By Rachel Coker
A month after my wedding, I’m still glowing with the knowledge that the event came off more or less as planned.
The ring bearer didn’t burst into tears during the ceremony. The cake and flowers were delivered on time. My mother and stepmother didn’t end up in a fistfight.
Still, there are a few things I’d do differently if I could.
1. Be a savvy shopper. I bought a dress on my first outing at a rather fancy bridal salon. Although the price wasn’t bad, the alterations cost more than some dresses I’ve since seen at discount stores. My advice: Look for a bargain before spending big bucks, and get an early estimate of the seamstress’ bill.
On the flip side, I didn’t buy shoes or a veil at the salon, figuring I’d find cheaper ones elsewhere. That was before I discovered there are a zillion shades of white. The veil I ordered online didn’t match the shoes I bought at another bridal salon. And neither quite matched the dress. I ended up having everything dyed. The effect wasn’t bad, but I doubt my cost-saving measure paid off.
2. Wait to register. Register about six months before the wedding, even if some etiquette guru insists you should go sooner. There’s no reason to start your registry the day after you get engaged. While many stores guarantee the items on your list will be in stock through your wedding day, others make no promises about what’ll be available. We registered about 10 months before the wedding, but hardly anyone purchased anything from the list before shower invitations were mailed. And by the month of the wedding, many items on our registries were no longer in stock.
3. Try to delegate. There’s nothing that says a bride has to be in charge of all the wedding-related minutiae. Take advantage of the expertise of your friends and family. I tried to micromanage every detail, but allowing others to have more control would have made the planning more enjoyable for everyone involved. In the end, some of the nicest touches were details taken care of by others. My in-laws took charge of decorating the reception site, for instance. It was all the more beautiful to me because I hadn’t planned it myself.
4. Consider hiring a videographer. We decided we didn’t care about capturing the wedding on video. Then a friend of my father’s presented us with a tape of the day’s events. We absolutely love it.
5. Seek travel advice. Websites and travel guides mean you can plan a trip without getting any professional help. It’ll probably be cheaper that way. But a travel agent or friend who’s recently been to your destination can help you avoid unpleasant surprises. The hotel we chose turned out to be small and somewhat dingy – a far cry from the cheerful rooms pictured on its website. Someone with firsthand information could have helped us find a nicer place to stay.
6. Be realistic about the photos you request. Remember that you’re only going to have one chance to take pictures of everyone dolled up for the wedding. Think about what kinds of shots you’ll really want later and make sure your photographer knows what they are. For example, I thought it would be selfish to ask for pictures of me with each bridesmaid. But in retrospect, I wish we’d had them done.
7. Have a trial run with your hair and makeup. Whether you’re styling your hair yourself, relying on a friend or going to a pro, don’t let your wedding-day look be a surprise. The same thing goes for your makeup, especially if you don’t usually wear much. I liked the way my husband’s cousin did my makeup, but we didn’t test it out ahead of time. Later, I was surprised by how heavy it appeared in some of the photos.
8: Make the rehearsal count. The rehearsal details matter more than I imagined. We didn’t have anything for our flower girl to practice with at the rehearsal. During the wedding, she carefully placed about a dozen petals in the center of the aisle – one at a time, with painstaking care. It was sweet, in a way, but she probably would have had more fun if she’d gotten to try out the job with paper “petals” ahead of time.
9: Have a bite. Find a way to eat something at the wedding. Take it from me: You’ll regret not trying anything from the menu you put together with such care.
10: Stay organized. I don’t care how organized you are or if you have a perfect memory. You need a wedding-day checklist. Take my word for it. I actually had to send my maid of honor back to my apartment to get my veil.
By Rachel Coker