Relationships

12 Wedding Dos and Don’ts

12 Wedding Dos and Don'ts

What advice would you give couples about to get hitched? (I’d recommend wearing comfortable flats!) Here, a few beautiful brides share their 12 biggest dos and don’ts…

12 Wedding Dos and Don'ts

Have a cool maid of honor: My six-year-old goddaughter, Olivia, was my maid of honor. I wanted her to wear a suit (like Tatum O’Neal did at the Academy Awards in the 70s!). She was probably my favorite part of my wedding.” — Aimee (and Frank)

Aimee photos by Brian Averill.

12 Wedding Dos and Don'ts

12 Wedding Dos and Don'ts

Consider a personal venue: “Arlo and I got married at a New Hampshire meeting house that we’d driven by and admired for years and held the reception at his family’s cottage on a lake. The week before the wedding, both our families spent the week with us at the lake doing yard work, painting doors, laying mulch in the yard, and getting the cottage ready for our 75 guests. My parents and sister rented a house across the lake and canoed across each day. Seeing everything come together as we’d envisioned after so much thought and hard work made the day that more special.” — Sarah (and Arlo)

12 Wedding Dos and Don'ts

Do what makes you happy: “That morning, I got ready at the cottage and showered in the outdoor shower (with cobwebs, poor water pressure and a slow drain), but with views of a misty lake, in the place where we had made so many memories from the start of our relationship. It was perfect and I wouldn’t have done it any other way.” — Sarah (and Arlo)

Sarah photos by Julia Robbs.

12 Wedding Dos and Don'ts

City Hall is also magical: “We loved getting married at City Hall in Manhattan. Our families traveled from all over the country, and it felt special to share a small slice of this amazingly diverse community that we call home. Not only did our loved ones get to participate in our ceremony, but some were asked to be witnesses for other couples getting married! Afterward we went out for celebratory drinks. Going the City Hall route also meant we could spend our small budget on other events that weekend — like treating families to dinner at the Cecil Steakhouse in Central Harlem and a jazz performance at Minton’s later that night.” — Linda (and Ben)

Linda photo by Sylvie Rosokoff.

12 Wedding Dos and Don'ts

Go for any color of dress: “Traditional wedding dresses can get expensive, so at first I decided to look for a regular white dress. Then I quickly discovered I don’t look good in white! Like, if I was going to any other party I’d *never* wear a white dress. So, I opened myself up to other colors, and this yellow Net-a-Porter dress called out to me. It fit well, and I never looked back. My advice to wedding outfit shoppers would be to allow your decision to be final once you’ve found something you like. It’s tempting to keep your options open and never stop searching for something EVEN MORE PERFECT, and that’s just exhausting.” — Hallie (and Jack)

12 Wedding Dos and Don'ts

Ask loved ones to give toasts: “My brothers both gave beautiful toasts. Nick is usually a huge jokester, but in his toast he was the sincerest I’ve ever seen him. He ended simply saying, ‘I love you and I love you and I love you and I love you.'” — Hallie (and Jack)

Hallie photos by Yelena Sophia.

12 Wedding Dos and Don'ts

Consider choosing a color (versus a dress/suit) for your bridal party: “My husband and I recruited a coed group of our siblings and long-standing friends to be our ‘wedding parties.’ We wanted celebratory vibes, so we just asked them to wear cream, white or another light color. We were so happy that everyone looked like themselves but still fit together as a group.” — Gina (and Alex)

12 Wedding Dos and Don'ts

Don’t sweat the small stuff: “My oldest friend, Kayla, fell down the stairs face first during the processional. I felt so bad for her! She rallied and flawlessly delivered her reading for the ceremony from memory. Last week we watched the unedited video of our wedding with her. We laughed our asses off at that moment. I learned that a lot can go ‘wrong,’ but the day can still turn out memorable and fun.” — Gina (and Alex)

Gina photos by Sylvie Rosokoff.

12 Wedding Dos and Don'ts

Surround yourselves with friends and family: “We had our wedding ceremony shaped in a circle. During the service, it was wonderful to see the sea of faces smiling back at us. We truly felt hugged by love.” — Patricia (and Grace)

12 Wedding Dos and Don'ts

Serve your favorite childhood dessert: “One of the best parts of the day was having a s’mores station! Not only was it delicious, but folks got comfortable and snuggled up to one another. It built an instant community.” — Patricia (and Grace)

Patricia photos by Kenzie Kate.

12 Wedding Dos and Don'ts

12 Wedding Dos and Don'ts

Borrow something meaningful: On our wedding day, my I used my late great grandmother’s wedding ring as a placeholder. We were heading from England to New York on our honeymoon a couple days later, where I would be collecting my wedding band from Satomi Kawakita’s Tribeca studio. As a long-time reader of Cup of Jo (I started when Toby was teeny!), I fell for Satomi’s designs after seeing them in this post. I left many subtle hints, and I was thrilled to receive it when we got engaged!” — Fay (and Karl)

Fay photos by Becy at Belle Art Photography.

12 Wedding Dos and Don'ts

Things that go “wrong” can be the best part: “The day of our wedding, it poured. Like, an umbrella wasn’t enough to prevent me (and my husband-to-be) from getting soaked. But the weather — which I had been super stressed about ahead of time — ended up being the most magical part of our day. We had the park to ourselves (who else was crazy enough to be out in a torrential downpour?), our guests got cozy and drank all the red wine (read: they were super down to hit the dance floor) and we had the most spectacular rainbow during our cocktail hour (when the clouds began to clear). Bottom line: I could have let my anxiety get the best of me, but instead we made it work with smiles on our faces.” — Rachel (and Matt)

12 Wedding Dos and Don'ts

Rachel photos by Christine Han.

What wedding dos and don’ts would you add? I’m so curious…

P.S. More wedding dos and don’ts, and 8 things I’ve learned about marriage.

(Thank you to Kimberlee Rhodes for reporting assistance.)

  1. Begum says...

    We wanted a super low key wedding, but our parents had something else in mind. In the end we handed over almost the entire budget to them, and bar a few things – wedding dress, photographers, our list of friends – let them do whatever they wanted. It was stress free for us, and they got the wedding they wanted. Most important to us was that we got married :)

  2. Briana says...

    Is there any advice out there from couples where one wanted to elope and the other wanted a wedding-wedding? My groom really wants a wedding, and I dread it. He’s very understanding and accommodating and will basically let me have whatever wedding I want, as long as he can invite his 50 people. But the one thing I want—no wedding—isn’t really an option. We’ve settled on a backyard ceremony and restaurant reception, but it will still require so much planning and work.

    • Joanna L says...

      That was me! Husband wanted a wedding, I desperately did not (because of planning and attention and so on). The best thing we did was just keep referring to it as a party, because that’s really what it is – we went into it knowing that “best day of our lives” was never the goal, but bigass party was. This helped us to keep expectations low, and to not accede to pressure from anyone.

      Also, delegation was key – anything that had to do with food our alcohol, my husband was in charge of securing/procuring/permitting, etc.

      Last piece of advice – don’t read any wedding blogs or even THINK about going to knot.com. The expectations put on brides these days is insane and you don’t need that crazy stuff in your head while you’re planning. If it’s not something you’d want at a dinner party in your house, do you need it at your wedding?

    • Stephanie says...

      Hard agree on delegating! If you are able, ask your friends or family members if any of them have expertise or interest in helping with XX tasks and let them have at it! You can give them some parameters, but if you can, let them give you the gift of not dealing with things you aren’t passionate about.

  3. Rebecca says...

    Put all requests in writing. I ordered our cake over the phone after visiting the bakery and they heard ‘cream’ as ‘green’. We got a green wedding cake! Everyone thought it was because my husband is three quarters Irish. We never got the traditional cutting the cake picture because people started tucking in before we’d even seen it. Must have looked tasty!

  4. Hannah says...

    We made a word cloud of all the things we wanted our day to be—fun and elegant and colorful and relaxed and whimsical and joyful and love-filled were our top thoughts—and then referred back to it at different points of our wedding planning. It was a great way to center ourselves at the beginning of planning and then refocus—”Is this this idea actually one that fits our idea of the day?”—as we inevitably got overwhelmed. In the end, all of our words described a dream of a day!
    We also gave each parent a hill to die on—one thing that they really, really wanted and that was super important to them. For my mom, it was extra rented bathrooms and for my dad, it was all four of the parents sitting together during the service, rather than having sides. My in-laws took on last-minute decoration projects! This helped involve our parents without overwhelming us with their energetic suggestions and gave us something to say, “Oh wow, this parent really added to our day in this very special and important way.”

  5. Lidia says...

    a bit of advise for those who are having a wedding and reception:
    1) pick your non-negotiables with your partner and focus on that. My husband wanted an open bar and I wanted a good photographer and a pretty venue. Knowing this kept us focused. Otherwise, it’s so easy to justify wanting to get the “best” of everything because it’s your special day.
    2) think very carefully about asking a friend/family member to officiate your wedding. They might typically be funny or charming but most likely not experienced in officiating. It’s a lot of pressure for them to perform well. Sadly, I’ve seen it done so badly as a guest that I recommend hiring a professional. Alternatively, you can arrange for that friend/family member to do a reading during the ceremony instead.

  6. GINA – I am so into that person in your party all the way right with the flowered suit and sequin tube top! OMG What an amazing outfit!!!!
    Also heyyyyy fellow pinky!

  7. Brooke says...

    Do what’s fun for you. If the couple getting married is having fun, everyone will be having fun! The couple sets the tone for the guests and their enjoyment is truly contagious. I still have people tell me that my wedding was the most fun of all they’ve attended. It was pre-Pinterest and in my tiny hometown and the only thing my husband and I did that was particularly special was have a blast ourselves!

  8. K says...

    I would recommend taking a beat after the engagement to really figure out what you want the day to look like. Don’t jump straight into the venues and dresses and the magazines and pinterest. Sit down and talk to your partner about which parts of the day are the most important to you… is it the family, the venue, the food, the music? Then make those things non-negotiable, and set your budget.

  9. Kate the Great says...

    Don’t go into debt for your wedding.

    We’re both super-thrifty. I wanted to get married in my hometown, but neither of us lived there. And we wanted to have a reception in a city central to where many of our relatives lived so few people would have to travel far. But neither of us lived there, either. So I asked my mom to be in charge of the arrangements in my hometown (she lived three hours away, but closer than us) and I asked my future mother-in-law to make arrangements for that central reception.

    This was before Etsy weddings or Pinterest or image searching existed, so I told them my colors and described what I DIDN’T want as far as decor goes. I was in charge of my invites, my dress, and the flowers. Then, we did our thing.

    Did I cringe inside when I arrived at each reception? A little. But knowing I didn’t have or coordinate those things, I considered my receptions to be parties that were gifts from my mothers. And we enjoyed them thoroughly, knowing that our marriage would last far beyond parties and dresses and flowers, and that everyone here was celebrating their love for us.

    • Kate the Great says...

      Was our wedding process perfect? Of course not. My hometown was spelled wrong on our invites, one bridesmaid didn’t show up, and the strangers who insisted on doing my hair did a horrible job. Was it still stressful? You bet. But we’re still married. And we still love each other. And we have great stories to tell.

  10. Eslin says...

    I want to see more of maid of honor Olivia! I love that idea!

  11. Tabitha says...

    Elope. It’s often suggested for budget reasons and that’s a nice bonus, but exchanging vows privately was the most romantic moment of my life. We decided that our wedding was the one thing in life that was just about us and we could be a little selfish if we wanted to. My other tip is after you get married, hold hands during other people’s vows – we decided it’s a silent vow renewal for us and we get a little misty during that part of weddings (even ones on TV!)

  12. Marisa says...

    Curious since I saw a couple people post opposite advice – honeymoon right after the wedding or months later? Thoughts and pros/cons?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      I would say definitely right after! You’re so buzzy and excited and it makes it a honeymoon vs a trip!

    • Molly says...

      I say later – it’s a once in a lifetime trip and too much to plan at the same time you’re getting ready for the wedding. And you’ll be exhausted for the first week!! But that might depend on the type of honeymoon you’re looking for too :)

    • Summer says...

      We waited 2-3 days between wedding and honeymoon, and it’s honestly one the best decisions we made. We were still on the high of the wedding, but we had time to enjoy it and not feel rushed to get to the airport. Those days gave us time to brunch, figure out where my hairbrush/random wedding decor went, unpack from the wedding and pack for the honeymoon. Plus, you spend so much time getting excited (and anxious) about the wedding, this gave us time to get excited about the honeymoon! Highly recommend!

  13. Brigid says...

    Kay (and Joanna) I too found the place I got my wedding rings on Cup of Jo years ago! Bario Neal in Philly!

  14. Mary says...

    Hire a live band. Pay for clothes and accommodations for your wedding party. Have an after party that you attend and keep the free beer flowing. Get catered food that tastes good. Have a day after breakfast for whoever’s left. Cut costs on things that don’t impact your hospitality like rings, dresses, hair dressers, party favors, nail salons. There’s really no other time this many people that you love will be together.

    • Y says...

      Mary, this is the most unselfish and beautiful comment! Cut cost on the things that don’t impact your hospitality. Beautiful!

  15. Kim says...

    We’ll be coming up on three years in February. I have two day of tips for all my friends who are planning a wedding: 1) do a first look – it’s so romantic and then you get to spend most of the day with the person who means the most – your partner! and 2) go on a honeymoon or getaway right after the wedding – it was so nice to get away, de-stress and truly relax and reconnect as a married couple!
    I also encourage everyone to be supportive of other couples planning weddings – there can be family drama, budgetary concerns, vendor issues – just so much going on – you don’t want to be a judgmental, jerk friend who adds to the stress – the day is not about you, it’s about them. I always try my best to be a good listener, offer my help in any way I can and just encourage them to be excited about the upcoming special day.

  16. Rachel says...

    Before we got married a friend gave us the advice to try to physically stay together as much as possible during the wedding. You’d think that’s obvious, but with so many friends and family together in one place – it is so easy for the bride and groom to be dragged apart. I notice it now at every wedding we attend. I’m so glad we got this advice – my memories of the wedding actually include my husband!

  17. DON’T take it personal when someone RSVPs “no” — some of us have just decided to not attend weddings any longer. We still love you and will send a gift.

    • Lola says...

      This is rather sad. I’m sorry something happened to you that keeps you away from celebrating someone else’s joy.

    • Katy says...

      Erin- I am with you 100%! Some weddings are just not do-able and that’s OK. Big families and lots of friends means that we could go to multiple weddings per year and that’s not feasible with work, life, fun travel and other commitments.
      PLUS-many larger weddings you see the bride and groom for 3-5 minutes. I do always call rather than just mail a ‘No” for RSVP to let them know that we love them and that we’ll see them another time soon!

    • Julie says...

