Things I Wish I Knew Before My Wedding

Would you like a crystal ball to see how your wedding will go?  Sorry we can’t help with that, but we can offer you some superb advice from our experts (aka previous brides).

Here are Pearlers of Wisdom from previous Brides.

Get a gift registry

“I wish my husband and I knew the importance of a gift registry!  We decided not to have a gift registry because I felt it was cheap to ask for gifts.  About 95% (or more!) of our wedding guests did not even bring a wedding card.  Guests misunderstood us by saying we don’t want a gift registry, that we do not want any gifts.  We got nothing. I was shocked. Don’t make the same mistake as us.  Moreover get a gift registry.”  Sarah Williams, 24.

Wedding Gift Registry

Wedding Planner/Wedding Coordinator

First prize is a competent, well-experienced wedding planner to make sure nothing slips through the cracks.  If you can’t afford a wedding planner, then get a wedding coordinator. Or nominate a very organised, capable volunteer in your friend or family circle.  Give them a checklist.  But then again, try opt for a wedding planner – because you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings if they’ve volunteered to help you.  The wedding plans are constantly moving forwards, so ensure that nothing is overlooked by your suppliers.

“I asked for an X to be drawn in chalk on the ground at our wedding ceremony for my groom and I to stand on.  They forgot to the draw the X.  Without the X, we were off from the center in many of our wedding photos. Also I had the glaring sun in my eyes the whole time!” Sarah Walkman, 33.   So yes, hire a wedding planner or wedding coordinator.  The peace of mind is so worth it.

Hire a Wedding Planner

Do your homework on your venue

There may be good venue deals, BUT do not sacrifice comfort for thriftiness. You’ll never hear the end of it if your guests are heating up in sweat or freezing chilly mcfreezels. Do not book your special wedding day in an unpredictable weather season.  Avoid unnecessary complications of road closures from guests trying to reach your venue on the hilltop during snowy winter.   “We chose to get married at 10,000 feet.  I got serious altitude sickness from 7,000 feet up and plus the main road was closed so a few guests could not reach our wedding venue.”  Geoffrey Bachtman, 33.

Find out if your wedding venue has other events on.  “I did not know there was a comic-con event at our convention center in the hotel where we had our wedding reception.  After our speeches, people dressed up in their star wars costumes showed up to our wedding and had some free alcohol from our open bar.” Michele De Vet, 42

Pick Your Wedding Venue Carefully

Wait for the Wedding Sales

“Wait for the wedding sales!  Found my dress at 70% discount. Instead of paying R15,000 I only paid R4500.   I still got my dream dress.  It was beautiful, with a little tailoring – my wedding dress looked better than I ever imaged.” Sharon Little, 34

Wedding SALES

Yes, too many cooks in the kitchen do…

Make it clear that the final wedding decisions are that of your husband-to-be and yours.  Make this clear from the beginning or you’ll have many opinionated cooks in your kitchen. Too many cooks spoil the broth.  “Even though I hadn’t been planning my wedding since I was five years old, it seemed like my mom had been. She got so hung up on the wedding center pieces that she seemed to have forgotten about anything else. It got quite crazy.  I wish I’d just taken control.”  Chanel Potgieter, 19

Pick your team wisely

Please do not feel pressurised to please everyone by having a large bridal party.  You don’t have to fit all your friends into your bridal party.  Pick those best for you on your big day.  You can always take each friend aside later and express how much they mean to you, and give them a little friendship gift.

So choose your bridesmaids wisely.  Choose those who put up with you best during intense situations.  Your bridesmaids could either make your day dramatic or calm and peaceful.

You’re loved and people want the best for you

Don’t feel on-the-spot, panicked or anxious standing up in front of everyone at the ceremony.  Remember you’re standing in front of those you’ve picked as the people who matter the most to you in your life.  You matter to them and they want to see you happy and doing well (except for maybe tipsy Uncle Bob who has a comment for everything).  If there’s any hiccoughs – as natural as possible, proceed through it.

Consider your wedding music carefully, the cracker of a night depends upon it

Find a middle ground somewhere with music tastes and likes.  If your family likes a bit of country and you’re a bit on the rock n’ roll side – try accommodate so everyone has a good time at some stage of the reception. In other words – get a very experienced DJ!  Do not skimp on a good DJ. Try make everyone feel welcome on the dancefloor.

