Things I wish I knew ... Advice from Real Brides

With my own 10th year anniversary around the corner,  I got a bit nostalgic looking back at all the things I loved about the day and all the things I would do differently.  My situation is different because what I know now is gleaned from many, many weddings, so instead of just sharing my thoughts and lessons learned, I reached out to a few brides (friends and past clients) to get a few nuggets of wisdom from them.  Though there was some overlap between all of their answers, their experience covers a lot of ground and provides a lot of good insights.

These first two are of course favorites of mine because I preach them ALL THE TIME: 

"I wish I could have budgeted for a planner or at least a coordinator to help me manage all the little details at the end of the process and during the wedding day, there were things that went wrong and I wish we didn't have to deal with them ourselves"  J.T  The truth is, no matter how precise you are with your planning, your job on your wedding day is be the bride or groom, not the person with the clipboard that makes sure the timeline is sent out to all the vendors and everyone delivers their services as promised, that is my job.  Also from J.T "This might sound simple and basic but set up a timeline that's realistic right away and stick to it or else the planning is messy and stressful"

When it comes to your wedding day, there will be no shortage of opinions, and hearing from a lot of people, many of them important to you, can get overwhelming, so take A.S's advice:  "Listen to your heart and not to everyone's opinion. It is your day, make it personal and be creative"  If you take everyone else's opinion into account, what you end up with is their wedding, not your own. 

And similar to the above, people's feelings are important of course but they should not cloud your decision-making: "It's ok to say no to people's offers of assistance.  Much easier to say no, set boundaries, state needs, and evaluate a vendor's performance than it is your mom or BFF.  If stated kindly, people will understand (and often quietly appreciate being let off the hook!)" A.L

When it comes to vendors:"It's ok to maintain high expectations in relation to vendors performance, just don't be a jerk when asking for what you want and don't hold grudges after you get exactly that.  The fastest route to a happy day is letting go of the blips and recognizing everyone is human."  A.L.  and equally important:  "If you have even a hint of reservation about your day of coordinator, run far and fast.  They're there to make life easier; if they're not for ANY reason (trust your gut on this), the process becomes exponentially harder and you'll likely wind up feeling taken advantage of."   I tell brides all the time, they're better off not having a service than paying for one and then having to work around it, so I fully agree with A.L., if you have reservations, stay away.  The vendors you choose are your team and the services they are providing are supposed to elevate your experience not make it difficult.  In addition to your gut, you should trust referrals and ask for samples of anything that's available to help you make your decisions.  

And once all the decisions are made, and the checks are written, the anxiety is creeping in and the big day is upon you,  plan something relaxing: "I wish I did some self-care, something relaxing with my bridesmaids like a 2 day spa right before the wedding" --J.T  I think this is a great idea be it with your bridesmaids, your mom or your fiancee, but remember no harsh treatments right before the wedding, and no wedding related work!  My husband and I took the Thursday before our wedding and got pampered together, and if you know him you know that is NOT his thing, but it was nice to drive away from the buzz and be in a bubble of our own for a day.  In addition to getting rubbed down and slathered up, it gave us a chance to pause and take things in, which is a luxury you have to make time for or else the whole experience zooms by. 

Photo Credit: Heather Decamp Photography