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The Best Wedding Planning Advice from Former Brides: Tips for Brides -to- Be

If you're a soon-to-be bride on the hunt for expert advice on your wedding day, you've come to the right place!

I recently asked my network of married clients to share their experiences, regrets, and treasured memories from their wedding day. The results were overwhelming, and I walked away with a wealth of knowledge from former brides who have been in your shoes.

From budgeting to dealing with potential vendor conflicts, this blog has you covered with some great advice that will help make your big day as special and stress-free as possible.

What Brides Loved

It was really cool reading about all of the special moments and decisions that made each wedding day magical. And while we had a lot of responses, there were definitely a few themes that kept coming up. These are the things brides treasured the most about their wedding day:

Quality time

Multiple women responded that time spent with people they loved was one of their favorite memories from their wedding day. Getting ready with their treasured people like moms and friends, first looks with their new spouse, sentimental moments in the ceremony, and big party atmosphere with friends and family during the reception.

Sentimental touches

“I treated my mom and mother-in-law to hair and makeup at my favorite salon in Beaufort. Neither of them had ever had their makeup done professionally before, so it was so much fun watching everyone get pampered. We laughed and truly enjoyed the experience.”

A good atmosphere

Our brides had a lot to say about the power of a great location, great food, and great music, but it also seemed like the most important part of setting the atmosphere was a great collection of loved ones who were there to celebrate the couple! There were some really sweet stories like the ones below:

“My father planted special flower beds as a focal point for our backyard wedding. It was beautiful!”

“We kept our guest list super small and intimate which made the whole experience super chill and laid back. There were six of us total in the church- including the pastor. There's not much I wish I would have done differently.”

Make the Day Easier

These brides had a lot of great insight for how to make your day run more smoothly. I especially loved reading a few of these tips:

“We put a lot of thought into our reception timeline, it wasn’t the “traditional” order. When we entered the reception, we had the cake waiting in the middle of the dance floor as part of our entrance. We cut the cake so the venue could have it available as part of the buffet. We dismissed for dinner at that point, then speeches as we wrapped up eating, then groom/mom dance, then bride/dad, then the newlyweds and we invited our guests to join us half way through our first dance to get everyone up on the dance floor and ready to kick off the party when the slow dance was over. It flowed seamlessly and honestly just made so much sense! Highly recommend!”

“I loved having a ceremony + reception venue where my family/bridal party and I could stay for the weekend and get ready there and also be so close to walk downtown for food/bars/shopping! Didn’t have to worry about transportation and allowed for seamless transitions aka less stress for me!”

What Brides Would Do Differently

When you’re planning a wedding, you can get really caught up in getting everything just right, but I noticed that most of these brides didn’t remember too many negative things after the wedding was over. By this point they were married, and that’s the whole point of a wedding in the first place right? But when pressed for a few “I wish I had…” scenarios, some common complaints and stories emerged:

Set clear expectations with vendors

“I would’ve probably picked a different DJ, he was very good, however I spent hours creating playlists of songs that I would want on my must-play-list and potential playlist. I felt like maybe 3 songs were played on any of these playlists which upset me.”

Spent less time taking formal photos

I see brides struggle with this pretty often. It’s ok to let your photographer know that you don’t need every aunt and uncle in every shot. It really helps to let your vendors know your priorities in advance so they can direct everyone accordingly i.e. the photographer can be the one to say no to the family member who is requesting specific shots that may not be on your “must have” list.

“I wish we had said no when our photographers pulled us away for photos after dinner. We had already gotten A TON of couples photos, and I really wish we had more of us with our guests. Honestly it just made me stressed to not be on the dance floor and it showed in those pictures.”

"I wish we had spent less time taking EVERY variation of family photos. We just needed one big group shot on each side, and then we could have spent that time actually at cocktail hour with people instead of standing there for an hour.”

“I wish I would’ve taken more pictures on my phone throughout the weekend which I also really regret. I just love having the small little detail moments, and I did try to assign this to a bridesmaid but it just didn’t work.”

Paid closer attention to the timeline

“I would have changed the time of our wedding. It was at 2 pm, and it was an unusually hot and cloudless day. Would have been better as a late afternoon wedding and evening reception.”

“I would not get ready with all my bridesmaids. I would send them somewhere else to do hair and make up and then come to me when they are all done to give me more time to sleep in.”

