“Major Regrets and Must Haves from Brides of Weddings Past”
If you’re in the process of planning a wedding you have A LOT to think about. You have A LOT of decisions to make and none of them seem small or insignificant! Do you need that plated dinner for your guests? Or should you go buffet style in order to afford that band you really want? What will people think? Does it really matter? This is YOUR day after all… and you keep hearing people tell you that but you still care about your guests experience and the raving reviews afterwards. You don’t have the luxury of looking back and knowing exactly what big ticket items will make or break the day….but I know some people who do! After talking to several brides from all up and down the east coast and asking them all the same 4 questions, here are some major regrets and must-haves from brides of wedding’s past.
ANGELA, MARRIED AT 25, MARRIED FOR 2 YEARS:
Must Haves: videographer. While the standstill pictures were essential, Angela loved the videos because it gave her a chance to see some things she missed in the craziness of the day. Because of her videographer she can remember verbatim all of her vows, speeches and can’t wait to show the kids one day when they’re old enough!
Regret: Angela and her husband chose a photobooth which she thinks was a nice moment for the guests but she also believes it took time and attention away from the dancefloor. She also regrets not scheduling out more time for photos before the ceremony. Angela and her husband put a lot of time and effort into the food and drinks at cocktail hour and they were told it was a hit from their guests. Unfortunately, they spent their entire cocktail hour taking group shots instead of enjoying their guests and the moment they created. Angela also regrets not having a bachelorette party. She definitely understood that her bridal party was young and was worried about having them shell out for a bachelorette but seeing other brides get that moment makes her wish she had set something up!
Stress City: The most stressful aspect of planning Angela’s wedding was her seating chart, and collecting her guest list and all of their addresses.
Advice: Angela said if she should go back, she would hire a wedding planner! Angela found all of her vendors and negotiated contracts herself. “If a wedding planner isn’t for you or in your budget, find a friend or family member who is good at this stuff and ask them for their help!” Angela says. Another piece of advice Angela gives is to splurge on your photographer/ videographer. “When the night is over in a few short hours you’ll love having those photos and videos to look at” she insists. Finally, Angela advises to put a lot of thought into your DJ/ band. They create the atmosphere for the night after all!
(photog: Bellucci films & Photography)
GIANNA, MARRIED AT 25, MARRIED FOR 3 YEARS:
Must Haves: A statement piece. If you’re like Gianna you have to do things a little different to create a moment and stand out. For her wedding she splurged and bought herself bright red Christian Louboutin pumps to match her red nails. “It was so me and went against the typical bridal ensemble but looking back I’m glad I did it.” Gianna said. Gianna also listed an open bar as one of her “must haves” and followed that up by saying, “no explanation needed”. She adds that her bridal emergency kit saved the day when she needed to sew part of her dress during the reception. Her kit included deodorant, makeup (for touch ups), tampons, Advil, and face blotting sheets.
Regrets: When I asked Gianna for somethings that she could’ve gone without she said, “Nothing! The day was better than I expected in every way and I wouldn’t change or add a thing!”.
Stress City: Family getting involved. Gianna’s wedding was outside of the box in every way. She didn’t want to walk down an aisle, she didn’t want bridesmaids or a maid of honor. She didn’t even want a sweetheart table because she wanted to sit with her friends and enjoy their company (which I think is totally fun and sweet). They got married on a boat and insisted their guests wear obnoxious Hawaiian themed outfits. Her family had always envisioned a different day for Gianna and offered their opinions in a way that stressed this bride out! If she could go back she says that she would’ve just unapologetically let everyone know that it was her one special day and she didn’t need or want opposing opinions.
Advice: “Have the wedding of YOUR dreams. There are so many guidelines, recommendations, so-called rules and external expectations surrounding weddings. Everyone is going to offer you their opinion on what you should or shouldn’t do. I say screw it all! Have a day that celebrates you and the person you love exactly how you picture it. I say there are no rules to throwing a wedding. Have fun with it and stay true to who you are and what you dream it to be!”
