I said it was coming! As one who has attended many, many weddings, I would like to offer some advice on how to make your wedding a classy affair that will be remembered fondly, reverently even, by all whose lives it touched. (Note: if you feel that I may be disparaging something you did at your wedding, I'm not. I'm thinking of somebody else's wedding, and you don't even know that person.)
Here we go.
First of all, you must have a reception. Do not even consider doing otherwise. Some may try to tell you that they didn't have one and that it cut out a lot of stress and money and planning and everyone enjoyed the day a lot better and maybe they were able to throw a very nice dinner or luncheon for their family and closest friends instead of serving Sprite and mixed nuts to a blur of 500 people, blah blah blah. Don't listen to them. They are the same kind of people who don't show off their rings in their engagement photos. Clearly they cannot be trusted. Plus, everyone knows you only get presents if you throw a reception.
Anxious about your wedding budget? Remember the key equation here: Family + friends + friends of friends = free labor. You CAN have it all and make your $5K budget produce the $20K look that your richie friends have. All it will take is a bit of elbow grease from other people who are not you. And hey, if you need pictures of your mom you can always send the photographer(s) out to the kitchen or loading dock. Snag guests to help clean up afterward into the wee hours. They won't mind, you did just feed them cake.
Another tip: Call up people you know who work in the wedding biz (like florists, caterers, photographers, graphic designers) and give them the opportunity to perform their services for you for FREE. This way, you are giving them the chance to perform service, which is a service on your part. Don't cheapen it (and deny them blessings) by mentioning money. If they do agree to be blessed, make sure you let them know afterward if they don't meet your expectations. You're just trying to help them be better.
Engagement photos: Show that ring, ladies. If you'll be paying it off for the next 6 years then everyone had dang well better get a look! Also? Piggybacks. I think an engagement photo looks nothing without one party straddling the other. And really, isn't that what an engagement is all about?
If you do not put your registry information in the announcement itself, you will not get any presents. Also you know it's correct etiquette because that's where the people at Wal-Mart told you it goes.
Best wedding slideshow video song choice ever: Wonderland by John Mayer. Cannot go wrong. Also, put as many sleeveless photos of yourself in there as you possibly can, so those tops have one last shot at glory before you give them to your little sister.
Bridesmaids: you must have them. No one is going to take on the huge responsibility of watching the sign-in table unless they get to be a bridesmaid. Also be sure to pick outfits that they will never, ever wear again, because you want your friends to remember YOUR DAY ONLY when they see them hanging in the closet. Or when they take them to their therapists' office.
And speaking of, you know how the one tragedy about getting married in the temple is that you're not supposed to wear the sleeveless/strapless wedding dress you've been slavering over in bridal magazines ever since you were 9 years old? Yeah well, the next best thing = mandated strapless dresses for your LDS bridesmaids! They will thank you because secretly they are tired of sleeves also. And remember, you can't show your shoulders but you can show your boobs! Wedding day cleavage is awesome, and the tuck-and-pin is your friend here, ladies. Just blank out whatever they tell you in the temple and you'll be good.
If you are going to do something unique and different (shoes, dress, accessories, decorations), make sure it's the unique thing that everyone else is doing that year. It's safest that way, and you still get points for individuality.
To keep your breath fresh for all the hugging and greetings, have gum in your mouth all day long, including during the ceremony. Hey, you're just being considerate.
After the temple ceremony, hold a ring ceremony. The secret good thing about this is that you can say it's for the family members who didn't get to go inside the temple, but really it's your chance to hold the barefoot-on-the-beach-at-sunset-with-tiki-torches-lining-the aisle wedding you've always really wanted. (Aaaaaand Win-WIN.)
So that you can get the honeymoon started ASAP (like if there was no time in the car on the way over), book your reception for early in the evening--say 5 or 6pm. Don't serve dinner, though, because dinner is pricey. People who show up at 5pm expecting something substantial are just Out to Bleed You Dry and probably shouldn't have been invited in the first place. Also be sure the caterers won't charge you for additional slices in case those piggies go back for more.
The receiving line is pretty much the best thing ever, and the way you know you are popular and loved is if the line stretches outside the building for hours. Best of all is if some guests never even make it inside. To facilitate this, cram your side of the line with absolutely everyone you can think of--parents, brothers, sisters, family pets, you name it. Everyone loves a good line. They'll get to meet loads of people and have great conversations with all of them!
If your beloved brother or sister is on a mission or at a home for unwed mothers or is maybe just going through a gawky phase, cardboard cutouts with their faces superimposed are awesome stand-ins. The life-sized George W. Bush cutouts work well not only because he is already in a suit but also because his image will bring a special spirit. You can even put the cutouts in the receiving line when you need to spell some whiner who passes out after 3 hours. Or just keep them there from the get-go.
You must have a garter toss. Must, must, must. Extra points if the groom goes for it with his teeth. Always classy, never @$$y. ALSO you must demand that all the single women get up to fight over your bouquet. Make sure to maybe point at a few of the women who especially could use it, like the over-30s or recently divorced, because that will make them feel special.
Have a chocolate fountain. Not only will the children in the crowd use the chocolate for artistic purposes, mostly for improving their own clothing and the clothing of those around them, but it's almost mesmerizing to watch the cascading streaks of oil they use to keep the chocolate smooth. Shiny . . .
Best timesaver ever: Leave generic thank-you notes for people to pick up on the way out. With thank-yous out of the way, that's hours you can dedicate to canoodling and watching your wedding video again some more.
What have I forgotten?