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Advice from Brides of Weddings Past

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Want to hear wedding advice from brides who’ve gone before you? Check out some of these bits of bride advice for your big day!

past bride advice
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It seems like as soon as you announce an engagement, you’re instantly flooded with questions and unsolicited bride advice, as well as opinions that you may or may not want. We asked our family and friends for thoughts on things that they would have done differently with their own weddings. Below is some good food for thought!

Advice from Past Brides: Recommendations from Brides of Weddings Past

I definitely have one thing that has bothered me ever since my wedding almost five years ago that I wish I could go back and do over. We decided to skip the receiving line after the ceremony (for the sake of taking pictures/saving time), and greet the guests at our reception instead. However, our wedding was in our local town, and the reception was about 20 minutes away, downtown. Some of our older relatives decided not to make the drive on the interstate downtown, so we missed even being about to thank them for coming. I really regret that. -Lindsay, Indiana

Wedding Party Advice

We didn’t have a helpful wedding party. My wedding party was more concerned about themselves than helping me – so be careful who you pick!

– Janet, Ohio

I would have NEVER have picked the colors I ended up with – it was a bad compromise & a long story but I hated them (sage & butter).  Something I DID do that was super cheap & effective was look at dresses in stores, write down the designers & styles and then ordered mine online (so naughty!). -Jennifer, Missouri

I would have asked my bridesmaids in a more creative way.  I would also recommend a venue that does not make you cater from them alone, but allows outside catering.  They get you with that!

-Lindsey, Tennessee

I felt bad about asking my bridesmaids to spend hundreds of dollars on a dress they’ll never wear again so I just told them all to pick out their own. I just asked they all be the same color. Something they liked that they could wear again. Some people may not like not having all the bridesmaids match, but I loved it. Each bridesmaid is a different person and so was her dress!! They all wore black cocktail dresses. -Tina, Virginia

I would not have had my sister-in-law stand up with me.  She was a pain, hated the yellow dress, and complained the whole day. 

-”Don’t put my name on this”, Illinois

Hindsight wedding advice

I wish I would have taken more time making some decisions. We got engaged on April 17th and got married on August 15th, so that literally left me with 4 months to plan a wedding!  A short engagement is definitely do-able but I wish I would have thought a little more about what I wanted certain things to look like.

Don’t get me wrong, I am very happy with the way everything turned out, but if I would have had a little more time I would have probably chosen a few different things: I would have discussed (in details) with the florist what my bouquet was going to look like.  I would have gone over the final look of the cake before the wedding. It had too much ribbon and stuff on it, I would have liked it a little more simple (but it was delicious!) I would have liked more pictures done outside too.

-Stefanie, Tennessee

If getting married in a facility where you have to use their food and beverage (unless you are tied to a sit-down meal), offering buffet style heavy hor’devours or food stations in a reception style, can many times be more economical than a plated meal.  If your reception time is “between meal times” –plan on approx. 4-6 pieces of food per person.  And…if you are tied to a plated meal….negotiate serving a lunch portion rather than dinner.  For hotels, the per person cost can be as much as half the cost for a lunch portion meal. -Jill, Tennessee (also works in event planning)

What I would have done differently

Things I wish I had done differently are researching/asking around more about my photographer and caterer. Wish I would have gotten a bigger venue. Wish I would’ve waited a couple more months to get married to we could have a little bit nicer wedding. Things I’m glad I did are starting and maintaining a binder with pictures of things I liked and ideas I got about decor, etc. Glad I stuck with the vision I had for the actual ceremony even though some people seemed to think it wouldn’t work. (It did work!) Wedding was January 2006. -Lauren, Kentucky

Wedding regrets and expenses

I would have never had an open bar.  The cost ended up being a LOT more than we had anticipated because we paid on a per-drink basis.  I felt like we were secretly looking around to see who was drinking a $15 glass of champagne.  We also had a few people “overindulge” and cause drama, which may have been avoided.

-Nicole, Tennessee

Keep things about the two of you– My wedding was more my Mother’s than mine. -Anonymous, Ohio

I wish I would have used Reception Lighting. It would have given the bland banquet hall more pizzaz. I also wish I would have had a photo booth. I would have gotten more pictures of my guests and their personalities. A couple of things I’m glad I did was to have a live band instead of a dj. It’s more energetic and fun. Several of the guests were musical and they all got up and played/sang. Made for great entertainment. Also, I got my cake at a local grocery store. It wasn’t extravagant, but it was pretty and tasted good. I also highly recommend getting a good photographer 🙂

Valerie, Oklahoma (wedding photographer)

No moonshine!

-Lisa, West Virginia

My wedding was decades ago…I would not have done an ice sculpture I ordered a swan and it looked like a dragon. It was just another way for the hotel catering to charge daddy more! That “wow” moment we thought was going to be delivered when we saw it…. turned into a “WTF” moment!

