The Enthusiasts Guide from “Yes” to “I Do”

Host Leah Longbrake is pulling back the veil to bring you honest advice and creative ideas from those in the wedding industry. From the Engagement to the Honeymoon, get all the details you need from wedding and event experts on how to make it your best day ever!

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DIY Do's and Don'ts with Wedding Planner and YouTuber Jamie Wolfer

DIY Do's and Don'ts with Wedding Planner and YouTuber Jamie Wolfer

Wedding planner and YouTuber Jamie Wolfer discusses what you should spend your time and money on when it comes to DIY-ing for your big day. Centerpieces? Ceremony arch? Favors? We cover it all!

Jamie also shows you how to make a lot of great designs on her highly successful- and super helpful!- YouTube channel.

Follow Jamie on YouTube and Instagram!

Get to know Jamie:

Broke bride turned wedding planner turned YouTuber, Jamie Wolfer is a wedding planning junkie who enjoys long walks through Pinterest boards with a healthy dose of budget reality. She shares weekly advice and tips on wedding advice on her channel, helping thousands of couples worldwide feel equipped to plan their wedding day masterfully.

In her spare time, she watches far too much Harry Potter, stares at her too-many houseplants, and is probably ordering more chickens when you turn your back. Oh, and she has a pretty rad husband and some funny, cute kids to boot.



This has been a production of Evergreen Podcasts. A special thank you to Executive Producers David Moss, Gerardo Orlando, Production Director Brigid Coyne and Audio Engineer Eric Koltnow

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Leah Longbrake:
Jamie, welcome back to the show. So excited to have you.

Jamie Wolfer:
Thank you so much for having me.

Leah Longbrake:
So you have been so open and so honest on your YouTube channel. It's one of the reasons I heart you so much, because you're so authentic and transparent and informative. And so it is just a joy to have you back on the show today.

Jamie Wolfer:
I appreciate that.

Leah Longbrake:
And one of the things you talk about a lot on the channel is about DIY. To DIY or to not DIY, that is really the question. And there's probably no simple answer to it, but break it down for us, the do's and don'ts. And we'll start with... We'll be positive. We'll start with the do's. What is the plus side of actually sitting there and DIY-ing?

Jamie Wolfer:
Well, I am a creative soul. I love making things. I get excited. I do DIYs on my channel probably about once a month, and they get terrible views, to be totally honest. Everyone's like, "Jamie, we're not here for this." And I'm like, "I don't care. I'm doing it anyway."

Jamie Wolfer:
So for me, creating is it pushes me, it's therapy, it gives me the ability to make something beautiful, or at least try. So I find it cathartic. Also, I have to do DIYs every once in a while, to justify to both my husband and my accountant, the amount of money I spend on crafting supplies. There's legal reasons that I have to do this, basically. Otherwise, the tax man's going to come after me for buying all that cricket stuff.

Leah Longbrake:
But you have some really cool DIY on your channel.

Jamie Wolfer:
I'm going to tell my husband you said that. And be like, "See. I got to keep doing it."

Leah Longbrake:
Recorded proof, right here.

Jamie Wolfer:
Yeah. So for a lot of people, it is cathartic, and it is a release, and it is extremely fun. It's also an excellent way to save money. It's also an excellent way to spend too much money. It's a very fine line to walk. So if you want to DIY your invitations, you can make them for $2, instead of spending $7 with a professional. Not that we don't love professional stationary people. Stationary-ists? Stationers? Stationers. Yikes. That took a while to get to. Not that we don't love them. But if it's not in your budget, it's not in your budget. And I think DIY-ing really does open up that avenue.

Leah Longbrake:
It's impressive that you're still so pro-DIY, because in a video that you put out, called I HATED My Wedding, you are very open about how maybe you shouldn't have DIY-d all the things. So what's the limit of... I mean, besides budget. But what's the personal time in physicality and mental capacity of... How much of your wedding should you really DIY?

Jamie Wolfer:
I have a 60/40 rule. 60% done by professionals, 40% done by yourself and/or your family members and friends. It's not a hard and fast rule, because you can't really actually measure the amount of things that are being done. But just to keep in your mind, don't do more than half of your event. Just don't do more than half. Try to keep it under that. Because like we talked about in the last episode, there's more than just one currency that we're spending here. We've got time, we've got money. And then there's a third element to that of emotional health and wellness.

