If you're recently engaged, congratulations! You likely have a great deal of questions and countless new decisions on your mind as you're beginning to plan your nuptials. While wedding advice blogs and books are helpful, sometimes the best tips come from those who have been in your same position. Wedding planning can be stressful, but when you have the support of your friends, family, bridesmaids, and spouse-to-be, it's easier to focus on the task at hand and understand that your engagement should be an exciting time to celebrate your love leading up to the wedding.
To give you some tried-and-true advice, we asked 20 of the women featured in the pages of Inside Weddings to share their best advice for future brides. Read what they had to say below, and click on the links by their names to see more from their beautiful ceremonies and receptions!
"First, get a great wedding planner who knows the wedding industry in the city you’re planning to host your wedding. Then, trust your planner’s list of vendors and when you meet with them, pick the ones who you think will be organized, care about what you want, and will be fun to work with. I had so much fun planning my wedding because I had the best team of people who listened to my vision for the wedding. After that, I trusted their expertise and let them 'do their thing' and they made my dream wedding happen!" – Nina (See Real Wedding: Customized Chicago Wedding with Pink, Blush & Marsala Color Palette)
"The best advice I can give is to stick with your gut, but also be open to recommendations from your planner and vendors – they know what they’re talking about." – Jennifer (See Real Wedding: Glamorous & Sophisticated Garden-Themed Ballroom Wedding in Chicago)
"Don’t change your daily habits just because the wedding date is approaching; make those changes because you want to improve your lifestyle. Keep date nights free of planning discussions, and set time aside to discuss the wedding. Go for that 2nd glass of wine and don’t stress if something doesn’t seem to go as planned. In the end, what matters is the health of your relationship and the one you love standing by your side at the altar!" – Stephanie (See Real Wedding: Elegant Vintage-Inspired Destination Wedding in Chicago)
"Don’t get caught up in the details, and take a moment during the wedding with your husband to look around the reception and take in all the love your loved ones and close friends share with you and the fact they are there to celebrate your union!" – Jourdan (See Real Wedding: Destination Wedding in Pink Church on Harbour Island in the Bahamas)
"Live in the moment and be present the day of your wedding. All the planning is over and it’s time to enjoy when the day actually comes." – Jessica (See Real Wedding: High School Sweethearts Say "I Do" at The Plaza in New York City)
"Try to keep the process at a low stress level and find excitement and fun in the planning process. Remember that the purpose is to have the people you care about the most come celebrate your love and the beginning of your lives together." – Cassie (See Real Wedding: Outdoor Ceremony & Rustic Tented Reception on Martha's Vineyard)
"Weddings are extremely expensive and things add up quickly. Make a list of priority items and try to channel your energy towards the things that are truly important to you... Your wedding day flies by and it’s so important to pause, take a deep breath, and get centered. I tried to close my eyes and take deep breaths every hour or so – before I walked down the aisle, before walking into our reception, etc. It allowed me to appreciate the moment I was in and soak of every moment of the day." – Aarin (See Real Wedding: A Rustic Camp-Themed Outdoor Wedding)
"Enjoy every minute! It goes by too fast. Also, I highly suggest hiring a wedding planner and one that you love. That was the one decision I was not willing to compromise on and so glad I didn’t because I trusted every other wedding decision going forward!" – Isabel (See Real Wedding: A Sophisticated Museum Wedding with Modern Details in Palm Beach)
"Don’t be afraid to be different. It’s okay to question customs and traditions and to color outside the lines. There are a lot of wedding expectations but if something doesn’t feel right for you as a couple, try and come up with an alternative that does. It takes a little extra work and creativity but it’s worth it." – Jordanna (See Real Wedding: Warm & Cozy Wedding at a Unique Warehouse Venue in Washington, DC)
"Listen to yourself and follow what you both want." – Amy (See Real Wedding: Intimate Church Ceremony & Hawaiian Reception on the Island of Maui
"Enjoy every moment of the planning process because it only happens once in a lifetime. It’s a special time with family and friends that brings everyone closer; make sure to take a step back and appreciate it." – Whitney (See Real Wedding: Contemporary Backyard White Wedding Under Clear Tent in Chicago)
"Be aware that the two weeks leading up to your wedding weekend get a little stressful on the families. Try to shake it off and just focus on you and your groom. There's no need to get caught up in any family drama before your big day." – Lindsay (See Real Wedding: Incredible Tented Ceremony & Barn Reception at a Ranch in Aspen)
"Get a great wedding planner, especially if you are having a destination wedding." – Page (See Real Wedding: Chapel Wedding Ceremony & Colorful Outdoor Rustic Reception in South Carolina)
"Stress usually comes with planning a wedding. But just try to keep in mind what’s important: marrying the person you love. Most of the other stuff brides get caught up in doesn’t really matter. No one is going to remember if you have four appetizers or five, or if your uncle gets too drunk on the dance floor. At the end of the day, you get to start the rest of your life with your best friend – everything else is just details." – Kate (See Real Wedding: Alfresco Ceremony & Rustic-Chic Barn Reception in San Luis Obispo)
"If you're having a destination wedding, ask for an early RSVP along with the save the date. Do this to get an early head count in order to make the best experience possible for your guests." – Brittany (See Real Wedding: Seaside Island Destination Wedding with Blue & White Décor)
"There are so many conflicts that could happen during the wedding-planning process leading up to the big day because of the expectation that everything has to be perfect. This is so over said, but it is true: it is important for both people to realize that the detail of the floral arrangement or which hors d'oeuvres were chosen will not affect your wedding day at all. It is a truly special time and the process of wedding planning should be just as important and special as the wedding itself." – Sherry (See Real Wedding: Traditional Chinese Tea Ceremony + Glamorous New York City Wedding)
"Someone gave us this advice and I am so glad we took it: take a moment to find a quiet place during your reception, just the two of you, to take it all in... If you’re focused on being married and not just getting married, then I don’t think anything can go wrong. You won’t get caught up in the little things because you’ll be focused on what’s important." – Elyse (See Real Wedding: Childhood Friends Celebrate Wedding at Marriott Family's Lake House)
"Hire a videographer if your budget allows. I was against it throughout the entire planning process and the month leading up to our wedding day my mom went on her own and hired one. I am so glad she did because there are so many moments you forget about and miss. I love my wedding video and would be so upset if I did not have it to watch and relive the best day of our lives." – Kaitlyn (See Real Wedding: Oceanfront Wedding Ceremony + Classic & Romantic Ballroom Reception)
"Never let one small mishap get in the way of your happiness. Things may not go exactly as you envisioned but you must step back and focus on the big picture: it's your wedding day! Make sure to enjoy how many people are coming together to celebrate your love for each other." – Jenna (See Real Wedding: The 4th of July Wedding of Plain White T's Guitarist Tim Lopez)
"Your wedding only happens once. So much happens – from the moment that you wake up the morning of your wedding with your best friends to going to sleep next to your new husband. It can be nearly impossible to see everything that happens. Make sure to be fully present in the day and stop to enjoy the most important moments." – Shelby (See Real Wedding: Catholic Wedding & Modern Supper Club-Inspired Reception in Chicago)
For more advice, discover what advice real former grooms give to grooms-to-be, learn the most surprising parts of the wedding, and read the sweet stories of when these grooms knew they wanted to propose to their beloveds. Also, be sure to read our guide on what not to tell a bride on her wedding day!