-Tami, Florida

Wedding size recommendations

I would have had a larger wedding.  We were given a generous budget by my parents, and chose to use part on a smaller wedding, and the other part to buy a new car.  I don’t remember a thing about the car now, but wish we would have had a larger wedding.

 -My Mother, Iowa

Small wedding, huge reception helped me out a lot with nerves! Also I loved having the wedding video, but I should of paid for them to do the reception also. The photographer is worth the money, wish I would of gotten someone else but went cheaper. Don’t stress about the small stuff that is what the maid of honor and your personal assistant is there for, I loved my girls for dealing with issues. I also made a lot of my own things and that actually was fun because I saved money and it looked nice. Most importantly, do what you want and you make decisions and don’t let others make them for you. -Katie, Iowa

wedding

I thought doing a bucket of flip flops in the bathroom for the ladies was well worth it. You can get them at the dollar store. My aunt arranged the flowers that we bought wholesale and of course they looked great. We engraved bottles of wine from the vineyard we were married at for gifts for the parents. Bridesmaid dresses were regular dresses from Macy’s because I only had two people. -Amy, Texas

Wedding contract advice from a bride

I’d say, of course use your contacts to your advantage. I found a friend who was good at taking charge to lead the rehearsal. After the rehearsal we had pizza waiting for everyone in the church basement. We borrowed the warmers from the pizza place to keep the pizza warm till we were ready. Id gone to a yard sale and the girl was selling her centerpieces which were red and white so I snatched them up. After the reception, the reception hall wanted to buy them for their collection. Awesome for me! For the dinner I ordered half cornish hens for the main dish. If you know someone in the restaurant industry, they usually will help you out and order from their food truck for cost!

-Nanette, Missouri
wedding

My wedding cost a total of $3200 (including the dress & everything) Here’s what I did to save money:  1) I did the food myself (with the help of friends & family) Buffet-style with BBQ  and sides.  2) I bought my cake from Walmart & it turned out AWESOME! (I was shocked too!) The reason I used Walmart was because I forgot to order the cake in time, and Walmart only needed 2 weeks (the wedding cake & groom’s cake both only cost me $105 TOTAL)! Everyone thought it was delicious & no one knew it was from Wally-World. -Sarah, Tennessee

Wedding Perspective from Past Brides

Don’t get uptight over the “little” things…..the important thing is that you are getting married…something may go wrong—-don’t let it bother you..just smile and move ahead. DON’T go in debt for the wedding either—it’s just one day—you don’t want to start out on the “short end.”

-Angie, Iowa (I was her flower girl at the tender age of 9)
wedding

I stressed about nothing and stayed extremely organized. I had a Wedding Notebook to use to compare prices on stuff and keep up with business cards. Fortunately we knew so many people we didn’t have to pay much for labor….as in for flowers, our cake, our caterer, the band, and the DJ. I got a beautiful dress but did not go overboard. I do suggest printing out the order of your wedding and take it with you to the rehearsal. Also have somebody who can take charge and direct and knows your vision so you don’t have to worry about it. But I would have a sheet that makes completely clear what you want. We bought decor from Hobby Lobby and even Party City. It was a beautiful wedding and reception, looked expensive because I decorated it well….but it was not 🙂 -Juliana, Tennessee

Focus on what matters to you

We had a sand ceremony in the park with our six children. It was the best and everyone commented on how cool it was!

-Sandee, Iowa

I didn’t want to waste money on favors, so we took about half of the money that would have been spent and donated it to the colon cancer society in honor of my aunt. On the tables we put little notes that stated what we did instead of favors. We saved money and it was better then spending money on favors that people don’t really care about.  We did serve a meal but we bought lasagnas on sale and baked them the day of the wedding, added a salad and green beans and no one had a clue we did the food! It looked like it was all catered 🙂 -Amy, West Virginia

Best bride advice: It’s Your Day, Plan it Your Way

I’m happy Nick and I opted to do things our own way and not to feel obligated to do things the ‘traditional’ way. Instead of a DJ and the dance, we had a charter bus and went to a bar and then picked up the tab. We had visited the bar prior and agreed with the bar to flag us when the tab got to a certain amount so we would be surprised We also didn’t have a wedding cake because we both hate cake. But, we did have a dessert bar and then our own personal cheesecake. 

We got a lot of flack before the wedding because of some of the things we cut out but afterwards received so many compliments on how nice it was because it was obvious it was about us and what was important to us. We also got the idea from ‘Friends’ to have our friend, Peter, get ordained to marry us. I think more people do this now, but 7 years ago it was a bit usual.  Oh, and I had Taylor (my daughter) AND my dad give me away. With so many second marriages or children born first, it was something nice and I know she remembers it vividly even though she was 5
.

-Jessica, Iowa

Browse our Real Weddings to read more hindsight wedding advice!

I hope you found this collection of hindsight bride advice to be useful, insightful, and enlightening. Happy Planning!


Emily

is a Nashville bride who planned a rustic barn wedding on a $12k budget. Read more of her wedding planning posts here.