Real newlyweds give wedding planning tips based on their experience.
Abbey and Robin Darr’s wedding took place on July 29, 2017, at St. Brigid of Kildare Church.
If you could do anything about your wedding differently, what would you change and why?
Abbey: I would have managed my time prior to the ceremony and between ceremony and reception more effectively! At times I felt rushed, and I think it took away from the magic of the day.
Robin: I wish I would have talked to my partner about what decisions I could help her make or hash out what parts of the planning I could take off her plate, instead of assuming she wanted to plan it all. Planning an entire wedding is too much for one person.
What are you happy you spent money on?
A: I am so grateful we spent the money on an amazing band and talented photographer. My husband and I, as well as our guests, had an amazing day, and I am thankful it was documented so well! Several of our friends have also gone to see our Zack Attack (our band) after our wedding because they enjoyed it so much!
R: I was pleased that we spent a little more money on a high-energy band, not just a band that does weddings. They were slightly outside of our budget, but dancing and the experience the band gave was well worth the extra cost.
What do you think you could have done without?
A: I would have done without our guest book! We had our guests sign a beautiful window that people signed with paint marker. I was disappointed that guests were signing over each other and it was almost illegible. I loved the window, however it was not as effective a guest book as we had hoped!
R: Honestly, I loved everything. If I had to choose, I'd say it was not necessary to have a full-on “party bus.” It makes transportation easier, but isn't necessary.
What was your biggest surprise when planning your wedding?
A: How much conflict in the family a wedding can cause! Everyone will have their own opinion, and it is difficult to sort through their thoughts/feelings as well as our vision of the day!
R: Costs add up very quickly. Stay organized.
What do you wish you'd known before you started planning?
A: I wish my husband and I had a more solid plan on how to cope with family dynamics and involvement prior to starting the planning process. After the big day, we looked back and realized that family opinions were impacting us much more than they needed to!
R: Venues book up way in advance. Plan ahead.
Did you experience any wedding-day snafus?
A: We had a couple! I forgot to bring any bobby pins, and my hair was falling out after we had ridden in the party bus to the ceremony. A family friend was kind enough to run to the nearest drug store and pick some up for me. My advice would be to make sure you have a point person who can help you out with these silly snafus. Another hiccup was during the reception.
R: The power went out at the venue in the middle of the band playing. Everyone just looked at each other and then kept singing. We knew that we had no control over that part of the situation, but we just kept calm and understood that someone else was already working on fixing it.
Did you and your fiancé get into any silly arguments?
R: At first we had silly arguments about little things like which color of white we'd use for tablecloths (there are dozens of colors of white apparently).
A: My husband would get frustrated when I was so stressed about the “small” decisions, however it wasn't too difficult to work through that because I knew he was right!
Brides, any dress shopping advice?
A: I went to one store and only tried on about four dresses. I think it was a great strategy because I wasn't bogged down with so many different styles, however I do regret that my mother-in-law was not there! I planned the appointment with my sister during the week for that weekend, which didn't give everyone an opportunity to be there with me. My advice is to be [mindful] about who you want to be with you on that day and be patient with when they can go with you! You won't regret it.
What about menswear?
R: If you do chose to buy, make sure it is something you can wear again. For your wedding party, remember that you are asking them to spend the same amount of money too. Make sure you choose something that is stylish enough for everyone to wear again.
Do you have any general advice for couples currently planning their weddings?
A: Have some fun with it! I was so stressed to make it “perfect” and looking back, all that really mattered was my husband, family and feeling so excited the day was finally here! It will be perfect because you have your significant other with you—nothing else matters.
R: Organize your thoughts so that all of the difficult decisions don't have to be made all at once. Space them out between the items you are looking forward to completing. Listen to each other. You are planning your wedding; do what you want to do. Take advice from loved ones, but make decisions based on your intentions.
Do you have any general marriage advice, as a newlywed?
A: Be kind, laugh together and maintain respect. All the things that made your relationship great prior to marriage are important after “I do.” This seems obvious, however it easily becomes lost; I found our expectations of each other shifted. All of a sudden it's like, “Oh, crap. This is actually forever.” This thought doesn't mean you don't love your significant other—just means you respect the seriousness of your commitment and you want your relationship to be beautiful. Enjoy the ups and downs; what is that song about wishing someone told you these will be the good old days? Don't get caught up in the little things, and have fun!
R: Have married-couple role models. Think of a marriage at least one generation different from yours, or you'll be too apt to try to “keep up with the Joneses.” My parents have been married for 34 years and have been a tremendous source of support and guidance. Parents, grandparents, neighbors and church members all make great mentors in marriage.