Planning a wedding is a dream come true for many couples, but it can also be a daunting task with so many details to consider. Unfortunately, even the most carefully planned weddings can still have hiccups and unexpected surprises.
In this guide, we will explore 45 of the most common wedding mistakes couples make and offer practical tips and advice on how to steer clear of them. Whether you're a bride-to-be, a groom-to-be, or a helpful friend or family member, this guide will help you navigate the wedding planning process with ease and confidence.
1) Not planning a budget
Money may not be your favorite topic in the world, but unless you have a bottomless pit of cash to spend on your wedding, you absolutely have to plan a budget. There is nothing worse than going blind when it comes to spending money on your wedding, and without a budget, you’re almost guaranteed to spend beyond your means.
2) Letting someone else dictate your guest list
The people who attend your wedding will have such an impact on how you and your fiancé feel on your wedding day, which is one of the many reasons why you two should have the final say on your wedding list. You will be standing up, bearing your hearts, and promising your lives to each other. So you shouldn’t let someone else dictate who gets to witness that moment and you shouldn’t feel guilty for inviting only people with whom you feel comfortable sharing that part of your life.
3) Not having a weather plan
It’s not fun to think about, but you have to be prepared for inclement weather if you’re having an outdoor wedding. If the venue offers both outdoor and indoor space, inquire whether the indoor space will be available if the weather turns bad. If you won’t be able to move the event indoors, put a tent on hold or make a backup plan to move to an entirely new venue.
4) Inviting blind plus-ones
Some couples over-invite and make budget sacrifices to accommodate more people. You’d be surprised how many guests that are invited to weddings are practically strangers to the couples. The biggest mistake when it comes to creating a guest list: giving blind plus-ones. There is no reason to give blanket plus-ones to single guests if they already know other people at the wedding.
5) Spending your entire bridal fashion budget on just the dress
Your wedding dress is obviously the most important part of your wedding day attire, but there are so many other things that go into creating your complete look. You’ll need shoes, jewelry, lingerie, and alterations, not to mention professional hair and makeup. All of these things should be included in your bridal fashion budget.
6) Not considering your guests
Your friends and family will likely travel to attend your wedding, so make sure they are comfortable. Provide transportation to and from the ceremony and reception, and stock their hotel rooms with basics like drinks and snacks.
7) Misplacing your engagement ring
When in a public restroom, resist the temptation to remove your engagement ring while you’re washing your hands. The possibility that you might leave it on the ledge of the sink or, worse, drop it down the drain, is too great a risk to take.
8) The wedding date
Pick a day that will work best for your family and friends, your budget, and the location of the wedding. Don’t try to get married in Chicago over a marathon weekend or have a destination wedding during hurricane season. If your fiancé is an accountant, don’t get married in tax season.
9) Not saying hello to everyone
Most couples forgot the formal post-ceremony receiving line. Instead, make it a point to circulate among the reception tables after dinner. If you have a large guest list, schedule the table greetings into the day-of timeline and make an effort to find something sincere and personal to say to each guest.
10) Sending thank you notes late
You do not have a year to mail your thank you cards. Instead, for gifts received for the engagement party or shower, send a thank you within two to three weeks of the festivities; for gifts sent before the wedding date, send a card as soon as possible but definitely before the wedding; for gifts given on the wedding day itself, mail a thank you note within three months; and for gifts received after your wedding, send one within two to three weeks.
11) Too long ceremony
It is natural to view the wedding ceremony as the most important part of the wedding experience, although this is true for most, it doesn't mean it has to be the longest past. In order to keep your guests engaged, it would be best to keep this part short and sweet. Don’t forget that the ceremony is only the first part of your wedding celebration. There will be plenty of other surprises to follow, so by slimming down the ceremony time, will ensure all your guests will stay involved all the way until the end.
12) Post-ceremony photos
You just married the love of your life, and now it is time to take some portraits. But while you are taking “the first look” photographs followed by family portraits, what do the rest of your guests do? So you can offer a welcome cocktail or champagne reception, so that they can socialize, eat and have fun while waiting.
13) Mistreating single friends
Weddings are a great place to meet people, but don’t throw all your single friends haphazardly at one table. Seat people based on their shared interests, not marital status. Go through your guest list and draw parallels. Connect guests with similar hobbies, jobs, or interests, and try to make everyone feel comfortable by offering a mix of familiar and new faces at each table.
