The Edition: No. 89

Apr 4, 2019

If you’re going through hell, keep going. — Winston Churchill

Monied. Career Contessa has a fabulous primer on salary, negotiating, and budgeting.

Cinched. This peplum belted Lark & Ro sweater is the perfect blazer alternative.

Quickened. The dangers of becoming a snap-decision society.

Relaxed. Talbot’s has great Casual Friday dresses — a bright pink sift and a black shirtdress.

Drawn. What Disney Princesses would look like as career women.

Jeweled. Need earrings? Try these $13 hoops or $19 pearl drops.

Timed. Why we don’t ask for longer deadlines, even though we should.

Flowered. The colors on these Anthropologie vases are so gorgeous (love the teal!).

Elevated. Man Repeller wants to know, what is your definition of success?

Chilled. I picked up this soft striped tee and this cozy jersey maxi (perfect for travel).

At the risk of opening a can of worms, I wanted to ask for a bit of wedding planning advice.  I’ve heard everyone’s suggestions about hiring a planner and setting priorities.  I was lucky enough to find a planner who was willing to negotiate a lower rate for just the essential planning and day-of services.  But I’m still trying to figure out where the pitfalls are.

So simple question:  What was your best decision?  And what was your worst decision?

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  1. Joy says:

    I would say the ONLY regret I have from my wedding is not hiring a videographer… The day goes by in a blink (even though I took lots of moments throughout the day to take it in); you spend many hours planning how everything should be, and then you don’t really get to soak it in. I wish I had a video to go back to and see the people, hear the songs and the vows, and see everything that made our day special. CONGRATS!!!

    • pam says:

      I would second this – we had an amazing photographer, and my sisters boyfriend looks some video – but we decided to save money on this category and I do regret it (22 years later).

    • Mel says:

      Agree! We spent for the videographer and I am so glad we did (even though we paid for our wedding ourselves, which was relatively low budget). It feels like an easy thing to skip but don’t. Every year or so, sometimes on our anniversary, we watch it with our three kids who *love* it! The videographer did a great job on the 22 min highlight reel (we never watch the longer version)—it’s quite entertaining. It’s so fun for them to see our friends 15 years ago (many of whom they know and hang out with their kids) and especially our family. Their cousins were toddlers in the video doing silly toddler things and are now heading off to college. It’s truly priceless. Plus I love seeing how my husband and I were interacting back then. We were pretty darn cute. 🙂

    • Kate says:

      Was just going to say the same thing about a videographer. We weren’t going to get one but last minute decided to add it on and it was the BEST decision we ever made. We have a ritual of watching our wedding video every year on our anniversary and it’s such a great way to capture the memories that a photo album just can’t cover. Congrats!

    • Lauren says:

      I second this. It was something I didn’t think we needed, especially since we spent so much on getting extended hours of photography. However, the day goes by so fast and I wish I had more moments on video. In the grand scheme of wedding expenses, it’s a drop in the bucket and if you negotiate right, it’s something you can roll into the cost of photography.

    • Katie says:

      I echoed the videographer comment in my post.

      To add to what I said- I didn’t book it because my brother had one, and told me he felt very odd watching himself in it and so he just never watched it. I watched his video and when it came to my speech, I also felt odd watching myself and so I figured I’d dislike my own wedding video. This was a poor line of though- it would have been worth it, even if I cringed at myself.

      • Elinor says:

        Jumping on the videographer bandwagon – this is the only thing I would do differently about our wedding. Our photographer was AMAZING and I love her photos, but I wish I had a recording of the ceremony.

    • Lindsey says:

      I’m so glad we had a videographer. I actually can’t stand most of my photos, they just were basic and not very pretty. While I don’t watch my video often (12 years later…), I love knowing I have it. And video footage of family and friends who may not still be with us is really nice, too.

  2. CWinDC says:

    Best decision- Taking our time to make essential decisions together without input (or with minimal input) from others. And reading for a combo of practical tips and emotional support.

    Worst decision- Not spending more on photography. Our pictures are fine, but there are some shots I wanted that got missed. I should have had more time in general for getting ready because things ran late and I felt rushed.

  3. AB says:

    My worst decision was not putting together a list of photos I knew I wanted from my wedding. My photographer told me to trust him — and that’s how I ended up not getting a picture with one set of grandparents. Have a list!

    My best decision was taking 20 minutes to go eat a small dinner with my husband before we went into the reception together. We still talk about how great it was to have a small window that was just for us in the midst of the day.

    • Anonymous says:

      You may not know that this is a built-in part of the Jewish wedding ceremony! Immediately after the ceremony and before joining the guests, the bride a groom spend a few minutes alone, their first private time and husband and wife.

    • Catherine says:

      The advice about a separate, intimate dinner before the reception is the only piece of unasked-for advice I give to people planning their wedding. It’s such a nice breather, and between the week-wishers and adrenaline it was the only time I ate anything that day.

    • Katie says:

      Oh, I was so focused on planning that I forgot to mention your second comment.

      YES! I did the bulk of our portraits before the wedding so we were able to take 20 minutes to eat a plate of appetizers in a private room and just enjoy that we were married.

      We promised we wouldn’t get separated at the wedding, and we did- or we had people always approaching one of us, but having that 20 minutes was gold. That is definitely the best tip!

  4. Whitney says:

    Eloping was the best decision. We gave our family veto power and threw a reception at home. But the vows were special to have just us and not to spend a fortune on.

    • Jess says:

      Yes! Elope. If I could do it over this absolutely is what I would do. Elope and throw a big party. Don’t waste money on a fancy photographer. Have everyone in your family/friends take pictures.

      • Crystal says:

        I strongly disagree on the photographer. I agree that your guests may take some truly special photos at weddings/receptions, including ones that a professional may miss — that’s wonderful and I don’t mean to discourage that. But on balance, a high-quality photographer will take photos that your guests could never dream of. You’re probably going to forget the food, programs, non-bridal flowers, etc. — but not the photos.

        Here’s an article showing the contrast:

        And here’s the work of my high school friend who’s been featured in magazines — her and her husband’s photos are stunning, the kind you’d be excited to hang in your home for years to come. Oh, and they adore doing elopements.

        • sally says:

          The pictures in that article have a LOT of photoshop going on. But I agree a competent photographer makes a big difference. Not even necessarily more expensive, but competent and professional and with a good eye makes a difference.

          • M says:

            Our photographer was one of our investment areas. Reason 1: I wanted beautiful images of the day. Reason 2: My husband and I are not models – before my wedding I had never done a photo shoot. I wanted someone who could capture us both with posed portraits and more natural shots. Our photographer was great at making us feel comfortable and she had an eye for how to make non-models look good. I’m so glad we invested in this area. If pictures are not important to you then you don’t need to get the most expensive photographer but having someone who can make you feel comfortable and be efficient with taking pictures is priceless. She was able to get the images within a few minutes so we were able to move on to enjoy our reception.

  5. jj says:

    manrepeller just had a great article about various women’s “wedding regrets”, aka what they should/shouldn’t have spend money and time on in retrospect!

  6. Mary G. says:

    There are an overwhelming number of planning resources, but the book “A Practical Wedding Planner” was truly a lifesaver. I love her no-nonsense attitude

  7. Noelle says:

    Worst decision: Should have spent a lot more time picking a photographer and walking through what we wanted. There were really only a couple pictures from the entire day that turned out well.

    Best decision: Buying a non-wedding dress! I paid about $200 for my dress, a cream Tadashi Shoji I got at Bloomingdales. It was beautiful and saved me literally thousands of dollars.

    • Sheril says:

      totally agree re: wedding dress. I got mine used and it was the best decision ever. I also changed 3x (it was a religious fusion wedding) and it was great to have different outfits and lots of different pics!

  8. Sarah says:

    I’m not sure this is what you’re looking for, but….

    Our best decision was to have a tiny, immediate-family only wedding brunch and then fly out the same day for our honeymoon. That was the whole thing. We spent $400 dollars total to get married (cost of brunch plus marriage license; I wore something I already owned and loved, we didn’t do flowers, and my MIL took a few pictures). It was no stress and we saved a lot of money. There are numerous friends who I wish I could have had attend but, for us, our options were 200 people because of insanely large families and a lot of friends or what we did. Five years later, we do not have a single regret about how we did it.

    Regardless of what you do, congratulations on your upcoming marriage. And as much of the planning as you decide to share here, we will enjoy. So many internet strangers are really happy for you and Kyle!

  9. Shannon says:

    Best decision: to simply not care what anyone thought. My husband and I held a wedding within our means, and graciously hosted the people we cared about. Any time I got pushback about not inviting Obscure Cousin Soandso, not having a big to-do with a DJ and a full bar and a florist and so forth (we had a modest event in a pub), I just smiled and said, “please stop spending my money!” It brought folks up short. I think they imagine all these “wedding must haves” are paid for with Monopoly money. I also laughed at anyone who called me bridezilla for daring to express a preference, that term has now become anti feminist claptrap.

    Worst decision: that said, I wish I’d spent some cash on making my life easier. As one example, my dad decided at the last minute to stay with friends across town to save money. Oh, and whoops, his license was expired and he couldn’t rent a car. I got blindsided and wound up scrambling to find volunteers to cart him around. I wish I’d just left some money in the budget to throw money at the problem, and paid for his hotel room. Weddings are full of last minute “little requests,” so leave some money to throw at the problem.

    • Sheril says:

      Agree re: setting aside money for those inevitable last minute issues that arise, and spending the money in places that make your life/ day easier. Neither you nor others will remember the flowers, menus etc 10 yrs later! Also designate a close someone to solve these things for you (ie, oh uncle kevin wants to change his hotel room, and so of course calls you the night before the wedding…)

  10. Whitney says:

    Best decisions: Spending the extra money for a live band, and hiring another bartender to set up a second bar to avoid long drink lines.

    Worst decision: Spending countless hours making centerpieces myself and adding little crafty touches to the wedding day that NO ONE (including myself!) really cared about. Not worth my time and energy because I’m not a crafty person and I didn’t enjoy doing it.

    • Sheril says:

      Second this! I spent too much time trying to personalize my wedding and diy-ing stuff. Just buy it, spend the time enjoying engaged life.

  11. e says:

    Like you, I’m still in the wedding-planning stage (July 20, 2019!) but so far the best decision my fiance and I made was to be really clear with family, from the start, about expectations of how we wanted them to be involved in planning. No known worst-decisions to report on, yet, but I’m sure there will be!

  12. Leah Ofsevit says:

    My number one piece of wedding advice is to DO LESS. Pick the things you care about most (for me it was delicious, unique food and a DJ who could read a crowd) and focus on those. For everything else, keep it as basic as possible. I wish we had picked a venue with more included so there were less choices to make. And unless you love crafting, cleaning, and spending your life on Etsy, DIY = more work.

  13. Kristi says:

    Best wedding decision: hiring an amazing DJ.