(photog: Paul Saunders Photography)
BAILEY, MARRIED AT 22, MARRIED FOR 5 YEARS:
Must Haves: Bailey says that she is most thankful that she and her husband spent the night before their wedding together instead of the traditional idea of sleeping apart. “We got up and had breakfast then went our separate ways” says Bailey. “But I remember going to bed after the rehearsal dinner with Greg (her-then fiance) and it was so exciting to be together and wake up that morning knowing we were getting married that night.”. Bailey says that she thinks about this aspect of her wedding alot and how happy she is that they made that unique decision instead of being pressured to go the traditional route.
Regrets: Bailey has close to no regrets. They chose a super non traditional route and did their own thing. She says looking back she sees other people’s wedding videos and thinks that could’ve been fun to hire a videographer but it’s nothing that she truly regrets.
Stress City: Like the rest of Bailey’s wedding she looked at the stress factors of the day from a different perspective. She said that as the wedding comes closer you have two options… to “freak out or f**k it!”. Bailey chose the latter and remembers telling her mom that they weren’t going to argue and kill each other over a day that so much love and money went into. She quite literally “let it be” and enjoyed the day as it panned out.
Advice: Bailey’s advice is something I myself couldn’t have worded better. She says, “People come and go in your life for the entire duration of your life. You and your spouse though….will hopefully be together forever. Don’t make any permanent decisions in your day that satisfy temporary placeholders of people. You’re the only one who has to live with your wedding forever. Make sure you’re happy with your decisions. I don’t remember who sat at table number 8 but the guy I married is my forever date.”. Bailey adds while laughing, “It’s weird thinking about how the most important people in my life now are my kids and they weren’t even there.”
HILARY, MARRIED AT 26, MARRIED FOR 5 YEARS:
Must Haves: Hilary says an open bar and a great photographer were her “must haves” looking back on her big day.
Regrets: Not having a videographer. Hilary also says that there were a few people that she didn’t get to invite because her and her groom’s families are super big. She regrets not just inviting them anyway and figuring out how to make that work.
Stress City: For Hilary most of her stress comes from what she most regrets. She says that narrowing down her guest list to fit her venue was the worst and she can’t even think of any way to have made it less stressful. “We have really large families and a long list of friends we wanted there,” she says “It was tough deciding where to draw the line.”
Advice: Hilary’s best advice is roll with the punches. “There will always be something that doesn’t go perfectly as planned.Adapting and making the best of every situation no matter how much you want it to go another way is a major key to having not only the happiest wedding ever, but also a happy marriage!”
(photog: Lora Benson)
MELISSA, MARRIED AT 26, MARRIED FOR 6 MONTHS:
Must Haves: The first look moment. Melissa says this moment was essential for her and her groom to be able to talk before the actual ceremony and calm their nerves. Her photography team was another essential part of her day. She says it’s key to make sure you’re comfortable with your photographer before the wedding. Melissa suggests using the same photographer for your “save the dates” as for your wedding so you establish a connection. To save Melissa the regret of missing her cocktail hour due to group photos she made sure they were out of the way before the ceremony. Melissa remembers writing her vows with her groom and reading them intimately together before the ceremony to ensure there wouldn’t be any water works during the ceremony and really enjoyed sharing that moment privately. Lastly Melissa’s mom wrote her ceremony. Such a special touch that added to the day in a way she’ll never forget.
Regrets: Melissa regrets not taking more photos the day of. Her and her groom tried to relive the night on their honeymoon but didn’t have much to look at. She also regrets not having a videographer however she decided to use her budget towards other things.
Stress City: “The whole wedding planning process was very stressful, we are not planners” Melissa said. “Covid was a major issue and we had to postpone our wedding too.” Melissa used her mother as a wedding planner and says that she is forever grateful for her help.
Advice: “Enjoy the engagement and don’t stress all of the little details. Your vendors will do their job and you have to trust that. It will all come together and it all comes down to your relationship and celebrating it with everyone you love.”
