Mighty Life List
Oct 14 2010

Wedding Advice

Getting married is like having a child, suddenly everyone wants to tell you what to do. I’m no exception. In fact, if you’re newly engaged, you may want to sit next to someone else at dinner, because I will not shut up about your wedding. It’s insufferable, I know, but I’m powerless to stop myself.

Anyway, here’s a little dose of unsolicited advice for those of you fortunate enough to live out of earshot:

Take a group photo. Nearly all the people you love are here, in one place. This isn’t likely to happen again until your funeral.

Be prepared. I had a kit on hand for minor emergencies. Having all my little fixes in one place made it easy for anyone to grab me a pair of scissors, some clear nail polish, a flask of bourbon. Here’s a bridal emergency kit list, but you’ll find a zillion of them online. Bridesmaids, if you’re extra helpful, telling the bride you’ll assemble this kit is a thoughtful gesture.

Let go of traditions that bug you. I’m a tall girl with an unfair advantage in the bouquet catching game. It often felt like an obligation to catch the bride’s bouquet before it fell on the floor when everyone else stepped out of the way. Of course then, you must grapple with the look of mild terror on the face of Boyfriend du Jour. So at our wedding, we called everyone onto the floor and announced that catching the bouquet meant prosperity beyond your wildest dreams.

The 6’8 Dutch guy caught it, and he’s currently my husband’s business partner. Fingers crossed, but I have heard a glowing crotch is auspicious.

Do something fun with your guest book. We had a friend take polaroids of guests, and it was such instant gratification to flip through it the next morning. Plus, we still look at it every once in a while.

Plan with a sense of humor. Sure weddings are solemn and import laden, but receptions can be fun — whatever that means to you. Worry a little less about whether something is appropriate and consider whether it will add to the celebration. Crazy straws at the bar? Candy cigarettes as wedding favors? Yes.

Consider consumables as attendant gifts. I got cool necklaces for my bridesmaids and the female attendants on Bryan’s side, but the groomsmen and ushers got port. Looking back on the now-outdated necklaces, I think the guys did better.

Choose your financial battles. Decide what’s important to you, spend your money there, and aim for festive with everything else.

For us, the bar was key, so we did it up. But Bryan used to work in catering, and both of us agreed that once the crowd gets over 100, you really have to pay through the nose for wedding food to be memorable. We decided to make the food fun and celebratory instead. In lieu of passed appetizers, we had a popcorn machine and a cotton candy machine out front. We brought in a BBQ truck for dinner so folks would have some solid food to offset the cocktails.

We were among the first couples to order cupcakes from Citizen Cake — before they upped the prices to reflect the trend — which also meant we didn’t need to rent cake plates and forks. Later in the evening, we had passed Krispy Kreme donuts as a snack. The food was casual for sure, but there was plenty of it, and the bar was a masterpiece.

So those were my big lessons from our wedding, but what are yours? I’m curious to hear pet peeves you have as a wedding guest, what you’ve loved about weddings you’ve been to, what you took away from your own wedding? Spill. I have an anniversary party to plan.

84 Responses to “Wedding Advice”

  • Jaclyn Says:

    My biggest pet peeve as a wedding guest is when the couple makes the guests do some sort of embarrassing singing, dancing, etc to get the couple to kiss. OR the couple pretends they really don’t want to kiss. Really? You just got married and you’re going to pretend that within six hours you won’t be ripping each other’s clothes off? I don’t think it’s too much to ask for a cute little wine glass clink, a little smooch and be done. That’s just me.

  • ROBYN Says:

    hell. yes. to all of this. we had a super small ceremony and then did it up for the reception, inviting tons of people. we took a group photo after the ceremony was done, and had a champagne toast with all 30 of the guests that were there.

    i let the bridesmaids pick their own dresses, and all still wear them.

    bridal party gift idea? Toms Shoes. we didn’t do it, and it’s my one regret. they’d have been perfect to wear as the night wore on and all our shoes got uncomfortable.

    we had karaoke at our wedding after about an hour of dancing – it’s how i met and fell in love with my husband, so it made sense. and it was AMAZING. my husband sang The Humpty Dance, my brother Dan Rick-Rolled the wedding, and almost everyone at the reception sang something. Such a blast!

    i made all the flowers. crochet flowers. for the bouquets, the boutonnieres, even the ones at the tables. it was important to me to reflect my crafty sensibility, and guests ran off with them in droves they loved them so much – bonus for us, less clean-up!

    now i want to do a wedding post recap as well – such a great day!

  • amanda Says:

    I love this. I’m also that girl that will not shut up about weddings. We were married almost 6 months ago so now I often force my advice, warnings (I have lots of warnings)and squeals of excitement on engaged folks. My biggest advice is to get yourself a day of coordinator. I thought I wouldn’t need one, but I was blessed with someone who took the job and she seriously saved the day. Also, if you’re ever uncomfortable during standard wedding traditions, don’t include them in your own wedding.
    The thing that makes me the most uncomfortable at weddings is unassigned seating. I’m already awkward and it always happens when I don’t know anyone at the wedding. Total awkfest 2010.

  • Robin Says:

    We had pre-wedding happy hour with an open bar. People were much happier to sit through our ceremony after they had a drink or two.

  • nicholle Says:

    My biggest lesson:
    When people try to give you advice, smile and politely say, “Thank you for your input”, then keep doing whatever you want. :)

    Also, let people help, but be prepared to let go of control. My dad and stepmom created our centrepieces (herb pots from their garden) and I didn’t know or care what their plans were. Another friend made our cake as a present – we’d planned to have a wedding pie, but it was such a sweet gesture (no pun intended) and contribution that we were happy to accept.

  • Andrea Says:

    Your wedding sounded like a blast! I think being true to what you are comfortable with. If live music is what you want, cut on something else. If you are a foody and don’t care about music, hire a DJ.

    We treated our wedding like a big party. Everyone, including my husband’s 80-something Italian grandmother hit the dance floor. Our photographer took a bazillion pictures and 99% were candid. I would advise against too many posed picture because for me, the ones I loved were the silly, fun, and even tender moments caught by our photographer.

    My best friend is getting married this weekend and this post is especially topical for me. I have spent the last year helping her plan, being a soundboard and giving her advice so now I cannot WAIT to be part of her wedding this Sunday.

  • Cam Says:

    The best advice was actually from you from a previous post. Toss the “Garter Tossing” Ugh, if only I had read your blog back then! This is by far the only regret of my wedding day. I hated it. At the time, I just thought it was traditional. Now I think it’s terribly tacky and makes everyone uncomfortable.

  • Lori Says:

    we had a post reception party, after hours at a bar. I changed into a black dress and dancing shoes and we partied until we had to leave for the airport for the honeymoon! it was great to see my closest friends in a more relaxed setting, since to appease the older contingent we had a fairly formal reception (wine and beer only! no band! antique furniture!)

