For those recently married


When you were planning your wedding, what do you wish you had done differently? What would you change? What do you wish you had known in advance?

We’re starting to plan a wedding; I have several planning books. I’d like to hear from real people “what they wish they had known”!! Thanks! —KCT


I wouldn’t change a thing about my wedding, but I do want to pass on some advice. The best advice I got was to relax and enjoy my day. I have 4 older siblings and many older friends whose weddings I had seen go smoothly but in each case the bride was worked up over one thing or another. One strategy I used to enjoy my day was to make a comprehensive list of everything that needed to be done, what time people needed to be where, and described what to expect (there will be light snacks available for the bridesmaids in the dressing room, pictures will be taken after the mass only, etc.) and then I handed them out to each person at the rehearsal dinner.

Everyone knew what their role was, and because it was in print, they couldn’t claim that they didn’t know they were the person responsible for setting up the sign-in book, or for getting the flowers on the bridesmaids, or whatever their role was. I made a master list and gave it to my personal attendant in case someone forgot their checklist. My personal attendant loved the idea so much that she kept my lists and just used them for her son’s wedding!

The result was awesome. I was able to spend the whole day concentrating on my new husband and the happy occasion. I don’t have any memory of anything going “wrong” and no one caused my blood pressure to rise that day with last minute emergencies.


My wife and I have been married for over 5 years and we planned and payed for the wedding ourselves (well we paid for the majority ourselves) and the advice that I can offer is to take time to enjoy the day. There is a lot of planning and you want everything to be “perfect” and you can get wrapped up in the details so you can miss a lot of the day.

Just take a deep breath during the day and “soak in” everything that is going on.

Another suggestion I would have is to have a professional videographer to film the wedding and reception. We did not and we regret it.

Best wishes! The more faithful Catholic marriages we have the better!!


Advice I was given (that was great :)):

  1. Concentrate on the marriage, not the wedding (it doesn’t matter if some of the decorations are off center, or if the video camera isn’t functioning…the sacrament is what’s important) …one of my flower girls had to be kind of pushed down the line by the other because she got shy…but it was really cute
  2. along with this - relax…seriously :p…you’ll remember more and enjoy it more.
  3. Don’t try to mend any fences by including people in your wedding party (THIS ONE I DIDN’T LISTEN TO…and boy do I wish I did. I excluded someone I love to put in someone that I thought would create healing…didn’t work).
  4. Don’t worry whether others are enjoying themselves at your reception…enjoy your new spouse
  5. If in doubt…don’t have an open bar or smoking room (this one from a friend) it can cause isolation and chaos (of course this depends on the people you have there)

Things we did that were fun:

  1. My family and wedding party made the food (it was simple but delicious…plus many fun memories)
  2. Have a little bridal get together with close friends and family the night/day before instead of a big bash…have a slumber party/movie/icecream/whatever and share stories


Discuss and plan the kiss. We didn’t, and were somewhat embarrassed by accounts afterward of our ‘peck’.


We got married a little over 4 years ago. The biggest thing I would change would have been not hiring a professional photographer. We only spent about $1200 on the wedding, and over $400 of that was photography. Yeah, it’s nice enough to have the photo book, but looking at it now, was it really necessary? If I had to do it again, I would skip the photographer and have a friend take a few pics of us and the families.

If you can, get some disposable camaras for your reception, for the guests to take pictures. My aunt and uncle got 5 for us as a surprise–those were the best pics we had. There were the well-focused, well composed shots adults did; there were pictures that were vary obviously taken by a kid. I love looking through them, they’re such fun!


The only thing I wish I had been able to do differently was spend more time with OOT family. But, you know, there’s no way to do that when you are cramming in so much in one weekend. And, of course, they are all flying in on Friday and out on Sunday… so quality time is minimal.

The one thing I do recommend is greeting your guests before the wedding (get a copy of the Our Catholic Wedding video that shows the way the Nuptial Mass is supposed to be conducted if you can) and had a Processional. It was AWESOME.

I totally enjoyed planning the wedding, and loved all the little frivolous details like the favors, the flowers, etc. And, I loved everything we picked out for our wedding and reception.

