25 Things Every 20-Something Bride Needs To Know

Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
Since the minute you got engaged, it’s likely been a nonstop stream of decisions. From food and favors to dancing and decorations, there are a million choices to be made in the months leading up to the big day. Even if you’re a super-organized bride-to-be, it’s seriously overwhelming to manage so many moving parts. After all, you’re probably throwing the biggest party of your life. A really fancy party, packed with massive expectations.

Sure, there will be some stressful moments along the way. (That’s what wine and Beyoncé on full blast are for.) But, repeat after me: It will all come together. And it will be a fun and fabulous occasion, even if everything doesn’t go exactly as planned.

In an effort to save your sanity in the process, here is some quality advice from 25 seasoned wedding planners. As professionals who’ve been there again and again, they shared their best tips for getting hitched with as little stress as possible.
1 of 25
Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
Count On Your Bridesmaids
"Ask a bridesmaid to keep an eye on you during the cocktail hour, as you’re mingling with guests. If she sees that someone has been taking up too much of your time in conversation, she can politely get you away and on to the next guest."

— Gilda McDaniel, wedding planner at Fearrington Village, NC
2 of 25
Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
Do Photos Before The Ceremony
"At the Wickaninnish Inn, we suggest a ‘first look’ where the couple sees each other in advance of the ceremony. This allows for them to finish the majority of their photos in advance, so they can actually enjoy their cocktail reception and spend more time with their loved ones who have traveled, sometimes long distances, to share in their special day."

— Danielle Fox, head wedding planner at Wickaninnish Inn
3 of 25
Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
Be True To Your Look
"I encourage brides and grooms to represent their personal style in their wedding attire. This is not the time to wear what you think would please the masses — please yourself. Think of the aisle as your personal runway."

— Lacy Pool of Grayson Elise and The Gown Girls
4 of 25
Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
Don't Forget To Eat!
"Remember: Food is your friend. Have a large breakfast in the morning, and stay away from caffeinated drinks. You will already be hyped up with wedding-day jitters! Pack small snacks for the morning, when you're getting ready, that can keep you filled. Eat between pictures and in the limo — it's going to be a very long day (just don't get anything on that white dress!)."

— Kelly Heyn of SociaLife
5 of 25
Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
Don't Rely On Your Memory
"If you're writing your own vows, have note cards on hand should you become nervous, draw a momentary blank, or lose your place during the ceremony. Also, give an extra copy to your maid of honor or best man for safekeeping."

— Lindsay Rolfson of Perfectly Noted
6 of 25
Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
Put Away Your Phone
"Turn your cell phone off or hand it over to a member of the bridal party. Oftentimes, our own personal cell phone can trigger lots of added and unwanted emotions and add to our stress. That's the last thing you need on your wedding day. So put it on airplane mode and get back to the text messages, Facebook notifications, and work emails after you say 'I do!'"

— Jen Glantz of Bridesmaid for Hire
7 of 25
Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
Be Smart With Gifts
"Save your guests from the dreaded envelope hand-off — and not with a birdcage they can drop it into during the cocktail hour! Instead, include a cash-gift registry on your wedding page so that guests can send their cash gifts electronically — and tastefully — with a beautiful electronic card. Let’s face it, it’s the way we communicate and transact with everything else; why not with the cash wedding gift?"

— Jeff Beil, wedding-etiquette expert and founder of Tendr
8 of 25
Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
Put Yourselves First
"Don't try to make everyone happy. I agree that you should be considerate and act like good hosts for your guests, but you need to create an event that is reflective of you as a couple. It should match your style and vibe. Make the decision based on what you both love, what feels right to you, and then stick to it."

— Regina Cialone of Cloud Nove Events
9 of 25
Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
Be Honest About Your Preferences
"While I understand the indecisiveness thanks to the endless wedding-planning inspiration on Pinterest and hundreds of magazines and blogs, there comes a time when you just have to commit to your plans. Once you have a pattern, color palette, or your inspiration nailed down on your wedding Pinterest board, go with those ideas, stop looking, and be verbal about your decisions. If you aren’t verbal about what you do and do not like about something, your planner and your vendors won’t understand what you are truly looking for, and then you won’t be happy making decisions."

— Miranda Tassi of Chancey Charm, Charlotte, NC
10 of 25
Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
Don't Let Tiny Hiccups Ruin The Day
"Accept what you cannot change. The day is going to fly by...prepare yourself for at least one thing that is not going to go as planned. Do not stress...and just go with the flow!"

— Heather Grabin of Events By AichG
11 of 25
Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
Focus On The Bigger Picture
"Steal moments to express gratitude to one another and to your families. The day will be a blur, so whether it's a private moment prior to the ceremony with just your wedding party, after you cut the cake and address your guests, or during goodbyes with parents before the big send-off, be intentional with when you will want to share thanks and joy. It's an important skill to bring into a marriage, so why not start on day one?"

— Marilisa Schachinger of Martel Event
12 of 25
Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
Don't Get Financially Overextended
"Don't go into debt for your wedding. Determine your budget, and then determine your celebration. For a small budget, have an intimate wedding with up to 25 of your closest friends and family standing by you to celebrate your day at a public place like a park. Hire a photographer for an hour to document your happy occasion, and host a meal, or apps and brew, at a local restaurant or brewpub, making it adventurous by choosing a 'getaway' destination within a couple of hours of home."