    I also let the bridesmaids pick their own dresses. And OPEN BAR!!

  • Desiree Says:

    The bouquet toss is the only time I feel a stigma attached to my single status, which I enjoy and see no reason to defend to you or your wedding guests. Ever notice how the group of women expected to fight over airborne flowers looks sheepishly strained? It’s because they’re trying to be good sports and participate enthusiastically without looking like desperate spinsters. Friends don’t do this to each other!

  • Betsy Says:

    We just went to a friend’s wedding–the first with our 18 month old son in tow. It was a destination wedding, in the middle of the woods. Lovely, yes, but a nightmare for trying to wrangle a little boy.

    Dinner was particularly bad, and made even worse by the fact that we were the only people at the table with a kid. We felt like we were totally disrupting everyone’s meal, even though they all claimed not to mind. I realized that it’s a good idea to seat parents with kids together. They’re more sympathetic when things get crazy, and you all have something in common to talk about.

  • Rebecca Says:

    I was just in my sister’s wedding and she had a really cute idea for gifts for her attendants. She bought a personalized canvas bag from LL Bean and filled it with her favorite things (a la Oprah), including her favorite shampoo and conditioner, candy, headband, office supplies (she’s a teacher), etc. It was all useful stuff and was done in a memorable and thoughtful way.

    For our wedding, 4 years ago, we had a small wedding only 15 guests including ourselves! We had both the ceremony and the reception at an intimate Italian restaurant. We could afford an open bar, fabulous food, gourmet wedding cake and brownie favors because we kept it small. Both my husband and I were uncomfortable with the attention, expense, and planning that a large wedding requires so we did ours exactly as we wanted and couldn’t have been happier.

  • Sarah Says:

    Our wedding was in the evening, and we knew it would take the two of us awhile to get to the reception hall because of pictures. So we told the caterers to start bringing food out when people showed up, not to wait for us. It worked out perfectly, no sitting around starving for our guests, and it was time to cut the cake as soon as we showed up!

    My other advice is to remember the purpose throughout the planning process and that day. If at the end of the day, you got married, the day was successful. Perfectly matching ribbon and $5000 dresses won’t be what you remember. The little unplanned things will be your favorite parts. This is very important to consider if you are on a budget, because you will regret having to pay for your wedding for the next two years instead of buying a house!

  • Christina Says:

    One thing I loved at a wedding I attended was that the dinner was served to each table on separate platters “family style”. It was fun, less expensive for the bride and groom, each guest got to take as much or as little of each item served, and it definitely broke the ice to have to ask the person across from you to pass the potatoes. The set-up was several long, rectangular tables rather than tons of rounds so it made more sense and felt like everyone was sitting down to a family meal.

  • elz Says:

    I love how weddings now are more reflective of the couple’s personality. Make your wedding about what you like, not what you think it should be like. I also say forego ALL posed pictures. Really, throw them out. My favorite shots from our wedding (we had very few posed pics) are all candids. I also think color is your friend-make your wedding festive.

    And remember, the important thing is the getting married part. Everything else is just gravy.

  • Cindy Says:

    Some people get so serious about the wedding. I think brides (and grooms) need to remember to lighten up and enjoy. The most important thing the marriage, not the wedding.

  • Dottie Says:

    I’d say the most important advice I could give a bride is to just go with the flow and keep your cool. Any and all of the little silly things that might go “wrong” are just great stories to tell post-wedding. I can sum up mine in one word: “drunkle”. Mildly horrifying in the moment, yet hilarious the day after.

    Maggie, your wedding sounds utterly lovely! Hurrah for SF weddings and gorgeous gowns under $300!

  • Carly Says:

    I wish someone had told me about the blues that come after the wedding. You spend all this time planning an event, all the people you love are in one place, and then it ends and you feel slightly overwhelmed and weepy. I remember finally admitting it to a married friend and she was like, yeah, i think it happens to everyone. I felt like I needed a warning that it was normal rather than feeling stressed about why I felt blue when I was all newly married and shiny :)

  • Meg Says:

    I can’t give advice because that would be like WORK (and I have a website for that), but well done you. The first picture? Adorable.

    Yay for booze! We bought all our own booze (do this if you can, such a money saver) and we had a case of Meeker wine left. We drank it on the month-a-versary all year. Though are food was pretty amazing. We did middle eastern. Doing non-traditional food was meant better quality for the price (not so much meat) and people were WAY more excited about it than I ever would have guessed.

  • Alex Says:

    Make sure you have someone recording the speeches. You will be too hopped up on adrenaline and champagne to remember much of it, and later you’ll be so glad to have that video of your loved ones choking up as they tell embarrassing stories from your childhood. But also make sure you have editorial control over what’s posted to YouTube.

  • Sarah Says:

    Reading these cracks me up. It’s so clear to me that we got married at the same time. We had the same guest book and polaroid camera. The book was spendy (or so I thought at the time) but I love it. I just wish our families weren’t so stuffy. Very few actually wrote messages to us in it despite having space for it.

    We also took a group photo and I love it dearly. The whole series of photos as we all gathered is so sweet and funny.

    I struggled a lot when planning our wedding. I wanted something by the sea (so we could take photos on the beach), I wanted the reception to be in a magical, romatic garden in the evening. I wanted gorgeous flowers, fabulous photos, and a great cake.

    We got most of what we wanted (photos on the beach, garden setting that we turned magical with lots of work, great cake, good photos), but had to do lots of other things ourselves to make that work. And I was stressed.

    My only concern about the bar was that I have champagne, that we served some beer and wine that was good. I didn’t want an open bar as I had several family members go overboard at other family weddings and wanted to avoid a scene. I didn’t take into account other people (namely hubby’s college friends) and we ran out of beer after dinner and champagne after the toast. Ouch. Huge party planning mistake on my part. Hubby’s friends went to the liquor store across the street and got 40s that are the “highlight” of the reception photos. Well maybe now 7 years later, but boy did I not love it at the time. And my pared down offerings didn’t save me from a scene anyway! The usual suspects left when the beer ran out but a previously sober aunt got drunk for the first time in 20 years and that scene was ten times worse.

    I think my biggest mistake was that I really planned the party for *me* and not necessarily for anyone else. My mom hated 80% of my ideas and was really sad about that because I’m her only daughter. And I sort of didn’t care. My guests genuinely were not the types to care or notice the details I spent so much time on and I’m sure they would have preferred I spent more money on champagne instead of a sterling silver cake knife set with our monogram on it.

    Having said that, they raved out the CDs we made as favors, and everyone LOVED our spendy cake with buttercream frosting dyed to match my husband’s tie. There were only three pieces left at the end of the night!

