13 things I wish I’d known on my wedding day

Guest post by Leishkin
This is me looking super-stressed, on my mobile phone, trying to find my vows and get them printed, while at the wedding venue. (Photo by Adrian Tuazon Photography)
This is me looking super-stressed, on my mobile phone, trying to find my vows and get them printed, while at the wedding venue. (Photo by Adrian Tuazon Photography)

My wedding was beautiful and fun and awesome by all accounts, but now I have the “shoulda-coulda-wouldas” and it's getting me down. I keep telling myself I need to just remember the good stuff and accept the things I can't change — but it's hard to do sometimes. That said, please, learn from my mistakes! Here are all the things I didn't think of before the wedding:

1. Think of the people you MOST want individual photos with

Make a list and GIVE IT TO SOMEONE ELSE so they can round them up, or just TELL someone else. Don't keep it all to yourself.

2. If you're having a photo booth, delegate people to go and hassle everyone into using it

At our friends' wedding two weeks ago, my husband and I wandered around wearing silly hats and giant sunglasses and made everyone come and be silly in the photo booth. You can also tell your MC to keep mentioning it.

3. Give someone YOUR camera or mobile and let them have fun with it

When we got home on the wedding night, we found that a friend of mine had taken my iPhone and gotten snap-happy with photos of our friends, herself, my family, and us. It was so awesome to have them to look through that same night!

4. Ask for help

I read this on Offbeat Bride over and over again, and still I didn't obey. I honestly thought I had it all under control.

5. Give your vows to someone at the start of the day

…so you don't do what I did and leave them behind where you were getting ready and have a mad freaking panic on the way to the wedding! (Thank jeebus I'd emailed them to myself a couple of days before.) Which brings me to…

6. Allllways have a back up

Back up copy, back up emailed version, back up printing plan, back up music.

7. Be realistic about the aisle-walk timing

We practiced walking down the aisle the night before, but on the day of, the bridesmaids walked WAY too fast and the song had to be cut off abruptly rather than playing out.

8. Delegate bride/groom drink-fetching!

I was sans drink most of the night and, being the bride, I got stopped every time I tried to go anywhere and ended up stuck chatting with people!

9. Do your speeches and cake cutting early

…so that you can then relax more, and so that elderly/young/photographer can leave if they need to.

10. Make your informational wedding signs early

Despite talking repeatedly about all of the little signs we needed to display at the wedding, we never had a chance to make them. There was no sign telling people the flavors of the cupcakes or that there was a whole plate of vegan/gluten free ones.

11. Energy drinks

About halfway through the night, these can be a REALLY good idea. I don't think I have EVER been that tired.

12. Write a blog post

If you're a member of the Offbeat Bride Tribe, write a post like this to help other brides. It has made a world of difference and has truly helped me to move on and remember all the great things, and how many things DIDN'T go wrong that I should be thankful for!

13. Be proud

Look around at the work you did, at all the people who came to play, and breathe.

Here endeth the lesson.

I now have photos like this, how can I be sad!? This is me trying to let all of it go…
I now have photos like this, how can I be sad!? This is me trying to let all of it go…

Meet our fave wedding vendors

Comments on 13 things I wish I’d known on my wedding day

  1. Thanks! These are REALLY great points to think about! I’m going to print and keep in my binder. ps. You look stunning!

  2. thank you! I just designated a “photobooth wrangler” because of you! (and not a moment too soon!)

  3. oh oh!! I was just married and I have a big one for a bride…..we are stuck chatting with everyone!!! No breathing space. Your lipstick will wear off and your lips will dry from all of the chatting and nerves and smiling. Have 2…yes 2…different girls with lipgloss of yours. I ended up using someone elses because I couldn’t find the girl that had mine when I needed it.

    • In a friend’s wedding this spring, I was lucky enough to choose a bridesmaid dress w/ pockets, so I became the designated pack-horse for the bride. I didn’t mind a bit! Kept her in lip balm all afternoon!

