We’ve all heard the expression before: been there, done that, got the t-shirt. Most of us have probably looked back on something and wondered… if we could go back in time… would we change anything or do something differently? Probably not, as life is exactly as it should be — always changing. But what if you could use insight from newlywed brides who recently tied the knot to help you plan? Wouldn’t it be nice to know some helpful wedding planning tips that real brides wish they did differently, or perhaps would have added to their ceremony or reception to make it even better? Of course it would help!
That’s why we compiled this “Things Brides Wish They Did Differently” article for you today! These helpful tidbits are from real brides who’ve married within the past 1-3 years and are happy to share their woulda / coulda / shoulda‘s with all of you. :)
So, read it, bookmark it, whatever you gotta do — just heed the wedding planning advice from these past brides. Some of these wedding words of wisdom or tips for brides might not apply to you, while other suggestions may just save the day! These wedding tips we’ve received from brides may even keep you from making easy mistakes, stressing unnecessarily, or wasting money on things that could be totally be avoided for your big day. I’d say that’s a win-win-win in my book.
So… on to the wedding planning tips! (P.S. A very big thank you to all the past brides who contributed!)
Wedding Planning Wedding Planning Tips for Brides from Newlyweds
These tips for brides submitted by recent brides are in no particular order, just compiled in the order received.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #1. Pick less bridesmaids.
“I wish I picked less bridesmaids for my wedding. It was chaotic to with so many schedules and gifts cost a lot more with seven on each side (seven bridesmaids and seven groomsmen).” -Robin L.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #2. Try on more dresses.
“I wish I would have tried on more dresses and made more dress shopping trips with my mom. We only went once and it went by too fast. That was a great memory and I wish I could have made it last longer.” – Keri B.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #3. Spend more on what matters.
“I spent a huge part of my budget on the dress and now I wish I had bought a simpler one. You only wear it once. But your food? Great music for dancing? People remember those things.” -Mary M.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #5. Get a name change kit.
“If you’re changing your name, get a name change kit. I had to go to multiple places in person and file paperwork during a day off of work to change mine and it was a pain. My sister a few years later got a name change gift for her bridal shower and it was so much easier. I wish I knew about them back then!” -Mary H.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #6. Skip the veil if you want to.
“I wish someone told me I didn’t have to wear a veil. I didn’t want to but I thought I had to and it didn’t feel right for my style. In hindsight I would have been much more comfortable with a veil alternative like a simple flower or headband with my hair down. Much more my style!” -Louisa V.
This hair vine is a beautiful example! By Lottie-da Designs.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #7. Plan your honeymoon in advance.
“We kept putting off a honeymoon because we were so focused on the wedding. You should plan it at the same time even if it is going to be a small weekend getaway. Don’t do what we did: we were so tired of planning that by the end of it we agreed to plan one after the summer. And then we didn’t, so now we never officially took one. I wish we did!” – Victoria K.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #8. Hire a good seamstress.
“The dress should fit like a glove. If it doesn’t, find someone else to tailor it.” -Gina V.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #9. Send save the dates.
“People kept asking me, when is the wedding? Did you set a date? Where is it? I finally sent out save the dates just to let everyone know. I didn’t plan on sending save the dates at all but by the time I did I ordered them late and sent them out later than I think I was supposed to. So send yours right after you pick a date!” -JoAnna C.
P.S. Read: When To Send Save The Dates for more tips on this.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #10. Ask your bridesmaids AFTER you’ve set the date.
“I was so geeked to ask my bridesmaids to be in my wedding that I hadn’t even picked a date yet. When we finally did, two of my bridesmaids had to drop out due to other commitments. If I had picked the date first and then asked, it would have probably been easier for everyone.” -Stephanie H.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #11. If you want a simple wedding, go for it.
“We wanted a relaxed wedding with a garden ceremony, tasteful decorations, simple wedding invitations, laid-back food. But then we started to get pressure from wedding magazines and Pinterest to do it up big. We had a lot of fun but it was expensive and I think we would have had just as much fun, and spent less money, on a smaller scale. So don’t let anyone talk you into a wedding other than your dream one!” -Veronica B.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #12. Pick better wedding shoes.