(photog: Sebastian Photography)
TARA, MARRIED AT 31, MARRIED 7 YEARS:
Must Haves: A wonderful videographer. Tara and her husband go back and watch their wedding footage all of the time. It’s something they are really grateful for and say it’s worth every penny. A wedding planner is another “must have” on Tara’s list. “Our planner was so kind and efficient” Tara says, “she took the worry out of our hands and our families hands so that everyone could enjoy the day!”. Tara and her husband opted for a welcome party instead of the traditional rehearsal dinner. They got married in the Florida Keys and there were guests who had traveled from all over North America just for their special day. Tara and her husband wanted to show their gratitude and appreciation by throwing her guests a welcome party and chose to do that in place of their rehearsal dinner (I LOVE THIS!). Lastly, Tara says that an after party was essential to making her wedding a dream come true. “No one is ready to call it a night at 10 or 11” she says, “We had a change of venue, DJ, late night food, and so much dancing! It was a great way to end the night!” (How epic is this???)
Regrets: Tara thought that she didn’t care about the florals that would be on display at her wedding. She spent a lot of money on them but some of them didn’t turn out the way she had hoped. Tara regrets not taking more time on the florals and sharing photos with her florist to make sure she got what she paid for and was happy with the outcome.
Stress City: The most stressful thing for Tara and her groom was working with their families on the guest list. Her venue only held 120 guests and while Tara and her husband felt like that was the magic number her family disagreed. “This led to a hard and fast rule” Tara says, “ If I haven’t met you, you can’t come.” This rule of her’s didn’t thrill their families but Tara and her husband were able to look around the room at their wedding and feel good about who they saw.
Advice: “My biggest piece of advice is do what makes you happy. This day is about you and your partner celebrating your life together. Don’t kill yourself financially if it doesnt fit, if you are shy and don’t want a crowd- dont have one! This day is truly a celebration of your love, don’t lose sight of that!”
TYLER, MARRIED AT 27, MARRIED FOR 5 MONTHS
Must Haves: Tyler remembers forgoing a traditional wedding cake for hand desserts like mini pies, tarts, cookies, brownies and donuts. He says it was a hit with the guests but also a hit with him and his bride because they’re not really cake people. Tyler also is completely satisfied with the decision to have a “no kids” policy. They were able to include their niece and nephew who he remembers being well behaved but loved giving his guests who were parents a night out.Tyler ads that providing things like glow sticks, glowing leis and flashing light sticks literally brought their dancefloor to life and added something special to their photographs. They saved money and kept the party under control by providing an open bar to only their family members and wedding party. Tyler adds that they really kept the guest list to ONLY the people that they truly wanted there and he’s glad that they didn’t let outside influences persuade them otherwise.
Regrets: The only thing that Tyler and his bride regret was not splurging for a videographer. He and his bride thought that photos would be enough but looking back now it’s a small regret of theirs not going the extra mile for video footage.
Stress City: While Tyler and his bride stayed pretty on top of planning he lends advice to start booking all of the big stuff as early as possible! “The longer you put it off the more stressed you’ll be ” he says, (I love this!). “It is bound to be stressful when it comes down to crunch time (the month prior) so make sure you have people you can rely on to help shoulder the burden”.
Advice: “Advice I would give to a bride planning her wedding: involve the groom! We’re more capable than we are made out to be, “Tyler laughs, “Even if it’s little things, they add up quickly and only add to the stress.”
CARLY, MARRIED AT 27, MARRIED FOR 1.5 YEARS:
Must Haves: Wedding planner! Carly says that her wedding planner was crucial to her process especially since she was planning her dream wedding during the peak of COVID. Her planner allowed her to enjoy the process and not worry about the stress of organization which Carly admits is not her strong suit. Carly names a videographer as her next “must have”! While she remembers going back and forth on whether to have one or not she absolutely LOVES looking back at all the raw footage from her wedding night. Lastly, Carly is so thankful that she structured her timeline in a way that allowed her to attend cocktail hour. Much like the other brides we’ve heard from she contemplated getting group shots done during this time and thankfully decided against it!
