50 Mistakes All Brides Should watch For

Any bride who has spent even just one-afternoon wedding planning likely regrets skipping Excel classes. With dozens of decisions, both big and small, on your horizon, creating a fine-tuned budget, well-planned timeline, and paying extreme attention to detail are key. And since this is likely your fir...

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Any bride who has spent even just one-afternoon wedding planning likely regrets skipping Excel classes. With dozens of decisions, both big and small, on your horizon, creating a fine-tuned budget, well-planned timeline, and paying extreme attention to detail are key. And since this is likely your first time organizing such a large-scale event, it’s easier than you’d think to fall prey to the pitfalls of wedding planning.

So where should you begin so that your planning starts on solid footing? “Once your budget is established, you can make smart decisions on hiring the right team of vendors that work best with your personalities and will execute your vision for the day,” says Sarah True, owner and creative director of Madison, CT-based True Event. “By having these discussions early, it will set the tone for the overall planning and result in less stress as you go through the process.”

Still, even the most vigilant bride can be steered off-course. As you pore over Pinterest, try on gowns, sniff flowers, choose invitation suites, sample cake selections, scout venues and book your honeymoon, refer to this list of the 50 major mistakes brides seem to make while planning their wedding courtesy of expert planners and vendors.

From mistreating your wedding jewelry to overdoing it on beauty products or failing to approximate the right budget, read on to find out the most common wedding planning errors brides-to-be make.

You Don’t Put Yourself First

Before tapping into Pinterest, buying magazines or bookmarking blogs, take time to think about the type of celebration you want. Do you envision a black tie evening affair, or a more casual daytime party? “List your priorities out,” says Mary Thornton, owner and event planner at Party Party in Fairfield, CT. “What is most important to you? Are you a foodie or is music your thing?” This kind of pre-planning will make both selecting a venue and setting a budget much easier.

Austin Gros Photography

You Don’t Consider Your Guests

Your friends and family will likely travel and at considerable expense 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. If your wedding is a weekend-long destination affair, arrange group activities both the night before the wedding and the morning of, time permitting.

Abby Jiu Photography

You Buy Your Gown Before Choosing the Venue

Before booking your bridal salon appointments, make sure you know the type of wedding you’re planning and where. “Yes, you can wear whatever you want,” says Ashley Douglass, owner and creative director, Ashley Douglass Events, “but if you purchase a low-key gown and you end up booking The Plaza, you may wish you went bigger and bolder with the venue in mind.”

You’re 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 your limiting their sharing the festivities on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram on the days preceding and following your wedding.

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You Rule Out a Wedding Planner Altogether

The most stressful planning period? The week before the big day. That’s when handfuls of unforeseen details arise, leaving some brides sorting out spreadsheets instead of connecting with friends and family. Avoid this by hiring a “week of” or even “day of” planner. He or she will handle last-minute vendor meetings and put out fires so you don’t have to. If budget is a concern, some planners even offer hourly services.

Courtesy of Julie Song Ink

You Include Your Registry Info on Your Invites

It may sound old fashioned, but word of mouth is still the best way to loop everyone in on your registry. Make sure that those closest to you (your parents, his parents, the wedding party) have your registry details handy because they will likely receive phone calls and emails from inquiring guests. Another way to easily share registry details is via a wedding website with a distinct URL.

You Announce Your Engagement Too Soon

Remember to 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 if they’re long-distance, by phone or Skype (so they see the ring!). Then change your Facebook status. And after the outpouring of congrats, be sure to post a quick thank-you to the well-wishers.

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You Fall Victim to Crash Dieting

Instead of drastically reducing calories and abstaining from whole food groups the month before your wedding, adopt a healthier eating plan six months before the big day so you slowly arrive at your ideal weight.

Christianne Taylor

There’s a Large Time Gap Between the Ceremony and Reception

If your ceremony and reception are at different venues, do your best to minimize the in-between time, which may leave guests with nothing to do. If a large time gap is inevitable, make sure they are entertained or have the option of being entertained by planning an outing or setting up a hospitality lounge, with drinks and snacks, at the hotel where they will be staying.

Christianne Taylor

You Feel Obligated to Rock an Updo

Never worn an updo a day in your life? You don’t have to start on your wedding day. Wear your hair in whatever style makes you feel prettiest. If that means an updo, great. If you’d prefer an intricate fishtail braid you found on Pinterest, go for it. If it’s simple waves, let your hair down.

You Misplace 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.

