When Lisa Bayne married the first time, her friends baked a wedding cake topped with bride-and-groom cookies. This being 1976, in Berkeley, Calif., the cookie couple was nude, though the same could not be said of Bayne and her then-husband, who wore his-and-hers tunics that the bride had sewed by hand from vintage fabrics.
Today, Bayne, 61, has two grown children and is the chief executive of Artful Home, an online art gallery based in Madison, Wis. But her allergy to traditional weddings is more or less the same.
For her marriage to Andy Astor, 57, in October, she created banners and flags from handmade paper to mark the site of their ceremony on a windy mountain road in Sonoma, Calif. Her bouquet combined dahlias and calla lilies with herbs plucked from her garden.
After taking lessons from an artisanal preserves maker in Berkeley, the couple produced several varieties of jam, which they distributed to their 46 guests.
“We wanted the wedding to feel like the life we live in Northern California,” Bayne said, speaking on the phone recently from her home in San Francisco. Still, she added, “I don’t think it was the ultimate DIY wedding.”
In few areas has the do-it-yourself fever raged as intensely as in the $52 billion wedding industry. DIY flourishes on blogs like Practical Wedding and Offbeat Bride, and is a dutiful component of mainstream magazines like Brides and The Knot. A tour of Pinterest or Etsy will turn up almost every hand-wrought artifact you can possibly imagine that is eaten, worn, tied around a napkin, suspended from a rafter or carried off by guests in a little bag.
Of course, fluffy-white, off-the-shelf weddings remain an option, but the tools for tailoring an event to fit the contours of your idiosyncratic being are as abundant as the inspirations.
“You can have ribbons customized in a hundred different colors,” said Darcy Miller, editorial director of Martha Stewart Weddings. “You can have flags put on straws. There are tissue-paper pompom kits.”
So how do brides and grooms cope with such a profusion of ways to be special?
The first thing to recognize is that there really is no such thing as a DIY wedding. Only people with Leonardo-like skill sets and an aversion to sleep are capable of personally customizing every detail. Even the craftiest among us need assistance.
“There’s only so much work two persons can do,” said Simon Davenport, 29, a senior copywriter at Macy’s and a musician who is marrying on May 17 in a barn at Stonover Farm in Lenox, Mass. “If you’re committed to doing it yourself, sometimes it’s as important to have good people around you as to say, ‘I want this color or that color.’ ”
Davenport is fortunate to be marrying into the family of Lily Thorne, 28, an artist who is also the merchandise manager at Bird, a Brooklyn boutique. Various members of her Berkshires clan and their friends are putting up guests, catering the dinner, baking the cake and carving chunks of solid walnut into table numbers with a band saw (that last would be Thorne’s father, Peter, a woodworker).
Last weekend, the couple, who live in Brooklyn, were in the area, foraging for moss, fiddleheads and ramps in a friend’s woods, and pulling chunks of marble from a stream.
The moss and ferns will be incorporated into centerpieces by Thorne and her mother, Sarah. The ramps will be mixed with wild morels in tartlets, wilted into salads, and served with locally caught striped bass. And the marble will be set on rough-hewed plinths along the tables, along with other stones the couple received from guests at their shower at the suggestion of Thorne’s parents.
The second crucial point about DIY and your wedding is that if you lack Zen-like forbearance, you’ll need militarylike planning skills.
“The one thing you have to stress is that DIY is not for the last-minute person,” said Vané Broussard, the founder of the 7-year-old website Brooklyn Bride. “If you’re the person who likes to stay up late and pull all-nighters, you should not do this.”
DIY or DIWO? Whatever the acronym, it takes a posse, Miller of Martha Stewart Weddings agreed.
“The reality is,” she said, “come the day of your wedding, no matter how crafty you are or what great style you have, there’s just no way you’re arranging the tables while you’re also putting your wedding dress on and taking your pictures and signing your ketubah.”