Women Share What They Would Change About Their Wedding

There’s a song by singer Mark Cohn that I listened to during my first date with my husband. The lyrics to “True Companion”: “When the years have done irreparable harm, I can see us walking slowly arm in arm…” always bring me back to the evening that changed my life forever. 

Once engaged, I knew I wanted to dance to that song at our wedding. But, my husband shared it was not an option because his best friend, also engaged, had chosen it for his wedding. We struggled to find a meaningful replacement. (Sadly, I can’t even recall its name.) Yet, every time I hear “True Companion” on the radio, I feel a bit melancholy knowing this should have been our wedding song. If I had the chance to do it all over again, I’d never allow someone else’s choice to affect ours. It’s crazy to think we passed on a song because a friend called first dibs.  

Most people have at least one wedding day regret, something they wish they had a second shot at redoing. To benefit anyone planning their own wedding, we asked 25 women to reveal the one thing they would alter, given the opportunity.

Jen Neugeboren

Regret: Missing the cocktail hour

Married: 15 years

“We had a big wedding party and after the ceremony we took tons of pictures on the beach. I was so wrapped up in getting all the ‘right shots’ that I completely missed out on our cocktail hour. Throughout the night, guests kept raving about the drinks, hors d’oeuvres, and sushi bar—I didn’t see any of it! If I knew then what I know now, I would worry less about getting in every last photo (a candid photo is more precious than one that’s been staged anyway, right?) and instead be present for all the important moments.

Jaime Maser Berman

Regret: Not filming the rehearsal dinner

Married: Eight years

“I wish someone had filmed the speeches at our rehearsal dinner the night before our wedding. We were married in Jamaica and the wedding vibe was more [of a] giant party and group vacation as formality isn’t our style. The rehearsal dinner was a Jamaican BBQ, complete with a steel drum band, that turned into an epic non-stop dancing, drinking, laughing, and sweat fest. Our friends gave their speeches that evening—there was so much great storytelling—I’d love to be able to relive that time in our lives now.”

Morgan Tully

Regret: Making too many compromises

Married: 11 years

“I am generally a person who does things her own way and lives without regrets, yet my wedding was the one place where I regrettably made the most compromises. I would have gotten married at a local venue that was more meaningful to me, allowed my bridesmaids to wear whatever they wanted, and surprised my guests by having a magician at my cocktail hour instead of a formal string quartet.”  

Pam D’Arcy

Regret: Choosing the wrong place to save money 

Married: 30 years

“I bought a beautiful dress at Kleinfeld Bridal Salon that I love to this day, but because the dress was so pricey, I purchased an inexpensive headpiece at a local bridal salon, making a quick decision over a lunch break. I didn’t put a lot of thought into it and when I look at my wedding photos today, all I see is the cheap, poufy veil of a headpiece.”  

Nicole Amico Smith

Regret: Having a too formal affair

Married: 12 years

“I wouldn’t have a big traditional wedding like I did—a 200-person black-tie, big-band affair at my parent’s golf club. It was a great day but the planning sucked the life out of me and my family for a year, putting stress on all our relationships. In the end, it just wasn’t worth it. I would have preferred a celebration with a lot less pomp and circumstance.” 

Cindy Luer

Regret: Getting married in a church

Married: 18 years

“My parents are atheists, so organized religion was never a part of my life growing up. I wish I didn’t have my ceremony in a church—I did it to appease my husband and his family. I do consider myself spiritual—nature is kind of my church—so anything outside, like by the ocean, would have been more meaningful to me.”

Bronwyn Smith McElroy

Regret: Carrying a too large bouquet

Married: 29 years

“My bouquet was beautiful—a large, free-form arrangement with lilies, ivy, roses, and peonies. But, it was too big and informal for my very structured dress and proper New York City wedding. Instead, I would have opted for a tight bunch of pale-pink roses with a subtle dash of the unexpected, like some lavender. An arrangement with clean lines like my dress, but with just a hint of the unexpected.” 

Kerry Tague

Regret: Not editing the guest list 

Married: Two years

“Trying to appease everyone when it came to who we should invite, and being let down by some of those same people, was something I’d never do again. For example, one of my mom’s family members, who we were pushed to invite, brought a cooler to my wedding—um, it wasn’t a BYOB affair! Today, I would be more apt to curate the list and not allow others to influence me.”  

Zoe Gerbino

Regret: Wearing the wrong dress

Married: 27 years

“I originally purchased my wedding gown when I was engaged to someone else. Since I already owned the gown, I figured why bother buying another one? Yet, I regret my decision to wear it when I look at my pictures and see the puffy sleeves and big bow on the back. I would have chosen something more in line with the way I was feeling—something less loud, simpler, and more elegant.”

Athena Siddons

Regret: Starting my wedding too late 

Married: 25 years

“I would have chosen an earlier start time for my ceremony and reception. It was a black-tie affair so everything began at 6:30 pm. Then, of course, everything ran over, including the photos. We didn’t get to our reception until 9 pm! I had a lot of elderly people in attendance and they were tired before the reception even started.” 

