Wedding

I’ve Got Questions!

I have so many wedding/marriage related questions. This is such a weird time to get engaged, which I’m sure is adding to my emotions on everything. (I weirdly even feel guilty at times for being so happy and excited? It’s hard to wrap your mind around the fact that life still goes on even when the world seems to be on pause and good things can still happen even when terrible things are also going on?)

Because this is obviously so new to me, I’ve been leaning on my friends who are married to ask a thousand questions. Would love to have you guys weigh in too. I will say, I don’t think there’s any right or wrong answers, by the way. Zero judgement. Just curious! I’ll pop what I’m thinking/leaning towards below.

Do you wear your ring all the time?

The first week I had my ring I was terrified to wear it. We were also at Mike’s family’s lake house, so honestly I barely wore it because we spend so much time outside and by the water. The next week of being home was a mix of forgetting to put it on sometimes, getting distracted every time I looked down, and lots of looking down to make sure it was still there. I am used to wearing rings on my right hand, so it felt weird to have one on my left! BUT it’s starting to feel more second nature. I’m not sleeping, doing dishes, showering, working out, etc with it on though… Curious what everyone else does! Maybe as I become more used to it, I’ll get more relaxed.

Did you change your name?

I’m planning on it– we’ve talked about it a lot and Mike is more attached to his name than I am to my own. We both like the idea of having the same last name as a family. I also think Carly Riordan sounds cute 🥰 I know some women drop their given middle name and replace it with their maiden name or go for four names, but Heitlinger is long… and doesn’t quite work as a middle name in my opinion. And I love Abigail so right now I’m leaning towards keeping Carly Abigail, dropping Heitlinger, and adding Riordan.

Did you have a small, medium, or big wedding?

The pandemic is really dictating what we’re doing. We really have no idea what to do, when to do it, how to do it… Do we do something small and something big later? Do we do something tiny? Do we just completely wait?

What’s the best thing you did for your wedding day? Anything you regretted?

Can’t really answer this yet, but would love to hear from you!

Would you go back and change anything?

Again, can’t answer this myself yet.

How many wedding dresses did you try on before finding “the one”?

I tried on five gowns this weekend and fell in love with the third. I haven’t completely committed to it yet because it just feels like a ton of money to spend on a dress I’ll wear once? I am torn. I will say that I enjoyed trying on gowns a lot more than I expected to. I almost went alone, but at the last minute brought two of Mike’s sisters. Because of social distancing, I could only bring two people in, so I had everyone else (Mike’s mom, my mom, my sister, and two of Mike’s other sisters) on FaceTime. Putting on a veil is what made me cry– I didn’t think I wanted to wear one until I had it on my head– and I ended up loving a dress COMPLETELY different than what I thought I wanted!

What kind of honeymoon did you take?

A little absurd to even be thinking about travel, but… just for fun at the moment. Did you do something adventurous? Something relaxing? Did you stay close to home or go somewhere farther?

Did you do anything unique? Tips? Advice?! Something I’m not thinking about but should be?!?!

(I will ask kindly to not share any horror stories 😂 My DMs have been blowing up with bad stories and nightmares and it’s just adding to my already-high anxiety ha.)

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355 Comments

AC

Re: Size of wedding, I have had two friends do two different things I thought could serve as some inspo!

One decided to get married (and host the signing of the papers, do a first dance, etc.) via Zoom, and then they’re going to have the actual IRL party with everyone on the first anniversary of their marriage.

Another friend decided to do a tiny elopement ceremony (I’ve even seen some wedding companies move towards ‘elopement boxes’, where they partner with vendors and ship everything a couple would need) essentially at their home, and then will have the larger party a year from now as well.

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Kathleen

I changed my name. I moved up in the alphabet.

I take my rings off at night. I find my fingers swell. Find one place to put your rings. I have a spot in my closet. When I travel, I put them in my glasses case. It doesn’t matter where. Just pick a safe spot and stick with it.

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Olivia

Hi Carly, congrats on your engagement! How exciting. My sister got married at the beginning of the year and I loved how she and her now-husband did it. For various reasons, they had a small ceremony on the Thursday evening with around 30 people. We’re from a big family so it was basically just immediate family, grandparents, godparents and a few friends. The ceremony started at 5pm (it was summer) and we then had a beautiful and intimate dinner afterwards at the same venue. It was so nice! Everyone got to talk to each other and it just felt really special. Then, on the Saturday night at a different venue, they held a party for all their friends and family. There were about 100 people at this event and it was so great to celebrate and dance with everyone. There was less pressure, no formalities besides a speech and they still got to celebrate their wedding with all their loved ones. I loved the whole thing because it meant the celebrations went over a few days. After the ceremony and dinner on the Thursday, we still had another event to look forward to. My sister didn’t want a big wedding either and this was the perfect compromise. I’ll probably do the same thing if I ever get married, ha! Good luck with all the planning xx

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Emily

Sounds like how Krista from Covering the Bases did it too. Such a great idea for SO many reasons. Really ideal for people traveling!

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Kayla

One thing we did that we are still so happy about is – a first look and posed photos with our bridal party BEFORE our ceremony, so then after the ceremony, we could participate in the full cocktail hour. It is one of our favorite memories, and doing this also allowed us more time to make sure we saw and chatted with everyone we invited, which was very important to us – hate going to a wedding where you just wave to the couple in passing lol!

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Valerie

We did the same last summer, and it was wonderful!

I got married last year and I can look back and say, we made it through and I wouldn’t change a thing. I wanted to write after your earlier post about wanting a smaller wedding, but Mike wanting a larger…my husband and I were the same. We met in the middle. We actually did our vows on Friday in a small beer garden with only our immediate family, then a small lunch followed by a happy hour after for local friends, and on Saturday we had our large formal party at an art museum. So wedding was under 20 people, but party was about 120. It worked out great, and I got to have two dresses, a summer tea dress for the vows and formal gown for the reception. And so many great picture opportunities. It isnt traditional but it worked out for us. It also made the event last all weekend instead of rushing it all into one day, which quickly becomes a blur. We slowed it all down, really got some time with our friends and family and spread it out (it was basically Thursday-Sunday with rehearsal and morning after brunch) .

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Ana Maria

Congratulations Carly!! We had a medium wedding and the only thing I regret is my photographer not have an assistant with a camera. You just get better coverage of the event.

Some tips of things that we LOVED: videographer was a must. The day is a blur and this is a great way to relive it. A live band makes the reception. I wore my mom’s dress and had it redesigned to fit my style. It was so special and the quality was something that you just can’t find today at a reasonable price point.

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Liz

Congratulations! I hope this can continue to be an exciting time for you even with COVID related concerns.

I wear my engagement ring almost never. It’s tall and I smack it on things so I take it off almost as soon as I get home and I don’t wear it active places like the park with my kids. I went with a more basic wedding band and kept it separate from my engagement ring on purpose. I wear my wedding band 90% of the time.

I also changed my name, I didn’t love my maiden name so that was an easy decision. I do like my middle name so I kept that as well.

Good luck!

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Amy

I won’t answer all, but will answer some!

I’ve been married seven years wear my ring all the time! I just make sure to take it for the regular check-up for chips and it’s always been fine!

I tried on 4 dresses only and went with the very first I tried on! It was totally different from what I thought I wanted too! I didn’t do any veil, just as a personal preference.

I changed my name and while I’m sure it’s simpler that we have the same last name, I don’t really like my married name. It’s hard to spell and pronounce compared to my maiden name. I think in 2020, it’s really a preference thing, and I don’t know many men that have a very strong opinion about it anymore.

Honeymoon–we did an extended weekend the day after to a nearby city, but then a true, 2 week honeymoon in Thailand the following year. I would do this a million times over again! Took a piece of stress away, but we still got to have a mini getaway as newlyweds.

My number one tip I give every bride–agree in advance that you will spend the entire night together. Whether you go big or small, everyone there wants to talk to the bride and groom (understandable, of course!) But if you don’t mindfully agree beforehand that you’re going to stick together, you WILL get pulled different directions! I was the master of ceremony for my besties wedding 2 months before my own and just remember her constantly asking where her husband was, lol. So I went to my own husband/fiance, that night and said, “No matter if Aunt Sally is listing off every ingredient that goes in her pea soup for the tenth time, we’re sticking together!”

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Becky

My sister was super on the fence about a videographer, but we have watched the video so many times- it is great!
My sister in law didn’t get a videographer and always talks about how she regrets it- something I have heard a lot from other people too!

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Allie Meyer

I second a videographer! We almost didnt get one but had a little room in our budget at the end and hired a low budget one to just record ceremony. So happy going on 8 years later that we made that decision.

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Amy

Ring? I’ve gotten more relaxed about wearing it over the years! At first, I totally took it off for everything I should. Now I take my engagement ring off to work (required), shower, garden, at night, and for baking!

Name change? Yes 100%. For all the reasons you mention, including the long maiden name. It makes having kids with the same name easy too!

#? 225.. pretty big. 6 years ago, so pre-pandemic. We wished it was smaller and expanded for our parents… do not recommend.

Best/worst? I worried too much! Get a coordinator (I so wish I had done this and not been so OCD) so that you and your bridesmaids/guests can just enjoy!!! No one knows what anything is supposed to look like except you… just go with the flow. Also, your guests will be where you are. So if you want everyone dancing, you guys have to be on the dance floor 🙂

Change anything? Our reception hall didn’t have A/C and it was 85 degrees out unexpectedly. Your guests won’t remember much about your wedding… they’ll just remember how much fun they had, and surprisingly, the temperature. Haha!

Dress? The first one! No regrets. Tried it on out of state just for fun, and then found it in my home state because I couldn’t take my mind off of it.

Honeymoon? USVI & BVI … a small B&B. Highly recommend!

Tips? It’s YOUR day. Do what makes you happy! Don’t try and make anyone else happy. If it’s what you and your future husband want at the end of the day, it’s worth it! A wedding does not make a successful marriage, but it sure is a fun party!

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Amy

Last thought, sorry! High quality photographer and videographer are some of the best purchases and some of the only solid memories you’ll get from the day. A friend skimped on the photographer and she got blurry photos of her dad walking her down the aisle. Well worth the “investment.”

And, CONGRATULATIONS! Enjoy this season!

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Emily V

I’m so excited for you 😊

I haven’t been wearing my rings during covid, but before I always wore them except for showering and working out. My dress was actually the second one I tried on. I knew the designer I wanted (Amsale), and knew I wanted to be comfortable and ended up with the Newport Ballgown.

Our wedding was about 85 people and that was perfect. We did a family only ceremony and then had everyone else join us for the reception. I don’t love being the center of attention so this was a really great way for us to celebrate with everyone we wanted to. The only thing I’d change is having my bouquet in our wedding photos. It just wasn’t something I thought about so I left it at our venue in water where it waited to be the centerpiece of our sweatheart table.

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Hayley

I just advised Carly to buy an inexpensive dress but Amsale dresses are SO gorgeous. I just googled your dress, love the skirt!

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Meg

First of all, congrats! I am a longtime reader and I am so happy for you! Don’t feel guilty at all about being excited – life has to go on, and I think it is so important to find joy wherever we can!

As to your questions:

-I remember being super nervous about wearing my ring right after we got engaged. I locked it in a safe at my parents house during a beach vacation because I was so scared I would lose it or ruin it with sunscreen! After two years of marriage, I’m way less paranoid about it. My wedding band literally never comes off – I wear it in the shower, to sleep, etc, it’s white gold and diamonds and it has held up perfectly. Pre-pandemic I wore my engagement ring every day, but always took it off to sleep (I shower with it if I’ve already put it on for the day). Now that I’m home most of the time, I don’t put it on, but the few times I have it’s felt really special haha. I think it’s super important to bring both to a jeweler at least once a year to get it checked, and also cleaned – no at home cleaning process can ever match the sparkle I get after bringing it in!

-I did change my name. To each her own, but I liked the idea of creating an identity for my family, and I wanted to have the same last name as my kids. I also kept my middle name because it’s my mom’s middle name as well and I like having that connection to her, plus I love it! (Although I realized after making everything official that if I had taken my maiden name as my middle, my monogram would have been MRS, which is neat 😂).

-We had a medium wedding – about 130. I think it was a good size, I would have liked even smaller, but I have a large family, and can honestly say every person there was important to me and/or my husband in some way.

-Some of the best things we did: having a chill beach day the day before (we got married on Cape Cod) so we got to spend time with friends and family who had arrived early; doing all of our formal pictures before the ceremony – I know some people want that true first look shot as the bride walks down the aisle, but doing them before meant hair and makeup looked good (we got married in July and it rained a little during our outside ceremony) and we got to enjoy cocktail hour with our guests, which meant more dance floor time later!

-Can honestly say I wouldn’t change anything, it was the best day!

-I probably tried about ten total. I had a decent budget for my dress and tried on a gorgeous satin ball gown at a boutique, but it would have been wayyyy too hot and formal for the beach wedding I wanted. I ended up with a very inexpensive dress from David’s Bridal that I absolutely loved and that matched the vibe of our wedding perfectly. Plus I did not feel guilty when it ended up covered in footprints and people’s spilled drinks 🤦🏻‍♀️

-We went to Mexico a week after our wedding. It was incredible. We looked at doing something more extravagant (like Europe), but we ended up at an all-inclusive in Riveria Maya. It was SO relaxing, which was exactly what we needed after all the excitement of a wedding. I know a lot of people put their honeymoon off for a few months, but I’m so glad we went right away while we were still in that post-wedding, newlywed bliss state. (I also got pregnant two months after our wedding, so there’s that 😂).

-Not anything super unique for the wedding itself, but my mom planned my bridal shower for a Friday night at a winery. Everyone LOVED that. It was such a cool change from the stereotypical Sunday brunch (no shade, those are lovely!) but we were some of the last of our friends to get married, so I think people appreciated a different vibe! The cocktail party atmosphere was also wonderful for me, because people were socializing and drinking wine while I was opening presents instead of sitting at tables and I didn’t have to be the awkward center of attention.

I think now more than ever, weddings can be whatever you want them to be, so focus on what is going to make you and Mike happiest!

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Amber

Congrats Carly!! I’ve been following for years and was genuinely so excited to see your engagement announcement. Enjoy the joy and don’t feel guilty!

As far as advice, I would say definitely get a day of coordinator – they save you so much stress and get everyone where they need to be on time! Also, one of my favorite moments from our wedding was the second to last song, we played “Piano Man” by Billy Joel and all stood in a circle with our arms around each other (130+ people, mind you!) and sang all the words. As I’m writing that it feels like that kind of experience is for a post COVID world. But hopefully we are in that world soon enough!

Oh, and, if you do have a bigger wedding, be sure to grab some time together just you two on the day of. We snuck away during dinner to take a walk and it was just so lovely to connect and be like “omg we really are married now!”

Whatever you do – be true to the day/celebration you two want. It’s just about you!

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Katie

Just read this and got chills because similarly one of the best experiences of my wedding was the second to last song played was Billy Joel Piano Man! My husband and I danced in the middle of the dance floor while all 150+ of our guests stood in a circle around us singing and swaying! It was so memorable and meaningful to spend the last minutes of the wedding with literally everyone we loved gathered together! Thankfully some of our friends captured it on video since our videographer had already left.

Congrats on your engagement, Carly! My biggest piece of advice is to do what you want (and your fiancé). Try not to let others opinions that differ from your own sway you from having the wedding you envision, that is when you end up with regrets I feel. Oh and also, be sure to spend time with your husband on the big day. This is especially important if you’re having a bigger wedding. My husband and I had 175 people and did not worry about doing the rounds to say hi to everyone because we wanted to enjoy time together and of course dancing (we tried to say our hellos and thank yous during cocktail hour). Everyone there knew how much we loved them and appreciated them so I made sure they knew they could find me on the dance floor if they wanted to spend time with me 🙂

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Brianna

I only wear my rings when I leave the house with the exception of the beach or working out since they can be lost or damaged. So I haven’t been wearing them too much this pandemic. You probably have already done this but I recommend insuring your ring.

I went to 4 different bridal shops before finding my dress. I actually found my dress at a bridal sample sale at Carine’s Bridal Atelier in Georgetown. My dress was a gorgeous Carolina Herrera wedding dress that was over half off the original price! I recommend looking at Carolina Herrera wedding dresses. They are very classically elegant!

I do regrent not having a videographer at our wedding because it would be nice to have actual video footage instead of just photos to look at.

For our honeymoon we did about a 8 week delayed honeymoon to Mo’orea in French Polynesia. On our honeymoon we did one adventure activity a day (ziplonning, ATV, snorkeling, etc) and then spent the rest of the day relaxing by the pool/beach. I have found this strategy the most enjoyable way to travel. I liked a delay in the honeymoon because it took a week after the wedding to fully recoupedate from all the exhaustion. We did do a minimoon right after the wedding. I would recommend a minimoon if you have a delayed honeymoon. Our minimoon was only 2 hours from our house but it was nice to escape to a quiet cute seaside town for a few days.

We were married two years ago so COVID-19 wasn’t a factor. My recommendation for planning any international travel during this time would be to do it more last minute (a month or month and a half in advance) since everything is changing rapidly and to choose a place that requires everyone entering to get a COVID test to be able to enter.

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Cait

Hey, first thing: don’t ever feel guilty about being excited for you wedding, weddings are exciting! You can be excited for your wedding and still know there’s some heavy events happening in the world, they’re not mutually exclusive 🙂

I wear my ring except for when I’m sleeping, showering, cleaning. It makes me happy to wear it alot.
I kept my middle name and changed my last, same as where you’re leaning. But it’s YOUR name, do whatever is going to make you happy.
We had a big wedding, 250+. We have many friends spread all over the country so we don’t often get the whole gang together.
Get a day of planner! Biggest regret, having one would’ve been so helpful! (although nothing went wrong at my wedding, it would’ve just given me piece of mind)
I tried on probably 15 dresses but couldn’t get my mind off of dress #4. Ended up going back for it months later.
The months leading up to our wedding were so stressful and eventful (a death, a major health scare for my sister, a birth, a graduation, so much travel) so we opted to go sit our butts on the beach in Cancun for a week. Seems kind of boring but no regrets! It was just what we needed. All inclusive and minimal planning.
And something people don’t think of… We picked a venue that was a furnished mansion, so it came with all the decorations and even some floral arrangements. We had minimal decorations to bring and it made set up and take down so much smoother. We just brought center pieces and some framed photos to spread around the house. Best idea ever.

Congratulations!

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Lauren

Top tip: on the wedding day, have some time for the two of you alone. We made this happen by going up a nearby mountain with our photographer just the two of us, and asking him to take broad landscape shots. While the photographer was there, it meant he was quite aways away from us, and we could just be alone for a little while without everyone fussing. We are introverted, private people, but have large families and over 100 at our wedding, so it was special to have some time just for us and meant that while the wedding was ‘large’ it didn’t feel overwhelming.

We also decided that we wouldn’t be taking the time to stop at every guest and say hello, which you can feel obligated to do as the wedded couple! Instead of feeling like we were hosting everyone at our wedding, we decided to treat it as everyone coming to celebrate with us, and knowing it was okay if this was a group experience rather than giving every guest individual attention. This meant we didn’t fall into the issue of not getting time to eat or drink or actually enjoy the party.

And you’re right – there’s no need for horror stories! Your attitude will make the day what it is. Be confident in that.

As for wearing the ring – I wear mine out of the house and bought a specific ring stand to put it on at home, so I always know where it is and it looks pretty. Good for if you get any sudden ‘where is my ring if it’s not on my finger’ anxiety, but want to have it off for cleaning, exercise etc.

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Mimi

Here are the things I wish I had done so many years ago- a father/daughter dance, since so many of my relatives came from out of town, I wish we had a family only meal together before the party with our adult friends, whether it was the same day or a different one, and I wish my finance would not have surprised me with the honeymoon because I didn’t pack the right things at all. The blog, CupofJo, has some wonderful pictures of couples who eloped in NYC. Definitely take pictures and do a bride, mother, grandmother picture, if possible. I wish I had.

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Nina

Changing last names is not a tradition at all in Belgium… my friends, mom, aunts, grandmas etc. all kept their own name. It’s a peculiar tradition to me 🙂

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Malin

It’s so interesting reading everyones comments!
I was surprised to learn that apparently the woman changing her last name ensures sehr will have the same name as her children- here in Germany a baby gets the woman’s last name (if it is different to the man’s) 9 times out of 10 (women also still take care of children in most cases if there ist a divorce, so I guess it makes sense).
Also, engagement rings have just become popular over here in our generation because of USA influence, none of our mothers/grandmothers had engagement rings! Also, the wedding ring is worn on the right hand.
I’m excited for you! Do what you and Mike really want:)

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Etta

I got engaged in January and found wearing the ring really weird at first! I’ve now gotten used to it and wear it everyday, but I take it off in the evening before I do my skincare routine and I don’t sleep, shower, exercise or clean with it on, as I’m still pretty nervous about damaging it. Also I just find the idea of wearing jewellery to bed or in the shower a bit weird?!

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Emily

1- Ring, yes except when sleeping, showering, cleaning and in a pool.
2- Getting married tomorrow!! I’m a teacher so I didn’t plan on it with the kids. Right now I have a short and easy last name, my fiancé has a long and hard to pronounce name especially for kids learning English. So for work I’ll keep my name but when we have a family I want people to call me Mrs. K!
3- because of the pandemic, having less than 50 people, planned for 200 and although I’ll miss dancing terribly and friends, I’m very much looking forward to a more intimate affair, since I don’t like being the center of attention. Then we’ll have a few different parties geographically when it’s safe to do so.
4/5 Will let you know in a few days LOL (but since our guests are traveling in one day because of the pandemic we’re sending them home with “car bags” instead of welcome bags so they can have some snacks in the car) (also don’t assume people read their email or their mail for that matter—we sent a wedding update postcard asking for emails to send updates because we didn’t have everyone’s emails and we missed like one side of a family. Meanwhile now we get stupid questions that I answered and gave instructions in an email, that they would know if they read their email!!! So don’t assume! Or assume for all situations! Also I’m happy we’re doing an insta live, I hope all weddings have that now because I don’t feel guilty sharing that to people I didn’t invite. Lol)
6- I went to bhldn first (loved the dresses online but the models are so tall and on petite me they weren’t great) and left convinced I wanted a pink dress. Then I went to a bridal boutique and tried on 5 dresses and it was my last dress that ended up being the one. But I went back the following week to try it on again and purchase it. I fit into the sample so I got it half off which was really nice.
7- we had planned on going to Italy and had planned to book it in February but needless to say we didn’t. Right now we’re booked to take a road trip to a resort in Vermont. Considered beach towns up and down New England but nothing was working out for our time frame.
8- do you, do you guys. It’s your day and you have to remember that. Time and time again my fiancé and I caught ourselves agreeing to please people and not ourselves. Even last night two nights before our wedding a family member tried to convince us to do something we didn’t plan on and I had to defend MY reasons for our wedding. Also, ignore the nosey people who are invited to your wedding!!! They’ll find out once they’re there. It’s one thing if they’re not invited but if they are, they can wait. Be honest. I had to tell a well meaning aunt to stop texting me a day countdown (again she’s so excited) but to me it was a finite countdowns that caused extreme stress to pack and move. So much stress that I was sick over it. Which again leaves me to the point I made before, do you guys. I still sort of wish our wedding was literally just our immediate families but I know I would miss important other family members so it’s such a catch 22. I think you have more leeway with the pandemic but you still have a bit of “yes you have to invite them” mentality. It was also important to me to be married in childhood church. If that’s not something important to you, honestly plan a micro wedding SOON and have the party later. It’s not worth the stress and anxiety especially at this time. I really hope the pandemic changes the light on weddings for the better. This is from a girl who LOVES weddings and has now planned 3 different weddings in a pandemic.

I hope this helps!!! It goes without saying I can’t wait for tomorrow but I’m also going to be happy this stress is behind me and I can finally breathe again.

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Hayley

Okay SO. I’m so excited for you, to begin! I’ll have been married for ten years this December (HOW?!) I got married before Pinterest which is honestly just so weird to me now…probably made planning easier though?! I bought an inexpensive dress. No regrets. And the range of inexpensive dresses is SO much better than it used to be. You wear it once…I still have it and I have no idea what to do with it. I’m glad I didn’t spend thousands on it because then I’d feel guilty as well as confused when I look at it these days. I kept my maiden name for work and when I went back to uni to get my masters, but I use my married name for almost everything else. Makes zero difference (and in my country you’re entitled to use both without having to do anything legally, unless you want to change your passport). We had a pretty small wedding – 50 people – and it was perfect. We spent up large on food and wine and have zero regrets about that! We had lots of friends coming from abroad, so for the few days before the wedding we rented a couple of houses near the venue and stayed there with our friends. It was amazing, like a four day long party. We were right on the beach…thinking back to that is one of my favourite things. I highly recommend more time with your friends and family, not less! Save on the ‘things’ and spend on the fun. Oh and I wear my wedding and engagement rings always unless I’m showering or lifting weights, I’d panic if I couldn’t feel them…and they’re tough!

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Susan

Congratulations! This is such an exciting time for you two, but also one filled with questions and an added layer of confusion given the state of the world. Nevertheless, it’s a fun time. I suppose that’s recommendation #1 — have fun.
I do wear my ring all the time, though I do recall being a little skittish and/or distracted by it when I first got it. (About to celebrate our 19th, so yeah, it’s been a while!) I wore it pretty consistently from the start, though, and now it’s just a part of me. I do take it off when doing anything super messy, though.
I grew up assuming I would change my name since that’s just what everyone did, and I wanted to have the same last name as any future children. I ultimately did, but it was so much harder than I thought it would be. I like my middle name, and my last name was a part of me, and I couldn’t see giving either up. I ultimately kept all of them officially (which makes it entertaining when I go to vote and have to give my full name…feels very British :)…) Working in my favor was that even though my new last name was longer, my other three are five syllables in total. Carly Riordan sounds adorable!
As for the rest of it, just have fun. Seriously. There is so much to get caught up about, and you may have moments of angst about the details (or not), but just have fun. Maybe that starts with waiting until the world feels healthier and more settled so that you can enjoy the planning with your family, or exploring venues and whatnot. Even small weddings are a lot to plan, so start that when you’re up for enjoying it. I loved the planning part of it — I still have my binder that I used to create my own planner — and looking back there really isn’t anything I’d change. I have more ideas now, but that’s a function of time and distance, and we certainly have more money now, but I loved our it all turned out. It felt very true to us. One thing I’ll say about any reception you have, though, is EAT! I thought that was silly advice people kept giving me, but it really is easy to get caught up in seeing people that you forget to eat entirely. No one wants a headache at their own wedding, so eat!
Enjoy it. Soak it in. Congratulations!

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Sarah

First of all, congratulations!! I’m so happy for you and Mike 🙂
Ring: I have an Art Deco-style ring that is a very broad setting with a lot of small stones. Because of the construction of it, I really only wear it socially, when I know I’m doing something that won’t end with me knocking it against something. I hardly ever wear it at home for the same reason.
Name: I have four names now, but my maiden name was very short. I’m also an only child and the “last” of the family name so it was important to me to keep it. I’m also literally the only woman in my family to keep their maiden name.
Wedding style: very small, with a great photographer. Definitely invest in a photographer you really love and trust. We did a cake-and-punch reception and it let us mingle and talk to every one of our guests! No regrets about the day itself, but if we could do it differently, we would get married at the courthouse (my parents did!) and have a bigger, full-on party reception.
Dresses: I tried on 6 or 7 in a shop, had an allergic reaction to one of them, and ended up ordering a handmade skirt from Lace and Liberty on Etsy! Completely different from the style I originally had in mind.
Random advice: don’t stress about favors. A lot of them just get left behind. Most importantly (I think) do what feels right for you and Mike! Sorry this is so long but I really hope you enjoy the planning process and remember that it’s okay to be living your own best life in the dumpster fire that is 2020.

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Sabrina

Congratulations!

We were supposed to marry in April and postponed to October due to obvious reasons. I am from Germany and even though things look brighter than in April I am still so on the fence as to what to do. We had planned the wedding for 70 people and right now we are simply waiting for another month or so to decide on what we are going to do. So in a nutshell – I absolutely feel for you with being torn between joy and indecision as to how to plan…

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Ann

Ring ? Insure it, that will ease your mind. You will find yourself flipping the stone to the inside of your hand when in public situations. And find a spot that you can leave it when necessary. Name? Ask an attorney on the advantages/disadvantages. I hyphenated on the marriage certificate but use my married name. Dress? Pick a venue that calm serene and beautiful to you both. Then the dress will be what you want. Wedding? It’s a joint decision Never skimp on the food especially the cake no matter how small. Honeymoon? Make a list of places you both want to see and take multiple trips. So much more fun than one and done. Finances? Check with you accountant/attorney. Clarify who’s responsibility is who’s. Marriage? It is where you both start a life together and your family takes 2nd on both sides. Never ever abandon your one group of friends that are not family but are there to listen and not judge as issues will arise.

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Angel

So excited for you! I got married last summer and had the wedding of my dreams. So much of this is highly personal. Everyone’s style and wants are unique! Still, here’s what we did.

Ring: we both wear ours all the time. The jeweler says you’re way more likely to lose it taking it on and off than you are to damage it through daily wear. Exceptions are very rough activity – like a mud run or lifting weights.

Name: I kept my middle name as-is and swapped my last name for his!

Size: our wedding was 80 guests, which felt HUGE to me until I attended a 200 person wedding. I had enough time to visit everyone and still dance and have fun.

Favorite thing: my husband and I met through theater and we LOVE broadway, so we took dance lessons and learned a choreographed showy dance to “DeLovely” from anything goes. It was so much fun because it was something special we share. We also loved doing a First Look. It made the rest of the day so smooth.

Would I change anything/regrets: we had a really small budget ($10k) so I let my mom make the decorations and she and her sisters set up the reception venue. Because she was so stressed and busy, she missed helping me put on my dress. I would definitely change that.

Dress: okay, I’m probably crazy but I knew I wanted a 50’s style dress (think Mrs.Maisel) so I ordered mine on Etsy for $500! It was the only dress I tried and I wouldn’t change it.

Honeymoon: we did a staycation, mostly due to budget. We planned on going to Japan this year for out 1 year anniversary, but it’s been pushed back due to COVID.

Tips: follow your passions! Do whatever feels like “you and Mike”. My husband and I each picked our #1 non-negotiable thing and held firm on those. We were flexible with the rest and that made planning so much more fun.

Oh, one more thing! Our ceremony and reception were at the same venue. Best decision! No wait or travel time between.

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Marie M. C.

I wear my engagement ring all the time (since 1964!) — except when I get in the shower. Then it gets too loose from the shampoo. I wear it when I’m doing the dishes but I always wear rubber gloves. I’ve afraid if I take it off to wash my hands in case I’ll leave it behind in a public place — which I did one time. Happily no one stole it! So I’d recommend wearing it all the time — just clean it regularly and it will twinkle, twinkle.

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Marie M. C.

Oops forgot. I do take it off when I put on hand cream. And congratulations! p.s. I’d go with a small wedding ceremony and a big party later when the Covid 19 crisis is past.

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Liz

I also take my ring off when putting on hand cream, which reminded me of a tip for feeling secure wearing and traveling with my ring: my engagement ring can only be in one of 4 places. If I’m not (1) wearing it, it is (2) on a silver ring stand of my grandma’s (at home, on my nightstand); (3) around the pen I am writing with at my desk (if I take my ring off to wash my hands or put on hand cream at work); or (4) in a little blue velvet jewelry box (if I’m traveling). It is always one of those 4 places!

Congratulations on your engagement! I’m sure whatever you plan will be great. Personally, I’m delaying the wedding I planned for this spring until September 2021, because my partner and I decided a socially distanced wedding without hugging or dancing was not for us. If next year it’s still not safe, we’ll do a zoom wedding and throw an incredible 5th anniversary party, or something.

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Kelly

Congrats on your engagement!

I got engaged in Oct 2019 and because I had so much work travel planned for summer/fall 2020 (ha!) we actually planned out a wedding for ~130 people September 2021. I live in MA so that will only be possible in Phase 4, when there is a vaccine. If I was engaged today and/or hadn’t planned anything, I would honestly consider 2022 or maybe late fall 2021. But of course it is up to you! If the 2021 wedding cannot happen due to COVID, we plan to elope and then do a larger vow renewal/party when it become safe.

I don’t wear my ring all the time. At the beginning of quarantine, I probably went a month without wearing it because I was nervous about it picking up germs/the virus and also because I was washing my hands so much. I never sleep or shower in it, but I was working out in it pre-COVID as I would go straight from the office to the gym.

I plan on changing my last name. If my spouse had a difficult/embarrassing/long last name I wouldn’t even consider it. Like you, I’m excited because my first name is Kelly and my initials will go from KET to KEL. (Similar to your CAH to CAR). I literally cannot wait to monogram KEL on everything. I joked with my friends that even if I don’t legally change my name I plan to socially change my monogram. (I also have 4 brothers, so the family name will live on).

My mom hates shopping (weird, I know) and I did not want to spend an arm and a leg on a dress. So I actually bought a dress on Poshmark! It still has the tags on (BHLDN) and was under $400. Since I live across the country from my family, I plan to Facetime my mom when I get it fitted.

Best wishes! I can’t wait to see how it turns out!

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Megan

First, congratulations to both you and Mike!!

Rings? I work in an industry that requires workers to have non-conductive jewellery so I actually switched to the rubber wedding bands (Enso?) a few years ago and use the “real” rings for special occasions.

Name? I decided to take my husband’s name when we got married, for a lot of the same reasons you listed. It’s nice to be a family unit, even without children.

Wedding Size? We had a small wedding with ~65 people attending. We wanted a smaller wedding so that we could provide the best experience for our guests. It was also nice that we picked smaller venues and were able to “fill them”.

Best Thing? It was really important to me that we have a “good” photographer.

Regrets? Not really, there are always small things you wish you’d done differently but really none of it matters 5 years later.

Change Anything? Make sure you have someone on water duty for you – after the ceremony I was so thirsty (it was summer and I usually drink a lot of water in the day) and I was so thankful that our transportation ( a family friend) thought to bring water and granola bars for us.

Wedding Dresses? I think I tried on less than 10 between two appointments. I learned a lot about what I liked in a dress and what I was willing to compromise on. I had been convinced I couldn’t wear a dress with a larger skirt because I am on the shorter side but that’s what I ended up picking. My main advice is make sure you’re comfortable in your dress…oh and that you can go to the bathroom without help!

Honeymoon? We went to Walt Disney World for a week. It was important to us to go away after. I know a lot of couples who postponed their honeymoon for a few months later (for whatever reason, weather, money etc.) but I felt like I needed the time just the two of us after to process what just happened.

My best advice, agree to only the traditions or elements that you and Mike want. Want to wear a vail? Go for it! Want to wear a tiara? Go for it! Want to walk yourself home in your wedding dress (true story, I insisted on walking home since our reception venue was two blocks from our apartment)? Have at it! Want to forego speeches (also what we did, my husband and I said a thank you but we didn’t do the traditional speeches from the wedding party.- something my MOH was thrilled with)? Great! Whatever you choose to do will be amazing and special because its you and Mike, everyone else is just happy to be there.

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Caity

Congratulations! Even with so much negativity going on right now you’re absolutely allowed to celebrate the good things, and should!

Ring – I took mine off for sleeping, dishes, working out, etc., when I first got engaged, then my SIL told me “they’re made to be worn” and now I pretty much only take it off when swimming. It’s a platinum band so it holds up.

Name – I did what you’re considering, and I love that it made us feel more of a family unit, and definitely wanted it for when we have kids. The process was annoying but not that hard. Your name, your decision though!

We had just under 100 people and it was the perfect size – big enough to have most of our family/friends and for it to feel like a party, small enough we could still spend time with everyone.

Best tips – splurge for a good photographer (photos are all you’ll have after the event!), get a day of coordinator, even if you don’t need a full planner (my mom and I did all the planning but the day of coordinator was a life saver so we could relax), save money by ordering flowers online, especially the ones less important (bridesmaids’ bouquets, etc.) and re-use bridesmaids bouquets for centerpieces. Soak it all in and enjoy the day!

The first one I tried I knew was “the one”.
I tried on several more at that store and went to one other store but I knew. It is so fun though so take your time! I wish I’d gone again even though I knew my dress, just for the experience!

We got married in CA, and did a drive down the Pacific Coast Highway with stops along the way. It was lowkey and perfect! We’d been looking at Hawaii or somewhere else further, but planning a wedding and a big honeymoon was so overwhelming.

Our wedding was pretty “basic,” nothing unique but also that’s okay! Do what you want – whether it’s something totally unique or an average wedding. It’s your day!

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Caity

Oh one more tip – dance lessons! We took a few dance lessons before to learn our first dance which was A) necessary, and B) so fun and a great activity to do together while wedding planning

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Kali Murphy

1. I wear my ring unless I’m at the beach, gardening or working out. I have the prongs tightened and bands polished annually to keep my bridal set looking great!
2. Yes, I changed my name – I changed my middle name to my maiden name & took my husbands last name.
3. We had a big cathedral wedding! We both have huge families so it was fun to include all of the children in our families and we will both cherish the photos of our extended families all together. However more people often equals more opinions, so be prepared.
4. Although I had 10 bridesmaids, I had my photographer do a few getting ready photos with my mom, sister and me only before bringing in the bridesmaids. I also did a 1st look with my dad. It was great to have quiet moments with my immediate family before the ceremony & the photos are truly special keepsakes.
5. My wedding day was exactly what my husband and I wanted! My only regret is not saying “no” and setting boundaries with certain people earlier in the planning process.
6. I visited at least 5 bridal shops with no luck. I would like the bodice of one dress and the skirt of another, so I ended up having a dress customized to create the look I was going for. I loved the end product!
7. We honeymooned for 2 weeks in France & Spain! We both love history and art and were quite busy in Paris, but we slowed to a relaxing pace as we worked through the vineyards, beaches and restaurants of Southern France and Spain. It was a truly remarkable trip and we can’t wait to go back for our 5th anniversary.

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R

I wear the ring 99% of the time and only take off, well, honestly I can’t remember taking it off for anything but volleyball on the beach.

I did not splurge on a super expensive dress and it was lovely and I don’t regret it.

Didn’t you want a courthouse wedding before? If so, I’m sure a smaller to medium size wedding would suit you!

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Loren Grace

Hi Carly!! In my experience, you get completely used to wearing the ring and it will become something second nature that you don’t think about as often- just in those pinch me moments when you realize you’re getting to marry your best friend all over again.

I went to 5 wedding gown stores and fell in love at the last place! I think it’s a worthy investment as this is the day you will probably feel more beautiful than you ever have in your entire life! Quality matters.

My favorite thing I did was have a seating chart at the wedding. It gave structure that people welcomed! It’s so awkward when deciding where to sit.

Congrats again, and you will be a beautiful bride!!!

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Megan

Do you wear your ring all the time? Nope – especially not my engagement ring! I wear my wedding band most of the time, but I only wear my engagement ring occasionally right now. I never wear either ring while showering, sleeping, working out, swimming, etc, and you really shouldn’t because it isn’t good for it!

Did you change your name? No. I love my last name and felt strongly about keeping it. Socially, some people call me my husband’s last name though.

Did you have a small, medium, or big wedding? Big – 250 ish people. I don’t necessarily recommend it and would go smaller if I could do it over.
What’s the best thing you did for your wedding day? Anything you regretted? I am glad we skipped traditions that didn’t resonate with us (bouquet toss, garter toss, having a big entrance at our reception, etc).

Would you go back and change anything? Yes. I think it’s really important to think about how you feel at other big events/when there’s a lot of focus on you, and adapt accordingly. Also hire a planner!!!!

How many wedding dresses did you try on before finding “the one”? I think about 10? I went shopping once by myself (Went to one store) and one with my mom (went to two more stores). I had stumbled upon a picture of my dress online before shopping and really liked it but I thought it was too expensive/too fancy for my more casual wedding. But then when I was shopping with my mom I tried it on and it turned out that there was a sample size of it on sale in my size so it felt like fate!
What kind of honeymoon did you take? We went to Argentina about six months later!!! I recommend doing a quick trip soon after the wedding to relax and doing a bigger trip later. It also spreads out the amount of planning you have to do at one time, as well as the amount of time off you need to take.

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Ashley Baxter

Congrats on your engagement! We just got engaged a month ago and I’m really enjoying reading all of the comments here. We are planning a micro wedding in December – no bridal party and just immediate family so just 15 total. We didn’t want a long engagement and WFH has provided me with some extra time to plan. I have all of the big items/vendors booked. Our venue is in a remote area. I’m excited for our small, intimate wedding. While the guest list is small we are getting exactly what we want because our budget goes a lot farther.

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Erin

We eloped at the court house on a weekday, and it was the sweetest. I look back on that day with such happy memories.

BUT, our families were not as thrilled, and talked us into doing a second ‘backyard’ style wedding. This second wedding caused more stress and family drama than I ever could have imagined. And like you’ve said, I never pictured myself having a large wedding, so I don’t think my heart was into the planning – especially since we were already married 🙂

I will say, we had a photographer at the second wedding take our photos – and those are very special to me. And now that we have a daughter, I’m glad she’ll have photographic proof of our wedding day.

I wish, looking back, I could combine the two. I should have organized photos on our actual elopement day, and just told our families a second wedding wasn’t happening.

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Sarah Shaneyfelt

I’m so happy for your engagement! Marriage is just the best!

In regards to your questions…
I wear my ring ALL THE TIME!! It did take a little bit getting used to feeling the weight on my finger, but I love it so much that I wear it constantly. The only time I take it off is when I work out.

I’m from the South so I did change my name. But I went against tradition of making my maiden name my middle and actually dropped my maiden because I like my middle name!

We had a really big wedding and I have zero regrets about it. We both have big families and lots of friends, so a big wedding seemed like the only option. It was so fun because the dance floor stayed packed all night.

I ended up getting my 2nd dress I tried on even though I think I tried on 20 more after that because I thought there was no way I was “settling” with the 2nd one without seeing more. But I couldn’t get that one out of my head so I went back and bought it!

I can’t wait to see what you end up doing!
MeetTheShaneyfelts

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Jill

Dear Carly
Congratulations! I just celebrated my 21st wedding anniversary. I remember my wedding just like it was yesterday❤️ I have two bits of advice I’d love to share with you. First, think about what’s important to the two of you. Is it the location/venue? The caterer/food? This helps you narrow down your choices. Second, find a dress that you feel comfortable in. You are in the dress the entire day and are constantly moving around. Enjoy your engagement and have a wonderful time planning your wedding!

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Ann

Carly:
There is a great, but unknown source for very high end wedding gowns in Lynchburg, VA called Church Street Bridal. While I have not been there it is in downtown, and for some reason the high end store in NY sends their gowns there to be sold for rock bottom prices. Most are under $1000. Please look into it. I do not know if they are open now due to Covid. But it is supposedly a fabulous source for designer dresses on a budget. All are new.

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Emily Cochran

I got married last month, and my dress came from Church Street Bridal! Extremely reasonable prices, but the best part is 100% of their proceeds goes to the YWCA’s shelter for victims of domestic violence. They also have a lovely staff, and the whole dress-buying experience was stress-free!

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Emma

Congrats!

Size of wedding/Changes to the wedding – I actually got married a month and half ago in the middle of Covid! When it came down to it the more important thing for us was to be married rather than a big celebration. We were planning for a wedding of 150 people at a winery but ended up getting one with 15 people, a potluck by all the guests, and DIY flowers by me in my parents backyard. Everyone said it was the wedding we were meant to have. We were even able to have our puppy running around causing havoc which led to some interesting photos. There was no pressure to be hostess, to stay composed, and we could sneak away for 15 minutes and no one cared – that was a relief. My parents even surprised us with a Covid drive-by which was one of the highlights of the day. We’re planning a celebration at our original wedding venue for next year on the same Saturday of the month as a ‘one year celebration’ where everyone who wasn’t able to make it can, and the pressure is off of us.

Wedding dress – I actually ended up getting an Amsale dress from Elizabeth Johns and it was the best decision ever (even with the small wedding). It was the third dress I tried on and bought it then – and it holds up so well, so comfortable and so classic. My bridesmaids and I had an appointment at BHLDN after the Elizabeth Johns appointment so we went and just had fun, but we all walked out saying that the dress I settled on was the right one, even given the price. My husband is an attorney and I’m planning on dying it/removing the small train and having it be my black tie dress for his events.

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Angel

So excited for you! I got married last summer and had the wedding of my dreams. So much of this is highly personal. Everyone’s style and wants are unique! Still, here’s what we did.

Ring: we both wear ours all the time. The jeweler says you’re way more likely to lose it taking it on and off than you are to damage it through daily wear. Exceptions are very rough activity – like a mud run or lifting weights.

Name: I kept my middle name as-is and swapped my last name for his!

Size: our wedding was 80 guests, which felt HUGE to me until I attended a 200 person wedding. I had enough time to visit everyone and still dance and have fun.

Favorite thing: my husband and I met through theater and we LOVE broadway, so we took dance lessons and learned a choreographed showy dance to “DeLovely” from anything goes. It was so much fun because it was something special we share. We also loved doing a First Look. It made the rest of the day so smooth.

Would I change anything/regrets: we had a really small budget ($10k) so I let my mom make the decorations and she and her sisters set up the reception venue. Because she was so stressed and busy, she missed helping me put on my dress. I would definitely change that.

Dress: okay, I’m probably crazy but I knew I wanted a 50’s style dress (think Mrs.Maisel) so I ordered mine on Etsy for $500! It was the only dress I tried and I wouldn’t change it.

Honeymoon: we did a staycation, mostly due to budget. We planned on going to Japan this year for out 1 year anniversary, but it’s been pushed back due to COVID.

Tips: follow your passions! Do whatever feels like “you and Mike”. My husband and I each picked our #1 non-negotiable thing and held firm on those. We were flexible with the rest and that made planning so much more fun.

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Emily

Congrats on your engagement!
The most important thing we did for our wedding was to prepare for the marriage. A wedding is one day; marriage is a lifetime. Our church helped us in that regard with its marriage prep but I’m sure there are other options (even counseling) out there. Good to discuss some things before getting married. Small or large wedding, it is important to prepare for the ever after too.
I did change my last name. I wanted to be a family unit with my husband, especially to have one name with our children. Once you change it on Social Security, it’s just a matter of a few other changes. It took a few months bc I did it gradually. Anytime I saw my maiden name, I would take action on that item.

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Christine

Hey girl!

Do I wear my ring all the time? No. I bought a white silicone ring for times I want/need to protect mine (gym, being outside, cleaning, sometimes even traveling). I don’t feel the need to wear it, but it feels weird without one on after a while 🙂

I did change my name. My maiden name will always be a part of who I am, but like you, I wanted to have a family name (and my maiden name was super Irish with apostrophes and multiple capital letters, so for ease of future kid’s standardized tests I changed it lol)

We did a medium size (90 guests). We both aren’t the biggest fans of attention, and it gave us time to chat with everyone at least once!

Best thing we did? Ordered food for lunch with the girls and invited the photographers and videographers. It broke the ice, made sure nobody was starving, and made us all more comfortable around each other.
Regrets? Hire the second photographer. trust me – We have tons of photos of us, but not too many of guests.

I tried on three dresses. I walked in saying I would *never* get a ballgown, but I had a ton of allergy medicine in my system and it was the only day my mom could be with me. I just grabbed it and wanted to go back home to nap. Highly do not recommend. (I wanted simple and lace, I walked out with crystals and tulle… Take your time with picking lol.)

We did an adventure honeymoon to Alaska, and waited about 6 months after the ceremony to go. It was nice not needing to rush off and think about packing (Bonus points for going to a cooler location in the summer!)

As far as tips, ENJOY IT. Your wedding day is not the be all and end all of your marriage. Things might not go as planned (and in the end something will prob end up a little wonky, but honestly, who cares) It’s a day about solidifying you and Mike in front of everyone you care about!