      • Sounds awesome. My friend is going to be my bridesman in September. Benefits of attendant wearing a suit: Lots of pockets!

        • Better yet, if you have a best friend who wears utili-kilts to almost every outing! I think I might require said best friend to wear his black one to my wedding since I plan on having him be my sidekick for the evening! XD

    • YES! In all my photos at the reception my lips are practically white! And cracky dry. ACK ACK ACK I cant stand it at all! I thought I was petty that I wished I’d designated a lipstick wrangler but I see I’m not alone!

  4. As a wedding photographer I can’t thank you enough for number 9!! My last wedding clients did this and I can’t tell you how much it is appreciated!!

    • #9 is actually fairly common where I’m from, especially if there isn’t going to be any dancing at the reception. With nothing else to do but just eat food and mingle with people the whole time, guests don’t want to wait 2 and a half hours for the speeches and the cake cutting to commence.

        • Some people can’t have dancing because of religious observations.

        • I haaaaaaaaate dancing, I’m so uncoordinated and it means nothing to me. I also don’t like the idea of father/daughter dances – so that’s why we aren’t having any dancing at our BYO picnic-on-the-beach! I’m taking my togs! 🙂

  5. I will especially need number 13! But also, I think I will designate a “booze getter” for me! A lil’ off topic but you look beautiful! Your dress is lovely.

    • Bonus: if you have someone getting your drinks, they will likely be keeping better track of how much you’ve had, in case you are pointedly avoiding the Trashed Bride look.

  6. This is a really great list! If there was one thing that I could add it would be to remember comfortable shoes! Especially if you plan on dancing all night… my dogs were pretty tired the whole day after my wedding, let me tell you! 😀

  7. I did #8 not only did I have a full glass all night, my 2 friends who did the job felt included which they and I wanted!

    • Such great tips! Also, I like your idea of getting a couple other friends included!

  8. I really like this list, Leishkin. I have particularly been worried about #5 and #6 for quite some time since I am planning to write my own vows. I may even write them on my iPhone and delegate someone to hold it for me if necessary. But I’ll certainly create as many backup versions as I possibly can. In fact, I may even include a copy in a bridal emergency kit I’m planning to put together.

    • I made a few back-up copies too, including one in the emergency kit! I also gave a copy to my officiant beforehand and he just handed the sheet to me to read from during the ceremony. I think my lady of honor may have also had a just-in-case copy tucked into her cleavage, bless her heart. 🙂

  9. I just wanted to mention, me being a wedding photographer myself, while cake cutting early is nice for the photographer, it means people will leave, even if its only been a half hour. I’ve seen this time and time again. So, yes, don’t wait three hours, but don’t do it too early or you won’t have many guests left for those awesome getaway photos! Your photographer is paid to be there, so they should be. It’s your day!

  10. I LOVE this post… so happy to know some of this. <3 I need to get this wedding together, and I think this will be a huge help!

  11. Getting married on Saturday, so this is great timing! I have a bridesmaid I picked specifically for ability to party hard, and I fully anticipate the photo booth props being brought out to the dance floor to get people into the booth. PS your dress is delish.

  12. three words: day-off coordinator!

    Really, if only it is a friend/family member who keeps an eye on the clock, and keeps your stuff! I have been a day-off coordinator for several friends (for free, of course) and I demand their mobile phone, purse/wallet and watch! They cannot worry about such things on that day.

  13. I agree with everything you said!! When my husband and I got married, there were TWO things I wish I had done differently: 1) schedule myself an extra 15-30 minutes for each activity, just in case something goes wrong or someone is late. My hair/makeup team was an hour late, so we were playing catch up all day. If we had just had extra time scheduled for things throughout the day, we could have made up the time. 2) Have someone wrangle your parents for a special goodbye moment – I was already in the getaway car before I realized that my dad was standing alone outside the car watching me. It makes my heart break even now to remember him standing all alone without my saying goodbye to him!!! (He told me later that he didn’t even notice he hadn’t said goodbye, so it was okay, but still…..)

