05 January 2010

Weddings and WoM: 5 Wedding Planning Tips From a Soon to Be Bride

Ooh, this cake looks yummy! I'm thinking of getting a similar one myself (though it will be square).

Oh, right... I'm getting married for those who weren't already aware!

Though the wedding industry has seen a decline in the past year or so, word of mouth (WoM) marketing must be peaking. I can tell you this first hand - who else would you trust to help you plan one of the biggest events in your life other than your most trusted family and friends?

Well, perhaps a wedding planner, but not all of us have the funds to hire a professional! Plus, I like handling the details myself.

So, for those ladies and gents steeped in wedding blogs, DIY books and online wedding communities, here are my WoM recommendations for planning your special day. Please feel free to comment with additional tips and tricks as I'm still in the planning process, myself!

1. Google Docs
Google Docs are by far my preferred method for document sharing and collaborative editing. I've created wedding guest lists, shower lists, budgets, song lists, sample programs and more using Google Docs. I share everything with my fiance to avoid version control issues and we access our library of documents virtually everywhere since they're linked to our Google accounts. It's great!

2. Etsy.com
Etsy.com is an online community and marketplace that provides artisans and craftspeople an intimate but effective platform to market and sell their goods. Etsy has a pretty good selection of wedding items for sale. What I LOVE about the site is the ability to customize your items. Most sellers enable you to specify the colors, font or other requirements you need to personalize them for your wedding. Whether you're looking for wedding stationery, ceremony decor, scrapbooks, accessories or a dress, Etsy.com has a wide array of choices for a unique, and often vintage, feel.

If you want to add your own crafty touches to your wedding, Michael's has a great selection of DIY ideas, recipes and supplies. I spent three hours there just last week sorting through everything from guest books to wedding program materials to ribbons and glue guns!

3. Honeyfund
Rules on registries are becoming more and more lax (thank goodness!), so for those folks not enamored with the prospect of receiving china and crystal, why not consider asking guests and loved ones to gift you your honeymoon? Honeyfund.com is one of many Web sites that allows you to do just that. After you create your honeymoon registry (e.g., poolside massages for 2 = $200, romantic dinner for 2 = $150, elevator ride to the top of the Eiffel Tower for 2 = $170), you choose how you'd like to receive your "gifts," which can come in the form of checks in the mail, cash at the wedding or even direct deposits via PayPal. My fiance and I have registered with Honeyfund because the site doesn't take a percentage of our gifts - we get 100% of all honeymoon donations!

4. Costco
Honestly, Costco has A LOT of great options for wedding planning! For example, my fiance and I ordered our wedding invitations from Costco's partner, eInvite, and they turned out really well (look under the "Office Products" category, Costco members receive a 25% discount). In addition, the timing of our Save the Date mailing coincided with the holidays, so we created a photo card that doubled as a holiday card and Save the Date notice. We considered ordering our flowers from Costco, too, though we went with a wholesale flower mart in the end.

Costco is also a great place to pick up desserts if you're planning to have a dessert table or, if the cake of your dreams exceeds your budget, why not consider cutting out a layer and grabbing some sheet cakes from Costco to hide in the back? Chances are, your guests won't notice the difference! You might as well pick up paper plates, plastic forks and paper napkins while you're there, too!

Of course, Costco is a great place to pick up wine, sparkling wine, beer and other alcoholic delights, and don't forget all of the great travel deals available to Costco members that could serve as viable honeymoon options! I even bought "thank you" gifts from Costco for my bridal party since they had $125 worth of Spa Finder gift certificates for only $100 around the holidays (yes, I kept the free $25 gift certificates for myself!). As you can tell, I heart Costco big time!

5. TheKnot.com
Last but not least, I recommend joining an online community for additional wedding tips, color and style ideas and free wedding planning tools. Though I prefer the budget tools at OurWeddingDay.com, I am an avid fan of TheKnot.com (thank you for the original suggestion, Jasmine!). You can also try TheWeddingChannel.com. In addition to offering free customizable wedding websites, budgeting tools and wedding checklists, these sites have extensive photo galleries from real couples and real weddings. Personally, I love perusing weddings by color!

Of course, after you register with any of these Web sites, be prepared for a barrage of emails from their business partners (often targeting you by location) and daily emails reminding you that "90 items are overdue on your wedding checklist!" (or maybe those just come to me). Nevertheless, these online communities are great wedding planning resources and much better than any one book or bridal magazine I've seen so far. Without TheKnot.com, I wouldn't have an awesome escort card display and super cute wedding favors in mind. That's all I'm going to reveal for now!

These tips don't even begin to approach the amount of WoM referrals I've had for wedding cakes, florists, bands/DJs, dresses, venues, photographers, restaurants, destinations and more, but I hope to give back a little into the big pool of people seeking wedding planning information online. Best of luck to you and, remember: your wedding is only ONE DAY - it's your marriage that lasts forever!

Happy wedding planning!


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Oh! And for those looking to support a cause and in need of a wedding dress, check out Brides Against Breast Cancer: http://bridesagainstbreastcancer.org/