    But when I look at the photos now, I see how much we loved each other that day. And how emotional it was. And how excited our families were for us. The rest fades away.

  • Lydia Says:

    Don’t let any old ladies who dress like a bag o’ hammers tell you that your yellow shoes won’t match your short ivory dress!

    Yes to the excellent booze and the casual food. Also, the group shot bc zooming in on people’s face is awesome. Everyone you love is so happy and smiling! And I think my MIL gave a fist pump which =awesome.

    I think we were wedding twins.

  • Kristen Says:

    Pet Peeve – cheap liquor. I’ve forked over how much to attend your out-of-state bridal shower, bachelorette party and wedding? Your liquor had best be strong.

  • Kat Says:

    I’m really enjoying these posts, Maggie. Your wedding looks like it was absolutely beautiful, and super-fun!

    I got married almost a year ago, and some things were awesome, and some things still bug me.

    Advice:

    Pay for the services that are the most important to you. Even if you have a cousin who is a film maker who will totally do your wedding video for free, or five different photographer friends, or your best friend is a chef. We had three different photographers who were very dear friends, and our videographer is my husband’s cousin. Nobody got the “getting ready” shots, and everyone stopped shooting right after the toasts part of the reception to go get drunk and dance, so we have almost no reception pictures at all. Our wedding video is still not done, probably never will be, and because we didn’t pay, we have absolutely no recourse.

    Wear the dress you want. If you want to wear a short strappy number even though everyone thinks bigger is better, do it. Don’t listen to anyone else on this, especially not the wedding industry. My major regret is that I had a dress I loved, and then got pressured into wearing something big and poofy instead.

    Silk flowers are way cheaper, just as pretty, and you can keep them to use again! My wedding flowers got re-used nine months later in my friend’s wedding, and will probably continue to be loaned out until they are all gone.

    If you forget to do the marriage license, you can always do it after the honeymoon and nobody will know. Just make sure your officiant and witnesses will sign it later.

    Let people help you. Everyone loved my wedding, but I still cringe thinking about it, because I didn’t have any help with the planning (mom is dead, bridesmaids live far away, mother-in-law is generally unenthusiastic until the last minute, don’t have any sisters). Get help. Seriously.

  • Megan G. Says:

    Embrace minor disasters and fold them into the enduring narrative of the day. You’ll love to laugh at them later.

  • Jaime Says:

    Port for the groomsmen: invaluable. And Krispy Kreme’s at the end of the night? WHY DIDN’T WE THINK OF THAT?

    Incidentally, we did the polaroid guest book thing, too, and it was a hit.

  • Kerry Says:

    Ours is in two weeks! We’re serving whoopie pies from an awesome baker in DC (B. Hall Baker) instead of cake, have a small cake to cut with Princess Leia and Han Solo action figures for the topper, and are skipping the whole garter extravaganza in total. We also extended the cocktail hour (with heavy apps!) so we’d have time to mingle and see everyone… hoping this works out as well as we hope. No anniversary dances, competitions to win the centerpieces, etc. Guests are guests – no hoop-jumping required.

    I’m gifting monogrammed (embossed?) leather bookmarks to my bridesmaids, with a book that I’ve selected for each individually. They love to read, and I love to recommend.

  • atalou Says:

    I love weddings, but the idea of planning and being in my own ‘production’ was overwhelming.

    My advice: If you don’t want a wedding ‘party’ don’t have one.

    My husband and I started wedding planning in June by scouring locations, caterers, Djs, etc…only to decide by July that neither of us actually wanted anything to do with being the center of attention for a large group of people.

    Additionally, most of our family members are from out of town (and both families are quite large), so asking people to pay for travel expenses, wedding gifts, etc. in a down economy seemed a bit silly.

    In the end, we had a small ceremony with just our parents and siblings and then dinner at one of our favorite restaurants.

    We followed up by mailing out a ‘pseudo-elopement’ announcement (including a funny photo of the two of us wearing fake mustaches).

    We were afraid some of our friends or family members would be offended, but those who know us well and know our personalities were way more excited that we did it our way. Since then, we’ve had several friends tell us that they wish they had pocketed the money they spent on a wedding for a house payment or to pay off student loans (which we did) And, others have told us they felt pressured to have a big party and didn’t even have time to enjoy it themselves…which we feared.

    Luckily our parents were wholly on board with the idea and we weren’t pressured to have any kind of reception just to make anyone else happy.

    Bottom line: it really is YOUR day. Do it how you feel most comfortable. And then polish up your dancing shoes for your more out-going friends’ weddings.

  • Emily W Says:

    The advice in these wedding posts has been awesome. I’ve always dreamed of a small, fun, family/friends centric wedding. I’m going to have to bookmark these so that I can refer when (in many years!) I decide to tie the knot. The polaroid quest book is particularly amazing.

    It is also a lot of fun to see these photos and stories from your past!

  • latenac Says:

    I think you gave the best piece of advice I have which is pick the 2 or 3 things (at most) that are important to you and then compromise on the rest. For me I wanted a champagne toast with real champagne.

    That and I prefer weddings that are a true reflection of the couple rather than a payback event put on the bride and/or groom’s parents.

    I gave my attendants colors for what to wear and they picked pieces they’d wear again. It’s really amazing how having a group of people wear roughly the same color make them all look very coordinated.

    We were married in a Quaker meeting so we married each other no officiant. After we recited our vows my sil got up and read the marriage certificate, then everyone had a chance if they were moved by the spirit to stand up and say something or give some advice. I still remember many of the things said. After the service everyone present signs the marriage certificate. It really means a lot to me that we were truly married in a community with everyone present rooting for us so to speak.

  • cora Says:

    pet peeve: an unorganized wedding. I recently had to sit through an 8 hour wedding day, where no one knew what was going to happen next, the bride and groom appeared and disappeared at random (it was on a large farm and ‘had to be’ informal). So we sat and waited for most of the time (no bar, no music, not fun). Have someone tell the guest where to stand, when to cheer and what to expect, etc. It makes it more fun for everyone.
    We had a very informal wedding ourselves as well, but kept it small, so the whole group could be entertained in one place, with a minimum of effort.

  • Kathleen Says:

    The biggest mistake planning my wedding was I had no plan. I was totally lost…I’d only ever been to one wedding my entire life. So, everyone took over for me; the flowers and dress and food and venue all THEIR choosing. I just sat there meekly and nodded my head. After all THEY were paying. I look back and I really didn’t have any fun that day.
    The best thing is that in 2 years I’m calling re-do and hostessing a totally kick ass 20th anniversary party!

  • Erica Lucci Says:

    My unsolicited wedding advice is to not buy into everything the wedding industry hands you. Take the time to think about what is really important to you, your fiance, and your families. Then do those things. Don’t go into debt for your wedding (or your honeymoon.)