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Quincy

– Wore my engagement ring (and then also my wedding band) all the time until my fingers started swelling from pregnancy and I took off my engagement ring. Turns out I actually like just wearing my wedding band, so I just keep that on all the time.
– I changed my name, turning my maiden into my middle because I’m fairly attached to it. I still use my maiden name professionally (it just sounds better tbh, and it also allows me to set boundaries), but personally use my married last name.
– Medium? We had 99 guests. My husband is one of 10, with two additional step siblings. If we had a smaller family with more financially established siblings, I would have loved to just do a weekend with immediate family on Martha’s Vineyard. But the logistics! Gah. It worked out though, because we’re very attached to our communities and they’ve really helped our relationship. They deserved to be there. I’m glad our wedding wasn’t any bigger though, because it allowed us to love on each guest individually.
– I’m a perfectionist and have a lot of anxiety, but made a conscious decision before the day of to not freak out over anything I couldn’t change and just focus on the event. Did the cake stand absolutely not match the cake? Yeah. Did they put down a horribly tacky tablecloth on the gift table)? Def. But those are small potatoes in the grand scheme of things.
– I wish I designated someone to make sure I looked right for pictures. Looking at them now, I realize that my diamond stud was falling out of my ear and my pearl necklace was twisted. It really bugs me and keeps me from using a lot of pictures.
– Five! I wish I had more time to try them on but I do love what I wore. Very classic. And it was on sale!! (The tailoring, however, was a different story—I wish I thought about that more.)
– A week in Martha’s Vineyard! Again, I’m a highly anxious person, so I didn’t want to be somewhere I wasn’t familiar with and end up lost or confused or disappointed. Plus, my husband had never been to the island that means so much to me.
– The one “unique” thing I did was have a dedicated dance with my mom and siblings to our favorite beach song. Because they were a more active part of my childhood than my dad (no shade, we get along great and I still did a dance with him), I wanted to make sure they were honored as well.
– As far as advice… As much as I wanted to have a Pinterest perfect wedding, I was really set on if a certain idea took away from my budget or added stress, I just didn’t do it. It wasn’t worth losing out on my mental health or financial stability. My wedding was still really pretty and perfect for us, but I wasn’t sourcing tablecloths from across the world or putting together monogrammed welcome baskets, ya know? Also, keep the guest experience at the forefront. Don’t make them drive an hour between ceremony or reception, stay in a fancy hotel they can’t afford, etc. Love your people well!!

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Robin

Hi Carly, I’m so excited for you ☺️
I changed my last name when I got married. I wasn’t very attached to my maiden name, and honestly I just thought my husband’s name sounded cool 😂. But I was surprised at how many people reacted negatively to me changing my name! I’ve always considered myself a feminist and it felt like people were disappointed in me. But I personally think that the most feminist thing you can do is make a choice for yourself and not let anyone else’s opinion get to you!

As for your wedding, my biggest advice is just to ENJOY! Enjoy the whole process. People will only remember how much fun they had and whether the food was good. You’ll only remember how happy you were ☺️

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Janet

Hi Carly!

As someone who has been married for 3 weeks and was scheduled to have a huge Disney wedding before the pandemic, I totally get you!

Rings: I feel you. I still feel weird wearing 2 rings instead of one, but I’m hoping I get used to it the way I got used to wearing one. I’m working from home because of the pandemic but I wear it every day except when showering and doing more than one or two dishes. I also tend to take it off once I’m showered and in my PJs even if watching tv.

Name: As someone with no middle name I’m changing my name and making my maiden name my middle name. My maiden name is short and fits as a middle name. Plus I don’t want to lose it, but want to have the same name as my husband.

Wedding size – I was scheduled to have a medium-ish wedding at Disney but then the pandemic happened. We got married in my husband’s father’s living room (he has a big house) with about 20 immediate family present. (Husband has a huge family). Everyone else was on zoom. We tried to social distance as much as possible and everyone wore masks except the two of us. We only did a toast and cake for pictures. Everyone got goodie bags with cupcakes, custom masks, and hand sanitizers. The whole ceremony, the first dance lasted about 30 min. We then went to a nearby park for pictures.

Best thing – getting married!

Different – have more time to prepare and not do the decorating myself. I felt very rushed to get ready since I didn’t give myself enough time.

Dresses – I tried on about 8-10. I think #6 was the one. I didn’t get to wear it on my day since I wore a much simpler short white dress. I also didn’t get to alter it since it arrived a week or two into shut down. I hope to wear it next year for our 1-year vow renewal.

Honeymoon – none! Traveling is not an option right now. We were supposed to take a cruise to Alaska this month but obviously flying and cruising are off the table right now. We want to do something next year, but we are waiting to see before investing money.

Advice – Enjoy it! Do what you want and don’t let anyone else dictate what you’re doing! Remember your wedding day is a couple of hours and the most important thing is the marriage that comes after. And as a newlywed, I can tell you, Married life is amazing!

I’m so happy you! Happy Planning! 🙂

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Mollie

First, congrats! We got married in June and our plans changed often, but my husband and I didn’t want to change our date. So we were getting married on the original date no matter what. We hired a videographer who live streamed the mass for people who couldn’t come. That was great! Something special we did was at the rehearsal dinner my husbands siblings and their spouses all gave a toast to us. We had an “open” mic where our friends and family could read prepared mini speeches about memories of us throughout the year. This was also a surprise to us, so it was such an emotional night!

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Chelsey Manning

Oh! I think everyone loves talking about their weddings, so you might have opened Pandora’s box with this question 😉

I wear my ring daily, unless we are going to the lake/beach or doing yard work, painting, etc….I would be devastated if it fell into the water or was damaged while working. I did try the cleaning tip you posted last week and whoa! it worked!

My maiden name was Stump, so I changed without hesitation. Ha! On a serious note, though, it did make us feel like we were really creating a new unit by becoming “The Mannings.”

Our wedding was medium-sized, but the guest list did get out of control, primarily because of family friends that my parents felt obligated to invite, even some that my husband and I didn’t really know…I still wish I had had more of a backbone in not inviting people that were not important to us, but at the same time my parents were paying, and they were important to them 🙂

I found my dress on the first visit, and it was the last one I tried on…that I found on the end of a rack and would have never imagined as my dress! What made me know is was “the one” was that I felt like a bride when I put it on, not just like I was playing dress up in a wedding dress store.

There are so many things I would recommend to everyone: one, do a first look! My husband and I were hesitant at first, but it was such a special moment and it really made our day special. Two, if you have an in-person wedding post-pandemic, have a band! They are so much fun, and the best bands can really engage a crowd. Three, add touches that are special to you and Mike – for example, we had a family friend sing a hymn acapella before I walked down the aisle, my husband’s uncle did the ceremony music, and his aunt made his favorite cake for the groom’s cake. Finally, I highly recommend not just a photographer, but a videographer – the day is SUCH a blur, and you will be able to look back and remember each moment, as well as see the little things you don’t get to on the day, like guests arriving. Just for fun, here is the link to our highlight video (we also have a 30-minute video and a full video of the ceremony), if you’d like to watch…I know I loved watched other wedding videos when we were planning! https://vimeo.com/318100908

Last but not least, our honeymoon was RELAXING! We were married on December 22nd, so we spent two nights at a local resort, returned to my parent’s house for Christmas Eve, and flew to Jamaica on Christmas day. I was hesitant because I thought it would be cheesy, but my husband convinced me to go to a Sandals and it was a dream…five days of making ZERO decisions.

Enjoy planning!

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Chelsey Manning

Oh! Also, if you wait for an in-person wedding, hire a planner, or at least a day-of coordinator. I wanted to enjoy the day without worrying about little things, and for my mom to as well, and we were both able to!

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Carolyn

Ring: I used to wear it daily, taking off only for showers and cooking. Then I had a baby. I didn’t wear because I didn’t want to accidentally stab her with the diamond…and now I don’t wear because apparently I was dinging our kitchen cabinets. Oh well.

Name. I changed it, and 3 years in, it still fees strange. I thought I was really traditional and would love the family name, but I honestly miss my maiden name and looking back, might have kept it.

Wedding. Medium. It was the perfect size and the right group of people. All of our good friends and close family. We invited 200, had 100 come, and I didn’t even miss the 100 who didn’t come!

Best thing for wedding day. Day of wedding planner. We had one for the church and one for the reception and I only wish we’d had one all day to get me through photos between the two!! But each venue provided an EXCELLENT one, so it was wonderful.

Change anything? I would get a planner to help plan, not just day of. I stressed unnecessarily about decisions and timing and budget and I think a planner would’ve kept me on track. It was the perfect end result, but not without stress.

Dresses. Gosh, maybe 10? I had a decent idea of what I wanted and I bought at the second shop I went to. It was just the one.

Honeymoon. A night in Paris then Croatia!! It was wonderful. Part of me is glad we did it, because we have a baby now and we won’t be traveling like that soon. But part of me also wishes we had sat on a beach!

Other advice…don’t fall into the “I must do x trap”…I should’ve skipped favors. I should’ve splurged on the DJ, our guy was good but not perfect (music was on point but he screwed up names for introductions!). My videographers were good but they were a pain to work with through edits. Get an amazing photographer and don’t assume anything – the one shot mine missed was the money shot – is in front of our chapel with the entire beautiful building in it (it was cut off to zoom in on us!).

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Jessica

Hire a planner. It sounds super snobby, but I swear it was the best thing I did. It saved me so much time, reduced worry and anxiety, and allowed me to enjoy the day without thinking about something like a trolley showing up to transport people. And, it’s not the ridiculous cost everyone presumes it to be. A planner puts on a wedding multiple times a week every week — you will (hopefully) do it once. A planner has established relationships with vendors. A planner has the experience to know what’s worth spending time and money on and what doesn’t matter. Things go wrong. I didn’t know about any of the things that went wrong until weeks after my wedding because my planner just handled them. You’ve mentioned that you never planned your wedding in your head…neither did I. Hiring a planner was hands-down the best thing I did. One of my most favorite memories from my wedding was my planner taking my husband and me into the reception room alone and saying to us “this is happening”. Many years later, I am still so grateful she knew to pull us aside to appreciate the moment in the moment.

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Anne

I do not wear my ring all the time even though we’ve been married for three years! I have ring dishes all over the house for this reason – I can’t type for long periods of time with my ring, and especially when I’m cooking I don’t like to wear it. I bought a silicone ring off Amazon since I work at a gym, and wear that a lot too.

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Melissa

I had a small wedding with a reception in my parents’ backyard – if I did it over it would be even smaller or a destination wedding. I don’t wear my rings all the time – because of my job, I don’t want to damage them. Honeymoon – we left the next morning and I would advise waiting a day more at least since a wedding weekend is exhausting! I tried on 6 dresses and bought the first one. I’ll be married 25 years in August and I’m planning on digging the dress out and trying it on again

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Sarah

I keep my ring on pretty much all the time, I am just afraid of losing it so if it’s on my hand I know where it is. If I’m hiking, working out, or swimming I wear a silicone band (Qalo has some great options). I changed my name and while I miss my old name and had to grieve it I love that we are a family and both have the same name!

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Lauren

Congratulations!!! I’m just going to answer your questions directly from my experience in case it helps you.

1.) Do you wear your ring all the time?
Not all the time. I don’t wear it when I work out and I don’t wear it all the time at home either (so not often these days). But if I’m going out in public, I don’t feel fully dressed without it. It was weird at first, but now it feels like second nature on my hand.

2.) Did you change your name?
Nope, but I kind of wanted to. My husband is from a country where women don’t change their names when they get married so he thought it was weird that I even suggested it. Also, since I am the last of my direct family with my last name and the paper work and the professional implications sounded like a pain, I ultimately decided against changing. We later gave our son a hyphenated last name to unify.

3.) Did you have a small, medium, or big wedding?
Small-medium. We wanted everyone important to us there, but since we were paying everything out of pocket, we had to stay on the small side (which was totally fine by me…I wouldnt have wanted it any bigger than it was anyway).

4.) What’s the best thing you did for your wedding day? Anything you regretted?
Honestly, just taking a moment to take it all in. It didn’t have to be perfect, I just wanted to enjoy it with my husband.

I do really regret forgetting to wear my great grandmother’s earrings. We didn’t get married where we live and I forgot to pack some special family pieces to include in the big day. There was just so much to remember.

5.) How many wedding dresses did you try on before finding “the one”?
Probably around 10 before I found the right one? I actually ended up buying a preowned (but never worn) dress which saved me a TON of money on a dress that I love.

6.) What kind of honeymoon did you take?

We had kind of an “adventure” honeymoon. We went to Mashpi Lodge (https://www.mashpilodge.com/). We got married a driveable distance from there so we didn’t have to buy additional plane tickets. It was honestly the best trip we have ever been on.

Just enjoy the process, and congrats again!

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AM

Carly, I’m so thrilled for you as you embark on wedding planning!

Ring – I was also scared about wearing it at first, and it felt weird to have on all the time! Now I don’t even think about it. I only take it off to work out with weights, going in the pool/ocean, and cooking or baking really messy stuff.

Name – I did change my name. I think it’s a super personal choice and no one should be judged for changing or not changing their name! The women in my family typically drop the middle name and make their maiden name their middle name, so that’s what I did. I also didn’t have a pretty middle name and didn’t feel sad about dropping it.

Size – I had a fairly large wedding – a little under 200. It was what we wanted, but I’ll admit that I didn’t get the chance to talk to every single person! My advice for this one is don’t let anyone (cough cough parents) pressure you into inviting more people than you’re comfortable with. It’s your day!

Best – we took dance lessons and did a choreographed first dance – with a LIFT! It was so unlike me (I am NOT a dancer) but it was so much fun and we got some stellar pictures out of it.

Regrets – I wish I had eaten more! We had a bunch of late night snacks brought in, and I didn’t get to eat any of them.

Would I change anything? I wouldn’t. It POURED rain as soon as we got under the reception tent, and even though it was covered, the grass below turned into a mud pit. We spent the evening sliding around in the mud, and our guests are still telling us how fun and memorable it was.

Dress – I loved the second one I tried on and bought it. I also went for something different from what I thought I’d go with! I agree, when they put the veil on you, it’s over!!

Honeymoon – we went to Banff and absolutely loved it. I know you guys had plans to go, and I hope you can make a trip there eventually – honeymoon or not! There are some gorgeous hotels with spas in the area, so you can definitely do a pampered version of Banff! We also went heli-hiking in the Bugaboos with CMH, which I’d highly recommend. If you do go, promise me you’ll have dinner at Eden in Banff!

Tips – The best piece of advice I received is don’t let you and your new husband get separated during the reception. It’s bound to happen with how many people want to talk to you, but stick together! My advice to you for planning: go with your gut and remember, it’s YOUR DAY! And hire a wedding planner or coordinator, so that you can focus on having fun and not stressing about the details.

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Jenna

Yay! Congrats Carly!

1. I wear my ring all of the time unless I’m in the shower, washing dishes, or doing home improvement projects. It took a long time for me to get used to wearing the ring, but now I love it!

2. I most definitely changed my last name! I’m old fashion like that.

3. We had a very small wedding. Twenty people including us. A couple close friends and close family, no wedding party, no frills, nice and simple. I loved it! I really wanted to talk and interact with every one that was there and having a small wedding made it happen. My sister was pretty bummed about not being a maid-of-honor so I asked her to be our officiate. She did a beautiful job marrying us!

4. On our wedding day, we had a nice slow morning together. We’re not very traditional in that we stayed together, woke up together, went out to breakfast, walked around and talked about the excitement of marrying each other.

5. I was actually sick on our wedding day… I was getting over a nasty cold and had the worst migraine in the morning. Luckily excedrin helped with that. So if I could change anything, I would want to not be sick, haha.

We also had a separate reception a week later for all of our other friends and family which was actually more stressful than our wedding day.

6. I tried on about 8 gowns. I went with my mom and sister and tried on one that I really loved but wanted to wait just in case I found another one elsewhere. Well, of course I never found another one that I loved so I ended up ordering “the one” online.

7. We took a “mini moon,” haha. My husband was unable to take a ton of time off for work so we spent the weekend on Mackinac Island at the Grand Hotel. It was lovely.

8. Keep it simple and don’t sweat the small stuff!

Here are some photos from our wedding in this post: https://www.forrichardorpoorer.com/2019/06/one-week-anniversary.html

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Kate

This is cute! I do wear my ring all the time. I have a bezel set ring, so it feels more durable! I changed by name by swapping my middle name to my maiden name, then adding my husband’s last name. I am glad I did it. I tried on six gowns and bought the exact one I thought I would. I lovedddd wearing a veil. I went with cathedral length and the drama of it was amazing! We did a three week sailing trip with our best friends for our honeymoon! They had also recently married.

My only tip is to have the caterer prepare to-go boxes for you to take to the hotel. I didn’t eat a thing at our wedding and was starving once it was all over.

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Regan

Congrats – enjoy the planning process and do what feels right to you!
I’m planning for Oct 2020 right now and hoping it can stay as planned but staying flexible and relaxed. What has been a great comfort to me has been planning the day we want and leaving behind traditions that aren’t important. We’re having a Sunday brunch time wedding which I’m so excited about. It gives us greater flexibility to design the day how we want and break from tradition easier. Guest are excited too! I think COVID has been a little easier for our planning because we’ve already said goodbye to traditions and it’s making all the pivots easier (although it is still hard with the uncertainty). Remember when the biggest uncertainty for a wedding was the weather? Sounds quaint now! For us, I’m sticking to what’s best for us as a couple and sounds fun and special! My advice is to stick to what is important to you both and invest in it. Make sure to spend money where you’ll get enjoyment and cut corners on things that aren’t important. If something doesn’t feel right for your day, skip it! If you’re excited about your plans, so will your friends and family! Another tradition we’re skipping is a bridal party. I heard about a blogger doing it years ago and I knew that would be the right fit for me and funny enough it was right for my partner too! Our day will be just us and it cuts out a lot of logistics and some stress and drama. It’s definitely not the right choice for everyone, but it works for us! Weddings should be fun! If a tradition doesn’t feel right to you, drop it and never look back!

Rings – wear it all the time now, except workouts and messy situations (baking, lotion, gardening). Friend got me a jewelry dish as a gift which was so special. Thinking of getting the rubber rings for working out.

Size – medium, just over a 100 people

Changing my name – my current name is hard for people to spell and I’ve always wanted to change it. Won’t keep it at all.

Dresses – tried on the dress three different times 🙈 love it and glad I got what I wanted. Top end of my budget but that’s why you have a budget!

Honeymoon – on hold for now with COVID. Honestly doesn’t bother me much. Wanted to wait a few months to have anyway. I don’t think one right away would help us unwind like others.

Just enjoy the process, don’t ever worry about being behind. Planning is a lot of hurry up, plan, then wait. Your day will be special no matter what!

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Keena

Congratulations! The start of planning a wedding is so strange, but it gets to be more comfortable. I had a 1.5 year long engagement and we loved having that time to enjoy being engaged before officially being married.

Ring – wear it all the time, never take it off! I used your ring cleaning link and it worked so well! rings are more durable than we realize 🙂

Name – changed it for the reasons you listed and I can’t imagine having a different last name than my 3yo and newborn now.

Size – medium I’d say, about 125. It felt like a great amount. We live away from most of our guests so we made a weekend of it, rehearsal dinner, wedding, and brunch at our house the next day.

Best – took sunset photos (hire a photographer you love, money well spent), ended up with great pics and it was a little time for us to escape from the big party and really let it sink in that we were married. and the brunch at our house the next day, everyone though we were crazy, but we just ordered muffins/bagels/breakfast pizzas (yep, they are a thing) and had a mimosa station, coffee, and water. It was so fun, our house isn’t big but it was full and people got to see where we live. Our guests still talk about it!

Change – I’d wear bigger earrings 🙂

Dress – maybe 6 or 7, and I also ended up in something I didn’t think would be the one, and the veil did me in too!

Honeymoon – resort in Jamaica, it took a couple days for that relaxed feeling to set in after all the commotion of the wedding.

unique – rather than a guest book, my dad built us a bench and everyone signed that. It’s currently sitting in a guest room and it’s so fun to look at!

again, Congratulations!

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Sarah

Tips:
– Spend the money to get a great photographer AND a videographer. We were hesitant to spend more to get a videographer but I am SO glad we did. We watch the video every year on our anniversary.
– Have a list of the shots you really want and discuss in detail with both the photographer and videographer ahead of time. My sister-in-law didn’t do this, and was so sad afterwards because there were all these moments that hadn’t been captured in the way she would have liked.
– If you’re going to do posed family pictures, send a photo schedule to extended family so they know if they need to be ready for pictures. You wouldn’t believe how fast the various aunts and uncles and cousins can dissipate after the ceremony, and it is such a pain to try to track them down when everyone is waiting to get pictures (spoken as a bridesmaid who has had to round people up, it is STRESSFUL and not the vibe I wanted right after our ceremony). Our pictures went really smoothly because I planned every. last. detail. ahead of time so I didn’t have to worry about it at all day-of.
– ask to get the full ceremony and full speeches filmed. We got ours separate from the video as raw footage and it’s fun to be able to watch those, especially right after the wedding…because the day can be a blur!
– favorite extra thing we did for our wedding: surprised each of our parents by having the band play their first dance songs. My husband and I gave a little speech about what we admired about their marriages/the examples they had set for us, and our moms were just bawling. It was so fun, and the pictures/videos of our parents dancing to their first dance songs are so sweet.

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Adrianna

The Emily Post Institute always talks about “doing whatever makes you and your partner feel married!” My advice: get. the. dress. Anything that’s in pictures is what you will have to share and reminisce on!

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Ashley Berle

A couple of my tips based on your questions:
– I wear my ring MOST of the time, but not to the beach, and I often will bring just a generic CZ band on an international vacation so I don’t lose my “real” set
-I kept all 4 of my names and I am happy I did it (not hyphenated- 2 middle names!). I felt really sad about losing one of my names after having it for almost 30 years!
Other tips/hacks:
-Create a separate email for wedding related emails, from vendors or whatever. TRUST ME!!!
-Delete your wedding pinterest board 24 hours before the wedding. At this point everything is set and this was suggested to me so you don’t go back and compare your own to a styled shoot etc.

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ALAANA

I second creating a separate email address! My husband and I still use ours for some joint things and it makes it so much easier to keep everything wedding related in one place!

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Hannah

Do you wear your ring all the time?
I’m the same as how you are now, not when I’m doing anything with water (showering, dishes, swimming, boating) or working out, and I take it off to sleep. But it’s been three years since I got engaged and I still get distracted by my ring sometimes, haha.

Did you change your name?
No. I may when we have kids, but for now I’ve kept my name.

Did you have a small, medium, or big wedding?
We had a big wedding. We both have large families and we wanted to have everyone we love in one room.

What’s the best thing you did for your wedding day? IGNORED OTHER PEOPLE. We only did exactly what we wanted, making only a few compromises for parents along the way. Everyone had a good time, and the parents all forgave us for not having a religious ceremony.

Would you go back and change anything?
We had our photographer start early in the day, which meant he missed the late-night dance party. I’d have photography start later and stay later if I could do it again.

How many wedding dresses did you try on before finding “the one”?
Less than 10.

What kind of honeymoon did you take?
We wanted to go to Greece for our honeymoon, but got married in November. So we waited about 6 months and took our honeymoon when the weather would be better in Greece. We did take a few days after the wedding and had a few kind of splurgey days in New York. Even if you don’t take your honeymoon right away, I definitely recommend a day or two of relaxation after the wedding, even if it’s just staying in a nice hotel in your own city!

Did you do anything unique? Tips? Advice?! Something I’m not thinking about but should be?!?!
You don’t have to like wedding planning!
The thing people still talk about from our wedding? Around 10 pm we had a giant Taco Bell order delivered. Everyone loved it.

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Hannah

Oh! Another thing that was a big hit was that we had the bar open for wine and beer only before the ceremony. It was like a mini cocktail hour and got the day started on a celebratory note.

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Katrina

Re: Ring – I wear my wedding band every day, and typically only wear my engagement ring for special occasions. I love that I get butterflies and feel extra special when I actually do wear my ring vs. having it just blend into the background of everyday life, if that make’s sense? When I was engaged, I got a plain silver band that I wore all the time and still only wore my engagement ring sometimes. Oh – and get a cute jewelry case and ONLY keep your engagement ring there when you take it off to relieve stress about losing it!

Re: Wedding planning – if you want to have kids, I say, do a smaller wedding sooner vs. later. Don’t put off starting a family just to have a big wedding – who knows when big events will be be truly “safe” again, plus you can always have a big 1 or 2 year anniversary party and bring the baby 🙂 (I am 32 & am having some fertility challenges, and I just keep thinking to myself ‘why the heck didn’t we just start trying a few years sooner so I wasn’t so worried about timing on top of all of the other stress?!)

Re: Honeymoon – we went to Italy + Greece about 6 months after our wedding which I highly recommend – gave me something to look forward to when all the wedding fun was over!

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Kathy

Congratulations!!! So happy for you! I love these questions!
1. I do not wear my rings all the time. I wear them when I go out- I don’t wear them when I’m just around the house. So I haven’t worn them much since March 😂.
2. I did not change my name. I hemmed and hawed a little, but once I made the decision not to change, I knew it was the right one for me. Almost everyone else I know has changed their name.
3. We had a medium size wedding- about 100 guests.
4. Best thing we did on our wedding day is enjoyed the day and each other. We didn’t worry about the details.
5. I would not have worried as much about certain wedding traditions. Do whatever you want. I didn’t love planning a wedding so there are some things I might have gone without. I also might have scaled back and had a wedding about half the size.
6. I tried on 5 dresses and bought the first one I tried on. It was the one! I wish my search had been longer because I love clothes!
7. Honeymoon in Prince Edward Island- one of my favorite places on earth!
8. There are no hard and fast rules. Do whatever feels right for the two of you, and have a blast!

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Jeri

Biggest regret: Spending thousands on flowers. OMG. Do. Not. Overspend. Especially on flowers.

Forget the flowers and use that money for a honeymoon (i went to Kenya).

Wedding suppliers OVERCHARGE THE F OUT OF brides because the brides get sucked into thinking the wedding has to be “picture perfect” – but believe me you still still have a perfect day without centrepieces, chair covers and napkin rings. Those things are NOT what a wedding is about.

Don’t get sucked into the little but ultimately insignificant details.

Remember what the wedding *is* about – the vows. You are agreeing to share your life. And you are inviting your loved ones to share that with you. Everything else is just decoration.

I got married in 2011 and the things people tell me they remember:
– the dancing
– the food (it wasn’t sit down, but rather passed hors d’oeuvres and food stations so it felt more like a party)
That’s literally it.

I also can say that because I’m no longer married (he cheated while I was pregnant) I really wish I hadn’t put so much emphasis on a “perfect” wedding. The person you’re marrying should be what’s perfect about the day, nothing else matters.

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Elizabeth

I love these questions! I just got married sept 2019.
I wear my ring almost all the time but not for dishes, shower, cleaning, working out, and recently not to the grocery store if I have to go. I’ve gotten a rubber ring and love wearing it in place of my real rings.
I changed my name and completely dropped my maiden name. Same situation that you described.
My number 1 tip is to hire a day of coordinator. Mine was amazing and made it so that we did not have one single hiccup the whole day. Or she was so good that I didn’t know about any! I did all of the planning but she was the one putting it into execution so that I didn’t have to bother family members to help.
I only tried on a couple dresses at BHLDN and fell in love with one of the 5 or so I tried on. I didn’t think too much about the dress.
We were supposed to go to Switzerland a couple weeks ago for our honeymoon but now I’m not sure when that will happen 🙁
My favorite thing I was told to keep in mind: it’s one day. Just one single day. Don’t drive yourself crazy over something that comes and goes so quick!
I hope this was helpful and good luck planning!! I am so happy for you and Mike.

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Erin

I’ve been married 16 years but still love to talk about weddidngs 🙂 Such an exciting time for you!!

Do you wear your ring all the time?
Absolutely not! Neither of us wear our rings much to be honest. I have eczema on my hands and sometimes it flairs around my rings. But I do put it on for dates, occasions, etc. Mine is a family ring and I love it.

Did you change your name?
I did and kept my given middle name. We also like the idea of having the same last name as a family, especially once you have kids. My maiden name would also have been awkward as a middle name.

Did you have a small, medium, or big wedding?
I would call our wedding medium – we had 150 guests. Honestly if I had to do it again, it likely would be smaller.

What’s the best thing you did for your wedding day? Anything you regretted?
My favorite memory is actually talking to my husband by phone the morning before our ceremony. Make sure you get time to eat at your reception!! And just take time to enjoy your day! I regret stressing as much as I did.

Would you go back and change anything?
Yes. I’d do a destination wedding, likely on the beach. Our wedding was right for us at the time, but now that seems like my ideal. And stress less.

How many wedding dresses did you try on before finding “the one”?
I tried on a zillion. I was getting married at the same time as a few friends, so we went together and it was so fun. I still love my dress (although I’ve since sold it on EBay), but again would probably go for something different now. Styles change over time! Try to go as classic as you can.

What kind of honeymoon did you take?
We went to St Lucia and we LOVED it.

Did you do anything unique? Tips? Advice?! It’s impossible really but I tell every bride – stress less! It’s going to be awesome regardless of how it comes out. Don’t let wedding planning become your whole life or your whole relationship. Really enjoy the fact that you have so many people who love you in the same place – you will honestly never get that again in most cases!

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Sally

ring – yes I wear it all the time. It took a few days to get used to it being on that hand and not feel weird. I also have a right hand ring I never take off. I know you’re not supposed to wear jewelry when sweating etc. but I don’t workout thattt much and all the jewelry I wear daily (diamond studs, gold medal, gold name bracelet, the 2 rings) I just never take off.

Name- not changing it, this is ridiculous but from an SEO perspective I like being the only person with my name. Someday I will probably change it thinking it could be a nice surprise when I’m like 40 lol. I just don’t see the point in spending time changing something I don’t wanna do now and my fiancé doesn’t care that much. It’s my parents actually that are the most annoyed at this

Wedding- it’s gonna be small in my parents yard with just families a few of my parents friends and bridal party. Our families are both small like no cousins

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Brianna Rooney

Cannot wait to follow along for your wedding planning. As a December 2020 bride planning during a pandemic, let me tell you, it’s not ideal BUT it reminds you what’s important – marrying the person you love!

Do you wear your ring all the time?
I still get nervous months later! I take it off to workout/ swim/ shower and admittedly haven’t been wearing it as much recently since I am washing my hands so much more. I do feel naked without so I want to get a rubber one as a place holder when I don’t want to wear a diamond!

Did you change your name?
I will legally but likely not professionally.

Did you have a small, medium, or big wedding?
Our original plan was December 2020 with 150 people. Now we have a list of options – immediate fam, 50 people, 100 or the full group. I would say wait but we honestly have NO clue what the future of covid holds so I think it will be a while (vaccine) until you can hold a large wedding with masks and other precautions.

I’ve been to larger weddings and always feel like the bride and groom are at a networking event, impossible to see everyone/ say hi. I prefer smaller for sure. There has to be a cut off (speaking from someone who comes from a big fam with a fiance who is an only child!)

How many wedding dresses did you try on before finding “the one”?
I tried on 6 at BHLDN (#3 being the dress) and went to another store just for peace of mind but nothing compared. I then went back to BHLDN with a girlfriend (legit texted and said if anyones free, I am going regardless) and fell in love all over again and knew it was the one!

What kind of honeymoon did you take?
We’re planning FULL relaxation – Cabo! (again, likely delayed) but we always do busy trips or hit other cities and I just want to lay by the pool and enjoy!

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Brett

Ring: it took a while to get used to wearing one. then both. I take mine off when I’m in the cooking, handling raw meat, cleaning (or wear gloves), and often times at night. It is crazy to think how much money is now on your finger but it gets less stressful as times goes on. One thing I do is that I ALWAYS put my rings in the same place when I take them off. no exceptions! this creates a good routine and if you ever look down and don’t see your ring you know there is only one spot to look.

Name: I haven’t changed my name, been married 1 year. It’s something my husband would love but he isn’t pushing for it. While I do like the idea of all family members with the same name I just don’t think I will.

wedding: we invited 100 and had 70 RSVP yes. We were pretty strict with the guest list and plus ones/kids. Mainly because when you start inviting some it adds up quickly. I have 14 cousins and some have kids close to my age and most my husband has never met. Basically, our rule was we both had to have met them (unless they lived really far away like my cousin in England), only S.O.s not just a plus one. We made a seating chart so everyone sat beside people they knew. And at the end of the day our wedding is about the two of us as a couple. I wanted us to be able to look out at all the faces of our guests and know their names and be thankful that they specifically could be there. I was really aware that I wanted that moment on my wedding day of thankfulness for everyone there.

We also did a morning church wedding and then had a brunch and lawn games and tents set up. Basically I wanted a really fancy picnic/outdoor event. It was great. We got married at 10;30, did some photos with the wedding party, had brunch at 1pm, did a ‘first game’ instead of a first dance, played games, visited, ate more, pictures and were at our hotel for 6pm. It was amazing.

Best thing: Good photographer. Worth all the money and effort to find one you love and are happy with. We did a small rehersal dinner the night before (25ppl) then did a small sunday afternoon open house (25ppl again) and it was so special. Rehearsal dinner we had everyone who was involved in the ceremony and sunday afternoon we invited most of the same people from the rehearsal, some out of town guests and people who we just wanted to see more of! it was so nice and relaxing.

Also, the brunch wedding was the best. Brunch receptions tend to be shorter on average than an evening one. but you could prolong it with an activity, food truck, etc. But I loved being at the hotel for 6pm, we sat on the patio during golden hour eating nachos in our wedding attire. and just had the whole evening just the two of us. We also felt so refreshed the next morning and the day after when we flew to our honeymoon.

also, we hired a wedding planner and BEST decision ever!! I loved having someone who was 100% behind our wedding vision and kept us on track for the things we really cared about. I also loved especially the days leading up to the wedding when issues arose being able to say “that is a Joelle (her name) problem”. realize at the last minute this isn’t working or someone forgot to bring the thing? Joelle problem. Not mine or my mom’s or my fiancees. My mom said that she really got to enjoy my wedding in a way that was impossible when she planned and executed the wedding for my sister years ago. It’s such a great gift to give not only yourself but others to be able to enjoy the whole day.

I would highly recommend booking a session with two planners and just doing a brain storming session. Lots you can book for an hour or two consult and just go over everything you have so far and they can give you ideas, help with budget, legal stuff, help clarify what you want, etc.

dress: I went to two stores, first one I tried on maybe 10 dresses and second store I tried on 5. It’s funny because the one I ended up with I didn’t have a ‘moment’ or even liked the dress much when I had it on. It wasn’t until looking at pictures later that night that I started to noticed a bunch of details that I loved. went back the next week, tried it on and one other and picked one that day.

Honeymoon. We stayed in country and went to a small island and stayed at the golf resort town house type thing for a week. Rented a car and just drove around, napped lots, went to the beach. Staying at the resort was nice because if we wanted to do room service or the hotel bar it was close. the beach was right outside our door and we just enjoyed the down time. I knew if we had planned a destination out of country it would be me planning it all and I didn’t want to. I wanted to have a vacation, not travel stress.

Anything else: we had my friend create our wedding invites and do a crest for us. It’s something we’re gonna have forever and I love it. I want to get embroidered napkins and stationary and everything with it. Since I didn’t change my last name the wedding crest and monogram really made it feel like this is our ‘family brand’.
another thing I had on my ‘must’ photograhpy list is family pictures with our friends. So we did a big group picture and then did individual pictures with our friends. lovely to have and also a great way to use as a present for ‘thank yous’ or new home gifts, hostess gifts down the road.

We dealt with some major family drama the year leading up to the day and it wasn’t resolved before wedding. so there was a lot of tension in that regards. but I had a mantra I’d say to me and my husband and it was “our wedding will be a great day because I am marrying my best friend and we decided it will be a great day” I just decided early on that I’m in charge of my feelings and emotions and no one would take away from our wedding day. It helped a lot and emphasized that this day is about me and him, us, not anyone else.

But 100% having a planner made the biggest difference

Congrats and best of luck to you and Mike.

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Audrey

Planned a big wedding and had to rework everything for our 6/27/20 pandemic wedding. We got almost all of our money back from the original venue and instead rented out a wonderful restaurant and had the legit best tasting menu of our lives for our 12 immediate family members (still cheaper than the big party would have been). I would not change a single thing and honestly would totally recommend it. We’re SO glad we didn’t wait and we don’t anticipate redoing the big party later. We just get to live now.
I am overjoyed that I had my “real” dress for it though. Even if you go the small wedding route, You should look like the bride you dream of being. Def get professional photos even if you go the small wedding route.

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Ana

Ring: I wear mine all the time except for when traveling to certain places and when cooking something that requires me to mix with my hands.
Name: I kept my middle and last name so I now have two middle names. A little annoying sometimes because for example my bank assumed I had two last names and it caused some problems when it wasn’t lining up with other things, BUT overall ok! It’s an option, but if you feel decided about CAR go for it!
Size: I had a medium-large wedding. I think the average is like 150 and we had 180. I wanted something smaller but it felt perfect day of 🙂
Best thing: Hands down my videographer!
Regret: Not getting more posed pictures with extended family. I feel like the rehearsal dinner would have been a good time to do this!
Change: I think I picked a few things because other people liked them better and I would listen to my gut more. Just small things like my shoes which no one saw anyways and they were comfy! But I feel like I had a hard time going against others’ opinions.
Dresses: I tried on dresses at a local boutique when my grandma was visiting but I wasn’t expecting to find anything. It was good because it made me realize what I liked and didn’t (which was surprising)! And then my mom and I had a day in NYC and my dress was found at the first of three appointments. It was maybe the third? dress I tried on. I still went to the other appointments and slept on it for a few days.
Honeymoon: We took a three-week trip around Spain! It was perfect! Since it was longer it wasn’t as lux as a typical honeymoon but we stayed at a few splurge hotels but also some really cheap ones! So fun!

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Rachel C

Congrats!
I got married in the dark ages (2009) and I won’t lie – I’m SO glad social media and Pinterest weren’t around yet. The pressure of trying to plan one now would be more than I could handle.

I wear my rings when I’m up and dressed, so if I’m going of my house, they are usually on. Lazy pj Saturday? Probably not. I don’t exercise in mine because my hands swell. My jeweler actually told me not to sleep in it. He’s seen too many women come in with damaged diamonds from swinging their arms around in their sleep.

I had a small wedding and don’t regret anything. We were lucky and our parents were super “do what you want” so that’s what we did. We did and planned the wedding that WE wanted. Not what we thought people would expect or felt pressured to do.

Biggest piece of advice – give a GREAT photographer and ask them to not spend the whole night/day focused on you and Mike. I have tons of pictures of just my guests, and it means so much to me because I’m able to really see my whole wedding when I look back on pictures. I often see friend’s pictures and it’s all the bride and groom, which is great, but for me, the guests made my wedding.

Enjoy!

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Emily K

Congratulations again!! Enjoy this time and try not to feel guilty! To answer your questions:
1. I wear my ring all the time except when working out, sleeping, showering, and doing dishes. I’ve heard it’s fine to do any of the above but I want to do as much as possible to keep this ring looking amazing forever! I hope for mine (oval sapphire) to be an heirloom piece one day
2. We had about 100 people and honestly if I could go back we would have done a tiny ceremony with just immediate family and closest friends and then rented a bar to invite everyone else. We LOVED our wedding but it was a lot of money for one night
3. I was pumped to change my name! My parents were a little sad but they understood completely since my mom adopted my dads last name too
4. I tried on about 5 wedding dresses – I recommend BHLDN! Very affordable and gorgeous quality dresses
5. We went on safari for our honeymoon, we figured this is the one time where we don’t want to cut costs and went all out. That being said, this was pre-pandemic so I can’t really speak to now
6. For when to have your wedding, I say go with your gut feeling! If you want something small you can probably go ahead now, but if your leaning towards bigger then I would probably wait so that you don’t have the pandemic to cause more headaches!

Congrats again! Try to just be in the moment as best you can because this period of time will fly by!

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Chelsea

You have so many responses already, but I’ll add my two cents!

1. I wear my engagement ring almost never, and lately during quarantine, haven’t even been wearing my wedding ring very often. But, re, the engagement ring, if you feel uncomfortable, don’t wear it! I used to have a cheap but cute “stand-in” ring that I used sometimes, but I lost it (which was the point, so I’d have something I wouldn’t be devastated to lose).

2. I did change my name, and I’ll be honest, I have conflicted feelings about it still, and sometimes worry that being defensive about my reasons behind doing it means I shouldn’t have. I do love my new name and don’t mind having lost my maiden name, but it’s such a big thing that means so much, and I’m not sure I would have made the choice if I’d known it would still bug me, almost eight years later.

3. I guess I had a medium wedding? We ended up at about 85 guests, after inviting about 110, I think. It was a good size!

4 and 5. Honestly, being on the other side of it, I would have gone MUCH smaller, or eloped. We had a lot of family drama on both sides, and while I was so incredibly happy on my wedding day, it does feel silly to have gone through so much (not to mention spent so much) on one day. But! I do also think if we’d skipped a wedding, I’d have missed that and regretted it. The grass is always greener, I suppose!

6. I only tried on about ten wedding dresses, all at a David’s Bridal, and bought one of those ten, but I’m not nearly as into style or fashion, so my wedding dress was way down on my list of wedding priorities.

7. We went to an all-inclusive in Mexico, and it was so fun and relaxing and I wouldn’t have changed it at the time… BUT, part of why we did that is because I thought it would be the only opportunity we’d ever have to do something like that (and that usually, we’d pick travel options where we’d go and see and do things), but then my brother-in-law got married at an all-inclusive in Mexico, so we went again, ha! It was a lot of fun, but if it’s something anyone considers because they think it’ll be the only time they’d do something like that, I’d try to see if you can think of any destination weddings in your future so you know for sure. If I’d known we’d do it again a few years later, we’d probably have gone to Hawaii and explored the islands.

8. Try to relax and enjoy it, and do as much as you can to keep it about you two as you can. Best of luck, and congratulations!

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Lauren

do you wear your ring all the time?
– I wear mine all the time unless cleaning, cooking something sticky/messy (raw meat, dough, etc), or working out! A lot of women wear it when working out and it can majorly damage the band

did you change your name?
– currently working on this, social security offices are closed so it has made things a bit more drawn out. However I am dropping my maiden name and using first middle and new last name. I already use my new last name for everything that is not official.

did you have a small, medium, or big wedding?
– we had a small wedding bc of COVID-19, there were 9 of us there the day of (just parents and one sibling was able to make it). we are planning to have a re-do this fall (hopefully) which will have a larger crowd

what’s the best thing you did for your wedding day? anything you regretted?
– best thing was how small/intimate it was, we were able to spend the whole day with our parents and soak up that time together. my best friend also FaceTimed me while I go ready and that was so special. the only thing I regretted was how I kept saying “it’s not a big deal” bc it wasn’t the wedding I had planned and hoped for. I got married that day, so it was special but I wish I could have changed my mindset.

how many wedding dresses did you try on before finding “the one”?
– I tried on a total of 7 dresses, although I knew when I put on my dress that it was the one. It made me feel so special, I didn’t cry or have any big emotion but I felt beautiful and that is what was most important

what kind of honeymoon did you take?
– we were supposed to spend 10 days in the Mediterranean but COVID cancelled that. we were considering going to Bali this Christmas instead but I don’t think that will be happening either. Maybe Hawaii or something in 2021.

Tips or Advice?
– create a separate wedding email so all vendors can reach out there and aren’t bogging down your personal inbox. also put together a comprehensive spreadsheet so everything is in once place (ie: 1 tab for: vendors with contact info, photography shot list, guest list *including addresses, gifts purchases, thank you notes sent*, to do list, table assignments, song list for dj/band), this was a GAME CHANGER throughout planning but especially once our date got shifted.

Relax and remember that this is about the union of you and Mike, at the end of the day so long as you are married to one another that is all that matters. It doesn’t matter how big of a party it was or what Sally thought about your food/flower/whatever choices. This is about the two of you and everyone there is to celebrate your union.

As a follower of almost 10 years, I can’t wait to watch the planning process unfold! I am so happy for you and wish you the best on this period of life and your marriage!

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Kate Losee

Go to Bali!!! It’s absolutely incredible. Just budget as much time as you possibly can, cause travel time is significant.

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Jennifer

I’m so happy for you! I was a 2019 bride, so I missed the pandemic rollercoaster, but wedding planning is fresh in my memory!

I do not wear my rings doing any activities that could damage them (working out, chemical cleaners) or in the water (to prevent it slipping off!). I LOVE that I have my rings fused together. The jeweler did it for me at no cost after the wedding and I like that it keeps them from spinning.

The best thing I did for my wedding day was get “paper married” in advance of the ceremony. Just the two of us, no friends or family. We went to DC because we love it there and used a service to get the marriage license and certificate for us. We did a one night mini-moon at the Hay Adams, ordered room service and champagne, and really, really enjoyed having this no pressure private memory. Then for our wedding day with the dress and the cake and the people we were able to be present and enjoy because a lot of the life transition pressure was taken off. It was like we got the best of both worlds – a little private elopement and then an 85 guest wedding.

My other favorite “best ofs” include family style meal time – instead of buffet or plated, our caterers brought our beautiful trays of food and we passed them down the tables like Thanksgiving dinner. It was so cheerful and kept everyone in their seats for toasts. We also seated our parents, siblings, and the parties and dates up at the head table with us. We kept two chairs space empty in front of us so we could see out and the photographers could get good pictures. This was super unconventional but we loved it so much. And finally, we took all our posed pictures and most of our couples portraits before the ceremony. We were able to attend the entire cocktail hour and all of dinner because we had done all the pictures first thing.

Our venue required a day of coordinator and at first I was really annoyed by it but the coordinator was worth her weight in gold. I was asked no wedding related questions the day of my wedding because I had passed the reins over to her the day before. I just got dressed and took pictures and had some champagne and got married. Best decision ever.

Wedding planning is overwhelming but also so fun – congratulations to you both! My only advice is to stay true to your vision and your partnership. Whatever you pick will be beautiful

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Lee

Congratulations, Carly! Long-time admirer, but first-time commenting. I wish you and Mike every happiness!

Ring: I’ve been married 22 years, but completely remember how weird and worried I was initially about wearing it. Normally, I wear it all the time, but haven’t worn it much/at all during Covid because germs can hide under the ring, even with copious hand-washing.

Name: Yes, I changed my name and would do it again–I love being Mrs. W. to my children’s friends.

Wedding size: We had a small wedding–about 80 people, which was dictated by the size of the chapel in our church. We wanted an intimate ceremony with close friends and family. I loved a full chapel, rather than a half-empty sanctuary. I also felt surrounded by my friends and family, rather than ‘on stage’. I’m an introvert and did not relish the whole “I’m the bride–look at me” thing.

Best thing: I had a massage the day before–just me and my best friend. It was very centering/calming and really allowed me to be in the moment during the wedding. I remember everything about the ceremony, which I treasure, because some brides don’t remember a thing. Also, my husband and I recreated a photo of our hands on top of a family Bible, just like my parents before me did. It’s very special. Look back to your parents and grandparents photos and see if there’s anything that might inspire you.

Honeymoon: We rented a house in Tulum, Mexico before VRBO (agin, dating myself) and before Tulum was a destination. We loved the privacy and the chance to relax and also explore on our own.

Tips: Just do what you and Mike want–don’t try to fulfill everyone else’s expectations. Use Pinterest an as inspiration, make your decisions, and then step away from Pinterest. Finally, don’t sweat the small stuff–focusing on minutia will drive you insane, and no one will remember it anyway.

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kelly

Wear your ring every day! I used to save my very special jewelry for only special occasions. But life is too short! Wear it and enjoy it! But– my jeweler told me not to sleep in it or do chores in it. It will wear out the prongs.

I did change my name. My boss was irritated. He said it would hurt my career. But it’s a personal choice- so do what you want! And my career was fine, by the way!

My first wedding was big- to me at least. 150 people. Too many. And too many that I really never see. My 2nd wedding was small- around 50. Much better and much more intimate and meaningful.

As for the dress, you’ll know it when you find it. And don’t be afraid to try on and try on different styles than you’re thinking. I did pick what I had in my mind though, but I’m glad I tried on other choices. I’m not skinny, so I was intimidated to try anything on. But finally a fabulous sales associate convinced me to not be scared and it was a great experience.

Congrats! Don’t let the details stress you and try to enjoy yourself!

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Keri

Carly, I’m SO excited for you! I’ve been an avid reader for years and am so happy to see you so happy.

I got married in 2018 and when planning my wedding and preparing for marriage, I had so many of the same questions! Here are my thoughts if it helps.

Ring: I felt the same way you did. I was so scared to wear it and I was so scared to take it off. Now, I keep it on the majority of the time. I take them off when doing my make up, when I shower, and when I go to the beach. Also depending on what I do for workouts, I might take it off then, too. (I sometimes do combat fitness, which is a lot of punching bags so obviously don’t want to wear it then!)