    Worst decision: not hiring a crew to clean up after the wedding

  14. Katie says:

    Best decision – semi-eloping. We had a tiny ceremony with a handful of witnesses, and we didn’t tell anyone other than those witnesses what our plans were. Not our parents (messy divorces, they weren’t invited), not other family members, nobody. I didn’t want unsolicited opinions or pressue! I got a beautiful dress from BHLDN, fuss-free. We had an outdoor ceremony that lasted about 12 minutes, took some photos, and had a nice meal with our witnesses. Everyone got a phone call and/or announcement after the fact, when there was nothing they could say about it because it was already done!

    Keep it small, keep it classy but not formal, and keep it focused on YOU and your life together. It should be about your commitment to each other, not a free party for everyone you’ve ever met (unless that is what you truly want, in which case you should do exactly that).

  15. Susan says:

    Based on what I’ve seen on your IG, this is probably not what you want to hear but eloping was the best decision ever. Then a reception party back home. All the fun none of the stress.

  16. A says:

    Best decision–saving hundreds/thousands buying an ivory chiffon floor-length bridesmaid dress as a wedding dress. Got “extra length” and then hemmed it in the front only for a short sweep in the back. Worst decision–not planning out the post-reception clean-up and having to oversee it ourselves.

    • E says:

      I did the same re: bridesmaids dress with extra length!! $500 and no one could believe it wasn’t a “real” wedding gown.

      This is dependent on family size and other factors but what rang true is that it’s easy to make a guest list of 50 or 200, anything in between is really hard.

      My other advice would be to let your parents invite their longtime friends. Those people will be in your life longer than many of your own friends as these years are usually a time of so much transition, moves, kids, jobs etc…

  17. Meg says:

    Best Decision: I cut some traditional spending (no flowers along the aisles or in our centerpieces, no programs, small cake with other treats, DIY’d the hell out of things) to hire the best photographer I could afford. 6 years later, I look back on all these great photos and couldn’t care less that our guests didn’t know the name and bio of every bridesmaid.

    Worst Decision: I let my MIL bully me into a bigger wedding than I wanted. We had the big day on their amazing property, but it meant giving up a lot of control, including who got invited to various events and leaving out a lot of our friends. The hurt feelings and essentially having to joint-plan the wedding wasn’t worth it at all.

  18. Macie says:

    Best decision: Keeping it small and fun. We invited family only on his side, and since my family is so small, my friends who may as well be family.

    Worst decision: The amount I spent on a wedding dress. I paid just under $1k, which at the time didn’t feel too high, but when you add in alterations and the cleaning cost afterword, it was more like $1,700. I had hoped to resell it to recoup some costs, but because it was not a name brand, no one would take it. I ended up just giving it away.

  19. aar1 says:

    I’m not married, but here’s the greatest and worst things I’ve experienced as a wedding guest: Best – My law school friend had a live band at her reception which is pretty uncommon for my young-and-poor friend group. It was so fun and they really had such a great presence. I’m sure it depends on the quality of the band, but she had a good one and it was miles better than even the best DJs I’ve heard. Worst – a couple weddings I’ve attended had three or four too many gimmicks where everyone has to stop what they’re doing and watch some game/something.

    • Kate McFadyen says:

      Chiming in with what I appreciate as a guest (hope that’s ok). To me, to properly host guests, you only need a few things:

      1) Food appropriate for the time of day. Cake and punch are perfectly fine if it’s 3:00 PM, but if it’s at a meal time, have a meal. It can be food trucks, 3 course plated meal, or anything in between.

      2) Have enough seats for everyone during ceremony and reception. I went to a friend’s wedding and during the reception they only had seating for about 3/4 of the guests. My friends and I had to huddle around a table and trade off who was sitting while they ate.

      3) This is more of a preference, but I agree that you don’t need games or things to “entertain” your guests. People just want to eat, dance, and mingle with others they know. There’s no need for Newlywed-type games or anything that makes me have to stop talking too long to watch. The few exceptions: first dance, father-daughter dance, mother-son dance, and maybe bouquet toss if you’re doing that.

      4) Also just a preference of mine, but I appreciate assigned seating (even just assigned tables) at the reception so much. Especially if it’s a bigger wedding. A lot of times, without assigned seating, you’ll get a couple who doesn’t know anyone sit at an empty table. And then another couple sits at another table. And then when you have a group of 6-8 friends come in, there are no tables left for them. To me it simplifies things to just tell people where to sit, and they can move and mingle after they put their stuff down.

    • Kay says:

      Also not married, but after attending 5 weddings last year, 8 this year, and probably over 30 in my life (yay big families!!!) there is one thing that keeps happening over and over that is just downright painful for everyone involved.

      No clean up crew.

      A wedding is a wonderful, emotional day. It is fun and exciting and really wipes everyone out. There have been multiple weddings where the next day I get a phone call from a tearful bride asking me to help clean up. In my experience, it is easy to get people to set up because it is before everyone stayed up late drinking and dancing. If you have to save money somewhere, ask people to set up and hire people to tear down.

      • Alexa says:

        Yes! I work part time in catering and have done probably 100+ weddings. Where I work, the catering crew is responsible for a lot of it; making sure the space gets reset back to standard, sweeping, mopping, etc., but the things that people never think to plan for are:

        – what happens to the flowers?
        – what happens to the extra food?
        – what happens to the extra booze?
        – if you had things that you brought for decor (family photos, a board to put escort cards on, candles) who is responsible for taking those?

        In a lot of cases the vendors will or can handle it, but talk to all of them to determine what post-event stuff they deal with, and assign one or two friends or family members (who don’t drink too much and have large cars that things can be stuffed in) to help with the final sweep; introduce them to your planner and/or vendors so that they have someone to go to with “do the bride and groom want to keep the flowers? what about the leftovers/top of the cake? who’s taking the extra booze home? I found this framed photo that got wrapped up in a table cloth, where should this go?”

    • Crystal says:

      Chiming in because while the wedding should OF COURSE be what you want, I’ve been to enough weddings to have had fabulous experiences and stressful/unpleasant experiences, but often the couple never knows.

      1. If you will be somewhere with limited cell phone/data/WiFi, be very clear about that beforehand. I attended a wedding and reception in a complete dead zone (the accommodations were in the same location) and it was unexpectedly stressful for some of us with family/children concerns as well as work deadlines.

      2. Consider your friends who may have a different religious tradition/non-tradition and what they might need to to know to participate (or not) and feel comfortable. I was MOH in a very religious, very formal wedding (I am not religious) and the bride did an incredible job of making sure each of us understood what would happen, our options for participating or not participating, etc. — so very appreciated. In another wedding where I was in the bridal party, there were many religious crowd participatory moments — a groomsman and I both had no idea what we were supposed to say/do (no program) *and* felt very uncomfortable with what felt like forced religiosity (since we would be in the pictures). Recommendation: Talk it through with your wedding party, especially, so everyone is on the same page.

      3. If you’re going to have friends in attendance who might know almost no one, please have someone introduce them to a few folks they might like, or (if you’re doing formal seating) seat them at a table with people of similar interests. I cannot tell you how awkward it was to know exactly ONE person at a wedding that wasn’t in the wedding party.

      Also, one bit of unsolicited wedding planning advice:
      1. Tell your friends and family to put down their phones except for certain times. You want them to experience the night with you, you’ve paid for a photographer, and the *screens everywhere* look can both ruin a good picture and even prevent the real photographer from getting the best shot. Check out this post for examples:

      Best of luck and congratulations again, Abra!

  20. Holly says:

    Best decision: A badass videographer. We did a small, destination wedding and being able to share the video was great for family who couldn’t make the trip! Also we did a guest book (pinata) that we opened on our one year anniversary. It was a fun way to celebrate and reflect back on our day (after watching our video).

    Worst decision: I will echo the photographer sentiments. I loved our photographer but wished I had given them more direction on our group photos and made a list of the specific shots we wanted. I actually apologized to my uncle recently about not getting one with him and my aunt (who did a ton for us).

  21. Rachel says:

    Best decision: Prioritizing inviting everyone that we wanted to come, even though that big number of people limited us in some ways (venue size, costs, etc.). It is so wonderful to have all your loved ones in one place, and to be able to look back on that day and know that so many important people were there to celebrate with us.

    Worst decision: Trusting my brother-in-law to drive us to the after party from the reception. He was definitely intoxicated and I ended up driving a crowd of wedding guests myself—in my wedding dress and all (luckily I was totally sober).

  22. Sarah says:

    Best – Picking 3 things that we cared about and focusing our energy there and letting our planner do the rest. For us we cared about photos, food/drinks and an inviting dance floor.

    We did the research and beat the bushes to find the best photographer at our price point (which in DC meant flying in someone from ATL and getting significantly more bang for our buck), caterers that were willing for us to bring in our own alcohol and desserts and finding a DJ that matched our vibe and played songs we loved that kept people on the dance floor throughout the evening.

    After that we literally told our planner, here is your budget, here are a few photos of our style, do whatever you want. It was awesome. When we got to the venue after our ceremony, she showed us all the little details and it was so fun. We never spent the time worrying that something was wrong on the day of or even leading up to it, Just spent the time with each other and actually being with our friends and family.It also meant we met our 3.5 month engagement timeline. We had a short window because of the hill staffer schedule.

    • Sara says:

      Totally agree about prioritizing what is important to you — stick to those priorities, and if other things stress you out, cut them out!

      The best advice I got when planning my wedding was that everyone just wants to see you looking happy — and that sets the tone for how everyone else feels. Wedding guests are full of goodwill — no one will remember or care about very much else. So optimize for what will make you feel happy on the day, whatever that means for you.

      For us, the important *outcomes* of the wedding were to have a nice day with the people we loved (and be present enough to enjoy it), and to have some nice photos of us looking young and healthy and happy to give to our parents and show to our kids some day. And we wanted to feel more like we were hosting a party, and less like we were a prince and princess for the day. So, for example, I made detailed schedules for the wedding day, so our families knew where they were supposed to be and so I wouldn’t need to field questions or manage anything on the day; we spent some money on a photographer we liked and were delighted by her photos; and we both attended a cocktail hour before our ceremony (which meant I changed out of my wedding dress into a dress for cocktail hour, then back into my dress to sign our ketubah and get married — a little crazy, but we really wanted to be able to say hello to everyone before the ceremony started at sundown, rather than being hidden away in a room upstairs).

      The other thing that I learned was that people want to help you — and, in balance with the thought above about optimizing for what will make you feel happy, it’s important to acknowledge and validate that the people who love you wanting to help you along the way. And: give them jobs that make sense and that you don’t want to handle yourself! For example, my mom and I don’t live in the same city and don’t have the same taste in flowers, so I didn’t ask for her help choosing them, but I asked her to be in charge of making cookies for our cookie table and she CAME THROUGH and really helped us out.