I did not do “OOT gift bags” for everyone at the hotel-- just a typed paper that had the itinerary and the “who, what, when, where, how, and why”. I do think that brides go overboard getting all sorts of gifts & tourist info for guests— when would they have time to do any sightseeing? And, if they need a bandaid, they can find a pharmacy all by themselves! My 2 cents.

Honestly, nothing. ** I loved my wedding!!!**

The only thing I would have changed is that I didn’t get some of the pictures I wish I would have. I made out a list in advance for the photographer, but I now realize a few I missed. My aunt/godmother died only a few months after my wedding, and I don’t have a picture specifically with her. That’s really about it.

I disagree with the PP about hiring a professional photographer. It was worth every penny to me.

Honestly, it all comes down to personal preference.


Very true. One of the most fun things we did was to go out to dinner with my husbands friends the night of the wedding. He hadn’t been able to see them in a few years and they were all heading back home the next day. We had such a good time.


Yeah, I just wanted to throw that out there. Most people I know really like that, but for me, I think it wasn’t really worth it.


To me there are 2 things for your wedding and reception you shouldn’t skimp on.I am not saying spend tons of money but you should at least make sure it quality.

  1. The food at your reception. To my DH and I, having good food was a way of saying we appriciate that you spent time and money to join us on this happy day

  2. Photographer- I used to work for a professional camera lab and i can’t tell you how many brides I dealt with who in trying to save money either got a friend to do it and then the pictures were horrible or they got a really cheap photographer who didn’t know what they are doing

So make sure you look at samples! Also when you talk to your photographer make sure they color correct, will crop the images you selected for your album at no extra charge. A good photographer should do this for free.


#1 for me would have been an EE or more marriage prep. Dh and I were both on our second marriage so our priest said, “awe, you know it all”. I really loved our priest, but the fact that we were on our second marriage should have told him something :rolleyes:

#2 I would not listen to my mom and sister. They insisted that we invite all the aunts, uncles, and cousins, most of whom aren’t practicing Catholics. The Mass, the most important part to me, ment zero to them. They were just there for food and booze. I should have kept things small and elegant, insted of big and blah.

#3 NO BOOZE. Or, I guess I should say a TENDED bar. My hill-billy brother and his wife thought it was funny to give the underage kids booze:eek: Yep. That’s my family… In the middle of my reception, I had to deal with their stupidity. That makes for an uncomfortable situation.

Relax. Try to enjoy your day. It is one day out of the rest of your lives. I have rhuematoid arthritis (in remission now, yeah), so I was on massive steriods on my wedding day. Let me tell you, I was the happiest bride in the world. Turns out steriods make me euphoric rather than mean. I was floating on air down that aisle. Our marriage has had it’s ups and downs (teenagers and exs, oye!) since, but ultimately, our love and respect for eachother pulls us through.



I will echo what many above observed–focus on the wedding sacrament and not just the party. In hindsight the best way to do this might have been to have them as separate events.

I was engaged at the holidays during law school and did no planning (other than a dress and reserving the church + club for the reception) until I arrived home in May. From there my mother and I spent our entire summer planning every detail of the wedding. With 800 people invited, brunches & lunches before and after, and a sit-down dinner for 300, we were so engrossed in “the event” that I was a distracted wreck on the big day.

“If I could do it all over again” I would go away with only immediate family and an honor attendant (best friend) each and take our vows in a simple, intimate ceremony over a weekend in a quiet, peaceful location. I would then have the huge, festive blow-out celebration with all the extended family, friends, neighbors, etc.–perhaps a month later. It would still allow for the stress, focus, intimacy, celebration, but keep them each in their proper places.


Two things stick out in my mind as I’m thinking about my wedding…okay three:

  1. I would have spent more time with my mom on my wedding day. I know that may sound weird, but after all that she did for me and just being my mom, I hardly saw her at all during my wedding day due to being surrounded by my friends mainly. And it wasn’t like we didn’t get along or got into any fights while planning or on that day - we got along great. I just got caught up with my peers and neglected my parents for the most part. She felt it too and I felt really badly once I realized what I had done.

  2. Spent WAY less money. I was so wrapped up in certain things, and looking back, it wasn’t really worth it. However, what I would cut out or change, I’m not sure, but when it all comes down to it, all that really matters is that you have the ones you love surrounding you and that’s about all you remember :).