    Also, on a side note, don’t worry about forcing yourself to eat on the big day. Everyone was OBSESSED with giving me food, when really, the last thing I wanted was to eat. I wanted to watch my guests having fun and interact with the family I hadn’t seen in years, and I wanted to ENJOY every minute of my day….I didn’t want to have friends shoving food down my throat. So eat what you want, but don’t worry about it.

    • Thanks for the tips! Just thinking about not saying goodbye to my dad afterwards makes me tear up! Must put someone in charge of this NOW!!!

  14. I just have one product push to make in reference to lipstick – Lip Chic! A tiny $20 bottle of guarantee – I followed the instructions and applied it on both myself and Bride at about 4pm … the festivities finally came to a close at about 4:30 AM, and not a single touch up was necessary. Just a small thing, but hey, it’s on The List!

    • Oh my goodness!!! I wish I would’ve known about this product! I KNEW there had to be something out there like it! I didn’t even have time to look. Too bad I can’t have a do over! Poo.

    • I just put that on my Amazon wedding needs wishlist. Thank you! I’ve been trying to figure out a way to have fabulous lips to go with my dark purple dress, but without lipsticking my groom!

  15. This is a fantastic list! Don’t forget Designated Bride and Groom Food Fetcher who makes sure you eat–even if it’s just having someone on the waitstaff bring you a plate of apps during cocktail hour so you don’t faint. We got a whole dish delivered to us while we privately did family and bridal party shots at the start of cocktail hour, and the waiter brought us our drinks too, so that once we hit the cocktail hour to socialize, we were happily fed and watered. Because there is no way a mob of loved ones is going to let you slip unnoticed to the bar for a potato croquette and a cocktail.

    Also, Leishkin, you look AMAZEBALLS.

  16. Just got married 3 weeks ago and this list is perfect and rings so true.

    I would add that have people delegate your tasks to you by telling them about them. We were pretty good about telling people what they had to do, but when it came to ourselves, we forgot. I – really – forgot our rings! and was in tears before walking down the aisle. Luckily we used my engagement ring and his father’s ring as stand ins. He forgot the vows so had to tell a groomsman to fetch the paper from the backpack they were in.

    I’d also say that if you are planning DIY things, plan undo-it-yourself things, too. Figure out a way to get the build up away, get tuxedos back, etc, so you are not running around doing this yourself the day after the wedding. Of course, our wedding was in Amsterdam so only my husbands parents had a car, but I wish we had a better plan for taking down things and getting lives plants to a good home…and not thinking about it on our honeymoon 🙂

  17. #3 is a FANTASTIC idea. At our wedding, I put a tag on my camera that said “Sarah’s Camera–please take photos with this!” and left it at the table with the guestbook/card holder. It was still there at the end of the night–with 250 photos on it taken of/by my friends! Even though we had 2 photographers (1 professional and 1 semi-professional) at the wedding, I am SO happy we did this. A lot of people try to look nice for the official photos, so they’re constantly posing. They’re more themselves when they’re the ones taking the photos! On my camera, I had friends making ridiculous faces, doing shots of maple syrup (the favor), switching ties, etc. So worth it. DEFINITELY do this one!

  18. I just got married this past sept 2nd, 2012 and i made sure to tell someone to feed me, or else i wouldnt have gotten my own food i was too busy!

  19. You look so beautiful! Your dress is so unique and lovely. And this post is everything good.

  20. Literally all of these gave me something to think about. Seriously helpful. Thanks!

  21. Wow, I think this is hands-down the best post I’ve read on any wedding blog ever, though I’ll say this blog in general has been the most down-to-earth source for support. Someone once told me nobody’s gonna be more honest with you about guidance than a recent bride, and this post proves it. Thank you so much for the guidance!

  22. Super Helpful! I wouldn’t have thought about having someone else take my camera or bring me drinks! Sorry you’re having the “I-Wish-I’d”s but your comments are helpful for future brides!

  23. Great post. As a wedding photog, I always ask the bride and groom to ‘stop and look around at their day’. (it may be the only moment they remember!)

