Photo by Art of Love
My husband and I are taking a mini getaway for our anniversary this month. It's been 9 years since our wedding and 6 years since I started Shore to Please Weddings. Over the years I've seen so many weddings and each one of them were unique in their own way. It is hard to not look back on my own wedding and think about what I would have done differently. Overall, the changes I would make are minimal because I absolutely loved my wedding day and my wedding venue- Congress Hall in Cape May. I wanted to share the 5 things I would have changed from my wedding in case it helps you make a decision you've been going back and forth on!
Make your Wedding Day About You
Often couples ask me if they "need" to do something. Whether it be a traditional wedding element or some other part of the day, my answer is usually "no, it's up to you". I think your wedding day is all about you and your partner! That said, I do remember feeling like there were things that I had to do or couldn't skip. I remember at the time feeling that way about a bouquet toss and the cake cutting.
My husband and I also aren't people who like to be in front of an audience. We like to do things privately. I think if I wasn't so concerned about doing what I thought I was supposed to, I would have held a private ceremony and then invited our friends and family to join us for the reception. So, my takeaway for you is that there is no wrong way to do things- do what works best for you and your partner and make the day work for you guys!
An Officiant Friend
If we were to keep our ceremony on-site with all of our friends and family like we did, I would have a friend officiate the wedding instead of a stranger. I loved our officiant and she was awesome in terms of customizing our ceremony to what made us both feel comfortable. However, I do think there is a huge personal element when the officiant knows you. I think it would have made us feel a little more comfortable and I think it's enjoyable for your guests as well to see that you have a personal connection with the officiant. I talk more about Selecting Your Officiant in our Wedding Planning Guide article.
Just because they are a tradition doesn't mean you have to include it in your wedding. There are a few things I would have changed up tradition wise for my wedding and I encourage all of our couples not to feel pressured into any tradition.
Favors- I gave out taffy favors which I thought was fun since it was a Jersey Shore wedding. If I were doing it over I would have went with food on the way out for guests instead (maybe a food truck!). I think a snack at the end of the wedding is such a fun surprise.
Reception Entrance- 9 years ago everyone was introducing their wedding party into the reception coupled up. There was a lot of pressure to think of a fun dance or entrance for you and your partner. Now, the trend seems to be sending the whole wedding party in together. I love this for so many reasons: less pressure on your wedding party, less awkward for them, less to think about (Band or DJ pronouncing names etc) and it takes up much less time.
Cake Cutting- Now I always ask couples: Do you want to cut the cake in front of people with a song or just off to the side without drawing attention? I wish I knew the off to the side thing was even an option!
For more on which traditions you might want to consider if you should keep or ditch, check out our Wedding Planning Guide article.
I love my wedding photos and working with my photographer, but now that I have worked with so many different photographers I would have put a little more thought into selecting one. I now realize there is a broad range of photography style and editing. Some are light and airy while others are earthy and moody and there's a lot in between in terms of editing styles. There are also different overall styles when it comes to the type of poses and photos that the photographer captures.
The two biggest things I would have done differently in terms of finding a photographer are:
Figure out which style I like the best and then look for photographers that match
Talk to more photographers to see whose personality meshes with ours. You are with your photographer for a huge chunk of the day and you want them to make you feel comfortable! On that note, it's always good to do an engagement session with them too as a warmup (another thing I didn't do).
For more on finding a photographer, check out our Wedding Planning Guide article.
Invitations, Save the dates, Escort cards, menus, ceremony programs, itineraries...the paper goods can add up quickly. If I were doing it over I would have skipped my ceremony programs. It was a 15 minute ceremony and looking back, our guests definitely didn't need a program for that. I also would have gone with a seating chart instead of escort cards- much less work and can be cheaper depending on the route you take (just remember to order by Last name, NOT by table unless it's a really small wedding).
So, what would I have used my paper savings on? I would have splurged on a unique invitation with a water color painting of Congress Hall, our venue. Congress Hall is such a unique venue and one that I still love so much and visit very often. I would have loved to have it on our invitations.
For more on working with an invitation designer, check out our Wedding Planning Guide article.
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