      And most of all congrats on this happy news!!!!

  23. Megs says:

    Remember: everything is optional. We chose only to spend money on the things that were most important to us (food and photography and inviting the 100 people we wanted there) and then did very minimal things for the other expenses (no flowers, plugged a ipod with spotify in instead of a DJ/band, he wore a suit he already had and I got a dress from Nordstrom’s, etc).

    Yes, eloping will save you a lot of money, but we didn’t want to elope, and I am so glad we didn’t. Having everyone we loved surround us on that day was the most special thing I have ever experienced. But we also controlled all the details of our wedding (we funded it all, which helped prevent parental input) and were careful to rein ourselves in from going overboard. I think a lot of unhappiness about wedding planning comes from when the wedding stops feeling like you and starts feeling like things you are being forced into doing.

  24. Suzanne says:

    I recently had my second wedding to the love of my life in October. My first wedding in my early twenties was a big affair, with a church ceremony and banquet hall reception. My second wedding was a much smaller (and less expensive) party, in a funky local art gallery with the ceremony in the courtyard. The second wedding was a lot more fun. We had a pretty unstructured reception with a self-serve bar and food out during the entire evening, so our guests could eat or dance or sit and socialize whenever they wanted. Not only did it allow us to cut an hour off the space rental without feeling rushed (and also save money on our DJ, photographer, and caterer in the process), but it gave us time to actually connect with our loved ones without having to be ushered from cake cutting to bouquet tossing. Don’t feel pressured to do anything because it’s tradition.

    The best decision we made though was to choose a dog-friendly location so our dog could be part of the party. He’s an important part of the family and stole the show!

  25. LP says:

    Best decision: Prioritizing things I cared about. So we spent money on drinks, band, and photographer. Flowers came from Costco and my aunt made basic bouquets. Sometimes I’m a little jealous when I see these gorgeous flower arrangements, but eh.

    Worst decision: Leaving for my honeymoon the day after the wedding. It would have been really nice to have a day or so to decompress, open presents, get organized.

    • AM says:

      +1 for not going on the honeymoon right after. I’ve been married for almost a year and we still haven’t planned ours, but I’m glad we had time with family and friends from out of town, and two days to just chill by ourselves.

    • Meghan says:

      Another +1 for waiting to leave on your honeymoon. We got married on a Saturday and flew out on Tuesday. That gave us time to handle all the gifts, unpack all the stuff we had to take from the venue, and hang out with family still in town.

    • R says:

      another +1 for not leaving immediately for the honeymoon. we got married in my hometown, and not where we currently live, so honeymooning a few weeks later saved us a lot of logistical headaches

  26. Sarah says:

    Best: adding in an extra hour to the reception; taking some 1:1 time with my hubs; planning out the last 3 songs; wearing wedges

    Worst: Letting my makeup artist run over time; not doing a final look before walking down the aisle (see item 1 on this list, I didn’t love how my veil was positioned); not having chapstick for my husband

  27. Laura says:

    Best decisions: Hiring a day of coordinator. Getting a quality photographer. Doing things because we wanted them not because they were “required”/”tradition” (e.g. we had our first dance right after the ceremony because our ceremony spot was GORGEOUS.)

    Worst decisions: spending way too much on FLOWERS. UGH. SO much regret.

  28. Karen says:

    Wedding photos are something we place so much importance on. They are important for the first month you get them back after the wedding. Then they are forgotten about until someone passes – sadly. Definitely do them, but think a bit about how you might want to use them.

    I think the theme in all of these are don’t lose yourself. Don’t get pressured to do things you don’t want (this is why people love the elope option). My biggest concern was that everyone attending have a nice time. Everyone will be thrilled to be there. Everyone will be happy for you. They will have a great time if you have a great time. Months after, no one will be able to tell you what your table decorations were, what your cake looked like or what flowers you carried. They will remember how beautiful you looked and how happy you were.

  29. Carolyn says:

    A few things – I didn’t have a planner. My ceremony and reception venues each had a day of coordinator. They did everything and it turned out amazing. I did not have a “coordinator” to get us through the morning hair/makeup/some photos or the post-ceremony photos and that was the most stressful part for me. So I wish I had had someone with me all day.

    If I did it again, I would hire a full on planner. While the day turned out great, I spent a lot of time and tears researching and trying to make decisions while staying under budget. In the end, I did stay in budget (yay!) and also got everything I wanted…but I think a planner could have made the process more fun for me.

    Best decision – planning a PARTY! We wanted awesome food, and awesome venue, and everyone to have a good time, and that’s exactly what happened.

    Worst decision – I ended up unhappy with the videography process. They sent two guys, the owner and a newbie. Owner spent the night on his phone, newbie was so nice and did a good job, but at the end of the day when we saw the footage, they had missed a lot of content (from in between ceremony/reception and during the reception dance party). Kind of a bummer. So whomever you hire, don’t just go with them because they fit in budget. Also, the photographer missed the money shot – there was no photo of my husband and I with the full (beautiful, massive) chapel in the background. I was like ?!?!?!? So agreed with the other ladies – have a VERY specific shot list. Google other people’s lists and walk yourself through the day – but I wish I had that chapel shot, and I wish I had some informal shots of my husband and I arriving to see our reception venue for the first time.

    The big thing I learned – if having the gold chairs and pretty tablecloths is important to you – spend the money. Lol.

    Oh. And I did bridal portraits 2 weeks before the wedding and ruined my hemline. We were contemplating cutting it off and I was going to switch to flats, then I spent all night one night scrubbing it with a toothbrush and the laundress delicate wash. Success. But OMG.

  30. Em says:

    Best: Buying the cheapest dress I reasonably liked. (I think it was $200, plus the cost for minor alterations.)

    Worst: Having a friend take pictures. I thought it was “just” a courthouse wedding (which I do recommend!) and didn’t hire a professional photographer. Even though we got some great photos, I wish we’d had a professional there too.

  31. B says:

    Best Decision: Having an indoor ceremony and reception. I’ve been to an outdoor wedding that had no rain backup plan, and we literally ate dinner in mud up to our ankles. In July.

    Also Best Decision: Picking the venue with the best food. Focus on the food. Your guests will thank you. Or, at the very least, not have to lie to you when they say the food is good.

    Worst Decision: Hiring a family friend to do our wedding photos, and not preparing a must-have shot list. Even though she is a very talented professional photographer, I HATED my photos, have no photos with my in-laws, and felt like I had no recourse because I love her dearly.

    Other Worst Decision: Not working out my arms enough before the wedding. Don’t go crazy, don’t have an extreme diet and exercise plan (weddings are stressful enough as-is, continue eating ice cream to survive the stress) but focus on body parts that show in your dress.

  32. Mercedes says:

    Best thing I did was hire a wedding assistant for the day of. She handed out programs at the ceremony, gave people directions to the reception, helped pack up gifts afterwards, and did all the little things that are boring but need to be done.

    Worst thing I did was give in to what my in-laws wanted. They were paying for the ceremony so I felt I had to go along with all of their wishes (having a huge wedding with 300 people, a live Serbian band, seating arrangements, etc.) My wedding was beautiful but was not what my husband and I wanted, at all. Looking back I wish we would have done a destination wedding and just invited immediate family and closest friends.

  33. Angela says:

    Take as long as you need in planning. Some people don’t like things hanging over their heads and would rather get it out of the way sooner than later. Some (like me) want to take their time looking at vendors and venues and not feel rushed into the decision. Take some time to think about what your and Kyle’s vision is without any input and let that inform your decisions as you go through the process. I got engaged a year ago and my wedding date is still a year and a half away but I’m enjoying going through the process at my own pace and not rushing into vendors that are going to cost a lot and produce poor quality.

  34. Alisha says:

    Worst decision: picking a photographer mainly based on cost. Find someone you gel with. Our photographer was loud and traditional, and we’re more chill and a little non-traditional. His pictures were fine, but we didn’t feel comfortable with him and you can tell.
    Best decisions: picking out the traditional wedding elements we liked and not doing the ones we didn’t like. Having a cookie table, which doubled as take home gifts, so when people asked how they could help I asked them to bring a dozen cookies to my maid of honor. Spending most of our budget on a venue with good food. Having a welcome cocktail on Friday, then goodbye brunch on Sunday (most people traveled to our wedding so we wanted to maximize our time with everyone). And mostly, project managing the crap out of the wedding. Spreadsheets ftw

  35. Erica says:

    My wedding planner suggested this, and it’s the only advice I ever give when asked…either before or after your ceremony, take at least ten minutes to be alone with your partner. We had a large wedding, and while was exactly what I wanted (you might say I am a bit of a party girl, haha), I am so thankful that he and I had a few minutes of quiet time together to have a drink, eat a few appetizers, and celebrate us alone (being posed for pictures with your photographer doesn’t count!). You will not regret building this into your day of schedule, no matter how packed it is. Could be right after a first look or right after the ceremony if you are opting to be more traditional.

  36. Valerie says:

    My best decision was hiring an art photographer to just follow us around on our wedding day. We did not spend hours posing for photographs and forcing our guests to wait for us to finish and get to the reception. He was carefully vetted and knew what we wanted. As a result I have beautiful black and white art photos in which we look relaxed and enjoying our day as it really happened. These photos hang in several spots of my home and even now 25 years later they still look timeless and cause visitors to comment on how lovely they are. It was the biggest expense of my wedding but so worth it.

    My worst was really not all that bad but I had a small wedding and in hindsight I would have made it even smaller. I would have had just loved ones and left out the obligatory relatives who did not have an important part in my life or casual friends that I did not have meaningful relationships with.

  37. A says:

    Best decisions: Getting an awesome live band (my mom booked them based on a wedding she had been at years earlier) – our friends still talk about what an awesome time they had 4 years later. Having a “cheap” videographer in training (i.e., college student in the local arts department) our photographer recommended who did a bare-bones video of our ceremony – all the content without all the fuss. Letting my mom do the flowers. Doing my own makeup (but getting my hair done). Having our guests all sign a large photo mat into which we put one of my favorite wedding pictures that now hangs in our front hallway.

    Worst decisions: Carting 8 bags each of suitcases and wedding prep stuff in our ride to the hotel because we thought we wouldn’t be stopping at my parents’ friends and family breakfast before heading on the road to our honeymoon (should have left them with my parents). Not staying on top of thank you notes (2 showers and a large wedding) – I think it was over a year before I got all of them out.

  38. Sarah says:

    Best decision: marrying my husband. Almost 13 years. Marriage is hard, but having someone you love to support you in your dream makes the journey of life easier.

    Worst decision: Stressing over the wedding. At the end of the day it is a party. I stressed to find the perfect venue (it burned to the ground 2 months out) and the perfect band (and the lead singer passed away suddenly 2 weeks out). So I got married at a last minute venue with a last minute DJ that did not reflect our taste and it was still one of the best days of my life.

