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DIY Wedding Ideas: The Dos and Don'ts of Do-It-Yourself

Avoid a DIY disaster with this easy guide.

Photo: Jamee Photography

Whether you want to save money or include personalized touches, do-it-yourself details can make a big impact. But some projects are tougher than others, and what you thought would be a 1-2-3 could turn into an undertaking worthy of a world-class planner. To avoid DIY overload, choose wisely. Here are our picks for what to take on and what to leave to the pros.

5 DIY Dos

Your Makeup: If you do your own makeup, you'll be in the privacy of your home or hotel room -- and you won't have to book an appointment (or worry about being on time)! Grab a few basics: foundation, powder, eye shadow, blush, and lipstick. Put on enough to accentuate your best features. Worried about looking washed out in your photos? Do a trial run and have a friend take a few pictures.

Your Ceremony Decor: The ceremony lasts less than an hour, so it seems like a waste to pay big bucks for specialty arrangements, especially if the site is pretty on its own. Create hanging baskets or vases filled with locally grown flowers. Doing so is both eco-friendly and cost-efficient. Or, instead of flowers, buy candles and place them throughout the space. Use any extras you may have to brighten your newlywed nest.

Your Favors: A quick way to save money on wedding favors is to add a personal touch. Sweet treats are a safe choice. Grab a box of your favorite mix and start baking. Pack them in colorful boxes or cute bags. For nonedibles, wrap up tree saplings or donate to charity. Be sure to give guests handwritten cards that say you've given in their name.

Your Invitations, Programs, and Save-the-Dates: Specialty papers, postage, and card sizes can cost hundreds, and you still might not be able to find exactly what you want. Head to a local paper store for a DIY kit or choose stock paper in any color and print stylish invites right off of your computer. Avoid the mistake of getting too fancy and using oversized envelopes -- they cost extra to mail.

6 DIY Don'ts

Your Cake: Whether it's a missed teaspoon of sugar or a tilted tier, a wedding cake disaster is hard to fix. Yes, it would be much less expensive to buy a few boxes of cake mix and do it yourself, but the quality in the end could be lacking. Decorating and transporting a wedding cake is quite difficult and best left to someone with the knowledge of how to handle your confection without damaging it.

Your Photos: Your photographs are one of the few tangible things you'll have to remember your wedding. All of your loved ones may promise to capture every moment, but what happens if they get distracted or have a camera malfunction? If it's important for you to have high-quality images and hundreds of great shots, hire a pro. You'll be glad you did when you see your picture-perfect album.

Coordinating it Yourself: You've organized every minute detail so far, so why shouldn't you be in charge on the wedding day? Because you won't be able to relax. Hiring a coordinator for the day can be a lifesaver. While you're getting pampered, they'll be setting up and averting any crisis that may occur. When everything isn't going perfectly, you'll be none the wiser. Trust us -- peace of mind is worth the extra expense.

Your Centerpieces: A beautiful centerpiece sets the mood of the reception. From sophisticated to fun, you can create a setup that will wow your guests -- with a florist's help, of course! Flowers can cost upward of $3,000, depending on your taste and the season. Although it's a larger part of the budget, it's worth every penny. Your wedding florist will ensure that you get exquisite displays filled with the freshest blooms.

Your Catering: Catering a large-scale party is a huge undertaking, even for a culinary whiz. You'll be hard-pressed to get enough food together for a hundred people and keep it hot -- even if you make the best dish in town. And, once you get it made, you'll need a reliable staff to serve it. Caterers are trained to make it happen; they have the support staff to serve you and your guests in a timely manner.

Your Music: It's tempting to rock out to your favorite tunes, and you might think it's easy to do so with an iPod. Not quite. You'll be limited to the music that you love as a couple, not necessarily what everyone else will like, and you'll be stuck with the premade playlist. Music pros are trained to read the dance floor. They can speed it up or slow it down so that your guests are footloose into the wee hours.

-- Tia Albright

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