Jamie Wolfer:
So if you are overspending in the time and emotional health category, is it worth it? And that's the thing that I didn't think about, until I had gone through it myself and realized that maybe it wasn't. I created some beautiful things for my wedding day, but I didn't stop myself. And I kept doing the comparison game, and I kept going back to it. And I needed someone to look at me and grab me by the shoulders, and be like, "Are you sure? Because you're kind of crying while you're painting this."

Leah Longbrake:
Put the glue gun down.

Jamie Wolfer:
Just step back slowly. Like, "Why don't you just go watch some chick flick? I will bring you wine. And then we'll try this again tomorrow." But no, I was up at two in the morning, painting our backdrop, because I needed to have it. I'm obsessed with our backdrop, still to this day. But I wish that I had had a better balance, or that I could have told myself, or that someone could have told me that no one's going to notice if it's not there.

Leah Longbrake:
Or if it's not perfect.

Jamie Wolfer:
Right.

Leah Longbrake:
What you think is perfect.

Jamie Wolfer:
Yeah. Yeah.

Leah Longbrake:
It's like those Pinterest fails.

Jamie Wolfer:
Jeepers. Yeah. I had a few of those. They just didn't make it to my wedding day.

Leah Longbrake:
Do you think Pinterest has had a huge influence on the DIY of the wedding?

Jamie Wolfer:
Oh, absolutely. I think, historically speaking, when 2008 hit and we all went grassroots, back to lunches and paper sacks, weddings, which have always been... Not have always been, because I talked to my mom about her wedding. Of course, it was nowhere near that cost-wise or that extravagant. But we did hit a point where weddings were starting to pick up speed. We had social media, pictures were being shared. Celebrities were having these really amazing weddings. Then 2008 hit, and then we saw baby's breath and mason jars on wood rounds, with burlap and lace, because everyone's like, "I can't do that anymore."

Jamie Wolfer:
And it really awoke this sense of maybe I just try DIY-ing. And then with Pinterest and all of that, and everyone's like, "I'm going to take that idea, but shift it a little bit." Now, you just have this whole world of incredible ideas. That's all started because we had to go back to grassroots, and then it just, the inspiration, or Pinspiration, just snowballed from there.

Leah Longbrake:
What's something that you think is worth... I mean, you mentioned invitations briefly. But what's worth DIY-ing to save some money?

Jamie Wolfer:
Again. It depends on what you have more to spend of. If you have time, if you have space in your home, that's another big one. My brother is currently engaged, getting married. And my mom is storing stuff in her second bedroom of their two bedroom apartment. She's like, "You can barely walk in there." So just, do you actually have physical space?

Jamie Wolfer:
As far as what's good to DIY, there's a lot of money that can be saved in florals. My best friend in the entire world is a wedding florist. She would also be the first one to back me up and say this, because when you're hiring a florist, you're hiring an artist who's really good at what they do. You're hiring someone who knows the exact count of florals that you need to get, who will put it together for you, and deliver it, and may even do the pickup for you as well, and make everything gorgeous. And you don't have to worry about it.

Jamie Wolfer:
But a lot of them start at $2,000 minimum, and that's just not feasible for a lot of people. So there are a bunch of really great options to DIY florals. I did mine for $220. Well, no, that's how much I spent on the flowers and greenery itself. Of course, there were supplies on top of that. Let's call it 350. It's like a 10th of what I would have paid, if I had gone to somebody else.

Leah Longbrake:
Absolutely.

Jamie Wolfer:
With a fraction of the artistry. Let's call it what it is. There was lipstick on that pig, okay? But I had centerpieces. I just think what's important to remember is just because you're getting engaged, or just because you got engaged and you're getting married, does not mean that you're Martha Stewart. Does not mean automatically that you have all of these skills, because you now have a ring on your finger, so now you can make things. So just a healthy dose of perspective never hurts. Florals are really good, though.

Jamie Wolfer:
Dessert tables, again, I think I said last episode, that my cousin does wedding dessert tables. But also, she would be the first to say, "Yeah, it's not the cheapest thing on the block." So you could DIY that as well. I would steer clear of things that are considered absolutely necessary. Don't DIY your catering, unless you absolutely have to. You can DIY your bar. That's very easy. I wouldn't DIY your DJ, unless you absolutely have to, because I think DJs are massively important and they're the unsung heroes of wedding days. You can DIY your officiant, but I... Yeah. What else would you not DIY? I wouldn't recommend DIY photography.

