If you ask your parents and grandparents how they planned their weddings, you may get very different responses, and there’s a fair chance you will find both pretty amusing. One thing is for certain – it depended on the financial situation of the household, especially the bride’s. In “well-to-do” families, mother and daughter planned and father wrote the checks. Moving into the latter half of the 20th century, there were wedding planners who worked with the bride, taking care of all of the arrangements from flowers, to caterer, to reception venue and menu.
Today, the wedding industry is estimated to be at about $53 billion. And given that couples will still get engaged and married, the average cost of a wedding (currently at about $30,000) will continue to grow.
Like every other industry, however, technology has disrupted the wedding niche. While there is not yet a domestic robot to take over, couples are discovering that they can use any number of digital tools to plan every aspect of their wedding themselves, at the same time and saving some cash and get exactly what they want. Good-bye wedding planners. Perhaps the really wealthy will still use you.
Be like a nerd from “The Big Bang Theory.” Use these great tools and get that wedding planned like a “boss.”
The All-Purpose Wedding Planning Site – Wedding Wire
If you want the convenience of finding every tool you need for a wedding plan, this site is probably your first stop. Here you will find an array of tools – create your own website, set and track your budget, create your seating arrangements as guests RSVP, track your guests in terms of their responses, gifts, hotel accommodations, a checklist for easy reference, and a tool to track all vendor progress, deadline dates, payments, etc.
Just using these tools alone will cover all of the planning so that nothing is left to chance. In addition to these free tools, though, there are links to vendors by city, including pricing, reviews by other couples, and a list of all the services they offer. Over 200,000 wedding-related vendors are included on the site, with over 2.5 million reviews.
Picking a Venue – Wedding Spot
So, this is a tool that will let your search for a venue by location, price, size, style, and more. You can enter keywords, such as “casual” or “formal”; you can select a price range; you can narrow search by number of projected guests; and you can get floor plans, so that you can arrange your seating as guests respond.
There is also information about hotel accommodations in the near vicinity of your venue and the ability to establish blocks of rooms at discounted prices.
Finding Photographers, Caterers, and Music
Some of the comprehensive wedding planning sites feature vendors by local area, so that can be a start – In addition to Wedding Wire featured above, there is TheKnot or MyWedding. But there are also niche specific tools, including:
And here’s a new twist on wedding photography. How about renting a photo booth for all of the guests to use? Then can enter the booth, take shots, get instant photos, and then access the wedding website afterward for great high resolution copies? This is a great fun touch to a wedding, and tech makes it all possible.
Catering: If your reception venue does not already include a full kitchen and catering service, you can locate caterers at LocalCatering or Gigsalad. Be certain that there is a tasting session provided, so that you can pick the hors d’oeuvres and main dishes, depending upon your food plan.
Bartenders, DJ’s, and Musicians: Gigmasters is a great site for locating local talent. Depending on your venue, you may have to hire an independent bartender or they will have one you must use. But the music is strictly your responsibility. Gigmasters lets you pick between DJ or live music, provide customer reviews, and you will be able to search for style and type. Most musicians will supply a video for you to view as well, or at least point you to their Facebook page where you can listen to their music.
All of these aspects of a wedding can be time-consuming; fortunately, having good online wedding tools that provide solid and honest information saves a boatload of that precious time.
Those “Save the Date” and Invitations - Canva or Vista Print
No need to pay a professional to design your mailings. There are an amazing number of templates with both of these tools for “save-the-date” and invitation styles. You can match styles with the overall theme of your wedding (formal, semi-formal, casual, beach, etc.), design your own with a few simple clicks and typing in the information, and you’re good to go. The beauty of VistaPrint is that they will print them on paper you request and ship them straight to you, and at an amazingly reasonable cost.
And if you want to go completely digital and email your communications, try Paperless Post. You can upload your designs and your email list. They even keep track of who has actually opened the emails and provide you progress reports.
And the Clothes
So, here’s where a bride and bridesmaids can save big time. According to StatisticsBrain, the average cost of a wedding dress in the U.S. is $1053. Add accessories for $144 and a headpiece and veil for $119, and you have a hefty price tag for a one-day affair.
There are cheaper options, and brides are taking advantage of them. How about a used wedding dress or, better, renting one? Millennials are not as hung up on their wedding gowns as previous generations, and that is probably why these tools/sites are so hot right now.
Nearly Newlywed is a site that sells used wedding gowns. A bride can order a dress and take five days to decide if she wants it or not. After the big day, she can also sell it back again. Rent the Runway will let brides rent dresses for up to eight days. Union Station is a rental site for bridesmaid dresses.
And AR has hit the fashion industry too. Brides.com has the option of trying on bridal gowns virtually to narrow options and make a selection. This site also has an interactive checklist which is pretty comprehensive and useful.
Let Your Fingers do the Work
The old Yellow Pages phone books used to have a saying – “Let your fingers do the walking.” This old-school thought is perfect for wedding planning. If you find the right tools, you are going to save time, money, and a whole bunch of stress. Get planning!