“I would have picked comfortable wedding shoes for my big day. My gosh, I still cringe at the thought of my heels that were not worn in yet and made my feet ache by dinner. My feet hurt so much I stopped dancing mid-way through the reception and went barefoot. I didn’t even have a pair of flats with me, which sucked! And my feet hurt on our honeymoon days afterward! So invest in a good pair of wedding shoes and bring a backup just in case.” -Kerry W.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #13. Eat more cake.
“Oh, go on more cake tastings, for sure. With the hubby to be! It’s a fun date and you can really sample some of the most amazing desserts at bakeries all around town. We tried one and booked them, but I would have drawn it out more to make the fun last longer. Same goes for caterers!” -Rachel T.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #14. Don’t be afraid to buy a dress online.
“I wasted so much time going store to store in search of the perfect wedding dress that I already found on Etsy. I was scared to buy online because I was nervous about making such a big purchase online and getting ripped off. But a friend told me to do some research first and I did… needless to say, I bought my wedding dress on Etsy and it was perfect. The designer had great reviews and had made hundreds of dresses before mine, so I felt more at ease about it.” -Tricia P.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #15. Buy better favors.
“I would have spent more time on shopping for wedding favors. I was so clueless with favors we just gave candy in these small clear bags with a ribbon which I know is pretty common. But I didn’t even know how many cute containers you could put them in kraft bags or personalized boxes. I would have spent more time looking at favors and bought cuter ones because I did mine at the last minute and I feel like they looked too ordinary. A small detail to some, but in hindsight it was a bigger deal to me.” -Nicole S.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #16. I wish I picked prettier table linens.
“I see the table runners out there today and I had no idea they even existed. We went with the bare bones reception hall ones which looked okay but I wish I added runners to them. Sequins? That would have totally been me!” -Leah R.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #17. More entertainment for guests.
“Many of my guests didn’t dance. I assumed everyone would dance so I was surprised when people were sitting out. I wish I had thought of other entertainment for guests to do instead of dancing.” -Ella C.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #18. Fake flowers!
“I would have skipped fresh flowers on everything except maybe our table centerpieces. Having huge bouquets were really a hassle in my summer wedding. I felt like we were constantly trying to keep the flowers from wilting by putting them back in vases and bringing them out for photos. It was a lot of work trying to keep them looking fresh. Now that I know sola bouquets exist I would have been all over that, for me and my bridesmaids. Everyone could have kept their bouquets afterward, too! Bummer.” -Susan H.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #19. Tipping.
“Don’t forget to allocate funds in your budget for tipping wedding vendors and miscellaneous service providers. Our vendors were so great we tipped them a bit more but I budgeted ahead of time for that. I can imagine if you don’t know who to tip it will come as a surprise when the wedding approaches quickly.” -Sarah P.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #20. Have a backup plan in case of rain.
“Our beach wedding rained and rained. I should have had a backup plan for the ceremony site but instead we had to crowd inside a tiny gazebo and do the ceremony from there. Oh well, you live and learn! Luckily our reception was indoors and I had a hair dryer in my emergency kit.” -Stacy B.
P.S. You know rain is just good luck! Use one of these clear umbrellas, they are awesome for rainy weddings!
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #21. Have a photo booth!
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #22. Spend more time on wedding invitations.
“I would have spent more time picking out our wedding invitations. I bought the first ones we found that we liked because I felt rushed. But then our theme totally changed and I was left with invitations that were really not our wedding style at all. I didn’t want to lose money so I went with them but I wish I didn’t jump so quickly at first. There are so many beautiful ones out there.” -Kelly W.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #23. Register online.
“I would have totally done an entire Amazon wedding registry! Why waste time scanning things at stores? We spent time at Crate and Barrel and Bed Bath and Beyond and picked every towel, every mug, every bathmat. We had fun but it was a lot of work. I use Amazon and can read reviews on products easily, so reading those and registering in our pajamas would have been a no-brainer. My best friend just used it for her wedding shower and it really was so much easier, for her and guests.” -Nicole D.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #24. Spend more time planning together.