Regrets: Carly regrets spending time and money on an engagement shoot. Her groom had a photographer at their actual engagement and she regrets not just using those photos for her save the date to save time and money on more photos of the actual wedding. “I now have massive photo albums from proposal, engagement, and wedding day- it’s a lot.” she says. Looking back Carly also regrets not having live music during the second half of the night. They had a band during cocktail hour and a DJ at night but if she could go back she would’ve booked the band for longer. Lastly, Carly regrets not having a bachelorette weekend. Covid ruined that special moment for her that all brides deserve and although she’s going on year two of her marriage she still dreams about having that weekend with the girls in her life who support and love her most!
Stress City: Carly’s biggest stressor was the weather! She still stands by her choice to have an outdoor wedding but she feels that the stress caused by the unknown outcome of the weather was almost not worth it. Had she chosen a venue, that main source of stress would’ve been eliminated. She remembers being quite literally sick about it and spent too much screen time on her weather app up until the very moment she walked down the aisle!
Advice: “Try to enjoy it all!” Carly says. “The good, the bad, the ugly. You will only get to do it once so really soak it in and try to enjoy the little things. Lean on your people and be nice/ have fun with them! I got SO close with all my vendors and they made the whole day perfect in its own way. I also still talk to my wedding planner so I’d suggest going with someone who you genuinely enjoy being around.” Carly adds one last piece of advice that she feels is the most important, “It’s easy to get caught up in all of the wedding trends but don’t be afraid to think outside of the box and go with your gut on what you like!”
(photog: Vanessa Joy)
ERIKA, MARRIED AT 32, MARRIED FOR 6 MONTHS:
Must Haves: Erika says that she prioritized moments or experiences that her and her groom enjoy as a couple. Specifically, her and her groom love ice cream so they opted for a local ice cream cart during dessert that served some of their favorite flavors. Erika also wants to tell brides to step away and take a moment with your husband and enjoy your guests mingling, dancing and enjoying the hard work that you put into the day.
Regrets: Erika regrets not hiring a wedding planner or day of coordinator. Erika remembers trying to manage herself and her bridal party, answering vendor questions and accommodating family as tasks she could’ve done without on her day.
Stress City: For Erika, choosing vendors caused her the most stress. The good vendors book months and even years in advance so take that into consideration when choosing a wedding date. Erika picked a vendor that was a “must have” for her and organized the others around their availability
Advice: “Keep a google sheet or excel with vendors, costs, due dates for payments and other important details to stay organized. Assign close friends or family members day-of responsibilities, especially those who offer their help. Try to complete payments to vendors ahead of the wedding day so you aren’t worried about tips or payments while celebrating.”
(photog: Jessica Manns Photography)
CLARISSA, MARRIED AT 23, MARRIED FOR 4 YEARS:
Must Haves: Clarissa’s biggest “must have” was a day of planner/ helper. Clarissa remembers being really stressed out planning an out of town wedding by herself. She was worried she would miss the opportunity to enjoy the process and her big day. Hiring a day of planner was her saving grace and offered so much knowledge that Clarissa hasn’t even thought to ask for. Clarissa adds that her photographer/ videographer was HUGE and that her and her husband rewatch their wedding video all the time.
Regrets: The only thing that Clarissa regrets is the obnoxious (as she calls it lol) photo booth that she chose on impulse at a wedding expo. “I was like, yes! I need this” she says. However, she changed her mind before the wedding day and was unable to get her deposit back. That whole experience put a small damper on her planning process. She learned from this particular experience and advises brides to not impulse buy and take your time during the process.
Stress City: Clarissa remembers her stress aspect being a little different from what most brides would be stressed about. Her husband was deployed during the planning process so she was unable to lean on him for help and ask him his opinion. To make matters worse Clarissa had to replan her wedding because her husband ended up being in Africa on their original date. Aside from that, her most stressful moment was applying for her liquor license. She advises not to procrastinate on the seating chart because that caused her a lot of stress leading up to her wedding as well. “I was so stressed the day before that I literally forgot to pick up my wedding dress!!! And didn’t realize until I was getting my hair done!!” she says.
