The 23 Wedding Planning Mistakes Couples Most Often Make

By Madeleine Luckel

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Planning your wedding should be the experience of a lifetime. But if the process becomes riddled with mistakes from the get-go, it can be extremely difficult to regain a harmonious and efficient footing. To be fair, it’s not your fault! Planning a wedding is, after all, something that most people only do once. In order to help you avoid the classic pitfalls, we’ve asked some of our favorite wedding planners to share the mistakes they think couples most often make. Some common errors, (such as budgeting), may not surprise you. But specific pointers on what will make or break your flower arrangements likely will. Below, the 23 wedding planning mistakes couples most often make.

On the invitation process:

“Some couples are too wishy-washy about the guest count. The difference between a 100 person wedding and a 200 person wedding is huge. It’s even huge from 100 to 120. Each guest is hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, depending on the type of event and what infrastructure it requires. Sit down with a paper and pen and make [your guest list] the very first thing you do.” —Alison Laesser-Keck and Bryan Keck

“I’ve seen many become so enthused that they invite everyone that they know before honing in on an appropriate guest list.” —Marcy Blum

“As the U.S. Postal Service reduces staff across the country, mail delivery is slower and spottier than it has ever been. In the past, we would have allocated a week for invitations to make their way to guests, but that is cutting it too close now, especially at certain times of the year. Plan for ten days or two weeks for this cycle, and build that new timing into your RSVP date requests.” —David Stark

On budgeting: 

“Not doing a thorough and comprehensive budget. Sit down with a spreadsheet, add in each category line item by line item, and then start planning. Jumping the gun and booking a venue, for example, before thinking about all the other moving parts, will only lock you into something that really may not have been the right decision.” —Alison Laesser-Keck and Bryan Keck

“Don’t assume a fee is fixed. When you’ve never done something before, you have no idea what the fine print means. Don’t assume anything. Take time to ask as many questions as possible. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” —Alison Laesser-Keck and Bryan Keck

On unnecessary costs:

“Spending too much time and money on party favors. When was the last time you received a parting gift at a wedding and thought, ‘this is fantastic, I can’t believe I get to go home with this?’ I think a meaningful donation is a great alternative.” —Yifat Oren

“I love beautiful paper, but I have seen couples spend far too much money on invitations, digital invitations seem to be trending. I am still tactile and old fashioned but perhaps couples can consider spending less in this area.” —Yifat Oren

On planning in general:

“Don’t decide on a date before finding a venue.” —Marcy Blum

“We find that couples are super-anxious to pick out the details before they’ve figured out the ‘big picture’ of their celebration. It’s quite like purchasing the sofa before you have even found a place to live!” —David Stark

“Displaying an inability to make decisions. A wedding has serious deadlines and couples that cannot make decisions will be forced into them, oftentimes at a price.” —Alison Laesser-Keck and Bryan Keck

“Not trusting hired professionals. The wedding industry is made up of a very passionate group of people. We work tirelessly on our events and on improving our services. Many of us have years of experience and have executed hundreds of events. We find that brides who try to micromanage every detail and tell a very experience vendor how to do their job tend to have a much less pleasant experience from planning to execution than those that trust and respect their vendors and really allow their vendors to shine and take pride in their work.” —Virginia Edelson

“Not considering all the things that can go wrong, and how to plan for that if and when it does. What could possibly go wrong? Everything, unfortunately. Think about every possible angle and make sure you have a plan for it. The only thing you haven’t thought of is the one thing you’ll need. It’s Murphy’s Law!” —Alison Laesser-Keck and Bryan Keck

On the guests:

“The biggest mistake of all is to keep your guests waiting. I have a pact with every bride that the ceremony starts 15 minutes after the printed invitation time. Cocktails last 45 minutes. By the time people get moving, it’s an hour. I try to serve a three course dinner in 90 minutes and then find that the guests will dance the whole night long. When you keep people waiting and everything is drawn out, guests go home tired, bored, and drunk. Timing is so important—it can make or break any wedding—and guess what? It does not cost a single cent!” —Colin Cowie

“Not paying enough attention to guest comfort. Do you think your guests want to trudge through the sand in heels or be out at a bonfire freezing cold? Guests like to know what they’re getting themselves into. We advise anticipating all possible needs by walking through your entire plan in advance through the eyes of your guests. How can you set it up so that, no matter what happens, they have the best possible time?” —Alison Laesser-Keck and Bryan Keck

On the reception details:

“Many couples often express they want high energy from beginning to end. We do that at a bar mitzvah. A well-planned wedding will have a beautiful ceremony, a fun cocktail hour, delicious dinner, and then dancing until your feet hurt. It’s about creating the right energy for the right moment. There is nothing worse than trying to have your dinner while the band is playing loudly and the music is high tempo. If that is the case, all the elements are working against one another.” —Colin Cowie

“The volume of the music is so important. Music is upbeat and lively during cocktail, the volume and tempo come down for dinner, and then builds back up again for the dance party. Nothing is worse than shouting during dinner and competing with a selfish band leader.” —Colin Cowie

“Centerpieces should be under 14 inches or over 22 inches tall. Anything in between blocks sight lines across the table. Don’t let your vision of dramatic floral décor trump the goal of a wedding celebration: bringing people together to socialize and make merriment on this special day.” —David Stark

On staying sane:

“Don’t try to do everything yourself. Hire some help so you can enjoy the day. Even if it’s someone to help you run around that week and be your point person the day of the wedding.” —Yifat Oren

“The biggest mistake I see is when the bride says she came to me for the perfect wedding. I think that perfect is not what you are looking for on your wedding day. You are looking for a magical and memorable day. Something might go wrong and it’s important to focus on the fact that you are there to get married and not to be judged by your family and friends.” —Colin Cowie

“Don’t try to please everyone. Weddings inevitably involve the input of many people (parents, best friends, wedding party). It is next to impossible to please everyone. It is very important to keep an open mind and to take ideas offered to you under consideration but ultimately make decisions that you feel strongly about as opposed to making a decision to make someone other than yourself happy.” —Virginia Edelson

“Not allowing yourself to enjoy the full experience of your wedding is the ultimate mistake! Both during the planning process and on the day of, have fun! It truly is one of the most incredible experiences of your life, and you will never get that time back.” —Alison Laesser-Keck and Bryan Keck

“Not letting go on the day of your wedding. We find that our happiest couples are those that can just let go and be truly present with their friends and family on the day of their wedding.” —Virginia Edelson

“Not carving out time for themselves. At every event I’ve planned, I make sure there is at least 20 minutes after the ceremony for the couple to be together. No photographers, friends, family, just each other.”—Yifat Oren