13 wedding regrets and redo ideas from real-life married couples

 

I’ve seen it all over my 14 years as a wedding photographer in Cumbria – the good decisions, the naive planning, and the downright stressful situations.

Even if their wedding went off without a hitch, I would hasten a guess that most couples would change a few of their wedding plans if they got to do it all over again.

Why not use their experience (and yep, a few mistakes) to help guide you when planning your own wedding?

So I asked some of my lovely previous wedding photography clients for their best advice – these are the top wedding planning tips from real-life married couples (and a few from me too).

1. Don’t invite people to your wedding just because you feel obligated

“Only invite who you want to invite (in our case, no one 🤣)”

“Don’t invite every man and his dog. Focus on having a better time with a smaller group of people.”

Often there’s pressure to invite people to your wedding that you don’t really want there.

But guess what – you don’t have to invite them. It’s your wedding day, and you should be able to share it with your nearest and dearest, not a bunch of people who are practically strangers.

You don’t have to invite your Nan’s nextdoor neighbour just because they invited you to their wedding and your parents say you should, and you don’t have to let your mate bring a date you’ve never clapped eyes on.

Think about who’s supported you both throughout your relationship, and whose faces you want to see smiling back at you after saying “I do” – and it’s totally fine if that’s just your 2 witnesses.

 

2. Don’t feel that you have to follow wedding traditions

Most couples wish they’d done their own thing instead of following outdated wedding day traditions. Of course, follow them if that’s what you truly want, but don’t forget that it’s ok (and totally bad-ass) to break the rules.

You don’t have to do a receiving line, you can spend the night before together and get ready on the day of if you want to, you don’t have to have a first dance if you hate dancing, or a cake cutting moment – you don’t even have to have a cake.

Your wedding is about you, so please skip the stuff that isn’t your thang.

 

 

3. If you’re DIYing, leave yourself plenty of time

If you’re planning to make anything for your wedding yourself, start doing it at least 6 months before you think you should.

Inevitably, making things takes longer than you think, and other life stuff always gets in the way too. Also, sometimes you just want to kick back with a bit of juicy Married At First Sight Australia drama, instead of hand painting signs for your wedding day.

Believe me, I’ve heard some horror stories about people being up the night before their wedding, trying to finish some ambitious DIY project, so make sure you get those decorations, wedding favours and photobooth props made well in advance.

 

4. Don’t cave in to wedding pressure

“Be true to what you want and choose what reflects you.”

“You can’t please everyone – it’s important to do what you want to do, not what others ‘advise’.”

Everyone seems to have strong opinions about weddings, but really, the only opinions that matter are yours and your partner’s. I’m sure you’ll get a lot of unsolicited advice and feel a certain amount of pressure from society, social media or family and friends, but y’know, you don’t actually have to listen to it.

Many married couples realised after the big day that they couldn’t please everyone anyway, so they might as well have followed their own wedding dreams.

Your wedding should embody you guys as a couple. Pop in aaallllll the personal touches, and focus on the things that mean the most to you.

 

5. Budget for your most important things

There’s no easy way to get around the fact that weddings can be pretty pricey, and if married couples were to do it over, they’d throw their money at other things.

Have a think about what’s important to you as a couple, your non-negotiables, your priorities, and make sure you put enough cash aside to make that element really unforgettable.

Are you both major foodies who need to have the best wedding breakfast imaginable? Do you have a specific wedding venue in mind that you cannot scrimp on? Or perhaps you fell in love over your love of live music, and want a really good band to play.

Just going to slide in here and say that I know I said follow your gut and I am a little biased, but spending some money on a great wedding photographer or videographer who fits your style is worth every penny.

We want you to be able to cherish the memories of your wedding day, and those photos will be looked back on for years to come, and handed down through generations – everyone loves looking at old family photos, right?

 

Hidden River Barn Quirky Wedding Venue

 

6. Leave yourself 20-30 minutes between getting ready and the wedding ceremony

“Don’t try to cram everything into a super tight schedule.”

This is a point I highlight in my blog, The ultimate 11-step wedding day timeline from a wedding photographer of 14 years, because so many couples wish that they had left themselves more time.

Rushing during the last 20-30 minutes of your wedding morning is pretty stressful.

Heck, rushing anytime sucks. It’s so much nicer to be ready earlier, so you have time for a drink and can relax a bit and take everything in.

 

7. Ask wedding guests to put their phones away during the wedding ceremony and speeches

especially your closest family members and friends.

An unplugged wedding is gadget-free – your guests do not get their phones or cameras out to take pictures, only your professional wedding photographer is allowed to capture your special moments on film (or SD card).

As a wedding photographer, I’ve experienced mothers of the groom video the entire speeches with their phones covering their faces. It’s a lil frustrating, as these are the emotional moments and reactions that I want to capture so you can enjoy them for years to come.

Married couples want to look back on their fond memories of their wedding day, and they feel so disappointed when instead of seeing their family and friends, they see phones, cameras and even iPads covering faces.

Tell your loved ones you’d rather they spend their time being present and enjoying the special moments with you, and promise them that you’ll send over the beautiful photos or videos taken by the professional wedding photographers and videographers you’ve spent your hard-earned cash on.

