When Tiffany Maleshefski and Dan Apczynski met she was working at Strings magazine and he was an editor at Acoustic Guitar, a sister publication. It would take some time before their relationship hit the right note. “He pursued me for a couple of years, but he was really, really shy and I thought he was too young for me,” she says of Dan, who is four years her junior. But after a couple of dates, Tiffany realized that their personalities were perfectly harmonious.
They were married last year in a ceremony at Glen Ellen’s Relais du Soliel that they planned with some help from their friends. While many people would call the prospect a disaster in the making, for this couple it was more fun than frustrating. Here, in Tiffany’s words, are six things the experience taught her.
1. Do not be afraid to ask for help.
“Every bride has a very specific vision for her wedding and it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that getting other people involved will dilute that vision. Think of it this way: If your company was going to plan a 100-person fundraising dinner, would you expect there to be only one person handling all of the details from start to finish? Of course not! You'd delegate. Your vision will still come through if you ask people for their help and input in shaping that vision.”
2. Be organized.
“If you take on a DIY wedding, you have to take the time to set up some kind of organizational tool or system that will keep you on track. I used spreadsheets and set deadlines for tasks that I wanted to get done. It helped me not be overwhelmed, but it also helped me to not overwhelm my friends who were incredibly generous with their time when it came to planning our wedding. My friends made our invitations, save the dates, programs, favors, did my hair, my make-up, and the list goes on and on. Being able to have a six-month calendar I could view allowed me to not have the wedding take over our lives.”
3. Letting people help makes your wedding unique.
“When you let your friends and family contribute to your wedding, it adds an air of originality that no one can replicate. Your day goes from being a cookie-cutter event straight from the pages of a magazine to a personal, one-of-a-kind event that will be impossible to imitate. It's kind of like decorating your house. You can go to a furniture store and by every piece of a living room or dining room set on the showroom floor from a single manufacturer, or you can choose a couple of pieces from one set, a few more from another, and then head to another store for the rest for a more personal look. For the people who plan to help with décor, give them specific guidelines you'd like them to stay within, but don't be afraid of those unique touches that they'll inevitably cast on their contributions.”
4. Understand your venue.
"We chose an outdoor, rustic venue. So we had to be very conscious about bringing elegance to that venue without overdoing it. It can be tempting to go to a rental shop and be seduced by vignettes they have set up to show you what your event could be like. But again, with an outdoor venue, we couldn't make it something it wasn't. Why would we pick elaborate centerpieces or opulent furniture when we were getting married on a ranch? It would've conflicted with the space and made it seem like we were trying to cover up the space’s true nature. Instead, we were able to create a nice harmony between our rental choices and our venue.”
5. Let your husband step in.
“The last few weeks of our wedding, I was pretty burned out from six months of planning. It was time for my hubby to pick up the torch. And pick it up he did. He was the one to settle the last details with our caterer, orchestrate the set up and break down of our event, control our rehearsal dinner, etc. Bringing your husband into what will be one of the most important days you share together helps you both be equally connected. And honestly, it's a true test of your future together. Knowing Dan was willing to come in and start doing tasks that aren't really his area of expertise made me feel confident about us going into the unknown together.”
6. Don't be afraid of color.
“When I explained to people that our colors were red, orange, and yellow, they thought I was nuts. And I can see why. You pick bold colors like that and all you can think of is finger painting. We spent lots of time in photoshop and at the rental place putting swatches of linens together. It is possible to bring in an array of colors—you just have to be smart about it. Having that much color at our venue was amazing. Being outdoors, the colors around us were neutral and subdued, so having color in our details made them that more noticeable. You know how they say people only remember the food, music, and booze? Not with our wedding—people remembered our pom-poms and linens, and flowers!"