Advice from REAL Brides

Wedding Day Advice Blogs.....

We've all seen them, read them, laughed out loud, and asked ourselves, "Who the hell is writing this?"

Earlier this year I polled my clients on what their one wedding day do-over would be. You can read those by going to yesterday's blog.

I also asked my clients to share their real and PRACTICAL wedding day advice. I told them I didn't want the sugary, sappy "Be sure to relax and savor the whole day" crap we've all read on the blogs sponsored by the popular bridal magazines which are probably written by single, 22-year-old, underpaid intern whose been a bridesmaid in maybe three weddings. But that's my guess. I wanted REAL advice. Practical advice. Stuff you can actually use.

So without delay, this is what the ladies had to say. Again, these are anonymous and in no particular order:

HIRE A PLANNER.  Or, at the very least a “day of event” person. Someone that will handle that day’s events and there WILL be hiccups so – put the planner as the point of contact. You want them to fix anything that went wrong before you even know about it – better yet, you don’t even wanna know!  Turn your cell phone off and enjoy the time with your mom and special friends before you head out to say I DO.  I look back and was SO THANKFUL that we did that. We all went to the Capitol Hotel and had the hair and makeup people come to us. Rented a suite and got ready there, and got some of my ALL TIME favorite pictures done before hand as well!  Then they cleaned our room and we came back there for our wedding night. So, in all, Hire a planner and let them handle things, especially the day of!

Be ready to slap (by slap, I mean stand up for yourself or actually slap) someone if they come close to making you cry that day. Your day, not theirs.

Have a typed out list of things that need to be done day of and who is responsible to do those things as well as copies for everyone. It makes everything go much smoother.

Train your MOH. If they don't want to do their job, they don't need to be your MOH.

Don't freak out about every little thing. You are still going to marry the man of your dreams even if you didn't finish everything you wanted to.

I planned to change into my going away dress after leaving the reception. Our family was so proactive they had already packed up the car, gifts and my going away outfit that I was not able to change. Place your going away dress in an accessible place and let someone in your family or day of event coordinators know your plans. However, because I did not change my dress I think I have one of my best pictures of me and my husband in my wedding dress as we left the ceremony.

If your fiancé can't fix his hair very well, have a hairdresser to do it on the wedding day.

My wedding dress had a lace up and I was informed to make sure whoever is helping me get dress know how to cross of the lace up. I took pictures of the lace-up and showed my sister how to the lace the dress up. Well, I didn’t think I had to inform them to pull the back panel out. So my family laced me up real tight and had my black girdle showing. I couldn’t figure out what they were doing. It took me and my photographer to say it wasn’t right and I found the panel in the back. In the end my dress was too tight and it looked like my breast were going to pop out but since it took 20 minutes to get lace it up, I didn’t say anything. I wish I did have it un-tighten. Simple tip – Make sure someone knows how to completely lace or fasten you up in your dress. 

Corset lace dresses are beautiful, but a pain to get in to. Learn how to do this well before the wedding day. It'll save you time and lots of headaches.

Corset lace dresses are beautiful, but a pain to get in to. Learn how to do this well before the wedding day. It'll save you time and lots of headaches.

We did not hire a professional wedding planner. When it came to the cutting the wedding cake and toast, my husband and I were clueless where to stand and what to do. Thank God for our photographer who stepped in. It is a really a simple thing but you may want to consider the placement and background of the toast and cake cutting to make sure everything is in place.

One of my bridesmaids brought a steam iron. (Best thing ever for right before the wedding) If your dress wrinkles easily.

If permitted, consider having snacks in the dressing room for those helping you especially if you are taking pictures before the ceremony. It makes for a long day even if you eat before arriving.

Take your time! You're the BRIDE! You will NOT remember anything!! Make sure to try and say hello to as many people as possible!! It's such a blur when it's all said and done!

The main thing I would say is totally ignore family drama! It's your day NOT theirs and if they are going to act like buttheads, they probably are going to regardless so don't even worry about it! Let them duke it out themselves and enjoy the day!

I had to go to the bathroom before the ceremony in my dress and my bridesmaids helped me. Yes, it was a picture of several women holding up my dress as I used the bathroom. Simple tip, don’t wear any undergarment that doesn’t unfasten from the bottom.

Be sure that you and your bridal party have an emergency kit. I made a kit for all of my bridesmaids to bring along for the wedding day. At some point, everyone was rummaging through their bags for something they needed. Their kits contained: Band-Aids, Altoids, bottled water, a nail file, a mini sewing kit, clear nail polish, Kleenex, a mini lint roller, gum, hand sanitizer, hand lotion, a travel-sized toothbrush and toothpaste, Q-tips, granola bars, peanuts, and plain lip balm. Those kits came in quite handy.

Entrust someone to bring some yummy goodies for everyone to snack on while getting ready. I'm not talking junk food, nor does it have to be full meals. Everyone should have something simple to munch on that will keep them full until the reception but not so full that they feel stuffed! We had finger sandwiches and a veggie tray, and they were both a big hit with the bridal party.