  24. I am the queen of the shoulda coulda wouldas…I have a bunch of silly regrets, and it is so hard to let it go. I dont even know why! It really is JUST a day, and it was a lovely one at that. I was sans drink most of the night but made up for it when there were only three of us left! My biggest regret is the dj, he was so awful, and had undone months of music gathering within minutes.

  25. I love all these suggestions but think there were two very important things left off… Chapstick and Comfy shoes like flips flops or even sneakers. Not even an hour went by where my lips were just drying up like crazy from all the talking and kissing of guests and new hubby. I brought chapstick with me which totally did the trick. Also comfy shoes are a MUST! Nothing is worse then having your feet killing you all night making you miserable!

  26. I absolutely LOVE these ideas. So glad I found this! Things I would never have thought of!

  27. After being a bridesmaid at my best friend’s wedding, I can’t stress enough that there really should be food in the prep room. Even if it’s a tray of cheese and fruit. We started getting ready at 8 am that day, and none of us ate anything until after the ceremony at 5 when the emcee came in and forced us all to eat before the grand entrance

  28. I love your dress. I’m having my wedding on Halloween night and I want to wear something that has black in with the white can you tell me where you found yours or if you have a website/store you recommend

  29. Thanks so much for this great list…def a keeper. I am in luv with your dress…can you tell me where you got it? Thanks:)

  30. Great post! (Although the pedantic in me thinks it should be called “things I wish I’d known BEFORE my wedding”!)
    I especially like the idea of leaving your own camera out with a label asking people to use it.
    I’m having 2 wedding events (in different countries) and we just had the first one. Things I wish we’d known / done differently are:
    – Have a day of coordinator! either a pro or a calm, organised friend / family member. Talk them through the schedule in advance, then on the day you can leave it to them to make sure everything runs smoothly. Introduce all your vendors (caterer/DJ/band etc) to the coordinator so they can liaise directly on the day rather than bothering you.
    – Test sound and lighting in advance, and get your day of coordinator or someone else to be responsible for them during the event. We completely forgot to do this, and realised on the night that it had a huge impact on the atmosphere (the lights were too bright, the decibel limiter cut the music out).
    – And I second the person who said to bring comfortable back up shoes! Don’t know what I would’ve done without mine!

  31. Great post! Totally agree with all of these! I would also add to give VERY clear directions to your ceremony venue in your invitations. We thought getting to our church would be super easy, but it turned out that the name of our church was mixed up in google maps, so a lot of people got lost and were late (or just plain didn’t find) to our ceremony.

    Lessons learned!

  32. tell your caterer or someone you can trust to put aside a half pan of wedding food for you. we did not have time to eat ourselves until 4:30 in the morning. we were lucky. our caterer is one of our best friends so he put together a pan and had it sent to our room. one of my favorite memories on our wedding night was when it was finally just the two of us, still moderately dressed up (as dressed up as you can be after drinks, middle of the night ocean swims with friends, and endless partying) sitting on the couch in our suite opening that pan of food and finally getting to actually eat! oh and getting those three sixty oz togo’s of cafe con leche for the wedding party and friends that helped was pretty smart too.

  33. Something I learned from my first wedding (and applied to the second): explicitly tell everyone “if something goes wrong, I do not want to know, and never need to know. If you think I need to know, tell me after the honeymoon.” In wedding #1, a couple of friends wanted to tell me all the behind-the-scenes hiccups during the wedding, which I really didn’t need to know about (or worry about, or try to smooth over). In wedding #2, I found out later (like, months later, when they were far-enough-past to be funny) that there were little things — and I loved that I was absolutely clueless and got to be in the wedding bubble all day.

  34. I absolutely love your dress!!!! Where did you get it? Please let me know thank you in advance

  35. 1, 2, 3, 4, 8 and 11 !!!! YESSSSS!!!
    I did not do any of these things and wish wish wish I had. I don’t have a photo with any of my bridesmaids individually, my flower girl, OR even my 1 surviving grandmother! WHAT!?

