weddings

"All of it": 50 brides share the single most stressful thing about planning their wedding.

Find me a bride who says not a single thing about planning a wedding stressed her out and I’ll call you a fibber, because weddings can be stressful, dammit.

From finding out how much nice things actually cost and buying ‘the dress’, to wrangling the in-laws and deciding who to sit next to Great Uncle Bill, wading through the wedding planning waters can be a task and a half.

You might even find yourself drowning a bit. Or, a lot.

Until you’ve been there, how are you meant to know what things will matter in 20 years’ time, and which ones really, really won’t?

It’s for this reason we asked 50 former brides to share the single most stressful thing about planning their wedding or that happened on their wedding day, and their advice for brides-to-be in the thick of it. And gee, they didn’t hold back.

There are a lot of valuable lessons in here about what stressful wedding things to avoid. Many of which rhyme with ‘chest list’ and ‘bin-laws’.

Here’s what they had to say.

Before we get into it, how much do you think is the right amount to spend on a wedding dress? See what the Mamamia team thinks below, post continues after video.

Video by MWN

1. Finding a wedding dress was the most stressful thing. A lot of stores only stock sample sizes to try on and you walk away feeling terrible. Finding shoes was stressful too. I didn’t want to spend a fortune and wanted to be comfortable. I ended up finding a great pair of bridal wedges and lasted in them until 3am. My advice? No one sees the shoes!

2. Trying on dresses stressed me out – it doesn’t feel good to be told there’s nothing in your size in nearly any store when you’re trying to see what things look like.

3. Not hearing back for suppliers and vendors for agggggges was stressful. My learning – while your wedding is your biggest priority for the months/years before, it’s not important to the vendors until the two weeks leading up.

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4. Being told about all the things I supposedly HAD to have or do, like flowers and a cake and hiding from everyone before the ceremony.

5. My in-laws trying to invite random people they drink with at the pub.

6. I was about to be married for the second time with my two little daughters as my flower girls. We visited the hairdresser the night before the wedding to have the girls’ hair trimmed and blow dried. Then, the hairdresser announced in her loudest, most imperious voice “I can’t cut these children’s hair! They’ve got NITS!” I was mortified, slinked out and spent the entire night before my wedding giving two little girls (and myself) nit treatments and changing sheets and towels for the household! Not the “chilled” night before that I had envisaged! I found that pretty stressful, but of course, now it’s family folklore.

7. Not the biggest thing, but I stressed over how far in advance to get my hair dyed and eyebrows threaded and tinted in case it went horribly wrong and I had to get them re-done.

8. During the planning process, meeting time frames, particularly in the last month, was stressful because there were so many little things to do.

9. We had too many guests to invite, so we tried to time the invitations. Some people got regular invites and others (a.k.a unwanted overseas relatives I don’t even know) got strategically-timed late ones, but organising that was a major stress.

10. I’d say… managing other people’s expectations of your wedding, and keeping relevant family and friends in the loop so they don’t feel left out.

wedding-dress
"My sister got pissed off because I didn't have her in my bridal party..." Image: Getty.
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11. Guest seating was hard for us as both sets of parents are divorced, and not amicably.

12. Making sure we got all the photos we wanted. In hindsight, I should have given my photographer a list of the wedding details and decor we wanted photos of. I made every single piece of decor at the wedding and while our photographer (who was amazing) took heaps of photos, there were a few things missed that I wish I had specifically asked for photos of.

13. The guest list. I still feel guilty about people not being invited when there was physically no room for them.

14. I hated everyone telling me to “just relax” the night before my wedding. I was very calm and pretty casual about the day, and found it a bit annoying that people were assuming I would go “bridezilla”. Telling someone to calm down is a terrible way to help them... be calm.

15. My nan asking me to invite my mum's second cousin's kid's boyfriend because they were here from New Zealand...

16. If you try to control everything, it will get overwhelming, I should've let my vendors do what they do best instead of micromanaging. The best advice I was given was: 'plan it your way because you can’t please everyone, so why not create the wedding you want?'.

17. One word: family. Oh, and the videographer who decided to go silent for months on end gave me the mild sh*ts.

18. I wish I spent less time before the wedding running around after everyone and everything, and had organised someone else to do that job so I could relax and get pampered.

19. My sister getting pissed off because I didn't have an official bridal party. She couldn't accept it wasn't something we wanted for our day.

20. The most stressful thing I found was the overwhelming amount of options and not really having an idea of what I wanted when I started planning. I ended up getting a stylist and this helped ease the decision fatigue as she had scoped us out to find out what we liked and limited the options.

21. Finding a good photographer. I would get a different photographer if I could do it again - one who wasn't late, unreliable and took more photos of my table decorations than my family and friends.

22. Managing the budget is a full-time job. In particular, flowers cost an absurd amount. Why?!

23. The invite list was THE most stressful part. I felt bad for the people I couldn't invite to the reception who came to have a look on the day, but I just didn’t have the money to invite everyone I wanted. I’d elope or do a less formal affair if I had my time over, something in the backyard, a spit roast, even.

