11 Wedding Dos and Don’ts

On this blustery afternoon, let’s talk about something fun! What advice would you give friends who are planning their weddings? (Mine is to wear waterproof mascara.) Here, newlywed couples share the 11 things they swear by…

lisa and inge's wedding

Break the ice: “During the ceremony, I was pretty nervous. Inge and I wrote our own vows, and when it came time to read hers, she pulled out her sheets of paper and on the side that was facing me, she had written in huge block letters: ‘This is real, Lisa.’ It was such a funny and unexpected thing and immediately calmed me down. Everyone else also laughed. It really broke the ice.” – Lisa (and Inge)

lisa and inge's wedding

Record your ceremony: “At the last minute, I gave my brother-in-law my phone and asked him to use the audio recording feature to record our ceremony. He walked down the aisle with it in his pocket and then sat in the front row so the audio is actually pretty good. We didn’t have a videographer, so capturing our ceremony was important to me. I have to admit, I listen to the recording every so often and it has even made me tear up on the subway.” – Lisa (and Inge)

ashley ford's wedding

Ashley Ford's wedding

Embrace tender moments: “My dad spent 30 years in prison, so he missed every awards ceremony, graduation and birthday party I ever had. After giving me a pre-ceremony pep talk, and walking me down the aisle, he gave a moving speech that left everybody in tears. He thanked my friends and family for caring for me in his absence, but ended the speech by looking right at me and saying, ‘I’m here now, Ashley.’ We were already pretty emotional, but when I looked at my new husband, he was sobbing harder than anyone else! He knew how much it meant to me to hear those words from my dad, and per usual, he was even happier for me than I could be for myself.” – Ashley (and Kelly)

english countryside wedding

Pick a scent: “I live in Russia, but my husband and I got married in the English countryside. I love Jo Malone perfume, and I was so happy when she launched a fragrance collection called ‘English Fields.’ My husband’s name is Vasily, and ‘cornflower’ in Russian sounds like ‘Vasilyok.’ Can you imagine how amazed I was when I discovered the perfume Oat and Cornflower? Oh my gosh, I’m in love with this smell. Now I wear it on very special days, and it’s the scent of memories!” — Alice (and Vasily)

courtney baxter's wedding

Opt for a morning ceremony: “We had our ceremony on Saturday morning and our reception later that night. It was important to us that the ceremony felt like its own worthwhile event, rather than just a quick to-do before cocktails. We gave our guests Saturday afternoon to stroll around our small town, have a nice meal, and relax. A handful of our relatives were wary of having the ceremony in the morning, but it turned out to be one of the best decisions we made. The ceremony was a truly beautiful, holy experience.” — Courtney (and Phoebe)

naked wedding cakes with wildflowers

The more cake, the merrier: “We got married in rural Wyoming, where we now live. It was so magical to share our favorite place with loved ones from around the world. Wyoming put on a show for us — from dramatic rain immediately after the ceremony to a double rainbow during cocktails. And our amazing community here made the wedding happen. Our dear friend Meagan made 13 cakes in a friend’s kitchen, garnished with wildflowers that friends had gathered. We had 200 guests who are not afraid of dessert, so the cakes went so quickly. Luckily, our wonderful friends kept feeding my husband and me the different flavors while we were on the dance floor.” — Kathryn (and Jake)

basketball wedding photo

Focus on the things you love: “We walked across the Brooklyn Bridge on our wedding day. We’re both former basketball players and collegiate coaches, so basketball is near and dear to our hearts. Then we went on a ‘Volunteer Honeymoon,’ where we joined Jumpball Programme to help run free basketball clinics for kids in Kingston, Jamaica. It was a great way for us to share our love of the sport with the world.” — Erica (and Julie)

pizza at a wedding

Pizza always wins: “We decided to serve pizza, and we made it buffet style so everyone could get what they wanted. It made the night feel relaxed. There was a range of toppings — like grilled chicken pesto pizza with burrata, and sausage pizza with caramelized onions and fontina. One of the groomsmen piled his plate up with a few of each kind — he had like nine slices. We heard a lot of ‘Best wedding food ever!’ and ‘This is exactly what I want to be eating right now!’ Everyone was obsessed with the meal, and the setup took the pressure off. It was also cheaper, ha!” — Alex (and Grant)

Ashley and Greg

Have your friend emcee: “We asked a friend to serve as the emcee and it was one of the best decisions we could’ve made. We had planned to do a short dance before dinner, which quickly turned into a 30-minute dance party. Just when I thought we might dance right through dinner, our emcee entered the room, humming along to the first bars of ‘Seven Nation Army.’ He was able to make the transition from dancing to speeches and dinner seamlessly, without losing an ounce of the energy in the room.” – Ashley (and Greg)

Caitlin Mociun's wedding

Choose your favorite colors: “I wore an orange dress with a print of cameos all over it. Since I’m a jewelry designer, I liked the nod to jewelry there! I also love orange and yellow, and these colors made the dress feel even more special and personal.” — Caitlin (and Tammer)

Rachel and Matt Dorville's wedding

Go for the group shot: “It’s terrible that I can’t recall who told me to do this, but I was SO happy that I asked my wedding photographer to corral all 99 of our guests for a group shot at the cocktail hour. We spread the word like telephone, and in under five minutes, everyone had gathered on the carousel stairs for the photo. Not everyone is looking, some people are mid-sentence and some are standing behind a tall person just barely peeking out. Still, we captured it, and now I have a photo of all my guests at one of the happiest moments of my life.” – Rachel (and Matt)

Thoughts? What advice would you give?

P.S. More wedding advice, including a secret to a happy marriage and did you have sex on your wedding night?

(Lisa’s photos by Anna Caitlin. Ashley’s photo by Honey and Salt. Alice’s photo by Ageev Vitaly. Courtney’s photo by Rouxby. Cake photo by Liz. Ashley and Kelly’s photos by Once Like a Spark. Kathryn’s photos by McCall Burau. Erica’s photo by Alea Lovely. Alex’s photo by Shannen Natasha. Caitlin’s photo by Aya Brackett. Rachel’s photo by Christine Han.)

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