Name change: Yes 100%. I kept my first and middle names, but dropped my maiden name completely. It takes a while getting used to the new signature!

#: Around 225-250. We both come from big families so honestly, a lot of that was family. Thankfully we both grew up together so we had a lot of mutual friends which helped!

Best/worst: I had a fall/October wedding, which I dreamt about for years because of the gorgeous weather and colors. The one thing I didn’t plan for was RAIN. The entire wedding, thankfully, was inside because I didn’t want to take any chances with it being too hot/cold. Thankfully it worked out because it down-poured all day! It honestly ended up being a memory and the pictures turned out so unique. I honestly can’t think of anything bad that happened that day, including the rain — just live in the moment because when the day comes, the planning is done and it’s time to party!

Change anything: I wish I had a videographer, but it’s not a huge regret. I just think it could’ve been fun to watch but I highly recommend a GREAT photographer if you are going to splurge on anything.

Dress: I went to a dress shop with just my mom to try some on without intending to purchase any that day. That helped because I could try on styles without feeling pressure to buy to understand what I truly liked. The next shop I went to, I went with my mom and my two cousins, tried on 6, and fell in love with the 3rd one! Overall, I probably tried on 10-15 in total.

Honeymoon: Aruba!! It’s phenomenal weather all. year. long. and we picked it because October is typically “hurricane season” but Aruba is out of the hurricane belt!

Tips: It’s your day and at the end of the day, a wedding is one day. Marriage is forever. It’s easy to focus on all the details and moving parts of the wedding, but when the day comes, try to relax and enjoy the day as it is!

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Heather Bien

I have so much to say on all of this!! I literally think I wrote 30 blog posts on wedding planning and details, so I’ll give you all my thoughts on these!

– I usually only wear my gold wedding band when I’m at home or running errands. I have an engagement ring, diamond wedding band, and a diamond and sapphire band that I wear if I’m going anywhere. You actually shouldn’t wear your engagement ring when you sleep because it could get caught on the sheets and loosen!
– I planned on changing my last name, then decided not to. My last name is unusual, whereas my husband’s is fairly common, and I just couldn’t give up an identity I’d had for three decades!
– We did small! We had a black tie 37-person dinner party wedding in December. It was so lovely and intimate and cozy. The vibe was candlelit and wintery.
– Ugh, I would have hired a day of coordinator! We had one that we paid a bit extra for through the venue, but I did so much running around that morning making sure all the vendors were doing things correctly, answering questions, writing checks, etc. You do NOT want to be in that position!
– I tried on a ton of dresses before going with an Augusta Jones dress that I found through a used dress website (it had never been worn, but had been altered to my exact measurements!). I loved my dress, but I do wish I’d splurged an extra $1,000 and gotten my dream dress. I was similar on not wanting to spend a ton on a dress for one day and ended up at $1,100…but the (also reasonable given the industry) $2,200 dress I wanted would have been worth it.
– We travel a decent amount, so I wanted a quick, low-stress honeymoon right after the wedding. We went to Colombia for 5 days. Going to South America felt a bit more exotic, but it’s a short trip from the US.
– Last tip: We didn’t do a bridal party and I think that was a GREAT decision, so if you’re leaning in that direction, I’d say go for it.

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Christine S.

Some of these I can’t answer because we haven’t gotten married yet, but I’ll answer what I can!

Ring: I take my ring off when I use the bathroom, wash my hands, sleep, shower, swim, work out, or do anything outdoorsy. I take mine off more than most people, but that’s because I treat this as my most important accessory rather than a part of my hand, and I think it’s kept my ring looking nice two years later.

Name: My fiance and I are both keeping our last names.

Wedding Size: We had planned a medium wedding (~100 guests) but had to postpone to next summer thanks to COVID. We’re getting married in a small wedding on our original date this September though (~25 people hopefully)! I think if you really want to get married sooner, a small wedding now and then a larger celebration next year (or in two years) could be a good option.

Dresses: I tried on about 15 dresses at one shop (over two visits). And then I’m not going to wear that dress this year since I don’t want to get grass stains on it at our mini backyard ceremony, so I tried on an additional three dresses in the mail from Nordstrom and Adrianna Pappel to find one that would work for this year’s event.

Honeymoon: Honeymoon plans have also been derailed – thanks COVID! We wanted a more active honeymoon and had a trip booked for Australia before the travel restrictions went into place. We’re hoping to take that trip next year after our larger celebration, and for this year we have tentatively booked a week in San Juan, PR (hoping that we’ll still be able to get in then, but thankfully it’s part of the US so it’ll be easier than anything else we might have wanted).

Other Advice: Don’t worry what other people think or want you to do (and that includes what I and all your other readers want haha). This is your wedding, and you and Mike get the final say at the end of the day. That might mean pushing back when your family or Mike’s family is hoping that you’ll do things a certain way or invite guests you don’t think you have space for. And for other advice, a wedding planner can come in handy if you have space in the budget!

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Kayla

Congratulations to you two! My fiance and I also got engaged at the beginning of March (about one week before we started quarantining), and I have been wondering about all of these questions too! We are planning to move ahead and hope for the best for next summer. I’m cautiously optimistic, but I also get overwhelmed with all of the uncertainty at times. Our venue has been great about communicating the “what ifs” with us, and they have committed to working with us to move our date, if necessary. We are lucky that we were able to pick a venue that includes most of the vendors we will need and does most of the coordination. This was a huge consideration because we are planning the wedding from afar, and in the event that we need to make changes, our venue will handle cancellations, rebookings, etc. Working with a venue/vendors that we trust has given me tremendous peace of mind.

I’m still a little afraid to wear my ring… I get worried (probably irrationally) about it getting cloudy from all of the hand washing I do these days! I am definitely going to try the “bling wash” you posted. I’m looking forward to reading more about how your planning process goes! Good luck with everything and congratulations again!

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Nicci

I wear my engagement and wedding rings when I work out at a gym/go to a barre class (I don’t feel comfortable leaving them in a locker), but I do have a set of rubber rings for when I’m running at home or doing a race…mostly bc it feels weird to not have anything on my fingers now. I do take them off for showering and sleeping and put them back on in the morning.

We went to New Zealand for 2 weeks for our honeymoon and it was absolutely AMAZING! I would highly recommend it, even though the flight can be a bit grueling. We saw both the north and south island and had the best time.

We hired a day-of wedding planner, who took care of the last minute things that came up in the days leading up to the wedding and it was so worth it. It meant no one in my family had to worry about them and we could just enjoy being together.

Congratulations on your engagement, Carly!

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Lucy W

I got engaged in November, and we had to postpone our August 8 wedding a year to 2021 (devastating, but 100% the right decision for us). I’m so excited for you and Mike!! I’m also changing my name for the exact same reason – he’s more attached to his name, and we want to have the same last name. I love the sound of Carly Riordan too! I tried on DOZENS of dresses before finding the one – and went to a dress resale shop! There are tons of them, and at our local one the proceeds go to a local women’s shelter.

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SMW

I don’t wear my rings all the time. I generally take them off once I am in the house, but since covid I wear them while I am working from home.

I did change my name it was something we discussed prior to getting married and I really love my new last name.

We had a big wedding it was a must for my now husband and we have no regrets about it. I will say it took some convincing on his part. We had a wedding weekend with four events so that we could enjoy the wedding day and the reception without having to feel like we had to talk with everyone. It was lovely to spend the weekend with 250 of our closet friends bahaha.

So two of my bridesmaids are yoga/pilates instructors so that morning we woke up and did a combo class at sunrise. I felt so calm and at peace all day. I also hired 4 makeup artists so that people didn’t have to be in makeup for hours before the wedding. I honestly think its a must if you have a large wedding party or loads of family.

12 dresses. Found the one on my bachelorette trip out of the country and it felt too expensive at the time… Once it was on it was completely worth it.

We took a 3+ week honeymoon. We did Fiji and Australia. Wishing we were in Fiji right now….

Random piece of advice and take it for what you will. At the beginning of the wedding planning process, we each decided on 3-5 things that were must-haves, and once we did that it was significantly easier to navigate the process.

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Blair

Hi there! 🙂
1. No, I don’t wear my ring all the time. I don’t wear it to work out, do chores (indoor or outdoor), or anything near the water where it could be lost (beach, lake, etc.). I also have Valuable Personal Property Insurance through USAA to protect it.
2. Yes! I was so excited to change my name. I really wanted our family to all have one name.
3. We had a medium wedding with about 150 people. It was the perfect size for us!
4. I think the best thing we did was prioritize the ceremony we wanted (religious with communion), music we wanted, and hire a great photographer.
5. I would go back and change the dress I wore to our rehearsal dinner! It was beautiful, but it was a little uncomfortable and it shows in a few of the photos. Wear something you are comfortable and confident in!
6. I didn’t try on any dresses – my mother and I sewed my wedding dress!
7. We took a 5 day trip to Portland, ME for our honeymoon. We wanted somewhere we could drive from home (Boston), somewhere with lots of craft beer, and somewhere on the water. It was perfect!
8. I would say we didn’t do much “unique” other than our venue – we had our reception at the Annapolis Maritime Museum – it was so interesting and was right on the water. Although, if you have a venue with a wooden deck my advice is to wear wedges! My heels got caught in between the deck planks a few times, so wedges would have been better!

My other piece of advice if you are anxious/stressing is to try to think about how you’ll feel about these thing on your first wedding anniversary. Are you and your husband going to be talking about your place cards and seating plan at your anniversary dinner? If not, try to take a step back and relax!

Another fun thing my husband and I do every year on our anniversary is tell each other one thing we remember from our wedding day. Each year it’s been something different, and it’s so much fun to remember small details. For example, my husband was very nervous and when I got to the end of the aisle the first thing he said to me was “I’m sorry I’m clammy, I’m so nervous!”

Congratulations and happy planning!!!

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Virginia

1. I wear my ring all the time except when I work out, paint or do something messy. Also, I wear gloves to wash dishes/clean so it’s protected. Definitely would recommend getting it insured, if you haven’t already.

2. We have the same last name. It’s important to me to build family identity for us and for our future children.

3. Our wedding was really small because we were in the midst of international move (which came up right after we got engaged!).

4. The best thing would be keeping it stress free and focusing on ‘just marking each other’ which you can definitely do whether wedding is big or small.

5. I would change being pushed around a little on details and stand my ground a little more when it came to planning reception (it wasn’t really my style, but it was fun) and the flow of the whole day.

6. I tried around 5 dresses and ended up with something different than I wanted! Would recommend focusing on what you genuinely like and is your style. You can always sell the dress after or preserve it as family heirloom. Or donate it to somebody and make the super happy!

7. Our honeymoon was a little unusual- we spent three months at our holiday house on the East coast. It was amazing! Again, I would recommend doing something that is genuinely what you both enjoy and not being hung up on making super special. Because it will be whether you go to safari or just take long holiday at the lake house.

Enjoy this special time!

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Emily Ashton

Ahh! I am so excited for you! I got married 4.5 years ago so my thoughts might be a little dated, but here are some of my reflections:
I wear my ring 99% of the time (I do usually take it off to do dishes or put on a lot of lotion just to keep them clean, but my band has emeralds in it and they are soft so I try to take extra care of them. Diamonds are really hard and shouldn’t have too many issues chipping etc).

I did change my name, I LOVED my maiden name and was very attached to it, but my husband was very pro having the same last name, and I eventually came around. I honestly started out wanting 4 names (just tacking my new one on the end as Emily Louise Hartzell Ashton) but just ended up as Emily Louise Ashton 🙂 So I support your choice! I love my middle name.

We had a small wedding in pre-covid terms, around 70 people, which felt perfect! There are somtimes I wish we had invited everyone and everything but honestly you barely see the people you invite if you cross over the 20 person threshold, but I feel like 75 is a pretty good number 🙂

The best thing we did for our wedding day was sitting with our parents and grandparents during dinner. You spend so much time with your bridal party that your immediate family doesn’t get quite as much interaction and they’re usually heavily financially contributing so having some quiet time with our parents was really nice. Also we skipped the bouquet toss/garter thing.

I would have gotten a videographer had I know in hindsight how beautiful those videos can be!

I think I tried on maybe 7-8 dresses before I found the one! I definitely thought it was a good idea to try multiple silhouettes, but I gravitated back to what I had originally envisioned. I LOVED my dress, it was one of my favorite parts. I didn’t wear a veil and sometimes I wish I had but at the time it didn’t feel like it fit my personality – I love the veil pictures people take though!

We were really lucky re: honeymoon, my inlaws have timeshares and gifted us a week at an all inclusive secrets in Mexico. Honestly, it was really fun, and nice to just relax after the craziness of the wedding. We did however wait until the last couple of days to do excursions so all the resting we did when we got there kindof got shot. If you go somewhere tropical definitely go all inclusive! We went to the DR last year and stayed at a nice hotel but eating and drinking was pretty expensive, like $7 bottle wine in the states was like $50+ there, even in the grocery store, and after paying for wedding expenses and closing all of the books on that it was super nice to not worry about how much a cocktail or meal cost.

We had one of our groomsman marry us and it was perfect, he’d known us our whole relationship and was such a good reflection of it. Also, I had a friend do a reading of “Love is like a Dog” which is poem that I think might resonate with you too that hits home for me every time I hear it!

Sorry this turned out long, but I LOVE being married, it’s the literal best. I was never a shy person, but I feel so much more like I can do anything and have someone standing behind me no matter what now. It was a subtle shift but it’s one that I feel like I wasn’t expecting anthing to change since we’d lived together for close to 5 years before we tied the knot! Happy planning!! xx

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Emily Ashton

also we donated all our flowers and leftover cake to a local nursing home’s Alzheimer’s unit, and it was perfect.

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Grace

Hi! So excited for you and Mike! I totally agree, it’s such a weird time to be engaged / planning a wedding. I got engaged last August and am getting married this October. In terms of wedding size we were planning for a 200ish person wedding at a venue, but it’s looking more and more like we’re going to postpone the big celebration and throw a very small intimate backyard wedding in October. This whole situation has really clarified my reasons for wanting to get married. I think when planning a wedding it can be SO easy to get sucked into the Pinterest vortex of having a perfect day and a perfect party, but really the wedding is just the beginning of building a married life together. Having to rethink our plans has corroborated my desire to get married and has really shifted the focus away from the spectacle of it all (though I’m obviously still very much looking forward to our big wedding celebration, whenever that may be!). Whatever you guys decide will be the perfect decision for you both!! Good luck!!

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Alex

We got married I’m January with 12 people. Ceremony was in a judge’s chambers and then we had a private room at a restaurant. I wrote the entire ceremony and wore a gold dress. It was intimate and just what I wanted. My husband wanted a big party so we planned to do that this fall but now-who knows when! My only regret from my wedding experience is not hiring a photographer. I forgot to get an iPhone photo with my parents! Eek. Other than that, it was the perfect evening.

I so far plan on keeping my last name but I got a gmail address with my married name just in case.

I don’t wear my engagement ring in the shower, working out, sleeping. Some days I don’t put it on at all. I just don’t always think about it. But boy do I love it 🙂

Enjoy this time! No matter what you do I’m certain you’ll have no regrets. Even if I wish we had exchanged rings and had a photographer (things we planned to do in the fall), the only thing I can focus on is that we got married. We became husband and wife and our parents and closest friends witnessed it and had a great dinner and cocktails. It was a dream.

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Rosann72

Hi Carly! Congrats and enjoy your engagement, it’s such an exciting time!
Ring: I always wear my rings, the only exception would be if doing some baking. It quickly becomes something that feels weird if it is not on your finger.
I didn’t change my name yet, married last year.
We had a destination wedding so got quietly married locally 2 months prior to eliminate the paperwork hassles.
The best thing was having an amazing wedding planner at the resort who had fabulous suggestions and took care of everything to the smallest detail, it made all the difference.
We wouldn’t change a thing, we made choices that were meaningful to both of us and it made all the difference.
I tried on less than 10 dresses, I narrowed it down to 3 and revisited those with 2or 3 close fam/friends at a time. I went with the dress I had originally loved and it was a great choice for me.
As an older bride the only advice I would give would be to do plan together what makes the 2 of you happy and enjoy every moment. My husband and I talk about that day as the best day ever! Happy wedding planning Carly!

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Katie

Hi! Congratulations!

Couple of responses to your questions (I got married last September):

1. I wear my wedding ring always but do not wear my engagement ring for sleeping, showering, cleaning, baking, pool/lake activities, or working out. Also would like to second those who have recommended getting it cleaned/ inspected at a jeweler at least once a year to ensure no stones are loose!

2. I did not change my last name and plan to revisit this should we have kids in the future. I feel very attached to my family name and would have been very sad to see it go.

3. We had a medium-ish wedding at 200 people. It felt pretty big to me and I think if we were to get married this September we would do something super small due to COVID and plan on a big party/cookout next year.

4. Best thing was having a videographer and quality photographer and also having a smaller wedding party. I loved having our party be people we are very very close to and was at first very self-conscious of this choice but could not have been happier with it once the actual day came. Also do a hair and makeup trial and don’t be afraid to tell them if you don’t love it!!

5. I went into the day with the mindset that I wanted us to be able to really enjoy our reception and not stress about visiting with absolutely everyone there so we did a receiving line at the church, but if I could go back I would make an even more concerted effort to be on the dance floor as much as possible!

6. I tried on a LOT of dresses before finding the one. We made appointments at about 8 different boutiques over the course of a week and then stuck to all the appointments even if there were dresses I fell in love with along the way. I am glad we did it this way because it made me feel like I was not settling and also allowed me to try different styles that I may not have otherwise (as I found each boutique tends to have its own style). I can definitely relate to feeling sick over the price tag (even for the wedding as a whole I struggled with this) but I just didn’t try on dresses above a threshold I set for myself and felt happy with my choice/ no regrets day-of.

7. We took a long, big honeymoon as we are both very fortunate to be able to take a significant amount of time off of work. We went to Italy for almost an entire month, starting south and working our way up to Venice. We then spent the last three days in Paris (flights were cheaper this way but it ended up being such a fun way to end the trip). We picked Italy as it was somewhere neither of us had been so it was special to explore together for the first time and make those memories. It was also a nice blend of relaxing and activities (we are not people who can sit on a beach for weeks on end) as we started south on the beaches so we had some time to relax after traveling and the wedding and then sort of gradually worked our way into more activities. We loved Italy and while it is definitely not possible right now, I would highly recommend in the future!

Hopefully these help in some way and wishing you both all the best- enjoy all of the planning as much as you can!!

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Rebecca

Congrats Carly!!! So happy for you!!!
I will say the absolute best thing my husband and I did at our wedding was take ten minutes to ourselves between the ceremony and the reception. We got married in a church, and after we walked down the aisle, we had a room blocked off just for us so that people couldn’t grab us on their way out the door. Of course we wanted to talk to everyone at the reception, but having those few minutes to ourselves to be able to soak in really being married was amazing!!!

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Lindsay

Do you wear your ring all the time?
I do typically, although less lately since I am just home not really getting “dressed.” Funny story though, when I first got it there were so many times I forgot to put it on. I used to get to the end of the driveway and turn around and go back for it in the morning. I used to look down all the time because I was so worried about it, and while I still admire it, it’s just kind of part of me now and I’m not as worried.

Did you change your name?
Yep! I was so excited to change my name. Although I’ll be honest changing it is a real pain! At least in my experience.

Did you have a small, medium, or big wedding?
I’d say medium. We invited about 70 people and had about 60 something I believe. We knew going into it that would be the case; I have a fairly small family, and while my husband’s is large a lot of them are out of state, and we got married on a Friday to keep costs down at our venue, so it just wasn’t feasible for some people to come. But we are so grateful for those that did! I actually loved it, because it wasn’t overwhelming getting to talk to everyone but still have fun.

What’s the best thing you did for your wedding day?
I think our timeline worked out really great. We did everything at our venue which was convenient. We did our first look and photos (excluding family groups) before the ceremony, and I loved it. It took a lot of pressure off, and was a lot of fun. Also, just doing what we wanted and not worrying about what people thought lol. We got married on a Friday in October at a Vineyard. It definitely wasn’t “traditional” but honestly, I think everyone was surprised how much they loved it.

Would you go back and change anything?
Just my stress level ahead of time!

How many wedding dresses did you try on before finding “the one”?
Not that many. We went to one place, and I ordered it that day. I was pretty decisive.

What kind of honeymoon did you take?
I loved how we did this! We got married over a long weekend in October. I am a teacher, so it’s frowned upon to just jet off on your honeymoon during school haha. Also, we needed to save money! We actually didn’t even plan it until a few months before. We ended up going to San Francisco/Napa Valley/Bay Area last summer. It was wonderful exploring places neither of us had been to.

Did you do anything unique? Tips?
Well, like I mentioned I think our day and venue were unique. My tip is do what YOU want and don’t worry about what other people think. It is your wedding, and at the end of the day it is what you and Mike want. Have fun!! I didn’t really feel stressed until the week of tbh, but we had over a year to plan which helped a lot. Take your time, and just have fun! It is really just one day, and although it is a wonderful one, your relationship is what matters 🙂

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Courtney Murray

Happy to answer your questions! Plus, I am a wedding photographer, so I know a ton of wedding planning things (from planning my own wedding as well) and I’m always happy to help a bride to be. My e-mail is livelovelyphotography@gmail.com if you ever have a wedding related question.

One. I do wear my ring all the time. I love my ring. I do take it off for the beach, amusement parks, gardening, sports, and household chores. And to keep it safe I do try to wear it less at home, but it’s a ring and it’s purpose is to be worn and treasured.

Two. It sounds like you already know what you both want. You do you! 🙂 As for me, I really loved my maiden name so I kept it. The US is one of the only countries where women change their names/ are expected to. I feel great keeping mine and it won’t make a difference when we have kids. If someone calls me by my husband’s name I’ll still answer to it. When people judge I don’t let it get to me because it is my name and I’m the one living with it. Maybe it’s because of my French roots.

Three. We only had a big wedding because both of our families are huge. If you know you need a certain amount of people at your wedding day, let those very important people and you determine the size. I’ve seen very intimate and beautiful elopements and weddings as well as very large weddings and everyone always seems happy with their choice as long as their most important people are there for them.

Four. We hired a great photographer. It was a big budget item, but as a wedding photographer myself, photography is so important to me. We also did a video. People say they don’t watch theirs, but I have re-watched mine so many times. One regret was not asking for more help form family and friends. I didn’t want to be a burden, but instead I ended up so overwhelmed cleaning up after the wedding and some guests took off with several cases of our wine. I was so worried about being seen as a controlling bride, that I got walked over.

Five. The only regret is that I didn’t stand up for myself when family members bullied me about the wedding. It ended up blowing up later. If I could go back, I would have nipped that controlling and cruel behavior in the bud. No bride or groom deserves to be treated badly, especially about their wedding.

Six. Quite a few. I tried on a bunch of silly ones just because. One had a HUGE 15 ft train with giant ruffles tiered all the way down it. It looked so ridiculous on the hanger, but when I put it on it was so much fun. I couldn’t walk in it to save my life and it looked like a 1980’s Barbie doll dress. Not the dress I chose, but it was a blast.

Seven. For our honeymoon we went the adventurous route; three countries in three weeks. Saw so many places on our bucket list and had a blast feeling like explorers. A mix of adventure and relaxation.

Eight. One unique thing we did was hire a live event painter. Our wedding theme was French Impressionism so it worked out brilliantly. Guests thought it was really fun and we had a gorgeous painting of our wedding to share as our thank you cards and hang on our wall at home.

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Haley Barnes

My best advice is to pick what is most important to you and apply it everywhere. For my wedding my two main thoughts were budget (under $2000) and best, favorite, necessary (from author Emily Ley). Using that made it easier to pick a dress, venue, narrow down the wedding party and guest list (under 40 people) and figure out pretty much any wedding concern.
The other advice I’d give is to prepare for anything you can and be prepared for things to not go to plan. My husband ended up having a spinal tumor that affected his walking so we had to readjust a ton of things right before the wedding.

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Rae

I almost never wear my engagement ring, because it’s a family heirloom from my husband’s family and I am TERRIFIED of losing it! I wear a thin white gold band most of the time (which honestly.. is more my style anyways).
Also, I did not change my last name. This is such a personal decision, so obviously do what’s right for you, but my reasoning was basically: I don’t want to. Haha! In an ideal world, we would have hyphenated and then both taken that version, but our last names are not conducive to that plan. I will say, I think it’s great that you are at least having a conversation about it. In a lot of relationships that I know (too many, tbh) it’s automatically expected that the woman changes her named. I was surprised at how many people were honestly shocked that I didn’t change mine… I guess I just didn’t think it was that big of a deal? I like my last name!
As far as wedding size…. I wanted small and got big, basically. I don’t regret it, having everyone you both love in the same place is the most amazing feeling. But I will say, if your inclination is to go small, then go with your gut and don’t get pressured into something you don’t want. Granted, I planned mine pre-pandemic so it’s obviously a whole different ballgame now.

Wedding Planning world is like a different universe, and it can make you go insane. I caught myself once at 2 am reading an article about different napkin folding options and was like.. wait, I do not care about this!!! So my general advice is to remember WHY you’re doing it, and not get stressed about the details. They don’t matter! If at the end of the day, you’re married, then everything went perfectly 🙂

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Kelli Creech

I’ve got answers! I got engaged in 2015 and married in 2016.
I did, and do, wear my ring all the time, except to work out, clean house, shower, and sleep. It’s super weird! But I really love it. I’ve been wearing it less recently because we had a baby in November and I don’t want to scratch him, and I hate not wearing it. I get it and my wedding band cleaned and assessed every year around our anniversary so I don’t forget.
I did change my name, but it sounds like I was more attached to my maiden name than you are, so it was very difficult for me. My maiden name is a Cajun name that is dying out in my grandfather’s line because he only had two sons and only one procreated and had only girls (my dad). I grew up in Georgia and was sort of famous for my weird name. However, my very good friend said there was nothing more intimate than someone giving you their name, and I agreed with that, and also felt very strongly that I wanted our family to have the same name. So, I dropped my given middle name, adopted my maiden name as my middle name, and took my husband’s name. (From Kelli Marie Richard to Kelli Richard Creech. Richard is pronounced “ree-shard,” ha.)
We had a medium wedding! About 150 guests. We got married in our church and had a reception about 10 minutes away. I thought it was the perfect size. Too many more and I would have been overwhelmed. Fewer and I wouldn’t have been able to hide in the crowd as easily.
Best thing – designing the wedding around my husband and I as a couple. Regretted – bridesmaid dress colors. They were a light gray, and I initially wanted a peachy pink, but should have just done navy.
Tbh I would change my bridal party, some of those relationships weren’t what I thought they were, and I would also have the girls stay at a local B&B and get ready there. That would have been so much more relaxing than going to a salon and changing at the reception site.
I tried on approximately 20 dresses before finding mine. It really was magical in that my mom and I had visited the shop that morning and my dress wasn’t out yet for trying on, but I went that afternoon with a couple of bridesmaids after they tried on their dresses and my friend Amy pulled my dress. I had only stepped into the dress – not yet pulled the top part up to my shoulders – and I knew I’d be married in it. However not everyone has that experience! And I think you should arrive to be okay with whatever experience *you* have. Also in terms of cost, decide what budget you’re okay with and don’t even look at dresses that are out of that budget. Mine was $1000 and what a steeeeeep cost per wear! But remember that it could become an heirloom if y’all have children, and it will be something you feel really special about having. I immediately preserved mine and am so happy I have it.
We went on a 10-day trip to St. Martin. I do want to see Europe, etc, but I didn’t want to feel obligated to do anything that wasn’t relaxing – it would have been my first time traveling across the Pond. Knowing myself I would have wanted to go go go and only relax a bit on a trip like that, but after the stress of planning a wedding and all the life that happened during that time (I was fired from my first job and we had to put a family dog down), I needed to relax. So we stayed at a boutique hotel on the beach with a ton of restaurants within walking distance, did a few adventurous excursions to other islands and snorkeling, and most importantly, spent a lot of time in the sister hotel’s pool at the swim-up bar. Also had massages and facials during the week at the hotel spa.
The best advice I have is to take an intentional break from planning. Schedule it into your calendar. We got engaged in June and married on April 2, so I didn’t do any major planning, shopping, or organizing the month of December so I could relax and enjoy the holidays and my birthday. (I think I had to do my addresses for my calligrapher or something, but they were very small tasks.) When we woke up on the new year, it was all systems go, and I am really glad I did that, as we still had 3 months to get everything else worked out and that was plenty of time. Also, do exactly what makes you and Mike happy. You’ll get so much advice and you don’t have to take a word of it!
A note on horror stories: something will go wrong, and if you anticipate that it will not be 100% perfect as planned (as we’re all humans and the people who do weddings are also human), it will be a lot easier to accept the thing(s) that go wrong. Also it’s okay to cry over anything and everything.
I’m so, so excited for you Carly! You deserve all this joy, even though it comes with a lot of stress. It is only one day, but it is a day that carries a lot of meaning, and I know you will set it up that way. Xoxo

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Dedra

I wear my rings only when I leave the house and my husband does the same. It’s just easier when you don’t have to take it off to do dishes, garden, etc!

I did change my name because I had a terrible last name and was happy to get a new one!

We had an intimate, “surprise” wedding at the Omni Hotel in my city. We invited our guests to an engagement party and we surprised them there by getting married! Our parents did know we were getting married, but everyone else loved the surprise. This allowed us not to worry about registering (we’ve lived together for some time and didn’t “need” anything), inviting everyone we know, etc.

The best thing was doing something that was so completely us. Since it was so small (50 guests), we were able to do everything we wanted and more without breaking a budget. Our family & friends still say it was the best wedding they ever went to! We did not have a bridal party or groomsmen, no DJ or dance floor, etc. – just a cocktail hour, a small ceremony and then a seated dinner. It was so nice to not have to stick to certain traditions that I just did not care for. I’ve been in so many weddings, so I’ve had the experience of big weddings and they are just not for me.

The only thing I wish I would have done differently is to go on a honeymoon right away. We got married in December, very close to Christmas, so we decided to just do a small getaway to Charleston and then a “real” honeymoon later on. We ended up going to Italy, France & Spain a year later – but I wish we would have done it sooner!

My biggest piece of advice is to just do what would make you both happy and ignore everyone else (even parents, as hard as that is!) because at the end of the day, it is your wedding and not theirs. And, hire a planner (or, at the very least, a day-of coordinator). As someone with anxiety, this helped me tremendously! I didn’t have to worry about anything and could just enjoy the day!

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AW

I just had a small wedding in May that was changed to just our immediate families. We got married on top of a mountain (stunning pictures) and had a dinner celebration in a big Airbnb house in town. It was so nice and chill to have everyone relaxed and not running around stressed the whole day. Everyone said how nice it was to be in a low stress wedding that was focused just on family.

Our big reception will be close to our one year anniversary. I’m SO glad it happened this way so we can really enjoy the party and not be trying to take in every moment, look perfect, please everyone, etc.

Other tips:
Consider getting a cake from a local bakery instead of an overpriced ‘wedding cake shop’. Host small events the weekend of the wedding for friends, or family that extend the celebrations. Enlist family help for small things. I got my SIL in charge of cocktails for pre-wedding dinner, my sister in charge of appetizers and a special cocktail for the wedding dinner, etc. It helps to get small details off your plate.

Pro tip – to change your name with social security just mail your marriage register, application and a health insurance card to your local office. I got my new card in less than 2 weeks and didn’t have to leave the house!

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Nikki

First of all… congratulations!! I am so happy for you and Mike!

I just celebrated my first year of marriage, and while I feel very thankful to have been able to have a wedding under “normal” circumstances, there’s also some guilt associated with it as I watch my friends struggle with planning/having a wedding during this pandemic.

As for the questions:
Ring: I do not wear my ring all the time and take it off for the same activities you outlined above. I’ve had my ring for three years now, and I’m still not quite used to it haha.

Change your name? I also changed my last name after getting married. I am attached to my maiden name, but it was also important to my husband and I personally to share a family name for the family and life we were building together. My last name is also very long, so I wasn’t a fan of making it my middle name either.

Wedding size? Our wedding was what I consider to be medium-sized. We invited around 150 guests, and had about 135 attend. To me, it felt like the perfect size.

Best thing/regrets? I don’t regret anything from our wedding day. It was, as cliche as it sounds, the perfect day. I was SO worried about so many details and aspects in the months and weeks leading up to it, but day of – I was chill and just let the day happen, and everything worked out perfectly! I think an important piece of advice is that some things will seem like the biggest deal in the world BEFORE the wedding, but on the actual day, seem trivial. It’s an important perspective to keep in mind! The BEST thing from our wedding day was the moments my husband and I had together after getting married. We decided to do pictures with our bridal party outside the church, but then take the limo just the two of us to do photos in a local park, and that time together, right after getting married, was my favorite. I think it’s so important to have time for just the two of you on that day!

Wedding dresses: I will say that I tried on a LOT of wedding dresses and the styles I thought I wanted going into it were nothing like what I ended up with. But I think the reason I tried on so many is because I couldn’t figure out what style I wanted.

Honeymoon: Greece (Athens, Santorini and Crete). It was a good mix of beach and relaxation-time with adventure!

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Maria

I keep my ring on all the time except now that I am pregnant (and it’s hot) – when I was in the 8th grade, we got robbed and that was the one day my mother took her ring off. The sight of her broken down in the dining chair is one I would never forget. I had a “small” (150 people) Big Fat Greek Wedding, complete with my husband converting (no kiddie pool)! My life is like that movie, sans 27 first cousins (but a lot of Greek kids on my block in NYC growing up that ALL came to the wedding).

As for my dress, I researched for AGES on The Knot to narrow down what I was looking for and found a few dresses and a brand I liked, found where they were in NYC, and just went with my mom (and my gut). I was done in 20 minutes.

We postponed our honeymoon to Italy since I am a teacher till the summer (we got married in October) – we were making very little at our jobs so it was quite basic, so would LOVE to do a more luxurious second honeymoon when we can! I’ve never been to Italy at the time and my husband (who is Filipino) had never been to Europe so that’s where we went because it was affordable.

I never had a middle name growing up (Greek kids have informal patronymic names because everyone has the same first name practically!) so when I got married, I made my maiden name my middle and took my husband’s. My sister who is likely to be engaged ANYDAYNOW is planning on keeping her maiden name when she gets married – her boyfriend is Greek (from Greece and immigrated here) and in Greece its custom to not take the husbands name (and she is also doing her PhD so she is keeping it professionally as well).

So it really comes down to what I think you want for yourself, and if there are any traditions/customs you want to keep or even modify a bit (don’t get me started on baby names and how they do that in Greece, ha!).

@cablesandcrewnecks

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Sarah

Congrats Carly! I got engaged in December 2019- our wedding will hopefully be August 2021.
I wear my ring about 50% of the time- my fiance was getting so nervous about me taking it off when I did dishes, etc. so he bought this cute little cactus ring holder for me which we keep in the kitchen. When I shower, I put it back in the ring box it came in until I am done. I don’t wear it at the beach or swimming either! I also am a nurse practitioner so I don’t always wear it to work (gloves have been ripped by my ring in the past, lol!) But if I do forget to put it back on, I definitely miss it!
One other thing I would recommend considering: we booked all of our vendors SUPER early. COVID has made a lot of 2020 brides postpone to 2021. Since our original date is in 2021, I was worried about competing for the vendors I loved. So, we booked everything VERY early (like- 14 months before our date). It definitely helped with budgeting and my anxiety levels because now I know exactly what certain costs will be AND I can sit back and relax for a long time before I need to do anything else wedding-related!

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Lauren

First off, congrats! Try to make the most of this amazing time, even if wedding planning turns out not to be what you expected. I LOVE throwing parties, helping plan other peoples weddings/parties, and entertaining in general, but wedding planning was just such a big expense that everything felt more stressfull. Make sure you take time to enjoy at least some of it (hello, cake tasting!) and remember that at the end of the day its your marriage and not the party that really matters.

1. I take my ring off to sleep, shower, put on lotion, and clean. While I’m at home all the time, I don’t put it on everyday but I miss it.

2. I haven’t formally/legally changed my name yet, but go by my married name socially. Its really just me being lazy, but I’ve also been published quite a bit for work so I’m trying to decide whether I want to change it professionally at all.

3. We had a big wedding. We both come from huge families that we are very close with, so I couldn’t imagine it any other way. I will say, the big wedding was limiting in venues and made our budget tighter than it would have been with less guests.

4. Three best things we did: we hired a wedding planner/coordinator who I worked closely with from day one. It made weeding through tons of vendors much more manageable, got us great recommendations and made everything easier. I knew I could trust her recommendations and guidance, so I didn’t spend a million hours looking at every wedding photographer around. It also ment I didn’t have to worry about setting anything up day of. The other best thing I did was doing a first looking. Having those quiet last few moments as fiances wipied away every bit of stress and anxiety I was feeling that morning. I instantly felt calm and excited and just ready, if that makes sense. Going along with this, we splurged on our photographer and I’m so glad we did. She was the lovliest person, which helps when they’re with you all day, and the pictures are one of the only physical memories we’ll always have of the day. We had a lot of things go wrong with wedding planning, so I won’t share all my horror stories, but in the end we got past them all and had a magical day. Your guests will only see what they see, so anything that’s missing or not what you expected will only matter to you. Trying to keep this in mind really helped. I knew the cake was late and our escort display wasn’t right, for example, but everyone else just loved their plastic party animals.

5. Not getting a videographer. Went back and forth on this one, but I just got decision fatigue and dropped the ball. So wish I had captured at least the ceremony, speaches, and first dances. The other regret I have is not trusting my gut when it came it one of our vendors. I had the opportunity to change one mid-stream and wish I had. Unfortunately, this change came at a diffiruclt time in my life personally and I couldn’t take on any additional stress.

6. I tried on probably 15 or 20 dresses. I found what I thought was THE dress after only trying on 3 and compared every other dress to that for a long time. I ended up falling in love with another dress, things went horribly wrong with that one and I needed a new dress 6 weeks out, and ended up with a dress way over my budget and way more my style thanks to early-sample sale pricing from an incredible boutique were I looked at other dresses. In the end, I got the better dress (had it been in my original budget, I probably would have picked it but I didn’t even try it on) and am glad everything worked out the way it did.

7. We went to sandals ochi in Jamaica. I wanted warm weather (we got married in January) and somewhere to lounge. My husband wanted activities. I originally said no Jamaica and no sandals, but they price was good for the value, we splurged on a butler which felt so luxurious, and had to do very little decision making. I was exhausted after the wedding and the holidays the few weeks before the wedding, so I really enjoyed getting to just relax and be pampered. Make sure you book a massage or two wherever you go!

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Angela L

Do you wear your ring all the time?
I do not! I wear it going out and I used to at my workout classes, but I rarely wear it at home. I take it off to clean, shower and sleep.

Did you change your name?
I will be!

Did you have a small, medium, or big wedding?
We had a big wedding planned for this May and postponed to May 2021… which doesn’t feel safe at this point either! I think you have to plan for what you want and then pivot or postpone as needed. Honestly, great vendors will make it easy to postpone, ours was a breeze during an immensely stressful team and these vendors need all the support they can get with new bookings now!

What’s the best thing you did for your wedding day? Anything you regretted?
Can’t answer yet either, but was most looking forward to our first look and the time before the ceremony together with just our closest friends and family.

How many wedding dresses did you try on before finding “the one”?
Probably at least 40!! I also went to Elizabeth John’s in Morristown and had an incredible experience. I went back twice and almost said yes, but found the one at Kleinfeld (you should go just beach when else can you!!!). I hate that it’s cliche, but I will say when you put the ONE on you will not think or want to try another dress on again.

What kind of honeymoon did you take?
We had 2 weeks in Italy planned. Venice, Florence, Rome and the Amalfi Coast.

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Lori-Ann

Do you wear your ring all the time?
I did when engaged, but mostly wear only my wedding band, unless dressing up.
Did you change your name?
Yes, and moved my maiden name to the middle. I’m very traditional.
Did you have a small, medium, or big wedding?
Small, so we booked a tiny historic church. It looked full!
What’s the best thing you did for your wedding day? Anything you regretted?
We are each half Italian and hubs doesn’t dance. Our reception was in a little Italian restaurant, like a big family dinner.
Would you go back and change anything?
No!
How many wedding dresses did you try on before finding “the one”?
Maybe four.
What kind of honeymoon did you take?
Booked a treehouse cabin in Asheville, got spooked the first night and realized we did not want to do our own cooking. Moved to the Crowne Plaza the next day!
Did you do anything unique? Tips? Advice?! Something I’m not thinking about but should be?!?!
We made charitable donations to remember family who passed in lieu of favors.

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Riley

Hi, Carly! I’m engaged right now as well! I agree, sometimes I feel guilty especially when people ask me if I’m continuing on with my wedding. We want to be married so we are doing it on our planned date no matter what! Here are some things I can weigh in on:
All of my girlfriends wear their rings all the time. Personally, I take mine off when I workout and doing other activities (we went white water rafting on the fourth of july and I was the only one that took mine off!!). Part of it is just because it’s not comfortable for me to be working out with it on, part of it is it’s just not worth the possibility of losing it!
We are planning on a “medium” wedding. I have TERRIBLE anxiety and sweat so much when people look at me so I reallllly wanted a small intimate wedding, but my fiancé is so social and loves to include everyone so we really had to find a middle ground. I knew it was important to him to celebrate with the people that are important to him so I keep reminidng myself that when I feel anxious.
Everyone told me that it was rare that both my sister and myself found our dress at the first bridal boutique we went to (she was married last year and I went with her and got to see her experience). I tried on probably around 6-8. The funny thing is my whole life I always said I wouldn’t wear a strapless wedding dress, but the owner of the boutique suggested one to try on because of the “vibe” and silhouette of the dress and it’s actually the dress I am wearing!! It literally has like a seat belt attachment in the back so I feel super secure without feeling suctioned in. I’m so happy I tried it on, I’m obsessed with my dress.
Right now with COVID, we are planning on taking a “mini moon” up north (we live in Wisconsin) and will plan a honeymoon at a later date when things are more certain.
Hope this helps just a little! Congratulations to you and Mike!! I hope you enjoy this time of being engaged, it’s truly special! XO

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Allison

I could answer each question with my opinion, but here’s what I feel strongest about:
1. I changed my last name and kept my middle name. But I wish I had taken my maiden name as my middle name. There are SO many things that my maiden name is on and it’d be so much easier to ‘prove’ that it was still me if my maiden name had remained part of my name / on my ID.
2. Stretch out the wedding events as much as possible. (Do a Thursday night dinner. A Friday day time event. A Friday night dinner. Wedding on Saturday. A going away brunch on Sunday.) The wedding day goes so fast that I wish we had scheduled more events for more opportunities to enjoy the weekend with our friends/family.
3. Take a luxurious honeymoon. We went to Hawaii and it was the perfect amount of relaxation and adventure. But definitely take one. If you do a Saturday wedding, leave on Monday or Tuesday if you have the vacation time – taking time to process your wedding day and then go on vacation!

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Stephanie Mueller

Wearing ring: When we go to lake or on vacation I don’t wear it for fear of losing it. I take it off when cleaning, washing dishes or putting products on hair/face. You will get used to wearing it and feel naked without it. (I’ve had my ring for almost 3 years now)
wedding size: we had 200 ppl I believe, it was perfect for us. very hard to narrow down, but remember its about you guys
best thing: I loved every part of our wedding, prolly my fav memory was walking towards my husband and us both crying, tied with the reception
regretted: not having my bridesmaids trained on how to tie up my train on my wedding dress, we missed 30 minutes of our reception because my mom was having a tough time figuring out how to pull up my train. We were suppose to have two photographers and one of them got sick. Make sure you eat, I was too excited and forgot to eat (and you can imagine how that went with the booze)
honeymoon: we did Maui, Hawaii. Best decision ever! such a beautiful place
best advice we got was ‘take snapshots in your mind throughout the day’ ‘slow down and take everything in’ Just know that something will go wrong and your day still will be great. Oh and spend money on the photographer, we went cheap and we paid for it in the long run

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Lauren MK

Congrats on your engagement!

Even though I have a long/unusual maiden name, I did end keeping it as my middle and taking my husband’s last name. I wasn’t particularly attached to my original middle name, and if I had kept it I actually would have had the same first, middle, and last names as one of my sisters in law! I decided that would be way too confusing since she and I live in the same city and hang out all the time. Plus I was very attached to my maiden name (it’s where my nickname comes from) and while I was excited to take my husband’s much shorter and easier to pronounce last name, I would have missed mine!

My best wedding advice is to do a first look! I had a stressful morning of my wedding. (I know you asked for no horror stories, but mine ended up ok in the end- my best friend/bridesmaid was super sick and ended up in the hospital the morning of my wedding and couldn’t make it. I was sad to not have her there but a year later, she was much better and so we put our dresses on and had a super fun best friends photoshoot!) Anyway, all of that stress melted away when I got to see my husband for our first look. The first look gave us more time for photos, and since we got most photos done before the ceremony, we could spend the normal after ceremony photo time with our guests instead. I also did a first look with my dad, and the photos from that are super cute and I will treasure them forever!

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Georgia

Congratulations on your engagement! The process is so overwhelming, so take your time and make sure that it fits the 2 of you. I’ve been married for 9 years and our engagement was before the days of pinterest and instagram, we had to rely on TheKnot.com and magazines.

I still don’t wear my ring all the time. I never wear it while exercising, swimming or sleeping. I tend to take it off after work when we are cooking dinner.

I kept my full name and added my husbands name after the fact. No real reason other than that is what my mother did so it felt right to me.

We had a large wedding, which I would likely cut down if I were to do it again-we were only 24 when we got married so still kept in touch with a lot of people from high school and college. And we both have very large families!

I would have liked a different photographer-our photos are beautiful and we got a traditional album which we wanted over the newer yearbook style, however the photos are very stiff/staged and wish I had more fun and relaxed ones.

I probably tried on 20 dresses before I found “the one” and still kept some appointments afterwards just to be sure 🙂 Sorry this is long-good luck with your planning!

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Mimi Sullivan

Congratulations and Best Wishes to Mike and you.
In November, I will celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary! I’ve only taken my rings off when I went to the hospital to deliver our children! I was afraid of the off-on opening a chance to not put it back on… better to be alert if it’s off by wearing it 24/7. Insure it for peace of mind. I still love looking down at my finger to see the rings he had made from portions of both of our deceased moms’ rings – to truly meld our new family in marriage.

Honeymoon advice – we took a further travel trip (Hawaii from VA) thinking it would be harder to make/take the time for further travel later in our life. Glad we did, as we had a son for our first anniversary celebration! This wonderful surprise confirmed the decision was a right one.
Enjoy the process. It’s great to be joyful and sharing that happiness – ESPECIALLY in this time.

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Emily Weir

Congrats on your engagement! I can’t image what it’s like to “plan” a wedding right now, given everything going on. Just remember that you don’t have to start planning until you’re comfortable and ready!

Wearing the ring definitely takes getting used to, and eventually you’ll have a day you forget to put it on and feel off without it. I did change my name, but regret it. My in-laws aren’t great and I don’t have much of a relationship with them, and I just wish I’d kept my unique maiden name (and have looked into changing it back). I had about 100 people at my wedding, and my biggest regret is not just inviting family and our wedding party to a weekend away somewhere for a smaller event. The best decision I made for my wedding day was staying at my parents house with my bridesmaids the night before. It was fun for them to get to have breakfast with me and see the whole getting ready process. I actually bought the very first dress I tried on, but I knew exactly what I wanted. It also ended up being named “Emily” so it was meant to be! Highly recommend opting for a chill honeymoon if you’re going immediately. You’ll be so exhausted from the excitement and people that you won’t want to do anything other than relax and catch up on sleep. Also, if you do go on a honeymoon immediately (as opposed to several months down the road), leave one day between the wedding and your departure. This way you don’t have to say “bye” to friends and family at your reception and can always have a brunch or something the next morning for a low-key farewell. And the biggest piece of advice, plan what you want and don’t let other’s opinions impact you. You and Mike’s opinions are the only ones that matter.

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Jordyn

Congratulations once again on your engagement. Your ring is gorgeous & so classic!

My husband and I got married two years ago in August, with roughly 80 guests in Napa Valley. I don’t think I could share any horror stories even if I wanted to- it was the most perfect day.

1. Ring
I wore my ring every day from the moment we got engaged (mainly because I was SO excited), though I do take it off when I workout, shower, sleep, etc.

