DIY: the pros and cons
And what about the idea of having your friends do things—say for example, taking the wedding photographs? “This could be a formula for disaster,” Ambrozewicz cautioned. “Using your friends for their skills is wonderful, but you need to know your friends well. Some may have the best intentions but may not be able to pull through on the big day.” But she added that, in deciding on a professional photographer, you don’t have to hire the most expensive one. “There are a lot of photographers just starting out, and hiring someone like that will cost less. Make sure you see samples of their work, and make sure you like their style. If a young photographer is clearly experienced with a camera and knows what to do in bright sunlight as well as in a dark spot, then probably it will be fine.”
“And what about music?” I asked. “DJs cost less than live bands,” she pointed out. “Or get a band that’s just starting out—one that’s not so well known. Or save by using music on your iPod, with a play list, to go with cocktail time, and have the band play later.” (Bands generally are hired based on a five-hour time period.)
I asked if, in this day and age, it was acceptable to send an electronic invitation by email, which would save money on paper and postage. “Well,” she said, “you’re talking to a person who loves paper. There’s something to be said for receiving a beautiful personal invitation in the mail. To me, it’s more special and elegant and personal. These days, you can go to one of those craft stores or party stores, and with your computer, you can make the invitations yourself at home.”
When I wanted to know if she had any last thoughts about affordable weddings, Ambrozewicz raised the issue of gifts. “Many couples, because of tough economic times, opt to live together before getting married. So, they may already have things like plates, or a coffeemaker or other things. Increasingly, couples are asking for money for something—say, to help pay for a honeymoon, or to buy a piece of land or to buy a house. I think that’s smart because that’s what they need to start their life together.”
Ambrozewicz added another word of caution and a suggestion for the DIY bride. “One pitfall of doing everything yourself, if you don’t have a wedding planner, is that she’s not here to do the worrying for you on the wedding day. So then, assign someone to worry for you and to take care of the emergencies and the details. The day of the wedding is very intense—physically, mentally and emotionally. There are so many pieces to be put together.