  3. I would NOT have felt obligated to use certain vendors just because they were friends or my family used them often - for me, it was photography and hair…which I ended up using someone else for my hair. People who are close can sometimes take advantage of that and just go ahead and do what they want instead of asking you what you want. They weren’t terribly professional and I was disappointed by feeling pressured to do something other than what I had in mind, and what I had in mind wasn’t outrageous or off the wall at all.


One things for certain. Keep it simple and in perspective. :slight_smile:

Perspective: You may think you have only ONE wedding day, BUT you will also only have ONE marriage. The wedding lasts exactly ONE day, the marriage lasts the WHOLE lifetime. Choose your spouse wisely! And truly participate in all marriage prep classes offered by your Church and seek cousel with a good priest.

As for the wedding itself, there’s great beauty in simplicity. If you have lots of family and friends and really want to share the day with everyone, do so. But, it may be beneficial to select around 100 or fewer guests. Remember, you only HAVE to have you two, two witnesses and the priest!

Also, do not worry about a reception. Focus on the marriage, the chapel/church, the sacredness of the vows and the ceremony itself, the marriage preparations from the priest, etc. I mean, in ten years, are you really going to care what was served at the reception and if your table decorations really matched your flowers? Chances are, something will go wrong with some decoration somewhere, so the fewer the better. Also, the fewest people you have to coordinate the better. (Including wedding party, reception, photography, ect.)

Remember those wedding planner books were designed to MAKE money off of YOU the bride. You don’t HAVE to use every single decoration/service listed. You can pick and choose. Stick with the basics (your dress, his tux, church music, etc.) and build up from there. And you don’t have to buy name brand I mean people thought my dress was thousands of dollars and I got it on the sale rack for $99. (Yes that’s two nines and no zeros.) :thumbsup: :thumbsup: Also, some premade things are perfect and cut down on having to count on others. We had pre-arranged silk flowers. They looked beautiful and no one could tell except the flower girls, but they loved the souviener!

As for yourself, don’t try to be a “perfect” bride. You don’t need the perfect gown, shoes, or jewelry. You don’t need a several hundered dollar hairstyle and spa treatment. You don’t need tons of make up. You need YOU. Focus on the internal beauty and it will shine forth and make whatever you wear, even if its a just a nice church dress, gorgeous. Honestly, if your future husband can’t think you are beautiful in a simple modest gown, than you might want to think about that one a bit!

I hate to sound frugal, if you have thousands to spend go for it! :thumbsup: But, do NOT go into debt for it. There’s nothing worse to start a marriage than debt. The more you save, the more you will have for the actual marriage, future children, house, the things that will matter in the long run. You CAN have an elegant wedding cheap! Trust me. :cool:

So focus on the MARRIAGE, prep classes, and priestly advice. Then focus on the ceremony itself (make it truly sacred–as sacred as you want your future marriage to be:) ) Then, and only then, worry about details. :thumbsup:

God bless you two, I will pray for you!


Eat. Try and eat beforehand, and make sure you eat at the reception. My stage fright prevented me from eating breakfast (thankfully we had a morning wedding), and my stomach growled through the entire nuptial service. When we got to the reception, the food was wonderful, but I only remember getting to eat a couple of meatballs and some salad before getting whisked off for photos and greeting guests. I did manage to sneak some lemon bars off the dessert table, though. :thumbsup:

Don’t skimp on food or cake. Our cake wasn’t too expensive, but not the cheapest we could have gotten. It was worth the bit of splurge: super-moist spice cake with Bavarian creme filling, decorated with fresh flowers that matched the ones on the tables and in the bouquets. It looked as good as it tasted.

If you don’t want the big extravaganza with hundreds of people, DJ, huge bar, etc., don’t have it. This is your day. We had a luncheon reception (much cheaper than Sat. night affairs) with a tab bar- we paid the tab at the end, and it ended up only totalling a couple hundred dollars (for a 150-person reception) because people don’t drink much at lunch. We also skipped the DJ and used the money to instead hire a string quartet to play for a couple of hours while the guests were arriving and eating. It was so worth it to have what we wanted; we had a good time and received tons of compliments.