    • Chelsea says:

      Love this advice. My wedding was 14 years ago and the only “traditional” detail I remember is my wedding dress (which I’ve worn twice since then at little at-home anniversary parties with just husband and kids, my 7yo daughter thinks its the coolest thing ever). I got a great photographer and made sure she had the shot list and we still look at the photos fairly often.I don’t remember the food, music, flowers or any of the other details that seemed so important during planning. My best memories are the “reveal” I did with just groom and photographer before the ceremony as we reveled in the joy of it all and the 10 minutes alone together before the reception. It was then that we discovered his fly had been unzipped the entire ceremony (hidden by his jacket). We still laugh about that moment all these years later!

  39. Michelle says:

    Best decision: not listening to the tuxedo shop owner who said regular ties(vs bow ties) would make our pictures look dated.
    Worst : skimping on photography- but I did get married before photoshop.

  40. AM says:

    Best decision was thinking of this as a big fun party and less as THE WEDDING, i.e. having great food, good booze, and a fun DJ. And hiring a coordinator who took care of all of the minutiae the day before and day of. Worst decision was letting dumb comments from our families get to me. It’s not their day! My mom brought up a sensitive family subject and I flipped out, and I regret it still. Just do your best to enjoy the day and know that something will go wrong, but nearly everything will go right.
    I also second taking a few minutes after the ceremony for just you and your husband – it’s a great time to eat your hors d’oeuvres and have a drink before you talk to everyone at your cocktail hour/reception.

  41. R says:

    Our best decision was not doing save the dates and using paperless post for our invites! We sent invites out a little sooner than the typical time frame due to not sending save the dates, but everyone who was invited knew well in advance of getting their invites. The paperless post process was amazingly easy. Also, we got married at the courthouse and then had a small family/friends brunch immediately after. The next day we had a fancy/fun 100ish person “sort of” reception (by sort of I mean we had an open bar, great food and great music, but no speeches, dancing, cake, etc.). I never saw myself as wanting a “real” wedding (to each their own!) and this just confirmed I was right. I wouldn’t change anything!

  42. Allison says:

    Best decision: Sticking to my guns about what mattered to my husband and I. We wanted a big party that was convenient for everyone. We had multiple bands, a great bar, the venue across the street from the church with a big outdoor space to dance. Loved it. Also, splurging on a photographer.
    Worst decision: Being a pushover when my wedding planning bailed three hours before my wedding. My wedding planner was kind of a mess. She came in while I was getting my hair done and insisting that there was some other wedding planner having a crisis and needed her to cover for her, and that she had trained her staff on my wedding. I just said ok. It was incredibly stressful, I was expecting Heidi to be there every step of the way and her team had

  43. LIsa says:

    The best thing we did (beside hire a day-of coordinator!) was to sit down at the beginning of the process with a list of all of the wedding traditions/”stuff”. We went point by point and said which ones mattered to us and which ones didn’t. If it mattered to one and the other was ambivalent, we did it. He wanted a first dance, which we did. I wanted nice invitations, which we did. If neither of us felt strongly about something, we didn’t do it. We also made it clear that our families and friends didn’t have room to weigh in on their opinions.

    I have to say I don’t have any regrets – we threw an awesome party, didn’t break the budget, and are still happily married. Most important – don’t stress. It’s a day. It really doesn’t matter. You’ve done the hard part of finding each other!

    • Alex says:

      I agree with the sentiment behind this! There were a few things I didn’t particularly care about (but didn’t hate) that my husband wanted to do, and they ended up being nice! Vice versa too. The things one or both of us said absolutely no way on we didn’t miss – and none of the guests did either.

  44. Edna Mazue says:

    Worst: Renting Tuxes. It was what everyone did at the time. Could have bought all the groomsmen decent suits instead. Would definitely have worn again and would have looked better.

    Best: Keeping it reasonable for attendants. I got married quite young and most of my bridesmaids were just out of college. Made room in our budget to pay for the majority of their dresses (I let them pick out their own styles so the prices varied and I contributed same to each, most anyone paid I think was $40) and alterations. Shower and bachelorette were local, small, and held in people’s homes. You’re in a different stage of life where your friends might all be not so broke and would look forward to traveling or more expensive parties, but I’m glad I made it comfortable and possible for all of my attendants to be part of my day.

  45. ChristIne says:

    Best decisions:
    1. Destination wedding. Less pressure to invite people we didn’t really know. And we could ensure it was a party we wanted.
    2. Organizing a dinner for everyone the night before the wedding. All the guests got to meet ahead of time, we got to mingle and chat with people and not feel like we didn’t spent time with people the next day.
    3. Open bar.
    4. Setting a budget and deciding the 2 things we cared most about.

    Worst decisions/ worst parts:
    1. Pressure to make the family happy more than ourselves.
    2. Family drama. Impossible to avoid everything.

  46. Carly says:

    Get the trial for hair and makeup way before your wedding date and make sure you’re happy with it. I ended up doing two trails for hair and wasn’t happy with either of them, I should have spoken up more and probably found someone who could get me what I wanted, but I had thought it was too late in the game. I also wish I would have spent more and gone with the better hair stylist and makeup artist, since I wasn’t happy how either turned out the day of. I was trying to save and I regret it since those pictures tend to be around forever. Also, get the nice photographer and videographer, you’ll want to have nice things to look at from the day and a good photographer can capture this day way better than cheaping out on these services.

  47. Julia says:

    Best decision for us was planning for an extra long cocktail hour, so we got to enjoy some of it after photos. Also skipping the traditional wedding cake and going with two regular cakes from my favorite bakery.

    Worst decision was failing to put someone else in charge of paperwork! Get someone you trust to be responsible for the marriage certificate… hopefully the wedding planner does this but worth confirming if you’re not sure.

  48. Kristen says:

    Best decision – splurging on a photographer; this was our one splurge. We didn’t get a videographer (no regrets about that), but having a photographer we loved was very important because that’s how you’ll look back and remember the day. We had a list and a time line of all the pictures we wanted, and who we wanted in them, and even the times each picture was to be taken (tip – work backwards from your ceremony time for a timeline). We took all the pictures before the ceremony, which allowed us to actually enjoy cocktail hour.
    The “first look” was also done in private, before the ceremony, with the photographer there to capture it.

  49. Nichole says:

    Best decision – doing things simply and how we wanted, not what the bridal industry wanted or what our parents wanted. We had a beautiful ceremony (the most important part of the day, IMO) and had a small reception with some appetizers and cupcakes in the church hall. It was inexpensive and exactly what we wanted!
    Worst decision – not having a videographer. I have so many pictures of me and my husband laughing, crying, enjoying our ceremony.. but neither of us remembers why! I wish we could watch and listen to what we and our pastor said.

  50. Laura says:

    This may sound silly but if you have friends of child-bearing ages and inclinations who you want to attend, don’t get married in August or September. I had five friends who could not make our mid-septemer wedding because they or their wives were about to/had just given birth. Maybe people just spend winter makin’ babies, maybe it is because for some schools, September 1 is the cutoff so parents want their children born before then. Whatever the reason, avoid those months if possible.

  51. Trista says:

    Best decision – having a super small (50 guests) wedding. We decided right from the beginning that it would be family and closest friends only. We were in the process of buying a home so it was somewhat out of necessity but it also allowed us to have a nicer honeymoon that otherwise I would have felt guilty about. Also, I felt that having such a small wedding allowed me to get away with not hiring a planner. I have absolutely no regrets about having a small wedding, people were very understanding when they learned they were not invited.

    Worst decision – getting a cheap (ie friend of a friend) photographer. Our photos were ok, just missing some shots and the quality of some were lacking. If I could do it over, I would spend a little more to get someone more professional.

  52. Oh goodness wedding planning.

    Best things:
    -Not giving into the wedding industrial complex on things we didn’t care about (favors, knicknacks, insane flowers, matching dresses, stagey photos, and overly formal positioning of our wedding posse)
    -Honoring the friends and family who helped us
    -No extra stuff in the ceremony (Jewish ceremonies have enough already, we didn’t bother with extra readings, song interludes, different music for different groups during the processional)
    -We had our parents stand with us under the chuppah (tradition!), and our posse of siblings and friends sat behind. There are other people in almost all of our ceremony pics and we love it.
    -wedding dress by Theia – silk! and it rang in at $750
    -awesome, relatable, casual photographer.
    -using family heirlooms in the decorations (silver candlesticks from both sides) and ceremony (crystal wine glass from each side for the two glasses of wine under the chuppah).
    -supporting local women-owned businesses (flower farm, caterer, rabbi, photographer, dress store, etc.)

    Worst things:
    -All amateur vendors. The hair and makeup person was a friend and very unprofessional (got lost on the way to the venue and missed doing my makeup (hurrah for DIY makeup!). The day-of person was terrible and a friend of a friend. Don’t do business with someone who doesn’t have a Yelp page.
    -People who promised to do things but didn’t so I still had to do some of the stuff I had delegated.

    Neither best or worst, but notable:
    -Flowers – we ordered all local, in-season flowers from a local Washington farm (neighbors of the Insta-famous Floret) and DIY’d it. I loved it and it was just what I wanted, but we didn’t get to really enjoy them. Find a way to make use of the beautiful things you spend money on.

    Mazel tov to you and Kyle!

    Here are some photos from our wedding:

  53. JK says:

    Long time reader but I’ve never commented. Breaking my streak specifically to encourage you to spend the money on a high-quality photographer. I went with a semi-pro who was a friend of my parents against my better judgment. It’s been almost 6 years since I got married and I still get so angry when I think about the quality (and quantity) of my wedding photos. Sigh.

  54. J says:

    Best: Like the others, prioritize 3 things and let go of the rest. Our three things were his suit, wedding rings, and photography. The suit because he would be interviewing for jobs straight after. It was custom and worth every penny. Still have it 10 years later! Same with rings; we wear them everyday no matter what and reminds us of our union. Photography: I wanted a good photographer, and we lucked out that we had a person starting out that ended up being awesome.

    Worst: Don’t do your wedding over a holiday. In the winter. On what ended up being the coldest Saturday of that year. We ended up going to a lot of places for photos and fun, and the travel was just so cold waiting for the shuttle to pick us up!

    Honestly, do what Kyle and you want to do and don’t let anyone change your mind about it. It’s just a day and the marriage is forever. Congrats again!!

