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Twenty year-old Courtney had no idea what she wanted for her wedding day. Sure I had a Pinterest board and had dreamed since I was little about my wedding day, but when we got engaged I had no idea what I actually wanted my wedding to be like. We got married in June of 2016 and it really was an amazing day. We had a church ceremony and our reception was at my in-law’s farm. It was truly one of the happiest days of my life! That being said, there are a few things that if I could do over again for my wedding, I definitely would. Hopefully you can learn from my mistakes so your wedding day is even better!!!
Hair & Makeup
Let me start by saying, I didn’t hate my hair and makeup. I didn’t used to wear a ton of makeup, so I didn’t want airbrush and full-on glam for my wedding makeup. Originally I had a friend set up to do my makeup but her new job meant I had to do my own because I didn’t want to pay someone for something I could do myself. For hair I had a family friend who had been cutting my hair for years do my styling. I really wasn’t sure what I wanted, just something that made me feel like myself. My stylist recommended I darken my eyeshadow more so it would show up in photos which was something I wasn’t used to. I did feel beautiful, but in hindsight I would have chosen to put more thought into my wedding hair and makeup to make sure that I loved how I looked.
The BIGGEST regret was not doing a wedding hair and makeup trial. The additional cost is so worth making sure you have time to play with your look and that your hairstylist has a game plan and knows what you want to look like on your wedding day! Same goes for your makeup artist! Some bride’s do their trail hair and makeup run for their engagement shoot which means you know that you’re making the most of that time and money! Then head out for a nice dinner together after your shoot while you’re looking so stunning!!! Lots of my brides ask for HMUA (hair and makeup artist) recommendations! I have a recommendations page on my website where you can find 5 star vendors that I’ve personally worked with and loved! A few favorites are Tamara Hair & Makeup in Chicagoland, Arch Apothecary in Rockford, Chicago and Wisconsin, and Murphy’s Beauty Law also in Chicago! They all do stunning wedding and bridal makeup that lasts all day and looks bomb!!
One thing we never even considered was hiring a videographer. At the time, I didn’t think it was necessary and just an extra expense. We had a family friend film the ceremony with a camcorder and called it good enough. Looking back I wish I would have at least considered and researched what it would have added to our day. I’m not sure I would have ended up hiring one, and to be honest I love my wedding photos so much I don’t feel like I’m missing anything by not having a fancy wedding video. But I do wish I would have thought about it more now that I’m in the wedding industry! Two great videographers I’ve worked with were Frank Slow Films and Max Akerman if you’re looking for wedding video!!
When it came to wedding bouquets, I had no idea where to start. We went to a florist but it was way more expensive than we expected (florists charge about 3x the cost of each flower). While I know there is variety cost and cost equals value, at the time I was unwilling to pay it. We had a family friend who did florals on the side for a way better price! While I did like my flowers, I wish I had researched different florist terms to better communicate what I was looking for. I sent a few photos from Pinterest and described the colors, but I wanted a very full bouquet and they ended up more rounded than I wanted. I think the responsibility was more on me to know what I wanted, but our florist did a great job for what I asked and at a great price!! Don’t skimp on the wedding flowers, they can really have a huge impact on your images!!!
Not Buying Special Wedding Shoes
I wasn’t a big shoe girl, so I decided to wear some cute sandals I already had. They ended up making my feet numb so I went barefoot down the aisle! Our reception barn had a gravel floor so heels in there wouldn’t have worked but I wish I bought a special pair of shoes that would have been pretty in pictures and been special to my wedding day.
Not Researching Photo Locations
We looked up forest preserves near our church (which was an hour from the reception) and saw there was one on the same street as our church! The limo took us there for portraits after the ceremony and a maintenance worker approached us and asked for a permit. Apparently Cook County requires a paid permit for photos, so we were unable to shoot there. Luckily there was another forest preserve on the way to the reception that we visited a lot while dating, so it all worked out. I do wish that we would have asked our photographer and looked into it first because it could have been a huge pain and could have taken away a huge chunk of time if we didn’t have this backup location for wedding photos!
A few things I’m really thankful we did do:
Our first experience having photos taken together were our engagement photos. We had so much fun picking out our outfits (my dress was an Adrianna Papell), being lovey-dovey in front of the camera, and getting to know our photographer! We also chose a location that was personal to us – our wedding venue! The whole experience made us confident in ourselves and our photographer for our wedding day and they are some of my favorite photos of us still!
A First Look With My Dad
Since Russell & I didn’t do our own first look at our wedding, I knew I really wanted to do one with my dad. He’s very emotional and it was special to have a moment together. I wrote a note for him on a handkerchief to give to him before we walked down the aisle and it was a really special memory together and these photos still make me tear up.
Praying Together Before The Ceremony
Since we decided not to do a first look, it still felt important for Russell and I to have a moment together before becoming husband and wife. It was really important to us to pray over our marriage and just holding his hand felt so much like home and so reassuring before the ceremony.
Writing Our Own Wedding Vows
The ceremony was a really important part of our wedding to us. There are so many iconic moments during the ceremony that I love for their tradition: the bride walking down the aisle, being pronounced husband and wife, and of course the vows. Writing our own was one of my favorite parts, and we have calligraphy pieces of the vows we wrote for each other framed and hanging over our bed.
Wedding Day Help
Weddings are no joke. Having been to a few weddings, I knew I was going to need help keeping up with all the little tasks at my wedding since it was on a farm. Things like keeping ice stocked, last minute store runs, keeping water coolers filled…it was a long list. My maid of honor had some college friends that offered to come help that I could designate tasks to. I gave them a list of things to do and it was so helpful! You can have friends or an aunt help out too! If you’re planning the wedding yourself and need help, hiring a day-of wedding coordinator is so worth the money and peace of mind!! If you are in need of a day-of coordinator, I offer day of services currently for $500 in the Chicago, Rockford, Northern Illinois or Wisconsin area! Head over to the Wedding Coordinating Page to learn more!!
Limiting Our Wedding Party
We only had four bridesmaids and groomsmen on each side. I had my two sisters and my two best friends. My husband had his brother, two closest friends, and one of his mentors. Even though my youngest sister was 13 and Russell’s mentor was over 60, I feel like we chose people who meant the most to us and we had no drama with the wedding party. Our wedding party was small considering we had over 300 guests, and I’m really thankful that all those people are still important to us and we still are friends with today!
We loved all of our vendors so much! We hired great people and that honestly made all the difference! Besides our amazing photographer, our caterer Pub 47 knocked all the appetizers, meals and desserts out of the park! We made our own cake, but all the other food was provided by them and we got sooo many compliments and they were affordable too! You can find all my vendor recommendations under the Weddings Tab towards the bottom!!!
What were your wedding day regrets? Let me know in the comments so future brides can learn from our mistakes!!!
whether that's capturing your memories or making sure your day runs smoothly