      I’ve actually been thinking about your post for a couple days now – curious why you made a blanket decision against them. May I ask why? Usually people that don’t go to weddings say because of the gift/cost.

  18. BR says...

    Host a welcome party the night before. Not only was it so much fun to see everyone in a less formal setting (we did ours at a bar!) but it was so great getting to talk to almost all of our guests the night before. We heard over and over how excited people were for the next day which only made us more excited and put us at such ease. Plus, then you can have longer convos with guests that you may not have time for the day of the wedding. Personally, we also wanted to treat our guests to as many fun events as possible. Our welcome party had booze and food and lots of people told us it was so nice to get in from traveling and not have to worry about finding somewhere to eat.

    • Laura says...

      Couldn’t agree more with you on this! I feel like I actually got to catch up with people at the welcome party the night before, whereas on the actual wedding day the conversations were quick and honestly such a blur. It also gives out-of-town guests something to do where they won’t be shelling out more cash and pumps everyone up for the weekend.

  19. brittney nichols says...

    My husband and I got married two months ago (as of yesterday!) and we made a lot of absolutely excellent decisions and some that I’m still kicking myself about. However, one of the very best decisions we made was about our honeymoon. We decided that instead of heading off right after the wedding we’d just take a few days off, let the dust settle, and go on a honeymoon in February. So, we came home after the wedding, chilled out, cleaned our apartment, bought a new piece of furniture for all of our new glassware, and did all the things we didn’t have time to do before the wedding because we were PLANNING A WEDDING. Now, we’re planning our next great adventure, our honeymoon, and loving that we get to celebrate our new marriage again in February.

    • anne says...

      Only thing is – set aside the money to do so! We planned to go to Patagonia that Winter Break and sadly the money we had at the time of the idea had whittled away by that point :/ Someday we’ll go! Wish we had done it then.

  20. Lesley says...

    The night before the wedding, just LET IT ALL GO. You’ve done what you could as far as plans go, so now allow yourself to switch into a fully present, taking-it-all-in mindset.

    About three months before my own wedding, by then-fiance and I attended a huge, gorgeous wedding of a friend. When we finally got to have a conversation with the bride towards the end of the night, she looked me dead in the eye and said “I’m not having any fun today.” I thought it was so tragic! I made a real concerted effort to not let that happen to me and to fully let go of all the things that might (and did) go wrong. I actually made myself sit down to meditate for half an hour before our rehearsal and really focus on letting all the planning and pressure go. I have control-freak tendencies, so it was tough, but when I think about my wedding, all I remember is how much fun I had all night. I don’t remember caring at all that my bouquet wasn’t exactly what i planned, or being worried about the weird family tensions that come with those kinds of events, I just remember having the time of my life. The next morning I was hoarse from laughing and talking, sore from dancing, and my face physically hurt from smiling. And of course, I was married to my best friend. The rest of the stuff didn’t matter a bit.

  21. Tracy says...

    I got married before the advent of Pinterest and didn’t know there was any other way except in a church with a traditional reception in the fellowship hall. I hated my wedding and remember overhearing someone say the reception was boring (broke my newlywed heart). I just didn’t know you could do it any differently. So my advice is do what makes you happy and fits your personality and don’t care what others think. Do you!

  22. Jen says...

    Just got married last month and after so many months of planning and figuring out logistics for a destination wedding in the mountains, it was so wonderful to just relax and celebrate with the people that mean the most to us in one of our favorite places. I’d recommend picking a venue that feels like you–wedding planning is a lot of work and when logistics and coordination get overwhelming, it helps to know you’re staying true to yourselves as a couple and feel genuinely excited about what you’re planning! We found planning a full weekend, while more work, was also so worth it for the time we got to spend with our family and friends, especially the ones that traveled a distance to be there. Hiring vendors that had experience at our venue and that we trusted was also so helpful the day of–they literally thought of everything and we were able to really just be in the moment and focus on us, instead of worrying about all the small details. And honestly, all of our fondest memories are parts of the day and weekend that could never have been planned, like a mother and baby bear spotted outside during breakfast! It’s hard to believe when you’re in the midst of the planning process, but you really truly won’t remember the flowers or table arrangements–all that matters is that you marry your person and are surrounded by people you love.

  23. Ashi says...

    I would have loved to see some diversity in the types of weddings featured, we don’t all walk down aisles to exchange vows with bridesmaids. This post made me realize that at the end of the day, even on my favorite blog, America thinks of only one kind of wedding ceremony as an American wedding.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      These were different, though? Men in a bridal party, two city hall weddings without bridesmaids, etc. I love that different options are more accepted these days!

    • molly says...

      Aww what a bummer to read this comment, I think we all need to cut them some slack. I respectfully disagree with your assessment that “America thinks of only one kind of wedding ceremony as an American wedding.”

      CoJ tries really hard to give a broad representation in all of their content. In regards to this particular topic, they have highlighted traditional weddings, elopements, bi-racial, same-sex weddings etc. In all honesty, I don’t know of any other blog, that does as well as CoJ does, to be inclusive. Not to mention, America isn’t the only place where they have bridal parties.

      I should note that my intention for this comment is not to debate or criticize, just simply say that I recognize and appreciate Joanna and team’s efforts to be inclusive and I see their intentions are for the best and I wanted to acknowledge that. I appreciate the effort they put in to make content that can open people’s eyes to alternative lifestyles and viewpoints. I wish more people would make the attempts they do. It’s comments like this, that can discourage that effort. Be well and much love to all. To CoJ – I see you, and I see your effort. :)

    • julie says...

      I was actually thinking the opposite! I was happy as I read this post because it was (as has every wedding post I’ve read on here) been very diverse. It reminded made how cool it is that so many people are getting comfortable with doing weddings their own way and not sticking to tradition.

    • Mari says...

      I agree, Jo– what a perplexing comment.

    • Abbe says...

      Ash, I kind of get what you mean— as a South Asian American stuff like “don’t be afraid to wear color on your wedding day!” makes me laugh because I’ve never planned on wearing white on my wedding day. There’s a lot here that doesn’t apply to me, but I think there’s enormous scope to weddings because there’s an enormous scope to love, and that’s hard to capture in a blog post. But I commend CoJ for trying to address this in all of their wedding content!

    • Sarah says...

      Really? Brides in orange and yellow dresses, a couple of differing ethnicity, a gay couple, a little girl in a suit — doesn’t seem to be diverse to you? Jo is more patient than I am.

    • PB says...

      Ashi, I get where you might see that from this post alone. My non traditional Hindu wedding didn’t look anything like these (my maroon lengha outfit was actually one of my more ordinary decisions), but the tips apply to most of us. You may feel a little better if you see past wedding posts they’ve done (though sure POC representation is usually in interracial relationships with whites). I’ve read this blog for a long time and appreciate their continued attempt at improving their inclusivity.

    • M says...

      I can understand Ashi’s perspective, though I think overall the COJ post was really well done! I’m South Asian and in wedding planning feel a sense of being a bit excluded from the mainstream Pinterest wedding culture. I have also faced so many misconceptions about what our weddings are like (horses, elephants, 1000 guests, ‘parents must be spending a fortune,’ ‘i’m dying to go to one please invite me!’) – my big wedding “don’t” is don’t make assumptions about other people’s weddings just because you have a cursory mainstream idea of what their cultural traditions are like (and jeez, please don’t make jokes about wanting to be invited just so you can see one! In what world is it polite to ask to be invited to someone’s wedding?) I think these comments come from a good place but can leave people feeling like their weddings are just a spectacle or circus (and leave out the acknowledgement of incredibly meaningful, sacred thousand-year-old rites and rituals). In some cultures, certain do’s and don’t’s aren’t quite as feasible (I can only speak for my own, but for the most part South Asian cultures view weddings much less individualistically than Americans do and the adage of “it’s YOUR wedding” isn’t always as effective or applicable).

    • Ingrid says...

      Ashi- What would you have liked to see? It might be better to make suggestions for different types of weddings to feature next, rather than sounding critical of this post.

    • Kay says...

      Ashi, you don’t say where you’re from, but I think I understand what you’re trying to say — in South-East Asia where I’m from our wedding cultures, practices and traditions are so varied and utterly different from American mores that I’ve never seen anything like it represented by an American blog. Then again, how can they when they’ve probably never been to any such weddings, or indeed to have experienced enough of them to be able to write about them with any authenticity or authority? CoJ tries to be inclusive and their audience might be global but the reality is that their target demographic — and thus their advertisers’ target demographic — will still skew predominantly American, with their standard church+reception or City Hall wedding+party.

      Contrast this to the Chinese weddings I’ve been to which typically consist of a tea ceremony where the couple serves tea to their elders in both partners’ families to formally welcome them into the family (and during which the couple are normally gifted with blessings and heaps of jewelry), and/or a church ceremony, plus the norm of hosting 40-60 tables of guests at the obligatory wedding dinner at Chinese restaurants, where the couples’ parents tend to invite absolutely everyone they know and guests give cash gifts (no registry to be seen) to cover the cost of the 10-course sit-down dinner — standard practice in this part of the world — during which guests will toast the couple table by table, and sometimes there’s even karaoke! Malay weddings can vary from a low-key communal affair of all the neighborhood aunties getting together to cook massive quantities of yummy food for guests that congregate under a sea of elaborate canopies that block off roads to the bride’s or groom’s homes or at the local community centre, to upscale sit-down dinners at restaurants, and a “bersanding” ceremony where the couple sits on a “throne” and are basically feted like Kings and Queens for the day, along with an earlier formal “Akad nikah” ceremony where the couple registers their marriage with the local civil and religious authorities. Indian weddings can be elaborate 3-day affairs that observe traditional customs held at temples (if the couple are Hindu) or at churches (if they’re Christian/Catholic), along with wedding dinners which again can be held at community centers, restaurants or hotel ballrooms depending on how many people are invited and the couples’ budgets. This is just a small sampling of weddings in the ASEAN region. So to be fair to CoJ, I don’t expect an American blog to be all things to everyone, and in fact any attempts to go too far out of their lane might conversely give rise to accusations of cultural misappropriation if done badly.

      That being said, it would be awesome to have a new series — “Weddings Around the World”, maybe? — written by locals (instead of American expats) to showcase local customs and mores when it comes to universally relatable and fascinating topics such as weddings, parenting habits, etc. Maybe CoJ could enlist locals married to Americans living in specific countries outside the US, or locals who had lived/studied/worked in the US for a specific number of years, so that they would have an understanding of what would be interesting to American audiences. Who’s with me? 😊

    • Nora says...

      Kay, I haven’t watched any episodes yet, but Netflix just put out a show called Extreme Engagement where a newly engaged couple travel the world to learn about diverse marriage customs. I would love a Weddings Around the World segment!

  24. Lynea Wilson says...

    The best advice is to remember that all that truly matters is that at the end of the day you’re married! That gave me a lot of peace as we planned. Many things went wrong but I sort of love them all- my now husband had jokingly flown a jolly roger flag the days leading up to the ceremony, claiming it was an important part of “his decor plan” it was meant to come down but we forgot. That flag is in so so many of the reception photos and it cracks me up. Also we danced so hard that we actually broke the dance floor, I feel deep pride at that! My dad salvaged the bigger pieces and used them to build a garden shed- he even left the vinyl tile and wrote a little note with the date of our wedding.

  25. Courtney says...

    I work at an incredible place where we are one big family doing something huge together – bringing relief to communities around the world affected by natural disasters. Two of my coworkers recently got engaged while working to build a school in rural Mexico. When asked if their families would be able to make it to this little, remote town on such short notice, they both immediately replied, “You are our family”. Yesterday morning, we had a huge celebration with the local community to inaugurate their new, disaster-resilient schools. That afternoon, the community continued to celebrate with us as these two got married. The couple had planned a simple ceremony, but the community jumped in to shower them with traditional Mexican wedding games and made it so special for them. Having the venue, catering, and band essentially built in to one huge celebration with community help, they had very little to plan and stress about, and so got to focus on having a good time in the moment and celebrate all the love around them.

    • Stef says...

      I immediately recognized All Hands and Hearts in your comment Courtney! What a string of happy events – the school inauguration, the wedding, and the community embracing it all with their own generous celebration. Sounds like the happy couple applied many of these tips in their own unique wedding!

  26. Kim says...

    I wore satin slippers and was comfortable the whole night. :)

  27. Reidin says...

    My husband and I got married in November of last year and the best part of the day (beyond marrying my best friend) was when we were on the dance floor – the band was playing their last song, all of our friends and family surrounded us in this massive circle, singing our first dance song to us. It was just an overwhelming moment knowing that they were all there because of their love for us.

  28. Liz says...

    1) Take care of yourself in the weeks leading up to the wedding. Get lots of rest, eat some healthy meals, take your vitamins etc. I had a post-wedding crash on my honeymoon similar to post-finals in college and ended up getting really sick.
    2) It is ok if this isn’t the happiest day of your life. You might not feel the way you wanted to. Relatives/friends might piss you off. Pulling off a wedding might end up stressing the hell out of you. By all means, do what makes you happy, but sometimes best intentions don’t work out. It is one day and it is about making a commitment to your partner. You now have the rest of your life to build together and fill with meaning and special moments.

    • Christy says...

      Our wedding day is one of the worst days of my life. I found out how much I didn’t mean to a whole lot of people. The only thing that was right was my guy. I still get upset when I think of our special day and any other weddings. I had so many things that I wanted and we were young. And nobody thought it was right.

      Sorry…getting all worked up now.

      I wish I had the thoughts that it would be okay to not have it just so. But I wanted what I wanted and I got crap.

    • K says...

      My friends Grandma gave her the advice that your wedding shouldn’t be the best day of your life, it is just the very beginning of your life together. A lot of best days will follow.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      I love that, K.

  29. Marie says...

    Do what feels right; skip everything else.

    • Heather says...

      Ding ding ding! Listen to Marie! I wish I had done this when I got married.

  30. I just got married this summer & broke probably all of these rules. I had preplanned how I was going to love our first dance the most & overthought tons of tiny details that I just *knew* would mean so much. But in the end, the doors opened at the church & I saw my long hair scruffy husband & could have cared less about the rest of the day.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      what a beautiful comment!

  31. Julie says...

    Ummmm? Thank you for this!! I am a month out from my wedding and these were so nice to read this morning! I just keep thinking about the honeymoon (2 weeks in Italy ! ) to help calm my nerves. We are having a huge wedding because his family is so big that the thought of just us drinking wine the next two weeks without anyone we know around is what’s keeping anxiety kinda at bay.
    Also, if anyone has any honeymoon/dinner recs in Tuscany (Montepulciano/Florence/Sienna), Praiano/Positano, or Rome please share. I’m too busy to plan this very well!!

    • Jen says...