  55. Pam says:

    I regret departing the reception when we did (around 10pm – it started at 7) we were having a lot of fun and didn’t want to leave, but some people told us that we had to go because some guests were waiting for us to depart (up the elevator to our room in the hotel) so that they could leave. My cousins all stayed til midnight dancing and had a blast that I missed. I also was glad we had our reception at a hotel where guests could drink and not drive. Also I got a separate large room (my inlaws donated theirs) and hired two babysitters for the little kids – parents could pop up and check on them anytime, but got to enjoy the festivities of the reception without a toddler to chase (I got married late compared to my friends and siblings so there were a lot of 5 and under). The hotel fed them up in the room too. We had a small wedding about 120 invited 80 showed up (some family from out of town were not expected to come but we sent invitations anyway). I bought my dress at Davids bridal $300! my best friend spent 5,000. It was the dress of my dreams that I had sketched when i was probably 14 or so. As someone else said and I would endorse – we decided which things really mattered to us and then kept everything else basic. We got married the saturday after november so traveling family wouldn’t have to take off time from work and we had brunch with anyone who was around that sunday morning. Then we left for our honeymoon on monday – I am glad i did it that way rather than rushing off (esp with all the out of town guests). I kept a binder and a master calendar to keep track of all the components of planning – sounds like someone is going to do that for you which is great! (I had helped two friends plan weddings before mine so I had given it a lot of thought) Also we had a rule that no one was to be invited unless my husband or I knew them. I am glad I stuck to my guns on that

  56. Emily says:

    Best Decision: Picking an amazing venue that only required minimum decorations. And the dude I married… also a great choice there.

    Worst Decision: Being so budget-focused that we didn’t invite friends we would have liked to have there. In hindsight, I would have figured out a way to spend the extra few hundred dollars to invite more of our friends. We had a hard cut-off and were brutal with our guest list… It was amazing how many people we invited just with immediately families + spouses, first cousins, aunts/uncles, and close family friends. Oh, and we spent too much time taking too many photos. Seriously, we have too many wedding photos.

    • Emily says:

      OH! And create a burner email just for all wedding related stuff… then you can signup for anything and not be spammed for the next 8 years with people trying to sell you wine/cake/venues.

  57. Claire says:

    Best decision – spending the money on a good photographer, that you feel comfortable with.
    Worst decision – spending $2k on a wedding dress and letting my mom have too much input on it. I wish I had rented or purchased pre-owned, and taken one of my more fashionable friends for their advice.

  58. Alex says:

    Congratulations Abra and Kyle! Have fun being engaged!

    I just got married (like last weekend). We had a beautiful ceremony that was meaningful to us, then a great party with a lot of family and friends. I put a lot more time into planning the party part, but our favorite part, hands down, was our ceremony – non-traditional/non-denominational. My aunt wrote it and led it, we wrote our own vows, picked cool poems we found online that spoke to us, and exchanged rings. We’re not huge center of attention people, but there was something very powerful about having our loved ones watch us say our vows and get officially hitched. So, I guess that was best decision!

    We had a pretty easy time picking our venue, photographer, band, etc – the big budget stuff. Definitely interview someone via Skype or FaceTime before hiring – you want to make sure they’re a decently cool person you could spend a day with. I had a much harder time deciding on little aesthetic details, which in retrospect is because I didn’t care that much and also didn’t really notice them on the big day!

    Wedding planning advice can be a lot like career advice – everyone’s best/worst decisions are going to be what was best and worst FOR THEM, not necessarily for you. Have fun with it!

  59. Eliza says:

    Best – Videographer. First look. No DIY. Bridal portraits (it’s great to have a “trial run” of your look and see yourself in pictures so you can make any changes if necessary). Leaving 2-3 days after the wedding for honeymoon (you need a few days to get organized, but highly recommend taking a trip right after the wedding).

    Worst – wish I had starting getting ready earlier. Hair and makeup ran a little behind which then rushed our photos. Add an extra hour to however long you think it will take.

  60. KathaRine says:

    One of the best things we did at our wedding was a receiving line at the beginning of the reception. A lot of people tried to warn us against it, saying it would feel awkward or stuffy, but it didn’t at all — it was actually very relaxed and fun! By the time cocktail hour was done, we knew we had personally spoken with every guest at the wedding, which made the rest of the reception feel so much more relaxed. Our parents also got to meet guests from the “other side” which made the whole reception feel so warm and unified. A bunch of my small (under 10) cousins also decided to stand with us, and the memory of watching them introduce themselves to and shake hands with all the guests still cracks me up.

  61. Meghan says:

    Best Decision: Having everything in one location so that guests did not have to travel between the ceremony and the reception.

    Second Best Decision: Hiring a photographer who did not limit the number of pictures or the number of edited pictures.

    Worst Decision: Not negotiating pricing with all our vendors. We only negotiated with the caterer (which saved us $1,000 just by asking if they could do better on the price) but we might have saved more.

    I had so much fun planning our wedding that I thought about switching my career. If you’re Type A organized you can pretty much get away without having a coordinator or day of planner as long as you pick the right vendors. I recommend picking folks who have worked together before. Also, speak up about what you want. If a vendor railroads you or doesn’t listen, drop them.

    Also, something will go wrong on your wedding day. Just know that it will happen and be okay with it.

    Aside from that, as long as you’re marrying who you want to marry, that’s all that actually matters.

  62. Emily says:

    Best decision: great photographer and inexpensive dress ($300).

    Worst decision: excluding people because I was worried about size, picking the first dance song I thought I should vs what was right for us.

  63. Fan from boston says:

    Best decision – marrying the greatest guy. After that, it’s all just icing on the cake.

    Second best decision – trusting my mother with nearly all the details. We got married in my hometown, where I was no longer living. She lived there and did everything. She is so much better at clothes and parties than I am – her talents are a gift and I was the lucky beneficiary. Was there a detail or two on the edges that I might have changed? Possibly, but I don’t even recall. Thanks Mom. You’re the best.

    Worst decision – having too many different types of drinks the night before. It was a long night – rehearsal, cocktail hour, rehearsal dinner, after party for out of town guests, then packing for the honeymoon at home with my maid of honor. I lost track of beer, cocktails, dinner wine, champagne – people kept handing me drinks. I should’ve paid more attention to what was landing on top of what. The next morning hangover plus jitters nearly did me in! My suggestion is just pick one drink and stick to it rigorously no matter what others might be having. And water, so much water.

  64. SLG says:

    Congrats on planning a wedding!

    The best thing my husband and I did was, before starting to plan our wedding, to sit down and make two lists. The first one was the What Matters to Us list. If something mattered to either of us, it went on this list. This was a chance for us to really listen to each other and be honest with each other. Photography mattered to me. Having good wine at the reception mattered to him. Having our wedding feel like a community celebration mattered to both of us, as did having some time alone together between our ceremony and reception.

    The other list was the What the Heck list. Everything that’s not on the first list was on this one.

    Explicitly doing this, and keeping the lists around to refer back to, lifted a huge weight. It was a reminder that I had already decided not to put much energy into anything except what we both cared about. Everything else got the “this is a reasonably good option, let’s go with it, moving on” approach. This included things people traditionally see as a big part of wedding planning, like bridesmaid dresses, shoes, makeup, and flowers. They were on my What the Heck list so I made quick decisions, or delegated decisions altogether, and moved on. (I literally went to Sephora to get makeup 2 days before the wedding. I picked up a pair of flats at Nordstrom Rack the day before.) But by golly we had good photos, because that mattered to me. And our wedding was such a community celebration that people were still telling us years afterward that it was the most fun wedding they’d ever been to.

    Tbh, there wasn’t really a worst decision. Sure a few things went wrong, but that will happen on any day. Everyone told me the day would be such a blur I wouldn’t remember it, so I did my best to be present and remember what it felt like, and I do.

    • Anna says:

      LOVE this! Have been married 11 years and this rings true to me. I got so overwhelmed with planning … the magazines and blogs make you feel like you must have every tiny detail covered to perfection. And if that’s your thing and you excel at it — more power to you! But it was stressing me out and sucking the fun out of planning.

      Best decision: Focusing on the few things we cared about and making sure it matched our personalities. We picked food, atmosphere and flowers. Everything else I let my mother handle or just made quick decisions myself. Family and friends still tell us how much they loved the food, the family style table service, and relaxed vibe of the venue. I think when you invest in what you care about, people feel at ease because they can see what you (as a couple) are all about. I think people always appreciate authenticity even if it’s not their cup of tea.

      Worst decision: Echoing so many others. Wish I would’ve invested in quality photography and wish I would have budgeted a little more money to throw at week of/day of problems. We were young and financially stretched to begin with, so it just didn’t occur to me.

      • SLG says:

        It really was so freeing. It also allowed me to make space for important people’s preferences when they had them. In-laws want to invite their ENTIRE extended family? Sure, sounds like a community celebration to me, and also very much not an argument I want to have! Dad really wants barbecue at the reception? Sounds yummy, let’s go with it! Mom has last minute desire for cheese straws to be served as people arrive at the reception? Cool, as long as we can find someone to provide them! (All of this actually happened. There were no cheese straws left for me when I arrived, which made me laugh.)

  65. Leigh says:

    Best decision: Being unafraid to do things that resonated with us as a couple.We had a lot of quirky touches that made our wedding feel personal.

    Worst decision: We never made a plan for the day after our wedding, so we woke up, left our venue (we got to spend the night there) and went to our apartment in a daze. Eventually we went out and saw people, but I wish I had designated a time and place for a final “send off” for whoever could make it. Then I wouldn’t have had to plan a day and coordinate 3 different visits with friends and family.

    I almost got sucked into buying a veil, but ultimately I repurposed my mom’s, and since then I’ve also loaned it to another bride and I love that it I was able to and save her and myself the cost.

  66. Heather says:

    Worst decision was spending too much. Do not go into debt for a wedding! There are plenty of better uses for your money than $80 tablecloths. Pick your top three priorities–for us it was dinner, ceremony music, and good beer–and do not spend much on the rest. Borrow. Negotiate trades. Shop at thrift stores for plates and glassware. But do not spend a downpayment on a house just to get married.

  67. Michelle says:

    Pick the three things that matter most to you both and invest in those (for me it was flowers, tailoring my mom’s wedding dress, and the photographer). Get those exactly how you want them to be (ie splurge). Then include what you want and don’t include anything you don’t want. We didn’t do a dance floor, or have a DJ, or do certain parts of the traditional religious ceremony. I did my own make-up. Don’t let anyone talk you into doing something because “it’s a wedding”. Be you, whatever that means.

  68. Amy says:

    Best decision- live musician and a dress I felt like myself in. Worst decision- all the time / money on paper goods

  69. Amanda says:

    Hands down, best decision: bought a copy of A Practical Wedding, opened it whenever I felt stressed. All you need is a person to marry, a person to marry you, and an outfit you like.

    Worst decisions (grand scheme of things, not huge deals): Bought a dress I wasn’t totally sure I liked before I was ready/knew the venue to get a discount (it was still very pretty), and didn’t spend nearly enough time working on the guest list, the hardest part.

    Best lesson learned: if I could do it all again, I’d have thank yous picked out and run the print job of addressed envelopes when we did invitations. We tried using a GoogleDoc for everything and had some connectivity issues… it did not lend itself well to sitting down to work on the project together and sometimes didn’t save, so we definitely sent some duplicates.