Jacquelyne Mae Photography

You Skimp on Wedding-Party Gifts

It’s important to thank your attendants with a tangible gift to show your appreciation. Sit down with your fiancé and consider what you’ve been asking financially of your wedding party. Many spend upwards of $1,000 on flights, attire and hotels. You’re certainly not required to match what they’ve spent, but the amount should convey a sincere gratitude for how much time, effort, and money they have put into your wedding. As a rule of thumb, something between $75 and $150 should suffice.

Kyo Morishima Photography

You Don’t Feed Your Vendors

The last thing you want on your wedding day is a low-energy DJ or an exhausted photographer. So plan on feeding any hired hands who will be working during the reception. This includes your wedding planner, photographer, videographer, and DJ or band, plus their assistants (but not your florist or the ceremony musicians). Work their meals into your budget and consider it part of their fee. (Many vendors stipulated in the contract that the couple is to provide a meal.)

Harrison Studio

You Mistreat Single Friends

Sure, weddings are a great place to meet people, but don’t throw all your single friends haphazardly at one table. Instead, 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.

Brinton Studios

You Don’t Say “Hello” to Everyone

These days, most couples forgo the formal post-ceremony receiving line. Instead, make it a point to circulate among the reception tables after dinner. If you’ve got 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. Another idea is to hand-deliver your wedding favors as you make your table rounds — it’s the perfect way to catch everyone. Just make sure to keep moving and don’t get held up at one table for too long.

Courtesy of Rifle Paper Co.

You Send Thank-You Notes Late

Let’s set the record straight: You do not have a year to mail your thank-you cards. Instead, for gifts received during the engagement party and 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.

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You Put Your Bridal Bling in Harms Way

“Remove your ring when cleaning or touching harsh chemicals,” says LA-based jeweler Susan Foster of Susan Foster Jewelry. “Bleach and other cleaning agents can dull the finish of a ring and actually harm porous colored gemstones like emeralds.”

You Elope Without Thinking It Through

Thinking of running away to Europe to tie the knot? Don’t forget to swing by your local city hall first. “Make sure you check off everything on the legal to-do list,” says Lindsey Nickel, founder of Events, Etc. “Remember, you still need an officiant and a witness to be legally married in the U.S. And many countries have different residency requirements in order to be married there (officially), so don’t forget to get your marriage certificate at home before you jet off.”

Lilian Haidar

Then You Downplay Your Elopement…

Just because you’re eloping doesn’t mean that the day isn’t special — it’s still your wedding and there is reason to be excited and celebrate. “Don’t forget to indulge in the bridal aspects of your day,” says Nickel. “Get a special dress and a bouquet and perhaps even set up a table, complete with your dream centerpiece and a bottle of champagne for dinner for two.” When you return home, announce your elopement to family and close friends.

Erich McVey

You Set Predictable Tables

Chances are you and your guests have attended countless weddings with uniform, round tables topped by a single floral arrangement. Add some personality by changing it up. “The room looks more interesting when each table is different,” says San Francisco-based Studio Choo’s Alethea Harampolis. Try experimenting with table shape, alternating round, square and rectangular tables. Then mix larger vases with small groupings of greenery or bud vases with a single bloom.

Jill Thomas Photography

You Forget the Power of Paper

We’ve conceded many great things to the digital realm, but physical invitations and thoughtful, hand-written thank you notes will never go out of style. Enjoy the process of designing them with a talented stationer, or editing them yourself with premade styles. But either way, make them special!

David Kepner Photography

You Overdecorate

While you may be tempted to adorn your tables with odds and ends reminiscent of your backgrounds, travels and interests, remember that tasteful, well-placed arrangements impress without cluttering or overwhelming your guests’ view.

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You Limit Yourself When It Comes to Wedding Dresses

When trying on gowns, remember that not every style dress flatters every figure. Piece-meal gowns, for example, or those in which “the bodice is one style and then the hip or skirt is a completely different fabric or texture… don’t transition smoothly and can visually cut the body in unflattering ways,” explains Kleinfeld Bridal’s fashion director Terry Hall. Likewise, thin fabrics such as silk charmeuse or chiffon skim the body and tend to magnify every little detail.

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You Get Ring Envy

Every bride has a different idea as to what her dream engagement ring will look like. Once you have that shiny stone on your finger, don’t start comparing your ring with anyone else’s.

Vue Photography

You Invite Non-Wedding Guests to Your Pre-Wedding Parties

The bridal shower is intended to be a celebration with the bride’s nearest and dearest, so every shower guest must already be on the wedding guest list. The only exception is a workplace bridal shower, in which a large number of coworkers pitch in and contribute to an office celebration. (If an office shower involves only a few coworkers, thoughtful couples may choose to include these colleagues in the wedding guest list.)

