25 Real bride tips for a stress-free wedding day

Now that you’re engaged, you might be feeling like life has been taken over with talk of wedding venues, cake flavors and seating charts. To help you cut through all that noise, we’ve turned to the experts – real Alaska brides – to share their best advice for your wedding. Here are their 25 tricks and tips to help you stay sane during all that wedding planning…and help you enjoy the big day.

Make time to plan your wedding. “I only had three months to plan everything,” says Amanda. “If I had more time, I'm sure it wouldn't have been as stressful.”

Set a budget. “At the very beginning, take time with your fiancée and rank the things that are most important to you in a wedding,” advises Kim. “Set a budget and spend your money on those things. Let the others go.”

Add a little wiggle room in your budget. “Hidden costs and last-minute things are very likely to sneak up on you,” advises Ashley. “Include a column in your budget for some of those miscellaneous details.”

Get a wedding planner or day-of coordinator. “It is easy to think, ‘I can do it all myself’ or ‘I can’t afford one,’ but keep an open mind about hiring one of these pros – they will help keep things running smooth so you can enjoy a stress-free day,” says Cheri.

Consider your guest list before choosing your venue, says Rachel. Your venue should be a good fit for the number of friends and family that will be celebrating with you.

Choose your bridesmaids wisely. “You think you know people – you're probably wrong,” says Katrina. Make sure to pick yours for the right reasons and not out of some kind of obligation, which could cause regrets down the road.

Keep an open mind when dress shopping. Try on as many styles as you can. “I was surprised by the styles that fit my body type best,” notes Kaitlyn.

Make sure “the dress is perfect before you buy it!” says Lisa. “Two weeks before the wedding, I put my dress on and realized the left side was shorter than the right.”

Choose your vendors wisely. “I met a very talented vendor – one of the best in the field – but we lacked chemistry, and I got the sense that my wedding day was just another day. I found another vendor who was less widely known but no less talented and we instantly connected,” says Angela. “I could tell she would go out of her way to make sure things were done to our expectations. That mattered in the end.”

Accept help. “Take the help people offer and if you feel shorthanded lean on them instead of taking on the burden alone,” advises Jaclyn. “Don’t be afraid to delegate work,” says Catie. “Our wedding was everything it was because of the help of our family and friends.”

Touch base with all your vendors before the big day. Confirm times, locations and package details to make sure everyone is on the same page. “This could help prevent mishaps and mix-ups on your big day!” says Elise.

Keep your bridal party and parents filled in on exactly where they need to be, when they need to be there and what important jobs you’ve assigned them. They are going to play a big part in how smoothly or how chaotic your wedding goes, recommends Erin.

Don't stress over who's going to sit where (such as single people with other single people, divorced parents at opposite ends, etc.), says Sandy. “Even if you place someone at a certain spot, they will move if they want.”

Keep track of your wedding timeline. “We were so caught up in trying to visit with everyone that we were trailing away from the timeline of things such as cutting the cake, bouquet/garter toss, etc.” notes Rachel. “By the time we remembered the cake, most of our guests were gone. So, we took about 10 lbs of cake home.”

Be sure to schedule time to visit with guests on your wedding day. “Even a short visit will mean a lot to your guests,” says Rachel. “After all, they did come to celebrate with you!”

Plan out your wedding photos and give your photographer a list of must-have shots. “For example, I wanted more photos of our family, our guests and the decorations that I had handmade,” says Ashley.

Plan enough time for any off-site bride and groom photos. “The time limit prevented us from going anywhere to do more couple shots,” says Ana.

Don’t rely on a friend or family member to take an amateur video of your wedding. “Our friend forgot the camera!” recalls Jana. “We don't have any video at all.” Grace adds: “Hire both a videographer and a photographer to capture those priceless moments – it’s worth the money!”

Don’t forget to eat. With all the excitement, food and water are likely to be the last things on your mind. Make sure to have a few light snacks throughout the morning so you’re not light-headed or nauseous, says Crystal. The day will be much more enjoyable if you’re well fed and happy.

Eat cake. “We wish we had spent more time eating our beautiful wedding cake,” says Laurel. “Thankfully, someone saved us a piece, but it felt like we were whisked away so quickly after the cake-cutting!”

Soak in the moments of the day, recommends Erin. “I was so nervous/excited that I really didn't ‘hear’ the special readings by my family members until about 10 minutes into the ceremony when I finally calmed down.”

Steal some moments away from everyone to be with your new spouse. “Don’t get so busy that you don’t connect with one another. Take time to live in the moment as a couple,” says Ana. “Those are memories you’ll always cherish.”

Avoid spending your wedding day dealing with all the details. “The early morning of our wedding I was cooking turkeys,” recalls Ashley. “I wish I had designated that task to someone who had time to do that. I felt much more rushed and even slightly stressed over the food as I had played a big part in the preparation of it.”

Don’t sweat the small stuff. “Don’t worry about the little imperfections that you have no control over. When you're throwing a party for 200 people, something is bound to go wrong!” says Crystal. “Sure, there will be snafus, but those will add to the richness of your memories.”

Don't worry about what others want for your wedding day. “This day is about you and your soon-to-be husband,” says Angela. “Make it a day you will love, cherish and always look back knowing you didn't cheat yourselves out of anything.”