Being a bride can be challenging. Planning involves a lot of work and a lot of emotions. It's nice to know other brides have been in your sparkly wedding shoes before you. Want to know what went well? What deserved a do-over? Read on as four recent brides dish on their weddings and share their big-day advice.
*Lallie and Russell
For their May 2014 nuptials, Lallie and Russell remembered their wedding was about the joining of two people and not the small details. The bride recommends keeping the guest list under 100.
"Keeping it smaller made it possible to speak to everyone and made it more intimate for our guests as well," she says.
They married at a private home in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, followed by a brunch reception at a nearby restaurant. The brunch was affordable, and the early celebration gave the couple and their guests time to enjoy the day. The bride's and groom's friends hosted an afterparty that night at a local bar.
Still, Lallie would have changed one thing: not hiring a professional photographer. She hired a friend of a friend and realized after the wedding that the photographer wasn't a pro.
"I wish I had more photos to look back on and remember the day," she says.
Luckily, Russell's and her friends shot some good photos to supplement what the photographer shot.
Lallie's Tip: "This is about you and your future husband and the rest of your lives together as a married couple. ... Seriously, don't sweat the small stuff."
*Ashley and Collin
Ashley and Collin married in September 2013 in a formal barn wedding, in New York's Hudson Valley.
The bride wore a custom Kathryn Conover dress that cost $3,000, a huge savings, since most of the bridal store dresses Ashley liked were over $8,000.
Ashley and Collin served food they liked, such as passed bites, craft beers and local meats. They didn't have a wedding cake, either. They instead served a cheese plate for dessert, because "that is how we always end a meal when we have date nights."
They also saved money by having Ashley's mother craft the flowers.
"My mom exchanged her time and volunteered to help out of her local floral shop in exchange for learning how to make flower crowns, bouquets and boutonnieres, as well as how to make flowers last," she says.
Ashley's Tip: "Plan a surprise for yourself as a bride," she says, suggesting you ask your mother or maid of honor to give you something to wear for the wedding, such as jewelry or a hair accessory. "Just something to make you feel extra special on your big day."
*Jenna and Joseph
Jenna and Joseph married in June 2014 in Bayonne, New Jersey.
"The wedding turned out exactly how I wanted it, and I couldn't ask for anything better," says the bride, whose favorite moment was being at the church and sitting next to her soon-to-be husband.
Jenna's Tip: "When it comes down to making a decision, whether it be big or small, make sure it is what you and your fiance feel is best," she says.
*Michelle and Dave
Michelle and Dave exchanged vows in December 2013, in New York City, where they had two witnesses, the bride's brother and groom's sister. They didn't have a formal engagement party or bridal shower, and they also skipped a first dance and simply enjoyed slow dancing throughout the reception.
Instead of speeches from the best man or maid of honor, the couple welcomed their guests by describing "how we were feeling and then in a humorous way, sort of 'roasted' the room. It was a fun way to introduce our guests to one another and tell everyone why certain people were important to us in our lives."
Michelle's Tip: "Play by your own rules and don't compare yourself or your wedding to others. Not only will your event be even more memorable (but also) bridesmaids and guests will thank you for not putting them through the same dog and pony show they've been through for years."