2. Lastname
I had all sorts of mixed emotions about changing my name before I ever got engaged. There was a part of me that liked the romance of it, and another part that disliked the patriarchal tradition (no judgment to anyone changing their name AT ALL, its a very personal choice). At the end of the day, I decided not to change my last name, though that was partially because my husband and I have the same first name so it would have been SUPER weird to have the exact same name (minus a single letter).

3. Wedding Size
We had 80ish people at our wedding so big for my introverted side, small by typical wedding size, and huge by global pandemic size, haha. I loved that it was small enough that we could talk to everyone, and large enough that there were always people on the dance floor.

4. Best thing We did for Our Wedding Day
I’m super happy we hired a day of coordinator (& appropriate staff for all required tasks aside from a little decorating) so our friends and family could enjoy themselves and I could be in the moment. We also hired a bus to drive everyone back to their hotels (it was a destination wedding) so no one had to worry about drinking & driving. I think it was a BIG relief.

5. Change Anything?
There are little things here and there I might have tweaked (like laying out the custom programs on a table so everyone would take one haha) but there is NOTHING big I would change. I really think if you follow your heart and say “no” to traditions & guests that don’t suit you, you can have the perfect day.

6. Dresses
I only tried on a handful of dresses before deciding on the one (& I only went shopping with my best friend, no big group). That being said, I was a bridal stylist at a wedding dress shop for a short time so I had tried on hundreds of dresses a couple years prior when I worked in that role so I had a good idea of what I wanted. If I hadn’t worked as a stylist, I think I would have wanted to shop around a bit more.

7. Honeymoon
We took a mini moon to Los Angeles right after our wedding (my husband couldn’t leave the country in August due to the nature of his work) and a larger honeymoon in December to Singapore & Bali, Indonesia. Both trips were FANTASTIC.

8. General Tips
I know families are heavily invested in weddings, but where you can without devastating your families, make the wedding about what you and Mike want, rather than about meeting other people’s expectations. It makes a BIG difference.

CONGRATULATIONS! I love following along on your wedding planning progress <3 It's such a magical time, even during a pandemic you deserve to feel giddy with excitement!

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raq

I never thought I’d wear a veil until they put one on at the dress shop either! I am getting married in september and we have had to completely re-think our plans. It’s important to us to still get married but with the pandemic, we have had to drastically change and scale down our wedding. We are now doing things mostly outside, with a very small group of just family and wedding party. We will have heavy apps (the best part of weddings imho!) that are singularly plated for guests to cut down on contact. We are planning a larger celebration/party when things are safe in the future for the other 150~ guests we originally had planned for.

RE: dresses and rings- I wear my ring except for when I sleep, workout or shower. I think its easiest to wear it all the time so I don’t look down and freak out that I’ve lost it! But it does take some getting used to. For dresses, I only tried on a handful- I bet you are similar to me in that when you know, you know!

CONGRATS and enjoy this time, its an INSANE time to plan a wedding but you guys will do whatever is best for you. The best part is everyone is so much more gracious and understanding about whatever you choose to do right now.

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Samantha Findlay

Hey Carly! Congrats on your engagement! I am about to celebrate my 10 year wedding anniversary at the end of July! For your questions:

1: I felt like you did when I first got my ring. I was afraid to wear it for certain things. But, you will get used to it. I shower with it, wash dishes, etc. Just get a good ring cleaner. But, I do take it off for certain things, like if I am doing heavy duty cleaning or yard work. But, I will say that I am 6 months pregnant, and have basically stopped wearing my rings cause they just don’t fit properly right now..haha.

2: I did change my name, and I am happy I did. It was a bit of a process, and I kept some things in my maiden name, like my student loans, because of the hurdles they put you through to change your name. Also, I waited until my passport expired to change my name on that, since they are so expensive. I will say that as long as your boarding pass and your passport match you will be all set.

3: I had what I would consider a big wedding..over 200 guests. At the time, our parents paid for the wedding, so we had to accommodate their wishes for the guest list. But, if I could get married today, I would have a small wedding!

4: The best thing we did for the day was ride by ourselves in between the ceremony and reception. We were able to just soak in the fact that we were married without anyone else around.

5: If I could go back, I would hire a videographer. I regret not having one all the time, to be able to watch the day and remember some of the things that happened…to say it haunts me is an understatement haha.

6: I think I tried on about 60 wedding dresses. I just could not find one that seemed right, until I put on the “one”. As soon as I put it on I was like…oh wow. But, I did go back to try it on one more time before committing.

7: We went to Hawaii for our honeymoon, which was the perfect combination of adventure and relaxation. We stayed put on Maui the entire time, and I would go back in a heartbeat.

8: My #1 piece of advice for all my friends who are about to get married, is do not skimp on your photographer! They will capture your whole day, and worth the investment. You will not remember what your cake tasted like, or if the DJ played the right music, but you will look at your photos for years. Also, make sure that the photographer doesn’t just show you a few photos (or their best work). Make them show you a whole wedding album that they shot, so you know all your photos will look great, not just a couple.

Hope this helps!!

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Stacey

I actually mostly wear my wedding ring only now but I only wear my ring(s) during the day not when sleeping, showering, doing dishes, etc…
I didn’t change my name and my husband didn’t seem to care. Seemed like too much of a hassle and I guess my feminist side comes out for this one but that’s just me.
I tried on maybe 10 dresses and only went to the same shop twice. I ended up with something different than I thought as well. I still love it and wish I had a reason to wear it again. I thought I wouldn’t want the veil but it just makes the outfit for some reason!
A wedding planner was the best decision on my wedding day! Takes so much of the stress off of everyone.
My advice is that all the little details that will seem important, no one will remember except you mostly likely so don’t stress about them. Examples are like flowers, center pieces, favors…. chances are you will only be the ones to remember.
Fun suggestion for favors is a bookmark. It has a picture of us and the wedding date saying “Thanks for being a part of our next chapter.” I still have quite a few and use them all the time. I think they’re so cute!

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Meg

Congrats and Best Wishes!!

I love weddings and still daydream about mine! It is such an exciting and fun time. Yes, I changed my name (dropped my maiden name). It was a lot of work but something I have always known I wanted to do. Yes, I wear my ring all the time. No, I would not go back and change anything about our wedding. While planning I kept repeating that if everything went wrong that day it was okay as long as we were married by the end of it. That was my favorite part of our wedding day.

Lastly, we went on a Vikings Ocean Cruise through the western Mediterranean for our honeymoon. It was AMAZING and I highly recommend it. Its not like a normal cruise, it was like a small floating hotel.

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Lindsay

I don’t wear my rings all the time. They do get dirty (lotion, soap scum etc.) and it helps keep them clean. Honestly in quarantine I’ve hardly worn my rings at all.

I changed my name and kept my maiden as my middle name. My mom did the same and I always planned on it.

We compromised on wedding size. My husband and mom wanted everyone they’ve ever met. So we threw a big engagement party in our city, and then had a destination wedding a few states over with a smaller crowed. We invited 200 but purposely held the wedding in September, so those with kids just back in school mostly opted out of attending a destination wedding – ended up with 125. I also was thrown bridal showers and engagement parties in different relatives’ cities so people could celebrate with us even if they couldn’t travel for the wedding.

We’re both lawyers who don’t get a lot of time away but knew we could ask for our honeymoon! So we did it big – 2 weeks in Fiji and Australia. Loved it.

I honestly wish I would have stressed less! And we had a whole weekend – Thursday welcome party, Friday bridal lunch and rehearsal dinner, Saturday wedding, Sunday goodbye brunch. It was very nice to have a lot of opportunities to hang with our guests and not have to rush around the wedding to say hello to everyone.

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AW

Wedding was 4/6/2019
Ring – I became familiar with wearing mine and now I never take it off. I chose not to get a wedding band. I did try on bands, but it felt like they took away from the engagement ring, so I have no added bands.
Name – I took my husband last name, but let me tell you, it is a bit of a nightmare to change. A friend gave me the tip to order multiple marriage certificate copies b/c you’ll most likely need more than one. You might keep a copy with you for a bit when going places (bank, library, cell phone provider…etc.).
Wedding Size – 50 people. Ceremony & brunch in the same venue.
Best thing we did – Keep it simple. We’ve received many compliments on our wedding b/c of it’s simplicity and c’mon, who doesn’t enjoy a fun brunch?!
Dress – Tried on one dress. I wore a pink, tea length dress with navy & white embroidered flowers on it.
Honeymoon – We both had just started new jobs so we took a short 3 day trip to a new city we’ve never been in the States. It was fun to explore somewhere new, but relaxing because we didn’t feel the need to over-schedule ourselves.

Best wishes with all the planning, and congratulations on the engagement.

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Lee

COVID bride here. We planned a medium sized wedding (130 guests) for April 2020 and are now getting married in early August 2020 with just 25 guests (family and a few friends). We’ve been together for over 10 years and just want to be married already!
I’ve hated every step of wedding planning – it seems so silly to me to spend so much money on one day. I’d rather take that money and spend it on a great trip, down payment for a house, or just put it in savings.
That being said, I did like dress shopping lol. There is a nonprofit in my area that sells donated dresses (from both brides and bouquets). They are very picky about what they take. The experience was so similar to going to a boutique, except no one tried to “sell” me on anything. My dress was 1/3 the original cost and most importantly, all the money went to charity!
If we could do it over, I would’ve liked to elope somewhere beautiful with immediate family. There are some great companies out there offering elopement packages in different areas. Simply Eloped was the one we were looking at. They have photography, hair/makeup services, officiants, etc.
People will say it’s your day, but it’s really you and Mike’s day. You guys are a team now and need to make decisions on what you want the wedding to be like together. And there’s no rush to get married, especially in COVID times. Just enjoy where you’re at and it will all work out.

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A Girl, A Style

I’m so excited for you to be in this fun newly-engaged chapter! A few of my answers just in case they are helpful:

1) Ring: I don’t wear mine all the time! I only really wanted one great ring, so did a combined engagement/wedding ring (and just used that same ring for the ‘exchanging of the rings’ part of the ceremony). I tend to take it off when I’m doing my evening skincare routine because I don’t like the feeling of wearing any rings while I’m doing the dishes or cleansing my face or sleeping, and then put it back on when I leave the house in the morning (but I do sometimes forget!). I never wear it at the gym (weights can damage the ring), or near water. And if I’m on a train or something and want to be super-safe, I’ll often turn it around so it just looks like a plain band rather than a giant stone!

2) Name: I didn’t change my name, but only because I’m attached to mine and didn’t personally like the historical reasons for doing so, but I might change my mind if we have babies as I also like the idea of one family having the same name in that situation!

3) Size: Medium. We had exactly 70 guests, but to be honest I think we should have gone smaller and just had immediately family and our closest friends (it was so hard to get to find time to speak to even that number of people on the day, and we haven’t seen a lot of those people since our wedding day!) I personally found wedding planning so stressful that I wouldn’t want to do a second ceremony, so I say just do it once with the people you absolutely want to have there.

4) Best thing we did: get a band (all anyone could talk about was how much fun they had on the dance floor). Worst: Not having any time for just the two of us to soak it all in.

5) Things I’d change: a) allowing even more time to get ready – my hair and makeup artist did me last, and then I was running late and there wasn’t enough time for pre-ceremony ‘getting ready’ photos and I was so stressed about keeping everyone waiting that I felt guilty rather than happy or relaxed; b) not having a shot list of all the photos we absolutely wanted the photographers to capture (we assumed they’d just get them all along the way).

6) Advice: figure out the people who are most important to you to be there, and don’t worry about inviting all the other people you feel you ‘should’ (this is the perfect excuse to only have your nearest and dearest there!). Similarly, in terms of budget: things add up *really* fast, so figure out what is most important to you, and put your money towards those priorities and save on the rest. For us that was food (which was great – we picked the whole menu and ordered a custom-flavoured cake), band / music, and flowers (I couldn’t find a florist I liked, so placed a huge order for garden roses, peonies, hydrangeas and freesias and did them myself with my cousin and bridesmaid two days before!). And I was more bothered by having a great ring that I’d wear forever vs a great dress (that I’d only wear once). That meant we didn’t spend on extras like photo booths, favours, etc. that every magazine tells you that you should have, but which weren’t actually that important at the end of the day.

I hope that is a tiny bit helpful! Sending lots of love.

Briony xx

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Kate Losee

-I used to wear my rings all the time till I had a baby. They were scratching his head, and my hands swell a lot in the summer, so now I wear a silicone band unless I’m going out.
– I did change my name, but I just added my new last name on, so I now have two middle names.
– I guess I had a mediumish wedding – 140 people attended; we invited 170.
– I would do pictures with bridesmaids ect before the ceremony. I changed into my dress at the church because I didn’t want it to wrinkle in the car. I have NO “bridal” solo shots of myself at all. Make a list of the people you absolutely want to be in photos, and share with your photographer. Make sure there’s enough time before the ceremony for all the photos you want of yourself/your family ect. If I could change anything, I’d have gotten the dress I wanted, instead of the dress I was peer pressured into. Just because everyone else cries and loves it doesn’t mean you have to get it! Also try on a LOT of dresses. I tried on 37, which sounds nuts, but you get to know what you are really comfortable in and what will suit your location/time of year.
– We went to Bali for our honeymoon. I 100000% recommend it. My husband had spent a lot of time in Asia for work, but I’d never been. I really think going somewhere totally different than your usual vacation is a good idea.
– I grew up partially in the Caribbean so we had a steel drum band and coral pieces in the centerpieces that my parents gathered from the beach! That was super fun. Whatever you can do that is really YOU and not generic (even as pretty as some stuff is) will make it special. And enjoy this time! As they say – if you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t, do as you damn well please!

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Smile

My wedding day is the happiest day of my life. The birth of my children come next. The key to me is do worry. This is for the binding of 2 lives. Anything is not nearly as important, now and forever.

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Lori

Congratulations! One idea…what about having your dress made? I knew what I wanted but couldn’t find it anywhere and someone suggested getting it made. Best idea ever, and it was ridiculously cheaper than buying one off the rack (though this wasn’t my motivation). Plus, it fit perfectly!!

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Rebecca

1. Breathe. It’s _your_ wedding, there are no wrong answers.
2. Keep it simple, make it memorable.
3. The only person who can make you stress is you. Choose to be stress free and the rest all falls into place.

Ring advice: get a little ring holder/dish/tray for your dresser so you have a dedicated place to put it whenever you’re not wearing it. Saves sanity.

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Katie

One of my biggest pieces of advice that I can give is to write down your initial gut feelings about certain things (what kind of food you are leaning towards, band or dj, what kind of flowers, etc.) so that when you talk to other people, their ideas for your wedding don’t hijack your own.

For our wedding we tried to make it as green/sustainable as possible. We worked with a caterer to find a food shelter to give any leftover food to after the wedding. We didn’t do wedding favors, but instead planted trees through a local non profit in honor of our guests. We had recycling stations set up (we had to pay a service to come collect) and had no one-time-use plastic. We try to be very environmentally responsible at home, so it felt like the responsible thing to do for our wedding.

Other than that, I would say don’t feel guilty on the wedding day if you need moments to yourself. I took several moments away from bridesmaids, family, and the groom to just reflect on things in the moment. It also gave me a breather from the excitement.

So excited for you!

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Tiffany VDH

My husband and I planned a 50 person surprise wedding two years ago and it was the best decision ever. Under the guise of an engagement party, we did a quick costume change, said our vows, had one hell of a party – and it was done! People still talk about it as their favorite wedding, there was no pressure on us, we did exactly what we wanted, and that was that!

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Renae

Hi, I’m newly married (just had our one year anniversary!)

– I wear my ring mostly just when I’m out of the house. If I’m in the house for the day I don’t really wear it. Also do not wear it when showering/sleeping!
– I did change my name for the same reason of I wanted our family to all have the same name. And it felt like us becoming one! I love my middle name as well so kept that.
– we had a small wedding in Ireland (live in Boston). We did it through a company that handles everything for you! It was amazing and we had only immediate family come.
– since we married in Ireland we did a honeymoon after in England and Scotland

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Caroline

I wear my ring all the time (it’s a family heirloom), my mom said once she had kids she stopped wearing it because it just got in the way. I changed my name (took me 6 months)- I really love my maiden name but this is something I like about tradition. We had less than 100 people which felt like the perfect size for us, intimate enough but still felt like a big party with all of our people! The best thing I did was incorporate ways to make people feel included (a toast for my Pop, who died before the wedding, little baskets in friends rooms). I would actually change a lot of things, but the biggest one was be in charge of my time on the wedding day! Make a schedule for hair styling, tell the photographers not to take us away for pictures during the reception/dinner, so we could actually relax and enjoy the day!

I bought the first dress I tried on- no regrets. I love it so much still. We ended up doing a mini moon in the Catskills, and then went to Europe later for our real honeymoon. You NEED time to decompress with your spouse after the wedding. I wish I had taken more time off after.

The most unique thing about our wedding was that it took place on an island (in a lake, northern WI), which allowed the weekend to feel like a a vacation for all of our guests. Everyone stayed in cabins on the island, played lawn games, swam and canoed all weekend long!! It was so much fun.

I’m so excited for you and Mike!

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Erin

We spent a fortune on a photographer and I don’t regret it one bit. Small wedding in a civil war era chapel t hug at was HOT in May so we passed out oriental fans that everyone loved. I did our flowers using my own garden roses, peonies, etc and it was so calming and kept me entertained all day with no jitters. My schnauzer was at the ceremony and now that she’s gone I wouldn’t take a million dollars for the pictures of us.

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ER

I don’t wear my rings all the time! I can’t stand sleeping in jewelry, so I take them off at night. And right now, with a 1 year old, I find that I wear them even less often.

Two things we did on our wedding day that I’m so glad we did and wouldn’t change:
– A cocktail hour before the ceremony. I didn’t attend, but all of the guests, the groom and the wedding party did and it just gave such an elevated air of relaxation, excitement and fun to the actual ceremony. This would be hard to do with a church ceremony, but worked for our outdoor event.
– Had the wedding planner pack to-go boxes of all of the food so that we had a chance to taste everything. This was an especially good idea because we were starving at the end of the reception!

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Brittni S.

The one piece of advice I give any of my friends getting married – besides do what YOU want and what makes YOU happy – is to get a videographer. We had a small budget and had a 50 guest backyard wedding in New Orleans officiated by one of our dearest friends. Despite reading a hundred times that you should get a videographer I didn’t and I would give anything to see myself walking down the aisle with my dad or hearing our officiant’s ceremony again (I remember thinking it was perfect but it’s all such a blur that I can’t tell you a single thing he said) or to see our closest friends and family celebrating together. It’s the only thing I regret.

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Kassandra

My husband and I got married 2.5 years ago outside at a horse farm. The reception was inside the cleaned out and decorated barn. It rained (A LOT) and we still went through with our original plan to get married outside. We had a 15 min window to make it happen haha. Despite it raining, the only thing I regret is not having a videographer. We have incredible photos from our wedding but I so wish we had spent the money on a videographer.

I did change my last name (9 months after our wedding because I’m a teacher and didn’t want to be difficult for my third graders). I wanted to have the same last name as my husband and our future kids. However, after I did it, I was a little sad to leave behind my last name – I didn’t realize I was attached haha. (Hoffmeister is just such a fun last name, compared to my now Flading).

I went to four dress boutiques and tried on more than 10 before landing on the very last one. It was beautiful and not too expensive compared to all the others. I, too, couldn’t justify spending thousands of dollars on a one-time dress. I did end up spending a little more money on my veil though because it could easily be passed down to a best friend or a future daughter. Honestly I might have loved my veil more than my dress haha.

Since I’m a teacher I couldn’t honeymoon until a break from school. So we took a long weekend mini-moon to Charleston and then took a longer honeymoon to Italy (Rome, Cinque Terre, and Venice).

I’m so excited for you Carly! Your wedding will be beautiful and perfect for you two as a couple ❤️

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Tessa

I’m so excited for you!!!! We got married at a restaurant/bar so we didn’t have to spend money on decor or catering or a lot of extras. And we chose a kitchen remodel instead of a honeymoon and have 0 regrets 😂

My husband and I both changed our names so my maiden name is both of our middle names and his last name is both of our last names. Weird, but it works for us and that’s what matters!!! I also wore a blue dress. So moral of the story— do what’s right for you two!

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Danielle Schelling

Congrats to you both! It can feel so overwhelming at first and sometimes, social media and pinterest can add to feelings of overwhelm and anxiety and perfectionism (which is a lie). Stay true to you and take it a step at a time. Also, SAVE EVERYTHING for vendors. I stayed organized planning my October 2019 wedding with Google Drive and sheets – keeping a master planner sheet and creating folders for each vendor to save contracts, emails and important info. Find a system that works for you and stick to it – I promise it helps. So excited for you! Planning can get stressful, but don’t forget to enjoy the process and the amazing marriage you’re planning for! One step at a time…you got this.

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Katie

Yay congrats on your engagement and happy planning! You deserve to be excited!

Do I wear my ring all the time – when we first got engaged we were both so paranoid! I wouldn’t wear it swimming, working out etc. but now that it’s been 4 years I wear it all the time and doing dishes, in a pool etc. Once I got ring insurance too that peace of mind helped erase any anxiety!

How many dresses did I try on – I tried on 3 before I found my dress, kind of like you with the one you loved!! After that first trip I didn’t even keep shopping, bought my dress that same day.

Honeymoon – we did an all inclusive and it was the best. decision. ever. I love Europe and traveling but after your wedding no matter what or who you are, you’ll be drained! And you’ll be in this little “love bubble” as I call it ha and really all you’ll want is to spend time together (of course speaking from my own experience). Exploring, doing tours, being in big crowds, lots of transportation etc. was the LAST thing I wanted. I’ve traveled a lot and to this day I say our honeymoon was the best trip of my life.

Also – my recommendation for my other gf’s planning weddings is always to get The Knot wedding binder. I loved flipping through it and the little check list. It helped keep all my wedding thoughts/ideas/plans in one place and I liked it being something I could touch and scribble in vs. all online.

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Elisabeth

Just have fun!! Remember this is your special day with your husband. Your friends and family will love you no matter what you decide to do.

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Ali

Congrats to you! I would recommend going to your cocktail hour- it’s so worth it and just cut the photos a bit short to make it. Makes the wedding day last longer too! I had 90 people at my wedding which was a nice size. The smaller the better in my opinion. 🙂 Don’t feel bad about keeping the guest list short if that’s what you need to do. And you get to visit with everyone that way. I don’t sleep or workout in my ring but I think a lot of people do. Do whatever feels comfortable. 🙂

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Catherine

Congratulations Carly!

I changed my name. I don’t have a middle name, but did not keep my maiden name as part of my name. It was not a “legal” name change, but I was able to change all my documents (passport, credit cards, DL, etc) using my marriage certificate. Some may call it old fashioned, but I loved the thought of doing it.

Even if it’s only the third dress you tried on, if you know, you know! Don’t get bogged down trying on tons of dresses, too overwhelming.

I take my rings off at night. I know some that also my wear their engagement ring at all, and just a band. I figured if he was going to shell out the money for it I should wear it all the time! You get used to it and will stop panicking it fell off somewhere. I’m sure you’ve done this, but get that ring insured!

We actually stayed pretty close to home for our honeymoon (well, in the same country). We figured it was a great time to explore our own country, and be able to enjoy a more luxurious vacation without having to shell out money in airfare. There are so many beautiful places on the east coast (gorgeous Relaix and Chateau properties) if you don’t want to travel far.

I know some people are postponing weddings because they really want to celebrate and have the party. I’ve been to both kinds of weddings…my one sister had 40 people at her wedding and it was so fun! Plus, you can add some touches that might be too expensive if you have 200 people. Weddings are fun, but the costs can get out of control, a good excuse to keep it small if that’s you’re thing. I’ve also been to a wedding with 800 people. That was insane!

And it’s okay to be happy and celebrate…please don’t feel guilty. We could all use some smiles during this crazy time!

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Kb

For wearing the ring.. I don’t wear mine all the time. I bought a silicone band and will wear it at night/shower/exercise/etc! I keep the silicone band next to the box so I switch the ring for the band to have something in the finger. When I first got engaged I would wake up in the middle of the night worried and checking to see if my ring was in the box!! Now I feel better having a place holder, if you will.

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Jess

Congrats on your engagement! I also love my middle name. I was never in love with my last name, so when I got married, I took my husband’s last name and kept my middle name. As for wearing my ring, I don’t wear it when I sleep, and in the winter when I need gloves, I find myself just wearing just my wedding band a lot. At the end of the day, as long as you and Mike are happy and comfortable with your wedding plans, that’s what matters. A wedding is a chapter in your story, not the whole book. 💙 Wishing you the best!

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Clair

Do you wear your ring all the time?
Short answer is yes. However, when we’re just around the house I don’t usually wear it. I also only wear my wedding band if we travel out of country. (It feels like that will never happened again.) I keep a ring dish at every sink in the house for me to place my ring when I was my hands, and have a beautiful Waterford one by my kitchen sink for when I do dishes.

Did you change your name?
Yes. I hated my middle name so it gave me the perfect excuse to replace it with my maiden name. Plus all my degrees have my maiden name so I like still having it.

Did you have a small, medium, or big wedding?
We had a little over 200 people at our wedding. It felt medium sized, but I understand how that can feel large to some. Start a list with your fiance with your families and their plus ones then add in must invite friends and their plus ones. Then create a list of maybes. That will help you gauge what size wedding you both want by giving you a list of people you want to be there.

What’s the best thing you did for your wedding day? Anything you regretted?

100% best thing we did was hire a very experienced, certified wedding planner. If your wedding planner doesn’t use a fanny pack the day of then she’s not prepared. Everyone thinks they can do it themselves or wedding planners are too expensive, but she actually saved us money with the discounts she was able to secure. Also, wedding planners do this for a living. They know how to keep the wedding day on time, take care of any hickups, and think of every detail. Plus my mother, bridesmaids, and I didn’t have to do anything the day before or day of the wedding other than sip champagne and have fun!

Would you go back and change anything?
The only think I would change is asking my Mother in law who she would like to invite to the rehearsal. She gave us so much money for the wedding that my husband and I assumed we were paying for the rehearsal ourselves so I made everything really minimal and only invited the wedding party and their plus ones. A few months before the wedding my MIL asked me about the rehearsal and how much it was going to cost because she was going to pay for it. At that point I included her in all of the decision making for the rehearsal but forgot to ask her if she wanted to invite anyone else.

How many wedding dresses did you try on before finding “the one”?
I tried on probably 8 to 10 and wish I would have tried on more because it was so much fun! My advice is to go in with a budget and stick to it. There are gorgeous dresses in every budget. The most important part is getting a great alterations person. That’s what actually makes the dress look amazing!

What kind of honeymoon did you take?
We went to Paris, Athens, and Santorini. It was amazing!

Did you do anything unique? Tips? Advice?! Something I’m not thinking about but should be?!?!
My tip is create a budget and stick to it. Pick 3 things you and Mike really want to focus your money on and skip a little on other things. For example, we picked photography, music, and open bar. That let us skimp on other things like the wedding food. (Wedding food is so difficult so we picked a pasta dish that would be filling, and we knew no one could mess up. I’ve never left a wedding and thought wow that wedding food was great.)

Also, don’t stress about planning. You’re on your time line. If you want to wait to set a date till we know more about COVID you should wait. You can always look at venues and vendors without knowing a set date.

Last, don’t skimp on the cake tasting! Do a big all out cake tasting with your wedding cake baker. This was probably one of the most fun things we did!

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b

Agree on wedding food! Also when RSVPing to other people’s weddings just pick the thing that you think would be easiest to hot hold if you were preparing it yourself 🙂

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Stephanie

First, during our rehearsal with only our closest friends (wedding party) and parents / grandparents there we decided to exchange our personal vows. For the wedding we wanted something more traditional for the actual ceremony. The personal vows were handwritten and have since been framed and hung in our bed room.

Second is exchanging a gift to each other. For my husband I had a custom wooden box made to keep mementos from our relationship in. My husband had my bouquet preserved and framed. I would absolutely recommend bouquet preservation, we both really love having that piece of our day.

Rings – when I was first engaged I was a lot like you. It is frightening to keep the ring safe! Because of that, my wedding band was selected specifically to be safe for constant wear. That way whether I’m cleaning or doing something adventurous, I can still wear a ring without the worry of damaging the engagement ring. Over the years I’d like to add new bands for special occasions (big anniversaries or children) that can be switched out with the original depending on outfit.

Finally, if I could change one thing: the wedding would be smaller. Looking back, the only people I remember wanting to see or celebrate with was the friends and family closest to us. I would do a 50 person ceremony with a nice, casual sit down reception to enjoy the day.

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Courtney

I loved my dress! I saw a small corner of it sticking out behind a bunch of others during the sit down portion of my consultation and I knew that was it. I literally saw maybe a foot of the bottom of the skirt. I wanted lace and I could see 3 different types of lace in stripes down the skirt. The consultant wasn’t as convinced as I was but that’s the dress I bought that day after trying on 3. When I put it on, I was even more in love. My mom looked at me and said, that’s all you!
I did, and do wear my ring(s) all the time. I was so happy to be engaged to the love of my life.
I kept the Southern tradition of dropping my middle name and putting my maiden name there. It’s what every woman in my family has always done.
we ended up with a small wedding. We aren’t big flashy people, so it’s really up to what feels right for you and Mike. Being the center of attention makes me nervous so we just had family and really close friends.
The best thing we did on our wedding day was to call each other before the ceremony and say we loved each other AND to just roll with whatever happened. We had a lot of rain and we just went with it. I refused to stress over anything on THE day.
Our wedding was beautiful and looking back, I wish we had a videographer. I nixed it in favor of saving some money but I wish we had it.
We took a stress-less honeymoon. No plane, boat, or anything else to catch. And no itinerary. We spent our wedding night on the property of our reception and left the next morning for the NC mountains. No cell service, plenty of down time, car rides, dinner at our cabin, and a few day trips. It was blissful.
We rang the bell in the church we got married in. It was customary to ring them back in the day and our church was built in 1910 so we rang it on our way out! Use whatever space you get married in to dictate anything unique you want to do. But our wedding was SO simple and not trendy or fussy or anything and everyone LOVED it. Almost 2 years later and we’re still getting comments on how much everyone enjoyed it.
The biggest thing is to make sure the wedding represents you and Mike joining together. It should reflect your personalities, not trends 🙂

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Hailey

Congratulations!! I spent 14 months planning my wedding, and it was seriously the best day of my life. I love weddings!! I wear my ring at all times except when working out, cleaning/doing the dishes, and showering. I changed my name. It’s such an easy process! Start with social security and go from there. I had a large wedding, about 200 people. Do what’s right for you both as a couple!! The best thing was a wedding planner. We had a random rain storm pop up and my wedding planner called the local meteorologist to track the storm. It ended up not even raining, but I wasn’t stressed at all because I had someone else dealing with everything. I was able to hang out with the wedding party and family while getting ready. I wouldn’t change anything. My husband and I have actually talked about starting to do a big party on our anniversary. It’s SO fun being with all of your friends and family. I think I tried on less than 10 dresses. I knew the shape of dress I wanted, and I actually had a dress I loved and once I tried it on I knew it was the one! My husband and I went to Greece on our honeymoon. We did a relaxing week in Santorini and then a couple of sightseeing days in Athens. Focus on what you and your fiancé want and do that. Congrats again!

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Jo

I never wear my ring, haha, especially now that we’re in quarantine and hardly leave the house. When I was going into an office every day, I wore it and would wear it out shopping, to dinner, etc. (or sometimes my silicone ring if I didn’t feel like wearing my real set – highly recommend for working out, skiing, you get it). I’m already not a big jewelry person so I just feel like my rings get annoying after a while. As soon as I get home, they come off and go in a dish on the bathroom counter.

I did change my name. I would have loved to keep my maiden name, but my husband felt strongly about it and I didn’t have any issues with that. My name is unusual in that I have two first names (Jordan Leigh) so I didn’t really feel like I was “losing” any of my name, although my maiden middle name is my mom’s maiden name, so I did feel a little guilty dropping it, but five names is too many! Long story short, I dropped my maiden middle name and made my maiden last name my middle name.

I had a medium wedding for the market that I lived in the time. We invited around 200 people and had roughly 120-130.

The best thing is that we get to relive it – Hire a videographer if you have an inkling you’d like one! Some people know they won’t get any value from it, but for us, it was definitely worth it. We also are so so glad we wrote our own vows. Again, not for everyone, but perfect for us. Only regret is that it was 100 degrees and we did not purchase nearly enough white wine or champagne, haha.

I do think about things I’d do differently. I had never been to a wedding where they played “pop” music (acoustics or whatever) for the ceremony and walking down the aisle, but now that feels much more us than the classical instrumentals we played.

I tried on probably 5-8 dresses at each store and went to three stores, so the dress I chose was probably the 15th or so.

We went to Kauai for seven days and nights. We wanted to go somewhere farther away or in the Caribbean, but September is hurricane season literally everywhere and we weren’t able to take weeks and weeks off from work, so Kauai it was. It was amazing!!

Tips and advice: Everyone will say this, but do not stress about your wedding. Things will go wrong but most things will go right, and if you hire a day coordinator (MUST MUST MUST) and he/she does his/her job, you won’t even know what went wrong. At the end of your day, you and Mike will MARRIED and that’s all that matters. So happy for you!

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Carly

As a fellow Carly, CAR is a perfect monogram! Everyone close to me, calls me Car. Congratulations again!

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Carly

Also, I feel like these days there are so many creative things to do with your dress after. You are so talented with sewing etc. whether for a blanket for a future daughter, charities that will take them for babies etc. If you have the “bride” moment in it, it’s probably the one.

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Gabrielle Pirruccio

Hi Carly! So happy for you both!!

Re: rings – Yes I wear my rings all the time! Even in the shower/to sleep, but not to workout if I’m lifting weights (still wear them running/spinning). I have found that for me, the safest place for my rings is on my finger. A lot of the horror stories of losing a ring I’ve heard from people who take it on and off frequently, and then forget to put it back on or it got knocked off the counter or something like that.

Re: name change – Yes I changed my name! I wanted the cohesive feeling of being a family and having the same last name as my husband and future children. I was also not as attached to my last name, since it had a period in it (St. Jarre) which made filling out official documents a huge pain.

Re: wedding size – We did a medium-large wedding (160 people) in December 2019, so 3 months before the pandemic hit the US. For us, it was perfect, because it included everyone we loved and wanted there like extended family and close family friends.

Re: best thing – I am SO happy we did a first look. It let us spend more of our day together and calm down before the ceremony, and the pictures are priceless. We are private people, so to be able to have that moment of seeing each other for the first time without the pressure of everyone watching us, and just revel in the moment of omg we’re getting married right now was the best thing. My photographer gently guided me into doing it and I am so grateful!

Re: change anything – I just wish I could have spent more time with every guest. We tried to go around and say hi to everyone, but it still felt like I barely saw some people. If this might bother you, have a smaller wedding.

Re: dresses – I tried on 5 dresses. One of them I had seen online and really loved, so I saved it for last, and I knew it was the one as soon as I put it on.

Re: honeymoon – We did a week at Cocobay in Antigua (the most beautiful resort I’ve ever seen) and we still talk about how that was one of the best choices we’ve ever made. After the craziness of seeing so much family the week of the wedding and being the center of attention, we honestly would have been miserable on a busy, tour-filled, sightseeing European tour. We just relaxed on the beach or on a boat or by the pool and did nothing but spend time with each other and eat amazing food and read some books and it was pure heaven.

Re: advice – Get a videographer. I have watched ours a hundred times. Even the raw footage that didn’t make the social-media-worthy “highlight video” is so cherished, because we can go back and remember every little moment and be put right back in that mental space. I love our photos, but the video is really really special.

Best wishes to you and Mike!

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Liz

Ahh, so excited for you! I got married last June, so my thoughts are still fresh! RING- I wear them all the time other than to workout or to sleep, though if I am traveling (like for work) and not sleeping in my own bed, I do sleep in them because I don’t want to forget/lose them anywhere. I have a Qalo silicon ring for trips (like to the lake) where I don’t think I want to wear my actual rings. Took me a while to get used to them, too, and to be honest, a year + later, I still stare at them all the time 🙂 NAME- I did change my last name, and kept my middle name what it was! Zero regrets. DRESS- I found a Jenny Yoo wedding dress online that I loved so much, ordered it from Nordstrom, tried it on at home, and it ended up being the ONE. It was also VERY reasonably priced which was important to me for it being a dress I would only wear once. I couldn’t stand the idea of spending a few thousand dollars on a one-time dress! WEDDING- at the very last minute (like maybe 4 weeks before the wedding) I freaked out that I had decided not to do a videographer, so I found one, and I am soooo glad I did. It was 100% worth the money to have this amazing wedding video that I still watch all the time! Also, I love ice cream so much, so we decided not to do a wedding cake and instead did an ice cream sundae bar which was the best!! HONEYMOON- We took a ‘minimoon’ to Napa right after the wedding for 5 days which was awesome, and we had a grand international trip planned for this summer (1 year anniversary) to have something awesome to look forward to post-wedding. Obviously we didn’t get to take that trip because of Covid 🙁 But I still like the idea of doing a ‘big’ honeymoon a year later! It’s just a LOT to handle the wedding and a big trip at once in my opinion. Have fun!!

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N.

Ring: Didn’t want an engagement or wedding ring! I picked out a $300 necklace that I can wear frequently and not feel guilty about if it gets lost or damaged.

Name: We both kept our last names! Our kids will take his last name.

Wedding: We got married literally the weekend before the COVID quarantine began. It was at my parents’ house with about 20 family members. The cost was about $2,500 for the entire thing (dress, flowers, food, two servers, etc.) and it was the BEST day.

Dress: Wore a white dress that is causal enough to rewear to a nice dinner.

Advice: Check out the wedding planning subreddit (Reddit.com)! Such a great place for advice and other perspectives.

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Natalie

Hey, Carly! Congratulations again on your engagement! I’m so happy to see and hear that you are happy… you and Mike seem MFEO (to borrow a “Sleepless in Seattle” quote. 😉 ). My husband and I got married in 2018 and it was the best day of our lives (so far!).
Regarding ring: I don’t wear mine when cleaning, when I am showering / working out, or when I am sleeping. It may sound kinda crazy, but I just want to protect the stones from any damage / buildup due to chemicals or product and I’ve heard that you can accidentally knock stones loose or scratch yourself / partner in your sleep. I tend to err on the side of caution (I travel with my @mrsbox to put my rings in when we’re not at home).
I changed my name too. I felt similar to the way it sounds like you do and I really like my husband’s (now my!) last name.
We had what I would consider to be a “schmedium” wedding, depending on your perspective. We had about 60 guests and it was perfect because we actually got to visit with everyone at least a little bit.
The best thing we did on our wedding day was take a few moments to sneak away and have time “just us” to soak it all in… to look around at all of the people who came to celebrate with us and just be there in the moment with eachother. OH! And having a day-of coordinator was KEY. It was so helpful to have her organizing everything while I was getting ready / taking photos / enjoying the fruits of all of our planning. It’s also amazing to have a person to direct all questions to (that way you’re not answering texts and calls all day asking about where to park and stuff). I actually wouldn’t change anything about our day… even the weather cooperated!
I tried on DOZENS at 3 different bridal shops, but I realized that we kept measuring all of the dresses against one in particular and that’s how I knew it was “the one”.
For our honeymoon, we went to Paris. Neither of us had ever been before and (as you know) it’s just such a romantic city! We had some adventures, but we also made time to sit together in the parks or gardens with our coffees and just relax.
StyleMePretty.com has some amazing inspiration and advice (as well as Martha Weddings and TheKnot.com) so that may help to get your creative wedding juices flowing.
Congratulations again and just remember that the day is about YOU AND MIKE… don’t let anyone push you into anything that you don’t want to do.
Sending all of the hugs and champagne toasts!
xx

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Elizabeth

Re: Best thing done on wedding day – This sounded like silly advice when it was given to me, but someone told me to make sure to stick together with your new husband at the reception so that you both have the same experience. I’ve been to other receptions where the bride and groom are separated half the time talking to different people. Once my wedding day came, I was so glad that my husband and I were by each other’s sides the whole time. We’ve given this advice to all of our other friends who have gotten married and everyone thanks us so much for this little tidbit. Best wishes!

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Lindsay

Hi Carly! Congratulations on your engagement! So excited for you and all the planning to come!

Ring: I take my ring off when traveling out of the country, at the beach or on a boat and when working out. When traveling, I’ll put another ring on my finger so that I’m not constantly feeling like it’s missing.

Name Change: Yes! For the same reason you am want to! We are starting our family and I love that everyone will have the same last name. LOVE Carly Riordan!

Wedding: We had a medium size wedding (150 people) and it was perfect for us! We had 3 weddings in April that got moved to September because of the virus. One couple just cancelled their September wedding after the venue asked them to cut their guest list in half from 270. They are now having a small outdoor beach ceremony and after party with 50 of their closest friends and family members.

Regrets: Worrying about all of the tiny decoration details that I never even noticed or saw on my wedding day! (is. personalized cocktail napkins, colored straws, etc.)

Best Thing: Someone told me to grab my husband and stand in the corner for 5 minutes to look out and watch everyone at your after party. I still remember standing in the corner with my husband and being like WOW! These are all of the people in our life that we love in one room together, having the best time, and it won’t ever happen again. It’s amazing!

Dresses: 10-15. Try on every style and shape, even if you don’t think you’d like it! I fell in love with a dress that I wasn’t sure about when I saw it on the hanger. I got my dress from I Do I Do in Morristown! 🙂

Honeymoon: We went all out and spent 10 days in the British Virgin Islands. It was the trip of a lifetime. We rotated our days between relaxing on the beach and then doing something adventurous (sailing, boating, snorkeling, island hopping, paddle boarding, kayaking). I do recommend having a few down days in between your wedding day and leaving for a honeymoon. You don’t realize how exhausting a wedding is! We were drained for 2 days after and I’m so glad that we had that time to be at home before we left for our honeymoon.

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Caroline

Congratulations on your engagement! A few thoughts from my wedding last year…
Size – we had 150 people which was mostly our large extended families and our friends. In the end, we loved having a larger wedding because when else do you get to spend a day with all the people in the world who love you?! We were fortunate that our parents did not try to add to the guest list too much… that can make things expensive and less personal.
Best thing we did – first look and a videographer. I was a little sad to lose the traditional “first look” of walking down the aisle, but doing the first look before the ceremony was a huge emotional release for me and I was so glad to have that intimate moment. The first time you see your husband on your wedding day you’ll want to kiss him, but you can’t do that right away during the ceremony! I’m so glad we had a videographer too. It took the pressure off feeling like I had to soak in every single detail in the moment because I knew we would have something to look back on.
Honeymoon – I HIGHLY recommend a relaxing honeymoon! We did Hawaii and loved it. After the hectic planning and lead up to a wedding, enjoying some time relaxing was just what we needed!
Best of luck with all the planning and remember that it’s YOUR day!

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Amy

Ring: I used to wear mine ALL THE TIME. But I got pregnant and it became too small and I had to have it cut off. I learned my lesson the hard way. I now take it off when working out, boating, sleeping, etc. It normally comes off as soon as I get home from work.

Absolutely hire a wedding planner and get event insurance, especially during a pandemic. These two things will give you major peace of mind.

And we took a fun honeymoon to Ireland. It was wonderful to travel when we had the opportunity. I don’t think we’ll ever be able to take a trip like that again so it was a great excuse to go for it!

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Jamison

I’m celebrating my first anniversary next week so happy to answer some of your questions!

Do you wear your ring all the time?

I do! I love it so much and because of the size of my engagement ring I had to get a wedding band that has a gap in it because I wanted to the two to sit flush — and my band looks a little wonky without my engagement ring. But it just makes me so happy to look down at my hand and see it. Could see exceptions (like a beach trip) but otherwise it’s always on.

Did you change your name?

Nope! I worked hard on my professional career, am published under my “maiden” name am well know in my space — not like it would be a huge deal to change, but it’s not something I’m interested in. Plus I really like my name — I’m also the last in my family with this name (my parents had two girls) so I like hanging on to it! I think if my husband and I wanted kids (which we don’t) then it might be more of a consideration. He’s super supportive and has no problem that we don’t share a last name. Hell, my mother-in-law was stoked about it — said she wishes she had done the same thing when she got married!

Did you have a small, medium, or big wedding?

We eloped to Paris! We were engaged for a year and knew even before we were engaged that we did not want a big wedding that we wanted something small. We landed on doing something just the two of us in Paris. It was amazing, our pictures are stunning. We still had a ceremony and I wore the dress and all that. But we have zero regrets.

Several months after our wedding we did have a small “reception” with our immediate families and close friends at a wine bar in our area. It was a great way to celebrate without all the stress that goes into planning a traditional wedding.

What’s the best thing you did for your wedding day? Anything you regretted?

The best thing we did was make the decision we wanted — and not what the usual expectations are. Neither of us had friends or family elope and the last family wedding we attended was a huge, expensive affair. And that just wasn’t us. I’m glad we didn’t buckle into the pressure to have “the day”.

Honestly don’t regret anything! I may have started dress shopping earlier — didn’t realize you really need like 8-12 months leeway for a dress. Because when I did purchase one and got it, it was a disaster and I had to scramble to find a new one. It was perfect and I love it, but wasn’t able to be with my mom/friends to pick that one out.

Would you go back and change anything?

Nope!

How many wedding dresses did you try on before finding “the one”?

A bunch. And the one I thought was “the one” was a disappointment when I actually had it arrived. So I ended up buying one on a super sale without every trying it on because it looked really pretty. And it worked out so well. And I’m glad it did and I was able to get something well below my budget. Allowed us to spend more on our honeymoon.

What kind of honeymoon did you take?

Since we eloped to Paris we traveled around France for two and a half weeks. It was amazing! It was so nice to put the money that could’ve gone to a single day into a three week long trip where we were able to live fairly large because we weren’t spending tens of thousands on a wedding.

Did you do anything unique? Tips? Advice?! Something I’m not thinking about but should be?!?!

Eloping to another country is pretty unique I think! I’m happy we did hire someone to “plan” it for us. I got my hair and makeup done, we have gorgeous pictures, I still dream about my bouquet and we got to travel around Paris in a vintage Rolls Royce. It was perfect.

Again, would recommend not doing something for the sake of doing it or because that’s the way people usually do it. Make it your own!

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Alice

Congrats! I feel like I’m finally just now getting used to wearing my ring 1.5 years after getting engaged (and 8 months after getting married)! I don’t wear it to work out or do anything outdoors-y, but I do wear it to sleep. One great thing about once you get married is that you can leave your band on when you take your engagement ring off so it doesn’t feel as weird to go without it!

For the last name–I changed mine, because I wasn’t super attached to my maiden name and like my husband’s last name much better. I kept my middle name because it’s actually a family last name that I’m much more attached to, and I plan to pass on to future children.

We had a fairly small wedding–about 100 after inviting 120ish, and I actually now feel like it could have been even smaller…maybe 75 or so, but my husband and I have very small families!

For our honeymoon we waiting until after the holidays (after getting married in November) and went to Hawaii in January. We were so happy with the decision to go the relaxing, tropical route! After a crazy year it was so nice to just chill, eat and hang out by the pool.

Good luck!!

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Joanna

Congratulations, Carly and Mike! Being engaged is so fun and celebratory, and I hope you both are enjoying it. Two things that were really important to me were (1) that I was fully present during the wedding ceremony and (2) that the ceremony felt personal and reflected me and my husband. So many women told me, “Oh I don’t even remember the ceremony at all. It was just a blue,” and that didn’t make sense to me. Yes, I wanted to have fun and party at the reception, but the ceremony is the important part in terms of the vows and becoming legally bound to each other. So I did my best to stay present, to take it all in, to focus on the words that I was saying and the words my husband was saying to me. I wanted to feel the depth and importance of the words I was promising, and I’m so glad I did. As for making sure that the ceremony reflected me and my husband, I worked with the officiant on what would be said. We didn’t write our own vows, but we chose which traditional vows we would use. And we chose two readings that reflected our relationship (go read the poem “Mouthful of Forevers” by Clementine von Radics; it’s incredibly beautiful). Ceremonies can kind of follow a certain script or pattern—to the point that all (Protestant) weddings can kind of feel the same—but I wanted people to be able to tell that these were words that my husband and I had chosen intentionally. Anyway, these are a couple of things that made my day even more special and memorable.