      Julie, my husband and I just came back from our honeymoon in the same parts of Italy and have so many recommendations!! For Tuscany, highly recommend Osteria di Casa Chianti for dinner and wine tastings & lunch at Castello Sonnino. We stayed at Il Paluffo, a tuscan villa and eco-resort in the Chianti region and it was just magical! For Positano, we stayed at La Fenice which has been run by a local Italian family for the last 37 years and has an amazing private beach with kayaks and a pool built into the cliffside, plus the best ocean views! They recommended this new restaurant that just opened a few weeks earlier in Nocelle (the village above Positano) called Rifugio dei Mele. It’s run by the same owners as Casa Mele and has the most incredible views! Call to make a reservation and they will pick you up–you have to walk along the Path of the Gods to get there and it was one of the most memorable dinners we had on our trip! Definitely also take a day trip exploring Ravello, check out Donna Rosa for dinner (also in Nocelle), do a morning hike along Path of the Gods and eat all the lemon slushies! In Rome, by far the best meal we had was at Prosciutteria Cantina Dei Papi in Trastevere – order the medium mixed board of fruit, meats and cheeses and some white wine! Hope you have an amazing honeymoon!!

    • Stephanie says...

      My husband and I went to Italy for our honeymoon (17 years ago!) it’s still the most amazing trip I’ve been on. We didn’t have dinner reservations ANYWHERE which blows my mind as I now plan all our trips around where we will be eating! This was the time before yelp of course. :) I don’t have any restaurant recommendations but I would recommend eating Gelato 🍧 everyday as I did! Best wishes on a beautiful wedding day. Steal away for a few or 15 minutes alone with your new husband in the middle of your party. ❤️

    • MS says...

      We just got back from our honeymoon in Italy! Our favourite part of Florence was the Oltarno neighbourhood. Have drinks at Italian Tapas (via S. Agostino) and dinner at Trattoria da Ginone (one of our favourite meals during our month in Italy).

      For Rome – BellaCarne was so good (get the fried artichokes!).

      As for Tuscany – the best part for us was driving the Brunello highway (Strada Provinciale del Brunello) and tasting wines all over.

      Have an amazing time!!

    • laura k says...

      just was in florence 2 days ago- too hot and crowded to be fun until we signed up for a cooking class! we went shopping with the tour leader/master chef in the most amazing food mart with so many interesting stalls- made sauce, ravioli, noodles, dessert – there were about 20 people in the group from all over and it was so much fun! I learned so much and we will make the same dinner together for friends and family when we get home, It was magic! I highly recommend a shared experience that you can use in the future! the name of the class was ” wanna be Italiano- the original cooking class and market tour in florence” I don’t work for them – just loved the experience so much! wish I could post pics of the ravioli we made- It was beautiful and delish!!!! Congrats on your wedding- we have been married 18 years and I love my guy more than ever!

    • Nina says...

      An afternoon trip near Rome: The Villa D’Este, especially its garden, in Tivoli. It’s a beautiful old (but restored) villa, including lots of murals, and a stunning, sensual garden with lots of fountains. Definitely honeymoon appropriate. Tivoli is a 30 minute busride from Rome. The bus leaves from, I think, the Metro station Punta Mammolo. Tivoli is a beautiful town in the mountains, a little more relaxed than Rome, great for browsing a little and having a nice drawn out meal. https://www.facebook.com/VilladEsteMibact

    • Amy says...

      I second Nina’s comment about Villa d’Este in Tivoli.. I was just there a few weeks ago! It is a beautiful villa with gorgeous fountains in the garden. If you like history, learning about the history of this villa and how they built the garden and fountains is also really interesting (like the fountains only use gravity and water pressure- no pumps!)
      Also, our last night in Italy we stayed close to the Rome airport (Fiumicino) since we had an early flight the next day, and we had dinner in Ostia at a restaurant called La Gnoccheria. The town is a little shabby, but we were in that area and wanted to find a place to eat that wasn’t one of the touristy seaside places. Dinner at La Gnoccheria turned out to be one of the best meals we had on the whole trip! We got a reservation at 7:30 (right when they opened) which was great because it was not busy yet and the very kind waitress had time to talk with us and explain the dishes and give recommendations. We also met one of the owners who was very nice and he made sure we had everything we needed. We had a board with meats and cheeses to start, and I had the pistachio gnocchi for my second plate. It was sooo delicious!! They make all their gnocchi and pasta in house, and you could tell they really cared about both the food they offered and their guests. It was the perfect meal to end our trip to Italy!

    • Julie says...

      I love you all. thank you! On every trip we take we always each take one individual day and plan the events for that whole day (the rest are all compromises and the must-dos). I have built my whole day around your recs and am seriously excited for Rifugio dei Mele and gelato and for the wedding planning to be over :)

  32. J says...

    One of the best decisions we made was cutting out portrait session short during the cocktail hour between ceremony & dinner. We sent our photographer off to take photos of our friends & family while we sat on a bench during golden hour and soaked in the just-married-joy.

  33. Amanda says...

    Make sure you can go to the bathroom in your dress. Seriously though.

    • Kate the Great says...

      THIS! I designed my dress so that the train could be buttoned up to look like a bustle. It helped with getting in the car, sitting down in any chair, and going to the bathroom. One strong button. So useful.

  34. Sara says...

    Before our wedding started we tied our rings together (in blue ricrac) and they were passed around to all our guests to touch and put some love into. I still look down at my ring and think of that day and all the people to who love us.

    • Em says...

      What a beautiful and simple idea! Thanks Sara <3

  35. Helga Thomsen says...

    I got married outdoors in October in Los Angeles. AKA fire season. The venue was in a canyon and there was a fire in the distance. Ashes fell on our guests. That’s the story we tell about our wedding . Plus the photos with the fiery sunset in the background are really beautiful.

  36. Mouse says...

    My first wedding in my 30s was slightly DIY in my parents backyard. The day was cloudy and rainy and we were anxious about that. We worked like dogs up until 2 hours before the start time, and then my now ex-husband and I said eff it, and took a nap. We woke up to cleared skies and people coming and we stopped worrying about anything and just were present. I think that’s key–whatever will happen will happen. Be there for your own experience. At one point there was a puppy running around the lawn with a piece of stolen meat, which was captured by the photojournalist we hired. I recommend photojournalists if you want pix that are not too formal and that look like the day itself. She also took posed shots for people who wanted them.
    My second wedding when I was in my 50s was at city hall and took 3 minutes and then we went to our favorite restaurant. Still married to this one….:)

  37. Chelsea K says...

    Do remember that only you two know how everything is “supposed” to go down, so if something doesn’t go quiet as you had hoped, it’s totally okay because your guests will be none the wiser. Lean in & enjoy the ride. Even a day that doesn’t go “perfectly” will feel pretty darn perfect at the end of the day when you’re eating cake & drinking fancy beers in bed with your person and you are MARRIED :)

    Side Note: have a cake stall themed dessert table that your friends can get your friends to contribute to. My mum single handedly put together an amazing spread for our day…
    Added bonus: there was so much left for cakeaway?

  38. Hali says...

    There really really really are NO RULES. I love Martha Stewart and Emily Post as much as the next etiquette loving woman, but this is the 21st century and if you’re getting married, you get to call ALL of the shots. I think wedding etiquette is one of those instances where the more you know the rules, the more you’re able to artfully break them. So have FUN breaking them. (Unless your parents are funding everything, then you’re going to have an easier time learning what’s really important to them up front.)

    You want no flowers at all? You want a rad craft cocktail bar and only passed tapas for food? You want BRIGHT neon colors? You want your invite to be a haiku? You want a sunrise wedding? You want everyone dressed entirely in white? My friends, do your own damn thing and make it the celebration of your dreams. The people who love you will see you so loud and clear and jump at the chance to play along.

    The other thing: people often underestimate space when planning wedding decor. Yes your kitchen table covered in beautifully crafted paper flowers looks like LOAD of decor, but if you’re filling a ballroom, you’re going to need a truck load of paper flowers to make it look like you think it will. Take all the projects you have in mind then quadruple the amount you think you need, then calculate the time it takes to make everything (or the money it takes to have someone else make everything- like flowers or favors) and double those numbers. DIY weddings are so cool but they’re anything but cute bonding time giggling with your friends over wine. They require super intense, organized labor.

    OH and I wish we were more on top of the water at our wedding. Friends got epically drunk which is funny now and I feel bad that we didn’t have someone “on staff” who’s soul job was to constantly be filling up water. Put water in the people’s hands!

    OHHHH and we opened all our cards the morning after the wedding and mindlessly pulled all the cash out and placed it in a separate envelope… we opened tons of cards that morning along with precious little gifts people packed from all over the world. DON’T DO THAT. While the moment of sitting on top of our hotel bed with piles of love notes around was is just one of the sweetest memories ever, just… wait. Do that when you have a calm mind, a notebook to track everything in, and a place to put everything. Your thank you note procrastination will be diminished by this kind of organization.

  39. A says...

    I read recently that unsolicited advice activates the same area of the recipient’s brain as direct criticism. So I offer no wedding advice to young lovers except to say, do what I didn’t and choose your spouse wisely. That’s really all that matters and the only thing you need to know.

    • M says...

      Here, here.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      That’s so interesting! Going to remember that.

  40. Decide what’s important to you and let the rest go. The venue and the food were important to me, so I was firm on those things. The rest of it, I took suggestions and advice and in some cases, just went with it.

  41. Julia says...

    My family owns a florist shop, so I feel a little disloyal saying this, but if you’re on ANY kind of budget, sit down well before your wedding and ask yourself: what would I spend to throw my absolute dream party? Like, a birthday party? Would it be $1000? $15,000? Whatever it is, write that amount down, and refer back to it like a daily prayer. I’m not saying you have to stick that amount exactly, but let it guide you. It is SO EASY to get caught up in wedding-industry bullshit, and all of a sudden you’re forty grand in debt and you’re STILL wondering if your wedding favors are pretty enough. Every single aspect of the modern bridal sales culture in this country is designed to make you feel like this is the one day of your life where money should be no object, but unless you’re suuuuuper rich, that’s just not true. So figure out what you can comfortably spend, and have a wonderful wedding day that you won’t still be paying off a decade later.

    • Lidia says...

      THIS!!! Yes, people will unknowingly pressure you to spend more because “you only get married once” and it’s your “special day” and you deserve to have what you really want. People made all sorts of comments, told me I’d never find a dress within my budget, told me I’d need at least 4k for flowers (what?) pushed me to go for venues and rentals out of our budget. Luckily, my husband and I had agreed on what our non-negotiables were (good photographer, open bar, pretty venue) and stuck to them. And everything else worked out!

  42. Tess says...

    Do: I echo others who said to just do what makes you happy and in a place that makes you happy.

    Keeping our wedding simple (only our immediate family) and in a place we loved to visit (Kennebunkport, ME) was one of the best decisions of my life.

    To be able to share the joy of your wedding after the fact to family and friends that were not there was fun and people were largely supportive.

  43. AndreaJane says...

    This is more of a premarital suggestion…When my husband and I got married at the tender age of 23 we had to undergo a few sessions of marital counseling (prescribed by the church we married in). It was worthwhile, but what would have been even MORE worthwhile was to have premarital counseling with an accountant. I advise all my friends, especially those getting married later in life or for the second or third time, to do this. The biggest disagreements are almost always about finance. It’s not very romantic but just think of it as a marital vaccination.

    • rachel simmons says...

      yes! My husband of 6 1/2 yrs and I also attended premarital counseling and it is worth its weigh in gold! Help to know fundamental things that arent “romantic” about a personal, childhood/unhealthy family dynamics that your spouse might bring into your marriage, what does that person do in conflict, do they fight,flight,freeze….etc. so good. Like adding tools to your marriage toolbox! Then kids come along and everything gets more “challenging” and you dig deep in those tough times and remember that foundation you laid for your marriage, <3

    • Meg says...

      This is such a great idea!

    • KC says...

      Premarital counseling is the best! We had three batches of it (weird multi-officiant situation) and learned different things from every single round. And so many of those things would have been absolute landmines if we hadn’t found out about them and figured some things out *before* they caused a “situation” – family dynamics! expectations about basically everything! financial habits and assumptions and current status!

      So, yes: premarital counseling. (Even just filling out an in-depth family-history and priorities and expectations questionnaire *separately* can start some very useful conversations. I emphasize *separately* because it is surprisingly easy to fudge things closer to unanimity if you fill them out together, but harder to paper over the “hm. I scored that priority as 1 out of 5, you scored it 5 out of 5” results – and even harder to paper that over when you’ve got a third person raising their eyebrows at you. :-) ) So you not only uncover landmines before they explode, but you also get practice with negotiation and conflict resolution when you’ve got a counselor *right there* and when there isn’t an immediate, highly-charged situation. Enthusiastically recommend, and also recommend getting it done as early in the engagement as possible (for behold, many people are very tired and overscheduled by the time they get within a month of the wedding).

  44. L says...

    Do what makes you happy. That’s it. Don’t worry about others’ expectations because now isn’t the time to please everyone. Nor could you if you tried. So sit down with your sweetheart, decide what bliss looks like to you, and go there.

    • Sasha L says...

      My advice exactly too, but you said it really well!! 100% agree!

  45. Joy says...

    I love CoJ and celebrate your efforts to diversify in many posts, but dang these images are so primarily white and heteronormative save for a couple persons of color and maybe one queer couple. It’s interesting since you all make a good effort, and I think it just shows how ingrained wedding ideals are. Would love to see a more expansive vision of couples and weddings!

    Ps. Didn’t read all the comments, this may have already been noted! ;)

    • anon says...

      It may be all perspective as I saw it as a quite diverse mix for a short article.

    • Lily says...

      Yes– this is especially true in terms of RELIGIOUS diversity. I felt so lost trying to plan an intercultural wedding where so much advice– like this post– totally didn’t apply. So much messaging I got how “this is your day!” was pretty ignorant of many non-white-secular-US cultural norms where the wedding is definitely about more about community and family and ritual– which we both wanted!– than concerns about what bridesmaids should wear or whatever. My concerns were like, I am ok with having a Hindu ceremony, but not at the auspicious time of 7 AM! My husband is ok with adding secular vows but not Christian prayers! How can we make my family comfortable when family-friends’ parents start walking in and out during the ceremony? How do we not disappoint people who came from halfway around the world who are expecting tea and snacks at regular intervals during the ceremony? Aaaah! Such a headache and I really could have used more media / online conversation about these issues during the planning phase, I kept thinking, I CANNOT be the only one.

      Not trying to be a hater to my favorite website of all time. I notice and sooo appreciate yalls constant attempts to be inclusive, hence this comment :)

    • Rebecca says...

      Granted I am someone who grew up in a primarily white and catholic small town, but this post seemed to have quite a bit of diversity to me? I saw different races, a queer couple, what looks to me like potentially a male in a dress (though I want to make no assumptions as to what anyone identifies as). From a truly “I want to learn” standpoint – can you help me understand what you were looking for in diversity in this article?

