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Wedding Planning: Biggest Wedding Regrets

Married brides reveal their ultimate shoulda, woulda, coulda moments.

What bride doesn't want her wedding day to go exactly as she planned with a minimal amount of drama? The truth is you can plan your heart out, but things may not always work the way you hoped they would. We asked newly married brides to be up-front and honest about their biggest preparation regrets so others could learn from their mistakes. Here's what they had to say.

About Receptions

"I would not have combined a chocolate fountain at our wedding reception with six flower girls. Thank goodness for Shout Wipes -- they were the only thing that managed to save my dress."
Tip: Even if you aren't having small children or messy foods at your reception, pack a bridal emergency kit. Items like aspirin, clear nail polish (for stocking runs), and a miniature sewing kit are musts. If you're worried you'll forget it, ask your maid of honor to be in charge of gathering the little things you might need.

"I would have ordered three times more shrimp. My brothers-in-law and a few of the other guests thought we were offering an all-you-can-eat shrimp buffet."
Tip: After sitting through the ceremony and waiting for the wedding party to arrive, many guests will work up an appetite. Beautifully prepared appetizers may not always be the most filling. If you have big eaters on the guest list, you may want to add to your food budget or plan a meal with lots of options, especially if you're having an evening reception. At dinnertime, guests expect dinner-sized portions.

"I would have driven the route to the reception myself instead of just going by an online map. A lot of people got really lost on the way, and I'm still hearing about it to this day."
Tip: If your ceremony and reception sites are not the same, include directions in the invitations. Don't rely on online resources because there can be glitches. If guests get lost and frustrated, it's likely to show in your photos. Map the route yourself and then have a family member on hand with a cell phone for anyone who's lost and may need clarification.

About Being the Bride

"I would have lost weight. After all, I had the time and the equipment."
Tip: If you're gown shopping and you're not thrilled with the figure you see in the mirror, it's the perfect indication that you might want to begin a prewedding workout routine. While you don't have to lose weight to be a beautiful bride, it's important you feel comfortable and at your best that day. You'll love your pictures so much more if you're not obsessed with little flaws. Most weddings are at least a year away, which gives you plenty of time to improve on body issues.

"I would have searched the dress shop on the Internet before putting down a deposit. When I went to the designer's website and found two stores in my area, I should have checked on them both. The Better Business Bureau would have shown me the complaints made against the one I chose."
Tip: When you're spending major cash at a bridal salon, check references. Impulsive purchases very often don't work out well when it comes to wedding planning.

"I would have taken pictures of my bustle at my final dress fitting. When I was 'bustling up' before the reception, we couldn't quite figure out how to get it right."
Tip: Arranging the bustle is indeed a not-so-easy task. Bring a member of your bridal party with you to the the bridal salon when you go for your last fitting. She can learn precisely what needs to be done for the wedding.

"I would not have worn those ghastly fake eyelashes. They work on some people, but I'm not one of them."
Tip: Try out new beauty products a few times before the wedding day. It's better to know how they work and what you can expect.

About the Wedding Party

"I wouldn't have worried about what everyone was wearing. Instead, I would have given the maids and moms a swatch of fabric and said, 'Don't clash with this.' I'm glad they choose their own dresses, but having to coordinate colors between three different designers was more stress than I needed."
Tip: Always remember that when dealing with bridesmaid attire, being flexible comes with a price. Allowing the ladies to pick something that works for them won't always work for you. If you insist they have options, find a designer that offers multiple dress styles in the same color: You won't have nightmares about clashing colors, and they'll get a style in which they feel comfortable.

"I wouldn't have jumped so quickly to choose my bridal party. I would have taken more time and given it more thought since I hurt quite a few people in the process. I realize now that out of sheer excitement, I hastily selected the people who were closest to me at that time, neglecting the people that were with me for many years before."
Tip: When it comes to picking your bridal party members, give it some time before you contact anyone. There may be conflicts between who you'd like to ask and who expects you to ask them. You'll want to identify those problems before you make any announcements. In most cases, it's inevitable that you'll have to do some damage control, but you'll most likely feel better if you ask after having thought long and hard about your choices.

About the Planning

"We wouldn't have done DIY invitations. The amount of money we saved just wasn't worth the time it took us to make them."
Tip: It's important to understand the nature of the projects that you're taking on before you or your loved ones commit to something you ultimately just won't want to finish.

"I would have hired a day-of coordinator. It got irritating when people would ask questions like, 'Where should I put the extra programs?' after the ceremony."
Tip: The one thing most brides don't get on their wedding day is a break. If you want to enjoy individual moments more and deal with questions and disasters less, hiring day-of help should be a high priority on your to-do list. The quality time you'll gain is well worth the fee.

-- Charli Penn

See More: Wedding Planning Advice