Wedding Question: if you could do it over

I’ve been loving the comments from people telling what they enjoyed most about their wedding planning.  I wonder if you’d also tell me what you wish you’d done differently?

One thing that I wish I’d thought to do was say goodbye to my bridesmaids, specifically my friend who flew across the country to be in my wedding.  I ended up calling her from a pay phone an hour or two later, to tell her thanks for coming.  But I wish I’d thought to hug her goodbye in person, even in the hurry-scurry of leaving.

I also wish I’d asked my two youngest sisters to be flower girls.  They were perfect ages, and I’m not sure why I didn’t ask them to participate.  All in all, it was a wonderful wedding, but those are two small things I’d do differently if I could.  And both are people-related items….hmmmm……

How about you?  Have anything you’d have done differently?

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{ 94 Comments }

  1. I would have handed my list over to a trusted friend and not put myself in charge of everything that needed to be done on the day. It really didn’t occur to me to get a wedding coordinator (even just a volunteer) as I had been an event planner for years, but I found it really difficult to transition from coordinating the ceremony to being a part of it.

    P.S. That goes for you, too, Mother of the Bride–make sure your job is to support your daughter and celebrate the marriage, not follow up with the florist and the caterer.

  2. I’d have got a photographer or at least put someone in charge of doing the photos. We did everything on a budget too and just didn’t stretch to one though with hindsight and very few pictures of our day, I wish I did.

    Tania

  3. Just to try to take a moment at sometime during the day to stop….pause…..and enjoy!

    Also to remember that a wedding is just a day, that the marriage is for life, and to keep that in perspective when something is not just as perfect as you want it to be.

  4. Oh sure! Ok, different bridesmaid dresses (what was I thinking?..ok I handed it over to my mom to make them….and I was far away so didn’t want to make her crazy, but still some of the choices were mine and I shudder at them now…but hey it was the 80’s).

    But really, the big thing I would have done differently, in retrospect was this: we really did NOT want a receiving line. We both hated standing in them at other weddings and didn’t want to make our guests do it (or us either). Sounds good, but then the fact is that there were people at our wedding that we didn’t get to say hello to or thank for coming…and we should have. We were trying to get to everyone there (and it’ wasn’t a huge wedding, reception at my parents ) but still…..we missed some. And we felt bad about that. So the receiving line is really for the guests, a quick chance to say hello and thanks to them even though it’s a bit of a chore.

    No matter if you think you might get to speak w/ everyone, it’s oh so easy to not.

    OH, and more chocolate covered strawberries!
    Oh, and remember to eat at least a bite to tide you over(we didn’t and were simply famished…..) {yes, I AM all about the food, thanks for asking!}

  5. I agree with an above poster. I would have had someone I trust be in charge of making sure everything happened on the day. I didn’t have a wedding coordinator and spent much of my time at the reception worrying or rushing to make sure cake got cut, photos were taken, etc.

    I would also have spent more money on my photographer. I mentioned that in a comment a few posts back.

    Those are the two things I wish I had done differently. Other than those, the day was wonderfully perfect! 🙂 Because I was marrying the man of my dreams!

  6. I have always wished we would have had a good professional photograph of us. We had someone that was just starting out take our pictures and they’re okay, but not one of them is a really nice close-up like a lot of people get. So, I guess I wish I would have spent a little more money and got a really good picture. Also, I never thought, and apparently the photographer never thought to get a picture of me with all of my immediate family. We have some of me and hubby with my mom and dad but I would have loved to have one of us with my brothers and sisters too. Oh, and one of my grandparents….I guess I must not have made a list of who I wanted pictures of! So…make a list!!! I’m looking forward to reading more about the upcoming wedding! ~~Pam

  7. I could fill pages with all the things I’d do differently, but I think the biggest thing I would have changed was to have had more time to spend with those people who had traveled so far to join me and DP on our special day. Whether that mean a more relaxed rehearsal dinner fostering more conversation or a brunch or gift opening party, I would schedule some sort of time for quality interaction with those you won’t see again for a long time. We moved out of town immediately following our wedding, and it was a long wait to see some of those sweet faces again.

