From the Professionals...to DIY or not DIY

01 / 07 / 18

Each month we delve deeper into subjects to find out more and bring you some useful snippets of advice!

Many couples consider a DIY wedding. Some fancy taking on the challenge of planning and making as much as possible for their big day, others fancy getting creative and want to put their stamp on the day. Some do it to save money whilst others just want to enjoy putting some of the their practical skills together or fancy a go at learning something new.

According to the most recent Confetti poll, only 12% of couples did no DIY at all for their big day. 62% made their own favours and over half made their own invites or other stationery. 49% of couples made their own decorations and 49% made their own wedding cake!

So with many couples attempting decorating their venue and making their cakes themselves, we asked a couple of our professionals to give their advice on how to DIY like a pro!

First up is Chelsea Flower Show medallist Nicole Gamlin from Whitewed approved The Floral Studio. Nicole has over 25 years’ experience and specialise in bespoke wedding flowers, from simple intimate wedding celebrations to grand ceremonies.

Here are Nicole's tips for DIY wedding flowers...

Are you considering making your own wedding flowers, or have a family member or friend offering to make them for you?

Many brides, family & friends consider making their own wedding flowers, but have no idea where to start, where to source the flowers from and how much quantity they will need.

There are thousands of flower varieties available, are they available (in season) and in your colour scheme? If a family member offers to make your wedding flowers, wonderful, if they are a trained florist or floral designer!

If they occasionally make the odd flower arrangement, check out their work first, ensuring you like their style and most importantly, can they create your floral vision? If not walk away, you only get one chance to get it right!

If it’s too good to be true, it often is.

Most people think that by doing the flowers themselves, they are saving money, when in fact by the time everything is added up at the end, there is only a small difference.

Many brides that have done just that, were beside themselves knowing that they could of saved themselves a lot time, tears and hard work, if they had booked a professional from the start.

Conditioning flowers takes up a lot time. Each stem will need the leaves taken off below the half way point and the ends of the stems cut on a sharp angle, allowing your flowers to drink.

This generally can take up half of your day. Always place your flowers in fresh cool water within five seconds of cutting the stem (as the stem will close and seal in the nutrients). Allow your flowers to drink for a good 24 hours before using.

Time flies by very quickly, especially when there is such a lot to do in preparation for your big day. Let the professionals take care of you, ensuring a smooth, stress free day. They are good at what they do, so that you can concentrate on you as a couple and enjoy life together!

Consider these points-

  • Knowledge is key, do your homework. What flowers do you like and will they be readily available near your wedding?
  • Planning and preparation is key. Allow time for the practising, buying, prepping, styling, storage and delivery.
  • Remember when practising to time how long one epicentre took and then multiply this by the number of arrangements you need to make to be fully prepared with time and assistance.
  • The day before, who will help prep and style the flowers.
  • On the wedding day, timings of the day, who will deliver them and when

The Floral Studio Limited, Purton offer Floral Bespoke Workshops, tailor made specifically for you, to learn how to make your own wedding flowers. Please visit their website for more information and to register your interest.

Next up is Sarah Forward of Whitewed approved Cakes by Mrs F, award winning cake maker and registered cake diploma tutor & sugar craft teacher. Sarah has over ten years experience making gorgeous cakes and enjoys teaching others to do the same.

Sarah sent over these great tips for anyone considering a DIY cake...

"Here are some key things to consider when making your own wedding cake...

1. Can you bake? Are you a confident baker? Do your cakes taste nice?

The cake may not be the most important feature but if you are going to spend a lot of time stressing about it, how it looks or whether its raw in the middle, is it really worth it?

2. Keep it simple. Use a tried and tested, maybe family recipe.

If you can't make a cake but are great at baking macaroons, make a tower of them instead.

3. The right reasons. If your baking your own cake because you can't afford a professional cake maker, it's worth contacting them and talking about your budget. I have worked with all budgets. One couple hired one of my show cakes and I made them kitchen cakes. They had a stunning design and no one knew the cake they posed with for the traditional cutting was not the cake they ate!

4. Think ahead. Sugar flowers can be made months in advance and always have a trail run to check you've enough cake mix and the cooking time works. Cakes freeze well. Do your research and make sure you have structure in the cake. I have had to dash to hotels in the past to rescue cakes that are collapsing due to no structure!

5. Team work. Why not arrange a hen party where the brides team all make flowers while enjoying a Prosecco or two. By the end of the class the flowers for the wedding cake will be made.

6. Transportation! One of the best things about hiring a cake maker is they do the hardest bit, driving and setting up your cake. I have made over 900 wedding cakes and still find this the most daunting part. Think about the logistics: should the cake be stacked before its moved or assembled at the venue. Who will assemble it? Defiantly not a job for the bride on her big day. Cakes are safest in the boot of a car, never on a persons lap.

I hope these tips have not put you off too much. Give yourself lots of time and remember not to put too much pressure on yourself"

Here is a great example of Sarah working with a bride...


Sarah says " here is a photo from a wedding cake I made a few weeks ago, the Bride and her Mum worked with me to create this cake.

I talked them through the baking process before they made anything. It's very important if you are going to ice someone else's cake that they give you what you need to work with.

They baked a family recipe fruit cake, and the other two tiers in sponge cake and froze them.

I gave them 2 lessons on making a rose and foliage out of flower paste.

I then collected the cakes, iced and decorated them and did the delivery and set up on the day.

I still made a profit and the customers were over the moon with their cake. They want to now come to more classes to learn more flowers!"

For more on Sarah and how she can help, get in touch through her page Cakes by Mrs F

How amazing is that DIY cake?! No wonder the bride was over the moon! This is such a good example of how to DIY with a professional. You end up with a truly professional looking result but with the right to say "I made it"!

So our advice for anyone considering a DIY wedding is:

Do your research first, have a practice run to see if it's actually do-able and will end up budget friendly. If the numbers only just stack up, a few dodgy efforts could make a DIY wedding more expensive!

Be honest with suppliers about your budget, Both Nicole and Sarah offer workshops for brides so if you chat through your hopes and dreams they can offer advice to suit you budget and work out parts you can DIY to bring the cost down.

Mix and Match. For example make your own centrepieces after learning through Nicole how to put a stunning arrangement together, but get Nicole to make your bouquets (which are often much more intricate and therefore more time consuming). Or follow Sarah's brides footsteps and bake your own sponge and make your own sugar flowers and leave her to assemble and ice giving a flawless finish to set off your new found stunning sugar craft skills.

Have fun! We believe the planning process doesn't have to be stressful. If you're not enjoying the DIY, find it too time consuming or decide it's not financially beneficial, don't be afraid to change tack, hire a pro and get back to enjoying the rest of the planning!

Many thanks to The Floral Studio and Cakes by Mrs F for their fabulous input!