What I Wish I’d Known

Illustrations by Charlotte Trounce

Put some serious thought into assembling your bridal party.
“My bridesmaids turned out to be very arbitrary by the day of the wedding. It was this random group of friends, some of whom I wasn’t as close with anymore but felt obligated to include. Friends whom I’d become much closer with weren’t involved. And unfortunately, feelings got hurt. If I did it again, I would have it be our relatives only—a much clearer division. There doesn’t have to be this cutoff of who’s important and who’s not.” —Abbie Rose Pappas, Married October 2012

Get references for a venue.
“I wish I had done more due diligence and talked to other people who had gotten married at the venue I chose. They might have told me the woman I’d be dealing with was crazy and hard to work with. She didn’t want to have a contract. She badgered my mother into buying flowers from her. And she changed the prices on us; up until my parents handed her the check, she wanted more money than we agreed on.” —Jessica Balnaves, Married September 2013

Hire a Videographer.
“I decided not to go with one and I really regret that. I love my photos. They’re wonderful. But it would have been really great to see some of the things you miss when you’re in the midst of the day.” —Jessica Lawrence, Married April 2013

Don’t forget about transportation—for everybody.
“Maybe it was because it seemed like a boring detail at the time, but I didn’t give much thought to finding cars for people or booking a bus to go from the church to the reception. Then on the day itself, you realize—especially for our parents’ friends and out-of-town family—you don’t want to just tell them, ‘Get on the subway!’ Because I hadn’t planned this in advance, I was dealing with it right before the wedding, which was stressful. There were problems finding available cars; a lot of places were booked. At the last minute, we booked a bus. We probably paid more for it than we should have, but at that point it just needed to get done.” —Allegra Laviola, Married October 2013

Never reveal your real budget.
“Before we got married at the New York Academy of Medicine last year, we went in there and said, ‘This is our budget.’ So the guy drafted his budget to meet our high-end. Had I known how flexible these rates tend to be, I would’ve started out with a way lower number.” —Mabel Ko, Married November 2013

Be clear about your dress code.
“On my invitation, I didn’t specify ‘black-tie.’ I thought people would just dress up for a wedding in the city. I didn’t realize it was going to stress some of the older guests out. I was trying to be nice—like, ‘Don’t worry, you don’t have to wear a tuxedo.’ But that had the opposite effect.” —Jessica Niakan, Married August 2010

Give your photographer a list of shots …
“Write down all the people you want in the photos, as well as where you want them. In the end, we didn’t actually have a photo of me and my husband together! We have a lot with the girls and both of the families, and then we have the boys. But crazily, not just the two of us.” —Anne Koch, Married October 2013

… And don’t schedule photos right after the ceremony.
“Our photographer took a lot of group pictures during prime hors d’oeuvre time, and we missed out on most of the food that we had been salivating over for months.” —Jackie McLean Strack, Married June 2013

During the planning process, periodically ask yourself: “Why?”
“You watch shows like Bridezilla, and you’re like, ‘These people are crazy.’ Then you get into it yourself and … It’s not that I personally was throwing cakes or doing stuff like that, but it all became a real roller-coaster ride of emotions bringing these different personalities together. Try to remember that this is probably one of the only moments in your life that you’re going to have the most important people with you for a significant amount of time. I found myself saying, ‘I need to have cardboard cutouts of my cats!’ Why? Probably because I saw something on a wedding blog and thought it was worth my time. But it totally was not.” —Allie Shartle, Married June 2012

Listen to your mother.
“Being queer, I never really thought marriage was for me. But when we decided to go for it, I wanted something that was very, very low-key. But my mom really twisted my arm. She told me, ‘You’re my only son. Whether this is your first marriage, or your only marriage, I want to be there.’ I’m very close with my mom, but I hadn’t considered how important that was. She also said, ‘You should have a little party. You should have wedding rings.’ All these traditional rituals—I didn’t think I’d have to subscribe to them. She twisted my arm, and I’m glad that she did because I’m looking back on the wedding and it was one of the sweetest, most memorable nights of my life.”—Wil Petre, Married September 2013

What I Wish I’d Known