  8. I would have gotten a real photographer. We had a woman that my husband knew do the pictures. The price was right, $50, we buy the film and developing. They were, well, not horrible. But could have been ALOT better. There were hardly any from the reception, the lighting was bad (all she had was a flash on her camera). Just really lacking.

    However, I don’t know HOW we could have done better than her because we just couldn’t afford it. But, that is my main regret.

    That and not having my best friend from high school be my maid of honor. She and I had a falling out a few months before my wedding. We made up a couple of years later. But I do regret that I had let that happen in the first place.

  9. We had a professional photographer and have beautiful pictures. I just wish I had gotten a picture of my husband, me and the extended family members who were there. A huge part of my guest list didn’t show, so it was actually feasible. I also would have spent less time upset that my mom didn’t show up.

  10. Oh yes. Don’t have your reception 8 miles away from the church at a sweet friend’s house on top of a hill just after an ice storm. You may even find out eight years later that your Mom’s still a little bitter about not being given the chance to host the reception “because that’s what Mom’s are supposed to do” even though you thought you were graciously shouldering the burden of expenses.

  11. If I had to do it over again, I would — without a doubt, most definitely — hire a professional photographer! I’m not sure I would change/do over anything else from the wedding day itself. However, in the hussle and bussle and excitement of planning “every” little girl’s dream wedding, we did not spend a lot of time preparing for MARRIAGE! It’s unfortunate that so many (myself included) spend more time planning for the day rather than the lifetime. So, I would definitely devote more time to asking, answering, and discussing our future.

  12. the thing I hear the most is people regret not getting the photographer they wanted (I promise this isn’t a hint! haha)
    and for me personally I regret not having a videographer! =)

  13. I would have planned a photography session for my husband and I. Because we were married overseas, had a reception on the east coast for my family, and one on the west coast for his, we had family take pictures rather than pay for so many photographers. BUT, I don’t have any nice bridal shots or any really good photos of just the two of us. If I could do it again, I would set up a shoot, outside of all the other events, just for us.

  14. I would have worked harder to trim down the guest list. It wasn’t really possible, since my parents were footing the bill and they determined a great percentage of the invitees. But I remember looking around at the rehearsal dinner and thinking, “this is who I really wanted here.” It was a nice, small, relaxed atmosphere.

  15. I would have had an outdoor wedding with God’s splendor being the decor.

    One good thing — I asked my maid of honor to make us a ‘to go’ box from the reception because I knew I would be too busy to eat and enjoy. It was wonderful that night to sit in our hotel room and eat the snacks. My husband said that the caterer was worth the money. That is when I realized I forgot to pay the caterer.

  16. A receiving line. We didn’t do one either, and people kept coming up all night, usually when I just was gonna put a bite of food into my mouth 🙂

    Also, I would have had fewer of my parents’ friends and made it more intimate.

  17. I didn’t respond to the first post, so you get a two-fer, with what I would and wouldn’t do again. There’s very little I’d change, except for the rehearsal dinner, rather than trying to go fancy dinner and such, I’d do a big barbecue and include all the out of town guests. At my rehearsal dinner, which was wedding party only, all of my out of town family stood at the door and peered in just to say hi. I didn’t get to hang out with them and they came a very long way. I also wish that we’d had just a little bit of dancing, even if it was a very proper southern wedding. No band, just some CD’s and a first dance. But I was too chicken to push the issue back then. 🙂

    What did I love? We did our best to personalize the ceremony. We asked my dad to give us a “charge.” I guess sort of like a toast, but more like he gave the sermon. It was one of the most special moments of my life to have him address us directly with his words of wisdom. We also had a time of “common prayer.” In the program we explained that anyone who wanted to could stand up and pray for us during that time. We were so very touched by those who chose to offer up prayers for us. And it felt like everyone who came was included in our ceremony and would indeed hold us accountable to our marriage vows.

  18. Professional photography….we didn’t, and although we have some nice snapshots, an aspiring photographer took about 4 shots and they were sooooo much nicer, and I wish she had done the whole deal.