Advice: “My biggest pieces of advice: put your name in EVERY raffle at the wedding expo! I ended up winning thousands of dollars in free florals. Also don’t be afraid to tell people NO, including your parents. I know a lot of parents help pay for the wedding but it’s still YOUR day!” (omg I think so many people need to hear that!! Yes Clarissa!!) Clarissa finishes off saying, “My most important piece of advice is at some point during your wedding… walk away. Walk away from everyone and everything with your new bride or groom, stand far away and just look at everything you put together. Enjoy it from afar for a few minutes and take it all in. I think that was Justin and I’s favorite part of our wedding.”.
(photog: Arian David Photography)
NICOLE, MARRIED AT 27, MARRIED FOR 6.5 YEARS:
Must Haves: Nicole’s first must have is an amazing DJ/ entertainment. She says that when people think back to your wedding you want them to think, ‘wow that was so fun’ and what creates those types of memories is a lively dance floor. Nicole says that you need to emphasize communication with your DJ to make sure they know your expectations and what songs are an absolute must. In Nicole’s wedding invitation she included a piece of paper for her guests to pick one song they want to dance to at the wedding. From those responses Nicole compiled a playlist full of sure fire crowd pleasers that also fit her and her grooms music taste! Food was another “must” for Nicole, and not just good food but providing a wide variety of food was important to her. She made sure to set up a tasting with her caterer and she tested everything before giving it the thumbs up! Her cocktail hour was a “must have” that added to the elegance of her day. She emphasized the usage of delicious hors d’oeuvres, a signature cocktail and classical music. Lastly, Nicole says what made her day the dream wedding she had always hoped for, was the epic view she gave her guests. Some venues create a ‘stuck inside of a basement’ type of feel and it was super important to Nicole to provide her guests with a breathtaking view, full of windows that allowed outdoor access as well, all while still feeling a part of the venue.
Regrets: Nicole and her groom splurged on an ice sculpture of their dog that drinks poured out of. Nicole says it was cute and fun but didn’t really resemble their family pet the way they had hoped and looking back she can definitely say it wasn’t a necessity. She says the sculpture was huge and took up a lot of space. Nicole also regrets her choice of centerpiece. She urges the idea that less is more and a little goes a long way. She calls large statement centerpieces overrated and adds that they break up the view of the table. Looking back she wishes she utilized her budget in a different way focusing more on an amazing photographer/ videographer vs. spending on florals and centerpieces. “Today there are so many cool kinds of entertainment and touches you can add to your wedding” she says “ unique photobooth-like options such as 360 bros (IG: @360_bros) are something I regret not looking more into and providing for my guests.”
Stress City: Nicole remembers her wedding as “a breeze to plan”. She lends advice to get all of the major things out of the way first so the rest is a breeze. Her wedding coordinator was a big part of the smooth process. Nicole says that they kept each other in the loop and urges brides today to hire one. She says she felt like her planner was almost over prepared in a way that helped Nicole know that everything was beyond taken care of on the big day.
Advice: “Stay calm! It will all work out the way you want it to. Something WILL go wrong on the day of your wedding. Usually it is something very small and you won’t even care that day. Go into your wedding day with that mindset. Every little detail will not be perfect but it’ll be perfect for you. Take it all in, even the planning… it goes by in the blink of an eye. Lastly, be kind! No one likes to work with a bridezilla!”
(photog: Rebecca’s photography)
HANNAH, MARRIED AT 29, MARRIED FOR 1 YEAR:
Must Haves: Open bar. No question. Hannah felt like giving her guests an open bar was a way to thank them for coming to celebrate. She adds that it loosens everyone up and is a recipe for a great night. Hannah also listed a photobooth as a must have and offers the idea that photographers are great but they offer you a certain more “perfect” view of the day. Photo Booths are fun for the guests and they capture raw and goofy moments that a photographer might not value.
