Planning your big day is an exciting process (yippeee – you’re getting married!), but it’s probably the most stressful time of your life as well. Everybody has a suggestion — friends, family as well as vendor recommendations — and then add in your own ideas. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed. A lot of couples make hasty decisions just to “get ‘r done” while losing track of what they really want. When the wedding day arrives, they realize that they have made a huge mistake(s) and in the end, regretting some of their decisions.
We have asked some of our couples that we have photographed over the past few years to give us some “real” tips about what wedding regrets they’d avoid if they were in the planning process again. Some of our wedding professionals have also given our couples some sage advice too. Their suggestions run from overlooked vendors to cutting costs plus rushing through the details and more. You can learn a great deal from them!
- The Regret: Cutting the Guest List. Think twice before you cross off too many names. When Anne and Ryan got married last year, they wanted to save some cash so they trimmed their guest list, leaving out some friends that Ryan now feels should have been invited. “Every time I see those people, I feel awkward and our friendship is not the same.” What we learned is that most of the guests give a gift that pays for themselves so if there are any people on the edge of making the invite list, you are better off asking them to attend.
The Lesson: Before cutting any names off the guest list, reconsider who they are and how it will feel if they’re not invited to share in your wedding day. If you’re really torn about whether they make the cut, it’s better to include them. Then there is not worry about whether or not you made a mistake by not inviting them.
- The Regret: Focusing on the Party too Much. The wedding day isn’t just about fancy clothes, gifts and lovely meals. Your relationship with your partner is a biggy! “I have found one of the biggest regrets that couples have (after the fact) is that they did not spend as much time planning the ceremony as they did about the party,” says Rev. Steven Ongo of Your Special Day Ontario Weddings. Based in Barrie, Ontario, Rev. Steven performs several different styles of ceremonies for couples every month.
The Lesson: Plan a killer party (it’s important), but make sure to spend some serious time getting your ceremony “just right.” Rev. Steven recommends enhancing the impact of your day by including special touches into the ceremony like personalizing your vows and including your family and friends in the traditional parts such as the readings or unity candle. A wedding is about celebrating your love and the ones who make your lives special — not about a one-time big party that is forgotten moments after it ends.
- The Regret: Not Hiring a Professional Photographer. Nowadays, everybody thinks they are a photographer — with the pro-consumer cameras — Uncle Bob’s have become the wedding photographer of choice when couples are trying to cut costs. What couples don’t realize is that after the gown is cleaned and put away, the food is all eaten at the reception and everyone has gone their separate ways; the ONLY thing that is left to remember their day is the photographs. A couple who chose not to hire NightinGail Photography because we were a little over their budget, came back to us a year after their wedding to have us reshoot the formals and family photos which added additional costs. “We received our digital images about six months after our wedding. There was not one usable photo in the entire bunch — they were either out of focus, too dark or too light and to top it off, our friend who did photography as a wedding gift for us, missed a lot of the important family photos. My grandmother passed away shortly after the wedding and we will never be able to get that picture of us together. Needless to say, our friendship has ended,” said Amy and Mike.
The Lesson: Figure out how to afford that professional wedding photographer. They know how to get the images that tell the whole story of your wedding day — from the getting ready moments through the end of the reception — most have years of experience shooting weddings and know that nothing ever goes as planned. Professionals can get those shots, in focus, and keep things running smoothly without losing their cool when something unexpected gets thrown into the mix. Your final wedding photos will be beautiful heirlooms for many years. DON’T SCRIMP on your photography budget!
- The Regret: Not Hiring a Videographer. Most couples plan to have a wedding photographer for the day but videography is often considered an option. After the wedding, some couples really regret not having a video of at least the ceremony portion which lets you hear your vows and other important moments. Adding videography to the reception allows scenes of the first dance as husband & wife as well as those important father-daughter and mother-son dances. These are moments that you will want to relive but without the video, they are gone forever.
The Lesson: Hire a videographer to shoot the wedding for at least a few hours. Even if you never watch it, it’s a good thing to have. “Your children or grandchildren might want to see it someday or maybe you’d like to watch the day on your anniversaries. But if you don’t have a video, these options aren’t available. The whole day just flies by so a recording of those special moments will help you remember what went on that day.
- The Regret: Not Having Enough Planning Time. When Jennifer married Wes seven years ago, she rushed the planning. “I was in such a hurray to get married, I planned my wedding in six months” said Jenn, “My wedding was beautiful and lovely” but she would have changed some things if she had started planning earlier. While they wanted a Saturday evening wedding, their venue was only available on Friday. This meant that some of their friends and family would have had to take time off work in order to attend so a number of them declined to join their celebration. “It is the biggest regret about my wedding day!” exclaimed Jenn.
The Lesson: Take the time to do all the planning you want. In hindsight, Jenn states that she would have been better if we had held off until we could book a Saturday at her venue. Then her wedding would have been perfect, instead of compromising, to rush into marriage. Before you dive into the specifics of the planning, make sure that you know what you and your fiance really want and what is the most important for you both. If you have to make some sacrifices, you’ll know what you absolutely cannot live without.
- The Regret: Not Being Specific with Vendors. Wedding vendors, from the venues, caterers, photographers, florists and others, are PROS at their jobs. While they know a lot about creating “perfect” weddings, it’s really up to YOU to tell them what YOU want for YOUR wedding. Tiffany and Josh worked really hard on getting their special photographic requests to NightinGail Photography because their guests were coming from all over Canada and the U.S. Their list of the professional photos really helped us create those once-in-a-lifetime pictures for them. They also were able to have lots and lots of photos of them at specific places around their spread-out venue, Belcroft Estates & Event Centre.
The Lesson: Be very clear with your ALL your vendors about what you want, need and expect from them. Make sure that you get detailed information to them (especially with the photographer). Our advice to brides and grooms is to sit down together and really think about the pictures that you want to remember your day. It is best to meet with any of your vendors with a clear, detailed idea of what you want so make sure to take the time to think things through — and WRITE your ideas down. If you don’t, something is sure to be forgotten.
- The Regret: Not Being Involved Enough with the Planning. Very often, it’s only one person who is actively planning the wedding. In most cases, it’s the bride while the groom only puts in his two cents once in a while. Jason really wishes that he’d been more involved in the planning, instead of letting Jenny and her mother do most of it. Turns out that if he had gotten to know more about the wedding plans, they could have come up with so many more creative things to do at their wedding.
The Lesson: Both partners should be involved in planning the ceremony and the reception. Even if you don’t care about the flavour of the cake or the D.J. that your hire, if you are both doing research, you can come up with a lot of creative options that make your wedding day truly yours. Both of you need to be able to voice your opinions and create the perfect day.
- The Regret: Not Rehearsing the Ceremony. “We didn’t spend enough time going over our vows with the officiant before the ceremony,” says Stephanie and Scott who married recently. “He clearly was reading them for the first time at our wedding. We had to stop him and tell him that we were not doing the unity candle!” If that wasn’t bad enough, the officiant went “off script” and improvised a talk to our guests that we did not appreciate. He managed to offend us, our guests and completely wreck the ceremony,” says Stephanie.
The Lesson: Take your time and get things right. Even if you are not having a formal rehearsal, ensure that your officiant and other on-site vendors (coordinator and musicians) know what you expect of them. Most vendors welcome clarifications and/or corrections before the ceremony rather than ruining your ceremony.
Would you consider sharing your biggest regrets about planning your wedding with us?
Just leave a comment below — we’d love to hear from you –thanks in advance!