“I skimped on our DJ and opted for pretty flowers instead of spending on the DJ. The flowers did not help the poor song selection from our cheap DJ. It was embarrassing! He did not even cater to our demographics.  He also messed up our first dance song. Not impressed. Will never skimp on a DJ again.  Lesson learned.”  Christelle Martins, 24

Your wedding is about you and the person you’ve chosen to spend the rest of your life with… yes and of course, your guests too

This is a crucial point.  Do not feel pressurised by family or friends desires or wants, tradition or etiquette during your wedding planning preparations.  Goes to say this is to celebrate your unique loving bond and relationship to your wife / husband.

Although remember to also put your wedding guests first.  They will notice the little finishing touches.  Think how your wedding guests will experience your wedding.  Make your guests comfortable and happy.  Get that extra midnight snack, provide blankets if it gets chilly, light a fire in winter, get a basket of dance floor flip-flops.  A wedding is so much fun if everyone gets to enjoy it and be comfortable.

Save Your Soles

Hair and Make-up trials are a MUST

“Get a trial of your hair style and make-up.  I had no option on my wedding day morning to undo my poorly hair and make-up. The ceremony time was nearing, absolutely hated the way my hair was done. It felt like a big thick fish on my head, soiled in hairspray. My make-up was not what I wanted. It made me feel like crying. My bridesmaid were trying to be kind by saying it didn’t look too bad. My hair and make-up stylist, the same person, had assured me she was very experienced and understood exactly what I wanted.  Not the case! Get a trial, even 2 trials if you need to of your hair and make-up. Don’t make the same mistake I did.”  Kirsty Schoemans, 23

Practice your poses!

“Practice posing. Don’t like how I looked in most of my wedding photos, which could’ve avoided had I practiced posing in the mirror.  I’d have practised looking a bit more fabulous, more often. Also my hair looked weird from certain angles, should have taken a 360 degree photo of myself before anything.”  Isabella Allan, 36

Brides: Practice Your Pouting

Brides: Practice Your Pouting

Do the First Look

“I wish I’d just had gotten to hug my groom, my best friend, my husband-to-be.  This would have helped a whole lot with all my nerves, anxieties and perhaps I’d actually have enjoyed the wedding ceremony. This face of mine doesn’t hide much, my ceremony photos showed me as pale and nervous-looking. So yes, do the first look. It’s special. That’s a big regret for me. Get your photographer to catch the first glance too.”  Ruth Hatchet, 41

First Look

First Look

Eat! Hydrate!

It’s as simple as that. Eat and stay hydrated.  Most of all eat breakfast first thing in the morning – before you start rushing around for your wedding.  You do not want to feel lightheaded.  Take care of yourself. If you forget to take care of yourself – nominate a loving bridesmaid to bring you a glass of water and snacks regularly.  Cindy, 23 (bride in December 2018) says that she was absolutely famished by the time they got to the reception because she hadn’t eaten all day. She said “every time I tried to have a bite of my dinner, the next person was tapping my husband and I on our shoulders asking for a photo of us kissing! I just wanted to eat my flipping food!”

Only invite those you or you Fiance’ actually want to celebrate your wedding day

Your wedding isn’t really a show, it is about you and your life-long partner tying the knot.  “We had about 450 people at our wedding.  My husband and I actually only wanted about 70 people at our wedding! Your wedding is about who you want to share your happiest day with.” Ameena Naidoo, 28.

Colleagues do not need an invite to your wedding.  “We invited 8 colleagues and only 6 pitched, 3 of their husbands did not even show up.  Seats we paid for.  Plus I never even saw my colleagues again after I left the company to have my baby. But I’d loved to have been able to predict how some of our relationships changed and been able to adjust our guest list. That’s life. Just be prepared that no one ends up with the perfect guest list.”  Lauren Ray, 41.

Be somewhat Selfish on your Wedding Day

“It’s ok to be a bit selfish on your wedding day.  Those closest to me gave me long stories and lectures about how I must be accommodating and the day is not all about me. However, I then got so overwhelmed and fixated on pleasing all the guests, family and friends that I made them happier than I made myself. My wedding memories sting a bit even though we’re so happily married now. Wish now that I’d prioritised me a bit. ”  Deshni Singh, 18.

My Day, My Way

Take time off work the week before your wedding

“Many of my family and friends travelled in from abroad to our wedding.  Do wish I’d taken more time off work to enjoy them here.  I am a teacher and grades were due, we were moving apartments and plus prepping for our wedding.  We had lots of fun at our wedding, but do wish I’d spent more time with loved ones – by taking off time from work.”  Christine Parker, 32.