“We were really busy with both of our jobs so we sort of divided and conquered the wedding stuff. But it would have been more fun to do the planning together instead of trying to hurry up and get it all done. I think we could have added more personality to our reception if we would have planned together, especially the menu and the music list. We let our vendors take over and that made it easy, but I sort of regret not spending more time on it together!” -Monika G.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #25. Pick out creative ceremony accessories.
“I wish I knew how many creative ceremony details were out there when I got married. I went traditional with a ring pillow, an aisle runner, unity candles, a flower girl basket, etc. Today, I would pick out a fun ring dish, skip the runner, skip the unity candles, and give the flower girl a wand.” -Sara Y.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #26. Choose more personal groomsmen and bridesmaid gifts.
“We had no idea when picking out groomsmen and bridesmaid gifts what to give or how much to spend. We picked glassware for groomsmen and jewelry for bridesmaids, but if I did it all over again I would have picked something more unique. Our wedding party really spent a lot on attire and travel so I would have liked to give back more in gift form. It all worked out in the end but I think more money should be spent on gifts of appreciation.” -Kelsey B.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #27. Spend less time on Pinterest.
“I wish I wouldn’t have dreamed up my wedding on Pinterest! It can be overwhelming! Spend a little time on there but don’t go overboard and expect ALL of the ideas for one day or you’ll get too wrapped up in it. Instead, spend time with your wedding vendors to map out exactly what you want and use Pinterest as a launch pad for creativity when needed.” -Brittni L.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #28. Be nice to your bridesmaids.
“I would have spent less time agonizing over the bridesmaid details. The dress, sure, but I became a bit bridezilla-ish over what kind of shoes they would wear even down to the itinerary the day of. I think I stressed out on that to avoid worrying about other things but I became a little hard to deal with. My advice is to go easy on bridesmaids. They’re there for you but not as your personal assistants!” -Mary-Anne G.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #29. Wear flats!
“I had the hardest time walking in my wedding heels but I thought I had to wear them in the ceremony or I wouldn’t look ‘bridal’ enough. I hated it because I barely ever wear heels so I walked so awkwardly down the aisle. If I could do it over again, I would have definitely worn a pair of flats or really low heel wedding shoes.” -Tonya C.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #30. Less time taking photos.
“We spent too much time taking photos. If I could do it again I would have definitely taken less wedding photos, especially the posed ones. I’m grateful for them but to be honest we don’t really look at them very often. I would prefer more candids! I wanted to spend more time mingling with guests and out on the dance floor all night!” -Francine D.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #31. Do a hair and makeup trial.
“I wish I did a hair and makeup trial before the wedding. I assumed everything would go as planned but my hairstylist had no idea how to do the bridal updo I wanted and my makeup felt too thick so I didn’t feel like myself. My best advice to anyone getting married is to do a trial run at least a month before the wedding.” -Jill A.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #32. Make a better music playlist.
“I wish we would have had a better playlist. We let the DJ take full control over our list but we would have liked to hear more songs that our friends knew. I think people would have danced more!” -Gianna M.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #33. Wait until you find The Dress.
“Don’t feel pressure to buy the first dress you like. Sleep on it! I bought the first dress that fit great only to find another that I liked better, but it was too late. I ended up returning the dress and taking a hit on the price, but it would have been so much easier and cheaper to have waited before buying!” -Jenny F.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #34. Get sleep!
“I was up late for days before the wedding and my eyes really showed it. Luckily my makeup was thick enough to hide it but I would have been less jittery and stressed out if I would have slept more the weeks leading up to the wedding.” -Christina O.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #35. Do pre-marital counseling.
“I’m happily married but we would have liked to do pre-marital counseling before the big day. I think some couples spend too much time planning the day and less time planning the marriage. Our friends did a marriage retreat with their church and really enjoyed the experience and I think we might try to do something like that now. But it would have been fun prior to the big day!” -Breanna W.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #36. Pick bridesmaid dresses they’ll wear again.
