Hire out or DIY? | Wedding Planning Tips

B. Jones Photography - Hire out or DIY. www.bjonesphotos.com

There is a saying:

"You can have things fast, good, or cheap: pick two."

  • You can get something fast and cheap, but the quality isn’t going to be good.
  • You can get something fast and good, but it won’t be cheap.
  • You can get something good and cheap, but you won’t get it fast.

Of course, in the ideal situation, you’d get all three, but that’s just not how it works.  So, you have to find the balance so you can spend the money on the things you can’t do yourself, and shell out for the other things that really should be left to the professionals.

Hire a Professional for…

The Music

It is totally fine to play DJ for your engagement party, a road trip, and your office work party, but leave it to a professional when it comes to your wedding and reception.  You’ll get the opportunity to chat with your DJ or band beforehand, and make sure that they are going to play the kind of music (and special songs) that you want to hear.  Besides that, they’ll be gauging the mood of you and your guests and tailoring the songs to keep the party going.  

The Photography

Everybody has a camera these days.  Not everyone really knows how to use it. Your photographs should tell the story of your wedding day, and they are what you are going to have for the rest of your life to remember the day.  Obviously, you can’t really do this one yourself, but this should be one you hire professionally.  A hobby photographer probably won’t be prepared for how quick paced and stressful getting the perfect shots can be.  After all, there are no “do-overs”!

The Bouquet & Flowers

Colonial Styled Shoot

This one, I go back and forth on.  If you are planning a very small wedding, then maybe you could tackle this one on your own.  I’m talking 5 centerpieces, a bouquet and a boutonniere.  Anything bigger than that, do yourself a favor and hire out.  Flowers require careful handling, temperature control and must be made within a couple days of the wedding.  You’re going to have plenty of last minute things to take care of, don’t make this one.  


Lighting can so easily be put on the back-burner and forgotten about until you remember that your wedding may start with the sun out, but by 11 p.m. you have to light that reception up!  Ask any photographer, and they’ll tell you how important good lighting is.  If you hire a wedding coordinator, or use an inclusive venue, odds are this is already being taken care of/considered, but be sure to bring it up, either way.  

Stylist for You & Your Wedding Party

Colonial Styled Shoot

Unless you are super confident in your hair and makeup abilities, and those of your party, hire this out.  Hair stylists know that you expect your style to last through the ceremony and all through the celebrations.  They won’t leave you with wilting curls and pins popping out.  And wedding makeup isn’t the same as your everyday/weekend style.  Make-up artists know you are getting this done to 1) look gorgeous, but 2) look gorgeous in your photographs.  They’re trained in accentuating your features to make them POP in photos.  And, you won’t have to be super concerned with smudges and smears, because they’re using the best, long-lasting product.  Besides, wouldn’t you rather have your party drinking mimosas instead of tiring out their arms with curling and pinning?  One definitely sounds better than the other to me.

Bartenders & Food

Most venues require you use a hired bartender, but even if you are just having beer and wine, hire someone who is going to tend the bar and keep things from getting crazy.  You’ll make things far easier for your guests.  And while it can be done by the occasional professional chef or via potluck, the food should be left up to the people who do this for a living.  Besides, the cost of the catering will include clean-up, because who wants to deal with that?

DIY for…

The Favors

Colonial Styled Shoot

Favors are generally something you can tackle far in advance, which makes it a perfect DIY project.  Even if you aren’t making the favors 100% yourself, you can order supplies and assemble them at home, adding a slight personalization.  Your guests won’t get to preoccupied with the favor, it’s the thought that counts.


I know, I know.  Earlier I told you to have all your flowers done professionally.  Here’s a caveat.  Your centerpieces don’t have to be FRESH flowers.  Heck, they don’t have to be flowers at all.  This is a great DIY project you can knock out what ahead of time, too.  


You know those chalkboard signs saying, “Mr. & Mrs.” and “Pick a Seat, Not a Side”, they aren’t all that hard to make. If your handwriting leaves something to be desired, I bet one of your bridesmaids/mother/cousin has gorgeous handwriting and would LOVE to help you with this.  Or, you can even buy framed glass and the materials to etch a phrase, psalm, or little something lovely onto it yourself.  This IS something you could have done professionally, but it’s also something that doesn’t have to be perfect.  


Tread lightly, I don’t mean all of it.  You have to be one AMBITIOUS bride or groom to take on all of the décor on your own (planners and rental companies are your BFF’s here).  That doesn’t mean you can’t pick and choose according to your talents and time.  Pick a few things you can do with confidence.  Maybe it’s a photo tree of you and your love, or place cards, or paper lanterns that you hang from the trees at your reception.   Adding your personal touch and style to your celebration will be noticed by your guests, and will set your wedding apart. 

At the end of the day, remember that weddings are a lot of work, but worth it.  Tackle what you can, and invest in the hard stuff.  And even though you are paying for their services, the professionals want your day to be everything you’ve dreamed it to be. Let them carry the weight and trust that they have your back.  Happy planning!