    • Kay says...

      Lily — I so hear you! I’m Chinese-Singaporean and so is my now-husband but even without having to deal with inter cultural issues there were so many religious issues to deal with. My in laws and hubby are Catholic so we agreed to a church ceremony even though I’m not religious at all, and dealing with allllll the church-related bureaucracy just about blew my mind. And then juggling my more traditional Chinese family’s expectations and trying to decide which customs to include and which to discard required a level of negotiations that I was frankly not prepared for. For example, my father wanted 15 tables to himself, for which he would control the guest list (150 pax) AND he wanted to keep all the “Ang pow” or red packets (cash gifts) from the guests — effectively making money off of my wedding, at my expense! 😡 I put my foot down and limited him to 5 tables at most, because I insisted on having at the most 25 tables for my entire wedding dinner. All this stress was due to the fact that as you said, Asian-type weddings are more about the community, the parents, and even the extended family, and a lot less about what the couples want, so all the “you do you” pointers don’t really apply — even when the couple is paying for everything themselves!

      All of which to say, I completely understand where you’re coming from. I only had the advice of my siblings to go on, because my parents were just looking out for what they could get out of my wedding for themselves, and I too wished there was some kind of relevant guide I could refer to.

  46. Claire says...

    Don’t: have an actual wedding.
    Do: elope

    My husband and I kept our upcoming wedding a secret for months, then called our families the night before. We got married in the park by a good friend, with my brother and his fiancee, my best friend and her husband as witnesses. The ceremony lasted three minutes (including photos)! We all went back to our house, popped a bottle of fancy French cider, then kicked everyone out and went to the coast. Best wedding ever.

    • Julie says...

      I can relate to this. My husband and I eloped, got married in a courthouse in Lahaina Hawaii, (we are from Australia). Our best friends were heading back from their US honeymoon and stopped in to be our witnesses. We went out to lunch at a fancy restaurant afterwards and threw a big party when we got home to Australia. It was great. I always felt our wedding day was just about us and never felt pressured to do anything traditional. So many people have commented to me over the years that they wished they had the courage to do what they wanted for their wedding but were caught up
      in family and peer group
      expectations. I say have courage and do what feels best and right for you.

  47. Kylie says...

    I got ready for our wedding with my husband, listening to hip hop, and drinking champagne. I have a vivid memory of straightening my hair in my underwear and dancing and it was so fun! Don’t let anyone pressure you into doing things the right/traditional way. We were so much more relaxed for the ceremony because we’d gotten ready with our best friend.

  48. Megan says...

    Do something “wrong” early in the ceremony-it takes all the pressure off. After I walked down the aisle I was so happy to see my soon-to-be husband that I kissed him without really thinking. That’s what I do when I’m happy to see him, but of course that part isn’t supposed to come until later! Everyone started laughing, it gave the whole rest of the ceremony a low-key, fun vibe, and I wasn’t nervous at all because I already had goofed up. It’s one of my favorite memories from that day, and the pic of my husband, our officiant, and me doubled over laughing right after is my favorite one.

    • Megan says...

      I thought I wrote this and this was a throwback post because my name is Megan and i did the exact same thing! It just felt so natural to kiss him when I first saw him I didn’t even think twice about it until it was like “whoops!”

  49. Alex says...

    Avoid taking your friend’s emergency xanax that you just took a tiny piece of because you were so nervous about standing in front of a crowd as you have a tendency to faint, because you will regret not remembering more. Passing out would have been preferable.

  50. Jessica says...

    If you’re going to pay for a photographer, meet them in advance and make sure you like their style and personality. You end up spending a fair bit of time with person. I chose mine based strictly on price and ended up finding her to be quite pushy, annoying and intrusive on our wedding day. It was a bit of a downer. I should have spent more to have someone with a more professional demeanour and chiller personality.

    • Erin says...

      My mom lived far away, and wanted to help with wedding planning, so I gave her the job of screening potential wedding photographers by phone. (My mom has a good nose for people’s personalities.) There was one photographer that my mom said was just SO NICE — we ended up using her and had a great experience. I agree that this is one wedding professional you really need to like, since you’ll interact with them a lot on the day itself.

  51. Lucy says...

    I am not going to call it a regret because I regret nothing of our beautiful wedding but I wish I encouraged our wedding photographer to get more shots of our family and friends. I now have 200+ photos of me and my husband so little of everyone else. A friend of mine at her wedding gave a couple of close friends disposable cameras to capture their view of the day and I absolutely love that idea. the prints turned out amazing.

    • Caroline L says...

      I feel the same way. I don’t have pictures of a lot of people and it turns out I am more interested in what everyone else was up to when we weren’t with them than I am of having 200 pics of us. And even though a bunch of our guests took a lot of pictures, I’d have loved to have professional pictures of everyone.

    • Yes! I wish I had given my photographer more direction. I have lots of great portrait-style shots of my guests, but very few photos of myself with my guests, or even with my husband, and not a lot of “action” photos apart from the ceremony. We also don’t have any photos of my husband with his family, but tons with mine. OOPS.

    • Amanda says...

      Same! We didn’t request shots of friends and family mingling be cause we thought that was a given. It wasn’t apparently, so we have few photos of our guests outside of the posed ones. I wish I had more!

    • KC says...

      I really wish that we’d gotten our photographer (or someone – anyone!) to take photos of the assembled people while they were sitting before/after/during the wedding – there was a platform, photos could have been taken to get almost everyone’s faces without people being blocked by other peoples’ heads – but no, it didn’t ever cross my mind. (but: it would have been so easy! so near-comprehensive of a who-was-there guest list! and nope.)

  52. Amy says...

    Professional photographers and videographers (with an aesthetic that truly speaks to you as a couple) is well-worth the splurge. This is not the time to rely solely on crowd-sourcing photos with a finger in half of them and motion-sickness-inducing videos in shot in portrait mode. We severely scrimped on flowers, table decor, and favors in order to afford our #1 picks for photographer/videographer. 100% NO RAGRETS.

  53. Ari says...

    Definitely spend time alone before the wedding and time with just your partner at some point during the festivities. Two of my favorite moments of the day were: 1) realizing that morning that I didn’t have a bouquet and walking over to the farmer’s market by myself to pick up a random assortment of herbs and flowers I would tie together. It was great and grounding to be alone and do something really simple like take a walk and go to the market. I also bumped into a few friends en route who would be at the wedding later and it was nice to feel like it would be a normal, casual day. It really took the pressure off and was a simple act of self-care. 2) Sneaking away during the party for 5 minutes to chat and reconnect with my husband. It was nice to laugh, hug, complain, whatever. We spent so much of the party separated and doing the rounds.

    I will say that I had a great attitude about my wedding going in. I knew it was going to be only 6 hours of my life and that I should not go to extremes or make big sacrifices (financial, health, etc.) for such a short time. What ultimately mattered was the lifetime of happiness with my husband. Also, I really cherished the wedding planning process itself as it really prepared me for what marriage sometimes is – big questions and decisions about how to spend money; articulating our values and what commitments we will make to each other; identifying who we most cherish and the ways we will celebrate and thank them for their love and support; and most importantly – what should we eat?! :)

    Almost everything that could have gone wrong at my wedding did go wrong (truly), but that’s life right? It was actually quite beautiful to roll with the punches alongside my husband and know we could take problems with grace and good humor. Going through our life together would be – and is – the same. Early on in the planning process, I read in the “A Practical Wedding” book something to the effect of you won’t remember the specific details of your wedding, but you’ll always remember how it *felt*. My advice to anyone is to go into the day with joy, love, generosity, and gratitude. Years later, you’ll always feel that warmth.

  54. Jess says...

    Make sure you know the timing in your ceremony! I’m American but got married at a city hall in England, so there was no rehearsal. The officiant gave us a few quick instructions right before the ceremony, but it was a blur and she wasn’t specific about timing. Once the music started up and my maid of honor went in, I hovered outside, expecting that everyone was going to stand for my entrance, and I would hear the rustling and that would be my cue. But in England everyone stands for the whole procession, so they were already up! My dad kept whispering “ready?” and I kept going “not yet, not yet, they have to stand!” until finally I heard the musician falter as he got to the end of Pachelbel’s Canon and started it over again! So I came down the aisle a full two minutes after my maid of honor. Everyone must have thought I’d been about to pull a runaway bride! My poor husband!!

  55. Katy says...

    My advice is don’t spend a lot. If you have a large or small budget, make it reasonable—don’t go into debt or rack up guilt or stress. While weddings are fun and wonderful, it is one short-lived celebration. It’s the marriage that is important. We were young and trying to please many people as we began planning. I just couldn’t swing tens of thousands of dollars on a wedding. So we told friends and family we were getting hitched in Vegas and anyone was welcome. My makeup, flowers, cake, photog, videographer, officiant, music, etc was all included. And there though wasn’t much choice, it was cheap and stress-free. Everyone had fun and we are still happily married 13 years later despite not having an expensive “dream” wedding.

  56. Amanda says...

    I have two pieces of advice I give people when I hear they are getting married. They always get stiff when I say I have advice and I love seeing them relax when I say what it is:
    1) If you love something about your wedding, don’t tell anyone. Just let them experience and enjoy it. You don’t need to hear their opinion and they don’t get to rain on your parade. Its your day, do what you and your love love. My mother in law was not happy about us being married outside the church I would never join and my husband had left. She still thinks its handy we were able to find a minister. He’s our anthropologist friend who got ordained online and who was only legal to do the ceremony the day before. She told him it was a lovely ceremony and was none the wiser.

    2) In the week before the wedding, go on a date with your spouse to be. It can be a walk, just get out together with no one else and don’t talk about the to do list. Remember why you’re doing all these crazy things and just love on each other!

  57. Kate says...

    The thing that my husband and I keep saying was 100% worth the big price tag was the band. We had SUCH an energetic dance party and it made our wedding feel like such a celebration! The food, the flowers, the cake, etc doesn’t nearly have as much of an impact.

  58. Katya says...

    We just got married 3 weeks ago and our wedding still feels like such a blur of excitement and nerves and joy and love! We got married in Utah where my parents have a tiny cabin in the middle of the woods. I knew how special that place is to both my husband and me and we wanted our guests (all of whom were from out of town) to experience it. I also knew that I would go crazy if I had to coordinate getting everything to the middle of the woods in order to have the dreamy (and refined) wedding I had always dreamed of. We decided to compromise and had a welcome dinner Friday night which everyone was invited to in my parent’s backyard. We had a taco food truck, ice cream, and a neighbor baked pies. We even had a few ukulele players :) It was so casual and fun and laid back and I didn’t stress at all about it because it wasn’t our *actual* wedding. We then had our wedding the next evening at a beautiful venue that took care of all the fancy details. It was really the best of both worlds.

    Oh, and I had my twin brother officiate which was by far the best part of the wedding.

  59. Francesca says...

    Yes to flats! In my case they were Birkenstock’s and I am so glad I thought about taking them with me. I wore high heels for the thrill of the one time (otherwise I never do) and because I wanted to please my mom who gave me a beautiful pair, but I knew, for the love of me, that I wouldn’t have lasted long in those especially since we were having our reception in the Riomaggiore castle which is more of a ruin with impossible-to-walk-on cobblestone. My advice: be yourself and do your thing while trying to please your loved ones where you can. Your joy is their joy and theirs is yours.

  60. Lisa says...

    I would say really plan the financial stuff – who is paying for what, what a realistic budget is and any kind of deals you can take advantage of. One of my colleagues (and unfortunately he got married after we did) used a British airways Amex to pay for as many things as possible. It meant that they earned enough points for a companion voucher flight (so you pay for one flight at whatever class, and get a second got free – only pay airport tax). So in the end they only paid for one of their honeymoon flights.

    I would also say get a video, even if it’s just a friend shooting on their cell phone. We decided against it and it’s a huge regret of mine. I would love to be able to watch our wedding video with our children, but we don’t have one

    • Bex says...

      I agree about the video! I didn’t think I wanted one and when my grandpa unexpectedly passed a year later, all I wanted to do was watch him officiate our wedding over and over.

    • Stella says...

      I didn’t. But my dad took one. I got the tapes around my 10th anniversary and had them digitized. I saw things I never knew happened. My dad wasn’t on the video and he passed away about 5 years in to my marriage. I love having this gift from him. Videos, especially those that aren’t overly edited, are the best.

  61. Hannah G says...

    Coming with all love and understanding from a bride who loved her dress, but dang it should’ve paid for a better tailor: if you can swing it, get the alterations. I regret it looking back at pictures. Even if you don’t love the dress, you’ll feel better in it if it fits.
    Either way, your wedding will be lovely and I hope it’s so fun and relaxing!

  62. Jacqueline says...

    Here is my best wedding planning advice from many years working in the industry (and as a very reluctant bride!): Choose 3 things as a couple that are non-negotiable. They should represent you as a couple and the things you care most about. Think size of wedding, great/particular food or caterer, special band, destination, officiant etc. Spend money on them and do not let anyone else (ahem family) talk you out of them. It’s also good practice as a couple to get aligned on something as a team. After that, let the rest go. If table settings and decor aren’t one of your three things, it really doesn’t matter which charger plate or chair you choose, if someone else cares about this, let them. This will help keep you from agonizing over a million details you don’t even really care about, saving time and money and letting other stakeholders (if you have them) feel heard and involved.

  63. AP says...

    Be exactly who you are on your wedding day, and don’t succumb to people telling you what you’re going to want. An example: I am not a huge makeup person. I love a good set of false lashes, clean skin and pink cheeks. Everyone kept telling me I would want my makeup done that day because of all the photos. I got a few makeup trials done–airbrushing, etc–and felt SO gross and not like myself after each one. Fast forward to my wedding day: I did my own makeup the way I always do, just a bit more heavy-handed. False lashes, clean skin, pink cheeks. I’ve never felt more beautiful and am SO glad I didn’t listen to anyone else.

    • Jessica says...

      This reminds me of my experience wedding dress shopping. I was very practical and unemotional about the whole planning and knew I didn’t want a veil. Every shop I went to, the shop ladies kept expecting me to have a big emotional response to trying on a dress and they all kept insisting I try on a veil, because “it’s the one time in your life you’ll get to wear one” (why is that a thing I should care about?!). Finally at one shop, I relented just to shut the lady up. She put the veil on me with this smug, knowing look, like she knew better than me. My reaction: “I hate this”. I don’t know why these ladies think the know me better than myself!

  64. cg says...

    I’ve said this here before on other Dos and Don’ts of wedding posts, but I’ll share it again:

    1) Appoint someone to be the point person the minute you start the festivities (whether it’s walking down the aisle, or marching up the steps to City Hall). Whatever happens, any questions, something goes wrong… that goes to the point person to make a decision. That way you’re not burdened with concern or guilt about something not going right and having to make a decision. Best thing I ever did. Apparently I didn’t find out that my relatives didn’t have any tea at our tea ceremony, they had hot water… yep, we forgot to bring the tea.

