Come DIY with me!

Today I’ll be very personal. I’ll talk some about myself… not too much, no worries. But this is something I really care about: DIY. I was brought up on it, and now it’s deeply ingrained in my personality.

Growing up in postwar Germany, the rules of everyday life were a lot different from today and here. We practiced recycling before the term was even invented – simply out of necessity. With our parents’ memories of hunger and wartime shortages still fresh, we learned never to waste anything, especially not food, and never to throw anything away. Everyday goods were precious. Money was scarce. We became very inventive in creating something out of nothing, in recycling odd things into something new and exciting. And naturally, whatever we could possibly craft ourselves, we would – we’d never spend money on preserves, jams, knit sweaters, crocheted vests, embroidered tablecloths – all things that could be home-made. It became second nature.

When finally I was able to afford the chic sweaters and the specialty preserves I had secretly been longing for, the excitement wore off surprisingly fast. While these things did convey a certain feeling of status and achievement, their mass-produced nature under their polished surfaces came with a disappointing lack of “soul” and charm. After a while, I quietly reverted to DIY as far as my super-busy professional and domestic life allowed. Which was not much.

When my son and his fiancee announced their wedding plans and entrusted the details to me, I immediately welcomed the opportunity for DIY. Of course, I did not hire a wedding planner – I became one myself. I helped the couple define a color and overall style, and then I plunged into creating all the facets that together make a great celebration. When I could not find a style of invitation perfectly suited to what I was planning, I designed one myself and pulled all the materials together. When I couldn’t find really meaningful wedding favors, I came up with a DIY project that I created and executed all by myself (and don’t be fooled – both these projects were rather more expensive than the store-bought run-of-the-mill variety, not counting the hours that went into them). But I found the whole hands-on experience incredibly rewarding, and everyone – bride and groom and all the guests – were happy with the intensely personal touches that my creative process, time and effort had infused into the whole glamorous affair. DIY does not necessarily mean “homespun” or “awkward,” but rather – “personal” and “with love!”

So, I have decided to post a series of DIY ideas here. They’ll pop up periodically – so make sure to come back and check them out!  Here is what I have for you so far: a project for your own wedding cake or cake bar, with recipes; a cute and inexpensive decoration kit; a lot of ideas for centerpieces; and some really cute save-the-dates, invitations, table cards and the like. Nothing too difficult, and nothing too time-consuming. Also think of enlisting help – mothers and bridesmaids being a natural choice…

And without further ado, let’s get started with the “Save-the-Dates!”