Wedding experts can be full of advice, but who better to offer wedding ceremony advice and wedding reception advice than brides who have been there? I interviewed more than 100 couples for my book Intimate Weddings: Planning a Small Wedding that Fits Your Budget and Style. None of them regretted having a small wedding. However, some brides confessed that they would have done a few things differently if they had the chance to do it all over again.

Here’s what these brides had to say about the wedding ceremony and wedding reception:


I’d have chosen to see (the groom) privately before the ceremony. He was so nervous and I was so worried for him that it was difficult for both of us to enjoy the first moment. My wedding ceremony advice is to listen to your gut – even if it breaks with convention!


We would make sure we had a private place to retreat to for a few minutes right after the ceremony. We were immediately deluged by well-wishers and it would have been nice to savor those first few minutes as husband and wife alone.


One of the only things not perfect was my bouquet. I would (have) asked to see it the night before so at that point I could have had her add more flowers to it to make it a little bigger – same for the bridesmaids bouquets …I didn’t think of how our flowers would be in most of the pictures. My wedding ceremony advice is to see the flowers beforehand if you can.



I would have told my dad to limit his toast to 2 minutes. It went on and on and on for eight minutes solid! My wedding reception advice is to make sure you talk to longwinded speakers ahead of time and gently tell them to keep their speeches under a certain limit.


We would have extended the wedding reception one or two hours.


I probably would have had more music at the reception, in a slightly larger venue. Probably some guitar folk music.


I would rethink a seating plan and a meal. Even though it wasn’t mealtime (2:30-4:30), perhaps we should have given the guests more to eat than appetizers and cake. But I hadn’t wanted to deal with a seating plan as I’d heard horror stories about them.


There was a lot of leftover food that they took away a bit early for my liking, so I would have kept a better eye on the caterer. My wedding reception advice is to make it clear to your caterer beforehand what you want done with the leftover food and keep your eye on your caterer.


I was disappointed with my florist. She wouldn’t commit to the centerpieces, so we ended up going to a major superstore that sells flowers the night before to buy plants for the tables. My mother-in-law dressed them up as best she could with scrap fabric, but they were thrown together and looked it. My wedding reception advice is to take the time to find a good florist and be clear about what you want.