What would you have done differently on your wedding day?
I put this question to a handful of newly-weds and almost all of them said,‘Nothing, it was perfect.’ But after giving it more thought, they had a handful of ‘buts’ to share with me. So, if you’re planning your wedding, listen up.
Guest list woes, tasteless themes and slack speeches
A few of the couples would’ve put their foot down when it came to inviting certain relatives to keep the family peace. And you would, too, if one of those relatives fell asleep on the lawn while everyone else was having photos taken (true story).
Another popular answer, specifically from the brides, was they’d take a different approach to wedding favours, colour schemes and flowers. Because their tastes had changed. Whereas the grooms wished they’d thought harder about their choice of best man – or wished they’d given them clearer instructions on what not to do – because, even though it got a laugh, telling the groom’s Nan about how he got drunk and peed on her carpet isn’t cool. Not even in the best man’s speech.
A change in appearance
It’s fair to say there are a lot of things people would do differently. After all, planning a wedding isn’t easy. But there was one thing almost all of the couples agreed on. If they could do their wedding day all over again, they’d change something about their appearance.
One of the brides wished she’d chosen a dress with an easy-to-undo bodice, because every time she wanted to go to the toilet, she had to drag her sister with her. And Rachel, who had a blowy September wedding, said this: ‘I had my hair down so I looked a bit wind-swept in some of the photos. In hindsight I should’ve worn my hair up.’
When I asked her husband Glen what he’d do differently, he said he wished he’d worn black socks instead of grey ones. To go with his suit. Typical male comment, but a fair one at that. After all, you want to look your best on your wedding day. It’s the day you make a life-long promise to your partner in front of all your friends and family while a photographer gets pictures of you from every angle.
That extra bit of planning time
Other things that came up included eating and dancing more, and putting aside that extra bit of planning time.
‘I wish I’d taken more time off before the big day,’ says Hannah. ‘I didn’t have much annual leave so I only took two days off. Luckily, my hubby Nick had a whole week. But I felt bad leaving him with a to-do list every day.’
And Mark said something similar about his and Rosie’s big day: ‘I should have found more time the night before to hang out with my ushers and best man, instead of doing last minute preparation things.’
When I asked the couples if they regretted any of these things, they said no. These were niggles that wore off over time. They weren’t things that affected their overall experience, memories or feelings on the day.
But it was a bit different for two of the brides I spoke to.
Pushed-for-time photos and a bride that wasn’t herself
Despite having plenty of great photos, Victoria wished she’d spent more time on them: ‘When the photographer asked us if there were any more photos I’d like her to take, I politely declined as I didn’t want to pull anyone away from the event. I was conscious of making sure everyone had a really good time. And as a result, I have no photos of me and my best friend who travelled all the way from Saudi to be part of our day.’
And Jen explained to me how she ended up compromising who she was to become the ‘perfect bride’ depicted in so many bridal magazines:
‘When I was planning our wedding I got swept up (as many brides do) in the ‘ideal day’ that the magazines force upon you. I felt very in-control in terms of planning the day itself, but I lost sight of the bride I wanted to be.
‘I thought I had to look the same way as the magazines and blogs to be the ‘perfect bride’. And for me this meant growing my always-short hair out and wearing it in a fancy up do. The day I realised I regretted this was when I showed someone a picture of me and they said they didn’t recognise me!’
An important thing to remember when you’re planning your wedding day is that it’s your day, and you should make it yours in both the party and the way you feel. That might mean being a bit selfish or bossy, but it’s not every day you get married.
What would you have done differently on your wedding day?
Be realistic and have no regrets
Planning a wedding is about being realistic. It’s nothing short of rocket science, and chances are there’ll be things that’ll slip through the net. Whether it’s remembering to plan a big enough space for a group photo, not having spare time the night before or wearing the wrong socks.
And there’s bound to be something you’d do differently, too. Your hair. Your wedding favours. The guest list. That’s hindsight for you. But make sure that, when it comes to looking back on your big day, only the tiny niggles are on your list. And not the bigger things you might regret.
So, dig your heels in (politely), be true to yourself and demand another round of Oops Upside Your Head from the DJ, if that’s what you want. Just don’t cut corners on anything that’ll taint your memories.
About the author – Jo wigley
Armed with a first class honours degree in English and Creative Writing, Jo juggled two internships. One involved writing print and online material for a ski magazine, and the other involved running creative writing workshops for kids at the Ministry of Stories. She loved them both but the holes in her pockets started to expose flesh. She quickly landed a job as a writer at The Writer where she learnt a lot and wrote for brands like Dove, Pronamel, RBS, BT, Mavic, Atomic, Lastminute.com and The Financial Ombudsman Service. Over two years later, she decided to go it alone. And she’s been residing in freelance land ever since where she trains people to be more effective writers at work and writes for John Lewis, Peldon Rose and Secret Escapes. She also runs food tours around London and is in the middle of writing her first kids’ book.