“I would have picked something my bridesmaids can wear again like maxi dresses or convertible dresses. It is easier for them to spend money on something they will like to wear and can actually wear to future events.” -Michelle B.
(HINT: Try convertible dresses like these!)
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #37. Send out invitations sooner.
“I was most stressed out about our wedding invitations. They didn’t arrive in time and then I was scrambling to address, stuff, add postage, and mail them out in record time. I would have ordered my wedding invitations a lot further in advance if I did it over again.” -Paula F.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #38. Use a return address stamp on invitations.
“I wrote them out by hand. BY HAND! It was nuts. A stamp makes sense.” -Olivia P.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #39. Less DIY!
“I knocked myself out doing DIY projects and they were all slightly unfinished just weeks before the wedding. If I had advice for a bride, it would be to pick one main DIY project and then outsource the rest (unless you really love doing lots of last-minute crafts). I waited to the last minute and was putting together wedding favors, filling centerpiece vases, arranging wood slices for centerpieces and tying burlap chair bows and decorating our barn wedding reception, all just days before I got married.” -Beckah T.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #40. Eat something.
“Don’t forget to eat! Or you might feel light-headed while walking down the aisle.” -Kristin B.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #41. Trim the guest list.
“We were nervous about cutting our guest list but we ended up spending so much money on our wedding. If we would have cut our guest list a bit, we would have been able to save money on our wedding and probably would have been less stressed out about money!” -Marcy R.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #42. Have fun with the guest book.
“We picked a really basic guest book from a craft store, but we never look at it! If we picked a more unique guest book with an artful element like a canvas guest book or guest book portrait, we would definitely display it at home and get to see it daily.” -Molly B.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #43. Give great gifts to your parents.
“I went to a wedding in December where the bride and groom gave their parents sweet and sentimental gifts. We gave our parents small gifts as a token of our appreciation, but I loved these boxes my friend gave to her parents. I would have spent more time researching gifts for parents while planning my wedding.” -Hollie R.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #44. Give ushers gifts.
“We totally forgot to give usher gifts. I felt like it was a faux paus I would have liked to avoid.” -Lisa E.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #45. Design our own ceremony backdrop.
“We got married in the woods and the scenery was awesome but I wish we had designed our own ceremony backdrop, something with our own personal twist on it. While it was beautiful, part of it felt “undone” to me. If I did it again today I would have decorated with a wedding arch or eclectic doors or even a backdrop wall… something!” -Gwen S.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #46. Write down our vows.
“We wrote our own vows and memorized them, but my nerves got the best of me and I had trouble reciting them from memory. I wish I had written them down just in case!” -Jessica N.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #47. Take more photos of the morning of the wedding.
“I had no idea how much fun me and the bridesmaids would have getting ready before the ceremony. Hair and makeup, breakfast together, giving my bridesmaid gifts, etc. was such a big part of the day. I wish I had captured more of the photos during that time, not even necessarily professional photos — even photos on my phone!” -Elisa R.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #48. Make it easy for guests to RSVP.
“I opted for guests to send me RSVPs online, but I wish I would have used RSVP cards in addition to it. The online service was great for tech-savvy people, but guests who don’t use technology much were confused. It caused more trouble having just the one available. I would recommend having the RSVP online option and the wedding RSVP card for guests to do whichever suits them best.” -Julie F.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #49. Take dance lessons!
“I wish we took dance lessons! It would have helped us feel less awkward on the dance floor for the first dance as a married couple.” -Laura B.
PRO TIP: Get an instructional DVD to learn on your own time!
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #50. Have a wedding website.
“I wish I had looked into a wedding website when I got engaged. My sister got one for free and as the Maid of Honor it is really helpful. She can add info on the day of, itinerary, and send info to bridesmaids. I think it’s a fun way to share your story and photos of the wedding party, too.” -Kristen E.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #51. Order wedding paper goods from one place.
