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Real bridal tips

Word to the wives

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Should you spring for fancy flowers and a champagne fountain? Skimp on a wedding coordinator and those silly “Battlestar Galactica” cuff links your fiance wants his groomsmen to wear? What should you do about an overly enthusiastic family member, a creepy photographer, nerves, and — holy Toledo of Jiminy Cricket! — are you even going to have time to eat at your own reception?!


We asked real brides for real advice:

What to splurge on

I hired a day-of coordinator and it was worth every penny. My venue was set up exactly how I wanted it. If you’re the kind of bride that cares about every last detail and you have the money in your budget, do it. — Nydia Medina, Miami, FL

Spring for an open bar. Everyone appreciates an open bar. — Rebecca Penna, Silver Spring, MD

It’s worth it to hire a professional photographer and videographer. An amateur relative can only do their best. There are magical moments a professional will capture that will mean a lot when you look back on it all. — Patrice Grell Yursik, Chicago, IL

People will always remember bad food and drinks, so don’t skimp on those. I once went to a wedding with beautiful, crazy-expensive floral arrangements, but I was served a piece of raw chicken and had to drink cheap liquor in a tiny plastic cup. — Nydia Medina, Miami, FL

Staying on budget

Tell whoever is doing your cake that it’s for less people than you are actually expecting. We had 130 people, three tiers, and the whole bottom tier was untouched! — Stephanie Gabel, Charlotte, NC

I saved hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on flowers. I made friends with the flower guy at the local farmers’ market, and was able to buy his seven bushels of sunflowers (at least 15 per bushel) for $175. The morning of the wedding, my friends and I had mimosas and put together bouquets. Sounds like a headache, but was actually very therapeutic. — Stephanie Mirich, Belmont, CA

We found that if we had our wedding on a Friday night instead of Saturday it was half the price for the venue. We also hired a photographer who was a stay-home dad who did it on the side. If you plan to do this, first look at his albums and hear his ideas ahead of time. In our case, we got a good one! — Kristen Godwin Anderson, Matthews, NC

I found an invitation that I loved in a store. I wrote down the item number and found it online for less. Do your research even if it drives you crazy — it’ll make room in your budget for fun things like a mini-donut station. — Nydia Medina, Miami, FL

I wouldn’t buy a dress that is too expensive because people will step on it. It will drag through sand or mud. If you’re lucky, you’ll get happy-tipsy and spill a dash of wine on it. It’s more important to have fun than worry. — Janine Zeitlin, Fort Myers, FL

Stress relievers

The one thing I splurged on was my hair and make up. She came to my parents’ house while all of us girls and my mom got ready. Not only did I look fabulous, but it really calmed my nerves because I was relaxing. — Stephanie Gabel, Charlotte, NC

The bride should have a “Plan B” if she is planning an outdoor wedding. You cannot control the weather, and finding out where the ceremony would take place in the event of bad weather can help to alleviate some stress. — Melina Gage Ratcliffe, Miami, FL

Be a guest at your own party. I talked to my guests but did not feel like it had to be one long receiving line. I danced and had a great time. Your guests will relax and have fun if they see the bride and groom having fun! — Gretchen Kelly, Charlotte, NC

The guests, family…and dogs

Don’t feel pressured into inviting friends of friends, or people you don’t know well. Years later you will look at your wedding album and be like “why were THEY there?” and not even remember why you made that decision. — Patrice Grell Yursik, Chicago, IL

Give your mother something to do (some sort of project) to keep her busy and out of your hair. — Rebecca Penna, Silver Spring, MD

Pick your battles. My parents-in-law despised the idea of a champagne fountain. I thought it was all in kitschy fun. They thought it was tacky. Not having it was more important to them than having it was for me. I dug in my heels on the gypsy violinist. We compromised. — Janine Zeitlin, Fort Myers, FL

If your darling dachshund (or any dog) is your ring bearer, make sure someone is assigned to walk him before he walks down the aisle. My dog didn’t do the deed on the big day, but he took a nice number two at the alter during the rehearsal. — Amy Keddy, Quincy, MA

Little details

You will be the center of attention, and you might be so busy greeting and being the bride that you might forget to eat, and if you chose delicious food you love, you’ll be sad about that later. Get a well-meaning relative to fix you a plate or two for the honeymoon suite. — Patrice Grell Yursik, Chicago, IL

Meet with potential photographers ahead of time to see if you click. They’ll be seeing you in your skivvies when you’re getting dressed, so you want to look out for the creep-factor. Plus, you end up spending hours with them, so you don’t want to be irritated by their personalities. — Rebecca Penna, Silver Spring, MD

Don’t forget about your flower girl’s and ring bearer’s feet! Our flower girl had bloody blisters at the end of the night, but never stopped dancing or smiling! Make sure someone packs them sneakers. — Amy Keddy, Quincy, MA

Don’t forget the groom!

You should include your groom in the planning — it’s his day, too. Ask him what he wants and let him make some of the decisions. — Lindsay Jenkins, Homestead, FL

Make sure to fully enjoy your wedding night, no matter how exhausted you are. — Jessica Sick, New York, NY

Your wedding is one day but you have to live with this dude FOR-E-VER. Choose wisely! For this reason, I think it’s good to actually do the wedding thing and not elope. You learn to compromise and disagree and if you don’t do it well as a couple, you can get out before it’s too late! — Stephanie Gabel, Charlotte, NC

Marry a good guy. It helps. — Katrina Morris, Miami FL n

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