Tiffany Eiff

Regret: Never tasting the food

Married: Three years

“I loved my wedding, but I wish I got to enjoy more of the food! There was so much going on when dinner was being served and at the time, I just didn’t have much of an appetite. I took one bite of the cake before we hit the dance floor and the next time I passed the dessert table, it was gone!” 

Jennifer Cuomo

Regret: Having too big a wedding party

Married: 16 years

“We had a huge wedding party—22 people in total. It was completely overwhelming, especially when it came to the photos. If I were to do it again, I would limit the size of my wedding party to only siblings or family—four max!”  

Glenda Kiszonak

Regrets: Not hiring a professional photographer

Married: 16 years

“I thought I could save money by not hiring a professional photographer and assumed I would get more candid looking photos if we had friends and family take snaps. But, in the end, we barely had any great photos!”

Rita Ferraro

Regret: Spending money on a reception

Married: 29 years

“I would elope if I could do it all over again. My parents were extremely generous and threw me an elaborate wedding, but they also said I could take the money instead. Now that I’m older, I realize I didn’t need all of that hoopla.” 

Sarah Gaudar

Regret: Inviting too many guests

Married: Three years

“My husband and I are from Tunisia. Mediterraneans are known for inviting the whole town to their weddings—we hosted all our neighbors, my grandma’s best friends, the local hairdresser—plus family members we hadn’t seen in 10 years or had never met! We had over 450 people in attendance and I kept saying to my husband, ‘This isn’t our wedding, it’s our parents’ wedding’. I now wish we had a smaller and more intimate gathering, with the people who mattered most.”

Jennifer Bickerton

Regret: Not having a second dress for the reception

Married: 15 years

“I was so hot in my gown while dancing and mingling with all my guests. By the time the night was over, the bottom of the dress was practically in ruins. I would have switched into a less traditional dress that was more comfortable and in line with everyday fashion, not bridal.”

Allison Beckett

Regret: Not mingling enough

Married: Four years

“During the ceremony, I was overwhelmed with joy walking down the aisle and seeing faces from different stages of my life smiling back at me. But, I wish I would have spent more time with those relatives and friends at the reception, many whom I don’t get to see often, and who travelled from afar to celebrate our day. I would have taken more time to mingle around the reception instead of staying on the dance floor the whole night.”

Donna Amendolara

Regret: Not scouting photo opportunities

Married: 28 years

“Planning my wedding while having a full-time job didn’t leave me with a lot of time to make the best decisions. I wish I would have identified a place to shoot photos prior to our wedding day. Unfortunately, our venue left us with limited backdrop options and I ended up with photos that included the venue’s logo—which jumps right out in the photos! I realize now I should have scouted the location ahead of time instead of assuming the photographer had done just that.” 

Linda McCarthy 

Regret: Going too fancy

Married: 16 years

“I hired a classic car company and, of course, the car broke down after the ceremony and on the way to the reception! We ended up hailing a taxi and missing half our cocktail hour. I realized then that sometimes it’s best to keep things simple. Today, I would find the cheapest transportation option and put my money elsewhere.” 

Helen Acopian

Regret: Not having more patience

Married: 31 years

“The church we wanted to get married in was booked for eight months, so we married in a church we weren’t familiar with and by a priest we’d never met. It really took away from the ceremony and the way I was feeling at the time. In hindsight, I would have had more patience and waited for a date to become available at our church.” 

Naomi Shaw

Regret: Not paying for a videographer

Married: Six years

“I wish I hadn’t tried to save money on a videographer. While my photographer did an amazing job, and I thought the photos would speak louder than a video, I feel like I missed out on not recording our day. It’s money I would now gladly spend.” 

Lori Weil

Regret: Not increasing the size of the wedding party 

Married: 28 years

“I had six women in my bridal party and was intent on having even numbers for walking down the aisle, photos, etc. My husband complied, but he had friends from high school, college, and work who he wanted to include as groomsmen. He ended up choosing two of his best five friends from college—the other three still joke about being cut from the bridal party. It took them a while to get over it!”  

Roxanne Truesdell Stevenson

Regret: Not staying on schedule

Married: Seven years

“The day goes by so quickly and I now wish I had more time to mingle with my guests. If I had a do-over, I would be more cognizant of time. At the last minute, I added hair extensions (I know, I know), which pushed the ceremony back by an hour. Then, we lost more time than I would have liked on photos, so I barely made the cocktail hour. In hindsight, I would have designated someone to keep me on a tighter schedule.”

Rebecca Randolph

Regret: Not booking a backup hair stylist

Married: 25 years

“My mother-in-law came into my hotel room when I was getting ready and commandeered my hair person for two hours—I ended up wearing my hair in a ponytail for my own wedding because I didn’t have enough time with my stylist! Having a second person to handle other people’s needs would now be top of my must-have list.” 

Veronica LoBue Ferrara

Regret: Giving others too much say  

Married: Two years

“We had a clear vision for our wedding, despite what others thought. Yet, there were many times family members, all with great intentions, tried to force their own preferences, opinions, wants, and desires onto our day. I wish I had taken everyone’s suggestions (read: demands) with a grain of salt—if I had let some things go, I would have avoided a lot of unnecessary stress and heated conversations.”