DIY IRL: Linens and Lanterns

For the second installment of DIY IRL, I thought I’d open up about my own wedding (since I DIY’d the crap out of that). I’m a professional, so I only bit off as much as I could chew. I hired a florist who did a lot of the heavy lifting on the actual wedding day, but in the weeks leading up to it? That’s a horse of a different color.

Case Study: Me, myself, and I… and my husband, Mike (you can judge for yourself whether my wedding planner *cough* me *cough* did with my wedding here.)

DIY Detail: The bespoke linens and Eastern-inspired metal and glass lanterns

Who Did-It-Themselves: My mother, father, myself, my husband (then fiancé), a seamstress, and my florist

How: I do this for a living after all, so it should come as no surprise that I had an elaborate theme for my own wedding decor. My husband and I consider our lives together an adventure, so we went with a sort of wanderlust/gypsy caravan kind of vibe. My mother/enabler and I decided to do patchwork tapesty tablecloth overlays and to use Turkish/Moroccan lanterns for the centerpieces.
For the linens, we spent an afternoon hoofing it around Fabric Row in Philly. My mother wanted my father to sew the pieces together,* but we finally decided to enlist the services of a professional seamstress.
For the lanterns, in lieu of going to actual Morocco (where I’d already been and already purchased a lantern for my home, thank you very much), our next great hope was Home Goods. Home Goods is great – they had exactly what we were looking for – but in an effort to find the right combination of lanterns we had to go to EVERY. HOME GOODS. IN. THREE. STATES. (I’m hardly even exaggerating.) Fun fact: Despite selling all the same merchandise in their stores, there is no inter-store system where you can look up to see whether a certain location has a certain item. So the only way to get matching lanterns (and mercury glass candlesticks, just to spice things up), we had to visit a dozen different stores in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.

*My father has never sewn anything in his life

Final Cost: Ermahgerd… I have no idea. If I remember correctly, the fabric for the linens cost $1000+/-, then we paid the seamstress a few hundred. The lanterns were probably $15-30 a piece, the candlesticks were another $20 each. There was a considerable amount of driving, so let’s just say a whole tank of gas worth. I’m guessing we spent at least $2000 when all was said and done.

Lesson to be Learned: “DIY” doesn’t always mean “inexpensive.” I had a very specific look I was going for, and since I was pretty rigid about it, there were a limited number of ways to get what I wanted. If you have a really unique aesthetic – something that can’t be easily found at a flea market or borrowed from friends – be prepared to pay.

So what do you think? Would you spend a mint if it meant sticking to your theme? How many better things could I have done with the money I spent on TABLECLOTHS? (Hindsight, they say, is 20/20.)

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