    2) Sexy undies may seem like the right thing to wear, but more importantly, comfortable undies are key. No one wants to fuss with a wedgie, or a slipping bra. It doesn’t sound sexy, but wear comfy undies (if you wear anything at all).

    3) The day goes by in a flash. Before you say “I do” take a moment to pause and look around to take a snapshot in your head.

    4) You make the day special, not how many flowers, what flavor cake, where you had it at, or how many guests you invited. Set the tone and never look back. It’s one day, the rest to come is the more important part with your partner.

    • cg says...

      *correction: Apparently I didn’t find out until after my honeymoon, that my relatives didn’t have any tea at our tea ceremony, they had hot water… yep, we forgot to bring the tea.

    • KC says...

      100% on the wearing something comfortable. Avoid the distraction of having to think about/deal with things other than your wedding: wear stuff you will be adequately comfortable in for the whole time (or if you *must* wear something uncomfortable for a photo ideal, then at least schedule in a swap and have a backup plan). It is hard enough juggling talking to multiple people at a reception (while, sometimes, also trying to eat and don’t forget Remembering The Moment); you do not need to add “trying to fix a slipping bra” or “trying to ignore foot pain” to the mix. Basically, anything you can clear away that would be attention-distracting on the day of: do it.

  65. Bonnie says...

    “That’s not for me, but you can certainly do that with your wedding (or vow renewal or whatever)” comes in handy. Don’t go in debt that will be with you for a long time for one day. It doesn’t mean you love each other any more than a ceremony/celebration that you actually can afford.

  66. Caroline says...

    My twin sister and I are both engaged and getting married in the next 9 months (my poor parents) so we keep sharing the best wedding advice we hear:

    1. Remember that this is supposed to be the best day of YOUR life, no one else’s. Plan for what makes you happy and don’t worry about the rest.
    2. Don’t forget to find your partner and spend time with them at the wedding! I’m thrilled to be having a 20 person intimate dinner so luckily I get to spend every second of my wedding with my new husband (we can split up at the after party!!) but it’s so easy to forget this when you have so many people to say hello to. (A friend of ours got married last weekend and told us the next day she was shocked how little time she spend with her husband that weekend….!)
    3. Y’all. DO NOT go in debt over a wedding. I worked in the industry for 7 years and I love weddings and pretty things like the rest of them, but again – see #1.

    • Hilary says...

      Haha my sister and I got married 3 months apart and my parents graciously funded the weddings. At the second wedding, my dad gave a great toast being like “aaaandddd we’re done. Give us some grandkids if you’d like, otherwise don’t call us for anything else!” It was so much fun planning our weddings together though!

  67. Hilary says...

    DO: Prioritize what’s important to you and what you’re willing to let go of/cut the budget on/etc. We prioritized venue, food, and photographer so we were willing to splurge there and really think about what we wanted. We didn’t care much about flowers and other things so it was easy to make cuts there.

    Also, be considerate of your wedding party. I see all these brides doing destination bachelorettes/huge bridal showers (and several of them!)/etc. and I just wonder how these ladies are affording all of this! If you want to do all of those things with your girls that’s fine, but give them an out if they can’t afford it/don’t want to go/can’t take the vacation days.

    Don’t: Go over budget! It’s not worth it!

    • Kate says...

      And let your poor bridesmaids and groomsmen sit with their dates at dinner!! My husband has been a groomsman so many times and I hate it when we don’t get to sit together for the dinner and toasts. I already had to sit through the ceremony and cocktail hour by myself because the wedding party was doing wedding things, don’t separate us for half the dang night!

  68. Judy says...

    Just posted but I have one more – if you are going to spend money on two things, let them be a good band and an amazing photographer that you trust. No one remembers wedding food, or flowers, or honestly even what your wedding dress looked like (except you of course..). But people will go wild for a good band, it will MAKE the party, and all you’ll have after the day is done is the incredible pictures. So invest in the fun and the memories!

    • Liz says...

      Agree on the photographer! I love our wedding photos and am glad that our day was captured for us to enjoy many years later.
      I think a lot of it depends on the couple/guests personalities and preferences though. My friends and family all love food, trying new restaurants together etc. They still rave about the food at our wedding five years later :)

  69. Judy says...

    Perfect timing! I have been waiting four years to comment with my wisdom on a post about weddings/marriage, and now I finally can because I just got married on Sunday!!! I echo so much of these (we even had a bonfire with s’mores! which was SO nice for the people who didn’t feel like dancing).

    My main advice is to get friends and family involved as much as possible. Our friend, a florist, did all of our flowers. My friends, jewellers, designed my engagement ring. Our friends – all incredible musicians – were our wedding band. My husband’s friends helped set up the twinkly lights and my husband made our chuppah himself. Our photographer was a friend-of-a-friend and we felt like we knew her. I know this probably doesn’t always work (and might even be the cause of drama) but for us it made the wedding 100x more meaningful and special.

    Oh – also, GRAPES! Have someone dedicated to keeping your blood sugar up!! I swore I’d never be a bride who “forgets to eat” (literally never happened to me in my life) but I did! My sister’s boyfriend followed me around for a while with a bag of grapes and I ate when I could – it saved me!!!

    • KC says...

      Grapes are brilliant – no mess, a little bit of water, sort of healthy.

      (I fed brides gummi bears when I was in my twenties. It worked, but grapes would have been way better.)

  70. jen says...

    Mine are practical tips: dont get too drunk or you’ll not remember the reception, and if you drink beer, pour it into as wine glass so pics will look better.

  71. Nina says...

    Skip the wedding party if having to pick your “favorite” women stresses you out! Don’t book a makeup artist if you don’t like makeup! It’s your day! Having compromised on the number of guests (I have a large family and my parents have lots of friends who saw me grow up….) and overall size of the wedding, I decided I wanted the rest to be simple and fun. Everyone had a blast and remarked how much the wedding was “us”!

  72. Daniela says...

    I love this! I’m getting married in two months and cannot wait.

    My future MIL was very set on wanting the wedding to go her way but we stuck with what we wanted. We are getting married at SF city hall and then my parents are taking us out for a very nice dinner. My mom even hooked us up with a nice surprise hotel and paid for our honeymoon cottage. I’m so stoked for how low key it’ll be.

    My one regret is that I agreed to go wedding dress shopping just for fun and ended up with a dress I don’t really love because I got overwhelmed and got one even though I had my eye on a less traditional one. I don’t feel like I can change it up now since again, my parents paid for it and I can’t return it. I’ll probably make it fun with my favorite leopard flats.. But it doesn’t even fit right and I’m not about to pay to get it tailored. So kind of a bummer, but it is beautiful! Hopefully someone will read this and know it’s okay to go with your gut when it comes to a dress.

    • Jessica says...

      Daniela, I totally get what you mean about the dress regret! I didn’t want to get one, but lost sight of what I wanted in the should-scape of wedding planning. It’s not me at all so I decided to eat the (not-so-bad) cost, donate it, and get the jeans and top I wanted in the first place. Accepting that it was a mistake helped me move past the stress.

    • We got married at SF city hall then had an amazing dinner with our parents, my brother-in-law and our photographer. BEST DAY EVER!! And best decision for us in terms of what kind of wedding we wanted.

      As for the dress, maybe sell that one and get one you really love? I bet your parents would understand that you want to feel like the best version of yourself on your wedding day. I do love that you’re thinking of styling it to be more you (in case selling it is 100% a no-go).

      Wishing you an amazing day!!

    • Alannah Taylor says...

      I definitely agree.. go back and buy the dress that is YOU! My husband and I secretly eloped and so I wasn’t able to show anyone my dress in the lead up, and after each fitting (I had it handmade to keep budget intact) I would be really disappointed and although it all came together on the day I wish I hadn’t settled for that dress.

    • Daniela says...

      Ladies, thank you. I appreciate your input so much! After reading your comments I decided to buy the original dress. I got a wave of excitement when I added it to my cart, and I am super excited to see how it’ll look!

  73. Bryn says...

    Despite many protests from friends and family, I did the majority of my own flowers! I have always loved flowers, and took this as an opportunity to invest in a passion of mine by take a floral arranging class with a pro (Max Gill), and sourcing hundreds of flowers from my mom’s garden, local farms, and a few dozen roses online. The day before my wedding my tiny apartment was literally filled to the brim with flowers and mint and raspberry canes, it was the best smelling place in the world, and I had the time of my life assembling overflowing centerpieces and garlands and big milk buckets full of flowers. We were able to get WAY more flowers for our budget, with the exact varieties and colors I wanted, and we had so much fun. I highly recommend taking on big personal projects, even if others think they’d be too stressful.

    • Michaela says...

      I loved doing my own flowers too! It was very calming to make pretty flower arrangements the day before. Just me and some flowers.

    • KC says...

      I also endorse crazy ideas, but would say instead of “big personal projects” – “one big personal project” (unless you do not have a job or other life commitments leading up to the wedding, in which case, eh, schedule your time appropriately?)(and if you are defending your PhD and getting married in the same week, or getting married and then immediately moving out of the country, or something similar, maybe downgrade to one *small* personal project). I’d also suggest, for every massive undertaking, making sure it’s something you personally actually care about and want to personally do, not that you vaguely and generically figure is a Part Of A Wedding and where the sole motivation is saving money. (I am a fan of DIY to save money – but in that case don’t go fancy semi-pro, go simple.)

      … and also I would add that it is okay to ditch the big personal project if it turns out to be killing you. Low-key backup plans: good stress-reducers, even if you don’t end up needing them.

      (those flowers sound awesome, by the way!)

    • Elena says...

      I also did the flowers by myself with help from my maid-of-honor and my mother-in-law. I ordered all the flowers at my favorite florist shop, discussing color schemes and deciding on a somewhat wild mix of flowers with lots of green and herbs. We had the best time preparing the flowers, assembling and styling the various bouquets. Everyone commented on the beautiful florals and I gave all the flowers to my friends and family at the end of the night. People kept sending me pictures how they displayed the flowers in their homes. It made me so happy.

  74. Julie says...

    1. Don’t let people hijack your wedding. I had an aunt tell me to “invite less friends” and let kids under 18 attend. Sorry Ann, unless you’re going to give me the money to pay for 20 more dinners so that an eleven year-old can be bored, the answer is no.
    2. The little details won’t matter in the end. If your flowers aren’t the right shade, if it rains, if the steak isn’t medium rare-the important thing is that you’re marrying your favorite person.
    3. Enjoy every second, planning a wedding takes months and months and the day itself feels 32 minutes.
    4. If you have a reception, request DJ Kool’s “Let Me Clear My Throat”, people go nuts for that song.

  75. Hilary says...

    My fiance and I have been together for 7 years and will be engaged for 2.5 once we finally get married. We went through so many different options on what to do and nothing felt right until one day he said out of the blue, let’s go get married in Switzerland and have four guests. One of his best friends and his wife and one of my best friends and her husband will be the only ones joining us for a wedding weekend at a beautiful hotel in Gstaad and we couldn’t be happier!

  76. Le says...

    Uh, if you’re on the pill, and newly on the pill, have someone else in charge of reminding you to take it. ;)

  77. Ro says...

    DON’T forget that you are having this wedding as a celebration of the start of your marriage! The rest of your life is the most important part to worry about.

  78. laura says...

    I’m getting married in 3 weeks (!) and while I’m really excited, I definitely caved to a lot of family pressures to expand our guest-list from ~30 to 60 people.. while Im sure it will be great to have everyone there, the larger guestlist made us feel like we have to do a lot more of the traditional stuff we wanted to avoid. and while this frustrated me so much for a while, I’ve calmed down and will plan to just go with the flow. We also included more “just us” time to keep the intimate feel we want.
    We’re going to go get coffee with our dog that morning, and read eachother our vows privately at our favourite park to share that special moment together first.

    • Melanie says...

      That’s lovely! What a beautiful way to start your lives together. Congratulations!

  79. Charlotte says...

    Is there any way to ask where Linda’s dress is from? She looks so stunning!

    • Traci says...

      I was wondering the same!

  80. Twyla says...

    The best advice I heard prior to getting engaged was: don’t have anyone in your wedding party that you feel obligated to have. I remembered that and said a firm ‘no’ (probably the only no I said in the whole process) when several people suggested I should have this person, or that cousin, or so-and-so’s kid. I had my two dearest friends stand up for me and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  81. Kate says...

    I have to second that the thing that go wrong can lead to the most magic. I had to plan and pay for my rehearsal dinner as well as my wedding, a fact that I was admittedly a bit resentful of, and ended up pouring most of my energy into the logistics of the wedding and somehow only planned the bare minimum for the rehearsal dinner: I had had the venue and food lined up, but basically nothing else, so when I showed up, I was an anxious mess, kicking myself for not thinking of who would sit where and what we would do besides eat. I’m from Colorado and our wedding was in California, but because I had grown up spending summers on the Jersey Shore, I opted for a casual Lobster Clambake to share that part of my history with my new family and friends. We were stumbling through the event and once everyone got a lobster on their plate I looked at my future in-laws and land-locked friends and realized none of them knew how to eat a lobster – they were staring nervously at their crustaceans, unsure where to start! I spent about 30 seconds panicking and shaming myself for not planning better, then rolled up my sleeves and went around to each person’s plate, cracking lobsters with my bare hands. I looked around the room and my family from the east coast had started doing the same for the others at their table. My heart swelled as I realized I literally could not have planned this special moment where my people would bond over tearing lobsters apart with their bare hands. It was a great ice breaker and really set the tone for the celebration. The wedding was special as well, but I’ll never forget that moment with the lobsters as long as I live.

    • Melanie says...

      Love it!!🦞🦞🦞

    • cg says...

      OMG, I love this so much ^^^

  82. GoBlueMom says...

    One of the best pieces of wedding advice I got was to follow the ‘Rule of Three’ – look at no more than three vendors for anything. No more than three florists, caterers, dress shops, etc. Preparing for a wedding can be exhausting with endless options for everything. Picking my favorite of three choices felt much less daunting… and I, who feared I would turn into a bridezilla, enjoyed the whole planning process.

    • Cooper says...

      Nice! I also heard not to attempt more than three DIY elements and I am glad I took that advice!

    • Breamons says...

      This is HUGE – this is such a great idea!! Just pick the three within your price range (!!!) and it’ll all work out.

  83. Meredith says...

    Do spend the time and money to go to pre-marital counseling. Remember that a wedding is one day and a marriage is for a lifetime. Invest accordingly!

    • Maranda says...

      I couldn’t agree more with this tip!

    • Katie N says...