I’ve written a whole blog post about why unplugged weddings are such a great idea and how to make sure your guests oblige – have a read of Unplugged weddings: easy tips for 2023 from a wedding photographer for my expert advice 😉

 

 

8. Enjoy your wedding food, drinks and entertainment

A lot of couples are so busy on their wedding day that they barely give themselves a chance to enjoy their canapés, let alone the wedding breakfast. It’s often a big regret of theirs, especially after spending so much time deciding what to have.

Carve out some time for eating and enjoying your food, especially as you might not have eaten much during the morning due to nerves.

You don’t have to spend your entire wedding day chatting to guests – they want you to savour your food too.

Also, if you laid on games for your wedding guests, managed to book that band that you really wanted to play at your wedding, or have a DJ playing all your favourite songs, make sure you have fun and enjoy these things too.

 

9. Plan in some time to yourselves on your wedding day

Although wedding days can often be 14-16 hours long, the couple often doesn’t get any time to themselves, as it’s such a whirlwind. A lot of married couples wish that they’d taken more time to be present with each other.

After your couples photos, why not allocate 15 minutes alone together before carrying on with the rest of your day?

It’s so special to have that downtime to really reflect and check in how each other is doing, catch up on your favourite funny moments throughout the day, what you’re looking forward to, and have a little smooch without all eyes on you.

Take a moment to truly just be with each other, appreciate the commitment you’ve just made to each other, and bathe in that lovely, gooey just-married glow for a few minutes.

 

Bride with red hair and black leather jacket over her white dress stands with her groom's arms around her from behind, he's whispering something silly in her ear to make her laugh. They stand under green leafy trees.

 

10. Don’t worry about the weather

The weather is one of the only things you can’t control on your wedding day, so try to have a backup plan with your venue if you’re envisioning any parts of your wedding outdoors. Most wedding venues in the UK will be used to having to do this, for obvious reasons…

We’ve just got to accept that here in the UK, rain is pretty frequent. And if you’re planning your wedding months or years in advance (which is usually the case) there’s absolutely no way to tell what the weather will be doing – you’ve just got to go with it.

So many married couples experienced a rainy wedding day, and will tell you that it didn’t put a dampener on the day.

If rain is forecast for your big day, just make sure everyone comes prepared with brollies, and remember that in some traditions, rain on your wedding day is considered lucky.

Rainy photos can turn out really gorgeous too – trust me. Overcast days create lovely, soft light, which is super flattering.

(insert rainy wedding pic here)

 

11. Buy excessive confetti for spectacular wedding photos

This is a biggie for a wedding photographer, as the more confetti you have, the more fun and spectacular your photos will be. Many married couples will tell you: whatever amount of confetti you’re thinking of buying, you should at the very least double it, maybe even quadruple it.

If you want natural confetti at your wedding, you’ll need to buy quite a large amount for it to show in photos, or buy larger petal confetti. Check out the confetti from my favourite colourful confetti supplier Flutter, Darlings!

 

 

12. Wear mega comfy shoes on your wedding day

I get it, shoes can be a big deal to some couples. If you really want to wear sky-high heels or brand new shoes, a great tip from married couples is to break them in by wearing them around your house.

Make sure you choose a pair of wedding shoes that not only make you feel elegant and beautiful but that you’re also going to feel comfy in all day too. Weddings are usually pretty long affairs, often with a lot of standing, chatting and hopefully lots of dancing too, so you need to feel good in those beauties.

On their wedding days, once the group photos were out of the way, many couples wished they had a spare pair of shoes ready to change into, to give their feet the luxury they deserve – comfy shoes are way better for dancing in too.

You’ll be on your feet most of your wedding day, so go for super comfortable shoes if that’s your style. Trainers, Converse or Dr Martens can look so cool as a wedding accessory.

British wedding shoe designer Diane Hassall says, “Comfort is super important on your wedding day, but don’t worry, comfortable shoes can be super stylish too! If you have a budget set aside for your wedding shoes, I would advise you opt for the best quality you can afford.

Shoes with leather linings and soles are the best choice in my opinion, as they’re generally softer and more flexible, and will ‘give’ a little.

If your budget is limited and you’re concerned about comfort, I’d suggest you wear your shoes at fittings or at home to get used to the fit.”

 

 

13. Wear a wedding outfit that feels like you

Wedding outfits need to be comfortable in another way too – you need to feel like yourself in whatever you’re wearing. You don’t have to wear a big poofy princess dress or a 3-piece suit if that’s not your vibe.

In my 14 years as a wedding photographer I’ve seen all sorts of fantastical and individual wedding outfits, bold colours, unusual patterns… all sorts.

Married couples would advise you to take your time when deciding on an outfit – don’t be pressured by salespeople or your loved ones.

Another thing to note is that your wedding day outfits will get dirty, so just embrace it. It doesn’t matter if your outfits are less than immaculate by the end of the day – you can get them dry cleaned.

I’ve had brides wear cathedral length veils who’ve ended up carrying their veil on their arm for the entire day, which isn’t the best look for photos. Embrace the day, along with the weather and the photos will be amazing.

It’s also a fun idea to choose a wedding outfit that can be reworn or remade into something else after your big day.

 

There’s a lot to remember when planning a wedding, but hopefully these wedding planning tips from real-life married couples who have been there and done it (and in some cases, got the t-shirt) will give you the confidence to plan your wedding exactly how you want it.

While you’re here, have a browse of my other blog posts – I’ve got a whole heap of advice about wedding photography, sustainable weddings, wedding favours and table decor, and LGBTQ+ weddings too.

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