    My pet peeve as a wedding guest was watching the “Dollar Dance” where guests give the new couple $1 to dance briefly with the bride. First, its rude to collect money from your friends. Second, women shouldn’t be for sale.

  • Grammar Snob Says:

    We went table to table to say hi while everyone was eating. After that, we were on the dance floor. I was the one in the big white dress, if someone wanted to say hi, I was pretty easy to spot.

    I gave little isotoner ballet slippers to bridesmaids before the reception — they loved them.

    I regret the balloon arch, but don’t regret splurging on the flowers. Oh, and we gave the DJ full reign but told him if he played the Macarena he was fired. :-)

  • Alissa Says:

    This might just be me, but the wedding favor things just seems like a big waste of money. I don’t need/want a ‘thank you favor/gift’ for attending your wedding. Nor do I want More Stuff. Take the money and spend it on the food or the liquor, or something more meaningful. I feel guilty not taking the Stuff because you spent money on it, but all I’ll do when I get home is donate it to Goodwill.

    *Though* the one useful Stuff thing that did help at one wedding I attended: The bride’s family prepared small bags of Stuff that were distributed at the hotel we all stayed at. The bags included things like directions to local attractions and good local food (along with all the places wedding stuff would be happening), and small snacks. Very helpful for out of town guests.

    Best center piece ever: fresh strawberries with quality melted chocolate.

  • Melanie Says:

    Great posts Maggie – it’s been really interesting reading your wedding re-caps this week. My husband and I have also been married for 7 years this year and yes, 7 is lucky.

    We were only engaged for three months, so instead of sending invitations we called everyone and invited them. It was a hefty phone bill but then we got to talk to all of our family and friends and share the good news that we were getting married. Plus everyone likes it when you call with good news.

    I think making the wedding something that suits you is the best advice.

    We got married in our apartment then took our 25 guests to our favorite restaurant for dinner. Afterward we invited everyone we knew in town over for a big party back at our apartment, it was a lot of fun.

    During the weeks leading up to the wedding I made 25 vases with the date of our wedding written on the bottom. My Mom and I spent the day before the wedding buying flowers and making arrangements for each vase. Our apartment was filled with lots of colourful flowers, which was wonderful, and we gave each wedding guest a vase to take home with them. It’s something many of them still talk about today. And 7 years later it still feels extra special to use the vase I made for us to keep.

  • Mutt Says:

    We totally did everything our way AND kept the guests in mind. I wanted to get married at the ocean, but we settled for a Lake nearby. Boates gathered in the water below to watch and they all honked when it was over. We arranged it so we left by his Uncles boat. It was awesome.

    We had an open bar, but we set a dollar limit so they came out and told us when we were close. It was pretty late by then so we just let it run instead of shutting it down.

    I had appointments for me and 4 others at a swanky salon. A couple months before the wedding the gal left the salon and all my appts. were cancelled – they never called. I ended up with a local gal who charged me $50 total for all of us. I sort of miss the mani/pedi/massage time, but we looked great and it was CHEAP!

    Sometimes you can give up the extra stuff and be just as happy with the less expensive second choice.

  • Kristen Says:

    Pet Peeve: Getting married outside. In the sun. I live in Louisiana and have attended many outdoor weddings. DON’T seat the guests in the sun. Provide shade for them – not just the altar.

    Cool Thing at My Wedding: Our reception was outside and there were lots of children in attendance. We got a blank newspaper roll (relative works at a newspaper) and lined a few long tables with it. Then we scattered baskets of crayons for the children to draw. It also helped that there were swing sets nearby.

  • Janette Says:

    I just went to a Wedding recently and it was jus beautiful. The couple had learned a Waltz Routine as their first dance in the very beginning. Usually food is eaten first but it was a great way to start the Wedding Reception.

  • simone Says:

    I’ll say what Kat said: Pay for the photographer and videographer even if your cousin is a superstar wedding photographer. Don’t have family and friends do it. I have no wedding video (because my family member “lost” it), and my wedding pictures are all candids. Kind of sad…wish I had done that differently,

    Also, plan someone to give toasts. Don’t hope it will spontaneously happen.

    The best weddings are the one with lots of drunk dancing. My pet peeve is when you need to wait an hour or so after the ceremony to eat/drink/dance because the wedding party has to go off and take pictures. Serve drinks early, get dinner rolling, start the dancing music mid-dinner. Who cares about dinner anyway? I’ve been to some weddings where the dancing is just about to start as people are getting up to leave. That’s my 2 cents. I think if the appetizers kept rolling out, a cocktail/appetizer wedding would be just fine. (Starting to sound like a real boozer…yup)

  • Heather Says:

    Pet peeve: Not having assigned seating. You think you’re being all “generous” and encouraging “mingling” but it’s awkward when you don’t know that many people and have to search for seats that aren’t “saved” or wonder if you “rank” high enough to sit close to the bride & groom, or if grandma will be pissed…Just give me a place to sit and then I can stop worrying about it.

  • Christine G. Says:

    I second many of recommendations already mentioned, especially having a “day-of” coordinator and having consumable favors. And while I happily ditched the bouquet and garter toss at my wedding, I am really glad we had a receiving line. The advice I most often give now is to really tap the experience of the professionals you hire – the manager of our wedding band and the events coordinator where we had the reception gave us great advice that resulted in a really great party.

  • Janice Says:

    Dear pre-July 2nd, 2010 Janice,

    Don’t leave Andy’s wedding suit in with the tailor on Thomas Street because it will get robbed by junkies stealing police uniforms. FACT.

    Love,
    Mrs. Janice

  • Jessica Says:

    Do what you want. Good food (not necessarily fancy food)and an open bar make for happy, celebratory guests.

    I would also say pay as much as you can possibly afford for a wedding photographer. We got a “higher-end” photographer, but skipped the wedding album for just the digital files (he edited them and such). Later I was able to make an album on Shutterfly for a fraction of what the photographer would have charged me. And I got to include ALL the photos I wanted. This also worked great for parental gifts (we personalized theirs by including lots of pics of their friends and less of ours).

  • Leah Says:

    fabulous advice! Maggie, I love hearing your take, and it is great to hear from so many others. I’m not married yet, but I am bookmarking this for the inevitable day when either my boyfriend or myself get up the gumption to go for it.

  • Meg Says:

    Thank you so much for the advice! I just got engaged and I need permission to have our wedding be about us and not feel the need to do what everyone expects/wants.

    I want more mighty wedding!

  • Jan Says:

    My sister had the coolest wedding. She and K got married in a public park one evening, very small affair, just one attendant each (I was her maid of honor). Afterward, we adjourned to a nearby shelter in the same park where there was a fireplace. The reception dinner was was hotdogs roasted in the fireplace, a cake from the supermarket, and a lot of laughter.