  70. Kathleen says:

    Best decision (other than the husband!): the photographer. I just love looking through the photos and I’ve been married a long time now. They’re reportage-style and really capture the day as it happened. We got a few photos from friends as well, but they can’t compare.

    Worst decision: economising on the wedding ring. This is a silly little thing, but I thought I’d just get a really plain ring because I loved my engagement ring and didn’t feel I needed to spend money on another fancy ring. But I took it too far. After all, the ring is one of the few wedding things that is going to last forever. However, my biggest regret (rather than decision) is that my brother wasn’t at my wedding. He had reasons for not being there (such as financial) and I accepted that but I wonder now whether those things could have been overcome if I’d called him and said I really wanted him to be there. He might have thought I didn’t mind either way. I guess my message is that people are important.

    Apart from that, my main advice to you is not to get swept away by the prescribed list of wedding-must-haves. You don’t have to have all the “standard” things if you don’t actually want them. You’re just planning a party to celebrate an occasion. Go about planning that party just the way you want it, as you would any other party that wasn’t labelled “wedding”.

  71. Kb says:

    7 years out, nothing really matters. Try not to fall into the trap of the wedding industrial complex which is designed to make you spend money.

    Except a cookie bar. They are the best.

    • M says:

      Echo’ing this and it’s only 2.5 years later. At the end of the day, I love my photos* and I love my memories and nothing else matters. Best advice I received was that the day goes by SO fast so take some moments to pause, look around and soak it all in.

      *And because of how great those photos turned out, I regret none of the crazy beauty/fitness/well-being things I did. All worth it.

  72. Sara says:

    Best decision: we made sure our venue made “doggy bags” for each of us to eat after the reception. We spent so much time choosing the food, but between adrenaline, nerves, and saying hello to everyone, we completely missed eating at the reception. So having the doggy bags for afterward was perfect.

    Worst decision: we didn’t have a hotel that had a good place for an afterparty, so it just ended up being hotel rooms, which was not ideal. For other friends’ weddings, they made sure to book a hotel with a restaurant/bar or have one nearby, and that worked so much better (with fewer noise complaints…)

    I did the same as you in terms of wedding planner: she was through my venue, and helped to manage mainly day-of. I didn’t see any issues with that, but I am a meticulous planner and logistics person by nature.

  73. Annick says:

    Three best decisions:

    1. Having the wedding that we wanted.

    2.We had a seated dinner reception and we had the catering staff serve us fist. This way we were able to quickly eat our food (YAY for not starving) and then walk around all the tables to say hello to everyone. Our wedding was 80 people so we had plenty of time to walk around and make sure everyone felt welcomed and to thank them for being there with us.

    3. Hire a great DJ. If you are planning on having dancing, a good DJ is a must. Good tip, ask them to only play 45 seconds to a 1 min of every song,,, It helps keep people dancing, There are very few songs that people want to dance to for a whole 3-4 mins… or longer. No one wants to dance to the entire Thriller song… after minute 3 people get bored and leave the dance floor.

    Worst Decision:

    Not having a real day-of person. It worked out, but the friend I asked to do this ended up getting drunk and a few things were done by my bridesmaids.

  74. First off, I love that faux blazer sweater.

    Best decision was to get a photographerwhose style we loved. We didn’t care about posed shots so we hired a former news photographer and asked her to shoot it like a photojournalist. AMAZING shots that capture a mood and don’t look like anyone else’s wedding album.

    Honorable mention: we hired a caterer that does corporate events and ordered a drop off buffet off the corporate menu. Food wasn’t fancy but who remembers wedding food? Saved thousands.

    One regret: I knew a cartoonist who worked parties. I thought of hiring him to draw guests but my mom thought it was tacky and talked me out of it. She wasn’t wrong. Years later I was like “why didn’t I just pay him for his time, give him a good notebook and just as him to draw whatever he saw. What a cool keepsake that would have been! Oh well.

  75. You already have my Best Decision covered, which is hiring a day-of coordinator. That person will receive and help set up your cake, direct the DJ, coordinate timing of food/dances, etc., and you and your friends/family will be free to enjoy the party. That was really important to us, that we didn’t have any friends or family “working” at the wedding.

    So my Second Best Decision: if you think you might do it at all, sell your dress immediately after the wedding. I’m not sentimental about things so it wasn’t a huge deal for me (I know some women who could never fathom it; to each their own). I ended up selling it 4 days after the wedding to a lovely woman who wanted that exact dress but couldn’t afford it without paying pre-owned prices, and she sent me pictures of her wearing what she called “our dress.” Helping that woman have her dream wedding was, to me, utterly priceless.

    And I say to do it immediately after the wedding because after my first wedding I waited until I was getting divorced to try and sell it, but by that time, it had gone out of style. I ended up donating it instead.

    Worst Decision: somehow skipping lunch. DO NOT DO THIS. I still feel terrible about it, years later. I figured we’d order pizza or something while we were getting ready and it just completely slipped my mind. None of my bridal party ate lunch that day and I feel like a complete arse anytime I think about it.

    But I echo what everybody else said – take moments – multiple moments – to stop and enjoy the day. It goes by SO fast. You think you’ll be ready for how fast it will go by, but you won’t be.

  76. Lauren says:

    Our best decisions was the month-of planner, who handled every vendor crisis we had and even negotiated a refund when our florist messed up big time. My wedding was out of state, and it was worth every penny to have someone on the ground to handle issues.

    The other best thing was our venue had a spot for us to take 5 minutes alone together after the ceremony to celebrate and enjoy the moment. They brought us champagne and a selection of the passed apps. We got some together time, a quick snack, and I was able to touch up my hair and makeup before rejoining the party.

  77. KAtie says:

    Best decision(s): Hiring a wedding planner is my top. Second would probably be spending a lot of time selecting photographer and DJ (/music in general). Third would be getting a venue that gave us free reign on food and alcohol contracts (I think you have a venue already, but in case anyone else is interested.

    Worst decision: I NEVER thought I would regret not having a videographer. It was never on my list. And while I wouldn’t have wanted a big video, I regret not having someone film our vows and the speeches. They were so special and I remember laughing and crying through all of them, but hardly recall what was said. I wish I at least had those.

  78. Laura says:

    Best decisions: 1. Making a master schedule for the planner on site and giving copies to my mom and brides maids so that I didn’t have to be the one always responding to things during the events. 2. At dinner we had 2 empty chairs set across from us so that guests could come sit with us for a few minutes between courses, before salads or when they felt like it during dinner and we actually got to eat. After dinner we also made the rounds to people we didn’t see during the meal.

    I second the picture lists; especially for photos you want of just the two of you. We ended up with lots of artsy photos where you can’t see both of our faces.
    I wish I had a better articulated what we wanted.
    Best wishes to you and Kyle!

  79. Kristen says:

    Hire a good photographer and don’t stress about little details… I was so worried about the cake topping decor and strawberries on the champagne glasses and my shoes and the plates for the reception and none of it really mattered. 20 years later I’m glad I have a few good photos of the wedding and the rest is barely a memory.

  80. cait says:

    Best decisions:

    1. Spent the $$ on an amazing photographer. We wanted artwork level work and got it. Love, love, love.

    2. Kept the wedding small and intimate, no need to invite every random cousin, coworker, etc. This was my 2nd wedding- my first was the big affair with all kinds of people and by far, having those you love most and dearest to you front and center with you was the best decision.

    3. We wanted great food. Reception was a Michelin starred restaurant, food was amazing and such a treat to celebrate.

    4. Final piece of advice – don’t over-schedule the day. Something always get delayed, someone runs a little late, there’s traffic, SOMETHING. Go with the flow, enjoy the small moments, focus on what is most important – marrying your guy, not the flowers, not even the dress. At the end of your life, the wedding was a one-day event. The marriage is what is most important.

  81. Jill says:

    Such an exciting time. Not married but a couple of observations as a wedding guest. I don’t bring gifts to the wedding. Someone has to carry those gifts home safely (once, I was the designee). Luckily, with shipping being so easy now, this practice seems to be falling out of favor. As a guest, I don’t expect wedding favors. Happy just to be there to celebrate the couple and am being fed beautifully besides. Once, at my friends’ wedding, I was the guest book officiant, having guests sign as they arrived at the reception. The couple say they enjoy the signatures, including some fun fakes (Richard Nixon) years later. It makes sense to have someone designated to carry things home for you after the reception — leftover wedding cake, etc. There’s a lot of that sort of thing (I know as the designee). 🙂

  82. Carrie says:

    The best decision was arranging for a private dinner for just the two of us while our guests enjoyed cocktail hour. They snuck us into the reception venue while everyone was outside having hors d’oeuvres and champagne. We had a quiet, peaceful moment just to ourselves, then were free to great our guests as they sat down to their meals. We had a chance to eat uninterrupted, it took the pressure off my parents to play hosts so they could eat, and we had a moment to speak to every person before the party kicked off. I couldn’t recommend it enough.

    The worst decision we made was hiring a day of coordinator that couldn’t handle the job. We should have checked more references and just paid a little more for someone with more experience. But it sounds like you already have this one covered!

    Congratulations, again! And have fun planning the wedding because man, those details can really bog you down!

  83. kirstin says:

    Best decision was having the bridesmaids pick their own dresses. Worst was not having coordinator just for the day of – meant that everyone was asking me what to do!

  84. liza says:

    I wish I had invited fewer people because there wasn’t much opportunity to talk to and thank everyone. I enjoy smaller weddings more and more as I age…the best wedding I have ever been to was for 40 people. I was able to talk to almost everyone there and meet the important people in the bride’s/groom’s circle of family and friends. Much more meaningful and intimate.

  85. Lauren says:

    Best: Taking pictures before the ceremony. It allowed us to enjoy cocktail hour and speak with our guests. By the time we went in to the reception we had a chance to greet everyone and were able to enjoy ourselves and mingle without worry of missing someone.

    Worst: The dress. I loved my dress but it’s sitting in my closet. I wanted to rent one to save money and my mom insisted she buy me one. Even she agrees with me (now).

  86. NicolE says:

    Best decisions: Hiring a photographer we really liked and trusted, having a day-of coordinator (through our venue), finding private moments with my new husband and taking it all in, and doing a sparkler send-off (cheesy but fun!).

    Worst decisions: Giving our parents so much freedom to invite whoever they wanted – we felt it was their right, but there were a lot of people I didn’t recognize at our wedding. Not doing a makeup trial, and not trying our “signature drink” before it was served (not big deals in the grand scheme of things).

  87. Beth says:

    Best decisions:

    1. NUMBER YOUR RSVP CARDS: This sounds so simple until it’s crunch time and you’re frantically squinting at a spreadsheet trying to figure out who you need to chase down.