    DRINKS! My god designate someone to not only bring you a beverage when you are empty but also to BRING YOU A WATER! You cant get 10 feet without being stopped for a hug and chat, you’ll never get to the bar for a dang water!

    Energy drinks: I had a few 5 hour energies stashed in the bathroom and a stack of Emergen’C packets in the ‘bathroom basket’. Great for a natural caffeine free boost for your guests to grab (and cheaper than 5HE).

    ASK FOR HELP! Make a list of what needs to be done, then move things to a “delegate” list. Then go over the “has to be you” list again and see what else really DOESNT HAVE to be you doing it, and move that over. Ask your married friends to help you. No one is more willing to help than former brides, because THEY KNOW.

  36. These are really great tips that I might pass along to my brides or share. In particular I resonated with # 5,, #6 and #7. I’m a Celebrant and I make it my practice to ask for (sometimes nag) my couples for, and that is their vows. I want to keep them with me so that I can easily hand them to the couple and they don’t have to worry about it. I make sure to get those by the rehearsal and hopefully earlier. I’m also a stickler for the rehearsal and practicing everything, including timing the procession with a song. These little things can make a big difference. Along with #13 I would add let things go that you can’t control. Everything is not going to be perfect, but if you spend the day trying to make it so, you won’t have a very great time. Well done!

  37. So I thought I’d add to this list… even though I am divorced now( 2 years of marriage.)

    – having family do things saves so much money… but they also tend to do things THEIR way. My ex made the cake… a round one, when I had specifically asked for square. His mom brought it to the venue and it melted on the way over. His mom insisted on buying a keg for the venue, even though we didn’t want alcohol there.
    – I ended up switching officiants at the last minute (like 3 weeks before) because of a cheaper price. He ended up doing more than just officiating- he also was master of ceremonies, since I didn’t have one (didn’t think I needed one.) ONE thing about him, though, that I didn’t like: I had adapted vows from a website to fit what I wanted; which had no religious connotations, it was laid back and romantic. I had sent them over to the officiant on his request…I also regretted not meeting the guy until the day of the wedding (literally 4 hours before wedding!) because… he changed my vows. He added words, changed it around… he said it flowed better… of course I didn’t find out until we were DOING the vows… he added religiousness to it. I was disappointed.

    All in all, I agree with the list that the OP posted, but add that people like to put input in… and I doubly agree with the “trying to do everything yourself” being a terrible idea… I won’t make the same mistake next (and hopefully, the last!) time.

  38. Great tips! Thank you for this! I’m definitely going to be making backups of everything (well, everything a backup would apply to) & making sure multiple people have them just in case. I’m set on having a wedding coordinator & will make sure she has everything I need her to & knows who will have what as far as the other things go.

    & I’m DEFINITELY passing my phone off to someone to take photos with. I also think I’m going to go with another Offbeat suggestion – rather than giving my camera to someone to take photos with, I’m going to have a computer or hard drive dock ready & designate someone to download photos from everyone else so I can get them right away that evening. My camera is my baby & while I love the idea of other people taking photos for me, I’m wary of drunkies getting their hands on it & accidentally breaking that $1000 beauty of mine… So I’ll let them play around with their own cameras & then steal all the photos 😀

  39. I am not getting married or planning on it ever, but I have to tell you that you are WEARING THAT DRESS. Stunning!

  40. The photograph list is a great idea. Our photographers(yes, plural) somehow forgot to take posed pictures of my husband and I after the ceremony. We got caught up in the commotion of doing wedding party pics and didn’t realize till we got our proofs. I have no words for how angry I was that they forgot, can’t ever get that moment back.
    One rule I did make was, on the day of the wedding day, if you can fix something that has gone wrong or I don’t need to know-do not tell me!

  41. I love these helpful notes! Already saved & ready to print out so I don’t forget anything!!!

    P.S. You look gorgeous and that dress is amazing 🙂

Comments are closed.