Regrets: When asked about regrets two major things come to mind. Hannah regrets not doing a bachelorette party and still dreams of going to Vegas with 28 of her friends like in the movies. Hannah also wished she set up an engagement shoot. She remembers thinking that they were corny but now regrets not having that moment.
Stress City: Hannah’s location stressed her out the most. Her and her groom had opposing thoughts on where their dream wedding should be. As you can imagine this created a huge issue. Aside from that Hannah got to call most of the shots but remembers feeling guilty about the guest list. “I would’ve invited everyone I knew,” she says.
Advice: “When all is said and done a wedding means nothing, it is a celebration that can happen the day you say your vows or in the next 5 to 20 years. It doesn’t define your love or your marriage. It’s an expensive party at the end of the day and that’s great for some people but it doesn’t have to be for everyone. So if you wanna elope? Elope!!! If you want a small intimate wedding but are worried people will get mad they weren’t invited, they will get over it or good riddance to that friendship. People should be happy you are marrying the love of your life regardless. It’s your day…nobody else’s. Remember that.”
(photog: A friend)
MERCEDES, MARRIED AT 24, MARRIED FOR 2 YEARS:
Must Haves: Mercedes says that her “must haves” were her flowers, her and her groom’s attire, a photographer/ videographer and keeping her wedding small. Mercedes had 20 people at her wedding and while that might not have been her original plan she wouldn’t change it for the world. She went back and forth on hiring a videographer but when all was said and done she was happy they hired one. She watches the video today and cries tears of happiness rewatching her and her husband on that day 2 years ago. Mercedes and her husband splurged on their attire for the day but she knows it was totally worth it because they both felt their absolute best. Flowers were important in making her day special because aside from her florals she kept the decor simple due to vendor shortages during Covid. There was a lot that was out of control for the couple because they got married in 2020 so they had to make changes and roll with the punches. One of Mercedes’ fondest moments from her wedding was choosing to wake up next to her husband on their wedding day and have breakfast together. She looks back and knows that if Covid wasn’t a factor everything might have been different… they would’ve been surrounded by their families and done things separately but looking back that’s a moment that she’ll cherish for years to come.
Regrets: Mercedes is more than happy with every aspect of how her wedding panned out. However, if she had to place something in the regret category obviously, Covid affected her wedding in ways she could’ve done without. She remembers having less family participation and having to forego a rehearsal dinner. They also remember missing some of their family members and loved ones on their wedding day because large crowds were not permitted. Covid eliminated the dance floor experience for them too and being able to hug those in attendance. Mercedes feels as though they missed out on the typical experiences you get to have as a couple during your wedding and that to have them would’ve been a nice memory. Mercedes also says she could’ve done without splurging on a hotel room for the night. While it was nice and convenient it was super expensive and wasn’t totally necessary.
Stress City: Covid stressed Mercedes out so much that she wasn’t sure if her and her groom were even going to get to have a wedding. It was such an unstable time period for everyone she felt like she could have woken up on her wedding day and the world could’ve been in lockdown again. Mercedes and her groom focused on prioritizing their happiness and things that brought out who they were as a couple (reserved and low key). They were able to stay strong and say, “no” to family members’ suggestions that didn’t feel true to who they were and what they wanted.
Advice: “My advice would be to put you and your partner first. You will get a lot of requests and advice. Weed it out and think about what the two of you like and want. I would recommend remembering what the wedding is about. Whatever that might be to them. It can be easy to lose sight of what the day was supposed to be.”
