1. Stick to your budget. Now I could get into a lot of subtext here, but weddings are a big business and it is EASY to spend a
2. Hire a reputable photographer. Your wedding pictures are something that will be looked at for years and years down the road. Make sure that you hire someone who knows what they are doing. Furthermore, have a contract with the photographer that outlines what you should expect and what you should receive. It was important to us that we had a disk with all the pictures and a letter saying that we had the printing rights. Also, make sure that a time frame is listed in the contract - that you will receive the entirety of your pictures within 90 days, or something to that effect. Unfortunately this "do" is something that I had to learn the hard way. We did not have a time frame listed in our contract, so it took over 6 months and a threat to hire a lawyer before we received our pictures. Then when we finally did receive our pictures, several pictures were missing - like the ones of the whole bridal party together. Apparently she forgot to take those and my mind was on other thing on my wedding day, so those are pictures that we will never have. Maybe you won't have such a dreadful experience, but why chance it for your wedding day; hire a reputable photographer.
3. Have a "Groomsman Understudy". My husband has a friend who, although was not technically part of our bridal party, proved to be invaluable for the smooth running of our wedding day. For instance, when the pianist's music and the marriage certificate were inadvertently switched on our wedding day, he was able to run around to find the music and make sure that we had the marriage certificate. Don't worry, our marriage is legal. :) He took care of a lot of things that I didn't know about until after the wedding was over, eliminating a lot of potential stress (see #6). So whether you call the person a Groomsman Understudy or not, try to have someone available who is not busy being caught up with all the bridal party obligations, that can trouble-shoot any issues that may arise. This could also be a part of a wedding planner's job also.
4. Send Thank You Notes. I believe that traditionally you have up to a year to send a thank you note, but I think the important thing is that they are sent. Sure, they take a while to write and you feel like you might never get through them all or that your hand will fall off while you are writing, but this is just a practical way to express appreciation and gratitude for the kindness of others.
5. Don't Let Other's Expectations Trump Yours. Everyone has an opinion on what should be done or how to do it and they will be willing to share that opinion with you (kinda like I am doing now, I suppose...). It is wise to listen to that advice, as some of it will provide great ideas, but ultimately the decisions are up to you. For instance, we had a wedding website for people to RSVP and you would not believe how many people told me that they had never heard of such a thing (remember, I am from a small town, as I know a lot of people have used websites for RSVPs). I was told, "Well, I have never heard of it done that way..." or "That is different..." but but we didn't allow other's expectations to change what we wanted for our day. The website ran smoothly and calculated the meal choices for us, ultimately eliminating work for us, so I am very glad that I didn't cave to other's expectations in regards to this aspect of our wedding.
6. Don't Stress on Your Day. When your wedding day arrives, don't stress. What hasn't been done may not get done, but don't let that dampen your spirits. Just relax, delegate and get your hair done. I'd like to say to not stress throughout the whole planning process, but undoubtedly there will be moments of stress, but make sure that you are has relaxed as you can be on your wedding day so that you can enjoy the start of your marriage.
1. Obviously the picture ordeal - Not to dwell, but it was a super traumatizing situation...
2. Not recording the ceremony and the speeches - When planning our wedding, we decided to not have a videographer. We thought that it was too pricy; plus, in reality, how often would we really watch it? Or so I thought at the time. Especially the ordeal with not having our wedding pictures for awhile, I would have loved to have a video of the event to jog my memory, as our wedding day was a whirlwind. I regret not having a video of our best man and maid of honor speeches, as well as, the impromptu speech that my husband gave. Unfortunately, we do not have that recorded and that is not a moment that we can recreate. If I could do it over, I would suck it up and hire a videographer.
3. Not having a receiving line - This sounds simple and relatively unimportant, BUT I totally regret not having a receiving line after the ceremony. During the planning, we figured we would skip the receiving line in order to save time between the ceremony and reception. I wanted to skip the receiving so that we could get right into pictures and head to the reception. I figured that we would greet most of the people at the reception anyway, so what's the big deal? WRONG! We spent the majority of the time greeting people at the reception and not actually participating in the dancing, etc. I danced the first dance with my husband, a dance with my dad and the last dance of the night; that was it. In hindsight, I think that if we would have had a receiving line, I wouldn't have felt the need to attempt to visit with everybody that was there (I say attempt because there were some people we didn't get a chance to see) and I could have danced the night away.
Anywho, without a doubt, our wedding day was the happiest day of my life. This isn't because of the actual day or how excellent it was (I am bias, I know), but it is because it was the day that I started the next chapter in my life with my best friend. All in all, your wedding day is just a day, so as much as you prepare for it, prepare more for your actual marriage and everything else will fall into place. :)