Real Brides Speak: The Biggest Challenges to Planning a 21st Century Wedding

Writer’s note: Fawn here! We’re introducing a new series on the Vow Muse blog. For each installment, we'll talk to real brides (perhaps like you) about what it's really like to plan a wedding and begin a new life bound by love and law. If you'd like to contribute your own stories to our series, shoot us a note!

Weddings are hard…er, fun! Well, fun and hard. As you likely know, no wedding comes without its own set of challenges. So we asked five brides nationwide what hurdles they came up against…

Under Pressure

The most common response we got is the pressure to make their wedding about everyone except them. Our first two brides felt this in different ways…

Oh boy, were there challenges! I think my biggest challenge was that I was trying so hard to make everyone else happy, which was impossible. I was working so much to please everyone else that I lost sight of what the wedding meant to me. - Maryland bride Amanda G.

The biggest challenge for me was being on the same page as my parents. There were things that were important to them that basically were decisions already made, which I didn't love but obviously made work. Also, I hated the registry process only because it felt so silly to me for people to give us gifts just because we fell in love. - Virginia bride Emily H.

Who knew your father would insist on overseeing song choices for the DJ or that your mother-in-law would care so much about having a religious ceremony? It's important to end up with the wedding you and your partner want. But for many families, weddings are a reflection of family values and an expression of joy for all who are closely involved.

Try to pick your battles here. Decide what aspects of the wedding are the most important to you as a couple. After all, this is your day. And for the parts of the day you don't care as much about, compromise is key to make the special people in your life feel involved and represented.

With that said, if you're paying for your own wedding, do whatever the heck you want.

As for registries… If you don't need more "things" to clutter your life, checks to risk losing, or – like Emily H. – you are uncomfortable asking people to bring you gifts, consider setting up a honeymoon registry. People love to contribute to memories and experiences. With simple websites like Honeyfund or Wanderable, folks can buy you excursions, dinners, and nights in a hotel. They can even donate to a down payment for your home or a charity of your choice.

Musical Chairs

My biggest challenge was the seating chart. It got so stressful to the point where I decided to not have one and let people sit wherever. - Texas bride Nikki S.

We love that this bride bucked tradition and opted for an open seating plan. It leads to a casual vibe, which matches her personality perfectly. And it takes needless stress off her plate to focus on more important things.

Definitely managing who we wanted at the wedding versus who we felt "needed" an invitation. Trying to keep the list reasonable without offending anyone. We even had people personally contact us to ask if so and so could come AFTER invites were already sent. - Pennsylvania bride Jane D.

You'll never be able to eliminate this frustration entirely. The guest list will likely balloon up higher than you'd prefer. But you can hopefully simplify matters by being specific when addressing envelopes. Include the name of each guest you'd like to invite so there's no question of whether children or significant others can also attend.

Too Much to Love

The worst part for me was being so overwhelmed by Pinterest. I liked SO MANY things, it was hard to narrow my focus for a really long time. - Delaware bride Amanda L.

Pinterest can steal your soul. I had multiple wedding "boards" years before I was engaged. (No shame in this game!) Once I established my budget and vendors, it was easier to let some of the fancier Pinterest dreams go and concentrate on what would actually work for me. This site is an excellent tool for initial idea generation and a great help for DIY brides.

Do any of our five brides' woes ring true for you? Comment below to let us know the biggest challenges you faced planning your own wedding and how you overcame them!


Writer Fawn believes in the power of a well-crafted story, the promise of an adventurous future, and the perfection of a Nutella-covered strawberry.


Cover photo by sydney Rae on Unsplash