      THIS. I’ve heard about 2 divorces in the past month, both from folks married less than a year. AND their main reason for not wanting a divorce isn’t love/trying to make it work, but “we paid so much for the wedding!”. If not counseling, at minimum maybe download a list of questions to talk about some night over wine – if that’s a struggle, look into outside help. People these days (myself included) get married later in life, when they’ve had a few years of self-discovery, and I think that plays a part in frustrations over how things are done at home, finances, etc – when you’ve each had your own life it’s that more important to figure out the way forward together.

    • Emily says...

      Agree. Great advice!

  84. Mallory Wilkerson says...

    YES! Wear whatever color you want. My husband and I eloped a week and a half ago on the trail at Mount St. Helens, and I wore an ELECTRIC BLUE Marchesa dress (with my hiking boots) because that color has always felt so me. I have been reading CoJ forever, and I remember when Joanna first did a post about colorful wedding dresses. Something clicked in me, and I knew that if I ever got married, I would not be wearing white. Thank you, Jo for showcasing so many different types of weddings here on CoJ!

    And for anyone who is struggling with wanting to elope but worried about letting what feels like everybody down, you (very most likely) will not regret it. We were able to make our day full of what we love: color, donuts, the beautiful outdoors, and each other. :)

    • Sarah says...

      Congratulations, Mallory! Now I want to see a photo of you and your wedding dress and hiking boots. I bet you looked stunning (and with a backdrop of Mt. St. Helens, I can’t even imagine how breathtaking that was!)

    • Melanie says...

      Yes yes yes!! Good for you! And please, post a picture…sounds gorgeous 😃

    • Thank you so much, Sarah and Melanie! Mt. St. Helens was so magical. It was my first time there. I don’t think I can upload a picture here, but you can see one on my instagram by going to @mallorywilkerson or https://www.instagram.com/p/Bz_kAn3lWk5/

    • Stephanie Frederickson says...

      Mallory–Just looked at your photos on Instagram. Absolutely stunning!!!

    • Mallory Wilkerson says...

      Thank you, Stephanie!!!

  85. Laura says...

    Make it about the two of you! My now husband and I do not like being center of attention so a big wedding was not us; after much reflection we decided to elope to SF City Hall and make it a day about us and our new life together. Best decision we ever made!

  86. Bec B. says...

    My biggest don’t is having a wedding that you can’t afford. We went to city hall to get married and celebrated with family and friends in our backyard later on.

    We DIYed a lot for our reception, which made it affordable, but I’d echo Jill’s sentiments. Our friends and family helped A LOT, and my lack of communication likely made it a lot more stressful than it should have been for them. Although, one of my favorite memories from my wedding is a friend, who doesn’t have a DIY bone in her body, glueing together a sign for me – it still makes me teary eyed just thinking about it.

    A few cost savers: buy your dress online (Nordstrom and Macy’s have a ton of beautiful white dresses), get your cake from your local grocery store (we had them do naked cakes and I put them on cake stands – at $15 a cake you can afford a trial run if it makes you nervous!), and find a talented, but up and coming photographer (shout out to Susie Moreno if you’re in the Portland, OR area)

    • Melanie says...

      I ordered my dress online from Nordstrom’s. I couldn’t afford bridal shops and just couldn’t take the pressure of going to stores trying on dresses. It wasn’t fun for me. This was a huge stress reliever.

  87. Liz says...

    Don’t be afraid to ask for help! I’m a big planner, and so I planned every detail of our wedding myself. It was very stressful! On the day itself I finally let go and my friends were so wonderful – setting up the flowers, bringing snacks while we were getting ready, bringing me my flats when my feet hurt, even making sure we had enough mimosas all morning. It was such a memorable day and I was finally able to relax and enjoy all of the hard work I had put in!

  88. Lorraine says...

    Do not succumb to anything that feels obligatory. This is YOUR day, and you should enjoy it unconditionally! For me, this meant eating nearly my entire dinner with my husband at our little sweetheart table before making the rounds.

    Do lean on your wedding party – they are happy to support you! On the day of, there were so many little tasks that I could have taken on myself, but divvied up with my bridesmaids who were in a better state of mind to remember these things anyway. And they were so happy to make my day that much easier.

  89. Tammy says...

    Don’t be too serious! Our ceremony was FULL of laughter and joy. We also had friends surprise us with speeches during the ceremony, which is how the “Family Ties” theme song ended up being recited. (The show was part of our online dating story.) The whole crowd joined in the “sha na na na” at the end, which was unexpected and awesome.

  90. AG says...

    Don’t feel obligated to go in any specific order! We planned to go the traditional route: Ceremony, Cocktails, Dinner, Cake, Dancing. However, my father was hospitalized a few days before the ceremony and he wasn’t released in time to make it to our 4:30pm ceremony. After about 5 seconds of thought we switched the order: Cocktails, Dinner, Ceremony, Cake, Dancing and had THE BEST TIME. The worst part about being a guest at a wedding? Showing up hungry and having to wait for the ceremony to be over before you can get a drink. We inadvertently avoided this and our guests RAVED about it. We’ve even had a few people “steal” our timeline for their own weddings.

    • Em says...

      This is brilliant. :) I’m already married, or I would totally do this!

    • Kate says...

      Brilliant!! Oh man, and the fun anticipation I’m sure everyone was feeling!! This is so perfect!

    • Melissa says...

      Oh man!!!!! If I didn’t already have a wedding I would SO DO THIS!!!!!

      We did serve drinks when everyone was arriving for the wedding + finding seats for the ceremony. We still feel like it set the tone for a fun, relaxed, day and evening. Hey, we’re just here to celebrate!

      Glad your dad was able to be there ❤️❤️

  91. Maranda says...

    I just got married a little over 2 months ago so I have ALL the tips!

    My #1 biggest tip of all would be to quickly start reading the blog A Practical Wedding. That website and all of their articles helped me so much! From the practical (how to reserve hotel blocks, write your vows, talk about financial stuff) to the fun details (bridal shower decorations, music selections, etc) they have it all!

    My other advise would be:
    Focus on the feeling instead of how things look- At the end of the day you’re going to remember the emotion and joy of the wedding vs how your flower arrangements looked.

    People will not change just because you’re getting married- I feel like this sounds really negative, but I don’t mean for it to be! I have a very rough relationship with my mother-in-law. She has a huge flair for the dramatics and tends to exaggerate stories to get a rise out of people. I so wanted for things to be different during the wedding planning process, but it wasn’t. She remained who she was, and once I accepted that it was easier to ignore and focus on what really mattered and made me happy instead of letting her actions frustrate me.

    You don’t have to buy everything brand new- My wedding decor largely consisted of items that I bought second hand from wedding consignment groups on Facebook. My biggest budget tip is to see if you have a friend getting married either a few months before or after you and see if there’s any decor you would like to split. My best friend was getting married 5 months after me and we decided to go in on a few decoration items together. It saved us so much money and nobody even noticed the overlap!

  92. Cyd says...

    Best advice: No matter what happens, at the end of the day if you are married the wedding was a success!

    And “problems” can make the best memories: we had our favorite donuts instead of a cake, which didn’t show up until after the reception. Instead of freaking out, some of our wedding party joined us in giving away 8+ dozen donuts in the middle of the night in downtown Houston. It was remarkably entertaining to be in a wedding gown in downtown Houston giving out late night snacks to random people and getting well-wishes from strangers.

  93. Bella says...

    My biggest wedding recommendation, at least for those on a budget, is to try your best to stay away from the entrenched wedding industry and corresponding price mark-up. We found a gorgeous “salon” room in a 19th century concert hall, and because it was too small for most weddings they had never done one and gave it to us for the entire day and night for $1100 including a bartender, cleanup, and private dressing room with a very magical turret. We did have to get creative with our invite list, and in the end could only afford (and fit!) to have 40 people for the full ceremony and dinner, but then everyone helped move the tables and chairs and we opened it up to an additional 40 friends who just came to dance and have drinks with us from 9pm-2am! We also ordered bbq takeout from our favourite restaurant, and had it delivered in a taxi and served buffet style – $500 for the tastiest dinner with tonnes of leftovers, and everyone appreciated the departure from standard catered fare. I know this guerrilla style wedding wouldn’t work for everyone, and we got super lucky with help from talented friends and family doing everything from the flowers to the photography to the dj-ing, but the wedding of my dreams came together with three months planning and less than $10,000, so just be open to other possibilities – they’re out there!

    • Emma says...

      Cup of Jo—please do a post about wedding financial stuff! $10k is a huge sum in my mind… frankly $1000 sounds like a lot. But I know that the wedding average is well over 15k in America. Where does the money go? How do you know what to pay vendors? (I realize it varies regionally but are there any kind of industry standards??) How do you talk to parents about contributing? Is that appropriate? (I cant imagine asking my parents but I know they would probably offer something.) Is the groom’s family ever involved financially? So many questions!!

  94. Sarah Beth says...

    “Stop & Take Mental snapshots.” This advice was given to my husband and I before our wedding and we made sure to do it. Multiple times throughout the day I actively paused to simply take a look around and focus on the moment. These are my most vivid and cherished memories. The day has so many moving parts it can become a blur – don’t miss it!

    • Ariana says...

      Yes to this!! We got married outdoors on a flower farm, and to leave the reception we had to drive up a hill and around the corner. At the end, when we left, we got to the top of the hill and parked. No one was watching us anymore, so no one knew we were still “there” (albeit a few hundred feet away at least). We looked back, turned the car off, and just watched the scene–string lights glittering, the band jamming, friends still dancing under the open-air pavilion. We sat on the grass and watched this scene–where we’d just gotten married and reveled in joy with our family and friends for hours–in mostly silence and in immense gratitude for at least five minutes. That moment was the epitome of indescribable joy for me. I am so glad we didn’t miss it. We took one, blurry actual photo, which I love, but the mental snapshot of that sweet moment will stick with me forever.

  95. Darcy says...

    Throw away the idea that this will be The Best Day of Your Life.

    Maybe it will! Or maybe it will just be okay! Most likely it will be a mix of both. “Best days” are organic and often unexpected, and therefore outside of our control. Stay present, have your wedding experience, and accept whatever it ends up being.

    • Caroline says...

      Oh my gosh, this!! I think it puts so much pressure on the day too. I hope my wedding day isn’t the best day of my entire life! I’m still so young!

  96. Amy says...

    Looking back on my marriage, 19 years later, I think that the only two things that really mattered: great food and a wonderful photographer! The day goes by so quickly and there is so much love to take in and reflect back. Making sure the food was out of this world and that we would have amazing photos to capture the day was key!

    • Barbara says...

      Someone gave me this advice before our wedding five years ago and I swear it was the best advice we were given for wedding planning. Our guests still remember our wedding for the food, and we remember all of the little details of the day!

  97. KL says...

    Assign one family member/ friend who knows all the cousins and aunties/uncles for your family, and one family member/friend from your partner’s clan and put them in charge of wrangling people for the group wedding photos. Your photographer will likely ask you for a list of who should be in the bigger shots (and if they don’t ask, provide one), but it’ll be a lot less “UNCLE JIM? WHO IS UNCLE JIM?”-type chaos.

  98. Emma says...

    Ooof. I just got married so I have a TON of tips!

    1) Do pick a venue that reflects your values/wishes as a couple. My husband and I always knew we wanted to get married somewhere in the Great Outdoors, because that is where we are happiest. We picked a camp in Vermont on a lake w/ cabins and tents for wedding guests to stay in. It was completely off the grid, with no cell signal. It was the perfect venue for us, but my husband’s family in particular was very anxious about it. My MIL once referred to it as “a destination wedding without a destination.” *EYE ROLL* By the time the wedding rolled around we had been on the receiving end of so much negativity regarding the venue, that we were wondering what we had been thinking picking it. AND THEN….it was the most perfect weekend. Dozens of people told us it was the best wedding they had ever been to, and my MIL who had been so skeptical ended up loving it and having a wonderful time. The camp was a stroke of genius and allowed people to really unwind and enjoy the moment. So, stick to your guns and do what feels right. It will be right.

    2) Don’t: Wedding parties. My husband and I had a MOH and Best Man, but we didn’t have bridesmaids or groomsmen. It was the best decision ever. The morning of my wedding while I was getting ready, lots of family and friends stopped by to hang out with me and I was surrounded by my loved ones all day, instead of just a handful of people. I didn’t make my friends buy dresses they didn’t want, I didn’t hurt anyone’s feelings, and, again, I did what felt right for me. My friends still threw me a super fun bachelorette party with a big group in Maine. I don’t feel like I “missed out” and I feel like I gained a lot.

    3) Do write personal vows. We delivered personal vows to each other at our ceremony and it was wonderful to stand up in front of everyone and state in my own words why I love my husband and why I want to spend my life with him. Also, writing them allowed both of us time to reflect on the meaning of marriage and on our commitment to each other.

    4) LADIES — don’t worry so much what you look like. I felt so much pressure to be perfect. It was terrible in the lead up to the wedding stressing constantly about ‘looking my best.’ Spoiler alert: I didn’t end up looking my best on my wedding day, but I looked fine, and guess what? I don’t care. I had an amazing time and I will cherish the memories of that beautiful weekend forever. The fact that I don’t love how I look in my wedding photos is slightly disappointing, but also just doesn’t matter that much given how much joy the weekend has given me overall.

    5) Do: be in the moment and have the best time ever. I hated wedding planning but my wedding truly was the best weekend of my life and the memory still brings me joy every day, almost 2 months out.

    <3

  99. J says...

    If a videographer isn’t in the budget, ask someone to record the speeches, first dances, ceremony, other random stuff on a cell phone! Our photographs are incredible, but looking at some of those videos transports me back to the moment like nothing else.

  100. Erin G. says...

    But Hallie, IS NICK SINGLE?

  101. Emily says...

    Honor those who came before you…

    My husband and I were married on Lake Champlain in Vermont, where my grandparents used to have a modest cottage. As a little girl we visited them there often. My favorite memories were on that lake and in that little cabin. I can still smell her kitchen there and hear my grandpa starting up the little boat after dinner. My grandmother was very much alive and well through our engagement and planning and was so looking forward to visiting Vermont again. Sadly, she died a few months before our wedding. My florist placed a small blue pansy in the center of my bouquet to honor her. I kept glimpsing at it throughout the day and feeling her with me. She was my person and because of her I had a place in this world that felt so special to me. I missed her so much that day yet still carried her with me.

  102. Sasha L says...

    Definitely DO what you want and what will make a super happy day for you and your fiance. Any wedding custom or tradition is open to your personal preference or modification. I got married 24 years ago and was too young to realize I didn’t *have* to do this or that just because. I truly didn’t get that it was *our* day, so we did a bunch of things to appease our mothers, because not to do so was pretty unthinkable. It still ended up being a wonderful, magical, sweet day…. But I wish I had known I was free to make the choices that we wanted, simply because. I think people are more in tune with that these days, at least I hope so!