  19. I think I would have spent a little more time considering who I wanted to be my bridesmaids. Mostly, I made good choices, but there were some people I really wanted to be involved, but didn’t ask. I asked some people because I didn’t want them to feel left out, and I should have asked others who I really WANTED to be part of our wedding.

    Also, I would have spent less time being nervous, and more time relax and enjoying the day!

  20. I wish I had more candid pictures of the day, preferably in black and white. We have beautiful posed pictures, but I should have put some friends in charge of getting a lot of candid behind the scenes pictures!

  21. This really doesn’t answer your question, but I thought I’d share some things I’m so very glad we did. One had an unintended, but great side effect.

    We took the pictures with the wedding party and family before the wedding. This was non-negotiable with my photographer, and he was right. My husband and I were given a few moments alone when I first walked into the church. This way we had a special moment when he first saw me in my gown. Then the rest joined us. After the ceremony, we ran through the bubbles to our waiting car and headed to the reception. We were actually the first ones there. Because we had a head start, we had a minute to refresh ourselves and then stand by the entrance to greet our guests in an informal receiving line.

    Our wedding was very small. Because of extenuating circumstances, everyone had to travel long distances to come to our wedding. It was held at a beach resort. We had our wedding on Friday night. On Saturday, everyone went to the beach, or sailing, or took a fishing charter. That evening, my father hosted a casual bbq/pool party at his home. It was just really nice to spend relaxing time with all of our family and guests with the “stress” of the wedding behind us. On Sunday, we had a quiet family breakfast and most left to go home. A small group who had travelled all the way from northern Indiana joined us as we took a road trip to New Orleans. I had lived there and none of them had been. We joked about having everyone on our honeymoon with us. We took a more private honeymoon later.

  22. I love my wedding. It was very small. We planned it for a month after we got engaged, and so it had to be simple. That didn’t give me much time to get stressed about details.

    However, I was in such a hurry to get into the church and get down the aisle, that I didn’t take any time to talk to my dad and give him one last hug and kiss as a single girl. I regret that. I also wish I hadn’t taken so long on pictures trying to get every different combination of family and mingled more with my guests.

  23. It does seem that there are lots of people with regrets about photography. I loved our photographer, as I just said in a previous comment. I wish I had asked my family (particularly my in-laws) for photograph requests though. I pretty much know what my family wanted, but I’ve since found out that my mother-in-law really wanted a full length picture of me and the boy (one which was close enough to see dress details and stuff).

    I also sort of wish that I didn’t feel pressure to have the same number of attendants as my husband. I still sort of think that that looks better, but it created a little bit of craziness since he had 5 roommates and a high school best friend that he wanted to include!

  24. Definitely sounds like you should be interviewing professional photographers!

    Three things… first, I too wish there had been a little dancing but we had our reception at the church and it just wasn’t possible.

    Second, because we left the church at night we thought sparklers would be a cool send-off (instead of bubbles or rice or bells)… It was terrifying! It was like a burning inferno that we had to walk through (run through) and the smoke was crazy thick.

    And third… if you do hire a photographer or videographer, make sure to pay them for as much time as you want/need. We ended up feeling a little rushed at the end b/c the videographer wanted to get us leaving (we ended up taping a phony leaving and then a real one, cause she was still there when we left).

  25. We got married young also, while in college and we were the first of our friends to do so. Even now, 13 years later, some of them still talk about how much fun they all had going out to dinner and singing karaoke after our wedding. We were in a hurry to leave, but I wish we had put it off a few hours and gone out with everybody. We haven’t had that many friends all together since.

  26. We did everything ourselves, including making the wedding dress. One thing I wish I had spent money on was a photographer. We had someone we know take a lot of photos of us but nothing too great and none that could be blown up and framed. I wish I had spent the money in that one area and had the photos done professionally. That is the one lasting thing you have from your wedding years later!

  27. I also didn’t comment previously, so I thought I’d add a few things:

    We did have a professional photographer, which was great. Actually, there was a team of two. During the reception, anyone who wanted could go and have a family portrait made, since during the reception one of the photographers was set up in the house where the reception was, just taking family portraits. It was nice for the guests, since they were dressed up already and could get a family pic made. We also took pictures of our whole extended families together with us. It took a while, but I do love seeing those photos in our album.

