Regrets, We All Have ‘Em

When you think of your wedding day to come, chances are you dream of a perfect event with everyone looking their best, all around you helping the day come together precisely the way you intended, and all the details slipping gently into place seamlessly.

But those of us who have been in the trenches of bridal planning and lived to tell the tale know better. It just doesn’t happen that way. Compromises are made. People develop issues and choose to deal with them in unhelpful ways. The budget doesn’t go as far as you expected.

Most of all, we make mistakes.

We choose professionals without adequate research. We fall for the line of ‘you must have the latest wedding gew gaw because it’s shiny rather than because it’s something that matters to us. We fail to hold out for something that really does matter to us because someone else will be upset if we don’t do it their way. We lose track of prices, forget important details, or fail to consider our own personalities in the miasma of expectation.

The good news is, those of you preparing for this incredible journey called marriage have the veteran brides to guide you and offer advice.

So, all you settled married ladies out there, what was the biggest mistake you made in planning your wedding? What would you do differently if you had it to do over? What’s the thing where you’re glad you stuck to your guns no matter what? What’s the best piece of real world advice you have to give a woman starting to plan her wedding?

9 Responses to “Regrets, We All Have ‘Em”

  1. C* says:

    We had a good friend of mine provide the music for our ceremony which would have been lovely except she forgot her freaking music at the hotel! I would not go so far as to say don’t have friends/family provide services, but for something like the music which is kind of crucial, make sure you have copies. Also, I yelled at my little sister at the hair salon the morning of my wedding and even though I apologized profusely that day and several times since, I still feel awful that I yelled at her on my wedding day. I just know it ruined the whole day for her. 🙁 Be nice to your family.

  2. Dianasaur says:

    I was really blessed that my wedding day went off without a hitch. There were several things I stuck to my guns on: A Hawaiian sand ceremony instead of a unity candle, my dress which I designed, an outdoor wedding, the ceremony music. I had no problem with telling people I wasn’t going to do something simply because “that’s how it’s done”.

    I went absolutely crazy in the pre-planning stage. I had a detailed schedule that I gave to my aunt who made sure things happened on time. I also took photos of the wedding site, then drew decorations onto them using photoshop. I made that into a binder and all my relatives who were there to decorate just looked at it and made it happen.

    Probably the main reason it went perfectly was that I decided that when I went to bed the night before, there was nothing more I could do. When I woke up that morning, my only thoughts were enjoying my day and being excited. So even though I know some things went wrong, I didn’t have to deal with them. Certain people had the authority to make the executive decisions and leave me alone! It was amazing and I look back on it without any regrets.

  3. Jess says:

    My only wish is that I had chosen a different photographer. Some of the photos we got from family and friends were as good as/better than the “professional” ones. Only difference was the quality of the prints themselves. AND, she didn’t follow my list of “must have” shots. There was one extremely important photo, with my grandparents and baby nieces and whole family, that we really wanted, and it didn’t happen. I thought it had, but how am I supposed to keep track of all that? So my advice to brides-to-be is, choose your photographer carefully, and also make sure you have someone else checking the photo list. ALSO- have someone point out the important people to your photographer- we got more pictures of a friend’s kid than we did of close family members. Overall a bit disappointing.

  4. Abby says:

    I second the “list for the photographer” comment. I loved our photographer, and I told him I didn’t want posed pictures, but preferred more candid shots, but I never asked anyone to point out who exactly the relatives were. So although we did have a few formal pictures of our families all assembled, there were aunts and uncles and cousins who were captured only in our friends’ snapshots. And my mom later regretted that she didn’t have a picture of just the two of us together.

    Of course, lots of bridal guides tell you to do this, but I ignored them because I was so sure I didn’t want posed photography!

  5. Lori C. says:

    My wedding was generally very untraditional. It was an afternoon affair, no groomsmen or bridesmaids and my husband wore a gray suit. I wish I would have stuck to my desire to not wear a white dress. In the end the search was difficult, and since there was a white one that looked very good on and that I really liked, I did end up wearing white. But a big part of me still wishes I would have worn something…less wedding attire-ish. If doing it over, I would have spent the hundreds of dollars on a fantastic suit instead- one that I’d actually get to wear again.