  103. Jessica says...

    I cannot stress this enough – decide what YOU want your wedding to be with your spouse and no one else, and then stick to it. My husband and I knew we wanted a small wedding somewhere other than our hometown. I really wanted to get married at San Francisco City Hall and he was on board. But, we were getting married in February and my mom mentioned Hawaii so that we would be guaranteed nice weather (and because who doesn’t love a beach vacation?). Next thing I know, everyone in our families is on board with us getting married in Hawaii and we hopped right on that train. While I ultimately loved our wedding (in large part due to our officiant who was the sweetest man ever), I still think about how great City Hall would have been.

    Same thing with my dress – I really wanted a non-traditional dress. Preferably pink and something I could just buy at the mall or online. But I went ahead and went wedding dress shopping just to make sure I truly didn’t want the typical white dress. Next thing I know, I’m worn out by the process and the saleswomen and picked a dress that I was only lukewarm about. It was white, strapless, with a beaded bodice and tulle skirt. It looks nice in pictures, but it doesn’t look like me. (I did add a seafoam green cropped cardigan to give the dress some color and feel more like myself, but I wish I had just stuck to finding a pink dress!)

    This is your day. The #1 DO is to do it how you want. Everyone else will be fine, and they ultimately won’t even remember the details of your wedding, but you will.

  104. Kristin says...

    DO whatever you want. It’s YOUR wedding – not your parents’, not your in-laws’, not your sister-in-law’s, etc. The only expectations that need to be met are those of you and future spouse. I regret letting a few people bully me into what they thought was right, which still pisses me off to this day.

    DO track your period on your iPhone. I didn’t back when I got married and of course we booked our venue 6 months in advance. Guess who had their period the day after their wedding and throughout most of the honeymoon? If this was in my calendar we would have picked a different date.

    DO choose a restaurant that you know and love for the rehearsal dinner and book well in advance. We booked a place at the last minute and ended up somewhere very mediocre (a shame for NYC!).

    DON’T wear white as a guest. EVER.

    DON’T feel pressured to speak to everyone one on one and hop from table to table. It’s your wedding – get out there and dance and have fun! You can catch up with everyone after the honeymoon. No one will be offended.

  105. Laura says...

    We found ways to make a lot of our ‘second choice’ options work- we wanted one long wooden farm table for dinner but the venue only had folding tables. We put them end to end and covered them with butcher paper (instead of expensive tablecloths), put eucalyptus down the middle, and we ended up giving out monogrammed sharpies as our gift so that our guests could write on the table (we took pictures of all their messages afterwards). We wanted a specific catering company to do our food but they went out of business- so we ended up using the awesome falafel place across the street from our apartment which saved us a ton. Also- get a facial!!!

    • Mari says...

      Omg the falafel! My husband would have loved that!

  106. Sarah says...

    Do what works for you, your partner, and your vision of the day, whatever that might be.

    Neither my husband and I are big party-ers, and neither of us are particularly religious. We invited family-only to a city hall wedding, and then invited them and a group of close friends to a boozy brunch at a local brewery. About 30 people, and we got to have *real* conversations with each person there.

    Because boozy brunch was over by 4pm (OK, we might have pushed the limits of what constitutes ‘brunch’), my husband and I splurged on a hotel room, had a tipsy nap, and then went to a romantic dinner at a fancy restaurant–just the two of us. We got to have a “Holy shit, we’re married!” moment over delicious food and a bottle of wine and celebrate the fact that we got hitched! It was a perfect end to a great day, and, most importantly, it was *exactly what we wanted.*

  107. Nicole says...

    Feel free to say no to any tradition or practice that doesn’t fit with you. For me as an introvert, I was always exhausted by the end of the day when I was a bridesmaid and started the day with everyone in hair and make up. So for my wedding, I told my girlfriends they were on their own for that part of the day and spent the morning in some quiet on my own. I felt so much more energized that evening because I didn’t have to start socializing until around lunch time

    • Bobbi says...

      I’ve been a bridesmaid 9 times, and I also knew the morning salon chaos was not for me. I arranged to be alone for the morning, took a slow walk to the salon to get my hair done by myself (and asked the hairstylist if we could chat about other things–the whole idea of ruminating over and over about the details seemed so anxiety-producing to me!), and then took a walk on a trail by my hotel.

      I was in such a good place when the florist, photographer, and my two bridesmaid and mom arrived. I felt empowered to say “no thanks” to the photo opps that didn’t resonate. It’s so important to lean into your SELF!

  108. Taylor says...

    Getting married in 54 days and even though it’s a small wedding, 40 people total, at our favorite restaurant where we also had our first date I am so ready for it to be over.

    I oscillate between wishing I started dieting (really just starving myself like all my friends did, it’s the only way they got visible results) and thinking that it doesn’t matter what I look like because I’m marrying the planet’s best person. But, it does matter, because we are paying so much money for a photographer and a dress and I want to look good when the only reason I’ve gained 30 pounds is because I fell in love with someone who likes food as much as I do.

    I don’t want to feel like Maison below above and think “I didn’t work out, get facials, or really do anything, and it showed. I was wearing a couture dress but when I look back at the pictures I feel like I just didn’t look as good as I could have” but I’m also absolutely miserable about how much this process has made me absolutely hate my body because it’s going to be on display. I don’t want to shill out for expensive facials or cosmetic procedures or work out more or diet when I’m healthy and have a good skin care regimen, but there are so many anecdotal comments and societal pressures to avoid hating the way I look in photos, which, will probably be inevitable even if I do diet anyway, right?

    • Chandra says...

      Hey Taylor,

      Just want to say congrats on getting married to your person! The love surrounds you on that day will, I would guess, make you feel and look beautiful no matter what nitpicky things you may notice or think about yourself. I hope you’ll find ways to de-stress in any case and enjoy the day of happiness with your nearest and dearest.

    • KL says...

      I could go on forever here about self worth and self love and TRUST ME YOU ARE MORE BEAUTIFUL THAN YOU THINK YOU ARE, but I won’t because I’m not sure it’d get to you right now (read: I don’t think anyone could have told me any of that as I was preparing to get married). But I will say this: start drinking [more] water! so much water! make herbal teas with some of that water (I swear I can tell a difference in my skin)! and then look yourself in the goddamned mirror and say “TAYLOR, YOU FRIGGAN BEAUTY, YOU’RE 54 DAYS AWAY FROM YOUR WEDDING, NOT A PHOTOSHOOT.” Then, put a smile on your face and do that over and over until it becomes second nature, because what’s going to come through in those photos is insecurity if you don’t. Trust me. NOW GET ANOTHER GLASS OF WATER.

    • Jessica says...

      I didn’t diet for my wedding and was actually at my heaviest weight the day I got married (as in 40 lbs heavier than my “normal” weight). On one hand I was very sad about that, but on the other hand, I was so happy to be getting married that my face showed that joy. I don’t love all my wedding pictures because of my body image issues, but I did like several.

      My best advice for you is to focus on some self-care, whatever that is for you. If that means working out or starting a (safe, healthy!) diet, that is great. But if that means getting highlights, finding a kickass makeup artist for the day off, or buying a cardigan to cover your arms (which I did because I hate how my arms look in pictures), then that is great too!

      And please try not to worry about how you are “expected” to look. Pinterest and bridal magazines make you think every bride should be rail thin, but that isn’t true. Look up wedding photos of Hunter McGrady on here wedding day. Yes she is a model, but she didn’t lose any weight before her wedding and looks wonderful. You will look gorgeous on your big day (you will, I know it and I promise it) because you are in love and that love will shine out of you all day.

    • Isa says...

      I bet you will look great on your wedding day!!! And I hope you just will FEEL great and enjoy your love. I didn’t diet (ok, I was pregnant. . . ), didn’t wear make up because it was SO HOT and didn’t even blow out my hair. We skipped the expensive photographs. We have a lot of pictures from our phones and let me with all my love for the bride to be tell you: you don’t see his wrinkles or my “flaws”. You just see sheer happiness and love in all of the pictures. May it be the same with your big day and the pictures and your memories. (Also: it sucks that society puts so much pressure in weddings and brides. I hear you. Let’s smash the system, give a f@$_ and love ourselves)

    • Amanda says...

      Taylor, wow did your comment hit home as I was in your place 10 years ago. Since being overweight during the time when we got married, we’ve gone on to have children, rediscover running, and generally get to a healthier place. There were years when I hated how I looked in our wedding photos, but now I’ve come around to love them as the reminder that the wedding was just the beginning. With your best partner, you’ll have plenty of time to discover the best version of yourself.

      Try to savor the day when you’re surrounded by your nearest and dearest because it likely won’t happen again. Small weddings (we had 50 ppl) provide such a great way to actually get to connect with folks. Eat the food. Drink the wine. Enjoy those sharing the moment with you.

    • Aidan says...

      I was married for 19 years. I really didn’t look at the pictures much after I got them from the photographer. The person and the relationship were what’s important, not how skinny you are on a single day of it. Give yourself permission to be you.

    • Emma Dillon says...

      I just wrote a comment about this, but seriously don’t worry about it. I was also so miserable before my wedding about my looks. I oscillated between starving myself and binge eating, not drinking and binge-drinking etc. It just didn’t make a difference. My weight stayed the exact same the whole time. I looked fine on my wedding day. I didn’t look spectacular. I don’t love my wedding photos. And it’s fine. I don’t care. The wedding was so amazing, my husband is the best person on earth and I am just so happy with how much fun we had that I can’t muster the energy to be anything but overjoyed :)

    • Cat says...

      Hopefully I can be a helpful counterpoint to Maison below. My only wedding regret was wasting so much money on facials in the months leading up to the wedding. I got them out of pure vanity and ended up wearing comfortable airbrush makeup so the precise clarity of my pores didn’t matter anyway. I am also someone who restricts food when stressed so even after final alterations my dress was a bit too loose and it made me sad. Treating your body with respect and celebrating this time with appreciation for who you are right now (rather than who you might “be” in photos) is the best way to go into a wedding. You’ll have a wonderful time and you are worthy of your couture dress as you are right now. You don’t have to “earn” your role as a blushing bride.

      All that being said, I completely sympathize if the appearance pressure feels crushing. *hugs* to you.

    • Bella says...

      I did none of those extra prep things, or even get professional hair and makeup on the day of my wedding, and I love the way my photos look because it’s the real ME in there, and I’m grinning ear to ear. Do whatever makes you feel confident and happy, of course, and that can include facials and working out, but I’m fairly sure that starving yourself is not on that list. Plus, marrying the planet’s best person? You’re already going to radiate joy and gratitude!

    • Hope says...

      But maybe you will just look radiantly happy, and that will be what shows.

    • Alyssa says...

      You did it! You’re healthy, you have a good skin care regimen, AND you’re marrying the planet’s best person! You already won! But it is completely legitimate to want to feel your best on your wedding day – I say start taking walks for the endorphins. You’ll feel healthier mentally and physically whether you shed any pounds or not. Walks are magic.

    • Liz says...

      This is heartbreaking! The diet/ weight loss industry and Wedding industry are IN CAHOOTS. Why would you want to look completely different on your wedding day than you already do? Those 30 pounds are a reflection of how much you’ve enjoyed your time with your new partner. There is no reason to starve yourself to misery just to look thinner in a few pictures. You will look at your photos afterwards and remember how much fun you had and how happy you are.

    • Laura says...

      Your face will radiate joy in your wedding pictures, and because of that, you will be gorgeous! I wasn’t at my best weight at the time of my wedding, and even though I’ve since lost weight, I still think I look the best I ever have in my wedding pictures!

    • Alix says...

      Taylor, do not give in to the ridiculous BS! You are marrying the “planet’s best person” and the only thing that matters is the way you love each other. I wasn’t slender in my wedding, and when I look back at the photos, what I see is lovely eyes, warm smiles, true hugs, real joy. Drink lots of water and dance like a maniac, and what will show up in those fancy photos is how much fun you are having.
      There is not one right way to do it, but I can tell you this: you are so much more than your weight, your skin, your dress. Do not let that little stuff (though we have been trained to think of it as BIG stuff) drag you down. You are not your hair (as India Arie made clear), nor are you anything less than exactly who you are supposed to be RIGHT NOW.

    • Diana K. says...

      I feel your pain so hard here. Trust that your photographer has worked with tons of self-conscious brides and is only interested in taking photos of you looking amazing. Also understand that the way you look and the way you feel that you look are different things. I would approach these 54 days as a countdown to get yourself FEELING your best. Do some workouts that make you feel accomplished and clear-headed, not skinny. Maybe this is a simple after-dinner walk where you connect with your thoughts once a day, maybe it’s one of those yoga classes where the teacher tells you to forgive yourself and others and says other inspirational stuff that makes me cry on my mat. I know it’s so hard to ignore the pure insane vanity of the wedding experience, but I think you’ll be so much happier if you work towards other goals for your wedding.

    • Cooper says...

      Congrats, Taylor! That’s an interesting dilemma! I totally get the desire to look good in your photos – it was actually a huge comfort to me during the blur of my wedding day to know that I would have photos to look back on.

      For what it’s worth, I didn’t work out (and I’ve always been a little “sturdy,” as my husband puts it :), get facials or do much self-care (aside from a pedicure!), but I think a couple things made a big difference: I had someone else do my makeup, and she had me exfoliate with a micro-dermabrasion MaryKay product (I’m sure there are lots of similar products) before putting on my makeup, which she said makes a big difference in photos. And I had a bunch of accessories I loved, including a metallic headband, lots of tulle, and bright flowers and distract from all the “flaws” I’d normally zero in on. In hindsight, my hair was maybe a touch disheveled but I think the headband tied it together.

      Honestly, what I see first when I look at my favorite wedding photos is our HUGE smiles, which hopefully your photographer will be able to capture! We also took a lot of photos walking toward the photographer while looking at each other and that provided by far the most flattering natural-looking shots. For group shots, we took one set of photos looking straight at the photographer and a second set where everyone in the wedding party turned and smiled at someone else and laughed (felt a little weird/forced) but the second set were BY FAR the favorites. And there are still definitely lots of photos where I don’t look as good as I could have, but I really only need a handful of good ones to remember the day :) (I had the most terrible near-scowl when I was walking down the aisle – WHY didn’t I smile?!? Maybe because I was holding back tears? – so I just tend to ignore those ones, haha.) Best wishes to you on your wedding day!

    • Erin says...

      I loved reading the comments on this post! What a great community this is. Taylor, I’m rooting for you to enjoy your wedding day and to remember that it’s okay if everything isn’t perfect. That’s an idea I’m trying to incorporate into my own life right now, and I know it isn’t easy. Good luck!

    • Mari says...

      Much love to you, Taylor. I know so well the feeling of “I have the potential to be skinnier than this and if I don’t clean up my act I’ll really regret it.” Isn’t it awful how bridal diet culture– the magazines, the Instagrams, the blogs– prey on our deepest insecurities and plant seeds of self-loathing?

