opera. Another relative will bake the cake, and the couple will be united at her stepparents’ bed-and-breakfast home on the bayou.
“We don’t have a rainy day plan yet, just lots of foggers and sprayers,” she said with a smile.
Keeping the cost down was Miller’s primary motivation, but it’s been challenging to make her rustic chic, simple-but-elegant vision come to life.
“I thought simple would be simpler,” she said. “Things get chintzy real fast, and the flowers are stressing me out.”
She advises other DIYers to expect the unexpected.
“Be prepared for things not to go your way,” she said.
Would she do it again? “Ask me after May 30.”
Mitch Reed, Benette Thibodeaux and Barry Batie, of The Gardenaire, have 70 years of professional wedding planning between them, and both Batie and Thibodeaux are likewise helping DIY nieces and nephews this wedding season.
“The concept is more like do-it-yourself with connections,” Batie said. “People find out when it’s truly do-it-yourself, they’re in trouble.”
The Gardenaire caters to society weddings and can do the full slate or just flowers.
“Experience counts for a lot,” Batie said. “People think we’re expensive, but we’re not. Where experience comes into play is when you need a Plan B. The bride can’t run to Albertson’s; she’s busy walking down the aisle.”
While all three sympathize with couples trying to keep costs down, they say beware of Pinterest, where things aren’t always as simple as they seem.
“Corsages and boutonnieres are labor intensive,” Batie said. “Flowers, greenery, wire, floral tape, pins, backup pins — DIYers won’t know.”
Thibodeaux has done weddings for generations of brides in the same family and has seen it all, including a multitiered wedding cake falling on the floor (she substituted a cake model and served supermarket sheet cake from the kitchen to guests who never knew.) “Most women work, so why not pay someone? It’s worth it to get rid of the stress.”
Reed cautions there’s no second chance.
“Photography, that’s the one thing I hear brides say afterward,” he said. “ ‘I wish I’d had that photographer.’ Some things you shouldn’t do yourself.”