Things Worth the Investment

When it comes to planning a wedding, expenses can add up quickly. Finding ways to cut costs and save can be very important to many brides, but most of the former brides that shared their experiences with me highly recommend investing in the following wedding services:


“I wish I would’ve spent more on a photographer and gotten a videographer.”

“I LOVED our photographer. SO worth the investment”

“I truly loved our photographer and our venue in particular it portrayed my vision of classy, romantic, and timeless.”

Makeup artist/ hair stylist

I have to agree with this one! A lot of brides may choose to cut hair and makeup costs to save money, but they may not have the tools or knowledge to create a look that will show up in pictures and stay put all day. Remember this is a special day and a great makeup artist will be able to keep your style in your comfort zone while also making sure you look your best all day and in the photo album.

“I’m really confident doing my own hair, so I debated skipping the hair and makeup artist. I’m really glad I didn't! It was so much more relaxing to have someone else doing that part and I knew it would stay all day, which was huge for me since we got married on a really hot day.

“I didn’t think I wanted fake lashes, and my stylist showed me some pictures so I could get an idea of how they would translate in photos. If your photographer has a really light and airy style, the lashes definitely make a difference”

“I wish I would have hired a makeup artist!”

The Best Advice

I thought it was important to hear what advice former brides would share with a bride-to-be. Out of all the advice they could give, here’s what they claimed was the best advice they could give:

You get to decide and it’s ok to say no

“I was surprised by how much pressure you feel to do things a certain way or hold fast to certain traditions. For example...They say that it's bad luck to see your bride on your wedding day. Is that how the saying goes? Well, in my opinion that's ridiculous... Both of our families woke up early and all had brunch together at Lowcountry Produce. The staff had a table waiting for us when we arrived. So we were able to get right in and beat the crowds. We were all still dressed in lounge wear and super comfy clothing. What an incredibly laid back start to a wedding day! I wouldn't trade it for the world.”

“The sheer number of decisions you make is OVERWHELMING - and it’s okay to say “no” to stuff you don’t care about!”

“Get a good planner and good vendors!! If it doesn’t feel right, it’s okay to say no or switch things up. It’s hard not to be a people pleaser, but you truly have to do what’s best for you and your partner!”

Save your money.. Seriously.

Our brides had a lot of advice for saving money and choosing costs wisely. It’s important to sit down with your partner and prioritize your most important vendors. For me, it would be a photographer/videographer, glam team (of course) and a great band or DJ because music can make or break a party. These are MY priorities, so yours may be different, but remember that you can get a dream vendor in one category and then save somewhere else like invites or florals if those don’t matter to you as much.

“Don’t worry about buying lavish decorations. Go for simple and use the money for the honeymoon”

“Be ready for sticker shock. Prioritize the non-negotiables and then be ok letting go of some of those ideas on your Pinterest board (like fancy favors, the PERFECT invitations, expensive shoes.”

“It’s one day…don’t spend an exorbitant amount of money. People just want to have fun. Think of it as one big party.”

“KEEP. IT. SIMPLE! I kept decor/ flowers/ extras to a minimum. The wedding was beautiful and low stress because no one was worried about the small stuff. Plus it keeps the price down.”

“In the end, your guests don’t care about programs, party favors, what your centerpieces look like, etc. They are there to celebrate you and your person so do what you want and just enjoy the process.”

“Keep it simple. you don’t need to decorate every square inch, you don’t need to invite your mom’s high school best friend. The wedding is only one day out of your adventure with your spouse - don’t blow your life savings on something that lasts less than 24 hours.”

Remember why you’re here

“Just live in the moment and really dive deep into enjoying the entire process, take your time and make things fun with your fiancé and family! It is such a blessing to find the love of our life and to celebrate your wedding with the people you love the most. Seriously enjoy every moment it goes by so fast!!

“Nothing is going to be perfect to a T and truthfully at the end of the day I don’t regret anything about our wedding day and I didn’t let anything ruin it either. You can’t, no one will even notice any hiccups, they are there to celebrate you and your new partner!”

“Take a moment to get away with your groom and enjoy their company for a second.”

If you have some advice that you want to share drop it in the comments below!

I’m so thankful to these former brides for their responses and I hope that you found some advice that helps you on your wedding-planning journey. For more blogs about wedding planning and bridal makeup click here.

And if you’re interested in learning more about the bridal experience with Shae-Lyn click the link below!

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