(photog: Emma Sedlack)
BRENNA, MARRIED AT 27, MARRIED FOR 6 MONTHS:
Must Haves: Brenna lists a wedding planner or a day of planner as her first and foremost “must have”. Brenna’s planner allowed for her to enjoy the day and feel like everything was going off without a hitch. Brenna’s planner solidified a timeline and stuck to it to a T but what really stood out to Brenna is how her planner went the extra mile and got her and husband drinks all night long making sure they were never empty handed or wasted time going to the bar! Although Brenna and her husband went back and forth on the idea of hiring a videographer leaning towards the idea that it was unnecessary and too expensive… they decided to hire one anyway. Brenna says that her husband now thinks it was one of their top two best investments that they put towards their wedding. They decided on 3 films, their favorite was a 2 hour documentary that allowed them to truly relive almost every detail of the day afterwards. Brenna says that hiring a videographer and choosing the right packages is worth the splurge and speaking of splurging that leads us to Brenna’s third “must have” from her wedding….her dress. Brenna suggests that if you have the budget to treat yourself to your dream dress, then do it! It’s the one day where you can look like a princess after all. Brenna urges other brides to go after their dream dress because although it’s expensive chances are you won’t regret it! Lastly, Brenna says the band she chose really made her wedding memorable. Brenna and her husband chose Silver Arrow Band and raved about the experience they brought to her wedding reception.
Regrets: Brenna insists that there wasn’t one thing that she could’ve gone without because every piece that came together is what made her wedding day hers. However, she thinks she may regret not spending more time going over details and making sure the visuals at her wedding were what she had always pictured. Brenna wishes she was more specific when explaining what she wanted for her flowers and her cake. She remembers walking into her reception and thinking that what she saw wasn’t quite what she wanted but she faults herself in that wishing she took the time to explain and be more detailed with her vendors.
Stress City: Like many other brides in the past few years Covid was Brenna’s main stressor. Brenna’s first wedding venue closed down due to covid. In fact the building was totally demolished and from there they had to start from scratch and plan a whole new wedding!! She struggled getting the vendors that she had originally booked on the new wedding date and it really was quite the process replanning and rebooking things. Overall Brenna looks at this experience as a blessing in disguise because the venue she landed on was more than she had dreamed of and says, “everything happens for a reason.”. Brenna adds that budgeting was stressful for her as well. She advises brides to prioritize what you want and be open with your fiance!
Advice: “HIRE A DAY OF PLANNER OR WEDDING PLANNER!. You will not regret it. Also, it’s hard for me to say because my process was stressful but try to enjoy the whole thing. It’s 1 day and it’ll be over like THAT. There will be things that go wrong on the day but that stuff won’t matter. It’s so fun and if the right people are there (which they will be) you’ll have the best time ever! Also, don’t listen to others, it’s your day (and your fiance’s lol) and if you want certain details or vibes… You do it girl!”
(photog: Katie Conway Photography)
RENEE, MARRIED AT 21, MARRIED FOR 5 YEARS:
Must Haves: Renee says that a really good photographer was something that she just couldn’t do without. Her parents helped financially with her wedding but she remembers the prices of her photographers being steep and feeling really guilty asking her parents to pay for that. However, Renee files this under the category of no regrets and treasures the photos from her wedding day. Renee went back and forth on doing a hair trial but she went through with it and recommends it to any brides currently planning a wedding. Renee offers up a tip: “If you have a trusted makeup artist and hair stylist then do your trial on the day of engagement pictures or for your bridal shower!”. Lastly Renee files an open bar under her “must have’ category, thinking of her guests and what would ensure they had a good night!
Regrets: Renee’s husband is in the army so they actually got married at a courthouse a year before they threw a vow renewal/big reception. She regrets not hiring a photographer for the simple courthouse ceremony because she only has a few photos from family members from that day (To any brides tying the actual knot before they throw a big celebration this is definitely something to consider!). Renee’s other regret is not hiring a videographer for her big celebration to capture a highlight reel from one of her favorite nights!
Stress City: What stressed Renee out the most was that once the majority of her wedding was planned, paid for and ready to go…. her and her husband caught a rumor that he might have to deploy and wouldn’t be home on the date of the planned wedding (OMG!). “You can’t exactly have a wedding without a groom,” Renee says nervously, laughing. Thankfully he didn’t have to leave and once that was confirmed any other small issue seemed like nothing to Renee!
Advice: “My advice would be keep it simple! So many people want that huge wedding, which is fine! But for me personally, I’d rather spend more money on a honeymoon, or a house! And lastly, enjoy yourself! No one will remember if the candles on the table got lit, or if you had every inch perfectly decorated!”