    The biggest laugh I remember from my own wedding planning was when Mom and I were looking at the big books of invitations at the stationery stores. We’d looked at bazillions because I was going to have lilies of the valley on my invitations OR DIE (ultimately found some). One day, though, as we were flipping through the religious-themed ones at yet another store, there was one with a cross, the iconic “P” above it, and a wedding ring under each arm of the cross. Mom just looked at it, then at me, and said, “POOT?” And that was the end of that day of shopping, and remains one of my favorite memories because we seldom crack up together but sure did that day.

  • Dodi Says:

    If you have an outdoor ceremony and invite more than a handful of guests, please use a sound system. Bonus points for microphones that filter wind noise. It may seem quiet in the woods, but cicadas and local traffic will drowned out your string quartet and only the first row will hear your vows. Everyone else will look strained and annoyed. I’ve seen this several times.

    One of the best treats at a casual outdoor reception was a visit from the ice cream truck. Kids of all ages loved ordering whatever they wanted and it made a hot afternoon better.

  • Kate @ Savour Fare Says:

    I hate it when you’re forced to sit down and make awkward conversation with people you don’t know. (Nice to make unawkward conversation). We got around this at our wedding by doing away with a served dinner altogether — we had passed hors d’oeuvres and stations, with some small tables and a few larger tables to sit at.

    Also, if you’re a bride or groom, make time to talk to your guests. You have your wedding night (and the rest of your life) to moon over your new spouse, but you don’t get your friends and family together all that often.

    If you can’t afford a full bar, go with champagne. It seems festive rather than skimpy, and you can usually return unopened bottles.

  • Kate @ Savour Fare Says:

    Oh, and the other thing? If you have any kids at your wedding, give them disposable cameras. I still laugh at the multiple posed “wedding Barbie” pictures taken by the flower girl. Awesome.

  • Renee Says:

    We did not toss anything at our wedding… no bouquets, no garters, no seeds…

    I did do a Greek spin (hello I’m a left handed half Greek) on the bouquet toss. I wrote the names of my single lady friends on the soles of my shoes and the name that had worn off the most was the next in line to get married.

  • Caroline Milyard Says:

    Sometimes you should pick good talent but then let them do what they do best. I gave my florist some guidelines, and what I was going for, but let her suggest to me how exactly to achieve it. My bouquets were out of this world gorgeous, and way better than if I had planned them myself!

  • abby Says:

    not so much a pet peeve as a regret: if your mom says “i wanted to take you, your sister and your future sister-in-law out for a girls’ afternoon & spa”, the correct answer is “yes” – not, “we were going to go get the marriage license right then”. you will still kick yourself 9 years later. sorry, mom!

  • jo Says:

    my pet peeve about being an attendant is other attendants seem to think that somehow the day is about them. i was in a wedding where the bride said she’d like us all to wear the same tone of blue but could be in different dresses and different shades if we wanted. she took us all shopping and found a couple lines where all the dresses would clearly go together and there were like 20 to choose from. and almost *everyone* complained! it floored me. she ended up telling us just to get whatever black dress we liked. our job is to sort of blend together and support HER and help HER and make HER look beautiful beyond compare. there were plenty of those dresses i wouldn’t have chosen on my own, but (with one exception) they didn’t make me look anatomically out of the ordinary so i was willing to wear whatever she liked.

    sorry, it was four years ago and i’m still stunned. my advice: tell your girlfriends you can’t pick your bridesmaids till your husband-to-be decides on his groomsmen then see who still volunteers to help (and actually does so). bridesmaids are self selecting if you give them time to do so. :-)

  • em Says:

    Ooh, this is great, keep the advice coming! I’m in the midst of planning my own wedding.

    I like the polaroid guestbook idea. I’m thinking about having disposable cameras at each table. Pretty sure that was an idea I read on this blog?

    So far the best wedding I’ve been to had food and alcohol served basically all day. A small brunch after the wedding, a formal late lunch reception, and a very informal (everyone had changed into jeans by this point) post-reception dinner. Cocktails with brunch, champagne and wine with the reception, and beer with dinner. I’m hoping to recreate this with my own reception, especially since 90% of my guests will be coming in from out of town.

  • Greta Says:

    For my own wedding, I do wish I’d followed the advice to spend on the things that matter to you. Our wedding was very homemade, which I loved, and I gave most people total creative control for the things they were doing. That worked out well with food, cake, flowers, favors, etc. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out so well with photographs – my mother was the photographer, and while she took some great photos, I have yet to see all of the prints. 7 years later. Annual reminders have not helped – I’ve even offered to pay for professional printing. Every time, she insists that she will do it. I don’t care who does it, I’d just like to have all the photos! Fortunately, friends took many candids, and we had disposable cameras on hand for all to use, which are truly the best. But I do wish we’d paid the extra $ for a professional photographer.

    Current pet peeve about friends’ weddings: not allowing children. I understand that not all weddings may be entirely child-appropriate, but I do think it should be up to the parents to decide, especially if they are coming from out of town. It would be very inexpensive to even hire a couple of teenage babysitters and provide a “kid’s area” if you really don’t want them to disrupt the grownups. But honestly, my 3-year-old daughter has loved the weddings she’s been to, is very well behaved, and would have boogied on the dance floor all night if we’d let her. And in some cases it would allow us to stay longer and have more fun, rather than having to worry about getting back to our own sitter.

  • Maren Says:

    Accept that, if your mother is involved in the planning, she will try to “give” you the wedding she never had. It may not be the wedding you want. The irony is that she will tell you about how *her* mother interfered when *she* got married. The best way to deal with this is to keep finding tasks for her which are not that important to you but which suit her interests, so she feels like she’s contributing and you don’t have to fight over stuff you care about most.

    If you have fewer than fifty guests, don’t register for fancy china, because you will end up with 2.5 place settings.

    If you have out-of-town guests coming in, schedule activities before the wedding that let you spend time with them more individually, especially if they’re from very disparate parts of your life. One of my favorite pictures is of a high school friend, my college roommate, and a long-time online friend who lived out of state all helping me tie bows on favors the night before. Getting everyone involved in wedding preparation (we did our own flowers and decoration) is a fun way to mix all those people you loved together before the rush and formality of the actual big day.

  • Genesis Says:

    I loved my wedding. It was simple and relaxed. I enjoyed the whole thing and wasn’t stressed out at all.

    I was working at a church when I got married, and I would practically hyperventilate every time I started thinking about the guest list and how to keep it under 350 people. We decided pretty quickly to make it a family-only wedding, and that was one of our best decisions (and we still had 45 people there).