    2. SWEETHEART TABLE: During dinner (when we weren’t running around chatting with guests) my husband and I sat with each other, and ONLY each other. People could come up to us if they wanted, but this way we didn’t have to worry about who sat at the head table (our wedding party was comprised of people from lots of different friend groups, and they wouldn’t have had as much fun sitting with the whole party as they did sitting with all their friends) and we got to spend a little time alone during the party. We also did the short time alone together in between the ceremony and the reception, and that was wonderful.


    1. FLOWERS: And I didn’t event spend (comparatively speaking) that much on flowers! I just told the florist my budget and a vague description of what I liked and let her go to town. But it had so little impact on the day and decor and felt like such a waste (they were dead a few days later!) that I wish I’d spent even less.

    2. CARING ABOUT THE WELCOME BAGS AS MUCH AS I DID: I worried like crazy over the welcome bags, going as far to research vintage postcards to include and hand-decorating a hundred cookies to look like the U.S. Capitol. After all that, my MIL still complained about them. Nobody cares.

    I also echo everybody’s sentiments about saving some money for last-minute issues — things come up that you will just want dealt with, and the week before the wedding is the last time you want to be stressing about paying for lunch for the bridesmaids or finding out you are short on the guest list and need to pay more money.

    Also, just remember that there will be somebody who complains about something (likely something that bothers nobody else and is something that you have no control over anyway.) Just remember to let it roll off you like water off a duck’s back. Congrats!!!

  88. Kim says:

    My best decision was hiring an excellent photographer. She was expensive, but the pictures are beautiful and she captured everything I wanted to remember.

  89. Best decision: having a “shadow” (someone who basically followed me around with my lipstick and a matte palette for when I got shiny)–she made me look great, and I knew that I would never have a picture with salad in my teeth.
    Second-best decision: someone packed us a “picnic” with the food and cake from the evening that I missed. It was lovely to eat later that night with my husband!
    Worst decision: trying to save money on flowers and photography because we were poor law students. I hated my bouquet and it’s in every freaking picture…which are mostly blurry anyway. I have ONE picture from my wedding day that I like. ONE. And I didn’t take bridals. I did my own makeup and hair and it was so, so stressful. Just spend the extra couple thousand (and save elsewhere where it matters less).

  90. B says:

    The best wedding decision I made was hiring a wedding planner, I wish I would have hired her earlier. My family and finance were against it, they thought it would be too much money and was useless. By the reception, everyone included Adriana, the wedding planner in their toasts. It was a no braner, we ( and especially the brie) was able to enjoy the day surrounded by loved ones, not bogged down in details.

  91. Lindsay says:

    As a professional event planner, I have seen a wide range of styles and events. Each is unique in their own way, but there are a few best and worst decisions that I have seen repeated across almost every function.

    BEST DECISION: Set your goals up in advance, and stick to them.

    Weddings are amazing events, filled with friends, family, joy, and are remembered for years to come. However, your wedding is unique to you and Kyle, and at the end of the day, you want to be able to specify what are the top 5 things that you want to have happened. Is the ceremony the most important? Your guest list? Pick your top things and write them down together. That way, when the planning gets tough, when the decisions on colors, invites, catering and more seem overwhelming, you can weed through them by asking “Does this decision ensure I will reach my 5 goals?” If it doesn’t, channel your Marie Kondo and let it go.

    WORST DECISION: Not sticking to your budget.

    Weddings are a delight, but they are the culminating capstone of a lot of planning and involvement of your whole community of friends and loved ones. If you don’t have a firm grasp on your budget, all the joy goes out the window when you’re reviewing your bill after the big day.

  92. Best decision was to splurge for the Videographer. My highlight video still brings me to tears and is the perfect compilation of the day. I used Forrey Films-check him out-his work is amazing!

  93. Gretchen says:

    Best decision: appointing a family friend for “mom watch”. My mom was super-emotional about the wedding and she and I were destined to clash. This family friend was close to both of us, and intervened to separate us whenever it looked like we were headed toward a conflict.

    Worst decision: printing the ceremony on an ink jet printer. (yes, I’m old). It started to sprinkle during the ceremony and I watched the minister’s face as the text started to bleed. On the other hand, it keep us from getting too emotional!

  94. Jenny says:

    So many interesting responses here, and they just go to show how individual weddings are. (I did not have a videographer and could not care less, but clearly that was very important to some people.)

    My old boss gave me the best wedding advice, which I like to pass along to anyone seeking help:

    When you find a vendor you like (venue, caterer, photographer, band, whatever) that you can afford, just book them. Do not shop around endlessly. Do not have six caterer tastings. It doesn’t matter. If a vendor has good reviews and you like them, just book them.

    My personal best tip is to find out the minimum order for flower delivery, and only spend that. Unless flowers are very important to you, or you have the budget to really blow it out on some spectacular flowers, no one will notice them.

    You will have a great wedding. My husband and I had a giant, awesome one with a great dance floor, but we both agree that the ceremony was our favorite part.

  95. R says:

    #1 Best Decision: We had a Catholic church ceremony, so the latest the ceremony could start on Saturday was 1:00pm. Instead of having a super early reception, we had about a three hour gap in between the ceremony and reception, which also allowed us to take all of the pictures we wanted (at the church, local landmarks, and even at a brewery!) and also allowed us to attend our entire wedding reception, including the whole cocktail, which most brides and grooms miss. Some people (read parents) were hesitant about the time gap, but we made sure the wedding web site was detailed with LOTS of things to do around town and in the end, everyone all agreed that it was a great call.

    Other good decisions:
    -not letting other people spend your money (i.e. people who weren’t contributing financially to the wedding but trying to insist on certain things)
    -having both a receiving line after the ceremony and also having a small wedding – I had a chance to speak to every single one of my guests, many of them multiple times
    -if you aren’t hiring a professional coordinator (I didn’t), you must have both a very detailed schedule for the bridal party and immediate families (basically the wedding day VIPs), so they aren’t asking you everything on the wedding day and also hire quality, professional vendors for everything else (i.e. our photographer kept us on time while taking pictures, our DJ kept the reception flowing and made sure we got the traditional events like the father/daughter dance, cake cutting etc done, and so on)
    -If you don’t like cake, don’t have one. We did a gelato cart/bar because we like that more than cake and people still talk about it

    All in all, keep in mind that the day is about you and your spouse, and most guests are happy as long as they are well fed and well watered/boozed, so it will all work out!

  96. Siri says:

    Best Decision: It sounds like you’ve thought a lot about choosing your priorities (we wanted a huge party and spent/arranged things accordingly!), so leaving that aside – our best decision was spreading the weekend out. We opened the rehearsal dinner to everybody and were so happy that we got another opportunity to spend time with people – it’s so, so special having your friends and family in one place. I think it also made the wedding itself more fun and relaxed, since we had already been able to start introducing people.

    Worst decision: Not carving enough time out for myself right before the wedding and/or delegating stuff in advance, even though I took the week before off. We had a month-before coordinator who took care of a lot of the details (a complete lifesaver), but there was still so much running around (gift bags, dropping checks off, writing the vows, etc.) and that got a bit stressful.

    Also, like suggested, the Practical Wedding book is so good!

    • pam says:

      Loved your mention of a bigger rehearsal dinner – we had a lot of friends and family from out of town so we invited them all to the rehearsal dinner which was a catered buffet in our house – so glad we did that! My aunt agreed to be at our house early as people started arriving in case we weren’t back from the actual rehearsal in time. it worked out great and was a chance for us to visit with those who’d come so far to celebrate with us.

  97. irmck says:

    Best decision – Cutting out or taking the path of least resistance on all the things that we didn’t actually care about. No table favors, used the chairs the venue already had (a family friend did make chair covers for the back because they were hideous),

    Worst – I was too afraid of being a “bridezilla” to ask for some things I knew I’d want. I didn’t direct the photographer more, or ask my friends to do things for me, like take an extra photo or get me a glass of water.

    Related, my go-to advice for brides: Drink a TON of water before your wedding. Plenty of people will help you pee, but between the adrenaline and the stress, you’re more likely to be dehydrated than you think. DRINK WATER.

  98. Kellie Denton says:

    Best decision: great food, great photographer

    Worst decision: didn’t get to eat my own wedding dinner. Have the coordinator run point on getting you and Kyle 20 minutes to yourselves to enjoy the food.

  99. Kellie Denton says:

    Meant to add – get the photographer. I’ve been married 10 years and didn’t watch it once until my dad passed away 3 years ago. It’s now one of my most treasured things.

    Also cut the guest list.

  100. Heather says:

    Best decision was picking 3 things that were important to us (where we got married, the photos and having a great party) and then not letting the rest stress us out. We were also planning a wedding long distance so knowing what we cared less about allowed us to delegate to our parents who lived closer to where we were having the wedding and we were much less stressed out about the decisions they were making (flowers, details on catering, etc). Also, I’m so glad we splurged on a good photographer and one we were really comfortable with so we looked relaxed and happy in all of our pictures. And some people might think they’re cheesy, but we got a photo booth and it was We love looking back at the album of our friends and family having a good time.

    I love my dress but in hindsight I wouldn’t have spent so much and I would have thought more about what thick satin would do after sitting and standing 100 times during a Catholic mass (wrinkle city) and how it would feel in August. I had a $60 white dress I bought from ASOS to wear after the reception that had a cape and a dramatic neckline, and I almost wish I had just gotten something like that for the wedding! It was comfy and I got so many compliments and felt like myself all night. So two tips there I guess: if your actual gown is more formal, get an inexpensive backup for any post wedding festivities and don’t blow a lot of your budget on the dress unless you absolutely love it AND it’s super comfortable so that you want to wear it all day and night.

  101. Kylene says:

    Best decisions –
    • Opening the bar before the ceremony
    • Spending more on things that you will remember (e.g. photos, food, music)
    • Getting a day of coordinator
    • Hiring a cleaning crew (this was a no brainer after helping clean up after THREE weddings)

    Do overs –
    • Get a group shot of everyone attending the wedding.
    • OVER ORDER BOOZE. Some places take back unopened bottles, or you’ll be well stocked for future housewarming parties.
    • Make sure your location is legally allowed to hold events (found out later that ours wasn’t!).
    • Book a massage for the next day.
    • Make sure your new husband packs non-dress shoes for the day after.

  102. JanEtb says:

    The one piece of advice I give couples is treat wedding planning as a project plan. Commit to weekly meeting for one hour with your other half- where you task out duties for the week and work through any updates from the week before. Then, do NOT talk about the wedding outside of that time. My hubby loved he had a way to help, it was clear and we didn’t only talk wedding. Weddings can be all consuming, but it’s the marriage that matters!

  103. Jamie says:

    My best decision – Making my bestie my MOH. She had been married the year before and knew how exhausted we would be and how little you actually eat or drink while making the rounds. She knows I have a love of Cheeseburgers that knows no bounds. She had our driver take the long way to the hotel as we set off and beat us to the hotel with a cheeseburger for me and tocos for my husband that the hotel staff took up right before we got there. I love her! …and its becoming a bit of a tradition as more of our group get married.

