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Offer any bride a complimentary time machine included in the cost of her venue and the answer is almost always going to be yes. Despite the endless planning, research, and reassurance from friends and family, the thought that something might go wrong can cripple even the most calm and collected brides-to-be. Some things in life just run smoother after a practice run, and while you don't get to do your big day twice, these brides of weddings past have already walked in your shoes.
To make sure you spend where you need to and save where you don't, we called upon a few lovely ladies to divulge what they absolutely loved about their wedding and the one thing they would've done differently or without.
Bride: Jessica Loder Occupation: Respiratory Therapist
Venue: Tendenza, Philadelphia, PA Photographer: ME Photo & Design
Love it: “A videographer! We were not sure if we were going to have one because it was definitely an expense but now that we have it, I'm so happy we did! It was worth every penny.”
Leave it: “Our venue had a lot of small details available for us to use either for a small fee or free — such as table numbers, a birdcage for gift envelopes, etc. In hindsight, I would have used what our venue offered. It would have saved us not only some money but certainly time. It also would have been one less thing to pack.”
Bride: Kelly LeVeque Occupation: Holistic Nutritionist and Health Coach at Be Well by Kelly
Venue: Our Lady of Mount Carmel & Bacara Restort and Spa, Santa Barbara County, CA
Photographer: Sargeant Photography
Love it: I would have spent twice as much on our wedding planners, Sterling Social. The evening was flawless and the entire year was a stress-free dream. The SS team is known for orchestrating a high-energy evening with dance sets between courses and special moments for the bride and groom. They knew we wanted a rowdy party and suggested JB Project from West Coast Music and our dance floor was on fire all night.”
Leave it: “Sterling Social really helped us budget and I don’t have any regrets. If anything I would say watch your flower budget. We were really good about budgeting but I maybe would have spent less on bridesmaids' bouquets and cocktail hour arrangements.”
Bride: Clare Rosenfield Occupation: Sr. Account Manager at Google
Venue: The St. Regis, Atlanta, GA Photographer: Anna and Spencer Photography
Love it: “I spent a lot more than most brides on a fabulous hair and makeup team who not only made all of my bridal party look amazing, but the ladies stayed by my side the entire day! They quite literally followed me around with makeup and hair ‘tool bets' around their waists, touching me up whenever I needed it. I have never felt like more of a celebrity than having my own glam squad. They were worth every penny and made sure I was picture perfect throughout the night.”
Leave it: “I created my own photo booth with custom vintage props. As much as my guests loved the photo booth, I should have spent half the amount that I did on props or just went with a company that provided props as part of their photo booth package. People did not use the photo booth enough to warrant the amount of money I spent on props that will never be used again!
Bride: Jenna Coppola Occupation: Hair Stylist at Hair by Scott & Co.
Venue: The Club at Boca Pointe, Boca Raton, FL Photographer: Adam Opris Photography
Love it: “I really loved everything. The engagement shoot, the videographer, and especially the photographer. I will have those pictures for life so I'm happy I have them to show my kids one day.”
Leave it: “I think it's ridiculous to go crazy with money for invitations because everyone opens them, reads them, and throws them out.”
Bride: Raina Shah O'Boyle Occupation: Manager of Business Intelligence at Ovation Corporate Travel
Venue: The Place on the Lake, East Brunswick, NJ Photographer: 1314 Studio Photography
Love it: “I would say splurge on a good DJ or band! Our DJ (DJ Guarav) was amazing and long after our wedding was over everyone kept telling us they had so much fun dancing at our wedding and it was the best wedding of their summers.”
Leave it: “We went over budget on centerpieces that didn't even come out that great. If you're a bride that's okay with no flowers then I would suggest opting for branches, flora, or candles. Trust me, no one is going to remember! They'll be too busy dancing with the awesome DJ.”
Bride: Dani Pascarella Occupation: Founder & CEO, Invibed
Venue: The Breakers, Palm Beach, FL Photographer: Muñoz Photography
Love it: “We ordered personalized LED foam sticks off Etsy. It cost $150 for 100 and it's a great way to get guests on the dance floor. Even people that don't normally dance will get up for the chance to sway while waving a glow stick in the air.”
Leave it: “My veil. In the bridal store they sell you on the idea that you need the best because it's your special day so I went all out with a hand-made one covered in sparkles, beads and lace. I probably wore my veil a total of twenty minutes during the ceremony, and none of those expensive details are captured in my photos.”
Bride: Chelsea Tinslay Occupation: Strategy Associate at JP Morgan
Venue: Central Park Conservatory Gardens & David Burke Fishtail, NY Photographer: Denis Gostev
Love it: “We spent a big portion of our budget on food, but because we opted for a lunchtime reception we were able to snag a great deal at a fancy restaurant we otherwise never would have been able to afford. It was within our budget and our guests loved the food and mimosas.”
Leave it: “We hired an officiant, but since we wrote our own ceremony, it basically worked out that we paid someone to read a 10 minute script and sign a paper. I wish we'd instead signed the paperwork in advance at City Hall and then had a friend or family member ‘officiate' on the big day. I think that would have felt like a more intimate and special ceremony.”
Bride: Beatrice Mintzer Occupation: Real Estate Agent
Venue: Embassy Suites by Hilton, Deerfield Beach, FL Photographer: Unveiled Moments Photography
Love it: “We had save the date magnets made with photos from our engagement shoot. It was definitely worth the extra money. People still have them on their refrigerators three years later!”
Leave it: “Something I could have done without were the sparklers for our guests to hold as we exited at the end of our reception. We also released Chinese lanterns, and those outdid the sparklers.”
Bride: Nina Lacher Occupation: Attorney, Blogger at The Law of Fashion & COO of Mattress Helper
Venue: Epic Hotel, Miami, FL Photographer: Alina M Photography
Love it: “Our ‘Day Of' wedding planner was totally worth the money. If you can't afford a wedding planner, and I certainly didn't have the budget for it, a day of wedding planner is a great addition to your list of vendors. She made sure everything ran smoothly on my wedding day, made sure all the vendors were there and brought what they were contracted to bring, that everything was set up and that everyone had what they needed.”
Leave it: ” If you have a clear idea of the type of music you want and even the songs, you need to communicate that with the DJ way prior to the wedding. I don't think my DJ had a clear understanding of the kind of music we wanted so we had to make a lot of requests during the wedding.”