    I also wish I could have eaten more food and cake from our reception, since we spent most of the time walking around talking to people. A to-go box or something would have been nice. Instead of a receiving line, we walked from table to table during the reception and spoke to everyone that way.

    My mom wanted to get a videographer, so we did, but honestly I haven’t watched the video the whole way through. Maybe one day we will, but right now it’s not something I look at often. I look much more at our photos, so I’d say spend the money there.

    To do hair and makeup, we got two girls still in beauty school that we knew to come to my house and all the bridesmaids and I had our hair and makeup done together, but for much less than going somewhere.

    Using paper streamers or confetti to throw as we were leaving also made for great photos (and it was cheap!). We had a fun rehearsal dinner – barbecue, square dancing, and all the out of town guests could come.

    Although I did like my bridesmaid’s dresses, I think now I’d try to do something in a more neutral color that could have been worn again. And using dark colored dresses really makes the flowers pop.

    Hmm….I guess that is about it. All in all, I loved my wedding, but even more loved getting married to my wonderful husband, which really is the important thing.

  28. my husband and i were married outside with only five other people there. i do wish his parents could be there with a couple other friends, but i loved having such an intimate affair. (we were also married on a wednesday which saved a ton of money btw! ) add me to the wishlist of photographer being there. even with it being small, i wish i had a shot with everyone in it (mom and dad rotated taking pics).

  29. adding on…. we did a picnic at the coeur d’alene park afterward with full china and silver. it was awesome!

  30. One more thing….. In thinking about how in the world I would have kept the reception small with such a large family I’ve come to the conclusion that I would probably do some sort or mini-cocktail type reception and mix things up having cake before dinner with all the invitees and then do a more formal sit down dinner with my closest family and freinds later in the evening. I think that would have been a better compromise.

  31. I had my mother and my father both walk me down the aisle. Then I forgot to kiss my mother on the cheek just as I had done with my father. It wasn’t really an awkward moment or anything, but I wish I’d made the effort because I know she felt left out later.

  32. Even though I spent an obscene amount on the photography, I wish I had more pics of the guests. I did have cameras on each reception table but it wasn’t quite enough. Some guests were in no pictures. When you’re at the reception, hand two responsible people instant cameras and send them around to take pics of as many people as they can. And designate one person to collect all the cameras at the end of the night.

    BTW, I loved my wedding and I don’t regret spending a lot on it. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

  33. I would have let my bridesmaids pick out their own dresses. I would have chosen the color . . . and it would have been up to them to find a ready-made dress or have one made in the right color. That way, everyone would have had something that flattered them and that they felt comfortable in.

    We had a breakfast brunch at a local restaurant the next morning for all the out-of-town guests and relatives . . . I highly recommend something like that. It gave me a chance to spend some time with them and it made them feel more important and valued.

    My friend had cupcakes at her wedding (arranged on a beautiful 3 teir platter), which went over splendidly. No extra plates needed. No one had to cut the cake. Not to mention, they were yummy!

    We didn’t have a guest book, but rather a large frame mat which everyone signed. We still have it proudly displayed with one of our favorite wedding photos.

    I do NOT recommend a chocolate fountain if there are kids present. While the fountain looks beautiful, 35 kids with chocolate covered hands and faces running through the hall does not.

    We made “brochures” out of cardstock . . . it had a little program (including what song was our first dance, etc), but the part that was so appreciated was that we included a blurb about each person in the wedding party. That way, everyone knew that my maid of honor was my best friend from college (who was still single and open to blind dates) and that our flower girl was my hubby’s cousin’s daughter (who loved horses and wanted to be a cowgirl when she grew up). Great conversation starters too.

    I would have saved money and not had wedding “favors.” It seems like most of them were left behind anyways.

    Loved the idea of a “to-go” box of food that someone else suggested. I think we wound up going through a drive-thru.

    I also second (or third or fourth) the suggestion of investing in a great photographer. While our wedding photos are “okay,” I would have loved better ones.

