Avoiding the Biggest Wedding Planning Pitfalls

Wedding cake visual metaphor with figurine cake toppers
Getty Images/Rubberball/Mike Kemp

Your wedding is probably the biggest and most intricate event you'll ever plan and execute in your life — so it's quite easy to step into a few pitfalls along the way. Here, the biggest mistakes couples make when planning their big day, and tips and advice to avoid those wedding planning landmines whenever possible.

Common Wedding Planning Errors Couples Make

  1. A Lack of Personality
    The number one biggest mistake is a wedding devoid of the couple's own personalities. Not everyone has to have a theme wedding, but with a little research and creativity, you can add a little more unique flair beyond the standard "Love is patient" wedding reading. It's usually quite obvious when the couple doesn't have a hand in the décor, menu, or music and just goes along with the status quo. This is the most important day of your life — it should reflect your life.
  2. Wasting Money
    The wedding industry is just that — an industry. So while there is a lot of good advice out there, there is also tons of advice from people who'll profit from it. Be careful you're not spending money where you don't need to — whether it's being talked into a more expensive wedding dress, or having a limousine when your wedding and reception are at the same location. Make sure you know your budget, what's important to you — and what isn't.
  3. Forgetting What a Wedding Really Is
    The wedding ceremony is the main event — the reception is just a celebration of it. Make sure you've put enough thought into the music, readings, and vows that will make your wedding ceremony memorable for years to come.
  4. Not Knowing the Master of Ceremonies
    There are two people whose personalities are almost as important as the couple getting married — and that's the MC of the ceremony (often the officiant) and the MC of the reception (often the DJ or band leader.) Let's face it, if your officiant is boring and dry, your wedding ceremony is going to be boring and dry. And if your DJ is super cheesy, you're going to find yourselves reluctantly doing the chicken dance. Make sure that your personalities mesh well with these two people, and that you feel listened to and respected.
  5. Thinking "It Could Never Rain on MY Wedding Day"
    So many couples forget to plan for things going wrong. If you're having an outdoor wedding, make sure that you have a contingency plan — an alternate location in case of rain, for example. Give a trusted person a list of vendors, phone numbers, and expected time of arrival so that you won't be caught 10 minutes before the wedding without the bouquets. And put together and bring a bridal emergency kit for last minute snafus.
  6. Forgetting the Meaning of the Word "Budget"
    You started off well — figuring how much you could save, how much your parents would give, and what you already had in your bank account. But before you knew it, you spent twice what you budgeted for apparel on shoes alone, and the caterers laughed at you when you told them the food budget. At this point, a lot of couples would just throw costs out the window, and wind up starting a new life together thousands of dollars in debt. Instead, use the budget as a tool to figure out what you can cut, what you can save and where other income might come from. Not only will budgeting help you afford your wedding, but it's an important skill for your married life together.
  7. Getting Trashed the Night Before the Wedding
    Whether your friends have mistakenly planned the bachelor/bachelorette parties for the night before the wedding (a couple of weeks before is ideal timing), or you plan to drink through the rehearsal dinner, the last thing you need is to wake up with a headache, puffy skin, fuzzy head, or worse, an upset stomach. Do yourself a favor and skip the alcoholic beverages the night before.
  8. Being Inconsiderate
    Yes, it's your wedding and your special day. But you need to take other people into consideration as well. After all, a good host puts others needs front and center. Think about what you are asking. Is what you are requesting of the wedding party fair? Have you been clear about your expectations about their level of commitment? Will your guests be forced to stand around for over an hour while you take pictures? Will they be comfortable in the weather or have you thought to provide bottles of water, fans, and/or wraps and heaters? Do your guests know what to expect? Are you planning your wedding for a holiday weekend when most of your in-town guests wish they could get out of town? Put yourself in their shoes and look at it from the perspective of being invited to your own wedding as a guest and not a Bridezilla or Groomzilla.
  9. Not Involving Your Better Half
    It is the 21st century, after all. Wedding planning can and should be the domain of both individuals, rather than just de facto delegated to the bride. Try setting aside a regular weekly meeting time to talk about new ideas, research that you've done, and set wedding-related goals for the next week.
  10. Losing Perspective
    Don't forget to keep your eye on what's really important to you. Don't get bogged down in so many small details that you don't spend enough time on what's important. If something goes wrong, try your best to take deep breaths and think about the big picture. Above all, keep your sense of humor.