At times, wedding planning can feel like a part-time job. If you are in the midst of planning a wedding, you know that it isn’t always as fun as pinning photos to a Pinterest board. There are moments of happiness, doubt and stress along the way …. all of which are totally normal.
When planning my wedding, I asked a lot of past brides what their thoughts were, and I used their experiences to help guide my decisions.
Wondering what past brides say about planning? I asked some of my current and past brides to share their best tips, advice, and insight into planning a wedding. Enjoy some unsolicited wedding planning advice from Brittany Bekas brides.
What was the best decision you made when planning your wedding?
“TRACKERS AND LISTS! Daily (at first) then weekly eventually monthly then back to daily. I would check my list and ensure sure that I was on target with the lengthly to-dos! Getting a wedding planner for “Day of” (a few months prior as most companies do) was also a game-changer. Being extremely Type-A, I needed to ensure the wedding day was the one day that I was not the person checking the to-do list!” – Courtney
“Taking time to research and find the most perfect vendors that meet our wants and needs, especially photo and video :). With a year and 8 months to plan, we took our time to make sure to interview our vendors thoroughly so that we knew we were hiring individuals that were going to make our day what we wanted it to be. Most importantly, the very first thing we did was hire a photographer and videographer that fit our personal style and personalities. Both of my sisters did not spend time researching their wedding photographers and opted for a “whoever works within our budget” attitude and neither hired a videographer (their 2 biggest regrets). At the end of the day, we relook at the photos and watch our video so frequently, as those are the memories we will have from our day forever, and spending time to make sure we hired the right folks to capture our day was most important to us.” – Meghan
“Definitely hire a wedding planner at least the month of and have them participate in every vendor call/meeting leading up to the wedding. My planner had so many good insights at the venue when we were making the final decisions about the flow of the event/timing, etc. And make sure you utilize your planner and delegate tasks as the event gets closer. You’ll need help. Another tip is drop off as much as you can at the venue before the weekend so you don’t need to worry about it the day of your rehearsal dinner.” – Taylor
“We were really happy we wrote our own vows. Our videographer captured them in our highlight and hour-long video and it’s the best feeling to hear them again. :)” – Samantha
“Choosing a venue really helped guide us in the right direction in terms of choosing vendors as well as trusting our gut/hearts! We did not think much about different options. We found what we liked and trusted it.” – Monika
“To keep my circle of “planners” very very small. We did not use a wedding planner or coordinator, and I don’t regret that at all. Basically, I shared my thoughts and opinions with my mom, sister, and future husband, and that was it. Too many opinions lead to stress and lag in decision making. Of course, that is why a planner is so helpful, to take that off of you as a bride, but if you are looking to stick to a budget and not hire one, try to share the details during the planning process with as few people as possible. Also, photography. We are almost one-year post-wedding day, and I just opened my gallery and it still gives me all the feels. Great pictures evoke great emotions. It is imperative that every single detail of the day is captured because as a bride, you will miss things. So to be able to look back and relive those moments is priceless.” – Gina
Of course, the wedding was perfect but if you had it to do over, what one thing would you do differently?
“Not stress so much — everything will work out! Turns out, our cake collapsed in the delivery van, but they still made it look great and it still tasted delish :).” – Dianna
“I would have spent more time dancing! The night flew by – and was so fun – but by the time we stopped talking to everyone we missed out on a lot of the dancing, so definitely be sure to do that on your big day. Also, our timeline was a bit tight because we had a full Catholic mass and a big bridal party. Not sure exactly how to fix this, but trying to reconfigure the day to miss less of the cocktail hour is also something I wish we had worked in.” – Meghan
“Try to stress less. I was trying to get too many pictures on my photo wishlist and make sure everyone was included in the pictures and make sure we got to every table to say hello, and before we knew it, there were only a few hours left! It goes SO fast. I wish I took a step back and didn’t let the wind (Holy cow-still can’t get over how windy it was!) and other small things out of our control tress me out on our wedding day.” – Samantha
“SLOW DOWN during the reception! We got a lot of hellos done during cocktail hour, and we should have trusted this was enough. Instead of trying to go to every table, I wish we would have done one big thank you to everyone, so we had more time together throughout the night.” – Monika
What was your favorite part of your wedding day?