“I ordered invitations from one store, place cards from another, table numbers in-store at Michaels, and made my own escort cards. It was a lot of work, mixing and matching to make it all look good, and felt overwhelming. If I did it again today, I would definitely place one giant order at a single store with every coordinating piece, if possible. So. much. easier.” -Becky T.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #52. Use signage instead of programs.
“I would have used a large sign for our ceremony service instead of programs. One sign is so much easier to display and cheaper than printing one hundred and fifty programs.” -Kayla K.
HINT: You can get a beautiful one at Paper and Pine Co..
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #53. Save money on wedding postage.
“I spent so much money on postage for save the dates, wedding invitations, RSVP cards, thank you cards, etc. I didn’t know about postcard sized save the dates but wish I did because they cost significantly less to print and add postage, due to their size. Every little bit helps!” -Ella A.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #54. Open bar.
“We should have had an open bar. It was fun regardless, but a few years later and I’ve been to more weddings… definitely, go open bar.” -Jenna P.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #55. Something other than cake.
“I picked a traditional tiered cake because that’s just what you do… or so I thought! Now I see the endless possibilities. We should have had pies, or donuts or cupcakes! Anything! Something off the cuff is more our style.” -Denise F.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #56. Pick better table numbers.
“I used table numbers from my venue but they ended up being very basic and small. The number holders were shiny silver and my color palette was gold, so it clashed. Not a big deal but guests had a hard time seeing them because they didn’t stand out. I would tell brides to pick out table numbers that really stand out so guests can find their seats easier.” -Jennifer W.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #57. Shorter centerpieces.
“My centerpieces were so tall! I knew they would look big and beautiful but guests had trouble talking across the table. If I did it again I’d go with shorter arrangements.” -Callie B.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #58. Have a coffee bar.
“Instead of traditional favors, I wish I had a coffee and dessert bar. My cousin had one at her wedding in the fall and it was a hit; she had personalized coffee cups (she designed with a black ink marker), donut holes, coffee, special creamers – it was awesome! Guests loved it!” -Mary W.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #59. Have a wedding itinerary.
“I would have included a wedding timeline in wedding welcome bags. Everyone was asking when the shuttle pick up was and the only place we had it publicly was our wedding website, so it got confusing for guests.” -Teri C
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #60. Stress less.
“I was so stressed out that I worried about every little thing. I wish I would have relaxed more and just enjoyed the day. It went by too fast!” -Patricia L.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #61. Practice tying the convertible dresses.
“I wish we had practiced how to tie the multi-way/convertible dresses for bridesmaids better. It was a little stressful with just minutes to go and still figuring out how to get them tied properly. Thank goodness for Youtube! Phew!” -Julianna P.
HINT: You’ll find AAAAAAMAZING convertible dresses at Coralie Beatrix!
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #62. Do a first look.
“I struggled with whether or not to do a first look, but now I wish we did. It would have given us time to see each other and take photos before the walk down the aisle!” -Tina B.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #63. Pick a theme.
“I should have picked our wedding theme early. I think it would have been easier to pull everything together instead of trying to make one from colors and the season.” -Maria P.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #64. Offer guests a signature drink.
“My friend got married this summer and she had a signature drink at her bar. His was a favorite beer from a local brewery and hers was an old-fashioned. They added signs to the bar and everything. It was a fun detail I didn’t even know about while planning my wedding.” -Julia E.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #65. I would have skipped place cards.
“It felt like overkill at the time but now I know it really WAS! I did escort cards and place cards for our guests. I thought I had to make sure guests were sitting at specific seats at the table. Come to find out, you don’t need all of that. I would have just let guests sit at any seat within a certain table and skipped place cards altogether. That extra hundred bucks would have come in handy for our wedding invitations which were really pricey!” -Katey Y.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #66. Send thank you notes right away.
“I waited so long to send thank you cards because I thought it would take so long to do them. I tackled a few at a time and finally was done! I’d recommend brides start sending them right after the honeymoon so you can cross it off your list.” -Lori P.
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides, #67. Carry a handkerchief.
What do you think of these tips for brides?
What do you think are the best tips for brides on this list? Which tips from newylweds has helped you? What tips would you add to the list? Tell us in the comment box below!