At a friend’s bridal shower recently, we all went around the room sharing our best bits of wedding planning advice. What would you do again? What would you do differently? (My advice = have a glass of wine before the ceremony!) It was so much fun to hear people’s stories that I thought we should do it, too. Here are 15 great pointers from 14 brides — and one groom! — who’ve learned from their experiences…

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“We asked each of our parents to share a piece of marriage advice during the ceremony. We were all crying. When it was my mom’s turn, everyone laughed as she proceeded to unfurl a giant scroll of parental advice (a prop she had brought with her). But the takeaway is that both couples have been married for 30+ years and there will be good years and hard years, and that love and laughter will help you weather it all. – Courtney (and Zach)


“Pick a short song to dance to. As someone with a low threshold for embarrassment, slow dancing in front of friends and family for more than 30 seconds is by definition a mortifying experience. Fortunately, we chose both a short and cool song (Yves Montand’s Autumn Leaves) and a savvy DJ, who subtly faded out the song early for us.” — Susan (and Rob)


“Consider inviting more than just your mom or dad to walk the aisle with you. It was important for us to show our community that we had the support of our families and that we were two families merging to make one. So, we had both families walk hand-in-hand as a united line.” — Colt (and Dustin)


“Do get a video. We poo-pooed the whole idea of a video, saying ‘We’ll never watch it!’ But now I would give anything — anything — to have a video of my late father walking me down the aisle, and the speeches, which were magical and just so funny and emotional… And I wish my kids could see it, too.” — Gemma (and Fox)


“Also, take silly photos with your bridal party, like this one.” — Gemma (and Fox)

15 Wedding Do's and Don'ts

“If you’re on a budget, don’t go crazy on the flowers. I worked with a miserable wedding planner, who told me the only thing I could get for $15 a table was an ugly bud vase with a carnation and a ribbon. Taking a tip from a recent wedding I had been to, I got my brother to pick up orchids from the Trader Joe’s in Tucson for $12 a pop. Ha! They were simple and pretty and didn’t cost an arm and a leg.” — Amy (and Ana)


“At the end of an already amazing night of dancing, my husband David and his friends took the stage to perform a few of my favorite songs. He and his friends are musicians, and they had practiced for months. It was a total mix of stuff — Queen, Def Leppard, The Rolling Stones. But the best part was when David got on the mic and said ‘OK, everyone, I don’t mean to interrupt the fun times and dancing, but I have to get serious for a moment to express how I really feel about Kavi…”, paused for suspense, and then they broke into ‘Shake Señora’ by Harry Belafonte and we all went nuts. Best time ever!” — Kavi (and David)


“I wanted my bridesmaids to be really comfortable and just feel like themselves, so we decided on cream for a color and then everyone went out and picked their own dresses. They were bought from all over (Zara, Topshop, Etsy) and it was also really fun to yay or nay the bajillion choices in the resulting bridesmaid email thread. This one? Too short? Too much cleavage? …Not enough cleavage?Diana (and Anton)


“And if you’re a nail-biter (like me) have a gel manicure just before the wedding. I had bright red nails, which I loved, and the hardy gel also prevented me from chewing my fingers when I was nervous.” — Diana (and Anton)


“Consider doing a ‘first look.’ I loved seeing Patrick alone for a moment before the ceremony. It felt magical to have that moment to ourselves before the wedding started.” — Erica (and Patrick)


“I was only 24 when I got married — throwing parties and being wild — so when people got our evite wedding invitation, they thought it was a THEME PARTY! I had about a dozen wedding crashers and people in ‘wedding theme’ clothes who joined our celebration.” — Piera (and Philippe)


“I spent so much time worrying whether or not people were enjoying themselves that I kind of forgot to enjoy myself! My advice would be this: Once you’re there, it’s done. Now’s the time to take a step back, admire all the work you put in and savor the moment. And have a drink.” — Megan (and Matt)

True Confession: My Wedding Only Looked Perfect

“Be prepared for all kinds of emotions. We planned a big wedding — which, for the most part, went well — but I didn’t anticipate how difficult and emotional it would be to navigate my families’ feelings. My parents have been divorced for 15 years and hadn’t been in the same room since their divorce.

“Six months after the ceremony, Jordy and I were talking about how a wedding isn’t necessarily this moment where both of your families come together to become one big new family. It can be more like a breaking apart, where two people come together to form a new nuclear family. If you’ve come from a challenging background, a wedding can be a wonderful moment of renewal where you get to start over with your partner. Maybe their family will become your family, and that’s great! But maybe they won’t, and that’s okay, too.”

Erica (and Jordy)


“Do whatever you’d like! I was hesitant to have a wedding (I wanted to go to City Hall) because I had never pictured a traditional wedding. So, I got strange looks when I said I wasn’t doing a first dance, wasn’t having my dad walk me down the aisle, etc. But it’s your wedding and you can do it however you want.”

Lena (and Josh)

If you’re married, what was your favorite moment of your wedding? What advice would you give to couples planning a wedding?

P.S. Would you have a friend officiate your wedding, and did you have sex on your on wedding night?

(Our wedding photos by Max Wanger. Amy’s photos by Leigh Miller Photography. All other photos courtesy of the brides and grooms)