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah, photography and videography. Put the money in a pro.

Jamie Wolfer:
Yeah.

Leah Longbrake:
I think it was Jeffra from WeddingWire, I had her on the show. And it was her wedding day, and she had a family friend or relative that was going to be the videographer. And she was halfway down the aisle, and the battery died in the camera. And you don't want things like that to happen. But if you hire a pro, and she was the one that say, "Hire a pro." Things like that. For sure.

Jamie Wolfer:
I mean, I even hired a professional in one category for my event, and I did not love the results, because that professional was very new. But we had what we had. We only had to spend what we had to spend. And that's okay. But I don't think it hurts to do some due diligence, and do some digging around, because you can also save money by researching. You don't just have to DIY. You can compare and contrast too.

Leah Longbrake:
Unless you're friends. I think I had one thing that was DIY for my wedding. We did the ribbon sticks with the bells at the end.

Jamie Wolfer:
Oh, cute.

Leah Longbrake:
Because we were honoring Irish and Polish, and it was an Irish wedding tradition. So we had the sticks. My best friend, who was my matron of honor, is super crafty. She has all the craft supplies. She is a DIY-er. She's fantastic. So I went to her house, we had her kids, she has three little ones, they helped us. Poured a couple of bottles of wine, and just spent hours making these ribbon sticks. And it was fun, but that was my max for DIY-ing.

Jamie Wolfer:
Okay, yeah. Mine was a little bit higher. It's fine. I had to rent a U-Haul to bring home my stuff.

Leah Longbrake:
Oh, my gosh. Well I'm sure your backdrop alone was like...

Jamie Wolfer:
Yeah. It was seven feet tall, by 11 feet wide.

Leah Longbrake:
Have you decided what you're going to do with it now?

Jamie Wolfer:
No. I don't know, because we had it stretched. It was a stretched canvas, and it was succulents and flowers and leaves all painted in an arch. I'm motioning with my hands, like the listeners can see me. You just have to close your eyes and picture, unless you're driving. So I had painted it in such a way that it framed us really well when we were standing there, getting married. And it was also moved behind our sweetheart table. But I don't know what in tarnation I'm going to do with something like that. It's not-

Leah Longbrake:
It could be a new headboard, like a backdrop for your headboard?

Jamie Wolfer:
11 feet wide, though.

Leah Longbrake:
Oh, yeah. That's true.

Jamie Wolfer:
I don't think my room is 11 feet wide. I know.

Leah Longbrake:
Maybe start building an enclosed patio outside?

Jamie Wolfer:
I mean, at this point, I got to figure out something, because we've moved with it multiple times.

Leah Longbrake:
Shoo.

Jamie Wolfer:
I know. Maybe I'll auction it off for charity.

Leah Longbrake:
But I'm sure it was beautiful.

Jamie Wolfer:
It was.

Leah Longbrake:
Hey. You never know. That's actually not a terrible idea.

Jamie Wolfer:
I don't know.

Leah Longbrake:
Pay it forward to a bride in need.

Jamie Wolfer:
There you go. That's actually not bad. I'll just have to find it and then get rid of it.

Leah Longbrake:
What are some other key things you think couples should know about DIY?

Jamie Wolfer:
Supplies add up very quickly. Always divide out how many things you think you can get out of a package. It does take math. It's not like you can just go to the craft store and buy a bunch of things, and then try putting them together. If you are testing out a DIY, which I always recommend that you do, get a small amount of items and try it with that, or get a cheaper item and try it with that.

Jamie Wolfer:
Because if you go out and buy all of them, and you go ham and you buy in bulk, you get through your second one and you go, "I don't like how this looks," or "I can't stand this," or "This is harder than I thought." You now have all of these supplies that unless you're an avid crafter, like myself or your best friend, it's going to go to waste. The whole point of DIY is to save money, so be mindful of how you spend it.

Leah Longbrake:
Something I wasted money on, this isn't DIY, but I want to know your opinion on this. I spent money on these little wood-looking things to put the table things in, the table card numbers or whatever. I have a box of it. I'm never going to use them again. And then I have two boxes of the gold metallic candles that went around tables, which were beautiful. It's great if I kept two or three in the house, but I don't need two boxes worth. What's the best thing to do for brides, like myself, that are no longer... We're not brides anymore, we're married. But what do you do with these things now?

