Wedding planning can have its ups and downs, and sometimes the only way to get through the hard parts is to hear that you're not alone. To help you tackle everything from buying your wedding dress to choosing the reception meal, we asked five recent brides to share their very best pieces of planning advice. Let their experiences guide yours.
"Make sure you're very detailed when explaing which wedding dress styles you like and how you envision yourself looking on your wedding day," suggests recent bride Avery. "Bring pictures of dresses and looks that you love and be open to new ideas. I had my mind set on a white, long-sleeved, lace gown and ended up leaving the store with a blush pink wedding dress with a sweetheart neckline!" She says brides-to-be should try on at least five different styles to get the best understanding of what complements their specific body type. And never—ever!—try on a dress that exceeds your budget. "As much as you may love it, and just want to see how it looks on, just don't do it. It's a recipe for heartbreak," she adds.
Maryalice, another recent bride, can't stress enough how important great food is at a wedding. It shouldn't just be tasty though—you'll also want to pick options that are universally appealing. "You might want to forgo the fancy prime rib and roasted chicken and serve more unexpected food choices instead," she says. "Nobody will miss the bland vegetable medley and pats of butter shaped like flowers, but everyone remembers a delicious plate of barbecue."
Your spouse-to-be wants to be included in wedding-related decisions. Just take it from new bride Emily, who says that although your future husband may say, "Whatever you like is fine!" he may actually have tons of great opinions and ideas. "Have conversations about what you're planning and what's important to them on the wedding day. For instance, my husband always dreamed of wearing a kilt on his wedding day. It was important to him because his family is from Scotland and he knew it would mean so much to his parents and grandparents," she explains. "The look on their faces when they saw him before the ceremony was priceless! The men on his side of the family wore kilts, and I still get so many compliments to this day on how unique and special that was for the guests to see."
Making and sticking to your wedding budget is one of the most difficult parts of wedding planning. Like many brides, Ashley explains that making a spreadsheet was crucial in staying on track. "Include all the different components that will make up your wedding day. Talk with your fiancé and create an estimated column of how much you're willing to spend on each item and then create an actual price column to help you stay on track once you start planning and paying for things," she says. "This will help keep you on budget and make the experience less stressful and more enjoyable."
Everyone wants their wedding to be a reflection of their relationship, and new bride Erin says the best way to do just that is to choose details that say something about you, your future spouse, and your love story. "Include details that embody your relationship. It's your time to celebrate everything fun and unique about your love! Don't focus on what you think others might want. You do you," she says.