Wedding Tips From Real Brides

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Wedding Tips From Real Brides
Vince McVay, McVayVision.com

From cake flavors to wedding favors to venues, photographers, musicians and beyond, many (many!) hours go into planning a wedding. Whether you're a year out from the big day or only have a few weeks before exchanging vows, heed the advice of those who've already gone through the whole shebang.

Make Sure You Love the Dress
Vince McVay, McVayVision.com

Make Sure You Love the Dress

"If you don't love the dress at the store, you won't at home, either," warns Emily DeYoung from Michigan. She went dress shopping with her mother, mother-in-law, wedding planner and bridesmaids and ended up buying a dress that they loved, but that she wasn't so sure about. "Four weeks later, I decided I hated it and had rushed the decision," she says. Emily ended up buying another dress -- one that made her feel so beautiful she became emotional in the dressing room.

Prioritize Your Expenses
Rich Miller, RichWeddings.com

Prioritize Your Expenses

"I knew from a young age that I wanted beautiful, unique photos of my wedding and could sacrifice other costs to get that," says Charlee Mitchell of Indiana. She used a budget guide from a wedding website, but adjusted the standard spending allotments to fit her needs and wants. "Instead of spending 5 percent on photography, we spent closer to 10 or 15 percent and reduced another category to stay in our overall budget," she explains.

Use Flowers That Are in Season
Willie Strand

Use Flowers That Are in Season

Use flowers that are in season "or plan your wedding around the time of year when the flowers you love are available," advises Micki Young of Ohio. For example, if you love peonies like Micki, skip the winter wedding. Not only will the flowers be more beautiful, they'll also be more abundant and less expensive.

Opt for the Unexpected
Tim and Lynn Carlson

Opt for the Unexpected

Minnesota-based Ann Olson advocates "thinking outside of the box" instead of following standard wedding traditions. "Buy or hire things for your wedding that you truly want, not something that is expected," she says. "For instance, instead of wedding cake, I had cheesecake at my wedding."

Register Your Honeymoon
Francesca DeLucenay

Register Your Honeymoon

Your honeymoon gives you and your spouse time to relax and enjoy each other's company before jumping back into the real world. Traveling isn't exactly cheap, though. "If you don't have a lot of money, choose a travel agency and have them find you a great deal," advises Franchesca DeLucenay of Indiana. She also recommends starting a honeymoon fund instead of registering for wedding gifts. "We did that and our family and friends paid for almost half our honeymoon."

Keep the Rehearsal Dinner Casual
Becky Young, Becky Young Photography

Keep the Rehearsal Dinner Casual

Instead of an extravagant or formal rehearsal dinner, consider something that's more low key -- and consequently less expensive. That's what Brittany Calvert and her husband Brian of Colorado did. "We rented out a pizza joint for the rehearsal dinner and drank beer and ate pizza," she says. You could even order in pizza (or Chinese food, subs, etc.) if you have the space.

Create a Seating Chart
Arisa Kim

Create a Seating Chart

If you can, try to sit people near others they know when creating your seating chart, suggests Marion Kammer of California. "You want at least one familiar face within earshot of every one of your guests," she says. On the big day, make sure it's clear where guests are sitting so there's no confusion.

Hire a Planner for Cruise/Destination Wedding
Christine Laudig, Laudig Creations Photography

Hire a Planner for Cruise/Destination Wedding

Some consider hiring a wedding planner an additional, unnecessary expense. If you're planning a destination or cruise wedding, though, you'll end up saving time, money and headaches by hiring one, notes South Carolina resident Kiley Kellermeyer Daniel. "They will coordinate cake, flowers, decor, music, etc., with ideas from you and within your budget," she notes. "All you have to do is tell them what you want, show up and get married."

Keep Things In Perspective
Lance Padgett / http://www.lancepadgett.com/home.html

Keep Things In Perspective

"Put into perspective what really matters by making a list of 'real' must-haves," advises Indiana-based Amanda Wray. "Can you have a wedding without a significant other? No. Can you have a wedding without clothing? Probably not. Can you have a wedding without a random piece of fabric on a chair that costs five times what it should? Yes." Wray says that prioritizing this way reduced stress about the "silly things that don't matter in the end."

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