The Top Wedding Mistakes — and How to Avoid Them

Wedding pros share their best advice.

Mistake #11: Cash Bar

While I only see it happen every so often, it absolutely is not appropriate or considerate to ask your guests to pay for their own alcoholic beverages while celebrating you. If your budget doesn’t allow for a full bar, consider serving a signature cocktail along with beer and wine only. —Courtney Wolf, wedding planner, Invision Events

Mistake #12: Not Greeting Guests

Be sure to build time into the day where you can connect with each guest. Whether you greet them after the ceremony or skip the dessert course to say hello to everyone at his or her table, it is super-important to do. The guests are there for you and want to extend their congratulations. Be sure your photographer is around when you are greeting friends and family. The pictures they capture of your guests’ true excitement will be priceless! —Tracy Hartman

Mistake #13: Décor Missteps

Rarely do flowers look amazing when they are not in season, and oftentimes they are significantly more expensive than seasonal flowers. If there is a particular bloom you love and it is not in season, talk to your florist about a substitute bloom that looks similar. —Virginia Edelson

Don’t go overboard with flowers, which can be very expensive; warm, flickering candlelight for evening receptions is just as elegant and comes at a much, much lower cost. A healthy balance of the two is nice, or use more candlelight and fewer floral touches. —Alexandrea Hurt

Under- or over-decorating: both are a tragedy. If you are unable to decorate as much as is needed, place one main unforgettable floral arrangement or decor feature as the focal point. Highlight it, dim the rest of the room and rely on candles. —Ron Wendt, owner, Ron Wendt Designs & Wedding

Mistake #14: Seating Arrangements

Unassigned seating sounds casual, low-stress and relaxing, but it can easily go wrong: Grandma can end up sitting next to your college roommate, and single people might get stuck with a group of couples. I suggest that you assign people to tables and let them pick the seat they want. This way, guests don’t have to worry about sitting with people they have nothing in common with, and everyone will enjoy their dinner companions. —Lindsey Nickel

Many couples choose a sweetheart table, but you have the rest of your lives to sit with each other at a table. On your wedding day, it’s important to spend time with your friends and family. —Colin Cowie, Colin Cowie Celebration

Mistake #15: Event Flow

The wedding reception should feel organic, with each moment seamlessly flowing into the next. Avoid putting all the toasts or special dances together to get them over with. These are key, special moments that should be spread throughout the evening. —Allison Aronne

Mistake #16: Cuisine Considerations

Don’t forget you’re feeding a large group. Just because you’re on a gluten-free pre-wedding diet does not mean the entire meal should follow suit. Conversely, trying to cover every single food group in one elegant three-course meal is overkill. Serve what your caterer does best, offer options and be excited to present a gorgeous seasonal meal. —Calder Clark

Mistake #17: Stressing Out

Don’t sweat the small stuff! Be prepared for little things to go wrong and know that it’s OK for everything else to fall to the wayside. That’s what all those months of planning and prep were for anyway. Enjoy the day, enjoy the moments and enjoy each other, because that’s what it’s all about. —David Tutera