Christina McNeill Photography

You Don’t Do Your Floral Research

Read up on flower cost, temperament and fragrance before you select your arrangements. The peonies you love may be cost-prohibitive if you are getting married when they are not in season, and lilacs, gardenias, lily of the valley and hydrangeas may wilt in the hot summer sun. Don’t put perfumey flowers like lilies on the table since they can overpower the food. If you must have them, carry them in your bouquet.

James Michael Photography

You Don’t Carve Out Enough Time for Hair and Makeup

“The time spent getting ready should be as relaxed and fun as possible, but once you find yourself behind schedule the pressure can build to catch up,” says Bruce Plotkin, a New York- and Connecticut-based wedding photographer. Work on a day-of plan with your hair and makeup pros then pad the time your wedding party has with each to ensure you’re properly photographed before you embark for the ceremony.

Phindy Studios

You Think 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 and how to prepare a meal on a large scale, when to serve different courses, and how to accommodate guests with dietary needs or restrictions. Plus, when things go wrong (like running out of ice), you won’t be left assigning your uncle to dash to the nearest store.

You Go Trendy With Your Lipstick

Skip the trendy, red carpet looks, says Jody Formica, resident makeup artist with Laura Mercier, and opt for you, but better. “Nude lip color is all the rage, especially when paired with a smoky eye, but nude can make your lips completely disappear, especially in the group photos,” she says. “Consider a neutralized color that has a fresh kiss of berry, peach or rose, enough to distinguish your lips from your the rest of your complexion.”

Courtesy of Fairchild Archives

You Get DIY-Happy

Tempted to cut your budget by playing florist and photographer? Think again. Tackling your own flowers means you’ll be buying and arranging your stems the morning of your wedding, then delivering them to your venue when you should be relaxing with family. And while your cousin may have thousands of Instagram followers, she’s unlikely to capture the lighting, get an assortment of candids or anticipate the day’s flow the way a professional photographer would.

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You Overschedule Your Photographer

While a detailed list of the day’s schedule and the who’s who for family portraits is essential, if you micro-manage your photographer, you miss out on unplanned shots that are essential to a great album, says Bruce Plotkin, a New York-and-Connecticut-based wedding photographer. Instead, once you’ve provided the photographer with these basics give him leeway to capture the best shots without having to check on a list throughout the day or night.

Love is a Big Deal

You Overcomplicate Your Invites

Brides often stuff their invitations with hotel contacts and maps for their out-of-town guests. Save the paper and the hassle by sending a group email to out-of-towners, which can include information on hotels, restaurants, directions, points of interest and more. Guests can print the information if they choose, or simply pull it up on their smartphones when they arrive in town.

Courtesy of New Line/Neal Peters Collection

You Forget to Set Parental Boundaries

Most brides experience some conflict with her parents or future in-laws during the planning process. It’s not an easy conversation to have, but the earlier you discuss what’s bothering you — the better. Make time to talk to your mom or MIL in person, and open by thanking her for the nice things she has done for you. Follow with a frank explanation why her decisions or actions are causing problems. Take a firm tone — not an angry one. (Vent to a friend beforehand to let it out.)

You Skimp on Ring Insurance

“Insurance is necessary to protect your financial investment in the event that something gets lost, stolen or damaged,” explains jewelry designer Sylvie Levine. “It is also important to have your jewelry appraised every five years as the cost of diamonds and precious metals go up. If you were to lose something which was appraised 10 years ago, the insured value would be far less than the actual replacement cost.”

Laura Murray Photography

You Forget to Eat

Too many brides forget to feed themselves and the bridal party on the wedding day. It’s important to pre-arrange more than just nibbles for your entire crew — especially if you aren’t primping in your own home. You’ll want enough sustenance so you’re not feeling light-headed or faint during the ceremony.

Jen Philips Photography

You Don’t Match Your Bouquet to Your Dress

Heavy, awkward bouquets are impossible to clutch gracefully, and 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.

Fred Marcus Studio

You Don’t Think Beyond “Per Head”

Couples often build their budget around a per head price, forgetting the extras — flowers, band, photographer — that aren’t included in most venue’s packages. These extras can often double the per head price, sending coupes way over-budget. Instead, think in terms of a fixed total and divvy each element by a percentage of that amount.

