While others hunted for toys and electronics on Black Friday, I braved the unpredictably crowded Jo-Ann Fabrics on a hunt for the burlap I'll need to craft table runners, lace and ribbon for wrapping the glass jar collection currently overwhelming our small dining room and twigs, too.

Thanks to a generous 50% off coupon, I snagged 12 yards of burlap for $23, plus several yards of beautiful lace. I left without fake twigs because I decided I would go gather real twigs in the park across the street.


Gluing lace to jars and cutting strips of burlap seems well within my crafty abilities. But I asked the above question because I wanted to know what people regretted tackling on their own. There was no shortage of advice here:

*No one disagreed with Jenn, my culinary school-trained friend: Leave the food to the professionals.
*Many, though, recommended making your own centerpieces (we are!) and your own favors. A number of my Facebook friends said they simply wrapped candies or made donations to charity for their guests. Another said she created mini storybooks showcasing her hubby and her as part of their centerpieces. A third mentioned his wife and he put together bowls of water with colored stones and floating candles.
*People also recommended that we leave alterations to the professionals. This is a must-do, given that the sewing machine my mom gifted me three or four years ago remains unopened as of yet.
*The response regarding invitations was mixed. Some were happy that they did their own invitations and saved money doing so. Another woman, however, was quite adamant that her decision to DIY the invites was not the right one: "I did my own invitations ... huge mistake ... wayyy more difficult than I thought they would be ... leave those to the professionals!!!!"

*Finally, a piece of advice with which I do agree: "I would have gotten my makeup done as mine didn’t last well throughout the evening," one former bride said. "I’d actually leave anything related to your appearance to the pros – dresses, hair, makeup – you will be able to see the impact."
 
 
Traditions, schmaditions: A number of people said they'd rejected certain traditions during their big day. Many skipped the bridal party dance -- you know, where groomsmen and bridesmaids who may not know each other are asked to dance together. I recently wrote a blog about selecting songs for special dances for Something New Entertainment, and Anna-Jeannine, my DJ, said she's seen others welcome their bridal parties to dance instead with their respective dates. Much better idea, from my perspective.

One girl said she wished she had skipped the garter part because it was awkward and she didn't want to do it, but was pressured into it. Another recent bride mentioned they, too, skipped the garter and bouquet tosses because they felt they were "tacky" and "outdated."

Another noted her groom and she skipped the unity candle and other touches that are more about families uniting than the couple uniting. "This was about our union, not our family members," she wrote. They also skipped the cake-smashing to be kind to one another.

Given how much money/time may be spent on my makeup and is being spent on the dress, I have ZERO interest in cake-smashing.

"How much interest do you have in cake-smashing?" I just asked Steven, who's sitting beside me on the couch.

"Not much," he replied. "I know it's a tradition and everything, but it's like, why? Then I have to take a time-out from everything to get cleaned up."

Another sign we are meant to be, lol.

Finally, here are some i
deas you might steal (if you can) from others:

Something old:
+Grandma's opera gloves
+Great-grandmother's engagement ring

Something new:
+The bride's dress

Something borrowed:
+The bride's circlet (headpiece, and yes, I did look that up)
+Family necklace and family hankie

Something blue:
+The bride's garter
+Bride's toenails
+And, for what it's worth, I'm considering wearing blue shoes.

What did you do for your big day that others might copy?
 
 
I may have more anxiety than the next bride about this topic. Maybe. My hair is naturally curly, and while I love it, I worry it will prove a challenge to even the most seasoned hairdressers.

In fact, when the HTB (husband-to-be) texted me this, revealing I'd been photographed while getting an autograph from the Cleveland Browns' new starting quarterback at training camp, he wrote, "Recognize this chia?" (When my hair is super unruly, I call it The Chia Pet.)
Credit: Associated Press

Yet again, I digress. Here's what my Facebook friends offered in the way of beauty advice:

Your wedding day is not the day to experiment with a new look, most said. Try not to deviate too much from the makeup you normally wear, wrote one of my former sorority advisers. Another girl I know from high school said her husband didn't like it when she went heavier on the makeup for their nuptials.

Another bride who's been there, done that said that for her wedding, her stylist used mineral makeup, which she said has a soft look and more staying power. While she kept her look fairly natural, she said her eyes were done up darker for photography purposes (so she wouldn't look washed out).

It seemed to be the consensus that updos are something to leave to the professionals. Given that I have no desire to be responsible for my look on The Big Day, this suits me just fine. You?

Seemingly everyone suggested trial runs. Another former bride advised: "Practice your hair, and make her keep doing it until she gets it right. And, as I've said -- pay to get your makeup done (with a natural look, though; it doesnt hurt to practice this, either!) so it lasts through the day, all the hugs and kisses, and even through the tears. You do not want to look like you're wilting as the day goes on."

Can't argue with that!