Many brides and grooms who want to craft meaningful and memorable wedding decorations choose to make one important item - the bouquet, table centerpiece or party giveaway gifts. Others go all-out, crafting nearly every detail, either to save money or to make the day more personal.
Marissa DeMercurio, of Arvada, Colorado, made everything she could by hand for her 2014 wedding. The key, she says, was planning the projects well in advance and inviting family and friends to help. She asked some friends who are artists to make, paint and handprint items, from handmade signs to the lawn games played at her outdoor ceremony and reception. She found her inspirations at online sites such as Pinterest and Etsy, and in craft stores, and chose Colorado nature as the theme.
Recruit friends, she says, "and you can save tons of money and it'll look better because it's exactly what you wanted," DeMercurio says.
Darcy Miller, editor at large for Martha Stewart Weddings and author of the new "Celebrate Everything" (HarperCollins), calls it DIT: do it together.
"Yes, the DIY is fun and makes it personal, but DIT makes it more meaningful," says Miller. "Part of the wedding is delegating and collaborating, not only as a means to get it done but as a means for making it more fun."
Some of DeMercurio's decorations, such as a chalkboard showing the couple's relationship highlights, hang in the house she shares with her husband, Pete Kardasis. That was another priority: The coupled wanted to live with their wedding memories, not file them away.
"We wanted to have things that would remind us of that day continuously," DeMercurio says.
Whitney and Jordan Weaver of Seneca, Kansas, made most of the decorations for their 2014 wedding: paper flower bouquets, a ring bearer "pillow" (it was a framed quote tied with ribbon), the guest book, table decorations (incorporating 500 Mason jars), church pew decorations, and a card box made from a snare drum. Family and friends helped, one making the cake topper.
"For me it was about doing our wedding around what we like and making it special for us," says Whitney Weaver, whose relationship with her future husband grew out of a shared love of music.
She and her mom spent untold nights folding and gluing individual paper petals from thin, sheet-music-themed paper to make the bouquets and boutonnieres. "I don't know if I'll ever be able to repay her," Weaver says.
Miller, of Martha Stewart Weddings, warns against hitting Pinterest boards unprepared; they can be overwhelming. When she works with couples, she asks about their personal style and inspirations to tease out a wedding theme. Her book does the same with a personalization "cheat sheet."
"You need to think about what matters to you," Miller says. "Those are the things that are going to make your wedding reflect you, make it feel like you."
More DIY tips:
• Buy and collect items in bulk. DeMercurio tied large swaths of burlap around trees and smaller pieces around Mason jars. She collected glass jars, some of which she filled with flowers and hung from trees branches.
• If you choose a lovely setting - DeMercurio chose a park with mountains as her backdrop; Weaver's reception was in a big, beautiful barn - you'll need fewer decorations.
• Put Epsom salts in the bottom of Mason jars before adding tea lights, says Weaver. "It looks like crystals, and it's a really cheap alternative for holding tea lights steady."
• Hand-stamp compostable utensils with phrases such as "all you need is love" to add a personal touch, says DeMercurio.
With all the crafting possibilities, Miller warns against doing too much too close to the wedding date.
"As a bride, you should be doing nothing except being a bride the day of your wedding," says the expert.