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Bride Guide: 10 Things I Would Do Differently If I Were Planning My Wedding Today | Wedding Photographer Kansas City

This summer, my husband Jamie and I celebrated our ten year wedding anniversary. Ten years in, we’ve welcomed four precious babies to our family, made a few different spaces home and had countless laughs, cried tears, and traversed mountains and valleys. We have disagreed more times than I care to admit, but we’ve also laughed ourselves silly more times than I can even recall. For better or for worse, this man is my person, and he always will be.

Our anniversary came and went with little fanfare - I mean, we do have three small children, as well as a growing business. We did enjoy a rare couple of child-free days to reminisce, relax and dream a little, and I couldn’t help but think back to the incredibly hot summer when we finally said “I do.”

As I thought back over the days, weeks, months and even years leading up to our wedding day, I realized there were several things that stood out to me as things I would change if given the opportunity for a “do over.” Our wedding was lovely, but…there were a few things that didn’t really scream “us.” Don’t get me wrong; it is fun to browse the latest Knot magazine or read the Ruffled Blog, but at the same time, it’s easy to get so caught up in what’s trendy or “normal” for weddings that you completely lose sight of the two of you.

So, as your friendly neighborhood wedding photographer in Kansas City, I’ve put together a little listicle to help you avoid making the same mistakes I did. Without further ado, I give you…

10 Things I Would Do Differently If I Were Planning My Wedding Today

1. I would choose a different date.

Summer weddings are the bee’s knees and all, but have you ever been to a summer wedding when there is an active heat advisory?

Have you ever found yourself plastered to a white chair under the harsh glare of the sun, anxiously checking your phone for the time because the wedding is running late and the backs of your thighs are so stuck to the vinyl that you fear you may need to be surgically removed? Worse, have you ever witnessed a beautiful wedding cake slowly sort of cave in on itself as it yields to the heat?

Oh, friend. I have. I’ve witnessed plenty of summer weddings as a professional wedding photographer, in Kansas City and all across the country, and I can unequivocally state that summer weddings are more prone to temperature-related issues than any other season I’ve experienced.

At my own early June indoor wedding, we discovered that the air conditioning went out at our venue about an hour before the ceremony…on what proved to be the hottest day of the year so far. We were unable to reach the venue owner, and unfortunately they did not have a staff person on site to help with issues like ours, so we just had to tough it out.

If I were given the chance to do things differently, I would choose a date in the autumn, or perhaps even winter!

2. I would have skipped going all in on the cake and chosen something a little more unconventional.

I loved that we had several kinds of cake (carrot cake, lemon raspberry, white chocolate, & red velvet, I think…) at our wedding, but honestly, we didn’t even get to taste them.

In retrospect, I would go with one small, simple wedding cake for the two of us to cut, then something more unique like a cookie bar, donuts or brownies. We aren’t really the most conventional people, and doing our own thing would have felt more natural to us…and saved on our budget.

3. I would have ordered the dang Taco Bar.

Ya’ll. Tacos are seriously my life.

Our caterers served up some seriously delicious food, and our guests told us it was fantastic, but the truth is that we barely had a chance to eat anyway. Something more laid back is so much more our style than fruit with a chocolate fountain, potatoes au gratin and whatever main choices we ordered for our guests. I don’t even remember what main dishes we chose, but I can tell you I would have remembered if we had ordered the dang Taco Bar.

4. I would have interviewed multiple DJ’s and asked friends and family for referrals.

When Jamie and I were married ten years ago, I had zero wedding experience or knowledge. Now that I work in the industry, I have had an up close and personal view of what a great DJ can do for a wedding reception…as well as what a poor DJ can do.

A fantastic DJ or band can pump up the crowd, get everyone dancing and flow with the mood of the party to keep things moving and guests entertained. Likewise, an inexperienced or mediocre DJ can put a damper on a fun time by misreading the crowd, playing songs that don’t fit the mood and missing cues that can send guests scurrying home early in the evening.

5. I would have planned a First Look.

Looking back now, I have no idea why I stuck to waiting to see each other until I walked down the aisle.

It was exciting, yes, but I would have been excited to marry my best friend no matter what. If I had the chance to do things differently, I would have planned a first look for a few reasons.

First, we would have been able to slow down and enjoy that first moment earlier in the day, in private without 250+ people watching.

Second, it would have allowed us to get all our photos out of the way before the ceremony. This would have allowed for a more seamless transition into the reception, because our guests wouldn’t have had to wait around for an hour between the ceremony and reception.

Third, I think it would have been so helpful to see each other a few hours before the ceremony to steady any nerves and have more memories with each other on that day. Our ceremony was at 4 PM, so we didn’t see each other all day.

6. I would have held our wedding and reception outdoors.

Since I would have chosen a different date in the autumn, I would also have held our wedding and reception outdoors - or at least somewhere semi open air - and made it a bit more casual affair.

Think yard games, maybe a fire pit, etc. I know, I know. Everyone worries about the rain…but can I let you in on a little secret? I have photographed scores of weddings in the past few years, and my favorite weddings? Yep, you guessed it. My favorite weddings are always the ones that have a few sprinkles on the big day.

7. I would have hired a wedding videographer.

As an afterthought, we asked one of my cousins to use a videocamera to capture our ceremony, but I regret that we did not think to hire a wedding videographer.

In Kansas City, wedding photographers and videographers are available in spades, so it would not have been difficult to find one at our price point, and I know our children would have loved to have that record. I’m not sure I would have hired one for the whole day, but I would have really appreciated a video of our ceremony and reception.

8. I would have planned where to go for formal pictures.

Our wedding photographer was from another state, so she was not incredibly familiar with the area.

She and her second photographer did an amazing job, but I do wish I had known enough to suggest a few nearby options for our formal photos. We took our photos around 5:30 PM in full sun, and while I love our images, I do wish we had managed to capture some softer light.

9. I would have chosen a different dress…maybe something vintage.

I absolutely loved my wedding dress, but one of the biggest regrets I have is that my wedding dress was so expensive.

If I had the chance to do it over, I would have found another dress I loved and spent half as much...or maybe even less!

10. I would have cut corners more and hired a wedding planner.

My mom bore the brunt of our decision not to hire a wedding planner, and while I so appreciate everything she did for our wedding, I regret that she did so much of it herself.

I really wish she had been able to slow down and enjoy the day, and as a bride who was not really into the details myself, I know so much of that fell on her shoulders. If given the chance to do it over, I would hire a wedding planner and give my mom a break so she could just be present and enjoy the day as much as possible.

Ten years in to this marriage, a lot has changed. We are more comfortable with ourselves, and are so much more confident in what we want and like. If I had the chance, I would say yes all over again. We all have those things we wish we could do differently…what’s yours? Let me know in the comments, then share !