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On that note - we asked a wedding expert how to handle a tricky guest list on Mamamia's wedding planning podcast, Hitched. Get it in your ears below, post continues after audio.

24. The most stressful thing for me was my partner! He let me organise the whole thing but after I would make decisions based on months of research, he would pitch in and say he didn’t like it without offering an alternative.

25. On the day I stressed about everyone having fun, and I wish I would have curated the playlist myself for the dance part of the wedding because I forgot to ask the DJ to play a couple of key songs.

26. The guest list! You've got to draw the line somewhere where it's fair for both sides. For us, it was with cousins. I may only have four, but my partner has over 20, so inviting my four added almost 30 to the guest list. You're gonna end up excluding or upsetting someone no matter what, and I'm glad I stuck to my guns on the guest list. Your real friends and family will understand eventually.

27. I stressed about getting the right dresses for my bridesmaids, to find the balance of what you want, and making sure everyone has a good time. I still have regrets about it today.

28. The guest list was by far the most stressful part of mine! So many people think they have a say in who comes to the wedding... and so many people don't bother sending the RSVP.

29. The only tiny bit of stress I had was worrying whether two family members who don’t like each other might be difficult at the party.

30. The most stressful part of organising a wedding is having an idea in your head, organising several vendors to create what you envision, then hoping it all comes together. I was so worried a vendor wouldn't show up or I had missed something in the planning. I definitely lost hair that year!

31. I stressed about my parents being in the same room for the first time since being divorced.

32. The dresses for my bridesmaids was easily my biggest stressor! Couldn’t find what I wanted on the rack, so had them custom-made but dressmaker was a shocker. They came together OK in the end but I always wished I had done that differently.

33. Our band claimed to be able to learn and play anything (they were 'the best cover band in Adelaide'), so we gave them a list of songs to play about a month beforehand. The day before the wedding, they rang to say they in fact couldn’t play those songs... what guitarist can’t play Jack Johnson?

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34. Waiting for days, or over a week, for the venue manager to reply to emails!

35. My father-in-law asked me if I wanted his friend to sing at our wedding, and while I was trying to think of a nice way to say 'oh hell no', he told me he’d already asked him and it was all organised. I told my now-husband this and he sorted out his dad, thankfully.

36. My dad telling me he'd 'accidentally' invited two of his friends (who I know I'll never even see again, they're not mega close) when we were desperately trying to get our numbers down. He guilt-tripped me about it so much, but I stood firm, and in the end, my poor mum was the one to call them to tell them the wedding was smaller than they'd expected and there wasn't room for them. They completely understood... as they were surprised to be invited in the first place!

37. I think the general (innate and influenced) feeling that it has to be the most perfect day, when in fact, there are so many variables you can’t control, like rain or flies or people's hair coming undone.

38. The most stressful thing is money. And never having enough.

bride-and-groom
"I wanted an intimate wedding but we had to invite people from my husband's family who we'd never met to satisfy his parents." Image: Getty.

39. One thing I stressed about was feeling like I was always asking people to do things for me - bridesmaid duties, helping set up, even people I was paying to do these things. It made me so uncomfortable.

40. I would definitely buy a better dress!!!!

41. My 20-month-old son had open heart surgery six weeks before our wedding - we had everything planned for the wedding, but just had to get the surgery over and done with. Any wedding issues paled in significance to what we had been through. Really helped put it into perspective.

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42. I found the bridal party stressful. I would have a different bridesmaid as I have lost touch with her, and reduce the amount of guests my mother invited for the sake of showing off - most of whom were people I didn’t know very well.

43. I found some suppliers frustrating (e.g. booking months in advance, only to have the vendor want to shuffle our booking so they can fit another in and being hand-balled by one at the last minute).

44. The worst part was my husband's family. They were very upset they weren't involved with planning and were very difficult the entire way. I didn't stress about it on the day, because I wouldn't let myself, I was already jittery with excitement and nerves, I didn't need to keep being upset at their behaviour.

45. I probably found the seating chart one of the most stressful components, making sure we had people with other people they knew or placing similar personalities together, then fitting all that to the number of tables and seats we had.

46. Family opinions about our wedding came from right, left and centre, which was stressful because you need to be respectful. However, it got to the point where we said to our families "our day, our way". It helped end those conversations quickly.

47. We planned an international wedding so organising it all without doing a single tasting or viewing of the ceremony or reception location was the biggest stress! High stakes, but had to trust my gut. I was more worried what everyone else would think of it!

48. My husband is from an Italian family and insisted it was important that all these family and family friends come (not that they were important to him, but to his parents). Our guest list blew out to 100, but we literally have not seen around 40 people from his side seen since the wedding. It was nine years ago. This was very annoying as I had wanted an intimate wedding, and we had to pay for 40 extra people who really didn’t need to be there that day.

49. Weather was hard as it was an outdoor ceremony and having a plan A, B and C for everything was a lot of extra work and expense. Obviously, it was totally out of our control but was definitely stressful having an outdoor ceremony.

50. All of it. Everyone should elope.

What did you find most stressful about getting married? What would you do differently if you had your time over again? Tell us in the comments!

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