— Monique Wilber of Sierra & Sky Weddings
13 of 25
Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
Keep Your Perspective
"Don't have unrealistic expectations, and ditch the word 'perfect.' Instead, choose to celebrate your day and how it unfolds."

— Saundra Hadley of planning...forever events
14 of 25
Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
Be Aware Of Environmental Factors
"While mountain backdrops make for beautiful outdoor ceremonies, be considerate of the high altitude, especially for older guests and other guests traveling from out of state (it's safe to have an oxygen supply on hand just in case). You'll also want to have plenty of water and sunscreen on hand for you and your guests. Even a short amount of time in the sun at high altitudes can cause a pretty bad sunburn!"

— Lauren Groeper, Chancey Charm (Denver), Denver, CO
15 of 25
Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
Make Your Money Work For You
"Couples are forevermore looking for ways to save money on their big day. Merely choosing seasonal blooms helps, but isn't the ideal way for drastic savings. We suggest engaged couples sign up for credit cards that offer great points systems. It may sound somewhat unusual, but the points earned on the amount of expenses for a full wedding can mean you don't have to reach into your wallet during your honeymoon at all."

— Marc Wilson of Weddings by MWD Lifestyles
16 of 25
Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
Divvy Up Tasks
"Delegate! Even if you don't have a wedding planner (which I highly recommend), assign someone you can trust to handle the details. Do not try to do too many intense DIY projects. It creates a lot of stress that ultimately makes it harder to enjoy your special day...so have fun and roll with it."

— Annette Hoegner of Classic Touch Events
17 of 25
Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
Avoid Crowdsourcing Everything
"Focus on your wedding details with your fiancé(e). If your parents or their parents are assisting, let them play a part — for the reception — as the ceremony is a true celebration of the two of you becoming one, and should ultimately reflect your wishes. Also, consider only bringing one additional person to meetings (cake tastings, dress fittings, etc.), as too many opinions can sway your own and can lead to hurt feelings!"

— Jyl Deering, Chancey Charm (Boston)
18 of 25
Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
Keep The Lid On Some Things
"Keep your wedding details a secret. I know you are excited about your wedding and all the wonderful, creative ideas you are thinking [about]. However, don’t tell all. Don’t talk about your wedding obsessively, and don’t post photos of your wedding venue on your website or social media. Just like a great movie, you would never want to tell your mom or best friend the whole story plot and then suggest they see the movie. Don’t reveal all of your creative design ideas to your family and friends. Save many surprises for your guests to keep them on the edge of their seats during the planning process and at the wedding. On your stellar day, let them 'experience' the Oscar-winning performance so you can get the standing ovation."

— Joyce Scardina Becker of Events of Distinction
19 of 25
Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
Choose The Right Vendors
"The planning process can be overwhelming, which is why it is essential for brides to align themselves with a planner, vendors, and designers who will create and manage their vision as if it were their own. It's not just about budgets and what you have heard about the people you work with, but who understands you, respects your vision, and will offer you the support you need in addition to outstanding service."

— Kathy Romero, head of global planning, Preston Bailey Designs
20 of 25
Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
Put It On Paper
"Write a letter to your significant other beforehand, and exchange letters on your wedding day. This makes for a super-cute part of your wedding video, and allows you to really stop and be in the moment, and really feel what is happening between the two of you. It’s so easy to get caught up in the moment of having a big party or celebration, but it’s important to remember what you are there to celebrate — your loved ones and the joining of two. I love it when the bride and groom read the letters right before they have the first look — it makes that special moment 1,000 times more romantic."

— Jessica Janik of The Invisible Bridesmaid
21 of 25
Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
Think Long-Term
"Use the 25-year rule when you have to make a big wedding decision: Are we going to care about this on our 25th anniversary? If you think so, give it due attention. If not, let it go."

— Emee Pumarega of EJP Events
22 of 25
Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
Enjoy The Moment
"During dinner, stop for a minute and take your new husband or wife's hand. Look around the room at all of your guests — this is the only time in your lives when all of these people will be in the same room together, and it's all for you. Feel that love!"

— Chelsea Roy of Everything But the Ring
23 of 25
Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
Shop Around
"When shopping for a venue, entertainment, photography, and all other aspects of your wedding, inquire with three professionals in each category. You will educate yourself and learn a lot about what to look for in each specific vendor. The education is priceless. Then, when the big day comes, you will have no regrets! Also, go into the day confident with all of the decisions you have made. It's too late to change them. The day is here."

— Cynthia Pesce, general manager of the Inn at New Hyde Park
24 of 25
Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
Exclude Stressful People
"Surround yourself with the right people. What makes a great wedding is not how many people are there, but the quality of the people who are there. Easy-to-get-along-with personalities create opportunities for your guests to get to know new people and have a great time, whether they know half of the attendees or just the bride and groom. Don't spend your big day surrounded by people who increase your stress levels. Keep the people who know how to love and support you during tough times in your inner circle."

— Molly Leahy of Blushing Brides
25 of 25
Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
Remember, It's About Both Of You
"Make sure to incorporate the groom and his friends. There are wonderful and celebratory ways this can be done with a customized cigar bar paired with a bourbon or rum station. If you don’t know much about cigars, stick to a brand such as Gurkha Cigars that [has] a wide variety of blends and strengths to choose from, so that any guest can find a pleasing cigar. With the bourbon or rum bar, it is best to also provide a variety so people can sample... These areas can be customized with matches, cigar bands, coasters, etc."

— Maggie Rodriguez of Inspired Events

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