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You Overdose on Hair Product

It’s tempting to load up on lotions, serums, and sprays, but greasy hair isn’t exactly an ideal look under your veil. Limit smoothing and anti-frizz products to a few drops and go easy on your roots. (Since it’s right near your scalp, that’s where hair is naturally greasiest.) On the night before your wedding, skip the intensive hair masks, and instead, shampoo your hair and condition only the ends. Your hair will much easier to style on your wedding day.


You Allow a Free-for-All With the Toasts

Some guests often misinterpret a “toast” to be a “speech” and they talk forever, cutting into a couple’s well-laid schedule. The best way to make sure you don’t lose valuable dance and party time is to pre-plan the toasts with your wedding planner or MC. That will ensure the microphone is somewhat controlled and not just anybody can get up and babble. This is also an important way to avoid “roasts” by inebriated guests who should know better.

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You Don’t Account for Hidden Costs

From last-minute seamstress charges to cash tips for deliveries, most brides wrack up hundreds in extra fees the week before the wedding. While it’s logical that some surprise charges will crop up, spend some time creating a spreadsheet of anticipated week-of fees so you have the correct funds at your disposal.

One and Only Paris Photography

You Don’t Consider Your Venue While Planning Your Décor

It is important to consider your reception space when designing table schemes, lounge areas and floral arrangements. If you have a large windows with a fabulous view, make that a central part of your décor. Don’t go crazy spending money on other things when the venue is already gorgeous.

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You Overdo the Spray Tan

If you opt to spray tan, practice a couple times the month before your wedding. This will allow you to find the right formula, and adjust it, and gauge how long your tan will last. Also make sure your makeup artist is aware to ensure your foundation is consistent with the spray-tanned rest of you — you may even need to play with body bronzer to give you a seamless glow from head to toe.

Kina Wicks Photography

You Only Have 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; this will allow you to keep unopened bottles which you can return, if allowed in your state.

Dennis Kwan Weddings

You Don’t Schedule Maintenance Appointments With Your Jeweler

“It is very important to schedule maintenance appointments with your jeweler at least once a year to make sure the prongs are tight, the diamond isn’t loose and there are no hairline cracks in the shank,” says Foster. “All around maintenance is vital.”

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You Ignore Your Brows

Some brides focus exclusively on their eye makeup, forgetting their face-framing brows. If you don’t regularly have yours shaped, find an aesthetician at least three months before your wedding so you can take several test runs with enough time for re-growth. Then schedule an appointment a week before your walk down the aisle to allow for post-waxing or threading redness to subside.

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You Put Your Ring Through Needless Wear and Tear

“A diamond is one of the world’s hardest natural materials,” explains Adelaide Polk-Bauman, a diamond expert with Forevermark, “but that doesn’t mean a cut and polished diamond cannot chip. Sometimes the table of a cut diamond can be susceptible to wear and tear. Be sure not to knock it against other hard materials.”

Corbin Gurkin

You Ignore Your Folks

Chances are, your parents are contributing some funds. That means they will want a say in the planning. Make a list of the no-compromise details you and your fiancé are unwilling to forgo on your wedding day. If parents are paying, that doesn’t give them the right to veto these decisions. But if money comes with the condition that mom and dad have final say, be prepared to lose those funds if your vision doesn’t fit theirs. Be proactive and prevent bruised egos by including moms in your planning from the get-go. Invite them to dress fittings, ask for their opinions on cake design, and take advantage of their talents — have them design a monogram or advise on the menu.

Love is a Big Deal Photography

You Try to Cover Up Eyesores

It sounds counter-intuitive, but you may call more attention to that emergency exit if you try to hide it with tulle and large planters. Instead, decorate spaces you want guests to see, like the entrance to your venue, escort-card table, and bar.

Roey Yohai Photography

You Forget About the Volume of the Music

While you’re rocking out to Rihanna, your guests may be struggling to speak to each other. “Make selections that appeal to everyone, and conduct a sound check before the guests arrive into the room,” says Greg Jenkins, founder of Bravo Productions. “If those who opt not to dance can’t carry on a conversation, then the music is too loud.”

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You Can’t Let the Little Things Go

Many brides can count on at least one hand the details that did not go according to plan. The key is to let them happen and enjoy the day. “Once the venue is determined, the vendors have been selected, and the guest list is finalized it is important to remember that ultimately you are a host to massive celebration,” says Sarah True, owner and creative director of Madison, CT-based True Event. “If you can ask yourselves ‘did our guests have a great time?’ and the answer is ‘yes,’ then chances are you had a great wedding.


Credit: Brides