      One of the biggest (unexpected) benefits of having a whirlwind three-month engagement was that I never seriously considered going on a diet/workout regimen. I knew that there was no way I could lose significant weight in a healthy way in that time frame, so I ate how I always eat (intuitive eating FTW!). Absolutely zero regrets. I felt so pretty on my wedding day. I loved my fancy braided updo, I had a pair of super comfy lace flats, I *finally* got to wear the lovely veil that I had splurged on.

      I do have some little regrets from my wedding prep/day. I wish I hadn’t ordered those stupid tablecloths online; I wish we had prepared a better dancing playlist; I wish we had taken a little more time to talk with family instead of friends. But never once have I wished that I had spent more time beating myself up for my belly and thighs. I was so happy and busy on the day itself that I did not once think about the size of my body, something that usually crosses my mind every day. I hope the same joy overwhelms and crowds out any negative voices in your head.

    • Tracey says...

      My mother was so thin on her wedding day. For our whole life she can not see anything in those photos except for how thin she used to be. It’s literally the only thing she says *sigh* “look how skinny I was”. For my wedding I wanted to look like myself. I don’t want an unrealistic, unsustainable version of myself on the wall to chide me in the future. No thanks. I bet you’re beautiful. Your fiancé sure thinks so. Invest in the treatments that make you feel good, in the lead up, eat the foods and drink the drinks that make you FEEEL good and I suspect the photos will hold more for you in years to come than *sigh* “look how skinny I was”.

    • Mari says...

      Tracey, you absolutely nailed it. So, so true.

    • dani. says...

      OUUF! Like so many others have echoed above, I feel this so ferociously. My husband and I just recently eloped to Ireland this past spring and Taylor…I hate my arms. My ARMS! I think they’re fluffy and they’re scarred with breakouts and bumps and other lovely things and I was so so self-conscious about the idea of them being on show in the photos that will last forever (I even initially tried finding a dress with long sleeves but ultimately, of course, fell in love with a cap sleeved number). But these arms are what wrap my hubby so so tight with my endless love, they hold me up during an occasional yoga class and they throw balls for my cute-ass puppy. They do good work and I’m learning to love them. I promise you – and I know that might not mean much since I’m a virtual stranger – but I PROMISE YOU, you will look at your wedding photos down the road and all you will see is the way your partner is looking at you with so much love and how much love is in your own eyes and your smile that will be so adoring. I hope you can find peace as your special day approaches and see your body as a gorgeous vessel that will carry the love for your person for many years to come. x

  109. Jill says...

    Honestly, don’t DIY your wedding and ask your closet friends and family to pitch in. I was a maid of honor for my best friend’s wedding and there was so much work that needed to get done before the event and it all came together and the wedding was beautiful and amazing but I felt like I worked the whole time and felt stressed and that’s my memory of the wedding now, 15 yrs later.

    • Sasha L says...

      Or, if you want to DIY a bunch, and often I think folks go that route because weddings are insanely expensive and it’s a necessity as much as a choice, make sure the people in your *work* party are happily willing to spend the time and effort. I wouldn’t fault anyone for bowing out and couples would want to be really clear about expectations, but I think just speaking for myself and my closest family and friends – doing stuff for a wedding together would be really fun and worthwhile and bonding.

    • Stef says...

      YES to this. I was in a similar situation with a friend’s wedding and at one point I went to hide in my room and almost wept to another bridesmaid saying “I’m so tired!” Doing flower arrangements, setting up tables, bussing our own dishes, etc. I just remember how much work it was and that’s basically my memory of the wedding.

    • I have to second this. Resist the urge to dress it up as “community” or “our friends collaborating. ” It’s work and it just stresses people out.

    • L says...

      in my family, it’s customary (and fun! ) for everyone to help out for a big party. it also adds in to the excitement of it.

    • AG says...

      I agree, 100%. I helped at a DIY wedding and though I was happy to help my friend, it did make things less enjoyable as a guest. (“How is the ice low again ALREADY?!” – me, about 10 times that night)

      Also, it doesn’t suck to have true professionals that have “seen it all” in your corner when something goes wrong!!

    • Kelsey says...

      Ohhh I cosign this. If you genuinely enjoy making things and putting on productions and elaborate parties, knock yourself out- but also give yourself to hire professionals, or simplify. Pinterest was on the rise when I got married. Needless to say there were a lot of hastily glued together decorations and I spent the night before the wedding trying to write out placecards in “fancy” handwriting that distressingly looked nothing like the calligraphy inspiration photos I was trying to copy, and my poor (amazing, supportive) family rented a small panel truck to bring all of our stuff to the venue.
      If I had to do it again, I would have gone with a conventional hotel wedding or something – the personal touches were so much work and stressed me TF out.

  110. lauren says...

    Celebrate the people you’re missing. My husband and I got married at the overseas-studies house in England where we’d first met, which would have THRILLED my grandfather, an Anglophile like me. Long before that, in the beginning of his final illness, he gave me the few English pounds he’d had left over from his last trip abroad and told me to buy myself a pint from him on my wedding day. He died before then, but I know he was with me that day when all 50 of us walked over (directly from the ceremony) to the ancient pub I’d loved as an undergrad and I plunked those coins on the counter. Cheers, Grandpa.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i love this so much, lauren. he sounded like a wonderful man.

    • Kristin says...

      that’s so beautiful!

    • Laura says...

      Agreed! My mom lamented the lack of “bridal portrait” from my sister’s wedding so I made sure to include that on the shot list for my photographer. At the time it felt so formal and a little uncomfortable but when I look back on those photos (just 4 years later!) I realize that I really did look beautiful and I’m so glad I have them. There’s so much emphasis these days on being original and making everything look spontaneous and breezy. If that’s not your thing though, lean into tradition and don’t be ashamed of it!

    • Oh my gosh…that just made me cry!!

  111. shannon says...

    Save money on the wedding; put it toward the honeymoon. We had intense family drama leading up the wedding. I was mostly just relieved when it was over. Plus, neither of us like being the center of attention. I am so happy we kept things small and very low budget for the wedding so we had enough money to go on our honeymoon to French Polynesia! It was a week in paradise with so many relaxed, happy memories and beautiful photos.

    Especially if you’re more introverted, I highly recommend taking a bigger piece of the budget and putting it toward a getaway for you as a couple after the wedding festivities are over.

    • june says...

      Couldn’t agree with this more. My husband and I are both pretty introverted and we had so much family drama on one side of the family that we knew we had to make the day about us completely. We were also really broke at the time and were able to have a wedding that was perfect for us for very well under $2000 including EVERYTHING! We still talk about the day all the time and how we wouldn’t have changed a single thing. Because we were so focused on the commitment we were making to each other, the entire day was spent very much in the moment and we can still remember every detail as if it happened yesterday. Because of our very small budget, we were able to put more money aside for our honeymoon which was such an added bonus!!!

    • Sarah says...

      +1 to this! My husband and I are both introverts, and I tried to fight it; we had the big party, which was a lot of fun, but honestly I’m so much of a people pleaser I can’t say that I really LOVED it: I would have been much happier sitting on the couch eating pie and chatting with friends than tearing up the dance floor because I was worried it would be empty and sad. [We did host a reception explicitly for this purpose the night before, which about 2/3 of guests came to and meant that we got to do a lot of the catching up ahead of time and didn’t have to be stressed about welcomes on the big day.]

      What we both loved, though, was a three-day minimoon in Big Sur: finding a little beach along a river for an afternoon, staying at a resort above the ocean, playing bananagrams by the clothing-optional pool, stargazing from our hot tub. THOSE memories are the truly soul-filling ones, and a part of our wedding memory that really reflected just us.

    • Sarah says...

      Two of my favorite things from our wedding last year (both photography related, ironically neither of them being the professional photographer):
      1. we bought an iPad mini + the SimpleBooth app and rented a backdrop from our DJ for less than half the cost of a photobooth setup — everyone loved being able to text the photos to themselves to post on social media, we shared all photos with our guests afterwards, and I still use the iPad almost every day when I’m making dinner!
      2. we bought an Instax camera + bunch of film (found cheaply at Walmart the week of our wedding) for guests to fill out our guestbook, and saved two packets of film for ourselves. Now, we have a frame in our bedroom with a grid of silly and sweet polaroids from the post-wedding haze: a drunken piggyback ride to our hotel room after the reception, my wilting wedding bouquet on our dresser, a full-body sunburn (him) and curled up with a book by the pool (me) from our minimoon.

      Our photographer was fantastic, but her photos were a little formal/editorial and never really felt like “us”. These two purchases were more our style and continue to bring me joy (and function!) a year later.

  112. K says...

    Figure out early what you care about, write it down, and stick to it! It helps when you start getting deep into the process and the wedding industry BS starts seeping in – it will keep you focused mentally and budget-wise. I also recommend writing a wedding mission statement (ad idea borrowed from A Practical Wedding!) – this also helped me and my now-husband remember what mattered.

    Most of all, I would take all the advice to hang with your partner as much as possible on the day of your wedding. My husband and I got ready together in our apartment (we broke away when putting on our clothes so there’d be SOME surprise), but it was really beautiful and centering to prepare for this big day with him.

    OMG and definitely get as many pictures out of the way beforehand so you can enjoy your ceremony and everything that follows!

  113. Alix says...

    Nick and I got married at my parent’s house, in their orchard. Before the ceremony, while guests were arriving and getting drinks etc, he and I met up in the orchard, got to see one another before the action started, and spent some time just reveling in the moment and the beauty of being together before the crazy party. And then the next day, after the lazy brunch, we sat around with remaining family and friends and all scribbled down our fondest and funniest memories. Now I look back at those scraps of paper, and think “Oh yeah, I had totally forgotten that the old folks were all so concerned that my bridesmaids were barefoot the whole time…” or that my best friend and husband spent hours the day after perfecting a dance routine they *wish* they had done, and killing themselves laughing the whole time. Those memories weren’t captured in the still photos, but are so sweet now!

  114. Kate says...

    DO have a seating chart for a sit down dinner/reception. Tell your guests where to sit and let people relax and have fun during the cocktail hour – they shouldn’t have to save seats like it’s the lunch room in middle school!
    DON’T worry about going to every single table during dinner to say hi. Sit and eat your darn food and enjoy looking around for a minute.
    DO skip the line for food, drinks, and the bathroom! You’re a bride – you’ve got things to do and people to see!
    DON’T worry if some of your tiny details don’t get done. I’ve been to over 50 weddings and can’t remember the table center pieces from any of them, but I do remember toasts, dancing, vows, and joy. All that matters is that you’re going to be married at the end of the day!!

    • Darcy says...

      All good!

    • Carla says...

      Don’t have a Mother-in-law who decides at the reception that she doesn’t like your seating plan (one table of child educators and pyschologists who had not met before, but had lots in common…) and takes it upon herself to adjust seating, leaving a half empty table and another overcrowded one. And then shouts angrily at your brand new husband the moment he walks into the reception hall. Sigh.

  115. Jess. says...

    Stand up straight, look ahead, hold your flowers, next to your new spouse, and get a full-length picture of that. We’re deep in the throes of candid shots and shots of every aspect of the service/party/reception–and I don’t have a problem with it! I wish I just had a good old-fashioned picture of me, my dress, my bouquet & my husband, head to toe, with no goofing, and nothing else in the shot. Just a wedding portrait.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s such a great tip! and something you’d easily forget in the hubbub.

    • Laura says...

      Agreed! My mom lamented the lack of “bridal portrait” from my sister’s wedding so I made sure to include that on the shot list for my photographer. At the time it felt so formal and a little uncomfortable but when I look back on those photos (just 4 years later!) I realize that I really did look beautiful and I’m so glad I have them. There’s so much emphasis these days on being original and making everything look spontaneous and breezy. If that’s not your thing though, lean into tradition and don’t be ashamed of it!

    • Annie says...

      I love that. Kind of in a similar vein, I once saw some photos of a wedding online and the most striking ones were straight on portraits, of just the bride, neck up. One of the groom too. Lines, freckles, the smile, and joy in their eyes! I thought it was such a beautiful thing to capture and something that they, their children and grand children (if they had them) would cherish.

    • Sarah says...

      This! I love all my wedding photos but was so surprised we didn’t end up with regular ol’ portrait. I didn’t think of it at the time (and can’t believe the photographer didn’t think of it either).

    • Anne says...

      My suggestion was going to be along similar lines. I have a lot of candid shots from our reception that I absolutely love, but no real posed group photos. I wish I had grabbed my photographer for some spur of the moment group shots with friends, family, etc. The candids are great (yay for photos of friends goofing and dancing!)–but posed photos are nice too, and they don’t have to be fussy.

    • Hannah G says...

      Our photographer did this and called it “prom pose!” Totally cheesy and not trendy at all, but it’s the photo that both sets of parents have hanging on their walls.

    • Katie says...

      Funny, I picked a photographer who specialized in candid shots. I didn’t want anything to do with set poses. We have lots of amazing photos, my favorite being a full shot taken in the middle of the intersection on Michigan Avenue. My dress caught on my gold sparkly heels and the husband had to bend down and help me untangle myself so I wouldn’t ruin the dress. That shot encapsulates our entire partnership. It’s perfection.

      However, I’m all on board with do what makes you happiest!

  116. Amy says...

    What a great article! +1 on the part about things that go wrong. I broke my collarbone in a mountain biking accident 2 days before my wedding. Many carefully laid plans went out the moment in that instant, but my family, friends, and husband rallied around me to help things go right, and those acts of help and kindness were honestly the best part of the whole thing. You know you’ve found “the one” when you wake up to the sound of him sewing you a white lace “wedding sling” the day before! My wedding day ended up being a real testament to the love and support in our partnership and in the community around us. Looking back, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    • Kate says...

      My mantra was : as long as at the end of the day we are married, it will be perfect. So when the AC went out in the reception hall the morning of (Florida in August!) or I couldn’t get the flowers I initially wanted… at the end I was still married to my best guy.

    • Sarah says...

      Aww! The sling is so sweet!!!! Thanks for the smile. Sounds like you have a WINNER!

  117. I hate to say this but I would have paid less attention to making sure everything was perfect for my guests and more attention to self care during the wedding planning process. I didn’t work out, get facials, or really do anything, and it showed. I was wearing a couture dress but when I look back at the pictures I feel like I just didn’t look as good as I could have! I really let the stress get to me. And of course when the day came it all washed away anyway and everyone had the best time ever! So yeah, don’t forget to take care of yourself.

    • Leni says...

      I completely agree with this! I was intensely focused on making sure everyone else had a good time that I worked myself up to the point where I actually cried on my wedding day. Throughout the process I was so obsessed with not being a “bridezilla” that I made myself and my own mental state an afterthought. The stress was a lot (I also didn’t ask enough people for help) and it took until after the ceremony for me to start to relax and have fun.