  34. Also people-related. We got so caught up in the cake-cutting, bridal dance, getting the dancing started, etc, that we didn’t get around to saying hello to everyone before they left. I also wish I’d had a more definite thank you and good-bye with my bridesmaids AND pampered them by doing something all together in a salon beforehand. More pictures of guests, too. It’s about people more than all of the trimmings, though you want to document that lovliness, too!

    There are a lot of things I would have done differently, actually. I was never one of those little girls who dreamed about the big day and had anything thought out. I was the first of anyone that I knew of my age to get married, and when I got engaged, it had been many years since I’d even been to a wedding…

  35. We also were doing it on a budget and didn’t pay for a photographer. All I have is a few snapshots, and they aren’t that good. I am so sad when I look at my wedding photos.

    That, and I’d reach back in time and put my hat on straight on my head. The tilt thing was VERY 80s

  36. I would have switched which section of the wedding I would have spent the most money on. I chose to put more money into the ceremony instead of the reception. (All in all, our wedding only cost about $3500.) We had a string quartet, a professional clarinet player, a professional pianist/organist, and a singer. The church was over decorated looking back. My reception was a drag. Typical Nazarene reception: cake, nuts, minds, fizzy punch, no dancing. Boring. I would have had it catered. I would have had tables to sit down. I would have done all the ceremonial reception hoo-has that I thought back then were cliche. As it was, everyone sent through the LONG receiving line, said hello, grabbed cake, and left. By the time it was time for throwing the bouquet..most everyone was gone and there were only 3 women there to catch it. Pathetic. I hated my reception! So that’s what I would have changed! Our ceremony was nice though and I’ll always have that! 🙂

  37. If I could do it over again, I would have a wedding in a church, not mom and dads living room and found a way to afford a wedding dress, not borrowed one that was an 80’s short style and not my style at all. 🙁 Also we said we would renew our vows in a church later…well I would have done that and had that reception we promised family. It is almost 15 years later, and that reception that was supposed to come in the spring after our fall wedding, never came and well…I still hear about it from time to time. Maybe someday we could have that renewal but at the same time, now we have kids and life and well..it seems sorta frivoulous to do now. 🙂

    So do the things that you really want, make sure you get the dress she likes, and other things that later she might regret. I love my hubby and love our marriage, but wish we could have afforded the church and the dress. 🙂

  38. I would have paid for a better photographer. That is my biggest regret. Our friend took the photos and something was wrong with her a camera (a light leak) and 90% of them are unusable.

  39. Hmmmmmm….. whenver we go to a wedding these days DH tells me how much he enjoyed our wedding and thanks me again for the way it was put together. I’m hard pressed to come up with something significant I’d do differently.

    We kept tellign ourselves going in the food would be great and we needed to be certain to eat it because we’d need teh sustenance blahblahblah. We were so excited to see all those people who’d come there to be with us we hardly took two bites. Then we were hungry at 2 AM.

    I’d try to get more rest the days leading up tot eh wedding. It’s a miracle my undereye area didn’t look like the baggage carousel at LAX! I was too excited to sleep well the last few days before the wedding. Consequently, I was exhausted by 9:00 at my reception. By 9:30 I could barely keep my eyes open. We left our own party sooner than I’d have ever thought. And no, we didn’t go and sleep, ahem. At least not right away. But I did spend a lot of the next few days sleeping. Not that I could probably do anything about that, but I wish I could’ve stayed longer at the reception.

    The one thing I don’t regret doing that many people told me we might was not inviting a particular close relative on DH’s side. We knew full well she’d cause a drunken scene and generally ruin the day as she had other weddings. She’s a very close relation and to not invite her was quite obvious. We didn’t care. And to this day, 10 years later, we do not regret not having her there. Oddly, she didn’t seem that broken up about not being there so it worked out all around.

  40. I would have chosen a different photographer. Ours was a photography grad student “friend of a friend” whose work we had actually seen at an art show. Let’s just say weddings weren’t his best suit. Our pictures were all taken from one side of the building, so there are numerous shots of me staring at my groom during the ceremony, but not much else. Also, after the ceremony, we were taking family pictures and wedding party pictures. They all are from too far away and have horrible lighting. I’m sad about it, but was able to gather up some pictures from guests at the wedding to supplement what we have on hand.