  6. Karen says:

    My one regret is also photography related, but just on one specific thing. We purposely chose a great photography team that does more candid – journalistic photography, keeping posed family photos to a minimum. However I realized belatedly that there isn’t one traditionally posed photo of my husband and I (one where both of us were in focus and looking into the camera) to give to our parents and grandparents – folks that tend to like more traditional shots. My husband’s parents have a wall where they hang framed 8×10 photos of each child on his/her wedding day (hubby was the last one of six to walk down the aisle). Luckily we also had a separate post-wedding reception in his home state where we hired another photographer, and he got an appropriate shot. So, please think through whether there is a specific shot you need and make sure the photographer knows. Still, I’d try not to have too many “must have” shots, so there is room for spontaneity. The above advice about pointing out key family members to the photographer is also a good one.

  7. rasaroni says:

    1. knowing that hubby gets squinty in the sunshine, I’d have insisted on more shaded photos. 85% of our posed shots were in the sunshine and too squinty (both of us!). Luckily, we still had tons and tons of great unposed pictures.

    2. I was super organized on my spreadsheets, with notations of all the things that needed to be where and why (things rented, thing purchased, decorations, etc). And I distributed the spreadsheets liberally to my day-of-coordinator and family and helping friends. Too bad I’m the only one who actually reads spreadsheets. If I did it again, I would spend a couple of hours ahead of time taping large notecards with magic marker explanations of where the item should end up and what it should be used for (so no spreadsheets need to be consulted and anyone walking by looking for something to do to help set up can easily help). Everything mostly worked out (and the stuff that missed the mark didn’t matter), so it wasn’t something I stressed about on the day, but it’s something I’d advise doing differently.

    3. My guests threw paper airplanes at the end of the ceremony (we were married at a site with a grass strip and an airplane hangar — dinner was in the hangar). I wish we’d given the guests more slips of paper (and maybe half-sheets instead of full 8.5×11) so there’d be more paper airplanes (we only inserted one per program, and I think some couples only took one program — didn’t think of that ahead of time!). Nevertheless, it was fun and cool, and some of the pictures turned out really great. And it kept the guests entertained until the end of the ceremony 🙂

    4. Last bit of advice: be sure you feel comfortable with your vendors. If you feel like they’re pushy or seem to have their own agenda, go with your gut. If you really think you’ll like their agenda, then fine. But if you’re not sure, then think twice before hiring them. Again, nothing disastrous on my day because of this, but with 20/20 hindsight, we should have selected a different vendor in one case.

    I hope this helps someone out there!!

  8. nara says:

    Although I absolutely loved my strapless gown, I think if I were to do it over, I would choose something with straps, like a halter or something (I have a small chest). The strapless was a little cumbersome as the day progressed, and my back even started to ache. I notice strapless is probably the foremost popular “trait” of a bridal gown, so I thought I’d offer a little hindsight advice.

    Also, I absolutely regret signing up for – what a waste of time – and to add insult to injury, continues to spam me, even though I’ve tried to remove myself from their list several times – how presumptuous!

    And, I know its really hard to resist buying those bridal magazines, but let me just inform any bride-to-be that they are ALL the same, year after year. Just buy one – that’s all you’ll need.

  9. Toni says:

    I wish I has eschewed my mom’s “crafty” silk flower decorations and just gone with fresh. The silk flowers ended up being more expensive than I expected, and we had to put them together ourselves. It would have been worth a tad more money to just let the florist deal with it. Luckily, our bouquets and the boutonnieres were all fresh.

    The second thing I wish I had insisted on was that my SIL (one of my attendants) had gotten her hair done. I offered to pay for half of the cost, so it was very affordable, and they could choose any style they liked, but she claimed she was just “too overwhelmed” to deal with it that morning. In all of the group photos, her (not styled at all) hair is hanging in her face, while the rest of us are all gussied up.