Words of Wisdom
Good advice from women who've been down the aisle
By Deirdre O'Shea, Copley News Service
Most married women enjoy reminiscing about their wedding and
giving advice to their engaged friends, whether their day
went without a hitch or held unexpected drama -- like the
groom's limo blowing a tire on the interstate or a DJ that
didn't show up or the air-conditioning failing at the reception
on a 90-degree day.
But wedding disasters aside, as they look back what would
women do differently at their wedding? For some, a scaled-down
affair would be in order.
"I would have made it smaller and more intimate. About
85 people were there; maybe I'd have cut the list down to
25, with no bridesmaids or groomsmen," says Sarah, who
met and married her husband in Colorado. "I'd have chosen
a smaller band too, or maybe just background music. Instead
we had a five-piece deal. The people from the New Year's party
at the same country club kept filtering over to our party
because they liked our band, which was a compliment to the
band, but kind of a pain. Oh, and I would have actually sat
down and eaten the food we paid a bundle for!"
Wendy, a writer from New York City, would have opted for a
more intimate wedding too. "We had a hundred guests,
but in retrospect I would have liked to have had about 60,"
she says. We could have cut the list more." She also
regrets the decision to have her dress made. "In the
end the dress wasn't done on time. I had to buy a very expensive
cocktail dress at the last minute."
Instead of spending money on a designer dress, she would have
hired a "truly excellent" photographer. "My
husband and I decided to save money on the photography, but
now we really wish we had a picture of the two of us together.
Just one would be nice -- and we don't have any. Other than
that, our wedding was divine. And I loved every single minute
The photographer at Mary's wedding had "a set idea of
the shots that he thought belonged in a wedding album."
This stay-at-home mom from Califon, N.J., loves the standard
family photos he took, but wishes she'd directed him to take
photos of their friends. "It would be wonderful to have
pictures of them enjoying themselves at the wedding. It was
quite a party!"
Jennifer, a thrifty mom from Trumbell, Conn., would rethink
her budget. "I've been married for six and a half years
now and looking back at my wedding, my advice would have to
be to focus on one or two things that are really important
to you (for me, more flowers) and spend your money there.
Everything else can be done less expensively if it's not as
big a priority."
Others have a laundry list of advice. Suzanne, who keeps busy
with her three preschoolers in Buffalo, N.Y., would "keep
the ceremony shorter and sweeter. We tried to incorporate
so many things -- songs, prayers, and people -- it was too
And she would have started the reception earlier in the day.
"Some people left before the dancing and music. They
were too tired, I guess. I would also have a larger dance
floor and a larger reception hall, so everyone could get around
and mingle more."
She also thinks the photographs took up too much time. "We
wasted an hour at least with the photographer when we could
have been talking with friends we hadn't seen in years --
and didn't have time to mingle with later either!"
The time of year is the factor that Diane, an accountant from
Fairfield County, Conn., would change. "My husband Rich
and I got married in April 1992. If we could do it again,
we would have waited until the summer or early fall so we
could have had nicer weather. It was cold and rainy on our
wedding day. We originally wanted a summer or fall wedding,
but the catering hall we liked didn't have any summer or fall
dates. We sould have kept looking for a place with a better
For some fortunate gals, like Amy, a poet from Massachusetts
who runs her own company, Poems To Go, the answer is nothing.
"I would not have done anything differently," Amy
says. "Both my husband and I did run into some conflicts
with my mother, but we told her that this wedding was meant
for us, that it was our day and we were going to do things
the way we wanted to. In the end, she gave in and the wedding
was just beautiful."
Erin, an analyst and mother of four from Connecticut, also
wouldn't change a thing. "The nice thing was that I was
too young to get into having 'the perfect wedding.' I was
happy to be getting married and I didn't get hung up on details.
I still have people tell me that it was the best wedding they
ever went to."
Elaine and her husband had two weddings, one a contemporary
ceremony by the ocean and the other a Hindu ceremony. Both,
she says, were "fabulous, perfect."
But what this mother of two from San Diego would do differently
is take a honeymoon. "I'd take time off without pay,
whatever, just to get away after the wedding."
Weddings are rarely perfect and women who have danced a mile
in a bride's shoes would all give this advice to those planning
their big day: What's important is that you and your groom
are creating the first memories of your life together and
it's where you're heading that matters. May your stories all
be good ones.
© Copley News Service
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