One of the many projects I wanted to create for our wedding reception was a D.I.Y. photo booth area with costumes and a camera set up with a tripod, so guests could take photos of one another. I'd seen some great photo booths like this on wedding blogs, and had big plans to create a fancy one of our own. After the wedding, I'd do something along the lines of Smilebooth, where I could add graphics and captions in Photoshop and upload the pictures to a special website for our guests to enjoy. I had all sorts of big ideas of how super amazing and perfect this photo booth would be.
Here is where the "lessons learned" part of this post's title comes in. I've planned quite a few events in the past, mainly fashion related shopping sales and fashion shows. So I was certain that planning our wedding myself would be a piece of cake. Shocker: it wasn't. It was fun, but it was a lot. I mean a LOT. And I learned a lot. I actually plan to write a post completely devoted to things I learned along the way - the greatest lesson being that you have to be realistic with yourself about how much you can actually take on, and be willing to let go of certain things when time or money doesn't permit.
Although I started slowly working on projects soon after we got engaged, real life prevented me from completing all of them in the exact way I'd envisioned. As the wedding grew closer, there were some unforseen roadblocks too. Robbie was on the road with the band for a month beforehand, and came home 5 days before our big day exhausted and very sick. Thankfully, my rockstar of a Maid of Honor Jen flew in that Wednesday, and my friend/wedding 'MVP' Sara came in on Thursday. We literally spent every waking moment finishing things up. (I owe them big time!)
The photo booth ended up being one of those projects that I eventually had to settle for being less than I'd initially planned. It kept getting pushed to the end of the 'to do' list, behind more crucial tasks. I'd researched renting professional screens for the backdrop, but they were out of our budget. We then decided to make something from a curtain or sheet, but there just wasn't time. In the end, we decided to use one of the neutral walls in our venue. I finished making props, painting chalkboards, gathering costumes, and creating a "Photo Booth" banner the day before.
Unfortunately, with our wedding day spent decorating the venue, running errands, and getting ready, I forgot all about the photo booth until minutes before the ceremony. We ended up quickly hanging the banner on the coat rack hooks in an area by the restrooms, and set up the tripod in the nick of time. The location was a little hidden, so many of the guests didn't see it, and we didn't get the solid background that would have allowed me to edit the picture with fun graphics. But guess what? Our friends and family loved it anyway, and didn't even notice the less-than-perfect set up. They had a blast dressing up and snapping pictures.
The photo booth is just one example of many details that had to be lowered on our wedding priority list. But funny enough, it didn't matter. Our wedding was even more fun and magical than we'd dreamed. Along the way, I realized how easy it is to become overwhelmed with all of the inspiration found on wedding blogs and in magazines. Creative people tend to pay incredible attention to detail, and we tend to be perfectionists too. Ask anyone you know who planned their own wedding, and they'll tell you that as hard as you try to remind yourself that your wedding is about celebrating the love between you and your partner ('eye on the prize,' as Robbie and I called it), you will get caught up in at least some of the details. And at some point, you will get stressed out. I learned that the best thing you can do to minimize this stress is to be willing to accept the fact that some things simply won't go as planned. I can tell you this - I forgot all about every one of those less-than-ideal project outcomes the second I took my first step down the aisle and set my eyes on my soon-to-be-husband. Months of planning and detail obsessing suddenly melted away, and everything was perfect in my eyes.
One more thing on the photo booth topic... I'd actually planned on posting a "mustache on a stick" D.I.Y., but it ended up being one of the easiest projects I've ever done - too easy for a post of its own. To make your own, just buy a piece of black foam from the craft store and some dowel rods. Draw or trace mustache outlines (I did some funny eyeglasses too) on the foam, cut out, and attach each to a dowel rod with a hot glue gun. You can make a dozen on them in less than 10 minutes! Unlike planning a wedding, this project is a piece of cake.
Stay tuned for a more detailed "wedding tips/lessons learned" post. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy these photo booth shots! And for those planning weddings, just remember: eye on the prize.