“Immediately after our first kiss and walking down the aisle was the best feeling! We were both BEAMING ear-to-ear and seeing all our family and friends applaud as we walked by was such a cool feeling. Then, we got a moment alone before exiting the church and it was the best . Also, I loved all the intimate moments with our loved ones like getting my hair and makeup done with best closest girlfriends beforehand, my first look with my dad, having all our closest people in one room and all our speeches too!” – Meghan
“Oh lordie, that’s tough. Probably looking out in a room full of people that you love and realizing they are all there to celebrate you and your HUSBAND. A feeling that can only be felt by experience. I wish I could put this emotion into words. Unreal.” – Courtney
“Our first look. It was so nice to be able to see Brian’s reaction (he had tears in his eyes and he NEVER cries) and really take in that moment just us two before it all began.” – Samantha
“There was a moment right before the doors opened to cocktail hour at the reception venue where just myself and my new husband of a few hours had the room to ourselves. It was a pinch-me moment. It was quiet, the candles were lit, the smell of delicious food was filling the room, and the anticipation of greeting everyone was real. We just stood there alone and soaked in the decor, the setup, the moment. It was perfect. You do not get too many moments alone on your wedding day, so when you do, savor it.” – Gina
What thing / area of your wedding did you splurge on and why? Where did you save?
“We actually did a pretty decent job of keeping things on a budget (lots of researching vendors and comparing reviews/quality of service!) but I think if I were to pick an area we splurged on, it was the venue. It was literally a dream venue. It was a small boutique family-owned winery with a gorgeous Mediterranean feel and I knew I was going to love it before I saw it in person. The venue came with a lot, so I consider it to be 100% worth the money we spent but it ended up being about 1/3 of our budget.” – Nicole
I would say we saved on the florals. My florist was amazing and knew I didn’t want to go overboard as that’s so easy to do with wedding florals. The venue was stunning on its own so I knew from the beginning I didn’t want over the top flowers everywhere. She worked with me to reuse bridesmaids bouquets as centerpieces on half the tables and we incorporated more greenery than extra flowers to cut down cost. She implemented a few other hacks to make the most of everything we decided on. All the flower decor was elegant but simple and just the right amount.” – Nicole
“We splurged on the band/after party DJ because we love to dance and wanted the party to go on all night. We saved on the sweet table. We passed the wedding cake, and then had Lou Malnatis and cookies at the after party, but we did not do a formal sweet table. We also saved on linens, we did house linens and they worked perfectly, no one could tell the difference.” – Taylor
“Where didn’t we splurge on? I felt like towards the end it was a drop in the bucket compared to the overall budget! We probably spent more than intended in most categories, but I would say the band was well worth it! I have been to several weddings where the band was no good and guests left early or were seated at the table. The energy of our amazing venue paired with the band ensured that everyone was up. I loved it! We saved on..ummm…the wedding shoes! I have seen some crazy numbers for wedding shoes..got mine on sale on David’s Bridal – BEAUTIFUL Vera Wang Shoes for $100!” – Courtney
If you could give only ONE piece of advice to someone who just got engaged about planning a wedding, what would you tell them?
“I would tell them to enjoy the engagement stage and don’t feel pressure from friends & family to start planning! I think it’s important for couples to have that stage after they get engaged to enjoy it together and get excited about the wedding and not feel overwhelmed or stressed about planning it. You’re allowed to take your time and decide on things together and if you don’t start planning right away, that’s allowed! Do you and what’s best for you two as a couple!” – Nicole
“Stay organized and if that isn’t your thing, get a planner or enlist a friend who is! It all comes together, I promise :)”. – Courtney
“You know the saying ‘It’s a marathon, not a sprint’? I had to keep repeating this in my head over and over. After getting engaged – enjoy those first few days of love, bliss, and celebration. Soak. it. in. Then, try to get a few big-ticket items checked off the list (i.e. venue, date, wedding party, guest list). Over the course of your engagement period, try to do 2-3 small tasks every week. Whether that is picking out prelude songs, finalizing meal courses, or Pinteresting 20 floral arrangements, if you stay on top of it, it will never feel overwhelming. Lists are your best friend. Lastly, no gesture of gratitude or appreciation is too small. Remember to find ways to thank all of the people in your circle who helped turn your wedding day into a dream.” – Gina
“However things turn out, it is going to be one of the best days of your life. Therefore there is no need to stress about everything working out perfectly; weather, food, napkin colors, timing, let it unfold naturally and always take the time to look at who is by your side the entire time, the one you love most.” – Monika
Looking for more wedding planning advice?
First time to the blog? Hi, I am Brittany, and I am a fine art film photographer specializing in lifestyle wedding and family photography. I travel worldwide photographing beautiful weddings, engagements, and families, and most of the time you can find me in Chicago, Naples (Southwest Florida), and Las Vegas. My light and airy editing style and candid, joyful photos are what I am best known for. Interested in working together? Contact the studio for more information.