    We did away with most of the wedding reception traditions. The bulk of our budget was spent on a lovely dinner at one of our favorite local restaurants. We took the place over for the night, had a menu with 2 or 3 options for each course and provided good wine, beer and champagne. We had a tower of profiteroles instead of cake, and served dark chocolate sauce and raspberry sauce to go with them. Yummy! And we had time to go around and talk with everyone there.

    What I’d do differently:
    We had two family members taking photos, one shooting in color and one in black and white. They did a nice job but I should have put someone in charge of the photo shoot, because in many of the photos people are looking at different photographers.

    Overall, though, I was thrilled with the whole thing. My husband and I had a day that was special and meaningful for us, surrounded by people we love who enjoyed themselves thoroughly. Since my wedding cost considerably less than my sister’s, my mom generously used the difference to pay off my car, and we started our marriage debt free. Best. Gift. Ever.

  • Melissa Says:

    CD’s were the craze wedding favor when we got hitched almost 5 years ago. I had gotten some at previous weddings that were such a hodge-podge though and really wanted to avoid that.

    Music at our wedding was important so our CD was filled with music both from the ceremony and reception. Our friends still tell me how they listen to it and think about our wedding and dancing away the night at our reception. I love that we gave them a favor that will always remind them of the day they watched us become a family.

    I think my biggest pet peeve about any wedding is when people just go through the motions of what they think a wedding is supposed to be and everything is generic instead of personal.

    You’re inviting us to share in your most important day- be personal and make it really about you as a copule! Have fun and revel in your happiness and everyone else will too!!

  • jif Says:

    Ours was a destination wedding so everyone needed a hotel. And we had everyone stay in the same one – which was AWESOME. The hotel was not extravagant but very comfortable – we worked with the hotel to get a good rate, worked with the cook to put together a bbq friday evening and casual brunch sunday morning. There was a pool and a bar – and the best part – the bar shut at 11pm but the hotel management didn’t let that stop our guests – they let them take over the bar and told them to just write down what they drank – needless to say the bar was open til 6am…

    At the friday night pre-wedding bbq, we organized “teams” of two people for a little bocce/boule match. I usually groan at being paired up with a stranger on false pretense, but it was amazing, as confirmed by several guests – they got to know people they otherwise might not have the night BEFORE the wedding which meant more fun at the reception the next day!

    We did a polaroid guest book too – AND left disposable cameras on every table – admittedly most of what you get back is a shot of someone’ elbow, but there were a few gems in their too.

    We spent the night before the wedding apart and didnt see each other until I walked in – I found it romantic – however, on the practical side, it would have been nice to get some of the family and couple shots taken care of before the ceremony in order to spend more time hanging with people and partner – because those portraits seemed to take foooorrrrevvvvah.

    I always tell the bride – make sure you eat! we spent dinner walking around or listening to speeches ie we barely sat at our table. suddenly dinner is over and you are going on nothing but a few classes of champagne and the night is long – you need more fuel – or make sure a girlfriend saves something for you!

    but tip number 1 – comfortable shoes!!!!!!!!!!!

    And overall – i would agree that the best weddings had an open and flowing bar and a FANTASTIC band or DJ – music is SOOO KEY do not underestimate. We were careful to set up the bar close to the dance floor to facilitate continuous movement and not as close to the tables – once people sit down, it can be hard to get them up again.

    The biggest major drag at a wedding is one that ends to early in my opinion. I have been to weddings where we were kicked out at 10 – boooooooooooooo! In my opinion, no one should leave before 5 am!!

  • Meredith Says:

    I was never one of those little girls who dreamed about her wedding day.

    THEN my husband and I got married at town hall for $15 with no one there but my EVIL (trust me) Mother-in-Law, and my husband’s brother.
    Now I’m obsessed! I can’t get enough of wedding shows, cake shows, wedding dress shows. It’s like porn. Actually going to weddings makes me sad, I’m jelous. I want one. But my husband assures me that finding a place to live is more important.

  • sheri bheri Says:

    My brother got married in his new city, 6 hours from ‘our side’ of the family. After the ceremony, a double decker bus picked us all up and took us for a tour of the city. We stopped at a lovely park and while the wedding pictures were taken, the caterer showed us with appetizers for the guests. It was awesome and thoughtful.

    At my wedding, we couldn’t think of a nice centerpiece for the tables, so instead of dessert, we had a cake made for each table and they served themselves. It was beautiful and an ice breaker.

    My pet peeve? Lateness. I actually arrived at the church before some of our guests! And between the speeches and the dancing, we had 5 minutes for everyone to have a body break and get a drink. At our reception, you would have seen a LOVELY tableau of my brother handing me something and me giving him a heartfelt, tearful “thanks” – he was giving me my watch back!

    Oh yeah! And get a comfortable dress! Make you sure you can walk up and down stairs and DANCE in it! Seriously, during the dress shopping I was doing the YMCA, just to be sure.

  • Wedding Queen Says:

    If you have to get the guests tipsy to get them to “sit through the ceremony”, either you’ve got crappy friends or the ceremony is wayyyy too long.

  • Jean Says:

    There are so many comments leaving me nodding my head, but I have to say my biggest pet peeve for weddings is the over-the-top conspicuous outlay of cash for so many things that will be forgotten by the first anniversary. There are so many ways to make an event special! Spending more and more money is way down on my list. It’s not always the bride who’s behind it, and certainly the wedding industry throws fuel on the foolishness – but whatever the cause, the ka-ching ringing in my ears always makes me feel like the bride and groom have either got something to hide or something to prove.

  • Emily Says:

    Our wedding and reception were in the same venue so when guests arrived we had the bar open. People enjoyed our non-tradional ceremony even more with a glass of wine!

  • Karla Says:

    Since we had a lot of kids at our wedding we didn’t do a cake, instead we did an ice cream sundae bar. A few different ice creams (including a sugar free option since we had some diabetics in attendance) and lots of toppings. It was awesome.

    Rather than a traditional guest book, we bought a magnum of Cab from the winery where we got married. We had guests sign that, and then on our first anniversary we had a party with the awesome people who helped us pull the wedding together and drank the wine.

  • Lisa Says:

    I hate to say it, because I know it makes me sound like a terrible person, but I’ve been to far too many weddings where I can’t hear a word of the entire ceremony because I’m sitting behind a wailing baby. I love children to death, but when I go to a wedding I want to be able to enjoy watching my friend get married … which is very hard to do when you can’t hear a word being said.

    For my own wedding (someday!) I’m hoping to find a polite, kind way around this, but I haven’t found the perfect solution yet. My best thought would be to find a way to provide childcare during the ceremony so that the adults can enjoy the ceremony, and then during the reception give them the option to continue leaving them with the provided care, or bring them into the reception area. Is this an ok idea? Is it still rude and offensive?