Sit down & watch “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”… take notes! :stuck_out_tongue:

It’s your day, not your Moms, your Aunts, your Sisters, your Cousins… YOURS.

Save your husband to be a lot of grief and (unless he really wants to be) leave him out of choosing:
bridesmaid gifts

He’ll thank you. He should be in on:
reception location

The wedding part is easy. The Church isn’t going to close, move, or change owners!

The reception part is tough. Stay on top of your arrangements! Make a nag of yourself and call each vendor about every 6 weeks until the date.

(We had everything all set up 1 year in advance… checked in periodically. 4 weeks before our reception the “Food & Beverage Manager” of the hotel we booked QUIT… and took 1/3 of the staff with her! The “replacement” was totally overwhelmed, and we had a seriously mad scramble to put things together in time. It did work out but NOT as we had meticulously planned at first.)


We sent flowers and a thank-you note to both sets of parents. They were suprised and really loved that we took the time to do that.



I would have eaten more at the reception, and I would not have given our house keys to our most notorious practical-joker friends.

Oh, wait. That wasn’t me, it was my husband. :smiley:

Aside from that, our wedding was perfect. My advice, echoing other posters, is to relax. No matter what happens, when the day’s over you’ll be married. That’s the important thing. Nothing else is of major importance.

Also, delegate as much responsibility as possible, especially on the last few days before. Spend a reasonable amount of time together talking and praying. Don’t let THE WEDDING distract you from the much greater importance of your marriage.


having married off 3 daughters my advice is don’t obsess about details that are not important to the sacrament of matrimony. Whether or not the caterer provides the lobster salad or the salmon mousse you requested is not an issue. A week later you won’t remember what the food tasted like anyhow. Go with famliar foods that can feed a crowd and don’t get fancy.

Spend as much time preparing for the marriage as you do preparing for the wedding.

If you delegate a task to someone, give them their instructions, then let them do it, and don’t criticize the results.

Don’t try to please everyone, it won’t happen so do what works best for you and the folks paying for everything.

If you have situations were Aunti X won’t attend if Cousin Y is present, invite them both and let them worry about it. Have strong male relatives act as bouncers if people start fights at the reception.

If your family is like half of our relatives, go very light on alcohol, why pay for a bunch of drunks to party?


As far as pictures go, have your photographer take a picture of each table as a group. These were some of the only pictures we had of guests. I also had her take a lot of detail pictures. (the centerpieces, guest book, cake cutters etc, and now years later it is cool to see those because you will forget. Include tradition as much as you can. I am Latvian and my husband is Italian and we tried to take as much as we could from each of the cultures and it made for a very special day. Do not be afraid to do some corny things too. That is part of the fun. In Latvia, they perform a type of initiation into married life. During the reception, The unmarried women sing to the new bride how sad they are they lost one of their own and then the married women sing how happy they are to have a new married woman in their group and then the unmarried men and married men do the same. Then, I danced one last time with each of the single men. Then my husband danced one last time with each of the single women. Then, I gave my veil to the next in line to be married (I gave it to my husbands sister) and then they put a womans shaw on my head ( a sign I am married) and they put and old hat on my husband and then they put our chairs together. The women lift my chair in the air three times. Then the men lifted my husband three times. Then they put me on the lap of my husband and they sang to us. And then they lifted us both up together. Then we were officially married alla Latvian tradition. So, basically go for it!!!


This is a problem for most brides, I think. I’ll pass along the wonderful and VERY helpful advice I got from a friend who had been there done that. Have a person you trust put together a basket of goodies for you to take to your hotel room with you after the reception. I actually had a family friend co-ordinate my wedding and she put together a nice basket with some of everything, a bottle of wine and some bubble bath :slight_smile: It was very nice because I was STARVING when we got to our hotel!

what would I change about my wedding? nothing! I made it my goal to not let it work me up too much. I had a couple of easy going friends help me pick stuff out and I tried not to be so pickey. If it doesn’t look EXACTLY like it looked in your dream, that OKAY! I’m all for simple decorations. some ribben here, a flower there. If you start with decorations you like, it’s hard to go wrong. Just keep it simple.

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