Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Plan Your Dream Wedding on a Budget

As a follow-up to my Mashable post on How To: Plan a Wedding on the Web, I've posted some additional wedding planning information.

Wedding planning can be overwhelming, especially when considering the price tag. With so many details to take care of and options to choose from, it’s no wonder that there are professional wedding planners to coordinate their dream wedding. But for couples on a budget (or those who just want a more active role planning their wedding) this may not be an option. Fortunately, there are many online resources available to offer advice, ideas, and even some deals. Your big day can be everything you had hoped for- without breaking your bank account.

Go Beyond the Big Sites for Inspiration
The Knot and Martha Stewart Weddings are incredibly rich with resources (more on that below). However, they’re not the only wedding websites out there. Many smaller sites and blogs provide inspiration with gorgeous photos, in depth information, and suggestions from real weddings. Best of all, they feature emerging brands (who generally have friendlier price tags) and thrifty ideas. Some of my favorites include:

Green Wedding Shoes
Kiss The Groom
Polka Dot Bride
Something Old, Something New
Sugar Love Weddings
Vintage Glam Weddings

Find Affordable Attire
National retailers like J. Crew have added Wedding sections with reasonably-priced options for the entire wedding party. Ann Taylor sells mix-and-match bridesmaids’ dresses, and hosts a user-uploaded photo collection of their dresses in real weddings. David’s Bridal is another affordable retailer that further streamlines the process with its Dress Your Wedding tool. The web app is a “virtual dress rehearsal” that enables couples to try out styles and color combinations on virtual models. If you’re dying for a designer dress, check online for sample sales and trunk shows. Even Kleinfeld has a sale coming up.

Dazzle With DIY Details
Printable invitations have come a long way. Invite Site and Paper Source offer high quality designs that could easily be confused for custom work. For finishing touches, print with a custom font, add ribbon, or even create a stamp with your picture on it. Glö, which launches next month, will offer customizable paperless invitations that combine with wedding websites and guest list management. Crafty individuals can find ideas for favors and decor on My DIY Wedding Day and I-Do-It-Yourself.

Create a Registry for the Things You Want
Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. If you prefer something other than a blender or gravy boat, consider some alternative registry options. Have your sights set on an amazing honeymoon? Websites like Traveler’s Joy and Honey Luna enable guests to contribute to individual experiences (candlelit dinner, gondola ride) or the trip as a whole. Even Starwood Hotels, home of Sheraton and W Hotels, have caught on to the honeymoon registry trend.

Want to use your big day as an opportunity to give back? JustGive.org has a database of nearly 1.5 million charities and the aptly named I Do Foundation has partnered with non-profits in a variety of fields, from healthcare and education to the environment and social justice. Additionally, Heifer International, an established organization committed to. creating sustainable sources of food and income, offers its own registry.

Love wine? Check out Morrell’s. Passionate about art? Art-Exchange has its own registry. Want a little bit of everything? My Registry, Zank You, and Wish Pot enable couples to add individual items from any store.

Use Local Forums to Find Deals
As previously mentioned, the large wedding sites have their advantages, one of them being their broad reach. The Knot has local boards based on region, with at least one dedicated board per state. Brides has a local vendors section, complete with photos from real weddings. On the Wedding Channel’s community, user profiles include location, making it easy to reach out to other brides in the area.

Don’t Forget to Have Fun!
Wedding planning can have its stressful moments, but don’t forget to have fun! After all, the wedding is a celebration of your love and commitment to one another, gifts more valuable than anything money can buy.

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