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Elizabeth

Q1: Yes, I wear it as often as I can! The times I take it off are working out (sometimes I just wear my band, but most often take both rings off), showering, applying body lotion, and washing my face at night. ***#1 TIP*** HAVE RING DISHES EVERYWHERE. Train yourself to put your ring in one anytime you take it off. That way, if you do take off your ring for anything you know exactly where to look if you forget to put it back on. I often forget to put it back on, have a small heart attack, but remember that the only place it could be in is a ring dish, because I don’t let myself put it anywhere else.

Q2: I changed my last name and made my maiden name my middle name! I’m more attached to my last name, but in my mindthink taking your husband’s name is a marker of the establishment of a new family unit. Creates a clear line of “married” and “not married” in my mind.

Q3:We had a large wedding (300 ppl) and wouldnt have changed a thing about the day. It was the most fun day of my life! That said, if I were getting married now, and could do it all over again, I have seen people have some amazing small, intimate weddings. If I did it again, I would love to take the budget I had for a large wedding, and spend the same amount of money on every thoughtful detail but with a smaller group.

Q4: The best thing I did at my wedding was the mindset I had about the actual events of the day. Think about the wedding in two distant parts: the ceremony and the reception. When planning the ceremony, I wanted that to be all about US, and craft a ceremony that represented my husband and I, and didn’t worry about what othe people thought. The actual marriage is about the two of us, and I wanted to show that in the ceremony. For the reception, I thought about the GUESTS first. I thought about it as a big party I was throwing for other people, and considered what would meet my guest’s needs before my own. Yes, you will personalize it as far as flowers and decor details, but think about your guests when planning the logistics. For example, since our ceremony started late (7pm) we decided to skip cocktail hour and have dinner immediately available when the guests arrived at the reception venue. By the time I made it to the reception, our guests were fed and ready for the party! Another thing we did was do the cake cutting 10 min after we entered the reception, because no one actually wants to watch that, and that way if an older crowd wants to leave early, they aren’t waiting on you. Also, there’s nothing like a live band.

I regretted the size of my wedding party.

Q5: I really wouldn’t change a thing! It was the most perfect day. All of the things you think will matter will fade away, and you will truly only remember the highlights (barring any major disaster lol)

Q6: I ended up picking the last dress I tried on at the third salon I visited. I literally tried it on as a joke because a) it was blush, and b) there was a hoop in the skirt. I ended up falling in love (but had the hoop removed ha!). I wasn’t totally emotional about this part, and wanted something that was comfortable (i.e. no bra required), flattering to my body, and “on brand” for my personal style.

Q7: BEACH! Go somewhere you can rest. You will be exhausted after the wedding in a way you can’t prepare for and was so thankful we went to the beach where all we were expected to do was eat, drink, and watch the waves all day. Get a massage, too. You definitely won’t regret that.

Q8: We did a “day after” photoshoot for our post-wedding photos. Since our ceremony was late, we didn’t want to keep guests waiting as we took photos after the wedding (we didnt do a first look/pre-wedding photos), and it was so fun to dress up again and relive the day! Did those about a month after the wedding.

Best tip is to remember that you won’t remember the small things, so don’t get caught up in them! You’ll be on cloud nine all day and will look back just remembering the best of it.

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Nicole Cangiano

Hi Carly congratulations on your engagement!
I wear my ring all the time and try to stop in the jewelry store my ring is from to get it cleaned once a month! It was a transition for me because I was not used to wearing any rings at all, but you get used to it! Yes, I changed my last name.
As for gowns, I tried on only about 4 before deciding and went with one from Pronovias! We were married last fall in NJ at a tennis club, honeymooned in Hawaii, which I know may not be possible in this climate but just being away after the event was a joy in itself!

I also have to gush about my vendors because they were all beyond and they were my favorite additions! I lived in Hoboken at the time and the small business wedding industry there is unmatched! They all work well together if needed and are a sweet group that is great to work with! Write Pretty For Me with my mirror seating chart and our wedding song Calligraphy on a vinyl record was unbelievable! My day-of planner was a MUST – I did the planning myself but she was a God-send the day of so I didn’t have to worry! Love, Amarie made me a custom-painted champagne bottle for my wedding day with our monogram and an heirloom purse to go with my gown! Marlie Renee Designs for our beautiful, classic invites and Mile Square Moments was our photographer -who is one of the best out there. I was more than pleased with how everything turned out!

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Amy

Hi Carly! I’m in a similar boat- newly engaged and both of us living as expats and our family on opposite sides of the world, can you say logistical nightmare! We were planning for early to mid 2021 wedding but my home country has said no international travel until mid-2021 or a vaccine, so my family wouldn’t be guaranteed to attend. Lots of venues telling us not to book until the end of next year or 2023. Soooo, we are planning a small backyard ceremony at the end of this year (with however many people are legally allowed) and we will plan a big celebration/party when things are more certain and everyone can come! We had a lot of friends cancel plans and lose deposits on their wedding this year just to end up getting married with 2-3 people or eloping. We didn’t want to end up doing the same thing. Such a tricky, weird, crazy time! Honeymoon- staycation followed by a bigger international holiday once it’s allowed (Northern Light in Norway maybe and then somewhere warm like the Seychelles) :). Hope that’s helpful!

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Jamie

We had a small, 60 person guest list. We went to Las Vegas & got married at the Mob Museum. Originally booked the Neon Sign Museum until we got bounced (via email) because Tim Burton demanded the whole museum for his exhibition. We had to scramble for a new venue & call all of our people.

Best thing we did was book a vacation the week before the wedding, so we transitioned from vacation to wedding weekend. It was relaxing & I felt like I was in control of the details since we were in town the whole week before.

Regrets: not meeting the photographer beforehand, only phone calls. Her energy was frantic & chaotic, the photos felt rushed & unrelaxed. Wish we would have chosen someone else.

I didn’t like how my makeup turned out, again, I had booked online & had not met or had a trial run. I looked overdone & not myself.

I did one day of wedding dress shopping with my mother-in-law & a friend (my mom has passed away). It was stressful & I wasn’t really finding anything. The sizes were all tiny so nothing fit, which felt awful. Finally found a dress at a local boutique at the end of the day. Looking back I feel like I made a rushed decision. Wishing I had chosen a dress with sleeves…my motivation for working out & losing weight before the wedding fell flat. Do your research on dress tailors, the first one I tried didn’t keep the deadline & her staff couldn’t find my dress in her shop. Read reviews and take the recommendation from the shop you buy your dress from – but make room in your timeline for your dress alterations & any snafu with having to find a second tailor. Budget for this.

Advice: a lot of people are not going to RSVP in time, you will likely have to call/email/text to get a final decision. Some people will not come, for their own reasons. You will have to let all that go – the wedding is about you two getting married, no matter who is there. Take time to think through the favors and all the extra wedding trinkets – you probably won’t need them. I shlepped a suitcase full of paper decorations, little signs and favors to Vegas that no one took or even noticed,(waste of money). Make a Pinterest board of the final details you want for your wedding, that’s helpful to see it visually. Less is more. Do not freak out if your venue cancels on you, there will be another venue…don’t get too attached to any detail/place/vendor. Keep in touch with the venue coordinator, photographer, etc. My reception coordinator quit the job two months before our date & no one alerted me, it’s up to you to keep in touch with the “professionals”. Find shoes that will not kill you, you’ll be wearing them allllllll day.

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Jordan

Dress: I got my Amsale dress for $800 at VOWS (http://bridalpower.com/) – I believe they had a TLC show. They have new, sample size dresses at crazy reduced prices – great to check if you identified the one you want. Luckily, they had the one I wanted onsite. I did 1 try-on session and purposely had that be in the middle of the pack so I had the experience of trying different styles/designers on)

Rings: I wear them daily when I’m out of the house. Rarely at home, boating or when I work out. When I travel internationally or to a beach destination, I only wear my band to avoid anxiety of losing it. Obviously get everything insured ASAP.

Name Change: Whatever works for you! My maiden name wasn’t my favorite, and I wanted the same last name as husband and kids. My sister used our maiden name as our middle.

Size: 95 people. So great – got to enjoy the moment with everyone. but still get to sit down to eat, mingle and take it all in.

Honeymoon – Amalfi Coast + Capri

Unsolicited advice that worked for us:
+ Keep ceremony and reception at the same venue – much easier logistically.
+ Take the majority of your pics (including all bridesmaid/groomsmen) before the ceremony for fresh flowers, hair, etc Only do pics of you 2 afterwards for 30 mins-1 hour max. Being present and enjoying the moment is so important as the day fly by.
+ Book your most important vendors first – for us it was the venue and photographer – as things get filled up quickly. Once you have those, ask for recommendations of who they enjoyed working with. Our photographer, caterer/oysters, florist and venue coordinator all worked together and they presented us with a day of schedule and communicated seamlessly among themselves.
+ If you are prone to stress/feeling overwhelmed, get a wedding planner. if not, a day of coordinator makes life so much easier. We used the one provided by the venue.
+ Ask venue about alcohol policy
+ Get a wedding specific agenda and make small to-do lists each month. It is a nice way to not put things off and tackle small stuff, while keeping the momentum going. Also book appointments in advance with wedding date in mind – facial, haircuts, teeth cleaning, etc.
+ Band over DJ – it makes a difference.
+ We skipped videographer – no regrets
+ Use in season, simple flowers arrangement (ie all pink peonies, all white hydrangeas) versus elaborate assortments. Your florist can get more in bulk for cheaper.

“Unique”:
+ I didn’t have any showers – I find them to be super awkward and not my thing.
+ Had our wedding insignia on stationary, gift bags, and and made into a flag that our yacht club flew at the venue.
+ Baseball hats as gifts – had Nantucket Island and longitute/latitude of the venue.
+ Rehearsal cocktail party by the ocean versus a sit down dinner.
+ Had nicer china/settings for the head table (bridal party + guest included) than the rest of the reception room – looks great in pictures and avoided a large rental fee 🙂

Unexpected: I LOVED my bachelorette party when I was “meh” about the idea of having one. Low key weekend on the water with friend, nice dinner, fun night of dancing.

Change: The morning of happened so quickly. I wish I had 10-15 mins by myself in my dress. I got dressed with pics in a hurry and then left for the venue – I wish I could have stopped to reflect and take it all in.

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Courtney

I wear my engagement ring daily. I’ve had it repaired for a missing small stone and bend around the halo. When I told the jeweler that I probably wear it more often than I should he replied with, “What’s the fun in taking it off!?” (Which I totally agree with). I also have a Qalo ring for hiking, swimming, biking, etc. which is great for our lake house!

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Lauren

I wear my engagement ring and band literally all the time. Hiking, working out, showering, sleeping. My husband does too. Not to sound too Gollum-y but the rings are a part of me! Had a medium wedding, like 120 people. We had a dj for most of the wedding events but hired a string quartet somewhat last minute for our ceremony, and that was probably my favorite somewhat unique thing about our day. I say if you and your fiancé tend to do adventurous vacays, do something super relaxing for a honeymoon. Do the reverse if it’s the other way around! Do something that will set this vacation apart from the other ones you will hopefully be able to take throughout your lives! Biggest regret-no videographer.

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Claire

We just got engaged in January and I was wearing my ring every single day for months. I was obsessed with staring at it. 😂 once the lockdown started my fiancé noticed I was getting excessive with cleaning my ring (not a healthy habit I admit lol). It’s an emerald cut so I feel like it’s easier to see any dirt under the diamond. I’ve been trying to wear it less in the last 3 months. Now when I have a video call or want to dress up for no reason I put it on. I admire it much more now that I started wearing it less!

As for wedding size, we were planning a small-medium one from the beginning (we both have small families) and I was visiting some venues in March. Then the pandemic hit NYC and I had to put a full stop on any planning. We’ve been starting to plan again recently. I have to say seeing so many of my friends loose jobs or get furloughed made me rethink our budget a lot. We’re talking about forgoing the traditional venue setting for a pretty local restaurant that can seat just our families and closest friends as well as host the ceremony. It’s so wonderful being engaged and thinking about the future together as partners, even in uncertain times. Enjoy it!!

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JF

I changed my name, and while I don’t hate it, changing it was more of a pain in the butt than I thought it would be, and oddly more emotional than I thought it would be in the months afterwards? If I had the chance for a do over, I don’t think I would change it.

Covid has completely changed the game, and I think if we’d been planning a wedding this year, things would be completely different. We had a large wedding (200 people), and while I do not really like being the center of attention, it was an incredible day. There is literally no other time in my life where nearly all of my friends and family have been in the same place at the same time, and it made me feel so incredibly happy and loved.

The best decision we made was making every decision about the wedding through the filter question of “can I remember what this thing looked like at the last 3 weddings we’ve attended”. It’s a great barometer for what is actually important, and a way to stave off decision fatigue. For example, venue asked if we wanted square or round table linens. Do I recall what any of the table linens looked like at any wedding I’ve ever attended? Nope! Do I remember if they had enough bartenders? Yes!

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Laura Shih

Do you wear your ring all the time?
Yes! Always, except when I’m working out, but even then I use my RingHero wristband and wear it on my wrist and put it back on as soon as I’m done. I feel it’s safest to always have it on me. Also if you don’t already have it you need ring insurance immediately! You can get a rider on your homeowners insurance or go through a Jewellery specific insurer (what I recommend because they will help you replace it more easily and let you stay with your original jeweler or one of your choice.) I have Jewelers Mutual.

Did you change your name?
Yes, but I kept my maiden name as my middle name and I’m really glad I did. Laura Katherine Kraisinger was my full name previously, and I loooved it and my initials. The reason I like being Laura Kraisinger Shih is in any instance where I want to be recognized by someone who knew me prior to my marriage (like on LinkedIn or social for example) I can list my full name and be discoverable by both.

Did you have a small, medium, or big wedding?
Medium, we invited around 165 and had around 150 attend. It felt like just the right size to us, but it really did take some major editing to get down to that size.

What’s the best thing you did for your wedding day? Anything you regretted?
Splurged on our photographer, Kate Headley! I knew the most memories, and those that last the longest, would come in forms of photographs and having such high quality photography really made such an impact. Her photos are true heirlooms and I am so glad we decided to invest in photography.

Would you go back and change anything?
NO! It wasn’t perfect, there was a big storm RIGHT after our ceremony so we had to nix the waterfront cocktail hour of my dreams and rush everyone into our reception tent, but it was so memorable I don’t regret the decision to have it outdoors at all. Just make sure you have a game plan for rain!! Always have a backup.

How many wedding dresses did you try on before finding “the one”?
I went to two shops and tried on 5 at each. I went with the first dress I tried on at the second shop because I just fell in love, loved how I felt in it, and it was the right price. At the end of the day I didn’t feel the need to splurge on the dress, and I’m glad I didn’t because I completely destroyed it frolicking in a field of daisies for some pictures which I LOVE, and if I had gone with a more expensive dress I don’t think I would have wanted to risk it. But those are some of my favorite pictures from the day!

What kind of honeymoon did you take?
We did a series of honeymoons. We started off with a “mini-moon” at our family beach house for the week following the wedding just to decompress locally. My parents also graciously took our entire family to Santorini (a family favorite destination) for a week. We wrapped up with our real honeymoon in the Maldives in December (the good weather season there) so we extended our celebrations throughout the entire year!

Did you do anything unique? Tips? Advice?! Something I’m not thinking about but should be?!?!
Focus on what matters to YOU! So many people will have so many opinions about how you should plan your wedding, but you can totally ignore them (yes, even your mom!) Also I would say to keep your guests experience in mind when you go through the details, small thoughtful touches can go a long way like fans on chairs if you are having a ceremony in the sun, a thoughtful welcome bag, tampons in the restrooms for ladies, etc. Your guests will appreciate you thinking of them on your big day! Also, try to add personal touches so it doesn’t feel like a cookie cutter instagram wedding, use your creativity so it really feels like a celebration of your love!

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Elizabeth

My #1 piece of advice is that if there is something that is super important to you, do not waver on it. My husband and I were both very adamant that we did not want to do a first look, and wanted to have *that moment* where we first saw each other as I was walking down the aisle with the music playing. Our photographer, caterer, everyone kept encouraging the first look because of time constraints, and it was hard to say no because I am always such a people pleaser. But I am so glad that we stood our ground, and got to have the moment that we dreamed about.

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Elizabeth

**edited to add**

Have you given any thought to a consignment gown? I was kind of wary of the idea at first, but ended up finding my absolute dream dress that I had tried on at a different boutique at 1/3 of the retail price. This allowed me to allocate that money elsewhere, which was a great feeling.

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Casey

The best thing we did was take 20-30 min after dinner, just the two of us and our photographer, to take photos and really soak in the day! It’s all hectic so don’t forget to breathe and enjoy each other!

We cut the cake right when we entered post ceremony so that everyone could enjoy dessert while we had a some quality time together 🥰

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Kendal

The only advise I will give is to remember that things will go wrong on your wedding day but to remember that at the end of the day, you are marrying the person you love and that’s all that matters.

Very excited for you and don’t be sorry for being so excited!

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Amanda

Congratulations Carly! Wishing you both all the best for your future ahead.

My wedding is at the end of the month, and unfortunately we had to postpone our ~150 person event for next summer. We’re still having a small church ceremony and dinner with close family on our original date, though! My favorite part, which I’m still excited to do for next year’s event, has been getting fully 100% wrapped up in all the visual details.

I’m a designer, so maybe this sounds extra lol. But I created a monogram for us, learned calligraphy to write out our invitations, designed all the stationary and signage, needlepointed a belt for my husband-to-be, going to embroider dinner napkins with the monogram, etc! Whether it’s an event for 20 or 200, I feel like immersing yourself in the tiny details you love is such a joyful way to channel your energy and make it all the more special.

Best of luck with all your planning! No matter what you decide, it will be the right day for you two.

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Ashley

Love these questions. I think everyone asks these. I dropped my maiden and kept my middle. Also, we were planning a bigger wedding and then decided we wanted simple and intimate. We got married with just the Reverend and immediate family. We spent a week in the mountains of North Carolina for our honeymoon. I don’t regret anything

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Giovanna

For context: engaged 2017, married 2018. Not sure how we would have changed things for the pandemic, probably would have just postponed it all. A traditional, religious ceremony was important to me though so YMMV

I wear my ring almost all the time except when I am working out or washing my hair. I have two bands – one the matches my husband’s plain silver one and another that I had soldered to my engagement ring. I wear the plain band when we travel (location dependent) or I am going into open water.

I did change my name and just completely dropped my maiden name. It was a weird adjustment and it took me a while before it rolled off my tongue. I also did not go through the legal process until ~8 months later due to international trips we had planned.

We had a medium wedding (venue could hold 180, we invited 180, 155 RSVP’d yes and 154 showed up because my husband’s uncle got very sick at the last minute). It was an absolute perfect size for us. ~70 on my side, ~70 on his, ~40 friends. We are high school sweethearts and went to the same college so we had a lot of overlaps with friends. It was a perfect size for us, we were able to talk to everyone and I really felt like the most important people in our lives were there.

We did a lot of small, personal touches that ended up being the most memorable. Instead of table numbers we had CTA (Chicago Transit) stations. I actually reached out to them directly and they gave me high quality images we printed at Kinko’s. That was about the extent of our DIYs. We didn’t want to take on a lot of projects and I am so glad that we made that decision early on. I got married pretty young and had a small bridal party of two friends and my brother and one of those friends was in Brazil for the six months leading up to the wedding so I couldn’t really share the load as much as some brides might be able to.

My only regret is not having a videographer for our ceremony. We had a traditional Catholic ceremony and A LOT of music (four instruments, two singers) and I had my grandparents walk down the aisle as part of the procession. I was so calm all morning but it really hit me when I walked down the aisle that this was happening and I don’t think I even realized the music was playing. It was actually one of the things we got the most compliments on and I couldn’t tell you a single thing about it. Being able to experience that out of the moment and to see my grandparents walk down the aisle (we have pictures but it’s not the same) would be a nice memory but it’s not something I dwell on.

I tried on quite a few dresses. ~30? I had a really good idea what I wanted and my final dress ended up being exactly everything I would have described. I didn’t get discouraged or anything along the way though, it was very fun seeing all of the different styles. Both my mom and my MIL were there when I found *the one* and it was a really special experience. I had always wanted a veil like the Sound of Music and ended up finding a beautiful raw hem cathedral length one on etsy for very cheap. It went perfect with the raw hem of my dress and was just as romantic as I had imagined.

We left for the Bahamas the next day for ~4 days (I was back at work the Thursday after our wedding) and then we went to Australia and New Zealand for two weeks six months later. We had closed on our home right before the wedding and wanted to move in (there was about a month overlap with our lease) and it would have been a hard time to take a long vacation. We really enjoyed both trips but we travel a lot anyways, so it wasn’t anything particularly honeymoon-like.

One thing I saw that really stuck with me was “No one knows your choices or your plan” Basically, your guests won’t care if you chose between lemon pie and chocolate cake if you choose the former because they didn’t even know chocolate cake was an option. Or if the flowers aren’t exactly right, you (and your mom/bridal party maybe) are going to be the only ones who notice.

We were really lucky with the weather, it was ~75 degrees and sunny, and truly had a perfect day. It’s still a great memory to talk about with my grandparents and the rest of our family and I feel so lucky to have had it come together the way it did. The worst thing that happened was one of our ushers left his tie in the uber after the Rehearsal Dinner. Fortunately, it was just a basic tie from The Tie Bar and my dad was able to run out and get another before our ceremony. As it was happening, I remember saying, “If this is only thing to go wrong today, we’re gonna be fine” and it truly was. Good luck!!! I hope that your day is everything you want it to be!

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AM

Congrats Carly!
I now wear my rings all the time, but it took some getting used to. I got engaged during the winter and we go skiing a lot, I was super nervous about it coming off with my gloves so I got one of those rubber rings to wear with it while skiing and that made me feel better.
I changed my last name, but it took me a year to do because of moving states, finding a new job, etc. I kept my middle name the same because my maiden name was also too long.
We had a big wedding and I honestly wish it could have been smaller. There was probably 2-3 tables of people (friends we have just lost touch with) we did not have to invite. I felt I didn’t get enough time with my family during the reception because there were so many people. It was a fantastic reception though. Do whatever you want with the reception, people will offer a lot of opinions and tell you that you have to invite certain people, but it’s your day and you should do what you want. I actually think the smaller weddings people are doing now sound really nice and it all winds up being just about you getting married, which is what it should be.
My only advice is that a good band is always worth the money, if you can have a dancing reception right now. People still talk about our band and it was 3 years ago and we’ve been to lots of other weddings.
I tried on 4 dresses in one appointment and knew that #4 was it right away! I waited to try it on last, but my consultant really listened to me and I got exactly what I wanted.
I don’t think I would change a thing. You can listen to other people’s opinions and ask for advice, but it is your day and you as a couple decide what you want. We got married within in 6 months of getting engaged because we were doing long distance and didn’t want to wait. I found out from closer friends that other people actually judged us for getting married so fast and thought I was crazy for planning everything so fast. But we did exactly what we wanted and we are so happy with how the wedding and life turned out. Also, if you are going to do favors I recommend food only. No one remembers what the favors were and everyone will want something to munch on the way home. We did chocolate covered pretzels.

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Megan

Ring: I only wear my engagement ring on special occasions right now. I have small kids and I stopped wearing it every day as I was afraid of scratching them with it. I also did not shower with it. It does take time to get used to wearing a ring on the left hand.

I did change my name. I did First Maiden Married, as I’m an attorney and was licensed under my maiden name before marriage. I needed to keep it a part of my legal name for recognition purposes.

We had about 150 people for our wedding. We got married later (much later on my husband’s part) than our friends, so we had a lot of people to invite from decades of friendship, etc. I also have a large Southern family. It was perfect for us though.

Best thing was having a private few minutes to eat after the ceremony before we were presented at reception (we had ceremony and reception in same place.) We wouldn’t have eaten otherwise and it was nice to have a husband/wife moment before the chaos.

I was really anxious beforehand about all the people watching us. I wish I could go back and reassure myself more, as I feel like I didn’t enjoy the getting ready process as much as I would have liked.

I tried on several. I found a silhouette I loved but I wanted my mom to see before I purchased. She flew in and for scheduling reasons we couldn’t go to the store an hour away that had the dress I thought I wanted. A local dress had others from the brand, so we went there and I ended up loving a dress I tried on for her then. It was nothing I had imagined and was absolutely perfect.

We took a weekend trip to a beach house a couple of hours away for a mini-moon, and then saved up to go on a two-week Mediterranean cruise six months later, at a time that worked better for our work schedules. Was totally worth the wait.

Just do what works for you. It’s easy to fall down the Pinterest/Instagram rabbit trail. Your wedding should reflect what you and your spouse want and that’s it. I felt pressured to do a lot of things, and pushed back on them – we didn’t have a groom’s cake (common in the South), we saw each other beforehand for photos, we went out with our wedding party afterward. Remember that this is likely the only time you’ll have everyone important to you and Mike in one place (if you choose that and are able). Make the most of that. Also, take all the photos. You’ll cherish those more than anything.

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Amber

Ring wearing: Not all the time. In pre-COVID times, I’d take it off when I showered/went to sleep and then put it back on. Now, since we’re both home all the time, both my husband and I don’t wear our rings much. Only if we’re going out.

Name change: I changed my last name and was happy to get rid of my maiden name because I wasn’t crazy about it anyway.

Wedding size: Medium, I guess. Nothing super big.

Best thing for wedding day: I took a few days off work before the wedding just to run through last minute things and try to relax.

Regrets: honestly, none.

Go back to change: I’d ask my venue to not make the reception spot so warm. It was end of October and for some reason they had the heat CRANKED. I found it a little too hot but all in all, didn’t bother me too much.

Dresses: Oh god, I tried on so many. I bought one too quickly, then gained some weight and it didn’t fit any more and I also knew I never truly loved it. Eventually, I went with my mom and my aunt to a shop closing down and got a deeply discounted dress that was PERFECT.

Honeymoon: We roadtripped through California, starting in LA and ending in Monterey area. Hit Universal for Halloween Horror Nights, and did Disneyland too. Stopped in some specific towns up the coast and adored every second.

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Alaana

I just got married last fall so I love this post! It was the best day! You’ve gotten so many good responses so far.

– I strongly encourage you to do something with all of your guests the night before. I did a big welcome party, but I’ve been to some that are like a 8- 10 pm cocktails after the rehearsal dinner. It’s so nice to see your guests and reduces the pressure to say hi to everyone at the actual event.

– We picked a “destination” wedding in the US where family friends live. The location was special to us and the venue had a huge guest capacity so we invited everyone we wanted to (with a +1) totaling 300! Only 165 came and every single person who was there wanted to be there because they had to fly / make arrangements. It was perfect for us. Since the guest list was rather big we did a “family lunch” at a restaurant the Friday before with our parents and siblings to kick off the weekend. It was one of the best things we did and really brought us back to the spirit and purpose of the weekend. It’s my #1 recommendation for anyone getting married, especially if the guest list ends up on the bigger side.

YES YES YES to a videographer!

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ALAANA

oh also! Someone gave me the advice to each write down the top three things that you want out of the wedding. It was tough to narrow it down to three at first but we came back to it over and over again. Mine was : music, being able to invite whoever we wanted, and a church ceremony. His was a live band, a delicious wedding cake, and an open bar. So we got an awesome band! And a delicious cake! It helps give you freedom to ditch the traditions you don’t really care about (neither of us wanted speeches or garter toss / bouquet toss so we skipped it!) and spend money on the things you do care about! Plus, it can be surprising to see what you and Mike actually end up with on your lists. You will love your day if you stay true to yourselves and what makes you happy!

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Katie Briscoe

I have a simple gold wedding band and an antique pearl engagement ring. I don’t wear either when I work out but I wear the band during the day (I take it off before going to sleep). I only wear both when leaving the house. I get nervous about the pearl catching on something. I seriously regret not having a “day of” wedding planner. I enjoyed planning everything myself and with my Mom and sisters, but it would have been so much less stressful if we had someone on the actual day to direct people, light candles, make sure everything was set up, etc. Other advice is to make sure to eat at your wedding! Don’t let people distract you from the great food you planned. Congrats to you both and happy planning!

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Mads Bisignani

1. I hated wearing my ring at first only because it was uncomfortable! I asked some friends that have been married for years and they told me I’d get used to it. And I did! I never take it off whether I’m at the beach, doing the dishes etc. It’s much safer on my hand! Although I will say it was a tiny bit too big which contributed to the uncomfortability. Once I sized it correctly it stopped spinning all the time.
3. I planned for a larger wedding and as a COVID-19 bride ended up with a small one right around 50 people. Every second was absolutely perfect. Some still weren’t able to make it like my grandparents, but it didn’t deter me from having a great time with the friends and family that could make it. I also got to spend way more time with those that came than I would have if I continued with my big wedding. It was intimate, it was beyond fun and I’d do it all over again just the way it was.
4. The best thing I did on my wedding day was hire a coordinator! It’s not worth the stress on the day of putting things into place even if you are organized. I’m actually an event coordinator and still hired someone else so I could just enjoy being with my husband and my family instead of worrying about where to put the flowers.
5. The thing I would change would be putting a timeline on our programs! I thought it was cute and considerate to our guests so they knew how the night was laid out but we didn’t end up sticking to it which didn’t bother me on the day of because I was having a great time! I just wish my guests didn’t know that we weren’t on schedule. I’d also make sure to have all of your picture preferences written down. For example I wrote my cousins and I did get a picture with them but I wish I got individuals with each cousin as well. Even though I’d go back and do those two things differently, once I’ve given it more thought I wouldn’t change a thing because it really was perfect.
7. We went on a honeymoon to Charleston. We thought it would be a perfect little getaway even though we couldn’t go through with our original travel plans due to Covid-19. Nothing was really open, but it was nice to just leave our responsibilities at home and enjoy a few nights just us eating takeout and wandering the streets of a beautiful city. It wasn’t your typical honeymoon but we made the most of it.
8. I had the most trouble during wedding planning because I planned a wedding that I’ve seen over and over again and realized when I had to change plans that I didn’t even really like my original plans. When I replanned to accommodate social distancing etc. I realized a smaller wedding where I could spend intimate time with everyone eating and laughing was much more my style! But it’s hard to not plan what everyone else had. Just keep in mind it’s your day and only you know what’s the most comfortable for you. I’m so happy for you and Mike!! I’ve been a follower since I was in middle school and just graduated with my masters. It’s been amazing following your journey!

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Charlotte

First off, congratulations! It’s such a special time and really, it goes by SO FAST. Enjoy every second.

Ring: Yes, except when working out, showering, sleeping. The key to not losing it is to be consistent about where you put it down (same ring dish every time). Also, I have ring dishes packed in suitcases/overnight bags so I always have one when traveling.

Wedding Size: We had a medium-sized wedding (150) and it was perfect. We’ve heard from a lot of people it was such a wonderful wedding to go to in part because of the size—small enough that it was intimate and large enough that you didn’t feel like you were under a microscope. And I can confidently say we talked to every guest.

Honeymoon: Big trip to Africa. Worth every single penny and the trip of a lifetime. I can only hope to go back but if not we have the most incredible memories. My POV….blow it out. They call it a honeymoon (and not just a vaca) for a reason.

Advice: Honestly, it’s your day and you have to remember that at all times. Someone will always have another opinion and the best you can do is just stick with what you both know and love. My only regret is that I wish I had worried a little more about myself . I was so focused on making sure everyone else was happy throughout the process and it would have been nice to take as equally good of care of myself. Other than that, we heard over and over again how happy we were on our wedding day. That shines through! A happy couple in love is the best kind to celebrate.

Good luck and enjoy!

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Emma

Great questions, Carly!

Rings: I don’t wear mine all the time either, especially when working out/weight lifting and sleeping. Make sure you insure them (you can add them onto your homeowners insurance) and have a safe spot to keep them at night and when you travel (be careful when washing dishes too!). Buy a band that you like how it looks alone, you may just want to wear that when on vacation, etc.

Name change: It’s a pain in the butt but I think worth it, especially for kids down the line. You can choose the environments where you want to change or where it may not make sense to change, like personal vs. work. There are no rules! Honeymoon: we went to Paris and did many of the things you and Mike did on your recent trip, we needed a balance between relaxation and history, it doesn’t need to be the typical all-inclusive layout on the beach trip. My dream would have been island hopping throughout Greece, but time and money did not allow for that. I do regret not splurging more on some fancy dinners but we didn’t have a set plan for the trip, which was fine.

Wedding size: ours was medium sized but it still didn’t feel like we had enough time to visit with everyone who came to celebrate with us. We had a welcome party two nights before the wedding which was a great way to connect with out of town guests. From the actual day I wish we would have invested in a day-of planner that would have moved everything alone and taken care of the little details more. We had to solve a few things last minute (with the help of a well-intended albeit aaggressive family member) and I wish a professional could have just taken care of all of that. Also, if you do a ceremony, then reception immediacy following, don’t forget to eat! We didn’t make enough time for that and spent dinner making the rounds around the room to see everyone and thank them for coming…that was a mistake!

Dress shopping: I went alone first, which everyone thought I was crazy, but glad I did. It helped me narrow down the choices and get our any nerves I had. Then brought friends to help decide. Don’t be afraid to take a “risk” with the final one, I almost settled for something more basic and am sooo glad I didn’t and went for a little more glamour! Also, sounds silly but shop for the right undergarments well I’m advance and bring them to your fittings! My bra/corset was doing funky things the day of our wedding but I just didn’t fit right, even though it was sold at the same place as the dress. Splurge in the name of comfort!

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Gretchen G

Hi Carly!
Congratulations to you and Mike!

Currently engaged here and was supposed to get married next week.. now pushed to 2021. We planned on a 180 person wedding which we plan on still having next year though we are thinking about getting married just the two of us at a courthouse if it’s allowed in the fall. I’m excited about having the best of both worlds… though based on knowing you through your blog for 10 years.. I think you would like a small- medium size wedding. This whole process can be super overwhelming!!

Rings- I never take mine off! My fiancé also proposed at a lake and I was terrified of it falling off but honestly I freak out more if I don’t have it on. I would suggest only taking it off to workout. Get an armband with a ring holder. Diamonds are tough.. they can handle soap and water from the shower.

Dresses- besides taking engagement photos this has been my favorite part of the whole process!!! I went into NYC and went to Monique lhuillier, Kleinfelds, Amsale and Vera Wang. I brought pictures with me and had specific dresses from their collections I was dying to try on and knew for the most part what I was looking for. Stalk their IG’s and Pinterest boards! I also ended up picking a dress I wasn’t expecting. A super clean and elegant ballgown which was the last dress I tried on! I also ended up going with the top of one dress and the bottom of another so don’t be afraid to ask your saleswoman questions! I wouldn’t have the dress I picked if I didn’t ask if I could cut my favorite elements and put it into one dress
I suggest don’t go to more than 5 salons.. take pictures of everything from all angles and if you need to take a break and take time to think do it! Remember though that most gowns take 9 months to order.

Name- I am going to change my name but my fiancé said I should stick with my maiden name if I end up going to get my PHD (I’m a teacher).

Honeymoon- undecided at this time due to my fiancé’s job in the entertainment industry in LA.. not a lot of vacation time so for now so we are waiting.

Ignore all the negative DMs! Don’t read them or give them any thought.

My advise is to ask Mike what are the things he wants most out of a wedding. Take into account his thoughts and feelings and try to incorporate him as much as he wants into wedding Planning.

Lastly, hire a wedding planner! I found one who does 1, 3 and 6 month services and she has been a godsend. Things I didn’t think of she had lists for (I’m all about a list) and a planner will relieve so much stress for you. Best money I ever spent.

Enjoy this time! It’s stressful but so fun!

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Lindsey

Do you wear your ring all the time?

I do not currently wear my rings because they are a germ trap with covid. But in normal circumstances I go back and forth between wearing both my rings and wearing just my wedding band. I like doing just the wedding band because it feels low key and more “me”. Once you have a wedding band, maybe you’ll feel that’s the happy medium too!

Did you change your name?

Yes, but not at first. I kept my maiden name for a couple years but ultimately ended up legally taking my husbands last name. Now that we have a little one, I can’t imagine our names being different. I say if you plan on having a family one day- don’t second guess it- just change it and you’ll be glad you did.

Did you have a small, medium, or big wedding?

Our wedding was 50 people. I think there is no right or wrong answer here, but I suggest you make 3 guest lists to help you decide. One list is your tiniest, most intimate wedding, the second list is small but includes close friends etc., and your third list is everyone you could ever imagine. Stew on these lists and imagine your wedding day. You’ll find clarity 🙂

What’s the best thing you did for your wedding day? Anything you regretted?

Exchanged sentimental gift/letters with my fiancé while we got ready. His letter really helped me focus on the meaning of the day and I cried like a baby lol

Would you go back and change anything?

I’d do a “first look”. I felt weird seeing my husband to be for the first time that day while I was literally walking down the isle.

How many wedding dresses did you try on before finding “the one”?

Probably 20. My advice here is don’t skimp on the dress of your dreams just because you only wear it once. Your grand babies will be looking at these pictures! The one caveat- don’t go into credit card debt for a dress, not that you would necessarily, but I’ve seen that happen.

What kind of honeymoon did you take?

We didn’t really take a honeymoon because we got married young and couldn’t afford it at the time. We’ve since made up for that 🙂 If I could do it over, I’d do something luxurious, romantic, indulgent and really go all out and soak in private time together. God willing you’ll have plenty of chances for sightseeing and “adventurous” type trips- the honeymoon is your one chance to slow down and soak up the love.

Did you do anything unique? Tips? Advice?! Something I’m not thinking about but should be?!?!

My biggest advice would be to enjoy the planning but don’t let it overshadow the reason you’re marrying the man of your dreams ❤️ Best wishes to you! Feel free to email me if you have any more questions- I used to be a wedding planner but now I’m stay at home mama and love chatting everything wedding related 🙂

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Lauren

Ring? You will get more relaxed with having it on as you wear it more. Now when I am not wearing it, I can feel it missing. I never took it off when I first got engaged and I still don’t (3 years later). I probably should but I just love it so much!

Name change? Yes, 100%. I love my maiden name and was very hesitant about changing but I did for all the reasons you mentioned, specifically about having a cohesive family unit. I did move my maiden name to my middle name so I will always have it!

Wedding size? Invited a little over 175 and 145ish attended. 2 years ago, so pre-pandemic. It is your wedding so try to remember that when your parents/his parents ask to invite this person and that person (that you have never met…) that it’s okay to say no.

Best/worst? I worried too much! I did not have a coordinator and I planned the entire thing myself. I wish I had had a coordinator so I could have sat back and relaxed a little more. Also, the weather was not all too great, but nothing I could have done about that!

Change anything? Nothing! Other than having a coordinator. Everything else was beautiful and it was the best day. It will be the best day for you because you are marrying your person! Everything else will just fall to the wayside.

Dress? I knew the specific style I wanted (high neck, cap sleeve, low back) and I contacted a few stores to find one in the area that has a dress like that!

Honeymoon? Jamaica!

Tips? 1. Try to remember it is your day. There are so many people, so many opinions, so many feelings that it is easy to forget why you are there.
2. Try to be as present as possible. Everyone always told me that the day flies, and nothing could have been more true. I specifically remember walking down the aisle and thinking “did that just happen?!”.

Congratulations!! It is the most exciting time so do not feel guilty about feeling happy!

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Casey

My husband and I got married in October 2019 and we both agree that the best thing we did on our wedding day was schedule a little alone time after the ceremony. While our guests were at cocktail hour we spent the first 30 minutes doing family photos. The second 30 minutes of cocktail hour we spent having hors d’oeuvres and champagne in the private room where my bridesmaids and I got ready. It was a moment to be excited together that we were officially married. It was also a good time for us to relax because it’s the best day but it’s a long day surrounded by so many people (we had 150 guests). We loved having a few minutes of calm alone time to eat a little, recharge, and celebrate just the two of us. If you can fit something similar into your timeline, we highly recommend it.

Good luck wedding planning!

♥️

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Alexandria Porritt

Hi Carly!

Congrats! It’s such an exciting time in your life and you should enjoy it and not feel guilty. There are many others who are going through the same as you!

Ring- I do the same as you- I don’t shower, work out, sleep, etc in it. This is how my mom always did it, so I just kept her habits.

Name Change- No, I kept my name. My husband and I agreed that I could keep my name. I really like it and Alex Lim sounds like a guy 😉

Wedding Size- we did things a little bit different. We got married at city hall over a year before our reception. We just had my family there and went to a special dinner afterwards. A year+ later, we did cocktail hour and rented out a restaurant for our wedding celebration. We had about 80 people and it felt perfect. We were able to spend a little time with everyone and not be overwhelmed.

Best Thing for wedding day- after the wedding party, my husband and I went to the roof of our hotel and just had some water and chatted about the day. We were both dehydrated and it was perfect to see what we enjoyed about the day while memories were still fresh.

Regrets are also what I would change- I have two of them. Hire a good photographer. We got ours pretty last minute and didn’t vibe well – we have some good shots, but my husband and I both like our engagement photos way better. We wish we would have either paid for our engagement photographer to travel here (engagement photos in Orlando, FL; wedding in Pittsburgh,PA) or spent more time researching photographers here.
Second regret- no wedding coordinator or helper. We didn’t have help, so my husband and I were running around trying to set everything up on the day of the wedding. We needed an extra set of hands to help and help me have less stress!

Wedding Dresses- I bought mine from a Saks bridal sample sale for over 70% off. I tried on about 5 but knew this was the one. Luckily I only had to get it hemmed!

Honeymoon- We did about a week trip and went to San Fran, Maui, Honolulu, and LA. We should have spaced it out more as we had so many flights in a short amount of time. However, highly recommend Hawaii- it is as beautiful as everyone says/shows!!

Anything unique- Pittsburgh has a tradition of a cookie table. We had friends, family, and some professional bakers make cookies and other treats. Our guests LOVED this and we did too! We also made our favor edible (we did a cookie & chocolate covered pretzel from famous Pittsburgh places) and no one forgot theirs– most were eaten before they left the venue! We also did a happy hour the night before the wedding. It gave people the chance to meet before hand and make it more of a wedding weekend. Time FLIES by, so you really want to make the best of it.

Really take time to enjoy the whole process and make sure it is what you want. Don’t settle for anything and don’t feel the pressure to conform to what family wants. My mom wanted us to have a dance floor and DJ, but my husband won’t dance, so it felt like a waste for us. Instead we used that $ towards a better bar package and food. Everyone kept saying how the food & drink was the best they ever had at a wedding- so worth it to us!

Last tip (and probably most important), make sure you make time to eat on your wedding day! Many people don’t and you will need your energy! My husband had to run into a restaurant to get a sandwich in the middle of photos because he didn’t eat lunch.

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Suze

Re: rings

My engagement ring was quite large (it’s an aquamarine and I adore it) and I knew I wouldn’t want to wear it all the time once we had kids so I chose 2 small diamond bands as my wedding bands (I liked the look of two together) and now that we have an 8 month old I wear them every day and only wear my engagement ring for special occasions (few and far between lately although I do wear it for our weekly date nights at home!). I didn’t love wearing rings before I got engaged but then my ring became a symbol of our commitment and it was really important for me to wear it. A few weeks in you’ll forget it’s even there!

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Victoria

Congratulations! Such good questions!

I changed my name and dropped my former last name. I love my middle name, and changing my last name was important to me.

As two introverts, the one of the best little things we did was having a signal with our planner that we needed a break. My husband and I took three short (5min) breaks throughout the day that kept us going and allowed us to really enjoy and reflect on every moment. Our guests never knew! I have much more solid memories and was less overwhelmed because of those moments.

We also honored his culture with a traditional tea ceremony following our religious ceremony- it was so meaningful and made our wedding particularly unique! It made our photo time very short, but was 110% worth it.

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Claire

Just got engaged last Tuesday so I’m LOVING all of this content. So happy for you and so excited to dive into the comments. 🥰

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Ashley

Hello Carly! In response to your questions…

Things you would change: the only thing I wish I did differently for our wedding was hire a videographer, wasn’t in the budget at the time.

How many dresses: I ended up buying the first dress I tried on, but probably tried on at least 10 others to be sure it was “the one”

Honeymoon: we waited about 6 months after our wedding for the honeymoon which was honestly kind of nice. Gave us a chance to save up a few more bucks and really enjoy the time together! We went to Grand Cayman which was amazing if you’ve never been, very “Americanized” and safe to travel off resort, which we did a ton of.

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Allison Staley

SO excited for y’all! We were supposed to be getting married June 20 and now it’s July 25th of this year. We are both starting law school in August, so we could only postpone it so much. We originally planned for a big wedding as we both have a lot of people we would want there (we’re in the South so it just comes with the culture of knowing everybody). We’re now going to have to limit our reception to family and the wedding party, but we can still have people masked at the ceremony and distanced. I wear my ring all the time except when I shower or swim. At first I didn’t wear it while I slept, but I was worried about something happening to it in the night, so I’d rather have it on me. One of my favorite things we’ve done is get a custom wedding crest designed! I know lots of people have done this, but it’s truly something I will always cherish! We’ve incorporated it in little ways throughout the day—our invitation suites, our can coolers, and I embroidered it on a table runner to use on our cake table. I also got a custom venue illustration done (because I absolutely love our venue) and that’ll be our guest book that people will sign. I only had to try on two dresses before I found the one, but I definitely knew what I wanted.

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Val

Ring– I wear it all the time, but it definitely took some getting used to.

Name change– I added my maiden name to my middle name, so now I just have 2 middle names. I love sharing a name with my husband!

Size– Our wedding was about 135 people, and that felt perfect for us.

Best/worst– The best thing I did for my wedding was have an amazing live band! This may not be a need depending on the type of wedding you decide do have or that Covid dictates you have, but a band was hands down our number one choice. Also a day of coordinator took so much stress off! We picked 3 things that were really important to us (food, music, and making guests feel good) and that guided our budget. We ended up spending WAY too much money on flowers.

Changes– As cheesy as it sounds, I wouldn’t change anything about our day. It was the best day! It went by too fast, though!

Wedding dresses– I tried on a bunch and ended up with something I didn’t expect, either! The only thing I cared about was not having to wear spanx, haha!

Honeymoon- We went on a road trip to Charleston and then went on a 5 day cruise. It was so nice to be able to be active when we wanted and to relax when we wanted.

Anything unique– We invited every out of town guest to our rehearsal dinner and went to a minor league baseball game for even more together-time. People came from all over and we wanted to make sure they had a great time and felt appreciated.

I am so excited for you! Remember that your day is about you and Mike and those who will support you, and no choices you make will be wrong. Have so much fun!

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Anonymous

Ring: you will not wear it around the house. Doing dishes 3x a day, everyday cleaning, exercising, etc. is not helpful to wear. I’ve had mine for 10 years and only wear it out of the house.

Maiden Name: if you keep Abigail and completely lose your middle name, you will no longer have a legal id to prove what your maiden name used to be. I kept my real middle name, completely left out my maiden name and trying to prove to different institutions (bank, insurance, etc.) has been a nightmare because I don’t have a government issued document proving what my maiden name used to be. I regret not keeping my maiden name. You will never have a future situation where you’ll need to use Abigail ever again.

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Ellie Durbin

That’s interesting! I’ve never heard of this being an issue. Sounds like a headache!! I would think that a birth certificate coupled with a current ID and even a certified copy of a marriage certificate would cover all bases.

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Melanie

Yes this is what I did, had copies of our marriage certificate and it was used to change my ID and then changing everything else was super easy – it’s just tedious.

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Shannon Mahaney

I used to wear my ring all the time. But after I got pregnant last year, I switched to an Enso silicons ring for every day wear and my engagement ring for date nights and special events.

The best thing I did for my wedding day was to have a really chill morning of with my bridesmaids.

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Ellie Durbin

For our honeymoon we were supposed to go to Anguilla but last minute had to regroup and ended up going to Palm Springs, CA and LOVED IT! My advice to all couples (friends and clients) is that even if it’s a staycation (which COVID may dictate), you’ll want to be in the just married bubble for at least 5 days, regardless of where you are. Create that space to relax and bask in the newlywed glow and it won’t matter where you are!

I wear my engagement ring pretty liberally and encourage others to do the same. Much of the advice for taking it off more often is for rings with pave on the halo or band as that is much for delicate say with lifting weights vs a metal band. No matter what, don’t do anything without insurance and get the prongs checked annually!