Jamie Wolfer:
Try reselling them. Local Facebook group is definitely the way to go, because let's be honest, your life is so full. Are you actually going to go ship these things? I'm convinced that 2% of people actually ship things. The rest of us just stare at the returns sitting next to our back door, until it's too late and we can't return them anymore. Or maybe that's just me, and I'm just trying to justify that and say-

Leah Longbrake:
No. I am that way. I am with you. I'm thinking in my head right now, I have things with tags on upstairs. I'm just too lazy to return.

Jamie Wolfer:
Yes. Let's be realistic. Unless you know that you are a shipping person, the same way that you're not going to be Martha Stewart because you got engaged, you are also not automatically going to be someone who ships things. So if you can sell it in a local Facebook group or on Craigslist, yes, you will have to take a pay cut and that's okay. That's just how the game works. You can also try to source those things beforehand, and then resell them for the same exact cost. So you can find stuff in a local Facebook group, and then resell it afterwards.

Leah Longbrake:
Great tip. Any websites or resources do you think brides should consider looking at, if you don't want to DIY? I know I shopped a lot at Etsy.

Jamie Wolfer:
Yeah. I love Etsy. I love the opportunity that Etsy gives to small creators, and small makers, and small hustlers. So that's a great place to go. I also think that... Oh, gosh. I've got a whole list of resources, and I can't think of any of them. You can rent flowers. You can rent silk flowers. There's Something Borrowed Blooms. There's RENT MY WEDDING, where you can rent quite a few different things. Marie over there is awesome. We adore her.

Jamie Wolfer:
What else is there? Yeah, there's just tons of rental opportunities. So if you don't want to DIY, you can find a source to rent them from. You will be paying maybe the same price, or even more than you would for purchasing maybe, some of the things outright. But you also could save a lot too. I think a lot of us have this sentimental attachment to items, where we want to own them. The dress is one of those things. We want to own our wedding dress. And then others go, "You know what? I'll rent it and save $1,500." It's totally fine. So you have to figure out what's important to you, and what you have emotional ownership over, before making these decisions. But I think renting is such a smart way to go with so many different things.

Leah Longbrake:
I have a fun question for you, as we're wrapping up here. What is your all-time favorite wedding movie, or a movie that features a wedding?

Jamie Wolfer:
Oh, okay. Oh, man. I don't know. I have no idea. Wait. I got nothing.

Leah Longbrake:
Do you have a favorite celebrity wedding, or Royal?

Jamie Wolfer:
Well, the Royal weddings always, I'm like, "This is class." And also, we have just defined what's going to be happening in wedding culture for the next 12 months. Kate, with that dress, just wrecked all the dressmakers who had a different plan. And it was great, and I loved her style.

Jamie Wolfer:
But when it comes to... I can't think of any movie off the top of my head, that has a wedding in it that I really, really like. Of course, I love The Wedding Planner, but I never dreamt of becoming a wedding planner. So I didn't watch that and think, "This is what I want to be one day." That was never my thing, which is funny because now that's what I do.

Leah Longbrake:
That's what you do.

Jamie Wolfer:
Yeah.

Leah Longbrake:
But growing up, did you watch Sound of Music, or Steel Magnolias? I'm trying to think of wedding movies from our era.

Jamie Wolfer:
Yeah, like classic weddings. Of course, I watched Sound of Music. It's my dad's favorite movie. I don't think I've ever seen Steel Magnolias, though.

Leah Longbrake:
Oh, wow.

Jamie Wolfer:
I know.

Leah Longbrake:
I highly recommend it.

Jamie Wolfer:
Okay. I think I'm going to have to do that.

Leah Longbrake:
But you're right about Kate Middleton's dress.

Jamie Wolfer:
Who gave her permission?

Leah Longbrake:
And then all you saw was lace sleeves from there, forward.

Jamie Wolfer:
Just, what a jerk. She just looked too good. Leave some room for us, Kate. Stealing up all the gorgeousness.

Leah Longbrake:
Jamie, how can we get more information on you and your company?

Jamie Wolfer:
Well, you can find us all @wolferandco. We'll be under that name on Instagram. I'm pretty sure our website is wolferandcompany.com. And then you can find me on YouTube at Jamie Wolfer.

Leah Longbrake:
Thanks so much for being back with us, Jamie.

Jamie Wolfer:
Thank you so much for having me.

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