  • Julie Says:

    I got the wedding of my dreams after having been a bridesmaid over a dozen times and a caterer for years. My husband and I got married outside in Wellies in a thunderstorm with his (local) family and my friends present. We were on our land in upstate NY in March. We picked the date because his insurance was running out April 1. I’m soooo romantic. We moved in together in June (when his renovations were done) and had a blowout party for 150 people in October. Our best out-of-town friends were put up in 2 neighboring lake cottages. The festivities lasted for 3+ days, culminating in a lovely bash with an amazing band. Liquor, roasted marshmallows, and barbecue flowed like water. Good times. I wish we had done the group picture.

    Best wedding advice ever – don’t become a born-again Christian in college and get married at 19 just so you can have sex. The reception will consist of deviled eggs, ham, jello molds, and Kool-Aid. Ugh. My high school best friend really dropped the ball with that one. She also made me wear the dyed aqua kitten heels and flammable dress, as well. Not easy to pull off without a drink. Or 6.

  • Steph Says:

    Our wedding was very untraditional, relaxed, barefoot on a lawn bowls green. My advice:

    1) Pay for an impartial photographer. A good friend of ours is a professional photog and offered to take ours as a wedding gift, but she got caught up in the day (and very drunk). The ensuing arguments to get the photos from her nearly a year later nearly cost our friendship. We all eventually got over it.

    2) On the day DELEGATE. You’re done planning, worrying. Enjoy and let someone else deal with a disaster.

    3)We thought is was really important to have the reception at the same place as the ceremony, as everyone gets in the mood to celebrate right after you’ve said “I will” and it’s a real buzz-kill to have to travel to another venue to party.

    4)As a guest I personally think any kind of registry is SO RUDE! I think it’s so outdated as all my friends who have gotten married have already set up a house together so I think the original idea isn’t relevant in most cases. Plus it take all the fun out of being generous and giving a gift.

  • Jessica Says:

    Elope.

  • Tricia Says:

    So fun to read everyone’s advice, and have the chance to add more.

    I’m a big fan of the receiving line; as a guest, I hate not having a chance to meet and thank the families of the bride and groom. For ours, since the wedding was outdoors and at the same location as the reception, guests could get a cocktail while waiting.

    We contacted the music department of a local college for the string quartet that played for the ceremony and cocktail hour; they were wonderful and inexpensive. They played a piece near the beginning of the ceremony that gave me a chance to take a few deep breaths and get centered before the vows.

    I’m very glad we splurged on the beautiful location and excellent photographer and also glad we didn’t spend too much on the food, despite being foodies. The photos are still with us, but it’s rare for a wedding meal to be memorable.

    Two of my mom’s best friends coordinated everything day-of allowing my mom and I to relax. They arrived with tiaras, titled themselves “queens of the day,” and took care of everything.

    I’m also a fan of edible/disposable favors. Ours were truffles made by a local chocolatier in origami boxes with a little note that told the story about our engagement, including the truffles we ate that day. And my dad’s speech where he referenced those “damn boxes” was pretty memorable.

    My biggest advice is to not feel like you have to do everything you see in magazines, blogs, websites, etc. Latte bar! Signature cocktail! Homemade favors! Handpicked bouquets! Just pick a few things to focus on and let everything else go.

  • Sara Spalding Says:

    Ah – it makes me so happy remembering our big day. I too love to talk weddings, so I have a few bits of advice.

    One of my favorite things we did was this. The night before, we hosted a cocktail party (it was a destination wedding, so virtually everyone travelled.) We got our photographer to shoot pictures of all of our guests (about 75)- posed, but not formal. Then overnight, she printed them in B/W, placed them in sliver frames, and used them as place cards and favors for each of the guests at the receptions. For all the couples, she just did 1 photo, and managed to gracefully handle the singles as well (ie., a picture of my then-single sister with me).

    Even now, six years later, our friends have their pictures displayed in their homes. It was a little spendy, but worth it to us.

  • freddy Says:

    We wanted something modest in scope, but I couldn’t hack the extra planning and weather-related insecurity of an outdoor wedding. We found a good compromise by having a brunch wedding at a restaurant that isn’t normally open for brunch (they do have a catering arm that does brunch, though). They cut us a deal on the space because we were getting food through them, and the extra rental cost for dishes etc. was minimal. Brunch food is also much cheaper, even when you go local-seasonal-fancy, and made it easy to accommodate our many vegetarian friends. Also the bar tab is cheaper – we had lots of mimosas but didn’t have to worry about a huge bar tab.

    Other good decisions we made:
    - For dessert, we had a local gelato shop come by with their gelato bike and everyone got as much as they wanted.
    - For flowers, I scoped out the farmers’ market a week before our wedding, picked the farm whose flowers I liked the best, and asked the farmer to set aside two buckets for me the next week. My mom picked them up and my sister arranged them (in vases that the restaurant had). Total cost: $100, and they were absolutely gorgeous.
    - Our ceremony/brunch reception was about 70 people, and then we took a break and hosted a blowout BBQ at our house. That let us have an intimate gathering as well as the chance to invite anybody we felt like – colleagues, soccer buddies, new acquaintances we wanted to get to know better, neighbors…

    All in all, we loved our wedding and actually had a great time ourselves.

  • Adrienne Says:

    Another vote for karaoke! We had an awesome guitar duet for live music during the ceremony (and they stayed through cocktails) but then it was DJ and karaoke. And it was SO MUCH FUN. So, so much fun.

    Also, don’t let anybody tell you what traditions you need to follow. Personally, I HATE CAKE. HAAATE. But pie? Oh god, PIE. We had wedding pies from an awesome greasy spoon diner we loved it was AWESOME.

  • Manisha Says:

    My best wedding advise: ELOPE! That’s what we did. Elope then have a party for everyone later. Unfortunately, I did not plan the party, my sister-in-law did and it was more of a house-warming for her new home. If I had to do all over again, I would through an evening reception at a local bar or restaurant, have pleny of music, and like you, focus on the bar. Oh, and, my husband is a diabetic, so we didn’t want cake and she (the SIL) ordered an icecream cake. Ugh.

  • Kathy U Says:

    We rented a big ole farmhouse on Whidbey Island, WA. Same cost for 4 days as half a day at a reception hall in Seattle. We also had the wedding and reception at the same place, which cut down on going from A-B. Some thought it was weird to have a “wedding compound” where all the wedding party stayed for many days, but it gave a feeling of a vacation, and honestly, my husband and I were shacking up for years before the wedding, so a private wedding night seemed kinda fake.
    Old college friends got a cabin not far from the farm/compound, so if people wanted to whoop it up hard for an after party, they had that option while others of us just sat and talked all night long, then crashed. It was a blast.
    We also focused on food/booze and working with local vendors.
    No regrets at all.