Put someone you trust in charge of your phone

“Put your Maid of Honour in charge of your phone.  Wish I’d known that most wedding guests would be phoning me the day before our wedding asking for the wedding venue directions.  We had even included a detailed, great map inside the wedding invitation. Eventually gave my phone to my Maid of Honour to keep my stress levels calm and so I could focus on my big day.”  Charmaine Sykes, 23.

Bride on her mobile phone

Make sure your expectations match the expectations of your photographer too

“Give your photographer a list of the wedding photo you expect. Pintrest great photo poses and ideas. Do this well before your wedding so your photographer can prepare adequately. My photographer focused on just hubby and I, so we never actually got any good photos of guests or loved ones at our wedding. Don’t forget about everyone else too.  Hubby and I were so disappointed with our wedding photos. Something I can never reverse. I have to just accept it now!” Carol Scheepers, 44.

Are you plugging in or are you plugging out?

Whether you’re having an online, plugged in wedding or if you’re plugging out – ensure your guests all know which side of the fence you’re on.  Let them know if they can share your wedding photos on social media.  “Oh dear, I had a big argument with my sister at our wedding because she put our wedding photos all over social media. Just figured it was an unmentioned unwritten rule of respect that our wedding photos would not go onto social media before we had a chance to. However, she wanted to share her sister’s loving wedding with family and friends.  We’re all different, with different expectations most of the time, so just make sure you’re all on the same page.” Thandeka, 24.

Unplugged Wedding Sign

Unplugged Wedding Sign

Hire that videographer! The best one in town too!

Yes hire that videographer. Photos just don’t do the same as a video.  Your wedding day goes by so incredibly fast on a tight agenda usually, so don’t miss any of the details by capturing it on the video.  It’s very special to re-watch your whole wedding as many times as you like.  “Yes, I do remember laughing so hard at our wedding about something.  The photos just don’t explain the moment as well as a video would have.”  Roma Santay, 31.

Beautify at the right time

“My face looked like a complete acne bomb had exploded on my sensitive skin on our wedding day.  Nothing a little make-up from my brilliant make-up artist couldn’t resolve I was lucky.  However my face redness and nasty breakouts was because I’d had my facial 2 days before our wedding. Plan your beauty treatments months or weeks before your wedding.”  Marietjie Oosthuizen, 24.

Be realistic with your wedding suppliers

Yes you can choose the 5 tier wedding cake, but with only 150 guests, perhaps you, your parents and your in-laws will be eating cake for months after the wedding.

Go easy on the self-tan

Opt for the natural self-tan glaze, rather than the orange effect. Vinegar does help ease orange tinged self-tan marks too.  It’ll impress your wedding photos and your guests’ eyes.

Do not DIY, just don’t

It might be more cost effective to DIY your wedding invitations, wedding cards, wedding décor, wedding gift favours, confetti – you name it – brides have tried it. What is the consequence if you put the wrong date or arrival time on your wedding invite?

“My oh my, I turned into a twine-loving nut totally consumed by wedding décor. Completely lost sight of the reality of our wedding, together with rage fits when the DIY didn’t turn out the way I had envisioned it.  Do not form an unhealthy obsession with something you can’t do. Then I got upset when my family tried to kindly tell me it didn’t look professionally done.  We ended up spending a fortune on the DIY wedding projects I worked on, trying to fix them from going wrong. Eventually anyways we ended up using a very reputable and experienced supplier. Made all the difference! But it did dent our budget that I was persistent on trying to do it DIY style first.”  Susie Mickles, 27.

Check out some awesome customised items here for your wedding.

No one cares if you’re skinny, except you

There will be no one at your wedding admiring how flat your tummy looks or that your bingo wings don’t flap.  You’re there to look into your loved one’s eyes to commit your undying love and devotion until the end of time.  Guests are on their own missions, taking in the experience, ambiance, entertainment, dress and people around them.  Don’t be so hard on yourself. They’ll be admiring your dress rather than anything else.

Write your own wedding vows

“Gosh I was so very nervous when my husband asked me to write our own vows.  But I knew what it meant to him. Years after our wedding, our family was still saying how cute it was that I cried during saying my vows.  Yes I cried. This kind of overshare I am proud of.”  Yvonne Greesel, 21.

Eat your cake!

“Eat your wedding cake and do not freeze it.  For me, I didn’t get wedding cake at our wedding because there was just so much going on.  But we did save the first tier of the wedding cake. Years later we found our wedding cake in my mother’s feezer.  Now do we eat old cake?  Or do we throw it out?  But now it’s sentimental. So yes, just eat the wedding cake as intended, at the wedding.”  Daleen Mare’, 37.