(photog: Shannon Virginia Photography)
CARLY, MARRIED AT 30, MARRIED FOR 3 YEARS:
Must Haves: One of Carly’s favorite memories and “must haves” from her wedding was the selfie station she provided mostly for her guests to have fun with. She Provided lots of props and fun backdrops for her guests to get goofy with. Her original backdrop fell through and her photographer (Hastings photography) saved the day! Carly lists an open bar as her second “must have” from her favorite night ever! She remembers going to weddings without open bars and knew that spending extra to make sure her guests enjoyed the night was more than worth it!
Regrets: The one thing that Carly regrets was not hiring a videographer. Carly says that a videographer was one thing that didn’t make the budget cut and looking back at how fast the night flew she wishes she could watch it back with her husband right this very minute!
Stress City: Carly remembers her planning process being a breeze and she attributes this mostly to her and her husband “tag teaming” all of their many tasks. The help Carly received from her other half relieved her of a lot of pressure and helped her avoid the feeling that everything was all on her.
Advice: “The easiest answer, to hire an event planner! Take a load off by having someone help with the planning! Our venue coordinator was super helpful with giving us options. I do think we got lucky because she went above and beyond, but trust the experts!”
(photog: Hastings photography)
CARLY, MARRIED AT 25, MARRIED FOR 8 YEARS:
Must Haves: Carly lists a killer DJ, a wedding budget, and dessert as her wedding “must haves”. Carly is the type of girl who loves old songs, new songs and everything in between. She took that into consideration when hiring a DJ vs. a band knowing that a DJ could execute her love for all types of music from all time eras. Carly urges brides to set a budget from the get go. Having no budget sounds fun but is a recipe for disorganization and stress. Lastly, Carly’s love for desserts is bias ( check her out on IG: @whatcarlycreates ) but she knew that her dessert and the way it was displayed was something that had to catch eyes, stand out and be something that made a statement. She says that the foods at weddings come and go out of sight and are typically pretty basic but desserts are on display the whole night and are something that your guests should feel excited about!
Regrets: Carly calls herself a compulsive planner and says that looking back she wishes that she would have lessened the amount of people she invited, upped the quality of food and beverages and rocked a “killer yet modern dress”. She offers the advice that the traditional idea that you must invite everyone you’ve ever known is overrated. She would forego her large guest list for a more intimate evening and she thinks this might have helped her enjoy the night more and reduce stress.
Stress City: Carly remembers stressing about the pressure she felt to be traditional and conform to what a wedding is expected to be. She remembers this as the thing that stressed her out the most. If she could go back she would consider her own likes, personality and wants. Then apply them directly to her vision.
Advice: “My advice would be to RELAX! The day is going to go on no matter what happens. Try to enjoy yourself and not worry too much. Remember what the point of the day is. Celebrate your love and stop worrying about the details on the actual day. That’s what Laura (a wedding planner) is for!”
(photog: Theresa Arthur Photography)
I want to thank all my brides (and groom) of weddings past for taking the time to answer my questions. I so loved reading all of the responses and found myself running through all of the emotions while reading. I cried a little, laughed, empathized and learned. it’s obvious these answers provide a pattern of some sorts and it opened my eyes to things I might make a necessity when I get married one day. However, some of my favorite responses came from the Covid brides. While Covid is as horrible, scary, confusing and complicated for everyone, I think the Covid brides remind us all of what our wedding day is truly, truly about. It’s not really about the decor, or the food, the entertainment or the party. While all those things create a beautiful atmosphere that I hope all those who want, achieve. I think our Covid brides remind us that our wedding is about us making a promise to the man or woman who we vow to love for the rest of time. Highlighting what makes you special as a couple and celebrating all you’ve overcome, shared and loved together to get to this day. I hope this helps brides planning their weddings and thank you again to all of my beautiful brides who provided us with all of the content for this blog. Cheers to many years of happiness!
Laura, TSR, & Brides of weddings past!