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Ellie Durbin

Oh! And three pieces of wedding day/weekend advice from my personal experience:

1. On the last night before festivities start go out to dinner just the two of you (for us that was Thursday…we then had Friday family dinner, Saturday rehearsal/welcome, and Sunday wedding). My husband and I literally left Kinko’s halfway through printing/cutting programs and menus to go to dinner and carving out that time was so special. In a time where things can get especially hectic and emotions run high, it’s nice to have a reminder of why you’re there in the first place.

2. It’s traditional in Jewish weddings for the couple to have Yichud (seclusion) immediately following the ceremony and I recommend it to everyone! We walked up the aisle straight for the bridal suite (if you stop to greet people, you’ll never get away haha) and took 10 minutes alone to absorb the shock and re-read the personal vows we wrote :).

3. Try to stay together as much as you can during the reception. It’s so easy to get pulled apart, but it’s so wonderful to have similar memories of the night and be together. I see couples on opposite sides of the room all the time when I’m coordinating weddings and it makes me a little sad!

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KU

I got engaged literally a week before lockdown at the end of February. Currently – I only wear my ring mostly when I leave the house, mainly because I take it off at night and forget in the morning lol.

We were planning on a biggish wedding in January since our families are large. BUT we have a backup plan for a backyard wedding with only close family, depending on the situation at the time.

I couldn’t find THE dress so…I ended up getting one custom. AND it ended up being half the price of most of the dresses I liked.

It is definitely a weird time for wedding planning! I keep telling myself to enjoy it because it’s an anxiety-inducing, but exciting time!

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Mary

Congratulations!

We had ~50 guests at our 2018 wedding and it was just what we wanted. My family is tiny and my husband’s is large so we spent a lot of time discussing the invite list. Before you commit to a venue, I highly recommend making a rough draft of your guest list so you have a good feeling for how much space you will need to accommodate your event. Some venues also have minimum attendees or a minimum catering spend which is something to keep in mind. With only 50 people it was impossible to hit the $25k food/beverage minimum at some of the venues we toured (we got married in the Boston area).

I wanted to get married fairly quickly (for no good reason other than to not drag out the planning for over a year…I don’t have a lot of patience for event planning). We considered eloping but my brother and SIL eloped and my family felt a little left out. Keep in mind that your wedding day is likely very important to your parents, siblings, extended family members that you a close with, etc and they will want to feel included in some way. A party with everyone after works too!

I also didn’t have a bridal party. My two SIL’s and my mom and MIL were in the bridal suite with me to get ready/pop champagne/take pictures so it was still fun. I felt that the more people around me would make me nervous so I wanted to keep it small and simple!

The last piece of advice: a co-worker told me the week before my wedding that the day will go smoothly if the bride is in a good mood. My husband broke his wrist on the morning of our wedding while running a trail race. We’re both into running so it seemed okay for him to do. I know you don’t want horror stories but I am sharing this because it ended up not being the WORST thing that could happen. I had a rough hour or so that morning but kept thinking about what my co-worker said- stay positive and your guests will feed off your mood and have the BEST time! Long story short he got a splint that you could barely notice for all the photos and after our honeymoon to Italy, came back to surgery. BTW, I would not be able to have this perspective back in my 20’s and I am so glad I waited to get married in my early 30’s 🙂

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Eva

I have been engaged for 2 years (wedding pushed to 2021 due to COVID) and I only wear my ring when I leave my apartment. So due to COVID that translates to never haha.

I found my dream dress 1 year BEFORE I was engaged (never tried it on). I spent one day with my mom going to 3 bridal shops and the last dress I tried on was the one I had been eyeing for years. And it’s the one I got! I am hoping I still love it by the time my wedding finally happens.

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Brynna

I think my biggest piece of advice (aside from remembering to of COURSE enjoy this wonderful time for you and Mike!!) is to keep in mind that the wedding is about you two getting married. After all of the wedding stuff is done, your marriage will be the lasting piece. 💙
As for the others: 1) I didn’t wear my ring all the time at first, but now it’s always on and I feel weirdly naked without it. I still have to take it off for work, but I wear it on a necklace at the hospital. 2) I didn’t change my name for a long time because my nursing license was under my maiden name and I was lazy. 😂. 3) We had a bigger wedding than I wanted lol! 4) We had a brunch wedding and I LOVED IT!! Having it earlier in the day allowed for so many fun food options and we also had the afternoon/evening to enjoy our guests in a more relaxed way! 5) wouldn’t change a THING! ☺️ 6) I tried on dresses with just my mom and MIL which made it really relaxed. I picked dress #4 and it just felt *right*. 7) We took our honeymoon at HP world ⚡️ (it was how we met so it felt very “us” lol).

Congratulations again on your engagement! 💜💜

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Sara

I wear my ring all the time, except when I sleep and when I shower. I take it while traveling, too. I have friends that have a “travel” ring, but that’s not my style. I have a separate insurance policy on my wedding rings.

I did change my name. I didn’t change my email addresses because I don’t think anyone would be able to spell my married name. It’s just easier to keep it simpler.
We had a large-ish wedding (I think our final number was 220). My husband has a big family and it was really important to him. I have a tiny family, so the guest list was mostly his.

Two things: Hired a planner. Seriously. Best investment ever. I know she saved us a ton of money in the long run because I had no idea what things should cost. She came up with amazing vendors that wouldn’t have hit my radar, too. Second thing, hired a videographer. The day goes by so fast, so it’s a really lovely momento that photos can’t capture. (My wedding photographer was the biggest deal for me and ended up being the greatest disappointment. Take your time with that one if photos are important to you. I made the mistake of trusting mine too much… and it left a lot to be desired… and you don’t get a do-over. I’m SO grateful I have the video.)

Different wedding photographer.

3. The one I wanted, the one my mom wanted me to try on, and one that we both liked the idea of. I ended up with the dress that I wanted and I’m still obsessed with it.

We did a mini-moon to Half Moon Bay, California because of my work schedule. (We also moved up our date significantly because my husband’s BIL was going to be deployed on our original date and he wanted him there.) We took a 3 week honeymoon to Rome, Florence, Venice, Paris, and Ireland eventually. I am disappointed that we put it off because things were immediately different after we got married (so romantic, so amazing, just so… different than I expected). The honeymoon was awesome in its own right… but we really waited too long, so it didn’t feel as special as I think it would have if we hadn’t waited. Letting work dictate my life is my downfall. I don’t let others make that mistake, lol.

Tips… hire a planner and let them run the show. In spite of the stress of planning a wedding in 3 months, I was VERY happy and content on my wedding day. No regrets there. When issues came up throughout the planning process, my planner was a confidante and friend to me and could be the person to tell other people no. lol. It’s nice to have both a gatekeeper and someone to take the heat when family gets too be too much. 😉

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KBS

I did wear my ring all the time until I was home w my kids and they were little. As they got older I started wearing it again but have not during quarantine. Union County here.

I loved that we did a donation instead of favors. I have thrown out so many wedding favors. I loved that I focused on what we thought was FUN bc the whole day should be FUN.

I think I would go smaller to if I did it again. We had about 200 people and 7 on each side of the wedding party. I def would go smaller on the wedding party size.

I tried on dresses at 3 stores. Ended up at one in Motown which I loved.

We went to Alaska on a cruise. While obv I would now be hesitant to do a cruise now, I would still do it again bc it was so relaxing and fun. You can fly to sit on a beach any time, esp from the East coast.

We did aim for perfection or beauty but fun. And it showed bc 14 years later people still tell me how good the food was and how fun our wedding was. Just relax and enjoy it. Good luck!

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Kari Roberts

Do you wear your ring all the time?
I was until quarantine and too much hand washing so I’m not anymore.
Did you change your name?
Took me MONTHS, when I was in line the guy was like OK let’s do a countdown LOL. My passport and my airline miles are in my maiden name because you have to send your first born to change the document my god.
Did you have a small, medium, or big wedding?
Mine was medium sized I guess- just under 200 I think?
What’s the best thing you did for your wedding day? Anything you regretted?
Regret- THANKING everyone during the reception I barely danced! Don’t do it!
Would you go back and change anything?
Not thanking everyone, dancing more.
How many wedding dresses did you try on before finding “the one”?
Not sure how many before but I BOUGHT one and hated it opps
What kind of honeymoon did you take?
We went to St. Lucia a few months later.
Did you do anything unique? Tips? Advice?! Something I’m not thinking about but should be?!?!
Taco and pretzel bar for ‘late-night snacks’
Enjoy it because it goes fast!

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Gigi

Best wishes to you and happy planning!!

I haven’t been wearing my rings at all recently with everything going on, but typically I take mine off. I had a very thoughtful friend gift me a crystal ring dish and I have it in our bathroom. Typically I wear my rings for normal activities, but not showering, to bed, working out or swimming.

I changed my name and kept my maiden name as my middle. I wasn’t set on changing it, but it was really important to my husband. I kept my maiden name as my middle (despite it being long and not easy) because I was known in my career with that name and my mom had done that same thing.

Everyone has an opinion so sit down and decide what’s really important to the two of you. When we did that, we decided we wanted a Christmas wedding with amazing food and to have no debt. And that’s what we did. All everyone talks about is my husband’s tartan tux jacket, my giant snowball dress and the best wedding food they ever had. And we can brag a little about having paid cash for everything. Too many of our friends had weddings that were just too much and they were making payments for them months after. Be smart. It’s one day, but it’s the beginning of the rest of your life.

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Shawna

1. I wear my wedding band more than the set together, but during the pando…nope!
2. I did! At 1st I was hesitant, but I am happy that I did (despite all the paperwork…buy a name change kit!)
3. Big…mainly bc my MIL, but they kept us out of debt if we played by some of her rules.
4. Best thing was wearing Tom’s under my dress…my feet did not hurt at all. But tbh, the best thing was surprising hubs with a grooms cake. He was so shocked. I got him a 3d replica of his motorcycle.
5. Maybe do a small ceremony and a 1 year anniversary party vs the whole big thing. Oh and I would def get the thank you notes printed vs writing them!
6. Maybe 5. The 1 I pinned that I thought would be the one, looked awful and weighed like 15 lbs.
7. Tiny! We stayed at my in laws place in sun Valley. Hubs was about to start a job at an airline so we knew free flights were in our future, so we held off on a europe trip.
8. A few days before the wedding, we did a giant trip to Broadway to see book of Mormon. Everyone laughed so hard! And for favors, we had individual pizzas from a pizza truck for a midnight snack.

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Hope

ring: I only wear mine during the day and put it in a pretty ring tray on my nightstand. I also have a ring holder next to our kitchen sink for when I do dishes and I invested in a set of silicone rings to wear at the gym and when I’m running.

Wedding size: We got married 4 years ago this September and had a medium-sized wedding. We had about 200 people in attendance.

Best thing we did on our wedding day: I guess a couple of things stand out to me, but I wouldn’t change a single thing about our day. We did though go the traditional route for our first dance song which felt classic and that it meant so much more. I also incorporated a special dance with my Grandpa because he is one of my favorite people and those photos I will cherish forever. We invested in a really incredible photographer and skimped in other areas and it was 110% worth it.

Changes to the big day: I don’t think I would make a single change to our wedding day other than I wish I could have slowed down time. It was so incredible, but it went so fast!

Dresses: I think I tried on 4 dresses before trying on the ONE and I just knew. I couldn’t stop thinking about that dress.

Honeymoon: We did a relaxing trip to a Sandals resort in Jamaica and it was perfect. Exactly what we needed post-wedding to just relax and soak it all in. I definitely suggest waiting a few days though and not leaving right away. That definitely helped us get settled after the wedding and make sure things were in order rather than rushing.

Tips: Enjoy every bit of planning and celebrating. It’s truly the best and so much fun! My best friend just got engaged and it is so fun to plan and celebrate all over again! Congratulations and enjoy it!!

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Kathryn Baillon

The best wedding planning advice I got from our venue was “the weddings that are the most fun are those that reflect the personality of the couple” so we took that and went with it. My husband and I are both pretty preppy and I LOVE bright colors so that quickly became the theme! The decorations (navy and white stripped table runners) colors (pink and orange), our signature craft beer instead of cocktail, pint glasses with our logo as a favor, weren’t “traditional” but it was very “us” and our guests loved how much every detail reflected our personality as a couple

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Courtney

Best things we did:
1) invest in your photographer!! We were so glad we did. We go back and look at the photos all the time.
2) we used photos from our engagement shoot to make a framed guestbook. In the center was a collage from Minted and then I had it matted with this huge matting that was big enough for everyone to sign with silver sharpie. It hangs in our dining room and I love seeing it everyday.
3) our photographer snuck us away during the reception to take some sunset photos just the two of us. It was really special and a sweet moment for us to slow down.

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Kaylee

I wear my rings pretty much all the time. Only I didn’t was when I was pregnant.

I kept my last name and my husband was totally cool with it. I just liked the flow, and my career played a role as well.

We had a small wedding on a Wednesday afternoon. Just our immediate family were guests.

We had a really relaxing day. My parents hosted brunch and we had a mini bridal shower since I didn’t have one. We left everyone, did our grocery shopping, and then took our time getting ready at our house. It was super chill. Would only change the restaurant we went to for dinner.

Didn’t try any dresses on. Loved a dress on ModCloth for like 5 years and just ordered it about a month before my wedding.

We still haven’t taken a honey moon.

I wish had hadn’t written my vows on my cellphone. I no longer have a copy and it makes me a little sad some days, but my husband didn’t write his down either. Just wish I had them on nice stationary.

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Ashton

Re: wearing your ring. The safest place for it is on your finger- get insurance for it if you don’t already. Grab a few cheap silicone rings to wear for the few times it isn’t safer to wear your ring (water activities, etc.) AND have one place where your ring always goes when you’re not wearing it (I have a travel jewelry case that goes with me everywhere).

Re: honeymoon- we did a short minimoon (within the US) after we got married to just rest after the wedding. Weddings are exhausting for the bride and groom! That trip was just what we needed at the time. We then did a big bucket list trip (an adventure filled, international trip) about 6 months later as our true honeymoon. We loved both trip and it was fun to celebrate twice.

Only other tip is to make sure that your wedding day shoes are comfortable- whatever that means for you. My dress covered my shoes, so I wore gold glitter Toms. I wore them all day and don’t have any regrets.

Also make sure that YOU enjoy your day- and plan your wedding so that you will (crowds make you anxious? Do a smaller wedding; feel you best on the dance floor? Set up your reception so that you can do that; hate wedding cake? Don’t have one).

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Stephanie

Hi Carly! I got married October 26, 2019!
1. I take my ring off the second I get home from being out and don’t put it on until I leave the next day (or in the case of COVID, I’ve worn it like once or twice since this all started!). I absolutely love my rings, but they’re precious to me and I don’t see the need to wear them around the house.
2. Haven’t yet, but I am going to!
3. We had like 140 guests at our wedding, which I think is medium? It felt like the perfect amount for us!
4. My parents are divorced and my dad is not in my life, so my mom walked me down the aisle and we did a mother-daughter dance. It was SO special to me! After, I thought to myself that if I have a daughter, I’d like to have my husband and I both walk her down and dance with her (if she wants to!) I know you’re really close to your mom, so something to think about!
5. We added an hour on to the traditional reception (4 hours) to make it 5 and I think I would have liked it ending an hour early. We were having so much fun but so tired by the time we got to the hotel!
6. I went to three wedding dress shops and found my dress at the third. I think I tried on like 15-20 dresses and almost picked a style that wasn’t at all what I originally wanted. I then took a week or so to think and I decided that I knew what I liked and wanted and went back to that style and I’m so happy I did!
7. We went on a two week trip to England (London, Bath and the Cotwolds) and Scotland (Edinburgh, St. Andrews, and the Highlands). It was magical.
8. I’m flower obsessed and we did a lot of unique things with the flowers around the reception – a waterfall type-thing framing the cake, flowers lining the wall where guests walked in, this beautiful raised centerpiece for the wedding party long table. The inspiration for everything came from @floressenceflowers on IG!

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Chelsea

I do wear my ring all of the time (sleeping, showering, etc.) but it was super weird at first!

I did not change my name. There were multiple reasons I had for keeping my name but some of the biggest ones were that 1) Im a lawyer and did not want to impact my career by changing my name; 2) originally women changed their names because they were essentially becoming their husband’s property and I did not like the idea of that – even though it is not the case any more the idea of the tradition originating with that peeved me; and 3) my mom kept her name and we never ran into any issues growing up and I never felt like we weren’t a family because my parents didn’t share a last name – I think the 40 years they have been partners is more important than anything else

The best thing I did for my wedding was getting my hair in an updo so that it wasn’t constantly in my face

My wedding dress was the third one I tried on and I only ever went to one store

Good luck with everything ❤️

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CandiceZ

It’s super fun and I think you Will remember it forever, however, it’s also kind of not a big deal too lol. Don’t beat yourself up about your happiness. You have to celebrate the joy, you know.

So think about what matters to you – and if a tent like Harry Potter Weasley weddings is it, go for that! And I can heartily recommend Hawaii for a honeymoon which we loved as well as something simpler. After all we spent almost every day on beaches lol. Our beach hotel wedding was perfect for US, however, I’ve seen gorgeous weddings at Farm vineyards, restaurants, Zoo’s, country clubs, wedding venues, and university clubs. You’re going to have a blast.

And it’s okay to be giving too. Having a bigger guest list if you can afford it, staying local NJ or going to FL (though you’ll want winter for that tent!), whatever.
Ps. I wear my ring every day. It’s quite modest though. He did a perfect job designing it. Have fun!

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Emily

We had a courthouse wedding because we live in CA, my family is in MI, and his family was in a different CA town. We couldn’t figure out a way to make it “fair” and I didn’t want to put the financial burden of travel on to anyone. We had a courthouse wedding and it was actually SO PERFECT! We had my immediate family and his immediate family there, my brother streamed the ceremony on Facebook Live. Last minute I hired a professional photographer and I’m so, so glad I did.
I didn’t do a traditional gown, but I did wear a white dress. I did that over FaceTime with my mom, aunt, and two best friends since all of us live in different states. I went to 3 stores and tried on 20+ dresses since I wasn’t sure what was going to feel “right” but as soon as I put on the dress I chose, I knew it was exactly the perfect thing.
We had a large party with my husband’s side of the family the day following the wedding and my family was also able to attend. We had a large party 4 months later in my hometown so that my family and friends could come and celebrate. We played the ceremony video on loop and had it as a drop in kind of event (almost like a graduation party). These were also so great and stress free! I got to chat with all my guests…and wear my wedding dress twice and get my hair professionally done twice 🙈

We saved ourselves so much time, money, and stress that we were able to show up at our ceremony and parties and actually enjoy every single moment. 3 years later and I wouldn’t change a single solitary thing!

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Melanie

1. I do wear my wedding band almost all the time. I wear my engagement ring less when I’m at home but almost always if I leave the house.
2. I did change my name; I wanted any future kids to have the same name as both of us and it helped us feel even more like a new family unit!
3. I would say medium wedding – we did semi-destination, got married in a state neither of us lived in or was from. Invited about 220 and had just over 100 at the ceremony. We included children of everyone because we actually didn’t know that many people with small children who weren’t family, and we wanted all family to be included.
4. Best thing was getting a planner. Something I regret is not getting pretty calligraphy. I also would maybe have spent more on our video (although we have barely watched the one we have and videography is EXPENSIVE)
5. I don’t think I would change anything. Our day was ours, and even though not all parts were perfect, at the end of the day, we were married! So that’s the perfect part.
6. I tried on 5 dresses at one store and didn’t like any of them (one I had found online and thought it was my dream dress, less so after trying it on). At the second store a few days later, I tried on 3 and went with the first one. I wouldn’t say it was my favorite dress ever but it was flattering and honestly I hated shopping for a dress – it stressed me out how much they cost!
7. We went on a relaxing, tropical honeymoon. Went to the beach everyday, went back to the room for a nap, ate a ton. Went scuba diving!
8. Use the Google Sheets wedding planning template – it was a lifesaver! I had everything stored in there and shared with my fiancé at the time and our planner and could access it from anywhere. Start getting correct addresses now because they take forever!

Congrats!

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Anitra

I wear my ring almost all the time! I take it to my jeweler about once a month for a quick cleaning and I have them check it once every six months to make sure everything looks good and nothing’s going to fall out!

Also, we just got married this past May, so it was a pandemic wedding! I was HEARTBROKEN to not have our wedding party there and our extended families… but I focused on the point of our wedding… our love, and our families becoming one. So we just had immediate family over for an outdoor wedding in our backyard! We invested the money we were going to spend on our venue, catering, etc. (we got refunds for pretty much everything thankfully) and reinvested it in our backyard for a new fence, landscaping, tent rental and such. And let me tell you, it was BETTER than our original wedding ever could have been. It felt so special and personal having an intimate wedding at our HOME. Would so highly recommend!!!

At the end of the day, how incredibly blessed are we to have found the people we want to build our lives with?! So no matter what you decide for the wedding, it will be such a joy filled day!!! Congrats!

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Amye

As you consider your day – our approach was that by getting engaged we were already committed to life together. The wedding day was a chance to celebrate that choice with family and friends. Given that, in Covid times, I would have probably signed papers any day but waited to party in-person, even if that is years later. @hillary Rushford did a version of this (3 “weddings” actually) and I’d recommend reading her posts!

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Lily Clark

1. I used to wear it most of the days, but never near the water, working out, cleaning. I have not worn it at all during quarantine mostly because it doesn’t fit right now. I go through phases. I do try to keep it in the box or in a safe place.

2. Legally I have 4 names, go by a nick name and am very attached to my last names. I’m Lily Clark on social media and in some settings (at work and church) but I throw in Derbyshire when I need to (I live near my hometown and everyone knows my family). I legally have done nothing to change any of those names and I probably won’t until I have kids. I do not know what to do with my first name which is Henriette (my maternal grandmother’s name).

3. Hindsight I would have gone smaller than the 150ish we did have. I would say I don’t see or talk to about 20-30 of the people I invited. A lot of people want to be invited just because it’s a good time and won’t stick around 2-3 years later. Be cautious of that.

4. Best thing? I really relaxed and enjoyed the day. As long as we both showed up and said “I Do” the rest was just bonus. Regretted? Spending $1400 on a white trolley that did not show up and not cancelling the transportation that I only wanted for pictures.

5. Actually? Other than the guest list, probably nothing.

6. 0 dresses. I took apart my mom’s wedding dress and had it redesigned to fit me. It was an amazing experience. LMK if you want info on that. I do wish I had tried on some, but I can always do it another time just for fun!

7. Honeymoon – we did a “Homeymoon” the first few days after the wedding. I had a lot of family travel to attend and the weather was nice and our location a summery spot so we just enjoyed a few days hanging out with everyone. We then went to Jamaica to an all inclusive in January (our wedding was in September). It was nice to have something to look forward in the winter.

8. If you retain ANY tips, let it be this —

You, the bride, set the tone of the day. Whether that day is your bridal shower, bachelorette, rehearsal or wedding day, how everyone else feels is entirely up to your temperament. If you set the tone of fun and joyous and chill, everyone else will follow. My cousin a florist in VA gave me this advice (she’s seen many a bride) and it 100% reigns true. It could rain, people could be late, shit will happen, but if you set the tone of “I do” only everything is else easy.

Also take a moment to soak it all in during the reception. My husband and I tried like 4 times and it never happened. That’s probably the one thing I would do differently. Also – don’t skip the video option. You might not want too many cameras in your face on the day, but being able to see it in motion again is so treasured.

ENJOY! HAVE FUN! CONGRATS!

-Lily

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EP

I do not wear my engagement ring all the time, but I typically do wear my wedding bands. When I am outside or working around the house, I feel like I bang my ring too frequently. I do typically wear it when I go out. I chose a band that I knew I would love with and without my engagement ring!

We had a big wedding (400+) people. While it was lovely and so fun, after attending several small, intimate weddings, I would 100% have a small wedding if I could do things over. I loved my wedding and had so much fun, but it is impossible to spend quality time with everyone in such a large setting. My husband and I look fondly on our rehearsal dinner (closer to 50 people) and how great it was. We both wish we had a smaller guest list.

I use to sell wedding dresses, and I have found that most brides picked one of the first ones they try on. I did the same. I have never regretted the price or style of my dress. When you know you know!

The best thing I did for my wedding was hire someone to execute the day for me! I am a people pleaser, and it was so nice to not have to worry about any details the day of my wedding. I also loved knowing my family could relax and not spend the day running around worrying about set-up.

We took a trip to a Caribbean island. It was relaxing and wonderful! My advise would be to schedule a day (or more) buffer between the wedding and leaving for your honeymoon. We were so exhausted after our wedding festivities!

My tip would be to not sweat the small stuff. Expect something to not go as planned, but at the end of the day you are still married to your best friend! Years down the line you barely remember the small details that caused so much stress at the time.

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Sam

Congrats again on your engagement! You and Mike are going to have the best life together.

My husband and I got married legally back in March on the second to last day that our local courts were open before everything shut down for COVID. Since we live in a state that allows self-solemnization (marriage without an officiant) we said some vows and signed the certificate in our living room, then we went to have dinner at one of our most favorite restaurants. We had a wedding ceremony 2 weeks ago in a mountain town with just family. We never wanted anything big and it would have been small without COVID, the only difference would be that we would have invited some friends. We had our dog there, picked up food from a local italian restaurant, my mom made fancy cookies, and it was very pared down and what we were comfortable with. What I spent the most money on was a photographer, and that was 100% worth every penny.

One thing I was very excited for was that I bought my bouquet from a company called Southern Blooms that makes sola wood flowers, and now I get to save my bouquet forever.

I did not change my name and currently do not plan to. I am not overly attached to my name, but I don’t particularly like my husband’s last name. If I were to take his name I would have a common first and last name, and I like having at least part of my name be more unique.

A honeymoon is not happening for a while now. At least until I feel safe traveling again.

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Karin

First of all, congratulations, being engaged is such a fun period in time even if it’s filled with lots of stressful decisions. Take some time to just enjoy it!

These are such great questions!

I’ve been married for 3 years and I wear my ring almost all the time (including when I sleep) with a few exceptions. I take it off when I shower, touch raw meat, or when I’m going to get my hands very dirty, like gardening or baking cookies. I also take it off when doing certain outdoor activities like hiking (I accidentally scratched the band while hiking on our honeymoon, never making that mistake again!), and swimming in chlorine or salt water.

I’m very attached to my maiden name and didn’t want to give it up. My husband was also very attached to his last name and he felt strongly that we should have the same last name. So we compromised and neither of us gave up our last name but we both that the same last name now. We BOTH changed our names so now we are Mr & Mrs. “His last name” “Her last name” (because it sounded better in that order) and we don’t have a hyphen, which seems to confuse a lot of people. But we love it! And the name change process takes a while but I’m glad I had my husband standing in line beside me, both of us in it together!

We had what I would consider a medium sized wedding, 112 people total (but we invited over 150)! So not very small but definitely not very large. It was just the right size for us. We got married in the church I grew up going to and then had the reception at a beautiful conservatory/zoo (the reception was at the conservatory but we had a special animal guest visit us). It was a gorgeous day and both locations were everything we hoped they would be. Other than the cost, I wouldn’t change a thing!

There are two things we did that I would do again instantly.

First, we hired an amazing photographer. I don’t like my photo being taken (unless I can control how it looks) so I told myself I would be happy if I got even 10 photos that I loved. But we ended up loving every single photo, hundreds of great photos! We did our research and interviewed at least 6 photographers before we picked the one. It was one of the biggest expenses of our wedding, almost as expensive as the venue plus catering! But it was so worth it, I wouldn’t change a thing!

The second thing we did was hire a florist. I spent months convinced I could save some money and diy the flowers because I had helped several other friends do the same for their weddings, but in the end I hired a florist. I got exactly the flowers I wanted and I didn’t have to put in the work myself. I cut costs by increasing the amount of greenery slightly to fill out the arrangements a bit more.

Would I change anything? I loved my wedding and celebrating with family and friends. But it was so stressful! I took on some diy projects like making the place cards and table signs, and had to stay up late the night before my wedding finishing them. All the stress was so overwhelming, not just in the diy stuff but the expectation of having a perfect day and all the pressure I put on myself. If I could rewind and change things, either I would keep everything the same because when all was said and done I had a great time, or I would save the $27k and elope with just the closest family joining us. It’s really hard to pick!

We took a three week honeymoon, leaving the day after we got married. I really wanted to go somewhere adventurous and exotic that we had never been to before, that would push our comfort zone, like Asia. But my husband really wanted to relax after such a big/stressful event. So we compromised and went somewhere familiar that we had been to before and somewhere new (Italy and Greece respectively). It was fantastic!

My tip for wedding planning: write down the top three things that are most important to you (is it the venue, being with family, photos, the music, the food, etc) and have your fiancé do the same. Then compare lists and between the two lists, compromise when needed and come up with your top three wedding priorities. That will help you plan and budget. If you’re very into food, splurge on the catering and save elsewhere.

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Leslie

I wear my ring all the time, but I specifically requested a simple comfortable titanium band. I was adamant not to get a diamond, for a plethora of reasons, and I’m so happy I didn’t get one. We have matching bands and literally do everything with them on (my husband works with heavy machinery daily and never has to take his off since it’s so slim).

Definitely changed my name. Never really gave it a second thought. Always knew I’d do that. It’s not that hard to do a name change. Everyone makes a big deal about it, but it literally took me 15 minutes at the Social Security office and a bunch of emails with a photo of my marriage certificate and license with new name to cover pretty much everything.

115 guests, so smaller wedding for most people’s standards. We wanted 50-70, but I knew my parents would want something huge. So we compromised.

Favorite things about our wedding – delicious Cajun food for meal instead of something traditional and not taking portraits after ceremony. We took ours in the morning before with family and friends so that no one had to wait for us at the reception to start eating and dancing. Because of that, we arrived at the reception at the same time as everyone, earlier than some even lol, and had time to have an actual conversation with every single guest.

Wouldn’t change a thing honestly. I wasn’t stressed at all about it. Had butterflies, sure, but no stress about how the day would go. And we planned our wedding in 8 weeks from engagement to wedding day. I planned as much as I could with a spreadsheet and lots of DIY projects, and there are details we skipped over (favors, wedding party, etc), but years later we still get people telling us we had the best wedding ever, especially the food and that we actually got to hang out with our friends and family.

I knew which style I wanted before going in. I tried 2-3 others to see if maybe some other styles might work. Didn’t like them and went with the one I came in wanting. I know my style and wanted something comfortable that suited my taste. I bought one off the rack at BHLDN for less than 1k for the same reasoning, that I was going to wear it once so why spend a ton of money. My husband was the only one who came along cause I thought he was the only person whose opinion I wanted tbh, and we didn’t care about the whole not seeing each other tradition.

For our honeymoon, we went to a tiny town in Arkansas and slept in a treehouse. It was like our little haven in the woods. We went out hiking when we wanted fresh air. It was low key and lovely.

Advice: don’t get too tied up in tradition and the wedding. It’s more important to have a happy, beautiful marriage than a big, fancy wedding.

Marriage > Wedding

Never lose sight of that during the planning process. The details are nice and make for a memorable night. But when something goes wrong, remember that you are still getting married anyway. Your love and joy in the lifetime of marriage ahead of you will be greater than the details if you let them be.

Hope the best for y’all!

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Jessica

Congrats, Carly!! This is such a fun time, even though it seems crazy. Let’s see….
1. I wear my ring most days, never at night or to work out. I only wear my wedding band playing tennis, though.
2. I changed my last name, kept given middle name. Love having same last name as family.
3.Medium wedding – 125 people. It was perfect
4. Regrets? Not really.
5. I would have had the photographer stay until the very end solely for the send off picture.
6. I tried on A LOT of dresses. I knew it was the “one” when I felt like a bride.
7. Honeymoon’d in Aruba @ Bucuti & Tara, adults only is the way to go!
8. Tips: Focus on the marriage, not the wedding. Spend the money on the photographer because it’s all you have when the day’s over. Get a wedding planner!!

Enjoy the engagement time. It’s so much fun!

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Kristen

I had what most people would consider a medium sized wedding (90 people) but what my family considered small. 😂 My family is big and my husband’s small, and most women in my family have big cathedral weddings with ballroom receptions. But I didn’t want my husband and his family to feel lost in a sea of strangers. So ours was in a small town church and a little nearby venue. And we looooooved it. If I were to do anything different, in hindsight, I’d have gone even smaller and focused more on the little details. Maybe done an earlier wedding and a champagne brunch after? My best advice is to do what feels right for you two, your families and to know that in the end it’s just a party, what matters is the marriage that follows!

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Macy

* I am the exact same! Have been married 3+ years, engaged 4+, and still never wear my rings to shower, exercise, sleep, clean. Pre-COVID, I wore it out and about and would take it off and put it away as soon as I got home. I always put it in the same place (a ring holder by my sink) so that I don’t misplace it or forget where I put it.

* I changed my last name and also kept my middle name (versus using maiden as middle). For so long it felt like I was playing pretend, but I do love the idea of our kids + us all having the same last name. It feels like the start of a new family which is so nice.

*We had a small, destination wedding. Cannot recommend enough!!! Being the center of attention gives me so much anxiety. I was nervous to even say my vows! We had family and our closest friends. It was heaven. I wouldn’t change a thing.

* This depends so much on the couple, but the best thing I did for my wedding day was see my now-husband on the day of the wedding before the ceremony. Many people are more traditional, but I was so nervous/excited/anxious before our evening wedding. I saw my husband in the morning before and it immediately brought my nerves down.

* Probably cliche, but the only thing I would change is not sweating the small stuff. You plan and plan and plan (and I’m very type A!), but the day/night of your wedding, you’re truly in such a blissed out state… you won’t notice if the food isn’t brought out perfectly or if little things go wrong. That’s not the point of the day and I wish I hadn’t worried so much ahead of time.

*I probably tried on 6-10 dresses, but definitely knew in my heart which I felt was most “me”

*We went Caribbean for our wedding and it was AMAZING. After the craziness of wedding planning and the exhaustion of the wedding weekend, relaxing was just what we needed. I was wondering if we’d get sick of “not doing anything” for the ~10 days we were gone but nope! You are so in love, so excited, and so exhausted.

*Advice: someone told me to take a moment while standing in front of friends/family saying vows to look out at everyone who is in attendance. It’s likely this exact group of people won’t be in the same room again and they’re all there for you and your partner! It’s so incredibly special.

Also have a small sewing kit handy! My dress strap broke during my reception and one of my best friends swiftly swept me to the side and stitched it back in to place. One of my favorite stories of the night.

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Meg

I had BOTH a small wedding and a larger one. The small one was with 30 people (this was even more than I originally wanted) in Disney World and let me just say, it was more than I could have dreamed. Frankly, they made it SO EASY. It’s basically one stop shopping, which for me was huge because I was so overwhelmed when I started planning. My second one was six months later and a much larger (250 people) Indian wedding primarily for my husband’s family. It was at home and everything my husband (who has tons of friends) and his mom ever dreamed. We did get the best of both…but I would have personally just stuck with the small. For the big one, we did hire a wedding planner which did help alleviate the stress quite a bit and I would HIGHLY recommend everyone hires one.
In terms of dresses, I tried about 8-10. One stuck out at me in the store, but was nothing at all like I claimed I wanted, but I fell in love. Then I went back and shopped that designer exclusively and confirmed that was “the one.” My whole wedding color scheme changed after that! 🤣
For the rings, I did wear mine everyday until Corona hit. Now, I’m afraid to wear them while cleaning or taking out the dog or whatever. I will wear them again once we are back to normal (or once I start leaving the house regularly again!).
Finally, I have intentions to change my name, but it’s such a hassle, I haven’t yet and we’ve been married for almost 2 years! All in due time!

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Lori Barnes

Carly – I am so excited for you! I know even though COVID is going on that you will find an elegant and simple way to pull this off. I have confidence in you!

Here’s my thoughts from my wedding:
Your ring – We all baby it for awhile. You will get used to it. I did actually lose my ring and band after 10 years and was heartbroken! Luckily I did have it insured and it was simple enough to recreate. I lost it because I didn’t have a regular place to take it off! I now have a ring dish in the bathroom and the kitchen – and that’s it! House rules!

Your dress – Wisely I say don’t spend too much money on it for one day, BUT it’s a sentimental thing and if you can afford it, get what you love! Many brides do say they wish they had spent more on the party or food though.

Your reception – I had it at my wedding ceremony location and loved how no one had to get in their cars and drive. You can lose people like that. But I do like someone’s idea to have a small ceremony on say a Saturday and then a larger reception on Sunday.

What I’m glad I did – I filled out my wedding book as I went along instead of doing it months or years later when you easily forget details. I look at mine now I have my thoughts and feelings on how we met, the honeymoon, silly things that happened and who said what.

Your wedding is a day you will never forget, so make it yours and Mike’s above all!!

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Amanda

My husband and I got married at the local courthouse, but we still dressed up (I wore the wedding gown I chose before I knew we were doing the courthouse thing). The best thing I did was hire photographers to come with us. Even though it was just my fiancé and I with a justice of the peace, having them there to capture the day really made it feel special. And the pics they took are FANTASTIC and so unique. They even got one of my bouquet going through the metal detector 😂 I truly wouldn’t change a thing about our very small big day.

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Alyssa

Here are my answers!
1. I wear my rings everywhere. Even hiking and camping. I did leave my engagement ring at home for our honeymoon to Germany and Austria, but since then have worn it for all my travels. I love them and they honestly feel safest on my finger.
2. I changed my name. At the time it was because my maiden name was very long and I had always pictured changing it and my husband’s last name is very short. Now I sort of wish I hadn’t, not because I don’t like his name, but because NOBODY pronounces it right. My old name was longer, but easier.
3. We had a little over 100 people at the wedding, so I guess medium sized? I would have eloped if my husband had been onboard!
4. The best thing I did on the day was take photos beforehand so that we could enjoy cocktail hour with our friends and family. After the ceremony, everyone went out on the front steps of the venue and took one big group photo, which I loved as well, since everyone was in the picture. We also had our big ole lab as the ring bearer and he completely stole the show.

Good luck with planning! Don’t forget that it’s supposed to be FUN and about you and Mike, so don’t be afraid to set boundaries for (well-meaning) busybodies!

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Lauren

Hi Carly, Congratulations and enjoy all the wedding preparations! Yes, I wear my wedding ring all the time. The one time I took it off at the beach, I lost it. Miraculously, it was returned to me. I also got an insurance rider to cover loss/theft as further assurance. I highly recommend a great live band that is versatile with requests. Our guests danced late into the night, since ours was amazingly talented and got the crowd going. Take video, the day is a festive blur and in years to come, you’ll be grateful to see and hear loved ones that shared your special day. I took my husband’s name, not only as tradition, but also to have the same name as my children. Try not to stress, we didn’t have a planner and it was just as perfect as if we hired one. XXXOOO

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Heather Medd

Carly, Congrats! I have been married for 28 years so this is basically mom advice 🙂
I wear my ring all the time. Love it and never take it off. You will get used to it. I did change my name because I am very traditional. I had a medium wedding and it was perfect. 85 guests. Honeymoons are the best part! My advice is to leave right away. It is such a special time for you and your new husband. I just think waiting will never make it feel as special. My 2 cents! I know we are dealing with crazy times, but good luck. I hope you can enjoy the process. I vote for a tiny wedding. Simple and special.

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Meg R.

1. Yes, I typically wear my ring all the time. I did however buy a silicone ring for both my husband and I for vacation. My husband ended up wearing his silicone ring 24/7 because of his job & I’m totally okay with that.

2. I did change my name & never really considered NOT changing it, even though I love my maiden name. If I was smart, I would have followed the Southern tradition of replacing my middle name with my last name, but I didn’t think about it at the time. Changing your name can be a bit of a hassle & I didn’t want to go through it twice, so I lost my maiden name. I feel like I’m STILL (5 years later) realizing I forgot to change it on something!

3. I had a small wedding of 30 people in a tropical conservatory in January in Michigan. I always wanted a summer wedding, but I didn’t want to wait to get married, so it was the perfect fit. It was followed by dinner at a local restaurant & not a traditional reception. I would NOT change a thing. We didn’t even have a wedding party because we couldn’t narrow it down & we could only invite 30 because of the location.

4/5. The BEST thing I did for my wedding day was create a detailed itinerary and a shot list that I sent to photographers ahead of time. Something I wish I would have done is have a day-of wedding coordinator. Now, I try to play that role for friends of mine who are getting married so that they don’t have to think about a thing! I also loved the fact that I got married a little later in life (29). I was so confident in the man God had given me to marry & I think I was a lot more laid back because of it.

6. I tried on about 6-8. Unfortunately, the first shop I went to had me try on a dress outside of my price range (without me knowing) & I fell in love with it and left the shop crying because I couldn’t bring myself to spend more money (and I was frustrated with the employee). Thankfully the next shop I went to, I explained the situation & they were so understanding & helped me find a similar dress much closer to my budget. I think the biggest thing is making sure you’re comfortable in your dress. If it’s heavy or low cut or too tight, you’re going to be uncomfortable day of. I always make my girlfriends do three tests: 1. The sit test: can I sit in this dress comfortably 2. The bathroom test: how difficult would it be for me to use the bathroom in this dress? 3. The dance test: can I freely dance in this dress without worrying about other people stepping on it (or they themselves stepping on it)…and sometimes this makes you realize you need a bustle.

7. We didn’t honeymoon. The main reason was because we didn’t have the money to do one well, but I’m actually glad we didn’t. I feel like sometimes honeymoons that immediately follow a wedding have so much pressure to be perfect & I actually enjoyed taking the week off of work to move in with my husband & just enjoy his company in our house. We will someday save up for our dream vacation & dub it “our honeymoon!”

8. Our wedding was unique because we did everything 100% our way. We didn’t let a lot of people influence our decisions & I couldn’t have been more happy about that. We also budgeted and that may not be a popular opinion, because everyone thinks that ‘this is such an important day’ …but in my opinion, my marriage was MUCH more important than my wedding day.

Last piece of advice: Go to marriage counseling before it’s needed. There is such a huge stigma about counseling that is ridiculous. Marriage is different than dating, it’s different than living together & you both have to work at it 100%/100% (not 50%/50% like many people say). Counseling allows for a professional to help ease you in to marriage & help you learn to communicate with one another in ways you probably didn’t realize you need help in. And don’t settle on the first counselor, find someone you both like & get comfortable with the fact that you may need help & that is 100% okay.

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Meg

As far as the engagement ring goes- I sadly don’t wear it as much as I’d like! There are a lot of activities where I avoid wearing it (working out, showering, gardening, cleaning, sleeping, etc.) and on top of that I work in healthcare and won’t wear it at the hospital! I did however go with a very simple, very thin, fine infinity diamond wedding band that is a lot more suitable for all these activities, and I wear almost daily.
In the way of a honeymoon- this is your time to go big! (Obviously this is much more likely to happen in a post pandemic world). We went to Bora Bora and stayed in a hut over the water- completely indescribable and special and something I will carry with me forever! Do it!

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Chrissy

-I take my ring off a lot! I hate the feeling of putting on face products with it on, so I take it off before I start my nightly routine, and in the morning it’s the last piece of my outfit before I start work.

-I changed my name, and did the same thing my mom did: drop my middle name and legally change my middle name to become my maiden name.

-We had a pretty large wedding, I’m a partier and wanted as many of our friends and family as we could.

-The best thing we could do was prioritize what was important to us. We wanted to have a big party and celebrate, so I knew I wanted a live band. We also knew that this would be a rare occasion to get pictures of a lot of our families together, so we ensured we got a great photographer.

-If I could change anything I would have hired a full on planner. I’m a corporate event planner in my day job, so I did a lot of coordinating myself but there were plenty of things I wished I didn’t have to think about. Also would have gone bigger with flowers 🙂

-I tried on 5-6 dresses and was *really* torn between two. I could have gone with either! If you haven’t bought one yet, I really recommend checking out BHLDN, anthro’s wedding shop. The dresses are so much more reasonably priced. It’s where I got mine, it came a week later, so *if* you want to do a sweet elopement, you don’t have to wait for it!

-We did a very quick 4-day honeymoon in Mexico- my dad was battling end stage cancer and we didn’t want to go too far or too long.

**in summary**
We planned a wedding in 3 months after we found out my dad was dying. Selfishly, I feel like we did a lot of “okay that works too” when we had to go with second and third choices of vendors for various things. There’s a lot I would have done differently but we just had no lead time. I’m forever thankful that I have the memories of my dad giving a toast, walking me down the aisle, and doing a first dance.

So focus on what’s important to you- if it’s grandma being there, consider a small ceremony where she is.

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Jen

Carly,
Congratulations to you and Mike!! It’s okay to be excited in this time. I completely understand you feel torn but you’ll only have this time once, savor it!

Rings:
I was also paranoid about wearing all the time at first. I didn’t wear any rings so it was a big change. I would say you do get used to it more. I got so used to it that I felt like I had lost it when I chose not to wear it (working out, etc.) so I got have enso (plastic) bands that I wear when I don’t want to wear my rings.

Dress:
I was NOT looking forward to wedding dress shopping. There is so much pressure to find *the* dress. I’m very petite so I was worried I would look like I was in my big sister’s dress. I ended up only doing one day of try on, I found a dress I loved and then saved over 60% on the dress by buying it second hand! I highly recommend looking into this!

Day of lessons learned:
It’s only one day, have reasonable expectations and go with the flow as much as possible. It won’t be “perfect” because of the napkins, it will be the best day ever because you most important people will be there and you and Mike will be promising forever to each other. To help keep that perspective, we followed the trick that we each chose 3 things that were important to us (for me it was venue, photography and live music). Food wasn’t a priority to either of us. Of course you want it to be good but no one will remember the food at a wedding unless is it incredible or horrible. For us that was a place where middle of the road was fine, we wanted them on the dance floor not at their plate. I would recommend you find out if there is anything that is particularly important to your parents and find that out early on. A couple of weeks before the wedding my mom got very sad about who was going to walk her down the aisle. I hadn’t thought of this details and learned she had always expected her dad walk her, but he was too ill to attend. We can up with a beautiful solution, but I wish I had asked sooner. To be clear this isn’t an open invite for all of the opinions (you will get PLENTY), it is asking your parents to list 1-3 things they really want to be involved in or are important to them. Maybe one will be something you don’t feel strongly about and they can just take care of it for you! Of course can change dramatically based on who is paying for the day.

My last piece of advice…. you will get a lot of advice and some of it will be horrible or just not at all applicable to you. People are excited for you and they want to help! A nice way to get out of advice that just doesn’t apply to you is to say, “That’s great advice. Thank you!” And leave it at that. I know that sounds so simple, but especially in the final few months when people were very excited but most plans were finalized people would give me advice and I wouldn’t know what to say bc we were past the point of making changes. That little phrase made the person feel acknowledged and like they were contributing but meant I didn’t have to do anything about it.

That was a lot! I’m sure you’ll hear from many people. Best of luck to you both through this process and for a lifetime!!

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Kelley

As someone who worked a lot of weddings from a catering angle:

You and Mike will probably feel like you never get to eat during the reception. If you’re doing buffet style, ask if they can pre-emptively box up “a little bit of everything” for your hotel room afterwards.

A lot of pastry chefs will recreate your top tier for your first anniversary, so you don’t have to freeze it.

A solid 40% of wedding favors get left behind on tables.

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Phoebe

So many comments but I am going to jump in because it was the best day ever. My husband and I love hosting people and I don’t think we will ever top our wedding reception.

We had our luncheon reception (highly recommend a daytime wedding!!!) at my parents house with 120 people plus 20 kids. The location gave me the flexibility to support local vendors that I have gone to my whole life. If you are opting for a hometown wedding think about where you love to eat and see if they cater! We had a band for dancing and a pianist for lunch – sounds expensive but went through social channels (my brother) rather than finding someone via the knot- it made a big ticket item more affordable and the money goes right into the musicians pockets rather than a company that takes a cut. We did was a rose pedal send off- environmentally friendly, photographed well, smelled delicious, and $120 all said and done.

The honeymoon is like riding a high for two more weeks following a surreal day. We went to Italy for two weeks (both work in art/architecture) and did a mix of food/wine in Tuscany and art in Rome and Florence. It was amazing. Italians LOVE honeymooners.

Have so much fun planning and enjoy every minute.

PS- he has 4 sisters! You found a keeper.

