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Wedding

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How to Use Wedding Sites

Weddings are a fantastic, exciting time in a person’s life. Expenses for this event can range from minimal (probably starting in the $4000.00 range) to extravagant, like hundreds of thousands of dollars ~ yikes! If you are planning to spend hundreds of thousands you most likely have a wedding planner arranging everything for you and won’t benefit from our recommendations. However, if you are looking for some useful advice from people who have done this on a tight budget, this is that place.

5 steps to make the most of your online wedding sites:

Step 1: As soon as the term “wedding” comes into play it seems that the prices for normal things jump exponentially just because they are attached to a wedding. As a rule of thumb, when pricing out items like bands, cakes, venues, etc., don’t mention it’s for a wedding right off the bat – get your quotes first for a “party” of x amount of people and only let them know it’s a wedding when you’re ready to book.

Step 2: Know your dates and a rough headcount before you start shopping for venues or anything else. Wedding planning relies on dates. Venue availability, dress delivery and alteration time-frame, honeymoon scheduling, etc., will dictate what you rule in or out. As a bridesmaid, understand that your dress is going to have to be made for you and it can take a few MONTHS to get this done – make sure you are picking out what you want early enough to leave time for any alterations that have to be done after it arrives. As a bride, these dates are usually a lot longer and include a few more alterations and dress-pressing. Make sure you’re not leaving anything until the last minute. Guests should also be aware that gift items can take longer than expected to be delivered, especially if these are being personalized.

Step 3: Bride/Groom, start to think about what you want to do and what you definitely don’t want to do yourself (like making decorations, gifts, name tags, your own dress if you’re that talented, etc.,) for the wedding. Come up with reasonable expenses for every component and set a budget. You will most likely go over this budget but it is good to start there.

Step 4: Understand the website policies which includes delivery time frames as well as minimum ordering amounts. Always check and double check your personalized order for things like favors, programs, seating charts, and invitations. These are things you don’t want to have typos on and it’s a very costly mistake to have to get them redone.

Step 5: Start early enough so that you can hold out for discounts – many wedding sites offer great deals (especially in non-peak times) if you can wait for a coupon or clearance.

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Wedding Planning & Coordination

Here are the customer top picks we found which always seem to be the front-runners on most wedding forums. These selections are praised for their “all-around” usefulness as resources and not for any one specialty (those are identified in the subsequent categories). The following sites provide wedding checklists, help with planning, guides for proper etiquette and vendor and venue directories. They pretty much take the place of a human wedding planner once you learn how to navigate them.

The Knot

The Knot is a free site which provides ample information and tools for how to plan a wedding, reviews for services and vendors, the ability to create a personalized free wedding website where guests can RSVP and reserve hotels for the wedding, as well as a registry setup. Average review scores of the Knot are low but these are mostly from vendors who have had problems advertising through them. Brides report positive experiences using the site, with the exception of missing some of the local vendors who are not listed yet and the consensus is that most people prefer WeddingWire’s forum.

Wedding Wire

WeddingWire is said to have a better forum than the Knot as well as a better RSVP system for their personalized websites. This site is also free and offers a simpler solution to build your own wedding site which is easy to setup and the site is a bit less complex to navigate than other wedding sites.

Appy Couple

Starting at $49.00 (one-time fee) AppyCouple is an app-based alternative to building a personalized wedding website. Guests have the option to download the app for free in order to share photos, messages, etc., but do not have to download anything since you also get a regular website and other communication mechanisms such as email, text, to notify your guests through. AppyCouple allows the bride/groom to add the modules they want to use. People seem to love this for its all-in-one features, ease of use, and sleek design.

Wedding Invitations

You don’t have to spend a fortune on beautiful invitations anymore.

EtsyLogo

Etsy

Etsy has listings for vendors who offer custom made invitations. Many of these are unique and beautiful and come at a low price.

Minted

Minted is a printing site where you can get printed invitations, wedding programs, place-cards, save-the-date announcements and more. They offer a matching website so that guests can do a paperless RSVP if they wish. Check out the all-in-one invites which includes the Envelope, Invite, RSVP all within one conveniently folded piece of paper.

Invitations By Dawn

We struggled with listing this since they have a bad customer service reputation (gleaned from several complaints), but this site has won numerous awards and is praised highly for its great quality and low prices. So if this is a consideration for you, be aware going into it that while their product is solid, this company’s support staff doesn’t seem to quite have it together (yet?).

Bridal/Party Dresses

Everyone wants to look beautiful on this special day but a one-time-wear dress shouldn’t break the bank, and doesn’t have to. Here are our recommendations for dress options that will keep you looking fabulous on a budget.

Our Pick

Azazie

We can’t say enough about how much we love this site. For an online best-in-class experience you couldn’t ask for any more than what you will get at Azazie. If extremely well priced, beautifully CUSTOM tailored dresses made to fit your exact body measurements, incredibly fast delivery times and exceptional customer service isn’t enough for you, I’m not sure we can help. The Azazie dresses also include plus sizes. This site is mainly Bridesmaid-dress focused, but recently added wedding dresses to their selection as well.

Your Dream Dress

A strictly online bridal dress store (no bridesmaid or formal dresses here), YourDreamDress sells designer wedding dresses at affordable prices by purchasing new, overbuys, sample, cancelled wedding gowns without alterations, etc. All gowns are in new (or worn only as a sample) condition. YourDreamDress has a no risk return policy so you can return the dress within 3 days for a full refund of the dress price (minus shipping costs).

Wedding Favors & Decorations

Here are suggestions for sites that have unique and inexpensive favors, gifts, and decorations.

Our Pick

The Knot Shop

TheKnotShop’s products are amazing – and could easily be used for any party, not just weddings. They have decorations and ceremony items, favors, and gifts for the wedding party or for the bride and groom. From personalized groomsmen cooler/chairs for less than $20.00 to Paper Lantern Hot-Air Balloons, this place has some of the coolest decorations and favors you will find, and at great prices. Customer satisfaction and review scores are through the roof (mostly 5 stars) for this site, making it our top pick in wedding favors.

Oriental Trading

While the quality of most of these items is fairly cheap, the prices are really good. Be sure to read the reviews and understand the assembly required with each product. We bought their tins for our wedding and had to sticker, fill, and ribbon each one, but they came out adorable and were very reasonable.

Wedding Favors Unlimited

We included WeddingFavorsUnlimited because of their good prices and unique items. This company offers a price match guarantee and runs various sales throughout the year on shipping, etc. Customer reviews for this site are consistently positive but mishaps have happened when customers did not confirm what they were getting exactly in their personalizations.

Tips & Tricks

  • An easy way to cut costs is to use fake flowers instead of real ones. They cost less, are made ahead of time so there’s no last minute scrambling, you can keep them afterwards, and the quality these days makes it hard to tell that they are actually not real. We had a great experience ourselves with TheFauxBouquets, who will actually buy the flowers back after the wedding so you can feel good about recycling as well. Reasonably priced and environmentally friendly, what more could you want?
  • Make a personalized playlist of songs to play while your guests are waiting for the ceremony. It’s a nice touch and makes the wedding more enjoyable for your guests. We played a lot of Enya to help set a romantic mood.
  • If you have been living with your betrothed-to-be for some time you might not need kitchen utensils on your registry. Explore alternatives such as giving guests the option to contribute to your honeymoon excursions or a down payment on a house. Sites like Zola make it possible to register for any vendors or any “funds” you would like to set up.