A few months ago, my husband and I celebrated our 3-year wedding anniversary. Since then, I’ve been able to celebrate with many friends as they got married too. Since it’s still pretty fresh in my mind, I thought I would share things that I feel like are musts for your wedding- some that I did and others that I wish I would have. And you may feel differently about things, and that’s okay! I want to share my regrets and my opinions and that’s okay if you disagree.
- Photographer all day. I’ve heard many people say one regret they have with their wedding is not spending more money on photography. I love photos and so this was one non-negotiable we had and I have no regrets! We had 2 photographers and 2 videographers. The photos and wedding video we received will be tangible memories we’ll be able to hold onto forever. And not only did we have great photographers, we also had them there all day. I cherish seeing the getting ready, first look, groomsmen hanging out photos, etc. Since we had 2 photographers, one was able to focus on me while the other on Trevor so seeing both sides of the morning was great! They could also catch a lot of detail shots since they had time. (VowHouse did our photos by the way. Highly recommend).
- Pick a venue where you can get ready on site. My bridesmaids, flower girl, mother-in-law, and mom were all able to get ready on site in a sweet cottage with me. I loved that we didn’t have to rush getting ready in a cramped hotel and drive over but that we had the whole day on-site. It gave such a sense of peace to the morning.
- First look. This was something I never thought I wanted to do when I was a little girl dreaming of my wedding day. I liked the idea of a surprise for my soon-to-be husband to not see me until the ceremony when I walked down the aisle but amongst the planning of the day, I’m very glad looking back that we did a first look and here’s why. As mentioned above, photos mean a lot to me. Doing a first look while walking down the aisle would be challenging to catch both reactions, especially if you only have one photographer. I also liked the idea of getting majority of pictures done before the ceremony to leave less waiting around time for our guests. We got great pictures of this special moment. And don’t let anyone tell you it takes away from the moment walking down the aisle; my husband still cried, so it’s still special.
- Hire makeup and hair out. I’ve been in a handful of weddings where I had to do my own hair/makeup for the day and that’s fine if a bride chooses that route, but personally, it’s your day and it feels GOOD to be pampered on. Also, it’s one of the days in your life where you want to look the nicest and feel so good and confident about yourself. Leaving that in the hands of professionals is so nice. I will rarely have my makeup and hair professionally done. I see your wedding as a great time to do so! And I did trials ahead of time for both of them so I could know I would like it the day of.
- Early afternoon wedding time. In the moment, I loved a 4pm wedding, but I think I would do maybe even just an hour sooner and here are my reasons to this. If you do a wedding too early, you’re rushed to get ready and can’t enjoy that time with your bridesmaids. If you do one too late, people won’t want to stay late for a reception and you won’t be able to get as much time to dance and enjoy that time of your day. I think 4pm was a great time but maybe an hour earlier would’ve been even better.
- Write letters to your significant other. My husband and I exchanged letters the morning of (my personal attendant did the switch). It was sweet to have a letter to read from Trevor right before our first look. It was a sweet moment where I cried and could really soak in those moments leading up to seeing him for the first time that day. This was our first correspondence that day. We didn’t see each other that morning, talk on the phone, or even text. That all made the first look even more special.
- Write your own vows. In our wedding video, part of our vows play in the background & I love it. Hearing my soon-to-be husband’s commitments to me in front of all our family & friends was amazing. I’ll always cherish this. And we had these cute little customized booklets to keep them in so they stay in good condition.
- Have your reception at the same location as your ceremony. As a wedding guest, I really dislike when I have to drive to a different location for the reception. I had a wedding once where it was like 2.5 hours in between ceremony and reception. That’s so much for your guests! My guests just had to walk out of the ceremony barn, turn a corner, and enter the reception barn. It was perfect!
- Make light of your day! Not everything will go according to plan. For example, we were supposed to do some worship songs during our ceremony but the right cord wasn’t brought by our DJ for my piano so we had to scrap it last minute. We also almost fell during our first kiss. You just have to laugh it off and not let it ruin your day.
- Have a couple minutes alone after the ceremony. After the ceremony, when we walked down the aisle as husband and wife, we took just a couple minutes alone outside the barn. Just to look at each other in the eyes and enjoy a quiet moment before the rest of the day. It was a really peaceful moment that I’d highly recommend.
- Do a receiving line. I had heard from others about how it can be hard to talk to everyone at your wedding before the night is over. A way to make that happen is to have a receiving line after the ceremony to greet all guests. Then no worries if you don’t talk with them again that day because you were already able to hug them and thank them for coming. As a guest, I don’t like it when I don’t even get to say hi to the bride & groom that day.
- Honor someone special. Since I had a brother who had passed away from cancer years prior, we honored him with words during the ceremony but also we had a spot for him with his photo and a little sign. It was really special. We also took a picture to honor him.
- Bridesmaids first look. The only people who saw pictures of what dress I got were my mom, my mother in law, and my matron of honor (sister in law). Everyone else was surprised. I was able to surprise my bridesmaids & flower girl with it on and it was super sweet.
- Prayer. My mom, mother-in-law, bridesmaids, & personal attendant all prayed over me prior to the ceremony which was a super special moment I’ll always cherish. We also had all our family pray over us during the ceremony which was very special too.
- Surprise your spouse. Now, this wouldn’t be up everyone’s alley but I surprised Trevor during the ceremony with a dance my bridesmaids and I choreographed prior and it was so much fun!
- Do sunset pictures!! Our photographer snuck us away from the reception for a couple minutes and I’m so glad she did! We got these dreamy photos during sunset.
- Have photo needs discussed prior to the wedding day. The last thing you want to do is come up with all the photo groupings needed in the moment. Send them to your photographer(s) in advance so you can make sure you don’t forget one and then in the moment, you just get to watch it happen. Also, send over any poses you really want to make sure get captured too. They’re there to make sure you get all the pictures you want.
I probably forgot some things, but to me, these things are essentials for your wedding day! What things were you super happy you did on your day? Do you have any regrets or things you’d change?
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