"Plan The Event Backward": Brides Are Revealing The Biggest Lesson They Learned After Planning Their Wedding

·13 min read

Even if you've been dreaming of the day for years, planning your wedding can still be stressful.

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Reddit user u/Fearless-Sun-9622 recently asked, "What are some of the most important things you learned when planning your wedding?" Here are a few tips from some former brides:

1."Don't let others pressure you. Make it small, and do bold style choices for your own enjoyment. Don't care about what folks might gossip about. It's your day. Planning a wedding for 12 people is a lot more fun and personal than doing a massive and expensive celebration."


2."I learned that every Bridezilla moment has a story behind it, and I've generally gotten a lot less judgmental about them. My new game is to take any Bridezilla meme or story and add 'Not after last time' to the end of it and see if it gets a lot more understandable in that context. About 70% of the time, it works. 'Absolutely no one can wear T-shirts with any kind of writing on them to my wedding. Not after last time,' 'I will not allow any children under 18 to attend the reception. No exceptions, not after last time,' 'Cameras are not allowed at the wedding, and no one other than the designated photographer can take pictures. Not after last time.' Bridezilla is a term that a lot of people have repurposed to try to shut up women who stand up for themselves. There are real Bridezillas, of course, but it's not an accident that the term has no real male equivalent."


3."The only thing that matters is the food and booze. No one cares what color the flowers are or how much you spent on your dress. Feel pretty and have fun."

An assortment of food
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4."A good litmus test for the guest list: For a wedding, the general price comes to $60 a head. As you go through the list, ask yourself, 'Would I buy this person (or the spouse they're attached to) a $60 dinner on any other night?' If the answer is no, they don't need to be on the list."


5."Don't get a dress to fit into; get a dress that fits you."

The back of a wedding dress
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6."Keep your cards close. The second you start letting people in on your ideas, everyone will have a million and one ways you can do it better. You'll start second-guessing what you really wanted to begin with. Before you know it, your event will be nothing like what you envisioned."


7."To me regarding weddings: Do what makes you happy. My wife and I cared about what flowers we wove through our altar. Lavender and wisteria were the themes because on our dates, I'd give her lavender and rosemary, and she'd weave wisteria in my hair. I'm pretty sure no one remembers our flowers either, but it was important to us."


8."Weddings are female-coded, just like makeup, fashion, and jewelry. That means that there will always be a ton of people trying to shame you for liking them or spending money on them. There will also always be a lot of women taking out their 'not like other girls' gender issues on you when you try to talk about them, especially if you want one that is more or less traditional, or, heaven forfends, one that your relatives will also enjoy. Honestly, the most miserable part of my whole wedding planning experience was talking about it on Reddit and seeing everyone get all performatively competitive about how little they spent on theirs.

Bride and groom

"It's one thing to just not want a big wedding, but a lot of people were actively trying to make me feel bad for, like, inviting all of my aunts and uncles and having actual decorations that weren't plucked from my neighbor's flower garden in the dead of night. At the end of the day, you just have to ignore them and do what you want. It's your wedding, not theirs."


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9."If you don't want people to give you useless advice, keep your mouth shut about the plans. If there are folks who need to be kept busy, there are any number of decorating activities that can be assigned to make your day look fun, while keeping those folks from getting into things that are none of their business."


10."Quick tip: Don’t just get people to sign a guest book with their name. Pre-print pages with questions. Where do you know the couple from? What’s your advice for the future? What’s your dearest memory of the couple? It will be so much fun to read down the road! The pages can go in a nice ring-binder afterward. You could even make the guests stick in Polaroids of themselves."

People sign a wedding guest book
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11."Someone had told me to be sure to stop a few times throughout the wedding day, take a deep breath, look around, and take it all in, creating my own snapshots of the day in my head, trying to remember what it felt like to be there, surrounded by loved ones. Although I'm divorced now, and that was way back in 1999, I've still got very vivid memories from having followed that advice."


12."Don’t pick your bridesmaids too early. You never know if you will have a falling out. I was about to ask one girl to be my bridesmaid, and my mom warned me to wait. THANK GOD I waited because she and I ended up having a HUGE falling out before my wedding."


13."Don’t get your dress too early, and don’t book hair and makeup too early. Really take time to figure out what you want to look like on your wedding day. Do a makeup and hair trial. Don’t try to look like somebody you’re not. I’m not a very girly girl. I don’t ever wear makeup. I don’t like having my hair done. Yet, on my wedding day, I wore a super girly dress, had full makeup and lashes, and an updo. I remember looking at myself in the mirror and wanting to cry. I felt so ugly and nothing like myself. I can’t even look at my wedding photos without feeling upset. I wish I just straightened my hair, wore no makeup, and wore the dress I had originally picked (a $350 regular cream-colored dress/not a wedding dress). Absolute biggest regret."

A bride gets her hair done
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14."It's okay to not do it like everyone else. Don't want a big, fancy wedding? That's ok! Don't want to invite everyone you know? That's ok, too. Don't want to spend a fortune on one day in your life? That's totally acceptable. In the end, your wedding should be how you want it, not how the rest of the world does. I got married my way, a small thing with barely anyone there. My family wanted a huge event, but I refused. My sister, on the other hand, spent over $50k on her wedding, which is insane to me. That's a down payment on a house."


15."Confirm that the reception venue has a standby generator, trust me."


"I went to an August wedding where the power went out for a multi-block radius, and the venue was the equivalent of a tin can. It was the hottest day of my life. Seconding the backup generator."