DO the first-look photo. If you're worried about your fiance' seeing you in your dress and losing that "a-ha" moment when walk up the aisle to him, then do the first-look with him blindfolded. That way, you get to see him and calm your nerves a bit but you won't ruin that special moment for him to see you in your gown when you take that special walk up the aisle. My fiance' and I did our first-look this way and I'm so glad that we did!

Chesney and Ryan did a faux first look in 2013. And they loved it. This is a great way to calm your nerves if you don't want to do the full first look!

Chesney and Ryan did a faux first look in 2013. And they loved it. This is a great way to calm your nerves if you don't want to do the full first look!

I regret not taking formal bridal portraits. I did not get a single picture of me by myself in my dress from head to toe. I wish had at least one picture of my full dress with no one else in the frame.

Be sure to provide a shot list and names of key people to your photographer and/or videographer. This was the best thing I did! My photographer knew who all the key players were and was able to call everyone by name, thus grabbing their attention immediately when called.

The answer below brought me great pause and nearly moved me to tears.

I regret having a wedding at all and my thoughts on it are still pretty bitter. My only advice would be to skip the dumb stuff, take some great pics and  love your husband. Wedding = dumb stuff.  It's great to have a family who loves and cares and wants to be involved in your life. It's terrible when those people offer to help pay for your spectacle of a wedding then don't. Especially when you could have done without it. Engagement, planning and weddings are so exciting and emotional that it's hard to think clearly. I could have done without a wedding, but I also thought it would be really nice. That uncertainty in the face of a mom who wanted a ceremony that "people could see" and friends who had beautiful wedding days - made me want to give it a shot, even though I knew better. I accept responsibility for my decisions but cannot deny that many decisions were made for the happiness of others when we were already completely happy with ourselves. I know one day I will look back on my wedding planning experience and laugh. It just hasn't happened yet. 

After years of photographing weddings, I want to add a few observations and tidbits of unsolicited advice to help make your day smoother.

Ladies, and this includes the bridesmaids, remove all price tags from your: dress, jewelry, frilly undergarments, Spanx, veils, hairpieces...etc., BEFORE the wedding day. I cannot tell you how much time people waste trying to pull or remove tags from these items. And if you don't do this, that's fine, but bring scissors. You're wasting time and stressing yourself out by hunting down scissors or nail clippers trying to remove tags.

For the guys: PACK A LINT ROLLER!!!!!!! Learn it, live it, love it. Lint rollers are your friend. I spend so much time - every single wedding - Photoshopping lint off jackets.

More for the guys: When scheduling your wedding day haircut, also consider "Manscaping" anything visible. This includes trimming and grooming eyebrows, ear hair (yes...I've seen awful ear hair) and nose hair (ditto). Your fiancee' will look her very best. You owe it to her to do the same.

Guys: Pack breath mints. I've handed my share of grooms Tic-Tacs, especially right before first look. Especially if they've been doing shots to calm nerves.

And lastly guys: REAL bow ties are very classy... way classier than being "Captain Clip-on". But if you're going to sport the real thing, learn how to ACTUALLY tie the thing BEFORE the wedding day. YouTube should charge on searches of "How to Tie a Bow Tie" because it's THE most searched video on any given Saturday....but it does make for great pictures of the learning process.

The guys with their handy iPhone learning How to Tie a Bow Tie. I just love this photo!

The guys with their handy iPhone learning How to Tie a Bow Tie. I just love this photo!

Ladies: pack tampons or the like. Mother nature shows up when you least want her to.

When making your wedding day schedule, add 15-30 minutes (at least) to each aspect of the day, such as hair, makeup, getting dressed. When you're having a great time with the girls, it's very easy to lose track of time and get off schedule. This goes for the guys too. I've seen guys take 30 minutes to put on a tux. Speaking of schedules....

Don't waste your time spending hours making a detailed wedding day schedule if you have no plans to share the schedule with anyone, especially the groom/groomsmen. I've spent so much time making schedules with my clients and they didn't bother to tell anyone.

Now this is a crazy-detailed schedule! But this bride was on-time for everything. And so was her groom. This was the exception, not the rule.

Now this is a crazy-detailed schedule! But this bride was on-time for everything. And so was her groom. This was the exception, not the rule.

If you can afford it, hire a planner. They are worth EVERY SINGLE PENNY. Looking for a planner? I have a full list of planners on my website.

Bottled water! Bring a six-pack and have it with you. Hydrate!!! And keep umbrellas close at hand. We saw a whole wedding party get soaked because of flash rain. **This one came from my friend and colleague Paul with Sunflower Films. Thanks Paul :)

Don't let your MOH, MIL, sister, sister-in-law or your own Mother bully or pressure you into anything. I've seen countless brides wear something (namely the veil), do something (or not do) because they felt pressured by someone else...and they cry when no one is looking. But I am and it's very sad. Remember, it's your day, not theirs regardless of who is paying for your wedding.

So that's about it. If I missed anything, please comment below. I'd love your feedback.