    That said, I’m sending this post to my best friend who is now a bride to be. My first task as maid of honor . . .

  • Jack Says:

    but I have heard a glowing crotch is auspicious.

    I once heard Marlon Perkins talk about how some animals use a glowing crotch as part of their mating ritual. I suppose that is appropriate for it to happen at a wedding.

  • Kait Says:

    We totally did away with the traditional stuff that we thought was dumb – mainly the garter toss (who wants to look at their parents/grandparents while their new spouse has his face all up in your lady bits?!) and the bouquet toss.

    My advice is this – it’s YOUR wedding. Lord willing, you’ll only do it once. So go with what you want, not what’s popular or what your mother/mil/sister/friends want. They got or will get their chance, this is yours. So if you want to say screw it and elope to Bora Bora, go for it. And if you want a big, fluffy church wedding with all the trimmings, go for it. But own it because it’s (hopefully) the only one you get.

  • Sheri Bheri Says:

    Oh yeah- one more thing. Go with what’s in season. I got married in August and we had daisies. LOTS and LOTS of daisies! Our favours even said: “He loves me. He loves me not. He loves me, we tied the knot!”

  • Chickeys Says:

    The more over-the-top, very cookie-cutter weddings I go to the simple my “dream wedding” becomes!

    Tram-accessible mountaintop in Alaska (ski hill from childhood, holla), July. Invite list will be family and VERY close friends. Maid of honor = only sister, groom can have as many dudes as he wants. Everybody rides the tram back down and we eat. No music, no dancing, no wedding cake. Sweet and simple and mine. :)

    Wedding pet peeves: lame DJs and obvious elitism in the seating chart. Single females don’t want to sit at the kids’ table.

  • wedding_schmuck Says:

    Seriously, don’t even bother with a wedding ceremony for friends. Just have a civil union for your parents and siblings so that you don’t completely break your mother’s heart. Schedule the reception the day after. No one cares about your wedding ceremony. Sorry to be mean, but there is nothing you can say in your wedding vows that hasn’t already been written. Plus, it only serves as an impediment to the party, which is why everyone showed up. Don’t bother with a DJ; technology has made them obsolete. In fact, just throw a party and ditch all of the tired traditions. C’mon ladies, really? 99% of us look terrible in all white, it’s a fallacy, and frankly our slavery to patriarchal tradition can be embarrassing. You wouldn’t think of of taking a job that requires you to fetch someone’s coffee, but you are more than willing to spend countless hours and $$$ on a dress you’ll only wear once? That said, we got hitched one day and threw a party the next. The hall and the food were the biggest expenses. After that, we filled the hall with our creativity and ingenuity, and did the entire thing for a song. No one will ever forget our reception, and it has yet to be topped by our peers. Agree on the group photo; we got one and it is awesome.

  • Alex Says:

    You can ask me again at this time next week (we’re getting married on Saturday) but my best advise from the planning-stage seems to be to trust the pros. Have a good idea of what you want and then let the professionals take it from there. Your photographer, florist, baker, etc. has so much experience – use it to your advantage!

    Now, let’s see how that works out…

  • Ellyn Says:

    Umm, your group shot is awesome! And, I still ? the red shoes so much.

  • Ellyn Says:

    LOVE the red shoes, that is. Not ? them.

  • Jane Noir Says:

    I just got married on July 24, 2010. I was extremely pleased with all of the little personalized details my husband and I added to our wedding.
    1. We took dance lessons together and had a choreographed routine to perform for our guests for our first dance. It was an awesome way for us to bond in a new way (I had to learn how to let him lead, for once) and our guests were amazed. His family had never seen him dance. I changed out of my wedding dress into a short, ruffly, little number that matched the colors of my wedding in order to do our dance, and then did a quick change back into the ballgown for the remainder of the night. We had a blast, and people were incredibly impressed.
    2. We had mad-libs regarding wedding and marriage advice tucked into our programs (which we printed ourselves) and they produced fantastic results (some dirty, some sweet). We had a blast reading them once we got back from our honeymoon!
    3. I picked four shades of turquoise/blue and eight different styles of short dresses for my bridesmaids to pick from. Each girl got to pick the color and dress style that suited them. The colors went well together, and our pictures looked awesome because the colors really popped.
    4. I’m a teacher and my hubby is an engineer. We gave out pencils with our wedding info on them as one of our handouts. My mother thought that was cute.
    5. At the reception while people were eating cake, we played a slideshow to music of pictures of my husband and I as children, then us dating, then our engagement photos. All the saps cried like babies.
    6. I had my best friend (who is professionally trained and went to college for vocal performance) sing at our wedding during the ceremony while we did our unity sand ceremony. My husband’s aunt performed our wedding ceremony, and my cousin’s wife and her mother played the piano and violin as I walked up the aisle. It was awesome having family members and friends provide the music and conduct our ceremony- it made it so much more personal. Plus they didn’t cost nearly as much as “professionals.”
    7. Our ceremony was was outdoors, the unity candles would have blown out and that wouldn’t have been very positive symbolism, so we opted for a sand ceremony. We have the glass bottle with the sand as a memento of our day.
    8. Like you said, determine what’s most important to you and spill the dough there. We printed our own programs and our madlibs, I made the flower girl buckets, my throwing bouquet, and the aisle decorations. My mother’s friend did my flowers (she did an absolutely fantastic job) and decorated our arch for us. Point is, we made sure to use the talents of the people we knew and loved first before calling in a professional in order to save money and add more personality to our wedding. We splurged on the deejay because there’s nothing that can kill a reception faster than bad music. Our guy kept everyone, even us, dancing until midnight.
    9. We even drove our wedding cake (dissembled) 6 hours from our home town up to where the wedding took place because it was about $300 less for the cake (which was delicious). I DO NOT RECOMMEND THAT. We had to drive two separate cars up in order to have enough space, and had to blast the air conditioning the entire way so that the cake wouldn’t melt. We bundled up in sweatshirts and had to make rest stops to thaw outside. While there are really cute pictures of me assembling our wedding cake on our wedding day in my shorts and my button down shirt, it was stress that didn’t need to be there.
    10. I suggest for any bride to choose their maid of honor carefully. I had my oldest friend (we’ve known each other for 21 years) as my MOH because, duh, seniority, and it was awful. She’s flighty and when she’s in relationships cares more about him than anything else. She got into a fight with him at my wedding and left the dance floor during the dollar dance…She was MIA all night. I was basking in new matrimonial bliss the entire night and paid her absence no attention, but now I’m having a hard time forgiving her. So, I recommend picking the most responsible and motivated friend you have, someone you know you can rely on no matter what, rather than your oldest friend.