I had just stepped into our 4-star hotel room, fresh off the plane. Gently, I laid my heavy taffeta and tulle wedding dress on the bed to make sure it survived the trip. August in Las Vegas had discounted deals for a reason, and our wedding was in 2 days. It was so hot you could melt an I-beam on the sidewalk. Like, step into the oven and enjoy that 15 seconds outside. Anyway, back to my air conditioned suite and my precious beloved expensive wedding gown on the bed. The dress looked great, it survived the flight better than I expected. And then I picked the dress up. As I did, my hand grazed something prickly and crunchy on the bed. Oh yes. It felt disgusting alright. I tossed my gown on the chair, and sniffed the bed. Long gross story short... there was crystallized dried urine on our hotel bed. I vomited into the trash can by the night stand, and called the front desk in a dizzy panic. They didn’t believe me at first, but I was in my crazy place and wasn't backing down. I'd checked in to the hotel 10 minutes ago, and here I was on the phone falling apart already. After sending a manager to check and verify that there was, indeed, crystallized puddle of urine on our honeymoon suite's bed, the hotel sent us a new mattress and new bedding, and sent the dress for cleaning. Thank goodness.
Day 1: Called to check on my dress. Reassured by the concierge that the dry cleaner had it done and it would be delivered that night. Ok. Good news.
Day 2: (Day of wedding.) No dress yet. Called concierge. Told my dress is in the closet in our suite. Um, no. It isn’t.
3 hours before wedding. Cue complete melt down.
T-minus 2 hours… no dress.
1 hour… no dress.
TEN MINUTES BEFORE WALKING DOWN THE AISLE… DRESS FREAKING SHOWS UP. They lost my dress. I was a red-faced bawling mess all day. It's still the most vivid memory I have of my entire wedding day. No time for photos before the ceremony, and I certainly wasn't happy in my photos after. I was already over it. That aching hollow pit and nausea. All day I wondered if I would even get to see my dress ever again. Would I wear my jeans down the aisle then? Nothing was making sense.
Could anything possibly be worse? Not in my mind. (Except maybe being left at the altar.)
With that being said, I asked past brides about what they wish they knew when they were planning their wedding, and got the following answers for you. (Besides my personal advice: never lay your wedding gown on a hotel bed no matter how many stars that hotel has. Ew.)
Pick a dress to match the season. Light flowy fabrics for summer, heavier warmer fabrics for winter. (Don’t put your bridesmaids in long black taffeta dresses in July, or bridesmaids in whispy chiffon dresses in December in Idaho. It’s mean.)
Double check your bridal parties go-bags for everything at least 2 days before. All shoes, ties, veil, cufflinks, necklaces, etc. Nothing brings preparations to a screeching halt like finding out your veil isn’t with your dress; it’s in the boutique an hour away that’s conveniently closed on Saturdays.
Spend less on the event if you have to, spend more on the location and photography! Your photos are forever!
Don’t hire uncle Bob to photograph for you just because he has a nice camera. Find someone who has a portfolio, insurance, and a second shooter. Ask to speak to their past clients. Make sure you have a booklet showing the style of their work. Hold them to their contract.
Hire someone else to handle flowers, food, and décor. Trust me, it's not something you should have to worry about on your wedding day.
Obsessively vet your vendors. Ask for referrals. Ask for galleries, ask for samples, ask all the questions. And if they get weird and moody, move on to the next vendor.
Free doesn’t mean “just as good.” That person who offers to make your cake/give you their gown/put together your flowers/cook your food for free had better unconditionally love you, or there WILL be resentment at some point.
Keep it as simple as possible. Simple décor, simple entrees simple drinks. The devil is in the details, and if the details stress you out too much… skip them.
Don’t go cheap on your shoes! Pick comfortable shoes that you can happily wear all day.
Do 1 or 2 trial runs with your hair, makeup, and gown. Have someone you trust take photos of you at all angles so you can best decide what appeals to you.
Take all the photos you possibly can before the ceremony. Family, bridesmaids, groomsmen, and kiddos especially. There will be cake. There will be kids. There will be no clean photos of kids after cake.
Destination wedding? Skip the heavy taffeta and beading and choose apparel that will travel (and steam!) well. Like... don't wear heavy taffeta in Las Vegas in August, ya'll. Been there. Yikes.
You’re going to have to offend someone, and disagree with someone at some point. Pushy uncles with cameras, mothers who want to also be your maid of honor, family members who want to turn your formal portraits into their personal family photoshoot, that mother in law who wears white, etc. It’s ok. They’ll eventually forgive you for standing your ground. Maybe. Meh.
Skip what doesn’t matter to you. Not a fan of toasts? Skip them. Cocktail hour not a favorite for you? Can it. Keeping your bouquet? You don’t have to toss it. Dislike cake? There are other desserts.
Go easy on your wedding registry. 60% of your guests won’t even take a peek.
Delegate all that you can. Make a list and a timeline, and hand it to someone else to execute. This is what bridesmaids and groomsmen are for.
Make emergency plans. Pay that $100 for extra event insurance, and get a blueprint of all emergency evacuation plans. Better safe than sorry.
You and your fiancée come first, not the wedding. Make sure to plan date night at least 1x per week and put the kaibosh on talking about the wedding during date night. Plan your home together, name your future children, look at the long term. Post-wedding depression is real, and this is one way to avoid falling into the darkness.
Your day is going to go faster than you can ever imagine. It will be a blur! Treasure the memories that you can, and treasure the photos that will be passed down to dozens of generations.