16."Do not mention your wedding to your coworkers, and do not invite them. I invited mine out of guilt and regretted it, and now am praying they don't attend. I just am not close to them, and I don't want to hold back on my wedding day!"


17."Go bold, but go small. Our wedding ballooned, and now I honestly am wishing we just invited our close friends and family and that's it. But having a destination wedding may be our saving grace since we expect more "No's" than a local wedding due to distance."


18."You can save big money by having your wedding during the week at many venues."


19."Figure out what you're going to do with your decorations before the big day. I got married eight months ago. I still have five boxes of apothecary bottles and silk flowers stashed in the back of my closet. I know I should do something with them, but...eh."

Wedding centerpiece
Ruslanshramko / Getty Images/iStockphoto

20."If you can afford a full-service wedding planner, do it. It was the best decision we made at the beginning of planning. She and her staff knew the ins and outs of dealing with venues and vendors and how to negotiate with them. Plus, they shouldered a lot of the day-to-day planning and prep and saved my husband and me so much leg work and stress. It saved us money, too. At the least, get yourself a day-of coordinator so you can relax and enjoy your day. It goes by so quickly."


21."If you have a long dress, approach the toilet facing it and sit that way. It's so much easier than trying to lift lots of dress."


22."Get. Off. Tik. Tok. You’ll go crazy looking at all of the different tips/'hacks' that are out there. Yes, there are a lot of amazing ideas that I did actually end up using, and you might, too. But don’t do what I did and scroll incessantly for way too long every day right at the beginning of planning. Around six months out, I started realizing how much criticism and negativity a lot of the videos had and how they had only been making me more anxious because I wasn’t getting as much done as these other brides."


23."People don’t eat the cake. It was a delicious cake; I don’t know why no one ate it."

Wedding cake


"Don’t get a wedding cake. 90% of it gets thrown out, and it's a huge waste of money. My son’s wedding had a cupcake tree."


Picsale / Getty Images/iStockphoto

24."Have some food in your room for the end of the night. A mixture of being really busy all day and wearing tight clothing means you will be absolutely ravenous when you get back to your room."


25."Save money everywhere except a good photographer. Good being the key word."


26."Plan the event backward. Your guests spend more time at the reception than at the church, so put the most money there: Good food and drink, music, cake/dessert. Your guests will remember this more, and so will you. Something will always go wrong. Always! Roll with it."


27."My number one no-regret choice was getting a videographer! The video is so beautiful and captured all the best bits, so whenever I watch it, my memories are only of joy and happiness because that is what the video shows. It’s been so therapeutic to watch it over when I’ve been struggling to see past my more negative emotions from the day. So I highly recommend it."

A videographer tapes a wedding
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28."Decide what your priorities are, and spend on those. For us, we wanted good food and drinks, good photos, and to be surrounded by people we love. I bought an inexpensive dress (I’m only wearing it once, and it just has to look good in photos!), but my husband spent more on his suit because he’d get a lot of re-wear out of it."


29."I wasted a lot of money on professional makeup. I love makeup and honestly could have done it better myself. Getting our hair done was worth every penny though."


30."I had two weddings because of COVID. We did one small, fully DIY one outside, and a larger one a year later at our original venue with a caterer and the whole shebang. Having had both types of weddings: A DIY wedding is much easier to achieve if you have local family/friends who want to help, if not, it's a lot of work for you and your spouse. For our bigger wedding, being able to pay one catering company to do 85% of the work for us was amazing. But regardless, both are amazing, and you will have a great day no matter what you choose!"


31."Set up a wedding-specific email address for you and your soon-to-be spouse to share while planning. ALL wedding-related stuff gets sent there. You will get signed up for so much spam, and this will stop it from invading your regular email account."


32."That if you’re more excited about the wedding than the marriage itself, you may want to take a step back and ask yourself why. I learned that one the hard way."


33."My brother and sister both skipped having a bridal party, and how easy their days went. No chasing people, no worrying about people showing up on time, no people silently begrudging because they spent 500+ on one important day. I've chosen to DIY little wrist corsages for the women that I would have included. This allows me to celebrate many more women in my day in a little way."

A bridal party
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34."Make sure the venues, caterers, DJs, etc. have someone else's phone number for emergencies! We only gave them our numbers and didn't have our phones with us during the ceremony or photos. We were on our way to the reception when we found out there was no power at the reception hall. It never occurred to either of us that we would need another emergency contact."


35."If you can, take off for the honeymoon right after the wedding! It was the freaking best and a great way to destress from the wedding."


36."I had a surprise wedding, which means that we only invited four people, and told them not to say a word to anyone else. We spent $300. My mom spent $700 on our hotel room (absolutely was worth it, btw). My sister-in-law spent, like, $200 on our dinner. Afterward, we spent $75 on custom postcards to let everyone else know we were married. Most people loved it, and only two people were upset and felt left out, which we knew was possible. It was the cheapest and best wedding ever. So I recommend planning small, and in secret. If I redid it, the only thing I would do differently is hire a photographer."


37."You don't have to follow traditions if you don't want to. You might get pushback or people giving their irrelevant opinions, but most people are just reacting to the difference in expectations rather than what you've actually decided. We found that after our wedding, lots of people who were skeptical about some of our choices, ended up thinking it was great because really what's important at a wedding is a happy couple celebrating their happiness with their loved ones."


Do you have a tip you wished you knew sooner while planning your wedding? Let me know in the comments!