For Dana Cross, it was the tulle lining of her wedding dress.
Cross, from Minneapolis, didn't test her wedding dress on the narrow, candle-lined aisle. When she started walking down the aisle at her December wedding, wedding planner Amy Rubins saw the tulle rubbing against the candles. Rubins, owner of Fete Perfection in Minneapolis, jumped in and held the dress for the remainder of the walk.
"My wedding dress almost caught on fire," Cross said.
And then there were her blue-beaded Kate Spade shoes that kept snagging on the tulle.
"It wasn't the walk I thought I would have," Cross said. "I was shuffling my feet because my tulle was tangled and my wedding planner was holding my dress."
It's a rare bride who doesn't have a regret or two about her wedding, from a missed photo op, to a silly splurge, to Uncle Jerry's unfortunate third drink. Brides, experts and online wedding forums highlight a broad range of potential pitfalls, from clumsy amateur wedding photos to overpriced venues to being so stressed out about getting the details right that you forget to savor a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Some brides regret spending too much time greeting guests; others say they wish they'd spent more time. Still, if there are no right answers, there are some general guidelines.
"My advice to [the brides] is to pick their top three non-negotiables," said Ashley Ebert, owner and planner at Simply Elegant Events in St. Paul. "If you haven't thought about it now and it's a month out, then to me it says it's unimportant to you, and that's OK."
Maybe your three big priorities are a handcrafted cake, a silk-satin designer dress and a mandatory playlist. That's fine, but remember that the groom is also entitled to his must-haves.
One of the most common regrets is scrimping on photography, with blog editors saying that professionals offer real advantages over well-meaning relatives, even for budget-conscious brides.
"Unless you're steeped in the wedding industry, you don't realize how skilled wedding photographers are, how much time and effort and talent goes into what they do," said Holley Simons, an editor at Weddingbee.com. "That's something I've seen time and again, brides wishing they'd put a little more money into that aspect."
Catherine Clark, an editor at Offbeatbride.com, said that wedding coordinators also are a hot topic, with some brides saying they wish they had made that investment. For roughly $250 to $750, a coordinator will function as the go-to-person, doing setup, herding friends and relatives and making sure the ceremony and reception run smoothly.
Bridal party choices are a recurring theme, with Clark saying that weddings bring out strong emotions, which, in turn, can lead to tensions and rifts.
Among her suggestions for brides-to-be: Choose only your closest friends of all time to be your bridesmaids, not your close pals of the moment; resist being swayed too strongly by the opinions of well-meaning relatives, and offer your bridesmaids the chance to opt out without guilt. If a friend is, say, living far away or financially strapped, your sincere understanding will head off stress and frustration on both sides.
Some wedding regrets are small. But that doesn't always mean that they don't linger.
"I wish I hadn't noticed the mistakes at my reception," said Allison Moir-Smith, author of "Emotionally Engaged: A Bride's Guide to Surviving the 'Happiest' Time of Her Life" (Hudson Street Press).
"The Porta John tent sides were up so you could see [them] from the reception site. Does anyone else who went to my wedding — 120 people 12 years ago — remember that? It's just a ridiculous thing for me to remember from that magical day."
You can't regret-proof your wedding, but you can take steps to ensure that you fully appreciate it.
Don't look for mistakes. Everyone is doing their best, and life isn't perfect, Moir-Smith said. And if — when — gaffes occur, enjoy them. Moir-Smith was horrified when the DJ played Kenny G during the cake cutting, but then she burst out laughing — a moment that yielded her best wedding photos.
Lastly, don't expect everybody to notice all your special touches. If you have friends who would get a big kick out of details like your monogrammed dance floor or handmade place cards, then tell them what to look for.
"You have to ask for it," Moir-Smith said. "Don't be a princess expecting other people to see the details."
Staff writer Karen Zamora contributed to this report.