Bride eating wedding cake

Get professional dancing lessons!

Please get professional dancing lessons. The swaying back and forth dance gets really really long with two left feet.  Guests get bored.  If you can’t afford the professional dancing lesson, at least watch some youtube videos how to.  Plan on a few moves to break up the swaying, do a trial dance.  Prepare for your first dance please!  Remember to definitely dance dip at the end – it makes great photos.

Bride and Groom Dance Dip

Have some alone time

“Disaster, I had a photographer, hair artist, make-up artist, 9 bridesmaids, 1 maid of honour, my mother, my gran, 3 flowergirls (age 2-13) in the room where we all got ready together.  It was so incredibly noisy! Just wanted peace and quiet. My ears were ringing. Kept wishing for a quiet place I could go to be. Should have said so but I didn’t.” Mandy Nieuwoudt, 22.

Bride Enjoying 'Me Time'

Bride Enjoying ‘Me Time’

Keep a travel kit bag nearby

“Indeed, I’d heard to buy a little wedding bag and put in the necessities or toiletries in.  I didn’t.  So many times that long wedding did I need hairspray, lipgloss, safety pins… Wish I’d taken a little wedding kit bag with me!”  Ilse Langer, 39.

Get comfortable and relaxed

“Just before my wedding, during the many hours of hair and make-up – wish I’d got comfortable in a bridal robe or pjs.  The only clothes I had was my formal dresses for the rehearsal dinner and morning brunch. Would have been so much more comfortable and perhaps more relaxed.”  Kelly Naidoo, 25.

Bridal Robe

Bring your loving friend

“Absolutely wish I’d bought my dog to our wedding.  Our chalet on the resort was dog friendly too.  Should have bought her and made her bridesmaid.  If I could redo my wedding, that’s the change I’d make.”  Lee-anne Harty, 29.

Dog of Honour

Dog of Honour

Careful on the wedding dress boning

“Yikes, I couldn’t sit for the whole duration of our wedding ceremony and could hardly breathe in my wedding dress at our wedding reception. Actually got a headache from a really really well-shaped dress with ample boning.  The wedding dress was beautiful and kept me in shape, but it squeezed the life out of me.  In my case a second dress would’ve been a great idea! Everyone told me not to get a second dress at our wedding, but I wish I did. Oh and also if you need to wear underwear to shape or spanx, get one with a pee hole! No jokes, no one will tell you these things. The lady helper was my go to!”  Marika Van Der Westhuizen, 42.

Wedding Dress Corset

Go Easy on the Wedding Dress Corset

Be cautious with your open bar

If you want to avoid wild and unruly wedding guests, consider an open bar for only a few hours, perhaps stocking just beers and wines.  Your wedding guests can hit the hard tack at the after-party.

Make alone time with your Husband/Wife

“The wedding felt so rushed.  Jostling from the readying room to the ceremony, then photos, being pulled by aunts and parents for photos, dancing with different people – my husband and I hardly saw each other.  If you’re planning your wedding, fit it into the agenda to spend alone time with your husband on your wedding day. That’d have been so special for us both. Make time on your wedding day to be present. Stop and look around and take it all in.” Chantelle Maskel, 31.

Enjoy Married Couple Time

Don’t overdo the alcohol

“Wow, I was having sooo much fun that I was hammered and fell asleep by 8pm. That was AFTER my mother-in-law spoon-fed me my dinner! I will never live that down. Stick to one glass of champagne and one glass of wine or beer.  Regret getting hammered so early.  Literally missed my whole wedding after-party. A guest even stole half of our wedding cards.  Had a great time, but unfortunately it was just for a few hours. The party went on without me.” Nicholas, 24.

Splash out at your Honeymoon

“Our honeymoon was so worth it, every single part of worth it. We don’t remember the amount of money it cost, but we do remember our memories. Believe me, once you have children or life gets busy, there will be hardly any alone time as a couple, let alone holidays.  It’s one of the few times in life that no one expected to hear from us or ask anything of us.  Disappear, wallah, honeymoon here we come!  We also got so much wedding champagne just given to us on our flights and from the hotels. Our honeymoon was one of the best experiences in our lives.” Matthew Jacob, 31.

Dance in your wedding dress

Months after your wedding, put your wedding dress on at least one more time. Do this before you do a photo trash, give it away, donate it or whatever you do with it.  Dance around in it! You know you want to.  Ride the wedding ride a second time. Enjoy it!

Bride in wedding dress lying in the ocean