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Mana

I wear my ring all the time, it quickly becomes second nature you don’t even notice any more. I changed my name, I was a wing it bride, I tried on no dresses and ordered a white eyelet sundress with a green sash from Alloy. We had a small potluck wedding in a park, since we already had everything for our home, we asked people to bring a dish instead of a gift. It was fun easy and casual. No flowers were real except what was at the park my dad and I made 100’s of origami flowers for decorations and we had twinkle lights. All in all counting what everyone spent on food our wedding cost us $1000, and I wouldn’t change anything.

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Victoria

I wore my engagement ring before our wedding almost 24/7, and now I pretty much stick to my gold band. I love my engagement ring, but the band is just more comfortable for me. When I workout I like to wear my silicone band.

GET THE DRESS YOU WANT AND FEEL COMFORTABLE IN. My one regret is not spending a little more to get something that was absolutely comfortable. I loved my dress but think I could’ve found something a little more comfortable that looked the same. & don’t obsess about your weight.

We ended up having 125 people at our wedding, and it was perfect! We saved money by not doing a tent and just having strung lights – the backdrop was beautiful and provided pretty pictures without a tent blocking everything. Splurge on a live band and open bar….Everyone will have fun!

We did go all out on our honeymoon…Safari in Tanzania, island time in Mauritius, and then Capetown! Would do it a million times over.

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Samantha Morgan Jones

I never wear my engagement ring and just a simple band because I sleep in it. When the world goes back to normal and I get “dressed” everyday I might go back to wearing it.

I went four names and it’s a lot but I rarely use it all. In business and online I use my first, maiden, and last name together. Mostly because my new name is Samantha Jones and Samantha Morgan Jones might remind fewer people of Samantha from SATC.

We had a COVID wedding so just our best friends, a photographer, and our parents came. We got married outside where everyone could stay socially distant and live streamed the ceremony to our family on Facebook. It was great because my husband is very extroverted and has friends from the military all over the world. They were all able to watch but it helped my introvertness and social anxiety not to have to interact with everyone at once.

My only regret is not getting a videographer to capture all of the little candid moments. But we hired a photographer we love and so we have a million pictures that we will get more use out of than a video.

I actually ordered my dress online from BHLDN. I knew I didn’t want the stress of trying on a million dresses and possibly going out of my budget. I ordered a simple dress and actually ended up “altering” it the night before with safety pins because of the pandemic. It worked!

The best thing we did was livestream the ceremony. It seemed crazy at the time but it was so nice to share with everyone who couldn’t be there, especially those who are in nursing homes and haven’t seen us since COVID started.

Good luck and congratulations!

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Lizzie

So, I got engaged just under 5 years ago and married 3 years ago. Here are my contributions for your questions!
– I wear my rings pretty much all the time. I had my engagement ring resized twice actually because I off-handedly mentioned my ring size to my now-husband and apparently was WAY off 😀 My rings are sized so that they won’t come off accidentally, or slide around, but are still removable if I want to take them off (except for in the mornings when my joints are more swollen. I’ve been surprised how much my rings have survived. The only thing I really take them off for is working out because I lift weights and for some reason think I’m going to scratch them. I got a silicone ring from Enso for working out.
– I did change my name, but I ended up dropping my first name since I go by my middle name and was more attached to my first name. I’m with you in that I want our family to all have the same name.
– I think our wedding fell in as “medium”? We invited ~150 people and about 100 ended up coming. It was right for us, I just wish some of the people who couldn’t make it could have! If I were you, I’d totally hold off on planning anything. I was engaged for a year and nine months – mostly because we got engaged in September and I wanted to get married in early summer but felt like trying to make the following summer happen would be too rushed. I did know that I wanted to have as little left to chance as possible (which is why I never even considered an outdoor ceremony or reception), so with everything so uncertain now, if I was doing it now, I’d hold off on any kind of planning until I knew it would be solid.
– Best thing we did was the food! We had brunch buffets with a scrambles/omelettes bar, a shrimp and grits bar, a biscuit bar, and a chicken & waffles bar. People were raving!
– Ok, other best thing we did was get videographers. We at first ordered a short video (3-4 minutes) but then when we got it, we loved it so much that we paid for them to make a long-form video (10 minutes).
– My venue generally scheduled receptions to be four hours, and I had always felt like every reception I went to was too short, so I was adamant I wanted a 5th hour. Welp, I did NOT need it! I was exhausted and I remember thinking with around an hour left that it turns out I wouldn’t have minded if the reception was ending then. Also regret/would have done differently – SLEEP. I did not sleep well the two nights before my wedding (one because staying up late getting things done, the second because getting married the next day!) Do not hesitate to reach for the melatonin.
– So wedding dress shopping was at the same time harder and way easier than I anticipated. I thought I would be pretty easy because I really only had a vague idea what I wanted so I wouldn’t be that picky, but then I happened to come across a picture of a dress I INSTANTLY fell in love with – but all I had was the picture, no other information about who made it or if I could find it anywhere. Then, nothing I saw was acceptable because nothing I saw was that dress. Finally, I did a Pinterest image search and was able to find the designer, then went to their website and found the style name of the dress and the name of a local shop that carried that line, then I reached out to that shop and asked if they had that dress – and they did! And so I made an appointment there. It was the first dress I tried on, obviously, and I decided on it then. We then tried on a few more dresses just for shits and giggles.
– We live in DC and we ended up going to a Sandals in Jamaica. My husband and I both knew we wanted “some island in the Caribbean somewhere” with an adults-only all-inclusive resort. We chose Sandals at Montego Bay in Jamaica because it was relatively inexpensive and was close to the airport (some places you arrive and then have to ride in their airport shuttle for another two hours to get to the resort!)
– I’m betting you won’t get as anxious as you think! I’ll spare you any specifics but I had SO MUCH go wrong on my wedding day, and I honestly surprised myself how little I cared about any of it as it was happening. I guess I got myself in the mindsets of (1) what are you really gonna do about it at this stage? and (2) anything that goes wrong will be a funny story to tell afterwards. I remember I had to break some bad news to my bridesmaids re: something that had gone wrong and they all gave me this terrified look of “omg are we ok what do we need to do to help you be ok” and I honestly laughed and was like “we’re FINE!” Later, my maid of honor came to me to confess to screwing something up and clearly was falling over herself to apologize and was expected me to be upset but it actually made me laugh — partly *because* of how clearly terrified she was of upsetting me, but more so that even in the moment I recognized how funny of a story it was going to be (and it still is!). Given how much you’ve talked about how uninvested you are in anything wedding-related, I actually think all of this will be easier than you think since you pretty much have zero expectations – it’s honestly the best attitude to have in wedding planning. There were so many times when vendors clearly expected me to be difficult or upset about something and then were confused and/or clearly pleasantly surprised that I wasn’t bothered – clearly they get used to some psycho brides, so they will LOVE you for being so chill! Good luck!

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Amy

Congratulations!!
1. Yes, I wear my ring nearly all the time. I’m currently pregnant so I haven’t been wearing it as much because the fit it weird.
2. I did what you’re thinking of doing. Dropped my maiden name entirely and took his last name.
3. We had a medium wedding I’d say? 100 people total in attendance.
4. The 2 best things I did for my wedding was hire a planner so I was 98% stress free on the day of (mostly just worried about rain but that’s nothing me or my planner could control) and then my new husband and I ate separately from the rest of our guests. The day is so busy that you barely spend much time together. It was important to us to set aside 30 minutes to eat alone and just chat before going back and partying with the crowd! They won’t miss you, they’ll be waiting for their food and eating since you’re the first ones served and it was just so nice to take that break.
5. I wouldn’t change a thing! We got married 2 years ago and it’s still a day I love remembering. But I think that comes from making the day about us! I didn’t fuss about favors or things that wouldn’t matter. We had a great planner, a great DJ, an amazing photographer, and we filled the day with details that made us happy!
6. I had a custom made dress for like $500
7. We honeymooned somewhere relaxing for us and it was perfect. Got married in Oct and honeymooned in March to Joshua Tree!!
Tips: just because something is tradition doesn’t mean you must do it. We didn’t do a bouquet toss or the garter. We didn’t do favors because most planners say no one even takes them and you spend money for no reason. It’s y’all’s day so make it reflect that! Do whatever you wanna do and make it fun! I can’t wait to see what you come up with.

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Hillary

I bought one of those plastic/rubber workout rings to wear to events that id be nervous to wear my ring (the gym, festivals, lake time, etc). I do wear my ring all the time outside the house, but haven’t been wearing them everyday just at home quarantining. You’ll get used to it more as you wear it!

I did change my name but not until after we got back from the honeymoon so I didn’t have to worry about my airplane tickets or anything.

We had a big-ish wedding (275 invited, 200 came) but 150 of that were family invites and about 50 were family friend invites.

I tried on 2 dresses and the second dress I thought I looked beautiful in and I felt like a bride. I am extremely indecisive, so I told myself before even trying stuff on that if I found a dress I felt like that in, I’d stop trying on dresses. The price for a dress you’ll wear for 12 hours is hard to swallow, but keep in mind, you’re going to have hundreds of pictures of you in that dress. While you’ll only wear it for a day, you’ll look at the pictures for years to come.

We went to Maui for a week and stayed at a nice hotel that was super relaxing. We had 2 more adventurous excursions planned – zip lining and a helicopter ride (that got cancelled because of weather). I liked that we only planned 2 things because that gave us time to hang out together as newlyweds and not feel stressed about doing a bunch of things.

I used some of my moms wedding dress in my bouquet, which I loved. I also did a grooms cake and grooms pie for my husband. He’s gluten-free so we needed a second cake anyway for him so we could do the cake cutting, but he loves lemon meringue pie so we made sure to have that for him to have dessert.

A tip would be make sure you guys sit and enjoy dinner! It’s a whirlwind day and you’ll want to talk to everyone, but make sure you take time to sit and eat.

No one is going to cherish or remember the day as much as you and your fiancé, so think about what would be special for you two, rather than trying to people please.

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Hannah

So many great questions! So happy for you!
1. I never wear my rings to bed or in the shower. Honestly, I’ve hardly been wearing them during quarantine.

2. I changed my name. It took me 3 years to do it legally because I was lazy and didn’t want to deal with the SS office. Haha! If you do it, I recommend using one of the services like HitchSwitch.

3. We have 220 people at our wedding. It was such a joyous occasion. If it Covid allows, I’d 100% recommend it. I was engaged for 1.5 year because I wanted an October wedding, so don’t rush it. I’m not a big bride person like you either.

4. No major regrets with my wedding. I know you said no horror stories, but we found out our ceremony site was double booked the week of the wedding. Honestly, it was the best thing to happen. We ended up with the special site and a fun story.

5. We did a 5-day relaxing honeymoon in one of our favorite cities then did a bigger trip the following year.

6. Both of us don’t really like cake, so we had 25+ pies. His mom made the pie we cut. ENJOY YOURSELF! Make sure to carve out time in the day for the two of you. It goes so quickly.

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Stacie Monroe

1. I only really wear my ring when I leave my house! And if I go workout, swimming, etc. I wear a silicone band.

2. I changed my name and made my maiden name my middle name! It was hard for me to part with it fully but I wanted my husbands last name so I just made it my middle name.

3. We had 160 people at our wedding, and I wish we had made it smaller. We invited some people just to avoid hurting feelings and we didn’t even talk to them or they didn’t end up coming.

4. Best thing I did was a first look. Couldn’t imagine how much worse my nerves would have been if I hadn’t seen him until walking down the aisle. Also investing in a good DJ company was a great decision. It made our reception so much fun.

5. I would go back and change not getting a videographer. People talked me out of it but I’m so sad I don’t have a video to look back on. The day goes by quicker than you can imagine!

6. I tried on 10 and fell in love with the first one. I only tried on others to confirm that the first one was the one.

7. We went to Sandals Regency La Toc in Saint Lucia. HIGHLY recommend an all inclusive resort. We were so exhausted after the wedding and the entire year leading up to it, it was amazing to just sit and do nothing but drink and eat.

8. Biggest tip would be to be assertive about what you want. Even if it seems to go against the norm of weddings and what your friends and family thing. It’s your day. ALSO – shout wipes. I got sick (nerves!) before walking into our reception and the Shout Wipes literally saved my dress. I wouldn’t have been able to go into my reception without them.

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Tiffany

Stacie- I am so excited to hear you went to Sandals in St Lucia, that’s where my fiancé and I are going for our honeymoon February 2021!! Any suggestions what to bring/not bring and did you do any excursions you’d suggest?

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Kim

Things that I’d recommend are:
1) Have a wedding day coordinator. They will make everything go so much more smoothly and handle all of the business-y stuff so that you & Mike can enjoy your day. Also, an experienced coordinator is wonderful at seeing little things that need to be taken care of and making it happen.

2) Re-Confirm all of the details with your vendors 1.5-2 months before the wedding. I am so glad that I did as I discovered that 2 of my vendors had no record of the order/appointments (wedding favors and my hair stylist). Since I re-confirmed with plenty of time, things were resolved easily.

3) I decided ahead of time that no matter what happened on the big day, if my fiance and I were married by the end of the night, I would be thrilled. So the little things that didn’t turn out exactly as I imagined them were really nothing to me and I was able to enjoy the moment.

I think that you & Mike seem to have the right attitude about the day, that it is a joyous celebration of the start of an amazing journey together. I’m excited to see your plans!

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Tiffany

Hi Carly! I got engaged at the very start of the Pandemic, March 14th, and yes wedding planning has been exciting and also a bit sad and stressful. Only 1 person dress shopping, haven’t even been to my venue since we got engaged (but it’s booked!), still haven’t done our tastings (California is crazy with closures rn), and all other vendor meetings via Skype.. it’s definitely different times. However! I am trying to choose to still enjoy this time and be excited because we only do this once! We are planning a big wedding next year February *fingers crossed* and we have booked a destination honeymoon despite Covid’s ever changing plans and rules. Be sure that your vendors have Covid-19 cancellations/rescheduling in their contracts although I have found everyone so far to be flexible and so so kind! I say, plan the wedding of your dreams don’t let the current pandemic/ political events put a lull on your engagement/wedding. Just be prepared for a possible reschedule. Congrats on your engagement and happy planning!!!

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Kay

Carly

Rings

My husband and I aren’t big jewelry wearers, and we hardly ever wear our rings. I always feel naked without my earrings, which many people say about wedding bands, but it has never felt super comfortable.

Last Name

So this is probably our favorite story. My husband went through the foster care system from nearly 2-18, when he “aged out.” When we were engaged we discussed me keeping my name. We both realized that he’s joining our family, so it would be more appropriate for him to take my name. He asked my grandfather who said yes, of course.

Wedding size

Our plan was to elope, but that didn’t go over well with my immediate family. Our wedding was 10 people, including officiant.

Wedding day regrets

It’s not a regret, by any means, but a bit of sadness. My grandmother was severely ill, and we had to change our wedding location about two days before the ceremony. The hospital allowed limited range, and we jumped on the change immediately so she could be in attendance.

Change anything

My shoes. I wore comfy shoes for all other fancy occasions in my lifetime, and they were all cute options. I don’t know what I was thinking. Ouch! I can still feel the blisters.

Dresses
My original dress was my dream dress. I knew what I wanted, and I bought it. The company I went through went bankrupt. Lost the dress. Two weeks before the wedding I was in a pickle. Thank goodness I had another affordable dress shop nearby. Honestly, I’m a million times happier with what I ended up with. It’s so beautiful. And I love not knowing the make, model, any of that. It was just… my dress.

Honeymoon
Every time we travel, we joke that we’ve never been on one, whether it’s 50 miles from where we live or 2,000.

Unique
Nothing super unique, but I’m super proud of how gracious our venue and family were for last minute emergency changes to accommodate my family.

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Jamie

The best tip I have is, during dinner, go around and take a group photo with every table. This is when most guests are “there” so take advantage. Oftentimes people don’t want to bother you but then feel put out that they never got a special moment with you or the groom. We spent time chatting with our guests, taking selfies and cheers-ing before moving on to the next table.

I was totally wearing my rings (engagement and wedding) up until covid19 happened. Now both me and my husband leave it at home when we venture out for takeout/groceries. We don’t want to worry about disinfecting them. We might be a little crazy. Hahaha.

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Marisa

Wow, SO many comments! Would love a follow up takeaways post with the suggestions you resonate most with!

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Jenn

1. Ring: ALL the time. Can’t lose it that way 🙂
2. Name: didn’t change. My sons have my surname as their middle name & my husband’s last name as their last name. What’s great about the 21st century is you can do whatever you want with your name. No one is telling/dictating what you do. So whatever feels right!
3. Wedding – 175 people
4. Best – wrote our own ceremony with a friend officiating. Also, my husband’s family is Caribbean so we had a steel pan band play the ceremony music (& cocktail hour)
5. Regrets – maybe a 1st look photo shoot? We got married near the Capitol in DC & could’ve gotten some cool pictures beforehand.
6. Dresses – 20? Although narrowed down style quickly. Was the looking for best price.
7. Honeymoon- a BIG one! We got married a bit older & knew we wanted kids right away so wanted to do a big trip while we still could. Week in Fiji (beach) and week in New Zealand (adventure/tourist). A mix of both of our ideal vacations.
8. Unique – we were both there to greet the guests as they arrived with champagne in hand for all. Then once it was ceremony time, I slipped away to change into “the dress”. Gave me more time with my guests. And Georgetown cupcakes as takeaway gifts 🙂
9. Bonus – it’ll be great! Best day of my life.

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Alexa

Congratulations!! A couple thoughts/reflections:

We (sort of) adopted the Jewish tradition of the Yichud room: right after the ceremony, my husband and I went inside for a few minutes, just the two of us. This was SUCH a lovely time to just absorb what just happened together, and to spend our first moments as a married couple in private. We had a glass of champagne, and there were a few hors d’oeuvres waiting for us. We’re both a bit introverted so taking a breather before the chaos of the reception was soooo necessary!

Depending on where you get married, you might have to shut everything down by 10:30 or so (noise ordinances, venue rules, etc). We told all our friends to meet at our hotel’s bar for a casual after-party, which was a BLAST. It was fun to wear my wedding dress for a few more hours and to be with our friends from all eras of life for a more intimate gathering! I also got to eat a huge delicious burger after being too busy / stimulated to eat much at the wedding itself!

Even if you don’t take a honeymoon right away, take at LEAST a few days of work off after the wedding. You’ll need them to recover and just to soak up the memories before having to mentally dive into reality again.

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Anne

We are in the process of postponing our November wedding party because of COVID. But we still want to get married this year, and we don’t plan on waiting to start a family. I figure all bets are off – who cares if I’ll be pregnant at the party in a year? At least we’ll get to see our family & friends. Curious to see/hear what others are doing!

And Carly, my best advice is to enjoy being engaged for a bit. Also, my ring felt very strange at first but now I never take it off because I’m terrified I’ll lose it.

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Leah

I am so excited for you and Mike! I wore my ring everyday from the day we got engaged until just a few months ago when my fingers started to swell from pregnancy. I miss wearing my rings though!

I did change my name. I dropped my maiden name and did my first, middle, and took my husband’s last name. It was a bit of a hassle but I love that my husband and I (and now our little one on the way) all share the same name and are one cohesive unit.

We had a “small” wedding. It was our closest friends (less than 12 friends total) and our families. It ended being around 150 people because we both have larger families. It’s definitely a larger guest list but it felt small because it was just family and our closest friends.

The best thing we did on our wedding day was not hyper-focusing on all of the small details. I got ready at my parents’ house, my husband got ready with his brothers. Our focus on the day was on our wedding ceremony and just catching up with family who flew in from all over. It wasn’t a stressful affair and made the day even more enjoyable. I regret not sending my photographer a specific shot list. I didn’t get a photo of me and my parents by ourselves! We rushed through photos and forgot one of the more important shots.

I tried on maybe 10 dresses, and fell in love with one that was completely not what I thought I wanted. It was more than I originally thought I would spend but my husband and I decided my gown would get repurposed as christening gown for our children!

We did 5 days on Kauai for our honeymoon. We didn’t have a ton of time off from work but wanted to go somewhere neither of us had been and relax for a bit because we had each been working 65+ hour work weeks leading up to the wedding. The flight was cheap through Costco because we are in California. Highly recommend Costco’s travel deals if you are a member!

My best piece of advice is to always remember it is You+Mike versus everything else. We constantly would remind ourselves when the stress started to get out of control that what was most important is that we were getting married and the details, we wouldn’t really remember years later.

Happy Planning!

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Dee

I got married in January and planning my wedding was such a frustrating experience. Everyone asks you what you want and tells you what you should want.

One of the best things we decided to do was not to have a traditional wedding cake. Instead, we got a huge tiramisu cake from a local Italian restaurant where we had one of our first dates. It was so meaningful, plus (I like a lot of traditional wedding cakes) tasted so good the whole thing disappeared in minutes.

I had a hard time finding the right wedding dress. I couldn’t justify a huge price rate for something I would only wear for 3 hours, and kept wanting to make endless changes and additions to anything I would find. Instead, I made my own! I worked with my seamstress (who is an amazing dressmaker) and was able to get everything I wanted all within my price range. Plus, it is truly a one of a kind dress.

And for me personally, my engagement ring has a lower profile (the stone is set deeper into its setting and doesn’t sit very high) so I don’t really take it off. I would be terrified to forget where I put it. But my advice is to have a dedicated ring holder any place you may be inclined to remove it for a while: bathroom, near the kitchen sink, by your bed, next to your gym clothes in the closet. That way you have a limited amount of places to look if you forget where you placed it.

My last bit of advice is: try not to stress. This is easier said than done but it’s such a beautiful time in your life that you only get to experience once. Truly cherish it with Mike. And your wedding will be perfect no matter what because you’re marrying the man of your dreams. Everyone else will love it too because they are there to celebrate the two of you.

Congratulations!

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Elizabeth

I am currently engaged (our date is November 14 of this year – we will see if it happens!!). I can totally relate to the ring question! I am SUPER careful with my ring. I take it off immediately when I get home, and I like to take it off when I wash/sanitize my hands as well. I never wear it while sleeping, unless in a hotel where it could get stolen. My ring stays so much cleaner and safer. The way our jeweler phrased it is, think of your ring like a really expensive fancy watch. Would you wear that watch in the shower? The pool? While cleaning the bathroom? Probably not. Then again, I know plenty of people who never take their ring off. Do whatever makes you feel most comfortable, but I totally understand the caution! Planning a wedding in a pandemic is a total rollercoaster, this is not how I imagined the months leading up to our big day being. Trying to remember that the marriage is what is important, not so much the wedding day. Also, with wedding dresses: it feels like the biggest deal, and it is a big deal! BUT once you’ve picked your dress, I can almost guarantee you won’t think about it again. I was so petrified I would regret my decision and see other dresses I like, as I can be sort of indecisive about clothing, but that has not been the case. I cried when I put my dress on, too. Emotion is a really good sign. If you can imagine yourself walking down the aisle in that dress, it’s the one. And once you’ve picked it, you really don’t think about it again. Everything about planning a wedding feels like a really big, all-consuming deal, and it is a big deal, but it’s important to remember it’s just one day. A special day, but just one day in the rest of your lifetime together. You’ve got this!

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Jacy

Hi Carly, so excited for you!
Sharing my thoughts/experiences on a few of these (I got married Dec 2019!). I completely understand the ring thing!! I was the same. But I would have also left it off for the lake wkn with family- I leave mine at home to go swimming, do outdoor work, shower, sleep, wash dishes. I almost always remember it now, but would forget it in the morning before work like once a week for months after getting engaged. I leave it off for those things because to me, it’s fine jewelry that I want to care well for- what’s the point of banging it up so that I look married while I’m at the gym?? Idk. Ha — We had a small wedding- party of two! We hired an elopement photographer and went hiking in New Zealand and changed into wedding clothes at the end of our hike and wrote our own ceremony. I don’t have the words for how incredible, intimate, and intentional this was for us. It was so fun, memorable, and we were able to just focused on each other. the best thing we did for our day was to have a handful married people that we love and respect (grandparents, aunt/uncle, close friends, etc) write us letters to read since we got married alone- we read some during the ceremony and some on our honeymoon and it was a special way to focus in and be intentional about what marriage means. When we got home we had a fun and casual reception with friends and family, 70 total! I was still overwhelmed by the number and being able to keep up with saying hi and spending time with all who made it, but it was so special and I would have done it exactly the same all over again. Best wishes as you figure out what’s best for the two of you!

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Cassie

Alright, here’s a long one. First of all CONGRATULATIONS!! This is such an exciting time for you! Enjoy it!

I do wear my ring all the time, but have taken it off more recently because of all the handwashing with COVID it was getting dry under there. Lately I’ve been wearing my rings just when we go out, but when COVID is over I’ll go back to wearing it all the time (I only used to take it off to go in the Ocean).
I did change my last name, but just because I liked the uniqueness of my husband’s last name (my maiden was very common, but my married last name is super rare).
I had I guess a medium/small wedding. With us included we had exactly 100 people in attendance. We invited around 150-175 and our Wedding was on New Year’s Day. Those that showed up came to celebrate New Year’s Eve with us too so it ended up being a huge party weekend. It felt intimate, but we still had all the people we really wanted there there. I come from a massive Italian family so we definitely didn’t invite certain family, really just immediate and whomever I am closest to was invited.
In preparation for the Wedding we did a lot of crafting. My Mom and I hand flocked and glittered pine cones to use as escort card holders. Because we got married on NYD the venue was completely decorated still for the holidays so we didn’t have to do much to decorate and we DIYed everything we wanted to add to the space. Lean on family and friends with skills to help out. My brother made our welcome bag itineraries and my grandma handmade our favors. She handmade paper boxes and then made s’mores packs to go in them (she made the marshmallows and graham crackers!!). My husband and I did all our wedding stationery for the day of ourselves. I got all printable files from Etsy (escort cards, programs, menus, etc). We spent two days before the Wedding printing it out and I totally regret waiting until the last minute to print everything because the printer died in the middle of it and we had to rush out last minute and buy a new one to finish everything up.
Make sure you have a detailed list of everyone you want pictures with. In the hecticness of the day I didn’t realize until after that I had gotten no pictures with my paternal grandma and she passed away shortly after. It is my biggest regret. Lists are you friend and your vendors friends. I thought it would seem to overbearing if I handed out lists to everyone, but it turns out it would have been super helpful!
I had made appointments to try on dresses at three different boutiques, one being David’s Bridal which was the first appointment. I went with my mom, mother in law, and aunts and tried on a dozen or so dresses, but it was my mother in law who was scouring the racks while I was changing that ended up finding the dress there I fell in love with and it was a style I thought I’d absolutely hate. I didn’t get an overwhelming feeling at first like people make it seem you should have when finding “the dress”, but when I tried it on again and had it fitted to fit me that’s when I fell in love with it.
I love Disney so we went to Disney for a little less than a week and then when we got back we had a few days to bask in married life and also to organize all our gifts.
For a unity ceremony (like the sand thing people do) we did a unity cocktail where we mixed together a cocktail. It was fun and unique and we included a Chicken Jug to mix the cocktail into/pour it into our custom champagne glasses from the place where we had out first date. We also wanted to include readings in our ceremony, but since neither one of us are religious we picked some favorite poems for family members to read (one was from the velveteen rabbit). There’s no right way to have a wedding, just make it about your love and a celebration of you joining together in life and you’ll have a great time and so will anyone in attendance. Nearly five years later we still have friends and family mention how much they loved our wedding whenever we see them because we put care and thought into every piece of our wedding and made sure everyone felt that. Last tip is don’t put too much pressure on the wedding night, we ended up sitting in bed (in birthday suits) eating our cake we didn’t have a chance to eat and opening/reading through all the cards we’d gotten. It was a wonderful way to end the night.

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Andrea

Hi!!! We got engaged in May! We are booking June 4, 2022 and putting our deposit down this weekend. We think 2 years will be plenty of time for the pandemic to clear up. (We hope). I felt The same way with dresses and the veil – I’m going back in September with my mom to purchase my dress. I also Plan on changing my name, but I’m not sure about my middle name options right now. Good luck!! I’ll be right there with ya!!

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Erin Inhof

I never wear my rings at home! The first thing I do when I get home is take it off, I just don’t care for the way it feels and feel like I should protect it a bit from the day to day wear.

This is so easy to say after having a wedding, but it’s not worth the money. If I could go back in time I think I would do a small destination with a few friends and family. Our wedding was “inexpensive” compared to a lot that we’ve attended, but it was still a lot of money and we could have gone on some amazing trips or reno-ed our house with it! Again, this is easy to say after having had a wedding!

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Cait

Hi Carly,
Thank you for posting this — I am (sort of) in the process of wedding planning and reading through all the comments really helps!

My fiance and I got engaged last December and are not planning to get married until May 2021 (though we may just buy a house instead…) but I wanted to share some advice that I wish someone had told me:
Enjoy being engaged.

I feel like I got engaged and then immediately went into planning mode (which is so stressful, as you know!). A few weeks in I was like – wait I wanted to be engaged for SO long and now I’m not enjoying it. So my advice is to take a step back, turn off planning mode for a month, and just enjoy this new stage of your life with your fiance :).

P.S. Check out BHDLN for wedding dresses! I found mine there and it was so affordable! It was important to me that my dress didn’t break the bank since I’ll only be wearing it once.

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Caviandra

1. Ring – I can’t say enough good things about silicone rings!! I am head over heels in love with my solitaire diamond and wedding band, but there are many, many days/weeks where I just wear a white silicone band – especially during this pandemic when we are washing our hands constantly! They’re perfect for lake trips like you mentioned, other vacations, gardening, etc!

2. Name – my husband was dead set on me changing my name, which I was more than happy to do. We’ve been married 8 months and I haven’t done it yet… 😀 It’s kind of been the last thing on my mind with everything going on. I have the paperwork ready, just haven’t bitten the bullet. I plan on dropping my maiden last name and keeping my first/middle with his last name.

3. Wedding – we purposely chose a smaller venue that capped us at 110 guests including ourselves. I was concerned we could easily balloon up to 250+ and we didn’t have the budget or, frankly, the desire to have that large of an event. I especially didn’t want to feel bad the next day about a) not having time to talk to each person at least for a few minutes, or b( feeling sad we didn’t have enough time to really, fully dance the night away and enjoy the little moments more because we were trying to talk to everyone.

4. Best thing – I have 3.
a. My girls, mom and I went out to brunch and to get our nails done the day before the wedding, which I paid for as part of their gift for standing up (along with their hair appts). It was so nice to spend some extra time with them (my sister, mom and 2 bridesmaids live out of state).
b. We had lots of out of town guests, so before our rehearsal and dinner, we hosted a “welcome happy hour” at a fun cocktail bar near the hotel where everyone was staying. It was an open house for 2.5 hours, and gave everyone coming into town an opportunity to come have a drink on us and mingle before the big day. Super relaxed and fun environment, there were lawn games by the patio and just some casual platters of food – and was a great meetup for the wedding party before rehearsal as well.
c. Carve out ~10 minutes towards the end of dinner to grab some outside/sunset photos with champs in hand ❤️ You’re married, far more relaxed than you were in the AM, it’s perfect to just relish the moment, and the photos will be stunning.

5. Changes – No 🙂

6. Dress – I designed a custom gown through Anomalie – easily one of my favorite parts of our wedding. I went and tried some on only to decide silhouette/fabric.

7. Honeymoon – we did a “mini moon” for a few days in Nashville and the Smokey Mountains. We were supposed to go to Italy and Greece this spring, but, well, COVID. Hoping to reschedule for next summer!

You and Mike are so unbelievably cute together and I know you’ll have the happiest day!

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Kristin O’Brien

Hey Carly! Congratulations! I got married last summer and something we did that I love looking back on is having a Polaroid camera available for guests to take photos with during our reception and put in a photo album. My husband and I still love looking back at those pictures!
As for the dress I highly suggest going with your gut! I was not expecting to fall in love with my dress when I tried it on but I did! I also went back a second time to make sure it was the one I wanted. You’ll know it’s “the one” because you won’t want to take it off!
Good luck with everything! Never feel guilty for feeling happy! This is a very exciting time for you no matter what’s happening in the world!

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Mikayla

Healthcare person here so I don’t wear my rings to work very often. I take them when I travel but NEVER take them off. Find a place close to you to get them professional cleaned and taken care of. I legally changed my name, but I still go by my maiden name a lot. Doesn’t matter a lot to me I guess. I tried on a handful of dresses. I knew mine was the one when my mom and I started tearing up and I didn’t want to take it off. We got married at 23. We dreamed of a European adventure for our honeymoon, but decided on a week in Florida instead. We ended up buying a car and a house within our first year of marriage. Looking back, I am glad we did a smaller honeymoon so we could work toward our long-term goals.

My biggest pieces of advice-THERE ARE NO RULES. This is your day! Make it special for you two. My favorite parts of our wedding day were the personal touches we added. The song we played when we gave roses to our moms was the song my hubs had playing when he proposed. I made a special charm for his boutonnière with a picture of his cousin (passed away in a car accident several years ago-he would have been our best man if he was still with us). Don’t forgot about your groom either. It’s his day too! Finally, it is so easy to spend on your wedding. Before committing to anything, think it over for a few days. Best of luck planning!

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Liz

1. I usually wear mine. I do have a plain band (not my wedding band) that I wear if I’m bloated (TMI) or pregnant (has happened twice, until the rings fit again post partum). I’ll wear most of the time otherwise unless doing major cleaning or painting or similar
2. I did change my name. I kept my maiden as middle for professional reasons or in fear it might make it more recognizable if I forgot to change an account? Or something? Hasn’t come up much and pediatricians and schools are very accommodating so whatever you decide will be lovely and great.
3. We probably had a medium wedding? A little under 150? I don’t have good pandemic advice because we had no pressures (other than financial and social) dictating how we did things.

4. Best thing would probably be finding some key great professionals. If we didn’t have such a professional church lady and reception coordinator and photographer team, I would have missed having a coordinator. Wasn’t in the budget, but having those people be so involved covered that for us. I bought a new perfume for the day and used it on our honeymoon. Now that’s a scent connecting to that special time. I regret not outlining then schedule in black and white for my husband to be. He was involved in planning and cc’d on the emails but the photographer couldn’t find him to take getting ready pics and he and the groomsmen skipped the lunch that was catered for them because they thought they just had to be at the church on time and were in someone’s hotel room hanging out . I also was (intentionally, per the company’s advice) scheduled to get my hair and makeup done last. Which, when the rest of the group ended up going later, meant I was starting when I was supposed to be done and starting bridal party pictures. I usually advise not being last last so if someone needs to be rushed…it’s not you :). It turned out lovely, but I panicked the entire time it was getting done and showed up late to the church.

5. I went once with my MOH to a way-too-expensive-for-me salon (risky move but paid off for me). Tried on 3 there to see how I felt about silhouettes and then 3-4 at the salon where I found the dress. Each style taught me more about what I wanted BUT I had a range I wanted to spend in mind and the salon we went to the second time carried brands that were within that range. It felt pretty stress-free because most options there were viable financially. I would recommend anyone pick a salon that fits their ideal price range or consider alternatives that fit that range (maybe an off the rack salon or a non-bridal brand of dress). It made the process so much easier!
6. We wanted an low-fuss all inclusive in a warm location with great food and also had a budget in mind. We did some pre-research on destinations and then talked to a travel agent who helped up solidify the location and her top recommended destinations. We winged excursions there but loved our resort in Riviera Maya. After all the wedding decisions, having a professional offer 2 great options helped us feel confident in our decision.
7. Roughly outline your top things you want to be super involved in and see what other things can be delegated to friends or family (if they need to be done at all). Wedding rules are all made up—remind yourself of that before losing your cool over printing custom menus that you or Mike don’t really care about.
Congrats and enjoy the journey!

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Claire

First of all, Congratulations! After I got engaged, I never took my ring off (except to take it back to the jeweler for re-sizing/cleaning/etc.) To this day I hardly ever take it off, even through my two pregnancies and running long distance races. It just became second nature to me.

After I got married, I took my husbands last name. I definitely do not regret leaving my maiden name behind. It’s actually kind of strange when I see it now!

My husband and I opted for a destination wedding in Jamaica, so our honeymoon and wedding were essentially combined. It was relatively stress free – I loved it and would do it all over again if I had to! The only thing I really regret is not getting a better photography package.

I tried on several dresses but also ended up with a dress that was completely different than the one I was envisioning. It didn’t seem like my style, but I fell in love with it as soon as I tried it on!

Enjoy the process, it’s so much fun watching your big day come together!

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Kat

The best thing I did was create a new email address for all things wedding related. Set up your registries, appointments, meetings, with something like mikeandcarly@gmail.com or something. That way, your inbox isn’t flooded and once your wedding is over you can delete the account and you don’t have to deal with a zillion emails and newsletters from vendors!

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Alexis Prenzler

Hi Carly! I have been following your blog for years!! Congratulations on becoming engaged!!! I am so happy for you both! Such a special time in your lives!! Savor this special time in your lives!! 💕

I got engaged May of last year in Positano Italy to my boyfriend (high school sweetheart) of 10 years. We unfortunately postponed our wedding from July 18th 2020, to Sept 11th 2020, to now June 25th 2021! Third times a charm!! I wanted to answer your questions from a postponement perspective- we are not married yet but hopefully it is helpful to you all through the planning process?

I never take off my ring besides cleaning around the house! I wear it to bed and the shower. I do like my last name Prenzler- I know its unusual! I think I like it because no one else has that last name that I am aware of so it makes me feel special. I plan on taking his last name Jones even though it so common! Maybe I will keep my last name as middle and convince myself I am getting a British last name lol!

At first I assumed we would have a 150 person wedding max but, my mom has been very excited about our wedding process and all the guests she wanted to invite brought it up more to 220. In the long run I have felt this day is almost as equally important to my parents so I really wanted them to invite whoever they wanted!

Anything you regretted- I guess Invitations at a local boutique- eek! Man I loved picking out these invitations! It was one of my favorite parts about the wedding. The invitations to me really symbolized the look of the wedding before you got to the ceremony and reception. The look of our wedding is very timeless and elegant! Navy blue bridesmaid dresses, white and green flowers, gold accents, etc. I chose to go to a local wedding invitations store and chose Crane invitations which were William and Arthur. I love these invitations but Massachusetts where they are made is more on a lock down than Chicago (where I live). We would have lost all our money if we kept our original wedding date but, we didn’t so I am sure it will work out!! I just wanted to give you a heads up in case you were planning on doing something smaller within 2020!

Would I go back and change anything:
I love the details of design- I am an interior designer but sometimes it is hard to focus on what is really “me”? Maybe think about how you want to feel waking up and how you want to feel that day vs look? So many people have told me that and Im like “hey I want pretty pictures doesn’t mean it cant be meaningful!” Haha but I think in this weird gap between now and next year I want to make sure I focus on the ceremony. I didn’t focus on it as much because I am not a good writer and it made me the most anxious so I think I avoided it? The design was easy for me so maybe trying to embrace the true big moment of the wedding would be my regret/now opportunity to focus on!

How many dresses did I try on:
I went to 3 stores! I found my dress at the third store and the last dress! I felt really emotional all the sudden trying it on so I just felt like excited and overall overwhelmed trying it on! I tried on tons of different styles but eventually I tried on something that felt like me but another level- a bridal look not just a normal dress you know? I am sure you will choose something gorgeous that I will envy haha!

Honeymoon:
We actually booked Lake Como Italy pre-covid which is a crazy location now haha! The Lombardy region is unfortunately so affected now but we love Italy (secretly wish I could live there/england) but, we hope to go back next year! If not, then another european country or somewhere out of the country or marthas vineyard!

Unique advice:
If I had a larger budget I would play with embracing a more unique style of the wedding even more! My best friends mom owns a company “the festive frog”- check it out on insta you would love it! It creates a unique table setting for special events and I would love that but, we have a live band and so many other things we love for the wedding that I think it will be amazing as is at my parents country club! Just something I sometimes dream about because I am so visual! Also- side note I did choose an off the shoulder satin dress and it has been hard to alter so maybe keep that in mind? How comfortable you are moving in your soon to be dress!

Best of luck planning!
Alexis

P.S. sorry for the very long post!!! I just had this whole year and past few months to think about all our wedding decisions!

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Liss Smith

Wore my ring all the time for the first 2 years, then the last month of pregnancy I couldn’t fit it on my finger anymore. After I kept it off because I kept scratching baby. Back on now for a year. You get used to it.

Changed my name. It only took a day of admin work to do and while it is old fashioned and not feminist, I love that we share a family name.

Medium wedding -120 guests.

Best thing I did on my wedding day- got up early and went for a run with my MOH and had a good cleansing cry- my mom died 3 months before the wedding and I needed to get those emotions out.
I regret not getting to talk to everyone – I needed like 3 more hours of reception!

Tried on 100 dresses. Gave up- ordered super simple one from j crew- and loved it.

We took our honeymoon 6 months later to Fernando de Noroñha, a tiny island 200 miles off the coast of Brazil. Being in the middle of the ocean, boat rides, surfing, reading on beaches with nobody else around but the highlight was seeing the baby turtles hatching.

Best thing we did at our wedding was to have 15 pizzas delivered to the venue at 10 pm. And after years of event planning- my best advice for you as a bride is once your day starts, don’t worry about the details. Just relax and enjoy- your work is done and it’s your day.

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Ruth

Put the ring on the line item of your homeowners/renters insurance. It made me feel more confident about wearing it out and about and not have to worry about losing it. It was like $17 for the whole year, so worth it. Also best advice for the day of: Wear. Comfy. Shoes.

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Amanda

Rings: I was the same way at first, would take it off for working out, dishes, showering, etc. now (3 years later) I literally wear it all the time! Unless I’m deep cleaning, it’s ways on!

Wedding size: medium I guess? 165 guests which felt perfect for us.

Honeymoon: African safari, highly recommend! It’s adventurous but also can be relaxing and is such a special experience.

Excited to see all your plans come together!!

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Alexis

I got engaged this past November and I am getting married in September. I wear my ring mosssttt of the time and a silicone one when I don’t/remember. We’re not big wedding people and don’t love attention on us so we decided to elope and have a party afterwards before COVID made it the cool thing to do haha we’re using simply eloped and so far, they have made the process seamless. I am going to wear my dress to both (and tried on probably 30)🙈 and change my last name 🙂

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Alissa

Congrats!
1. At first I was too nervous to wear it. Over time I got more comfortable but 7 years in I now still take it off to work out, shower, swim, and go to the beach.
2. I am often called by my last name and come from a family of all girls. I offered to hyphenate it if it meant a lot to my husband but he agreed it meant more to me to keep my last name than to him for me to change.
3. We had 165 and felt like it was the perfect size where all my close friends and family where there but not too big that I couldn’t talk to everyone at some point. It also allowed for my parents to have their ‘people’ there too which caused them to have more fun. If it were now, I’d have small ceremony now and one year anniversary reception.
4. Best decisions: Videographer, photos before ceremony, private drink/snack with just my husband post ceremony, hosting everything on one property.
5. Get more pictures with just my mom.
6. I tried 15-20 total across two days. It was amongst the first in day one. It felt like I needed to see more before pulling the trigger on a big purchase.
7. We immediately spent a week in the Maldives followed by a week in Turkey. If you can, I highly recommend going right away as you are on cloud nine and it’s fun to continue the celebration. Going to someplace new for both of us was important (avoids someone the whole time saying… last time I was here…) as was going someplace we wouldn’t go on a typical vacation (ie: go far). Starting off on the beach allowed us to get some much needed relaxation while recapping our big day. Then exploring a new city allowed for a fun adventure. Would highly recommend. Also, use a honeymoon planner!

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Catherine

Congrats, Carly! My only tidbit here is that I never, ever take my rings off! I think you’re way more likely to lose them taking them off all the time. They should be tight enough that they’re not going to fall off in a lake or something. Not uncomfortable, but too tight to slip over a knuckle. I wear mine in the ocean, in the pool, wherever! I have had my engagement ring six years and never had a scare of it slipping off.

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Ashley

Let me preface this by saying I’ll be married in 6 weeks. Our pre-COVID date has come and gone.
I have found that most married people I know wear their ring ALL the time! Maybe time makes you more comfortable with it, but I’m not there yet. I don’t wear to shower, do dishes, workout, put on makeup etc. Also I read about being hand sanitizer is terrible for it so I’ve been wearing a silicone band during the pandemic.
I’ll be taking his name and my last name as my middle name. I’m very attached to my last name but like you want to have a family name.
We planned a 65 person wedding for this past June with all the traditions and a big dress. When COVID hit the whole thing became stressful and uncertain. It was taking the joy out of it and I didn’t want to put anyone at risk. We are saving a lot of the traditions and parties for hopefully next summer and having a small family ceremony this August. 20 people. I couldn’t be more excited for it. I dislike having a lot of attention on me and the idea of only our closest loved ones there makes it feel more about our love. Less stress more love.
I tried on 10 dresses but only one gave me the feels!

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Hannah

I wear my ring all the time for all activities and I know I’m hard on it. My thought is I’d rather get to wear it then have it hidden away!

I did change my name. We knew we wanted to try for a family right away and I knew I wanted us all to have the same last name.

I guess my wedding would be considered medium? We have 72 people total. This ties into a regret/something I would have changed. There were people at our wedding that I now wish would not have been there. People I was hesitant to add to my guest list in the first place but did show so that they “wouldn’t feel left out” or because “they are friends with so and so”. In retrospect, I should have followed my instincts as a few caused trouble at the wedding and I definitely would not have missed them if they weren’t there. At our wedding, we had been together for 9 years by that time, so I knew that I only wanted people who we both knew and who we wanted to have the honor of seeing us get married.

A few things I’m glad we did was a First Look and had “normal food”, including Mac & cheese and clam chowder. Everyone raved about it and how it wasn’t “too fancy” to eat! We also had a bag piper instead of an organist in the church and loved it!

I tried on probably 8 dresses before I found the one, then narrowed down to 2 and tried those on again.

For our honeymoon, we went to Alaska (obviously it was not pandemic times) and we actually used your Alaska Itinerary as a starting point for planning. Thank you for that! It was a great trip and we talk about it constantly!

My biggest tip would be to do what you two want, it’s your day!! Congratulations!

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Anne

Ring – when I was younger, I wore them most everyday (except to bed, beach, workout & shower). These days, I wear them to work although I’ve been working from home for 5 months at this point so I haven’t really worn them at all.
Name – changed
Wedding size – medium. I should have just had something super small or eloped though and used the money spent on the wedding for a great trip. house, savings, etc.
Wedding day – regret spending a fortune on flowers. You literally use them for maybe 6 hours. Not necessary.
Dresses – one boutique, 4 dresses
Honeymoon – Bora Bora. Wasaaay too far. It took at least 1.5 days to get there and same coming home.

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Bethany

Congrats again on your engagement! There is no right or wrong but to answer some of your questions, here goes. I was married in July 2019. We had a smallish wedding (60 people) and it was perfect for us. We got to mingle with everyone, we had time to eat, and we danced the night away. Being the center of attention made me anxious so the smaller group certainly helped. We did not do any of the wedding reception “traditions” which I am glad because the one we did do (first dance) was still a little much for me.

I started off nervous about wearing my engagement ring and would take it off for lots of different activities. Then o realized I’d most likely lose it if it were off. I also got it sized down for a snug fit and that certainly made me feel more comfortable.

As for wedding dresses, I went to two different shops. I visited the second shop twice (separated by a couple of months). I wanted a full lace, classic dress but when I tried them on, they just didn’t do anything for me. On a whim I pointed to a dress on the rack different from anything I tried on. The dress was a classic shape and style but I felt it was too formal for my outdoor park ceremony. I ended up with that dress and I’m still happy with my choice.

Our honeymoon was in Greece. We were married on Saturday and left for our honeymoon on Monday night. I recommend not flying out the day after. It was so nice to have an extra day to come down from the wedding and We spent a few days in Athens to check out the archaeological sites and then we visited three different Greek Islands (Milos, Hydra, and Santorini). It was a dream trip and the perfect mix of relaxation, sight seeing, and culture. Not to mention that Greek food is just so delicious. I don’t think the destination matters so much and I know travel is very complicated and limited these days but I fully recommend a honeymoon right after. It’s so nice to reminisce, relax, and connect after the wedding. Before the wedding, so much time and brain space is taken up by the all details and preparation. The honeymoon was a perfect way to transition from the wedding to your new life as Mr. and Mrs.

Good luck and enjoy the process!

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Samantha

The ring definitely took getting used to. Within only 5 months of being engaged, THREE stones had come out of my ring! I was so mad lol so I was hesitant to wear it after all that. But said screw it- I love my ring and I live being engaged so I’m gonna wear it! But I do take it off to workout, shower, or garden or something.

