Frothy white tulle and pink slips are not a great match.
Of course, weddings have become notoriously expensive affairs. Even back in 2000, when Khris Cochran got married, the gap between price tag and personal finances was so appalling she went the DIY route, making her own invitations, save-the-date cards and favors to trim costs.
Costs have only risen since then. The average American wedding is estimated to cost $20,398, according to costofwedding.com, and Bay Area weddings often run double that figure. And it's not as if the recession is giving wedding couples a pass. So when Cochran, the San Jose author of "The DIY Bride," put out a call for bridal recession tales on her Web site last fall, the stories flooded in.
"My parents lost pretty well their entire assets in the markets," one bride told her. "Our (wedding) budget is now $2,000. Has our wedding changed? Yes! Are we better for it? Absolutely!"
The couple cut the guest list in half, canceled the caterer and went the complete do-it-yourself route. They skipped the DJ and fired up the iPod playlist. They rented a barbecue, made salads and iced cupcakes. The wedding may not have looked like one of celebrity wedding planner Preston Bailey's creations, but it was glorious — intimate, special and handmade.
And that may end up being the unexpected gift this economic crisis bestows on brides and
Back when Cochran got married, she says, "the DIY movement was just in its infancy and pretty much for the micro-budget brides. It was all about saving money, finding the cheapest avenues to pull off a wedding."
Then came Martha.
Martha Stewart's approach to weddings and her stylish DIY projects were a turning point, says Cochran. Suddenly, DIY was chic. And the Internet's exponentially expanding networks not only spread the word, they provided the expertise to make the movement successful.
"There is an infinite pool of incredibly talented, creative couples out there," says Cochran, "who are eager to show off their creativity and share how they did it."
Now DIY wedding blogs and discussion boards are popping up all over the Internet, and craft stores are responding to the trend. The DIY wedding aisles at Michaels, for example, multiplied this year.
"You aren't imagining it," says Stuart Aitken, Michaels' chief marketing officer. "Of course, many brides are looking for ways to make their day special without spending a fortune, but they also want to personalize their weddings. It's also a wonderful way for friends and family to spend time with the bride and participate in wedding preparations."
Invitations? Design your own, cruise Michaels' aisles or download templates from Hewlett Packard's Creative Studios site.
Wedding favor ideas? Scan WeddingBee.com's blog posts and — even better — the comments section, which offers tips and advice on where to find that elusive Oreo truffle recipe or a cheap source for candy jars.
Need centerpiece alternatives? Cruise the DIY Bride group on Flickr, and you'll find Ellie Moore, an Arizona bride and writer who wanted her wedding to have a literary theme. Antique typewriter keys adorned her invitations and decorated the ribbons on her bouquet. Instead of floral centerpieces, she used stacks of books in new, Moore-made dust jackets with sly titles, such as "San Francisco on $100 a day."
"Our joke," she says, "is that we spend way too much money there."
DIY gives brides and grooms a chance to save, she says, while making their celebration deeply personal. But be careful, she warns.
"Start early," she says. "Start very early. This stuff is much more time-consuming than you imagine. Give yourself a cutoff date a week before the wedding. You want to take the last few days to center yourself, enjoy the thrill and anticipation. If you're still making stickers, you won't be a relaxed, happy bride."
Here's a roundup of other ideas from DIY brides and wedding experts:
Invitations & save-the-dates
The days of engraved invitations may be over. Now you can print your own using kits from the Brides and Martha Stewart Wedding lines at Michaels, order designer versions from Shutterfly or Pingg.com, or create your own clever concoctions. Among the more unusual ideas submitted by brides at Moo.com:
Options for the florally challenged:
Only an insane bride — or "Gilmore Girls" character — makes her own multitiered wedding cake. But a dessert buffet can be outsourced to loving friends and family. If you want a traditional wedding cake for the photo op, add a small one to the dessert buffet.
n A candy buffet lets guests assemble their own favors. Fill large glass vases and apothecary jars with candies, pick childhood favorites or coordinate the colors with the wedding palette. Provide small scoops and cellophane bags or quarter-pound coffee-type bags, with wedding labels. (Warning: Depending on variety and quantity, this can run anywhere from $80 to $500.)
Reach Jackie Burrell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are six recession-friendly ideas from DIY and wedding experts, including Khris Cochran and Christina Friedrichsen, author of "Intimate Weddings: Planning a Small Wedding that Fits Your Style and Budget":
1. Keep it small. With 50 guests, you keep down costs down, enjoy a more intimate and personal celebration and can choose from a significantly larger choice of venues, including art galleries, museums and recital halls.
2. DIY -- Do as much as you can yourself, but don't do it solo. Host a bridesmaids and mothers' party to assemble craft projects. Ask friends for help with photos, flowers, even the dessert buffet. Especially now, most people are delighted to make their wedding present a gift of time and expertise.
3. DIY is not always cheaper. Pick the most meaningful, budget-friendly projects and don't overspend on craft tools you may never use again. If you're looking for some esoteric piece of equipment, ask for advice on one of the DIY wedding forums, or call a local art studio. Some, including San Jose's A Work of Heart, rent studio time and tools.
4. Chisel costs from the priciest budget lines. Instead of the vast tiered wedding cake -- $600 to $1,000, according to costofwedding.com -- go for a dessert buffet of cheesecakes, for example, or the ever-popular cupcake, which can be made by friends or family. Skip the full bar. One couple, who had a chic lime-themed wedding, served Champagne, beer and Jones' Strawberry Lime and Lemon Lime sodas -- and key lime pie instead of wedding cake.
5. Do a backyard barbecue instead of an expensive rehearsal dinner.
6. Do not put wedding expenses on your credit card unless you are sure you can pay off the amount the moment it comes due.