  41. You are a smart lady, but what’s new? : ) We would have paid the $ for a really good photographer!!!

  42. Looking back I am not sure if there is anything I would have done differently. But from all the comments I have just read then Photographers are the main things that everyone is regretting.
    Guess it doesn’t matter what you do, get a decent photographer because at the end of the day thsoe are the memories you will look at to bring back all the other memories.

  43. one thing I’d change is not being in such a hurry to leave so we could get on with the honeymoon! As others mentioned, there were people that I hadn’t seen in a long time (I’d been living overseas) and I was going to be going back overseas just a couple weeks after the wedding. We should have stayed longer and spent more time with our guests.
    One thing I’m glad we did was get a to-go box from the reception! We were both starving about 3 am and scarfed it down.
    The other thing is I wished that we had done whatever it took to get his parents to our wedding. They lived overseas and we moved our wedding up about four months and they couldn’t afford the plane tickets. Although we didn’t have the money either, I wonder if we couldn’t have tried harder.

  44. I would not have married at such a young age. It was a big mistake.

  45. I would have taken the money and eloped, like my parents told me I could. Just the ceremony with immediate family, and a few pictures outside the temple (we’re Mormon).

    Those few thousand dollars would have gone a long way toward school.

  46. Have had the words of the vows beforehand, so that I could have practised – I juggled the words a bit, I said the same thing in a different way/order.

    I would have had a better band play outside – the one we had was chosen by my Dad and they weren’t that good.

    Checking the helium canister and bits before the day, so we knew we were missing a nozzle – we therefore had no balloons! Oh well!

  47. I would have skipped the fancy reception and just had everyone come in more casual attire and just had a good old party with lots of fun and fellowship and not fancy proper stuff-I was so exhausted from being “fancy” at the end of the day. My hubby and I always joke about “the next wedding we have will be…” and then we daydream about what we would have done differently and how we would love to have a summer wedding with a big backyard barbecue for the reception. But there was NO WAY we were waitingt ill summer-I am much happier we got married in December rather than wait ANOTHER 6 months just to get married in the summer!! 🙂

  48. I would’ve chosen fewer bridesmaids (I had six!) and I would have worked harder on finding dresses I loved. But I planned the whole shebang in three and a half months…so something had to give.

    I wouldn’t trade the amount of planning and minute detail my husband and I put into the ceremony. That was key for us in visioning for our marriage.

  49. My in-laws made reservations at the nicest restaurant in town for the rehearsal dinner before we talked about it. We then ended up disagreeing about who should be invited to the rehearsal dinner because of numbers. It was a very stressful situation, but ended up working out at the end. My advice is to go cheaper and invite all of the out of town guests!
    I had a frame with a mat that everyone signed. It hangs in my entry way now and I love it!! I would highly recommend that you have guests sign something that can be displayed with a picture. If you sign a mat, make sure the frame is on it, so names don’t get cut off.
    Make a detailed list of pictures that you want taken. I missed some pictures that I wish I had. I wish I had a picture of my and my husband’s family together so we didn’t have to post two pictures all of the time.
    Enjoy this….it will go by so fast!! Savor the moments.

  50. I’ll start with the best things we did… we shaved our guest list from 400 to 80. It was so great to be able to actually visit with everyone there. Next, my father-in-law is a professional photographer, so he took pictures AND paid for our album. So awesome. No expense. Our music/dance was from two guys that played guitars and sang. They could play anything we wanted and were great. They were also inexpensive since they were locals. We wished we would have stayed longer to enjoy them with our friends. Everyone stayed about 2 hours after we left, just dancing and enjoying their singing.
    The things we would have done differently… stayed a little longer at the reception (like I mentioned above.) Then the next day, we wish we would not have booked our airplane flight to our honeymoon destination SO early! We wish we could have taken our time getting ready, had breakfast and checked out as late as possible, THEN had our flight. Also we wish our honeymoon package would have been “All-Inclusive.” We both didn’t like having to be frugal when eating out… this one time in our life! 🙂
    Congratulations to you and your daughter!