    The worst thing I did – let my parents and the planner talk me out of the videographer.

  104. Kate says:

    Best decision: Not seeing my mother (with whom I have a severely strained relationship) before the wedding (she wanted to get ready together). Also, taking a moment just my husband and I before we walked out into the ceremony, just standing still, holding each other and looking into each others eyes. A quiet moment to connect before going out and facing the crowd. It remains my favorite memory from the day.

    Worst decision: letting a relative take wedding photos instead of a professional. We didn’t have the money and someone volunteered for the job, but in the end, they saved all the files to a video instead of the correct format and now we have no photos of the day save for what friends took on their cell phones (and thank god for them). Not the end of the world, we’re coming up on 10 years married this may, but I would love to have at least one nice framer from the day. Good luck, Abra!

  105. Erica says:

    I’m a wedding consultant at a florist, so here’s an industry perspective. Prioritize you and Kyle. Find things that make your wedding feel like you, things you guys love. Spend money there. Most don’t have money to go all out on everything, and the best weddings I’ve been a part of just “feel” like the couple. Like most everything else in life, being genuine (even about your wedding) goes a long way.

  106. Anna says:

    Best decision: wedding at a restaurant. Clyde’s Willow Creek Farm near Dulles was a beautiful location. The benefits: food prep, experienced staff, all furniture and linens are already there, minimal cleanup required (take your own stuff with you), all of which costs less for you!

    Other fun things: focus on what’s important to you two. We organized some pre wedding activities for our group that included a tour of the air and space museum annex at Dulles and provided welcome bags (all our guests were out of town) with snacks and trinkets inspired by the Smithsonian museums. Welcome snack bags at check-in saved my bacon as a guest at other weddings! (Bag contents: turkey jerky, astronaut ice cream, cherry blossom green tea, tidal basin post card, patriotic M&Ms)

    Least liked: as a wedding guest, I have not received a single favor I’ve liked. No cookies, no Jordan almonds, no shot glasses, no frames. Don’t waste your time and money.

  107. Two quick thoughts:
    1. Planner for day-of is essential, but discuss what kinds of decisions she can make on her own and which she needs to call you for. Our planner was fabulous. When our cake showed up with clashing frosting and flowers, she literally plucked flowers from the table bouquets and fixed it. But when the AC wasn’t keeping up at our venue in the sweltering heat, she called us to ask whether we wanted to move the reception from the gorgeous but warm atrium to a cool but corporate ballroom. (We didn’t and it worked out fine.)

    2. Best advice ever: Bride and groom friends of ours made a pact to hold hands through the entire reception to ensure they would actually spend it together. I SO WISH my husband and I had done the same. We spent too much of it apart — one on the dance floor and the other talking to guests, etc etc. This event if all about you two, so be sure to spend it TOGETHER!

  108. Kate says:

    By far, the best decision we made around wedding planning was establishing from the beginning the kind of wedding WE wanted to have (size, scale, scope, budget, look & feel) and then every decision was measured against that overall plan. If it didn’t fit, it didn’t happen. Made a lot of little piddly (but potentially costly/headache inducing) decisions easy.
    To be fair, helped that we were paying for it ourselves, so we didn’t need to negotiate with anyone other than one another on final sign-off.
    Good luck!

  109. Meredith says:

    Honestly I don’t really have any regrets from my wedding. We decided what we wanted to prioritize and booked those quickly (band, photographer, and food). Decide about the atmosphere that you would like to have at your wedding – we wanted everyone dancing and having a great time so we didn’t do assigned seating and had lots of food stations that stayed open the entire time. Think about how you would like the night to flow and place things like blessing, cutting the cake and toasts to match that flow. My husband and I wanted to spend the night together so we did our best not to separate and let people come to us to visit. We did a lot of our catching up with people during the rehearsal dinner so that freed us up to have fun at the wedding. We didn’t get to eat but our planner packed us up the leftovers so it wasn’t a big deal. If you have many out of town travelers you’ll want to think through the logistics of them getting to and from venues. We got married in my home town and many of our guests were coming from across the country so I wanted our guests to enjoy my home. Because of that I spent a long time on the wedding website and restaurant/things to do/places to shop recommendations. We printed this out for our welcome bags and many of our guests got out and saw the town. I loved hearing after the fact about people shopping at some of my favorite stores and having a great time bc of my recommendations. We did not have a videographer and I don’t regret it because I think I would’ve watched the video the first week I received it and very few times after that. I made our album online vs. the really expensive up charge from our photographer and it turned out great.

  110. Sof says:

    Best decision: we paid a small insurance fee (<$150?) so that we could serve alcohol at our venue without the hassle of a bartender or sourcing liquor from a caterer. It was a small wedding, fewer than 70 guests, and we had a few large coolers throughout the venue packed with our favorite beers (plus a few bottles of the good stuff for guests who liked harder drinks). We're big beer nerds and our guests loved how accessible and laid back it was.

    My worst decision? I tried to clean up the catering equipment, spilled boiling water down myself, and ended up on the ER with severe burns. Long story short: you can do a lot without outside help, but don't do everything!

  111. Sasha says:

    Best decision: getting the photographer we wanted. We fell in love with a husband and wife team through their photos because so many of the pictures were of the guests and the setting (it matters out in Mountain West, as I’m sure you know). Every photo told stories and you cannot be everywhere on the day of. Sure, we wanted them to get “the shot”, but as soon as they did, we asked them to capture the day elsewhere. The photos we have are some of the most beautiful, relaxed photos of the people we love that have ever been taken and the dancing photos are world class. We got married in a beautiful place and they captured that as well. We now have them for life.

    Tied with: we only hired from female/minority/partner-owned small businesses. We voted with our dollars and made sure they went to what we believed in. We only had food and flowers that were local and in season and we didn’t buy anything that wasn’t biodegradable or recyclable. This included the wedding dress and thank God my final fitting was only five days prior, because my waist lost four inches in five weeks in the DC summer. No regrets.

    Worst decision: Several people close to us made hurtful or thoughtless decisions and I internalized just about all of it. My only regret is that I wish I had not turned that in on myself. My hope for you is that you can let the slights or the carelessness hurt how they are going to and then roll on down that river.

  112. Meg says:

    Worst Decision: Not limiting the guest list further. I had about 100 people at the wedding and while that was significantly cut from our original list, I wish I had gone even further. It would have been great to have had a more intimate ceremony and would have seriously saved us cash.

  113. Lindsey says:

    Wow, so many comments! I’m not going to read them all, so apologies if I’m repeating anything.

    Best decision – not wasting time and money on things like favors, matchy matchy everything, and tons of flowers. And getting a band. And a videographer. Also not having a sit down dinner.

    Worst – Honestly, it was 12 years ago…hard to remember a worst… although I really wish I’d spent more time looking for a good photographer, and not just used the one ‘everyone in town used.’

    At the end of the day, you will be married. Don’t sweat the small stuff. What people remember is good music, good food, good alcohol, and a good time. Focus on those!

  114. Leigh says:

    Best decision we made was probably to have a Sunday brunch wedding. It was so much cheaper. Also, it is more socially acceptable to have no meat dishes during a brunch, I feel like, and that meant that we could use the venue catering and not have to book a kosher caterer. (There are not a whole lot of them in the DC area, and they all seemed to be pretty expensive.) People are also a lot more amenable to a dry wedding if it’s during the day, and we wanted that a) because it’s cheaper, b) I can’t drink for medical reasons, and my husband doesn’t care to, and c) I have close family members with alcoholism. I realize those are not necessarily factors for you, and I don’t know if you’re planning a church ceremony, but Sunday mornings and early afternoons are a great time for a reception if you can swing it.

    We had our actual civil ceremony about several months before the wedding, both for insurance reasons and because the Commonwealth of Virginia does not recognize my little sister’s internet ordination as qualification for marrying people. (She did officiate at the wedding, and it was beautiful.) We did not have a religious wedding because we’re an interfaith couple.

    I actually didn’t want to have a wedding, both because it seemed unnecessary and because a courthouse ceremony was good enough for my parents, so there was never any pressure from them that I have a big wedding or anything. My husband was married before, so I didn’t think it would really be a big deal to either of our families. I was so wrong on that count, and I’m glad my husband talked me into it. Also, my stepdaughters were super excited to be my bridesmaids, and having them involved in the wedding made it worth it all by itself.

    Fairly minor things that I still am glad I did: I bought my wedding bouquet at the grocery store, and for centerpieces, we had the Hershey’s Kisses in the wedding wrappers ( inside the venue-provided glass bowls. (The little papers say “I do” on them, and they actually looked pretty cute.) Our cake was also from the grocery store, and we held our wedding on Columbus Day weekend because a lot of people get that day off, but it’s not a holiday people usually have a lot of commitments for. I designed our invitations, save-the-dates, and wedding website myself, but I’d outsource that if you don’t have a design background. I printed them using, and I was pretty happy with both the cost and how they turned out. I also wore a $90 dress, and it was fine. Not amazing, but fine, and it looked good in the pictures.

    I didn’t hire a videographer, but only because my dad has been a TV news photographer and then video editor for fifty years now, so he did our video. My one regret about the wedding is I wish that I’d hired a photographer, or made sure my brother had more time to familiarize himself with my DSLR. My brother is a decent hobbyist photographer (runs in the family), but I would like to have had more pictures, and an unfortunate number of the shots he took were out of focus. Anyway, I second the advice to hire a photographer and a videographer, because that’s much easier to arrange than having a parent with a convenient profession.

  115. jP says:

    Congrats on this exciting time in your life!

    Since you’ve already heard about day of coordinators I’ll skip that topic.

    Limiting myself to two “best decisions” I would say, definitely hiring a videographer, and taking the whole week off of work before my wedding.

    The videographer we chose created a short 5 min video montage, but also recorded all of the speeches which was very important to me. I do not regret spending on this item!

    Also, if you are able, I strongly encourage you to take a week off before the wedding, or as much time as you can. Despite 2 years of planning, everything comes down to the last 3 weeks. We had to run all over town picking up and dropping off programs, alcohol, my wedding dress, etc. plus we had family in town days before that we had scheduled dinners with. Perhaps more importantly though, I work in a high stress job (as I know you do), where often times terrible things happened in my clients’ lives on a regular basis. It was really nice to have a bit of a buffer from the daily grind so that I could detach and focus on my happiness without worrying about what I should be doing to put out the fires of that week.

    Worst decision was not understanding what we wanted from a photographer. We hired ours based on an engagement shoot we booked through Groupon and although we liked her for that, we realize looking back that her style wasn’t exactly what we wanted. Yes, we have some photos we love, but there are also a lot that could have been better with more direction from her (which we realized later wasn’t her style).

    Good luck, and enjoy the process!

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