14) Not matching your bouquet to your dress
Heavy, awkward bouquets are impossible to clutch gracefully, and they end up covering more of the dress than many brides would like. Bring a photo of your dress to your floral appointments so your florist can see what you will be wearing and match the shape and size of your bouquet correctly.
15) Thinking you’re a professional cake baker
While asking your mom to make your favorite dishes or baking 50 pies yourself the week of the wedding might seem like a way to personalize the day and save money, the menu is really best left to a caterer. A professional will know how to properly estimate the amount of food to buy, how to prepare a meal on a large scale, when to serve different courses, and how to accommodate guests with dietary needs or restrictions.
16) Having a cash bar
The bar bill amounts to one of the reception’s biggest expenses, so it’s understandable that not every couple can afford hours and hours of open bar boozing. But there are many ways to save big without having to resort to a cash bar, including serving two signature cocktails, wine, and beer, or asking your venue for a corkage option.
17) Choosing the wrong people for roles
Many couples had regents over choosing members of their wedding party too early on in the process. Deciding who is going to be your bridesmaids, groomsmen, maid of honor and best man are all important decisions and you want to make the right one so you don’t find yourself in a position where you’re trying to fire a bridesmaid.
18) Worrying about other people’s opinions
Everyone has an opinion. It’s super easy to let other people’s opinions affect every decision you make, but making decisions about your wedding based on what other people think will please everyone else except you.
19) Including traditions, you don’t want
Wedding traditions are lovely for so many reasons – and some people will include as many as they possibly can at their wedding, but if you realize that the only reason you are including a tradition is because you feel like you have to, you’re doing so for all the wrong reasons.
20) Forgetting to set a drink maximum for you and your partner
Even if you and your partner both love to party, you should think of your wedding as a marathon. You want to make sure you’re not wasted during the first hour and pass out before dinner is served.
21) Waiting too long to buy your dress
When it comes to finding your dress, the earlier you can shop, the better. Don’t wait until the last minute to disease. You may not be able to get the dress you fall in love with in time if you wait too long. Give yourself ample time to shop and make a less rushed decision. Once you find the dress, you will know.
22) Buying a wedding dress too early
If you buy a dress before deciding on the concept and location of your wedding, then it may not suit the style of the celebration. When the contract with the venue is signed, the concept and color scheme have been agreed upon with the decorator – it’s time to book your day at the wedding salon.
23) Hiring the wrong photographer
You could be tempted to contract a photographer whose packages fit more to your budget than your aesthetic. Or perhaps you’ve been absolutely in love with a professional’s portfolio of outdoor, natural-light photos. So instead of picking a photographer based on price or portfolio alone, talk to your planner and ensure that you’re choosing a photographer that will deliver the types of images you’re expecting for what can afford.
24) Getting too attached to something
If you’ve got your heart set on a specific flower or have picked your color palette before your venue, you can be disappointed. You might love peonies, but if you’re getting married in September, they probably will not be your wedding flowers. Try to keep an open mind until you’ve at least locked the basics.
25) Hiring a friend instead of a professional
Your BFF has a badass camera, so she can totally step in as your wedding photographer-right? Wrong. Your wedding is not the time for a friend to start her new business. It’s best for you and your friendship if you politely decline your friend’s offer to pose as a pro. Hire a professional to avoid disappointment.
26) Not trusting a wedding agency
Some couples completely give the organization of their wedding over to a professional team and feel comfortable, and then there are those who try to control every step. If you want to keep track of everything and be as involved as possible at every stage of preparation, it is within your right to do so. But it’s one thing to approve of all the little things yourself, from dishes to napkins, and quite another to control and question the actions of your wedding planners. So choose a trusted agency that suits your style and spirit, and let the professionals handle the rest.
27) Choosing a wedding planner too quickly
Picking the perfect wedding planner takes time. All of us have different specialties, capabilities, and experience, so it’s important to ask all of the big questions before signing a contract. Ask to see previous weddings and inquire about what their specialties are.
