Ok, let’s get it out of the way up front — my own wedding day was perfection and I wouldn’t change a thing about it. I certainly felt like I was floating a few inches off the ground for most of the day, and have zero regrets about the person I married.
That said, so much goes into event planning, and I’m not a professional wedding planner. Not even close. Between choosing the wedding dress, florist, first dance song, bridesmaids, videographer, and about a million other things, there’s just too much to do. But in hindsight, there are a few simple things I would change that stand out clear as day.
Wedding guest comfort
It’s your big day, right? Absolutely. But it turns out that guest comfort goes a long way toward making your day more enjoyable. If you know everyone is comfortable and having a phenomenal time, chances are you will too.
At an outdoor wedding, guests are exposed to the elements more than I realized. They’re in the sun for much longer than you are, and if your reception goes into the evening, things can turn chilly pretty quickly. Shade, hand fans, a water station, blankets and heaters for the evening – all simple things that make your guests far more comfortable. You don’t have to spend a lot, either. Inexpensive fleece blankets are pretty easy to snag for $1 each on sites like Aliexpress or at your local discount store. Hand fans can be found on Amazon for under 1$, or DIY your own custom fans with cardstock and popsicle sticks, which can double as a wedding program!
Indoor church wedding with hard pews? Have some cushions available for guests who need them.
Don’t forget what you like
Everyone says to personalize your wedding, but by default, many vendors are still traditional. Make a list of things you like to do and eat, and then have them at the wedding. Who cares if it’s not a “wedding” activity or food? It is now.
Games: My husband loves “tossing things into other things” games. We had a gorgeous outdoor lawn setting but didn’t take advantage of the space for various lawn games like bean bag toss. Not everyone likes to drink or get down on the dance floor, and it would have been free since we already own several lawn games.
Food: Why I didn’t get a wood-fired pizza truck to show up in the parking lot is beyond me. It’s easily my favorite food. And I could have negated the cost by skipping a fancy appetizer or two. Everyone is tired of chicken or fish, and imagine the smiles you’ll get when the In n’ Out truck pulls up, or when the artisan ice cream cart rolls out. If you don’t like cake, don’t have cake. I should have had a fresh-baked cookie and milk station. (Peanut butter chocolate chip, obviously.) With how expensive traditional catering can get, it’s totally worth pricing out tastier options. And there’s a good chance they won’t have the ridiculous “wedding markup.”
Weird and memorable: Weddings are weddings. They’re pretty typical, even when they’re trying not to be. Cue the grand entrance, first dance, then best man speech and maid of honor speech. So don’t be afraid to inject something out of the box or truly odd. I wish we would have had an unexpected raffle prize during dinner, or the Boots and Saddles bugle call announcing the grand entrance. Maybe a kitten cuddling and adoption corner.
Set up and scheduling
We chose not to do a first look and waited until the ceremony to see each other. While I liked the idea theoretically, in practice it wasn’t the right choice for us. A first look means you can take pictures together beforehand and aren’t rushed in any way (hopefully). It also means you can grab a drink and see people during cocktail hour. I didn’t even make it to my own cocktail hour, and I didn’t feel like we had much time for photos. It’s a personal choice, but remember that you only get one go at those photos, and you’re going to want enough time. My advice is to make your first look an extra special reveal and get all your photos out of the way pre-ceremony. Nothing left to do after you say I do but saunter down that aisle and celebrate.
Speaking of aisles – if you have the freedom to do so, take a look at alternative seating arrangements. Why do you have to have two rectangles with one aisle down the middle? You don’t. You could arrange the chairs in two semi-circles facing one another and enter from opposite sides, so you both get to walk the aisle towards one another. Or try a spiral aisle for a smaller wedding. Let your wedding party sit down (bonus: no one passes out). A unique arrangement can give everyone a seat closer to the action, just be sure to do a trial run of your non-traditional seating plan ahead of time to see if it actually works well in practice.
Cash back and credit card rewards
This one hurts to think about. We had a good amount of money saved and also received some cash from our family for the wedding. And instead of paying vendors with a credit card and scoring cash back or travel rewards, we wrote them checks. We didn’t know it at the time, but we missed out on hundreds of dollars in credit card rewards. We could have covered most of our honeymoon costs, and gotten a huge welcome bonus for opening a new credit card, like the Bank of America Travel Rewards card. Even using a 1% cash back card like the Discover it® Cash Back would have meant serious earnings.
We left money on the table, because we didn’t know how to benefit from credit card welcome offers.
A note of caution, though – don’t put huge wedding expenses that you can’t realistically afford on credit cards. No matter how tempting, the last thing you want is to enter married life with loads of unpaid debt hanging over you.
No matter what went wrong, or what I would have done differently, our wedding day was my favorite day of all time. So try to relax during the wedding planning, and keep in mind that even if you don’t plan and do everything perfectly, your day is going to be pure perfection.
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