Dresses: I went to one bridal shop that was an epic fail, the consultant didn’t bother asking me what I wanted (or even what my budget was!) so clearly I didn’t get my dress there. The next place I went to, I ended up going with the first dress I tried on! The ones I tried on after reading beautiful but the first one was what I loved more.

Wedding size: we started small- with a goal of 75. And then it just spiraled. We’re probably at 150 now and I hope we don’t have more than that!

Recommendation: do not skimp out on photography. After booking the venue the photographer was the second vendor we booked, cause I had my heart set on this one company. It was uncomfortably expensive but the quality of their work is absolutely amazing. All of the brides I talked to told me they regret not investing in a better photographer and are planning to redo their photos. These photos are for life so I want them to be perfect!

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Kourtney

I’m so glad you shared this article! My fiancé and I got engaged in February before everything got crazy, so I totally understand how you’re feeling!! To answer a few of your questions: I don’t wear my ring all the time; I won’t sleep with it or wear it on our boat or in the pool. We’re having a medium wedding (about 150-160 people). I actually saw my dress a year ago when my best friend was trying on dresses and thought it was stunning. When I was trying on dresses, I said I wanted to try literally every style possible so I knew what looked good on me. I was so scared to put it on for fear that it would look horrible so I tried on 15-20, but when I put it on, it was just so perfect! I couldn’t imagine getting married in anything else. Best of luck on planning and I look forward to all of your wedding content to come😄

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Danielle

This is a lot of work, so I’ll warn you upfront, but my best friend used tiny envelopes as place cards for seating. When you got to your seat, she had written a little note inside the envelope for each guest. It was so special and thoughtful that it’s something I’ll always remember.

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Taylor P Clark

re: Best thing we did for our day – talk to Mike about what you and he are most excited about for the day. Sure getting married should be number one, but there are little moments you will dream about – for me it was walking down the aisle and our introduction to the reception (We played Everything is Awesome!! and I was so excited about it)- it was helpful because it made me pause before those moments and remember them with intention vs breezing through the day, because it will go by quick!

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Kristen

I would be wary of planning a wedding for anytime this year or next. Our venue In RI is refusing to allow us to postpone our fall wedding and we have to cancel without a refund. There’s no dancing allowed and it’s not worth it to pay a lot if you can’t dance and can only have fifty people or less attend. Especially since your family is in high risk Florida, they may ask them to quarantine for two weeks.

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Kristen

Just to add, I think your best bet would be to plan a backyard wedding wherever your fiancés family has a second house.

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Ingrid

Congratulations!! I got married 6 years ago, and as fun as my wedding was, I always tell my friends who get engaged….being married is much more fun than getting married! Your wedding day will be special, but in the long run, spending your life with the person you love is the best part. I think it’s a good thing to keep in mind when planning 🙂

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Rachel Shuler

Do you wear your ring all the time?
Not at first. My ring was about a size too big for me (we have similar rings! I too have a gold band with a round solitaire diamond 😊). So I was nervous wearing it in pools/water/shower etc. After I got it resized, I wear it non-stop and only take it off when I’m putting on lotion, etc. You get used to it for sure. I just make sure to clean it once a week now that I never take it off.
Did you change your name?
Yes! We too liked the idea of having a ‘family name.’ I also liked Rachel Shuler better than my maiden name, Rachel Kern.
Did you have a small, medium, or big wedding?
I think we had a big wedding? 180 people…is that big? That includes like my mom’s and dad’s cousins on their sides, as well as my mother in law’s aunt and uncles. We really wanted to make it a celebration of two families coming together. We’d been dating for 8 years before we got married, so our families are very important to us on each side and we didn’t want to leave anyone out.
What’s the best thing you did for your wedding day? Anything you regretted?
We decided to get married in the “off season” so that we could reasonably afford our dream venue. That was the best decision ever. We got so much value out of such a nice venue that people typically pay 50% more for in regular “wedding season.” We also opted for a Friday wedding. I believe that stigma of Friday weddings is wearing off! That was the BEST thing we did, and a close second was choosing the venue that was all inclusive. If you want to take it a look at the vibe it’s The Inn at St. John’s in Plymouth, MI. We got married in March in Michigan…so you can assume that it was cold, wintery and all indoors for the most part. We wanted our guests to feel safe in the winter in case there were any storms etc. We got lucky with an overcast and not so cold day with no snow! Everyone who came in from out of state had no winter storms to deal with, phew! Our chapel and reception were at the same location, with a hotel attached as well. We filled up that hotel block – priority wise – with family and wedding party. It made everything so easy for decorations, getting up in the morning, coordinating photographers and vendors, and all in all creating a very relaxed feel with no travel during the day. No extra party bus or vehicle to have to get us around to different photo locations or venues to and from.
I regretted taking too much time for pictures! Though the morning of my wedding and our first look was incredible and we were able to soak up that time, it seemed like we definitely were racing against the ceremony clock to get all the pictures in with our wedding party and families. This is partially because it was important to us to take pictures with many family members. We had little cousins as flower girls and ring bearers, so we wanted their parents to get those kinds of pictures with us. We also wanted those classic, ‘80s big family wedding pictures that I swooned over as a little girl!
Would you go back and change anything?
I would change the amount of pictures/time we took before the ceremony. Once we got through the ceremony and did chapel pictures it was all good. That really is the only thing! Oh, and maybe not having my bridal shower at my parent’s place. It was important for me to “go back home” to do my bridal shower, but it caused a lot of stress on my parents to get their house ready for 60 guests. We had to do that for budgetary reasons.
How many wedding dresses did you try on before finding “the one”?
I had my wedding dress made by my grandmother (we call her Oma – grandma in German. She’s my Mom’s mom). Oma made her wedding dress, my mom’s and all my aunts on that side of the family. It was the most special thing ever! I’m glad I was able to partake in that tradition and get something custom for my style. And really have that emotional memory with my Oma who is so near and dear to my heart. We went to a wedding dress shop with my MOHs, MIL, my Mom and Oma and tried on a couple dresses there to see what the most flattering cut was and to put my ideas of how I wanted my dress to be into action. Then, my Oma used some patterns as blueprints but pretty much customized it to my body and the classic clean look I wanted. Very Vera Wang lol.
I used the pearl buttons my mom had on her dress and used them down the back of my dress that went into the short train I had.
What kind of honeymoon did you take?
We took a relaxing 8 day all inclusive trip to The Excellence in Punta Cana. After all the wedding planning you’ve done, the social battery you used up from all the guests and wedding stuff…you’ll want to RELAX. We got married on a Friday and left for our honeymoon on early Sunday morning.
Did you do anything unique? Tips? Advice?! Something I’m not thinking about but should be?!?!
I always go back to “it’s not that deep.” 😊 But seriously! I loved wedding planning, don’t get me wrong. I look back at it joyfully and feel satisfied with how we spent our money and where we spent it. We invested a lot of our budget into our venue, so we didn’t have to spend much if not anything on decorations. We got married in the Atrium at The Inn at St. John’s and it was such a breathtaking room with glass on the ceiling that any décor would’ve taken away from it! Due to spending most of our budget on the venue itself, it didn’t leave a lot of wiggle room for things like bridal shower, invitations, etc. I had a friend design my invites for me…I opted for a half hour “mini session” with our photographer to save money on engagement pictures. We had my bridal shower at my parents’ house and it was potluck style between my bridesmaids, mom, MIL and other family.
Something unique we did (in addition to my Oma sewing my dress custom) was my dad building a Boxwood hedge for us to use both at the bridal shower as a décor item at my parents home and then at our reception to put the table seating arrangements for guests during cocktail hour. It was 7 feet tall by 10 feet wide and so many people used it to take pictures in front of! We ordered boxwood square pieces from Amazon, and staple gunned those to pieces of wood my dad put together. It was pretty easy to setup since he broke down the hedge into 4 pieces and we’d put them together with hinges and pins.

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Brenna

Congratulations!!! I’ve been a long time reader and am so excited for you and Mike!!

I got engaged in April of this year (my fiancé’s proposal plans were ruined so we ended up sitting on the couch and ordering a ring together and it was perfect.) We’re moving next year for his job so we want to get married this year. I never wanted a big wedding so we made the decision to elope in October. Not all of my family is happy with that decision but it’s important to me that the day is all about us and our marriage and not about what anyone else wants or expects.

The first thing we did was insure my ring so I feel comfortable wearing it all the time. Plus it just makes me happy!

I echo a lot of the comments about name changes. I’m a feminist and always thought I would keep my name but now that the time has arrived I’m excited to have the same name as a family.

Don’t feel guilty about being excited!

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Kelly

I definitely take off my rings to sleep, workout, do dishes, etc. I actually have a couple cheap ones from Amazon (a set of silicone ones and a couple prettier ones) to wear if I’d rather not bring the real ones.

I was planning on keeping my maiden name as my middle name, until I met my husband, whose last name was only one letter off from mine 😂 So I just took his and when I’m with my family everyone thinks it’s a typo, haha!

We went on our honeymoon to the Renaissance hotel in Aruba – it was incredible! A week of gorgeous beaches, 2-for-1 happy hours, and incredible food (we got recs from the bartender each night) was exactly what I needed after a whirlwind 6 month engagement!

More than anything, enjoy the planning as much as you can! Making it “ours” was the most fun part 🙂

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Katie

Hi! So not married (not even engaged lol) but I have now been a part of enough weddings that I feel like Katherine Heigl in 27 Dresses, and am currently helping plan a good friend’s wedding amidst COVID. So take this all with a grain of salt but wanted to share what I have seen and think myself if I were to ever get married.
1. Ring- Get ring insurance if Mike didn’t already!! It will make you feel much more at ease about wearing it. Also make a designated place for the ring to always go when you aren’t wearing it so you never have it go through your mind “where did I leave it?!” and then ensuing panic.
3. Ugh this has been so hard to navigate with COVID. I used to be such a big wedding girl but things have been making me want to elope or have a tiny close family wedding (but even then I think of close family or friends I would want and the list just expands!!!). The one friend I am helping with planning her wedding has decided to do a courthouse wedding this year and having a designated place and time for anyone who wants to to drive by and wave and take pictures from afar! Their courthouse happens to be the cutest place ever and has a park right next to it where a traffic hold up wouldn’t be so bad, so they are setting up next to a beautiful garden area and telling everyone 2pm to drive by and having a zoom feed running. We are decorating that small area too. Then they are planning a larger reception/party for early 2022 (2021 is soooo booked out already it’s insane with 2020 brides postponing and 2021 brides already booked).
4. The best things I have seen couples do is take time for just the 2 of them. I’ve seen many friends sneak away and eat privately them two so that during the reception when others are eating they can walk and mingle. One friend and her husband did a sparkler exit and while everyone was outside setting up, they used the time to have a private dance just the two of them inside- I loved that!! It was just them, their photog, and DJ and the pics that came out are probably the best of the night, plus they really cherished that moment. From a guest point of view- I loveeeee when couples make it into a full weekend (i know some hate this and its more money and time but it creates community). Have a rehearsal dinner for the bridal party and close family, but then after have a big meetup location or something for anyone to join (can even be a bar and say we’re paying for drinks up to x $ amount- people will chip in!!); have a brunch or cookout the next morning; the day of let anyone join the guys for a round of golf or whatever before the wedding.
7. I used to dream of doing like a huge european tour or something for my honeymoon but honestly now I’m like “lets go to a great hotel/resort and have tons of stuff available to us but also just be somewhere we can relax and seclude”. I love the idea of Fairmonts in Lake Louise and Banff, renting a cabin somewhere in the mountains, the Grove Park, The Broadmoor, going down to The Shore Club in Turks and Caicos, etc
8. Rather than favors, spend the money on something fun for the reception like those big light up sticks for the dance floor and such that get the crowd up and dancing. Nothing worse than an empty dance floor. Also PLEASE go through songs with your band/DJ beforehand and don’t just let them have free reign

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Stefanie

I feel that even though you have a big presence on social media, an intimate wedding is more you. You won’t regret keeping it simple.

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JL

I lol’d at your first question, because I definitely do NOT wear my ring all the time. I usually wear it when I leave the house, so not much right now, but I also have a thin plain gold band that I wear when having a more active day (hiking, out on the water, etc). I also only wore that when we went to Italy for two weeks in September, I didn’t want to worry about leaving my diamonds behind in an Airbnb!

I changed my name and love having the same last name as my husband. When we have kids I’ll be even happier for us to all share a name! But seriously, don’t listen to people on this one (or anything) – do what works for you!

We had a small wedding (immediate family only) and it was SO perfect for us. It was a small, intimate ceremony and then a dinner where we could all talk and laugh and spend time together. It was great, but we aren’t in to big parties anyway.

The best thing we did was spend the night before the wedding together like usual. We both slept better, and we had the nicest morning having breakfast together and relaxing before I left to get ready with my family. It just felt like us!

For our honeymoon we went to Jackson Hole – we love the outdoors and hadn’t been before. It was perfect, a great mix of beautiful hotel relaxation and hiking/adventuring. I can’t wait to go back.

Congratulations and you’ll know when something is right or not, don’t overthink it 🙂

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Catherine M

All great questions! I’ve been married 10 years now, and have so many thoughts…
1 – I currently wear my rings all the time, but in the last 10 years, I’ve gone back and forth on it. While we were living in Europe, I often didn’t bother because American wedding rings are much more showy than European ones and I didn’t want to stick out (and they wear theirs on the right hand).
I also picked up a pen-like cleaner for my ring because if you wear it all day, every day, it gets dull quickly.
2 – I did change my name, and I wish I hadn’t. I think it’s a personal preference thing, really, and something to discuss with Mike about how he feels.
3 – We had a medium wedding – 150 people. I desperately wanted either to elope or have a super-small wedding, but my husband and our families didn’t. To this day, I still wish we had had a much smaller wedding because of the headache involved in planning for that many people, etc. No matter what size or type of wedding you have, GET A COORDINATOR! It was the best money we spent.
4 – The thing we did at our wedding that was probably the smartest was to commit to sticking together the entire time. You’ll find that every guest wants their time with you, and you’ll get pulled apart and will hardly spend the day with your new spouse! Make a pact that wherever one goes, the other goes, too. That way, you both have the shared experience to look back on.
5 – If I could change anything, I would have eloped, and I would have spent the money on a better photographer. (It’s a longer story – my husband is super private and wouldn’t agree to letting our images be used for marketing purposes, so I think the photographer half-assed our wedding.) I highly recommend – when you sit down to budget – to select one or two things that you will splurge on, and then be reasonable with the remainder.
6 – I wish I’d tried on more dresses and taken advantage of the time of being engaged and being pampered. I went to one shop, tried on the dress I came in to see (which I ended up buying), and tried on maybe two or three more. That was the extent of my dress hunt. I’m super anxious as well, so at the time I didn’t want to be fussed over and paid attention to, so I wimped out of doing the whole dress shopping thing.
7 – We took a relaxing honeymoon. A lot of people told us that even though we prefer adventurous trips, that we’d be looking forward to just sitting back and relaxing when the wedding was finally over. They were SO right! If you’re still not sure about it, go somewhere that you can relax but also take some adventures if you choose to.

Given that your job revolves around looking good in photos and creating a look and feel, this should be less fraught for you in terms of finding vendors or having ideas. I strongly recommend getting a coordinator who walks you through the process of planning a wedding and then does day-of coordination. They’ll keep you on track during the planning, and then on the day-of, all you have to do is be present.
Most of all, just try and enjoy every step! <3

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Casey

Hey Carly!!

Weighing in on two things (I got married 2 years ago):
1. I was VERY nervous to wear my ring, but then my FIL suggested insuring it. This was SO worth it!! It costs very little per year, but now I happily wear it everywhere and never take it off, with the peace of mind that I could replace it if something happened.
2. Thing I regret: I was very superstitious about not wanting my husband to see me until I walked down the aisle, but I regret that. I wish we had done a “first look” or something similar. We got to have so little time alone together that day, I wish we would have gotten that moment. Plus the pictures from first looks are always so beautiful!

Good luck on your journey as a bride! So excited for you ❤️

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Ashley

The best thing my wedding planner told me was to get a pair of neutral wedges the same height as my heels. This allowed me to change into something more comfortable after the ceremony, and didn’t sacrifice the length of my dress!

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Amanda

My favorite part of planning the wedding was the “fun” things. I didn’t love doing logistics/detail work, but had so much fun working out how we could make the day our own. Ex: Instead of a photo booth we had a caricature artist, instead of cake we had brownies (our fav), etc. Don’t worry about trends or what us randos on the internet think. I’d be anxious about having to create content around the whole process when I was so so so stressed out the whole time. Share as much as you want, but don’t feel obligated — we are so happy for you!!!

I got married last September, my sister got married over Memorial Day. There was a huge contrast between the two because of our styles, which was exacerbated by COVID-19! (Mine was in a church with a downtown restaurant reception and around 175 people, hers was outdoors and had reception in backyard with 15 people due to the pandemic.) Both were totally lovely and perfect in their own way.

Wearing the ring is weird at first. I haven’t been wearing mine much during the pandemic/work from home times. Since you work at home, I can imagine it’s hard to not put on…my recommendation is to clean it very regularly (I have a jar of pink liquid the jewelry store gave me), it looks much bigger and shinier every time!

I did not change my name. I’m a writer and wanted to keep my byline the same.

Honeymoon was in Hawaii for a week. Maui. It was so lovely. Nice to jet away the day after the ceremony.

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Rechtsblog

Can’t wait to read more of your thoughts on your wedding, about your preperations and all the pictures! Happy for you!

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Erin

Congratulations!!

I only wear my ring when I leave the house (I work from home, so this doesn’t happen terribly often right now). The biggest thing is making sure you have it insured on your homeowners insurance policy–and our insurance agent said to get it reappraised every 5 years or so, as the value of diamonds changes and a replacement may be more expensive if it’s a long time after the initial appraisal/insurance policy was completed, should the ring get lost.

I changed my middle name to my maiden name (didn’t love my middle name) and took my husband’s last name.

My husband and I talk about if we were to do our wedding again, we would definitely shorten the guest list. We had about 250 people in attendance. We had a limo bus that took us, our wedding party + their spouses/partners on a little cocktail cruise/impromptu photo session after the ceremony while a cocktail hour was happening back at the reception venue. This allowed us extra time with all of the people that stood up for us (and we wanted to include their guests because is it any more awkward as a bridesmaid/groomsman when you are forced together with people you don’t know very well?–total introvert here!).

I remember thinking every time someone I knew relatively well asked me about the wedding or congratulated me on being engaged, I thought to be polite we needed to add them to the guest list. Obviously, I didn’t do that with every single person but I do think our guest list expanded because 1. we live in a small town and people knew when we were getting married and 2. I didn’t want to be rude and feel like someone was excluded. In hindsight, I should have told myself people were just being nice and not felt guilty about if they were or weren’t invited.

I tried on 3 or 4 dresses and the first one ended up being the winner. 🙂

We just did an all-inclusive honeymoon to Mexico (The Royale at Playa del Carmen) and it was great. We love to travel to Europe and other destinations but really thought just a relaxing time together after all the hectic wedding planning would be for the best–and it was exactly what we needed.

I hope your planning goes well! No matter what decisions you make, it will be a wonderful day for both of you!!

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Cindy Gillespie-Lena

First, Congratulations to you and Mike! It is OK to be so happy, and share it with all of us.
Changing your name, I debated for over a year after I was married. It felt so weird to think I had to part ways with “my name.” I decided to hyphenate my name. For more years than I can count I have done genealogy, and found that women change their names when they marry and thus tend to get lost in the genealogy world. Many records going forward after marriage provide no information on their birth (maiden) name. Just my reason, hopefully, this will give you something to think about. Once again, all the best on your engagement.

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Erin

I’ll weigh in on the first two questions!

I never wear my rings to sleep, shower, or work out – I really just wear them when I’m dressed for the day, and definitely never wear them to the pool/beach/any kind of swimming. (That was what I started doing with my engagement ring, and have kept up now that I wear a wedding ring also.) I chose to have mine run slightly big because I hate the look/feel of “sausage fingers” if they are tight, so that means I don’t wear them anytime they could potentially slip off.

I did exactly what you are thinking of doing with your name! I kept my given middle name and changed my last name, dropping my maiden name altogether. I was never particularly attached to my maiden last name (Martin – I always thought it was boring), so I had no problem dropping it. 🙂

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Married for 11 years

-Do you wear your ring all the time?
My engagement ring, rarely, if ever. I love going to the gym and type for a living (think lawyer/accountant/etc.), so I end up popping it off anyway (and often leaving it in my office ring dish, not good!). It’s a T&Co. ring, so not for lack of liking it! I have a very simple rose gold band that I got from Etsy that I absolutely adore (hand stamped with our anniversary dates) and I wear that more often, but still pop it off/forget to wear it, etc. I don’t know how some ladies wear a full set (e-ring/band) at the gym and ALL the time. I have a Qalo ring for outdoor activities that I sometimes wear, but overall very bad about wearing anything.

-Did you change your name?
Yes. I think looking back on it, legally, I would have liked to keep one of my two last names, but it would have made my full name way too long.

-Did you have a small, medium, or big wedding?
Big. Very jealous of my friends who eloped! I think an elopement with a couple of family members (or just a photographer and the officiant) + reception later is my actual dream wedding. Our wedding was before Pinterest excited, so it was as textbook as you can imagine.

– What’s the best thing you did for your wedding day? I honestly loved how little I cared about anything except my dress and getting married to this guy. The lack of stress made things so nice and peaceful.

– Would you go back and change anything?
Yes, elope/tiny wedding, as well as doing a first look (I thought walking down the aisle sounded more romantic, not so much).

– How many wedding dresses did you try on before finding “the one”?
One. To quote you, “I ended up loving a dress COMPLETELY different than what I thought I wanted!”

– What kind of honeymoon did you take?
We were poor college kids, so we did a mini-moon. We went to a favorite B&B near our current city, so we get to go back and have a really special place that’s fairly affordable for what we get.
We did an intl. trip after graduating grad school (see, when we finally had fund$). Not where we went, but may I suggest Blackberry Farm for a mini-moon if travel is still restricted? I think you’d adore the place.

– Did you do anything unique? Tips? Advice?! Something I’m not thinking about but should be?!?!
Go with your gut and what feels right to you. Stay true to yourself. Don’t sweat the small things. And find a great couples’ therapist and do some pre-marital work! It will pay dividends.

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TM

Hi Carly! I love your blog … congratulations on your engagement! I have been married for 14 yrs. and found myself overwhelmed with planning our wedding (120 guests) AND a honeymoon. We also paid for 1/2 of our own wedding (mainly to have a bit more control over our own special day than my loving Mother), so we decided to take a mini-moon which allowed us to save up money for our actual honeymoon the following year. Our mini-moon was a 4 day quick getaway to Palm Springs (we live in San Diego). We left 2 days after our wedding which allowed for more precious time to spend with family and friends who extended their trip. We then had a year to save for our actual honeymoon in Italy which felt like we got married all over again and kept the newlywed life alive!

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Maitland

About rings. I’ve never worn a lot of jewelry so it took me a while to remember to wear it every day. I don’t wear it working out and in the shower either. I did also get a rubber ring that I wear to work (I’m a nurse). I’ve been wearing it for two years now and I finally feel naked without it, but it took a long time for me.

I’m planning to change my name but I just haven’t done it yet! We’ve been married for a year now but I was in grad school until december and was told it would complicate things to try to change it. Then COVID hit so everything was closed. It’s on my list for this week so we’ll see what happens.

We invited 225 and ended up having around 180. About 1/3 was friends of my parents so that made it feel a bit big and impersonal, but they paid for my wedding so I wasn’t about to complain haha. My step-sister’s husband is from Mexico so for her wedding they did a small ceremony and lunch then later that evening did a party for all the people in America who couldn’t go to Mexico. Then, a few months later did a huge Mexican wedding that almost lasted 24 hours. So there are so many ways to do everything I don’t think there’s one right way.

The best thing we did for our wedding day was the atmosphere. We had overflowing flowers and candles everywhere and it felt like a dream! The food was also fantastic.

One thing I’d change was make it longer! We only did 3 hours of the reception because my husband and I don’t stay up late and aren’t big partiers so we thought it would be enough time. In hindsight, I would have started the ceremony an hour earlier and used the extra time. We also spent quite a while signing the marriage license and eating just the two of us so I felt like I missed an hour of the reception factoring pictures as well. Another thing to consider is our venue, even though they’re only an event venue, made us rent plates and such which felt ridiculous.

I tried on wedding dresses at two different stores. The first was all dresses under $2000 and none of them made me feel pretty. I struggle with my weight and body image and I was so worried I would just have to make do with something. Then I went to a different store and every dress except one (which was actually a dress I’d loved for years on pinterest) made me feel beautiful. I knew it was my dress when I couldn’t stop smiling. It was priced at $3400 I think but my store was doing a sale so it was $2800. I think in total I tried on somewhere around 10 dresses.

For our honeymoon we had to wait 6 months because of our school schedules so we did a short trip to Disney World and it was perfect. We’ll do a longer trip when we’re both finished!

My biggest tip is make sure you have a substantial meal for breakfast and lunch the day of. People always forget to eat and that’s how you end up feeling like crap the day of.

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Janice Mahaney

Hi Carly! First, many congratulations on your engagement and new home. I hope you are still rocking your workouts. I do miss working out with you!
My one wedding advise is to be sure to have your caterer/restaurant put together a basket of food for the two of you to eat back at your hotel. My husband and I were starved (every time we tried to eat, someone wanted our attention) when the party was over and had no food in our house as we were leaving for our honeymoon (Greece and sailing the coast of southern Turkey) early the next day.
Most of all, so happy for you and wish you a lifetime of love and happiness.

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Lauren

Hi Carly! Im seriously SOO excited to read about your wedding content as you go through the process! I don’t think there’s ANYTHING wrong with being happy/excited about it during this time. You HAVE to have something to look forward to and marriage is definitely it! Here are my thoughts on the questions you asked, but these are just one woman’s opinion (married only 3 years haha)
1. Your ring – You get used to wearing it I promise! It feels weird NOT to wear it these days! But we do a lot outside and I dont like wearing my ring for that, so my husband and I both bought Qalo rings for outdoor activities. They are silcone rings that cost like $20 for a 3 pack for women (lots of colors and designs to choose from) and I wear two of them like stackables when we do outdoor things. It puts my mind at ease about not losing my diamonds! Other than that, I wear mine all the time unless Im showering, but I do wear it doing dishes if I’ve already got it on.
2. I did change my last name….because my maiden name also didn’t really “work” as a middle name, and I like the ease of my new last name (Schmidt haha). My husband and I also discussed that for future children, we’ll use my family names for middle names. Our theory was, they’ll have his last name and so our kids will have my parents names as middle names and his last name! A winning combo for us!
3. We had a pretty big wedding (by my standards). My husband has a BIG family. I wanted to elope to Italy, but we also wanted our three grandparents, all in their 90s to be there, and that meant no traveling….we tried to keep it small even locally, but then the list kept growing to 220 people! whoops!
4. Would I change anything? I dont know….part of me still wishes we had eloped to Europe, but 3 years later, people still tell us how amazing our wedding was and how much fun people had. We literally had 150 people still there after last call! So I guess, no….I wouldnt. What I WOULD say is that our wedding was perfect for what we wanted then in that time. If I were getting married today or at this age, it would probably be very different…just because my style has changed!
4. I only tried on 3 dresses….I had a unique situation though. Everyone told me I would like a dress I never thought I’d like, but I knew from the beginning what I wanted. I have a couple very LARGE scars on my chest that I wanted to cover so my dress was a halter, all lace style….but my situation was very specific. I got my dress from BHLDN which is Anthro’s bridal line and it was only $700 (which is VERY reasonable for wedding dresses). I also had it shortened after the wedding to a dress I can wear all summer and I will have the extra material made into a baptism gown for future babies. I also got my cathedral length veil off of Etsy which was a HUGE cost savings for something you wear once (and in my case, got stepped on ALL night haha)
5. We went on a “mini moon”. I was in the process of moving to a new state, trying to find a new job, AND 6 months from our wedding….we didn’t have time to plan something fancy. So our plan is to do a big trip for our 5 year anniversary. Plus, we knew several couples who got really sick on their honeymoons after “coming down” from all the wedding stress and didn’t get to enjoy their honeymoons. So we decided to save up and go all out for year 5!

Hope this helped! The one thing I’d also say, that really worked for us, my husband had 3 major things he wanted out of the day….he couldn’t care less but all the decorations or anything else. He cared about not having a first look, having a photo booth, and having our “head table” be us, our parents and grandparents instead of our bridal party. Those things we did without thinking…everything else was just “extra” and DONT sweat the small stuff! The only person who is going to know if something doesn’t go perfectly is you….everyone else will think it’s perfect! And mostly, have FUN planning your wedding! You do it once…enjoy it! 🙂

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Margaret

Congratulations! As so many say, the best advice is to focus on the choices that make you and your partner happy in the planning.

The best thing we did in the planning process was approach it like a business problem. I know that sounds unemotional, but it helped SO much. We had recurring bi-weekly “wedding business meetings” so when random decision points came up on say, a Friday, we’d go “Lets save this for our Sunday wedding business meeting.” We would set the agenda for the meeting ahead of time, so we knew what we would focus on (seating chart, ceremony decisions, etc), and we would hunker down and get it done! This helped contain the wedding planning since it relegated the stressful bits (the decision points!) into set times when we were both prepared to have the discussions.

I’m sure you’ll have a beautiful wedding, and remember – at the end of the wedding process, you end up married to the person you love the most in the world. And if that isn’t a happy ending, what is?

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Charlotte R STANLEY

Do you wear your ring all the time?
No! My job is tough on jewelry, so somedays I leave it at home to keep it safe. I also take it off to do dishes, garden, shower and sleep. I have two ring dishes – one in the bedroom and one in the kitchen -that hold my ring when it’s not on me.

Did you change your name?
My fiancé and I talked about it, and he actually wanted to change to MY last name. That said, I think we are going to legally keep our last names and then hyphenate when it comes to social media.

Did you have a small, medium, or big wedding?
We were planning on a 100 person wedding for Labor Day 2020, but it’s getting smaller by the minute (which I’m actually really ok about)

What’s the best thing you did for your wedding day? Anything you regretted?
What I heard from a lot of brides/friends was to pay for a really amazing photographer, and to do a first look. Everyone said not to stress the little things, so that’s what I’m trying to remind myself.

How many wedding dresses did you try on before finding “the one”?
I tried on 9 dresses between BHLDN and a local bridal shop. While I was still on the fence about a traditional bridal gown at BHLDN, I changed my mind when I found the perfect dress at the bridal boutique. BUT I waited a week before I pulled the trigger and bought ~the one~. It helped to talk to my fiancé about his vision, and that he was 100% on board with spending the money on a onetime dress.

What kind of honeymoon did you take?
We were always planning on a honeymoon to Italy for 2021… now it might just be 2022.

We are doing the rehearsal dinner at a house my parents rented for the week, and I’m not going to lie – I’m really excited to feast on BBQ and beer in a casual (but intimate setting) before the big day. Our friend owns our favorite brewery in Colorado, so we are really lucky that he is going to provide some kegs.

Good luck!!

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B

Congratulations!
I wear my ring places I wear makeup.
I changed my name and dropped my maiden. My grandpa used to call me first name middle name. It doesn’t come up often but every time it does I think of him 🙂
I wish I would have stayed with my husband the night before. We kept with tradition and slept separately, but I think some pillow talk the morning of would have helped both of our nerves.
We were very proactive before having kids about taking all of the “non kid friendly” vacations that were possibly on our list. We “saved” beaches and any location where we would want to stay in the same spot for 4 days+ and instead did all the adventurous things. 100% recommend.

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Bekka Shelton

When I first got engaged, I took my ring off the wash my hands/dishes and to shower (and for lotion or hand sanitizer). Otherwise I wore it all the time. Since getting married, I wear my wedding band all the time except showering (and lotion or hand sanitizer). I wear my engagement ring with it when I’m not doing work with my hands where the diamond can get caught on something. Or sometimes I decide I just want the wear my wedding band with no engagement ring.

I changed my last name because I 100% wanted to have the same last name as my husband. I dropped my maiden name completely mainly because I’m not close with my family so there’s not really a sentimental attachment to it. And I love my given middle name.

We had a small(?) wedding – 50ish people. We both are very picky with who we let in close, so we only have a few really close friends that we invited. Plus some family members and then some of our spiritual leaders (our pastors and mentors).

Best thing for our wedding day was 1. reading our vows to each other alone before the ceremony. And then just saying “I do” in front of everyone. And 2. Not letting anyone else’s opinions affect decisions. I know you haven’t been one to fantasize about your wedding day, so I would recommend you and Mike talk about what all you guys really want and what is non-negotiable, that way when you ask for people’s opinions or they give opinions without you asking (😉) you won’t be swayed.

I wouldn’t change anything. We didn’t get a lot of pictures with our guests, but honestly I care most about the pictures I had with my husband and me, so pictures with guests weren’t very important.

I think I tried on about 10 dresses, the 10th being the one. I walked in and told her exactly what I wanted. She grabbed multiple styles just so I could be sure I didn’t like any of the other styles that didn’t match what I envisioned. My consultant had me re try on my “faves,” but I was pretty sure about the one. It was hard to visualize the dresses fitting due to my figure and the standard sample sizes, but the one I loved was exactly what I walked in and told my consultant I wanted. Trying my faves on again, I couldn’t stop thinking about the 10th one which we saved for last again with the re try ons. Once I tried it on again, it was confirmed it was my dress.

We live in Virginia and went to London, England for our honeymoon. We’re not beach people, and I’ve always wanted to go to London, and my husband was good with wherever especially in Europe. We visited the typical tourist spots and spent time just enjoying the culture of London.

I’ll repeat what I said earlier – don’t let anyone away you from what you want! Determine your non-negotiables. For the things you don’t really care about, let your bridal party/mom/MIL take care of it, but ask they run their final thoughts past you. For example, my MIL tried so hard throughout planning to get her opinions in, but I knew exactly what I wouldn’t in decor, flowers, my hair/makeup, to where her opinions were just that. When it came to cocktail hour, she had thoughts and I let her run with it because we wouldn’t be eating or drinking any of it anyways because we would be taking pictures, and it was a way for her to have some (small) say in the day. Really it’s YOURS AND MIKE’S day, and even if you haven’t dreamed about it for your whole life, you can dream now about what would be the perfect day for the two of you, no one else. I had thought about my wedding for so long, and then once I knew I wanted to marry my husband, I started thinking about OUR wedding and what I wanted for US. So much changed about my general wedding ideas because now I knew who the man was that I would be marrying. Once we started planning and decided what we wanted/didn’t want, it made decisions easy. And then when people gave opinions, if they didn’t align with our dream, it was easy to say “thank you, but no.” You might upset people, but it’s YALL’S day and no one else.

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Kate

I did not change my name, for business-related reasons. People tend to have opinions about this that they will share with you. But totally a personal choice, and you should do what feels right for you.

Best thing we did for our wedding: invested in the florist and flowers I wanted most. Those flowers are in every picture. They made me smile that day, and every time I look back to remember. And I still get compliments on them when other people see our photos.

For the wedding dress, I found a local shop that carried samples and used dresses. Not only did I find the perfect dress at a lower cost by buying a sample, the shop owner connected me with a local seamstress who did EXCEPTIONAL tailoring for me. Got much better advice and service from her than I could have received elsewhere.

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Samantha

Q: Do you wear your ring all the time?
A: YES, well sort of. I take it off to shower, wash my face and when washing dishes.

Q: Did you change your name?
A: I plan on changing my name!

Q: Did you have a small, medium, or big wedding?
A: Initially, it was going to be BIG. Then, the pandemic started and we’re down to about 150 invited / hoping for ~100 guests. It will look vastly different than what it would’ve pre-COVID but we decided to proceed with our plans for 10/10/20 in Virginia. Luckily, the state remains in phase 3 without any spikes (so far). We are hoping that the state remains this way until after our wedding. Of course, we are taking the necessary precautions and following the state guidelines strictly.

Q: How many wedding dresses did you try on before finding “the one”?
A: 14 dresses & 2 stores (but there were many after that). I found what ended up being my dress but walked away from it initially because it was almost 4x what I envisioned spending on my dress. 6 weeks and countless bridal appointments later, the shop called to tell me that they were closing to relocate in California and offered a deep discount on THE dress. I jumped at the opportunity and am so thrilled that I didn’t settle on another dress along the way! The shop owner even threw in a gorgeous cathedral-length veil for free. A blessing!

Q: Did you do anything unique? Tips? Advice?! Something I’m not thinking about but should be?
A: We are incorporating some Filipino traditions in our ceremony since my mom is originally from The Philippines. We opted to do a non-religious ceremony so this is our way of bringing in something a little different (while appeasing my mom!).

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Hannah

Ring: I have a larger (2 carat) middle diamond and two wedding bands (one with diamonds, one plain) and I wear mine except when showering or sleeping. I love them and they’re insured, so I don’t worry about anything happening
Wedding: we got married during Covid and had to pivot to only close family. Honestly it was the best, least stressful day, and I would do it again in a heartbeat

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Sara

Hi, Carly –
I’m a long time reader, infrequent poster, and congratulations! I super type A and was honestly a little annoyed that my now-husband had opinions, which is sort of awful in retrospect. The thing that really really helped me plan wasn’t checklists or Pinterest inspo but deciding together a framework that worked for us. It has honestly carried over into our married life as we make other big decisions. I have gifted the book (https://www.amazon.com/Practical-Wedding-Planner-Step-Step/dp/0738218421) to many friends to celebrate their engagement!

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Kelly Dellinger

1. Yes — but as of last week I am now taking my ring off when we go to the beach because we moved to Charleston and now go all the time (and it ended up getting filthy from sunscreen + sand and it felt embarrassing going to get it cleaned at the jewelry store).
2. I changed my name but kept my maiden as my middle name because it’s short & sweet (and had no attachment to my original middle).
3. I had a big wedding – 240 people. I would’ve cut it in half if I did the same thing over again; I’m not close to nearly as many friends as I had back then and we didn’t get to see and spend time with everyone who DID come.
4. Best thing – videography. It’s the best way to actually relive the day (and see the moments behind all the captured photo frames!). Regret – not eating more wedding cake or having some sent to-go with us at the end of the night!
5. If we got married nowadays (8 years later), our wedding would be much smaller, nicer, less Pinteresty details for the sake of having details and more actually significant things incorporated.
6. I tried on a bunch at less-fancy dress shops but when we went to THE ONE dress boutique, it was the fifth dress I tried on and we all immediately knew it was it! And veils all the way!!!!
7. All-inclusive resort in Mexico. It was heaven!
8. Can’t think of anything! CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!

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Mary

Carly, this is awesome!

1. I wore my ring all the time. Now that I’m married i never even on occasion wear it.

2. My husband and I changed our name together. This is too long of a story, but he changed his and I changed mine.

3. We had a small wedding, 44 people. City hall and a cocktail party. Cambridge MA.

4. Best thing we did for the wedding day was think about us. Biggest regret is listening to others suggestions Or demands.

5. Dresses – I tried on nothing. I ordered online from Bergdorfs and wore it, wedding dresses are overrated. I sold in on The RealReal a week after.

6. We still haven’t taken a honeymoon. It’s almost two years. We don’t plan on it.

7. Tips – so cliche but seriously do what you want. You are so classy and chic, anything you do will en beautiful.

My husband and I are celebrating our 11 year anniversary in September, our wedding was like celebration along the way.

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Danielle

I’m 30 (31 in August) and have been married for 5 years, just for some perspective.

I wear my rings all the time except for when I do the dishes.

I changed my name because I wanted to have the same name as my then-future-kids. I miss my maiden name a lot though and wish I’d figured out how to have two middle names because I am also attached to my given middle name.

I had a courthouse wedding with just our immediate families present and then we did a fancy lunch with that same group. That night we had a small reception with 40 people that we’re very close to. A few weeks later we had a backyard (catered) barbecue type get together with about 80ish people–extended family and friends.

I think the best thing was just keeping it small. I’m not the kind to like to be the center of attention. I was so glad to finally marry my person, but the events themselves didn’t matter too much to me.

I would have worked to find an outfit (maybe not even a dress?) and shoes that I felt super comfortable in and gotten my hair and makeup professionally done. I didn’t look like myself and didn’t feel super comfortable physically.

Because we did a courthouse/more casual event, I actually wore a cream colored bridesmaids dress. I had tried on a handful of other similar options. I wanted to find my dress with my mom who was visiting but lived 1,000 miles away, so I felt pressured and should have shopped around more.

We went to Universal Studios in Orlando resort and did the parks for a couple of days and enjoyed the resort. We only ever vacation to see family, so it was really nice to go anywhere just the two of us and we were dying to go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. LOVED it.

I know you’ve said you and Mike want different things, so you’ll have to compromise some, but I really focused on making the day what I wanted instead of what others expected. Our favors were a mix cd of “our songs” I made and a cute bag of local famous cookies. I think favors are better when they’re personal and/or based on the location… not m&ms with the initials or a tiny bubble wand.

I’m really excited for you! It’s been very sweet to watch yours and Mike’s relationship blossom from afar on the internet, and you two seem perfect for each other from what we readers can tell. I’m sure your day will be magical no matter what because no matter the details, you’ll be married to your best friend. Good luck!

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Sue

Ring: I generally don’t wear my rings at home. I wear it when I go out. I have a necklace that’s part of my wedding set and wear that constantly. My work is such that a ring is often impractical.

Name: I didn’t change my name for the first few years. I was pretty apathetic about it since it’s a big administrative hassle. But we had some health issues that highlighted how much easier it is to navigate with the same last name when at the hospital. So, I added his name to the end of mine, no hyphen. Just multiple middle names now.

Wedding: Tiny. Less than 15 people including us and the officiant. We got married in Vegas by Elvis which was so much fun. We spent most of our wedding budget on the honeymoon. My one regret was not hiring a professional photographer.

Dress: I knew what kind of dress I wanted. It was the first one I tried on. I loved it. Tried on 4 more just to be sure. Walked out that day with it.

Honeymoon: We spent our honeymoon on a road trip across the West from Vegas>Flagstaff>GrandCanyon>Phoenix.

Advice: Be clear in your vision for how you want to feel at your wedding. We edited out everything that gave us immediate anxiety. Our friends and family understood. Ultimately, the wedding is important, but the life that comes before and after is more important.

Hope you have a lovely time planning and executing your wedding.

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Sue

I forgot to mention, we got a couple’s massage the morning of the wedding. It was the best way to start the day because we were relaxed and just feeling the groove.

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Colleen

CONGRATULATIONS CARLY! (And Mike, of course!)

Do you wear your ring all the time?
No. I wear my engagement ring when I go out. Otherwise, I wear my wedding band flanked by two additional bands I got for our 10th anniversary. I am so active that I find having an engagement ring (mine sits up high) feels odd. And I take all my rings off when I shower, exercise, etc.

Did you change your name?
Yes. We knew a lot of people with hyphenated names and it got really complicated when those people started to marry!
I wanted to have the same name as my husband, so we talked about creating a new name (the options were awful) and him taking my name, but he was more attached to his than I was to mine. In the end, I took his last name as mine and he took my last name as his middle name. It was a wonderful compromise and it is so happy for me that he took my name (which I dropped, so we wouldn’t both have the same middle and last name). Michael Heitlinger Riordan?

Did you have a small, medium, or big wedding?
Small ~60 guests. It was so happy to just have the most important people around us. Plus, we knew most of the people there and most of them knew each other, at least from stories we’d told, etc. I do wish we had made it a little bigger and invited more family friends, e.g. my best friend’s parents. Seventeen years later, those people are still in my life and I wish that I had included them!

I would think it would be worth getting married ASAP, then doing the whole fancy ceremony and party on an anniversary, once the pandemic is over. We had friends who did something similar (for other reasons) and it was still really fun and moving, even though they were already technically married. It really is so neat to be surrounded once by everyone you love!

What’s the best thing you did for your wedding day? Anything you regretted?
The best thing we did was stop at the end of the aisle after the ceremony. Every person walked past us and everyone was feeling emotional and so, so happy. It was lovely to connect with everyone in that moment. And, because the “least” important people sit at the back, those were the people who got greeted first, which made them feel special. We connected with our families and bridal party last, then did photos. And we’d already talked to everyone, so the pressure was off once we got to the reception venue.

I am so happy that instead of favors, we made a donation to two charities we valued in honor of our grandfathers, who had passed away. We announced that at the reception, and had it written up in a frame by the guest book. I don’t think anyone minded not having something to take home!

I wish we had left for our honeymoon right after the reception. We had a wedding a few hours from where we lived and so we planned to stay with the bridal party and our families for a few days and relax. But after a wedding, no one was their best self! We had all been up late, several people were hung over, it would have been better to leave on a high note.

Would you go back and change anything?
I wish we’d had a videographer. Photos aren’t the same as hearing speeches. The day was such a blur I only remember snippets! I also wish that we had thought more about what WE wanted; everyone there loved us and wanted us to be happy, so wouldn’t have minded if we had served ice cream instead of cake! (We had cake.)

How many wedding dresses did you try on before finding “the one”?
I didn’t ever find “the one.” I finally gave up and just got a dress I liked okay. It was actually a bit freeing because I still looked better than I ever had before, but I didn’t end up spending an absurd amount of money.

Good luck! Remember … the point of a wedding is to GET MARRIED. As long as you’ve done, at the end of the day, it has been a success!!

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JB

Once we got married, I started wearing my wedding band ALL the time. I never take it off and honestly forget I’m wearing it most of the time. I put my engagement ring on when I go into public. Even if I forget to put it on, I like that I’m still wearing my band!

For our honeymoon, we chose a city we’d never been to before (Charleston) and rented an AirBNB. We had slow mornings and enjoyed relaxing (which was much needed after several months of stressing over wedding/moving), then we’d find a local place for lunch and explore the city. It was a nice blend of fun and doing new things while also taking the time to rest and just enjoy being married!

I love my maiden name but wanted for us to share a last name (especially when we have kids). So I changed my last name and kept my middle name, but I use my maiden name professionally. It’s kind of like the best of both worlds!

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Courtney Toller

We had a huge wedding and loved it! Honeymooned in Fiji and it was incredible. We were super relaxed the first week and active the second week. When sending out invitations number each one on the back. Write very small and in pencil. Then make sure each guest is assigned a number. When someone rsvp’s but doesn’t put their name you can say oh we’re missing invitation #12 and that belongs to so and so. Makes it easy. Congratulations! I wish a lifetime of happiness! My hubs and I just celebrated our 13th on July 13th. Our “golden” anniversary! We’ve got 2 boys, 7 and 4. Loved married and family life. Happy planning! 😘

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Jill

Congratulations, Carly! I’m engaged too so it’s really fun to read through everyone’s answers. Here are mine:

Ring: I pretty much wear it all the time (exceptions are to shower or if I’m cleaning/cooking and it’s starting to bother me I’ll take it off and put it in one of my ring dishes), I find the less I take it off the better. Insurance too, of course!

Name: I personally won’t be changing my name, but I’ve had friends and family do all different things. Whatever makes you happy!

Size: We have planned a small-medium wedding (75ish guests), now postponed to 2021. It was important to us to know every guest and not be meeting anyone for the first time on our wedding day. This ended up being our immediate families, one layer of aunts/uncles/cousins and close friends.

Dress: One! I researched beforehand and honestly only liked one wedding dress I saw (at least for myself), so I found a store in my area that carried it and asked to try only that one. I knew if I didn’t like it in person I’d have to go back to the drawing board and do more research before trying more on (just my own process). Luckily I loved it in person! Really no matter how much you spend, if the dress is new/being made for you, it’s expensive for something you’ll wear once (ask about trunk shows if you fall in love with a particular designer/dress, you can save a bit). In my case, I was ok with this since I couldn’t envision myself in anything else. If you’re more open to different options/styles, it’s definitely something you can save on.

Honeymoon: Our plan was for Italy the summer after our wedding (wedding is NYE), though with COVID, a lot of this is TBD. We were hoping for a mix of relaxation and adventure. We will most likely do some kind of relaxing/low key mini-moon immediately following our winter wedding.

Everything else is TBD since we haven’t had our wedding yet, but I can tell you through our planning (and postponement process) how important it was for me to vet our vendors super thoroughly before booking any of them. It may seem like overkill to ask a million questions and go through “what if” scenarios, but I’m so grateful I did this. When we had to postpone I was confident our “tribe” would support us, and I’m happy to report this has been the case 100%.

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