Advice for the bride to be..
It’s a daunting time when you first get engaged. It’s enormously overwhelming. I know that I just wanted to enjoy a few weeks of blissful happiness with hubby to be, but of course everyone was asking a bazillion questions. When is the big day? Where is the wedding? What are you going to wear? You feel stupid, but what you really want to say is “I have no freaking idea…!!!”
Thankfully the internet exists to make the planning and organizing all the details 56837907377211426945555 times easier.
If you are one of those lucky ladies who just got the rock on your finger, ENJOY IT, call friends & family, relax, have fun, spend time with your darling, and then consult this list for the best of the best online resources to help you plan a great day. I am including sites that helped me tremendously during my planning process… consider it a lesson that I lived & learned.
Seriously, bookmark it! It will be updated regularly.
First Things First..
Decide on Your Budget & Use Online Tools to Keep on Top of Planning
Google Planning – Create budgets, schedules & more with the tools from the masters of the web themselves.
My Wedding Planner from The Knot – Guest lists, budget, website, week-by-week wedding to-do list sent to your inbox!
One Wed’s Wedding Checklist – Checklist & a time line help you co ordinate your life.
Pick a Date… and Find a Venue
The Knot offers these tips on deciding upon a venue.
Here is a great directory of caterers from across the country courtesy of Quotes from Local Caterers.
Wedding Wire also have great catering listings by state.
Recommendations go a long way. I chose the lady that caters for my father’s office functions, and who sources locally & mostly organically since that was important to us. Ask around!
Wedding Wire have a great section on flower inspiration, as well as florist listings by state. I didn’t know a thing about flowers before my wedding.. luckily there are several people out there that do!
Here are some great tips on how to choose a wedding photographer, from WikiHow. Once you know what you want from your photos, Choose Your Wedding Photographer here at SnapKnot. Simply select your city and budget, and you can find your perfect photographer, or save their details for later.
Choose Your Colors!
This tool from David’s Bridal helps you coordinate pretty colors! 2 is usually the norm, 3 or 4 is sometimes do-able. For example, we had pink, orange & gold as an accent color (I know sounds gross but looks fab!)
Build a Personal Website (Those listed below are free)
I used My Wedding.com (See Brandon and I’s example below:)
Having a personal website is good for listing registry info, accommodation options for out of town guests, introducing the bridal party and making any other arrangements. Be careful to consider older guests who don’t necessarily use the internet however, in order not to alienate them from important information. (See this post on how to create a great wedding website.)
Save the Dates & Invites
These shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg, though should reflect your wedding theme in some way. If it’s going to be a casual day, don’t send out super formal invites & vice versa. See this site for advice on wording! For save the dates, an email is now considered acceptable and can keep down costs and of course uses less paper.
We were very happy with the service and quality of the invites we ordered from the Invitation Consultants. They offer free shipping over $75 too, which can make a big difference.
Find recycled invites here at Green Weddings!
Set Up a Registry (if you are having one). Add the details to your website!
National or online stores are best for out of town guests’ convenience. Some popular options:
If you don’t need more pots & pans, how about a customizable cash registry with style? From the lovely people at Deposit a Gift.
Honeymoon Registry Want to have your honeymoon bought by your guests? Traveler’s Joy lets you skip the traditional wedding gifts & allows guests to buy you a night’s accommodation, a dinner, part of a flight, a massage etc.
Wedding Registry for the Groom
The Man Registry specializes in wedding gifts tailored towards the groom – think BBQ sets, bar supplies, electronics and so on!
(Trust me on this, this is much easier said than done…)
Find Your Wedding Rings!
Try these sites for eco-friendly jewelry. Don’t know what that means? Check out this article.
I personally found the whole experience of shopping for my ring overwhelming and exhausting. Going into stores was really salesy and I was constantly being forced to try on styles I didn’t even like. Shopping online was eventually what worked for us.
Or, design your own at James Allen.
Select Your Bridesmaid Dresses
Dessy has some of the nicest, stylish dresses on the web. I like these twist dresses which allow your bridal party to wear their dresses in a way that suits their figure while keeping a consistent color and fabric theme. Also great for coordinating with your bmaids if they are scattered across the country (or in my case the world..)
For bridesmaid dresses under $50 - check out this post
Buy Your Accessories
Etsy lists custom made accessories and jewelry. Support the crafty people on here, they are awesome!
They also have handmade Veils/ Headpieces – customizable in some cases, if you have a specific style in mind.
Buy Your Wedding Shoes
Zappo’s offer free delivery and returns so you can buy several pairs and try them on with your dress (you don’t want to wear your dress to the store do you?!) Trust me when I say you are going to change your mind a hundred times on this and may even have to switch between flats & heels depending on your dress, or from the ceremony to the dancing (A great excuse to buy two pairs…)
Shawls/ Cardigans- You spent so long choosing that dress that you might not want to cover it up, but for an evening wedding or a chillier day don’t forget a shawl or cardigan. Those at BHLDN are simply stunning, though on the pricier side. You would definitely wear these again though!
I ended up buying a gold cardigan to match my dress, and bought 5 pashminas for my bridesmaids so that they didn’t freeze either!
Cardigan From Monsoon
Hair & Make Up - