Married People Share Their Biggest Wedding Regrets

Wedding Spending Regrets Man Repeller

Shhhhhh. Do you hear that? It’s the sonorous rumble of sensible heels, signature cocktails and the part of “Shout” where everyone drops it low. That can mean only one thing: wedding season is approaching. But before everyone converges upon the venue of choice to share a smile over passed apps and free cocktails, decisions must be made. Too many decisions!

In order to offer a beacon of wedding-planning hope to any stressed out couples out there, I put out a call to those who have already done the damn thing to ask for their advice. Below, they share their regrets, joys and general wisdom.

Wedding Spending Regrets Man Repeller

On the Dress

“I bought my wedding dress consignment! It was perfect and exactly what I wanted, and I was able to sell it back after, too. I don’t regret this because I’ve moved three times since my wedding day and packing my wedding dress would have been a pain. When was I supposed to wear it again anyway? I have the pictures to remember it forever and that’s all I needed.”
-Anonymous, 26

“I spent $300 on my wedding dress. I’m so happy that I was frugal with the wedding dress cost; you only wear that thing ONCE! I knew the style I wanted and hunted it down until I found it (I started early). I’m also really happy that my husband dropped a load on his suit because he has worn it so many times since and it was worth every penny. It’s so socially acceptable for the woman to go all out but we played that game differently.”
-Casie, 36

“I bought my dress with my mom and, when I saw how happy she was, I thought that it was the most beautiful dress, so I got it. I didn’t realize that adding sleeves would make it incredibly ugly (the dress was not that beautiful even without the sleeves). I regret not waiting for my best friend to be present because she wouldn’t have let me buy it, she’s way more logical than me and she would’ve told me to sleep on it. If she would’ve been present, I think I would’ve ended up with the right dress.”
-Daniela, 26

“I regret my traditional strapless wedding dress. Although I have several dresses I’ve kept throughout my life that I’ve only worn once, this was the biggest waste of money. That type of dress has never been my style, but I felt compelled to purchase it to please others. It’s still hanging in my closet, uncleaned, and I cringe every time I look at it.”
-Renee, 39

“A really lovely friend let me borrow hers and, leading up the wedding, I became sentimental for ‘my own dress’ and I bought one. But it was more than I wanted to pay and now it sits in my closet. [I wish I’d known] the sentiment is still the same with a borrowed dress! I still married a wonderful man and I could have worn a brown sack!
-Sara, 28

“We planned a very frugal wedding and it was always my intention to get a dress that I was able to bring out of my closet in the future. But I got wrapped up in wedding madness and bought this huge heavy silk dress that required a lot of tailoring. It basically stands up on its own. It’s a beautiful dress, but it wasn’t me, and I regret not sticking to my guns and getting that cute little thing I saw on BHLDN. On the flip side, our biggest bill (after the open bar) was our food truck and it was so worth it. The quality of food was so much higher than what we could have afforded for a sit-down meal, and it got everyone up and mingling.”
Katie, 28

“My biggest regret: A Brand New Wedding Dress! Have helped both my cousin and my husband’s cousin buy second-hand designer dresses for a fraction of the price I paid (recently bought a Nicole Miller dress with a train for $50 on eBay). Basically with good alterations you can turn anything into the dress of your dreams.”
Kelly, 29

“The dress style I really wanted to wear was a giant pink ball gown. It was difficult to find because the trend was only just starting (Jessica Biel and Anne Hathaway)… and I was worried I would regret not wearing something more elegant. My gown was lace with gold beading and not poofy at all. The pink poofy dress was all me! Wish I had been truer to myself instead of what it ‘should’ be.”
-Aurora, 30

“My dress now takes up 1/3 of my closet and I know I won’t wear it again. But I paid too much for the dress (AND the cleaning and ‘preservation’ service) to get rid of it.”
-Jessica, 28

“I hated my dress but I bought it because I felt pressure to look a certain way on my wedding day. I wish I had just worn what I wanted instead of caving to traditions and expectations. I look at my wedding photos and cry. Ladies, if you want to wear a pantsuit or rhinestone cowboy boots or a fifteen layer tulle dress, follow your heart.”
-Michelle, 23

“My dress was over-the-top, super poofy, totally not my usual style. If I could do it all over I’d probably spend $500 or less on an awesome simple white jumpsuit.”
-Linda, 27

“I regret my wedding dress. I would have spent that on travels. Or a photographer, which we chose not to have. (‘Everyone will take pictures!’ Guess what? No one does.)
-Chiara, 37

“I wanted something that was simple and ‘me,’ but I had relatives that pushed me to get a custom wedding dress instead. Was it beautiful? Totally! Does it now live in my closet and I’ve not been able to sell it despite it being a classic style? YES.”
Anonymous, 36

“Maybe the only time I’ll ever justify spending $3k on a dress, and I spent it on a mid-range, traditional white gown I’ll never seriously wear again. Disappointed in myself for not finding the vintage gown of my dreams in whatever color. White wedding gowns are overpriced and overrated.”
-Kate, 28

“One thing I’m super glad I didn’t spend a lot on? My dress. I felt great that night and like how it looked in photos but I didn’t buy this item to last forever, this was not an heirloom. I didn’t care if it disintegrated in a puff of smoke at the end of the night! One thing we splashed out on and I DON’T regret? The flowers. They were black magic roses and people still mention them to me 15 years later.
-Heather, 42

“I regret my veil. It was a single piece of white tulle attached to a plastic comb. I could have easily gotten it from somewhere much much less expensive. If your veil has some special detail, it may be worth the price. But not my very simple one.”
-Abby, 31

“I regret the gorgeous, handmade French lace bridal ‘cape’ (that cost half the price of my dress). There was so much going on and I was having way too much fun on the night that I never even put it on. It’s still hanging in my wardrobe completely uselessly.”
-Ellen, 30

“Dress adjacent: I DON’T regret shopping around for dress alterations! My dress was a fully beaded sheath from BHLDN that I got for $800. When I got quotes from the ‘recommended’ alterations places, one quoted the same price as my dress! In the end, I shopped around and found a lovely seamstress who did multiple types of alterations (not just wedding dresses). I knew she was the one when she was unfazed by the beads during our consult AND charged me half the other quotes! You couldn’t even tell the bottom was hemmed as the bead pattern was somehow perfectly intact. I can’t recommend shopping around enough.”

-Casey M, 31

Wedding Spending Regrets Man Repeller

On Hair & Makeup

“I regret getting hair extensions. 1. They ripped half of my actual hair out, and three years later, it is still recovering 2. I don’t look like me in my photos. It’s a comparably small expense in the wedding budget, but save it and put it towards party-starters: music and bar. When it’s all said and done you’ll be a lot happier with a fun party than mermaid hair.”
-Ashley, 33

“I regret spending on hair and makeup! I was originally planning to do makeup and hair on my own but I lost my confidence after talking to friends and family. I should have trusted my gut. I know what makes me feel best and if I do it every day, why would I screw it up for my wedding? (I wouldn’t).”
-Yaella, 24

“I bought into the ‘just look like yourself but nicer’ narrative big time. I don’t normally wear makeup which meant I felt like I shouldn’t for my wedding and therefore got facials like six times leading up to the wedding. In the final two weeks before the wedding, I realized that putting pressure on myself and my skin to be ‘photo-ready’ on a stressful day was not great for my mental health. I ended up wearing light airbrush makeup, felt like myself, and wasn’t horrified by the sight of a blemish in the days before the wedding. If I had just acknowledged that wearing face makeup doesn’t make you vain, I would have saved about $1,000 spent on 100% vanity-based facials! Weddings put a lot of pressure on brides in a million different ways; holding yourself to unattainable ‘natural’ beauty standards doesn’t help.”
-Catherine, 26

Wedding Spending Regrets Man Repeller

On Shoes

“French weddings are 12+ hours long. While I’ll certainly get future use out of my taupe Jimmy Choo heels, I could have gone with a less expensive, more comfortable alternative given my dress hid my heels.”
-Katrine, 26

“I spent almost $1,000 on YSL Tributes and I am not mad about it! My husband is a full foot taller than I am, so I tried on every pair of 4-inch shoes I could find. These were by far the most comfortable and I kept them on all night, even danced the Hora in them. I have only worn them one other time since the wedding but I don’t regret the purchase at all. Perhaps if I bought them in nude instead of white I would have worn them more for other occasions. Even so, they were perfect.”
-Nikki, 36

“I regret the white Manolo Blahnik shoes. They’re sitting in my closet never to be worn again.”
-Allison, 31

“Charlotte Olympia platform nude and gold heels that I only wore for one hour. I hardly wear heels in real life and almost NEVER wear skinny-heeled heels but for SOME reason thought my wedding day would be the time and the place to try. I loved the look of the shoes with my dress and thought because they were nude and gold that I would wear them again…I haven’t touched them since an hour after our ceremony. Turns out my DSW four-year-old wedges were the real MVP all along!”
-Tomiko, 29

“I spent $250 extra dollars on shoes that matched my dress. They were super pretty but NOT comfortable. Not only were they super uncomfortable, you can’t even see them in any of the pics. I took them off right after the ceremony and put on other shoes. Obvi not a big deal, but was just so stupid and makes me feel icky/capitalist inside. On the other side, we spent a long time finding a really excellent local/organic/fresh caterer which was 100000% worth it. The memory of eating freaking fantastic food and knowing all the guests loved it too is really priceless.”
-Anonymous, 27

“Fun blue shoes! No regrets. I loved them. I still wear them on special occasions. My mother was offended that they weren’t traditional white and they might clash with my dress (!?) but I’m proud of myself for sticking to my love for my cool blue shoes!”
-Maddie, 23

“This is a total duh, but buying shoes because they will look great with your outfit is likely not a great idea on a day you will be up and about SO MUCH. They weren’t even ridiculously expensive (we did the whole wedding in a major city under $5,000, including clothes needed) but I can’t bring myself to donate them because I wore them on my wedding day, but I can’t wear them again because they hurt!”
-Allena, 29

Wedding Spending Regrets Man Repeller

On Decorations, Food, Entertainment

“No one cares about your seating chart, menus, and welcome table. They MAYBE land in one photo that you’ll never do anything with. I spent so much time and money trying to flawlessly DIY decor that my day-of coordinator didn’t even set up properly. Don’t get sucked in by Pinterest and blog posts highlighting all the details. Put more dollars into your flowers and a venue that doesn’t need a lot of fancying up (or a good photog who will spend more time taking photos of people than your place cards).”
-Taylor, 28

“I regret hiring a brand new caterer. I emphasized no nuts many times but we ended up with cashews and my adult brother ended up with two child epipens in his thigh. We ran out of food because they calculated two slices of pizza per person only and my parents didn’t get food. And she hired teenage punks to serve food and be assholes to my grandparents. PAY FOR A PROFESSIONAL AND MAKE A CONTRACT.”
-Alex, 33

“I had a quote from a catering company that almost made me cry. It was so astronomical for food that was so simple. After talking with my parents we decided to DIY it 😬 It was kind of terrifying but we’re all good cooks in my family. Between my parents, grandparents and myself, we ended up pulling off one of the best meals ever. My advice is to know what you’re good at and use it to your advantage. Weddings are expensive so if there is something you know that you can do just as good as any professional, just do it! Even if it’s something scary like food for 125 adults!!!”
-Kelsey, 26

“We got our food at a huge discount thanks to a friend in the industry and we probably under-ordered because I hate waste and I thought everything about the wedding felt excessive. But the food was the biggest piece of our budget (I wanted to elope so I insisted on doing our wedding for cheap ~ about $5,000). But at the end of the day, I kept thinking that it would have been a lot more fun if we had just gotten a bunch of pizzas from a great pizza place. So much simpler and everyone loves pizza.”

“We designed and printed our own wedding stationery and paper goods. High end wedding stationary can cost thousands of dollars depending on how many guests you have and I truly feel like it’s one of those details that only the bride and groom remember. Skip the fancy high-end paper goods and go a more affordable route. That money will go further if you put it toward food, music, or drinks.”
-Maria, 32

“Instead of a DJ we rented speakers (which were set up for us) for something around $500. I love making playlists and made one for my cocktail hour and another for dancing at the reception. Our catering manager pressed play for us and we didn’t need to worry about anything after that. Plus now I have my playlists on Spotify forever.”
-Caitlin, 31

“We had the WORST DJ EVA. I would really really recommend going through a playlist or being very specific on the music you would like to listen to that night. I regret letting my mother-in-law take care of that (I know…but I was overwhelmed and had little time to find one in a different country). Be sure of what you want and be clear in expressing it so. It is an important date not only for you but also for the people that are celebrating with you!”
-Tam, 33

“SPEND MONEY ON YOUR DJ! They are the glue holding your wedding together. We got one on the cheap, recommended by a coworker. He forgot a disc I gave him and some equipment and ended up leaving the wedding for almost an hour! I had to call him and ask where he was! He mispronounced names (despite writing them out phonetically), told people we didn’t want them to request songs (even though we did) and didn’t play some of the songs we as a couple requested. Don’t pay everything up front. Had I known he was going to act like this I wouldn’t have paid him in full the day before.”
-Dominica, 30

“The garter toss is the dumbest wedding tradition. Awkward. Anti-climatic. Breaks up the dance party. Wish I would have spent $30 on a nice pair of undies for myself later, not some ugly garter to be tossed to my husbands college friend. (Side story: I started my period during my wedding and bled onto my garter. Oops. This is why we don’t toss lingerie into crowds people. I may have a bit of baggage re: garters)”
-Maddie, 23

Wedding Spending Regrets Man Repeller

On Capturing Those Magic Memories 

“I regret paying for a budget photographer. The worst part was that they were seated at a table eating for most of the reception instead of taking pictures. I wish I would have spent the money on someone more professional instead of wasting money on a lower fee.”
-Brooke, 32

“I regret not paying *more* money on a photographer whom I loved and reflected my tastes. Instead, I settled for an okay photographer for a good price and for good photos but she didn’t do a great job really capturing our essence.”
Anonymous, 31

“I made the bold choice of forgoing a traditional photographer and instead hiring a really artsy and sculptural photo booth (Fotio—it looks like a 19th century camera with a trigger!) and providing a few Instax cameras. Between the gorgeous photo booth shots of all the people I love, the Instax photos, and shots people took on their own, I feel like I have a great collection of memories from the day, and I don’t regret skipping the cheesy, traditional wedding photography.”
-Kirsten, 25

“I regret not hiring a professional photographer but accepting the offer of a friend’s dad to shoot our wedding. We didn’t get many shots of the party, or many shots that I just loved, and to this day I have yet to create a wedding photo album.”
-Erin 38

“I regret not hiring a better photographer. My husband and I planned and payed for our wedding ourselves and I’m very proud of what we were able to pull off given our budget. My husband did not want to splurge on a photographer, I did. I went with a top-rated company, but they set me up with one of their less experienced photographers at a lower rate. I regret it so much. As the years go by, the photos and memories of that day are all you really hold on to, and I wish I had more and better pictures of that day.”

“I booked my photographer through my wedding planner and never really got to see his work. When we met, it was too late to ask for a change, and we never really saw eye to eye. My wedding planner sensed my frustration and offered a ‘trash the dress’ session. I semi vomited in my mouth at the idea (corny, right?!) but she talked to me about the session and got me to see that it wouldn’t really entail trashing the dress. I met the new photographer (he ended up being my videographer for the wedding) and we hit it off immediately. Our wedding ended at 4 a.m. and the next day at 3 p.m., still hungover, a little zombie-eyed and buzzing from the day before, we got dressed and went and took those pictures on the beach. It is one of the best memories I have, just the two of us in our wedding outfits, laughing, sipping on piñas, getting to really look at one another for a whole two hours, really letting the fact that we were husband and wife sink in. Our pictures came back beautiful, a true statement of how happy we were that weekend. My dress did not get trashed but got to be worn one more time, and I would highly recommend doing something like this to anyone!”
-Karla, 32

“I regret the $1,000 aluminum-printed engagement photo we displayed at the wedding. The photographer pressured us into buying it after we had a discounted photo session that someone gifted to us.”
-Jen, 30

“Truthfully, I regret picking the photographer I got, she was pretty expensive and I ended up not loving the outcome. Everything else in my wedding was perfect but I do feel sad that it wasn’t captured in the way I wanted it to be. Decision fatigue is such a real thing when planning, I wish someone had reminded me to just take a breath and to not feel pressured into a decision just because you need to make it.”
-Kylie, 27

“I regret getting a cheap photographer. We thought we wouldn’t need a lot of photographs but now we ended up not having a single nice shot of us together.”
– Martha, 26

“I love that we got a great photographer and all the photo rights. They are mine forever and I can do whatever I want with them.”
-Lauren, 25

 “I got married back in 2014 and was the first of my friends to do it. Feeling a little lost, I made a few non-decision decisions and sometimes went with the easiest option possible, one of which was the venue-recommended photographer. We had an incredible wedding that was loads of fun, largely because of some personal touches we added (DJ was a friend, we were married by our best friend, the flowers were done by a local family friend, my dress was from a small shop). If we had found a more personal connection to our photographer, I think it could have elevated the day’s joy. Plus the one we used was not cheap! Many younger photographers more in line with our style would have cost much less. Hindsight is 20/20.”
-Kelly, 31

“I would skip the videographer. We look at our wedding photos often, but our video just sits on a shelf. I only don’t regret it because it was a way to include ailing grandparents who couldn’t come, but it took so long to be made that almost cancelled that benefit for us. I don’t regret spending money on food, DJ, photog, or shuttles!”
-Meg, 31

“I *didnt* pay for videography and I don’t 100% regret it, but I have some regrets. We were trying to save money and do things as cheaply as possible, and had no issues telling the Wedding Industrial Complex to go F itself. We got married on the patio at a brewery, ate waffles from a food truck, and had popsicles for dessert. BUT I regret the way we decided to save on videography. Based on our budget, we could have hired an okay photographer and an okay videographer, but we decided to say no to videography and splurge on a dream photog. I don’t regret the decision to skip pro video (our pictures are incredible and such a treasure), but I will forever until the day I die wish we’d just had a friend shoot our ceremony on their iPhone or something. Its been almost five years, and while I remember small moments during the vows where we laughed and cried, I don’t really remember the words that made those moments happen. I deeply regret that choice.”
-Taryn, 32

“Booking a videographer was a HUGE discussion for me and my husband. And I consulted with literally everyone. We ended up booking one semi-late and it was way more expensive than I expected. In the end, I wish we didn’t bother. We received a six-minute video — six minutes of content after something like eight hours of filming. I ended up talking him into giving us more of the raw footage, like the full first dances and full speeches. But he was not thrilled about it. I think we have watched the video two times? My husband also requested blu-ray copies for our parents only to realize they don’t have blue ray players…….perf.”
-Mollie, 32

“This probably sounds like an odd answer, but we paid $5,000 for one photographer, an album and two parent albums not realizing we would never own the negatives ourselves. So any photos we wanted loose outside of the album came with a hefty fee — like $25 for a single 4×6 aside from a few loose ones included in the contract. It’s not that I can’t afford to have more printed out but the experience was so bad after the fact that I simply won’t on principal. Call it what you want, but something we should have asked about and never thought of. Also I know my mother-in-law doesn’t even know where her parent album is. ugh!”
-Kate, 38

Wedding Spending Regrets Man Repeller

On Going Your Own Way

“I eloped and I feel great about not spending the equivalent to a deposit on a house on the wedding. U have no regrets about the size or scale of our wedding… but it did teach me a lesson in life: weddings are not about you or your partner (you can show your commitment to each other in a number of other ways; some legally binding, others not so legally binding), they are about the people that you hold dear being able to mark the milestone with you, and being given the space and time to recognize the couple as a committed, married pair — this is an essential shift in their perception and helps them support you. Long story short: I regret not having that communal milestone by eloping, even though I don’t regret the savings… Why can’t weddings be more basic and less extra?”
-Anonymous, 34

“We didn’t have a bridal party! Absolutely no regrets, it’s the best decision we ever made. No paying for suits and dresses, no awful dress fittings, no inter-bridal party drama! No one walked down the aisle before me and the only person waiting on the other end was my husband. It made the moment so distinctly personal. The rest of the night was about partying and spending time with the people that came there to celebrate with us — but the ceremony was just ours.”
-Anamarija,  27

“We had a taco truck for food (being Mexican and from L.A. we did this long before it was a thing). We bought our flowers from the flower district in L.A. that morning. We didn’t buy rings and we exchanged our own vows with a lot of help from stories from our friends. We had a very reasonable wedding and that meant a lot to us. My husband comes from a blue-collar background and was the first in his family to graduate college. My mother comes from Mexico, immigrated and found a way to navigate this new world. Modest was an homage to our families’ humble beginnings. We knew we wanted experiences and so we used our saved income to experience a year away in Spain and Europe. It was the best use of our money and time and really solidified our friendship.”
-Annie, 38

“I have very few regrets because we really kept it simple. And by that I don’t mean casual, I just mean that we didn’t buy all the stuff (Mr. & Mrs. paraphernalia and other useless table gadgets) that the industry wants you to buy. By not going for the clichés (no limousine, no mandatory bridesmaid stuff, no DJ — we made playlists on our phones), we saved a lot of money, and the whole thing felt natural, closer to who I am. The only thing I regret is hiring my friend as a photographer — his photos are good, but few; he was having too much of a good time.”
-Marie, 41

“We had no money for a wedding three years ago. My husband’s grandfather is ordained and married us on a boulder overlooking the Lampasas River, which runs through his cattle ranch. My mom gifted me a $200 red dress from J.Crew and we had a really nice dinner on an urban farm in Austin after the ceremony. We have money now and will throw an enormous kickass anniversary party when our two babies are a smidge older because we get/want to celebrate our marriage and family when and how it works for us to.”
-Tori, 33

“We eloped, just the two of us, in NYC. Hired a photographer and officiant, stayed at The Standard Highline and got married on the Highline. We shot photos all over manhattan and partied at The Standard’s Biergarten afterward!”
-Anonymous, 40

“What a lot of people tell you when you’re wedding planning but you never really believe is that a wedding isn’t about the two of you. It’s about your future in-laws and your parents and everyone else’s expectations of what a wedding is supposed to be. I regret listening to all of those other voices. I regret spending our money on something that was so traditional and in a lot of ways so not us. I felt like I had to make everyone else happy and if I was to do it all over I would say “fuck it” to what everyone thought we should do. The things I don’t regret? Serving doughnuts for dessert, my mom and I baking a multitude of cookies for the dessert table, and hiring photographers that made us super comfortable and whom I now consider friends.”
-Caitlin, 33

“Neither of our families were able to help financially (which is not their responsibility) so we took on the wedding together. We hired a photographer, band, booked a venue and then canceled everything and went to town hall. We still used the photographer for a small session (basically an engagement session but we were married) and got the rest of our deposits back from vendors as we cancelled so early. We took our immediate family and friends out to dinner to celebrate after leaving town hall. We bought a house instead. Best decision. We wanted to start a life together without being set back financially. It was the perfect wedding and I look back at the pictures feeling very grateful and happy.”
-Ashley, 29

“We avoided feeling pressured by family/ friends/society and instead put any money into buying our first house. When my husband proposed, we didn’t know that I would be pregnant in two weeks time and then 10 weeks pregnant at our wedding. If we had done a blow-out wedding, we wouldn’t have landed the great neighborhood we are in. Instead, we went to the courthouse with our parents, my husband’s siblings and just a few close friends, then dinner at an amazing restaurant. Sometimes I check in with myself and question if I’m still happy how we did things and I never for one second regret the choice we made. It wouldn’t have been our personalities or desire to do something big. I have so many friends and family members that feel like they have to do more and regret aspects of it. We only look back at our wedding with the fondest and happiest of memories.”
-Becky, 30

Responses have been edited for clarity and length. 

Photo by Bob Carey via Getty Images. 

Nora Taylor

Nora Taylor

Nora Taylor is the Editor of Clever. She can frequently be found knocking things over in the greater New York City area.

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