28) Buying a dress that’s too small as inspiration to lose weight
It’s much easier to have a wedding dress taken in if you lose weight than it is to add fabric if you haven’t somehow managed to get to your goal by your wedding. You’ve got so many more important things to worry about, being on a diet shouldn’t be a top priority.
29) Taking forever to clean your wedding dress
Whether you want to keep it, sell it, donate it or even rent it, your wedding dress has to be professionally cleaned as soon as your wedding is over. So make sure you or one of your friends or family members drop it off the next day at the dry cleaner’s; the longer you wait the harder it will be to remove any stains.
30) Taking risks with hair and makeup
Makeup and hair trends come and go, so it’s best to go with your go-to look but with an elevated twist, in our opinion. If you're barely wearing makeup, go for a more neutral makeup look instead of loading up on poppy colors.
31) Booking accommodation before wedding booking is confirmed
Booking a room for you and your guests before you’ve confirmed your wedding date availability is never a good idea. If you book the rooms ahead of time, there’s a chance that you won’t get the availability you want for your wedding. This leaves you with accommodation at your chosen resort but nowhere to actually get married.
32) Inviting too many guests
You may have heard the maxim that 10% of your invitees won’t be able to attend. But that doesn’t mean you should invite extra guests to compensate. The absolute maximum on your guest list should be the same as the maximum capacity of your venue or the number of guests you can afford on your budget.
33) Leaving the legalities to the last minute
Whether you’re planning a destination wedding or something closer to home, it’s important to wrap up the legal aspects in good time so that you have everything ready for the big day. Research the marriage license laws in your state and keep all your paperwork in the same place so it’s easily accessible.
34) Not hiring a videographer
No matter how beautiful your photos are, video adds something extra to your wedding memories. A videographer is also often able to capture moments you miss in the rush of the day.
35) Thinking that DIY will be less expensive
When you consider the cost of craft supplies and your time, it’s sometimes better to leave it to the professionals. Plus, you’ll save yourself some sleepless nights if your DIY invitations don’t look exactly like the Pinterest tutorial.
36) Doing everything everyone else wants
It’s your wedding, not your mother’s or mother-in-law’s, so really try to focus on the details that you and your fiancé want, and not anyone else. Either don’t tell them what you’re doing-or don’t take any negative comments personally.
37) Inviting friends back to your hotel suite to continue the party
They’ll never leave, and you’ll find yourselves in the awkward position of having to kick everyone once. After-party in the hotel bar instead.
38) Still organizing and planning on the big day
If you didn’t hire a wedding planner, it’s time to delegate responsibility to someone you trust. Countless couples who take on the responsibility to oversee the entire day of process don’t even enjoy their own wedding.
39) Missing out on photos with friends and family
Your wedding might be the first and only time you have all your family and friends together in one place. This all needs to be captured so get prepped in advance. Don’t hesitate to ask your photography team to follow you around while mingling to capture any spontaneous group photos.
40) Hard dieting plans
No bride should feel as if they have to change themselves ahead of their wedding. But if you do wish to adopt better habits, instead of drastically reducing calories or abstaining from whole food groups a month before your wedding date, ease into it. So try adopting a well-balanced eating plan or fitness regimen six months before the big day.
41) Losing sight of the big picture
When planning a wedding, it’s so easy to get caught up in all the details. But while they’re important, the most important thing is that you’re getting married to the love of your life. Set aside wedding-free time for each other, don’t take family and friends for granted, and remember that any little problems that happen on the day don’t matter in the grand scheme of your marriage. In fact, they often make for the best stories.
For all of us brides who aren’t fully-qualified lawyers, contracts are tricky business. When planning your wedding, make sure you get everything in writing and follow up every phone call with an email detailing anything that’s been agreed to.
43) Poor service
The dress is perfect, the shoes are to-die-for and the cake is divine, but the service providers can’t always be relied upon. To avoid a potential disaster, book suppliers who come highly recommended.
44) Announcing engagement too soon
Share the big news with your inner circle before updating your status on social media. Tell your family and closest friends first, preferably in person, or by phone or Skype (so they see the ring) if they’re long-distance. Then change your Facebook status.
45) Being too strict with social media
Chances are your guests will understand if you ask them to avoid taking pictures during your ceremony or posting anything until after it’s over. They likely won’t be on board with limiting their sharing festivities on Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook in the days preceding and following your wedding.
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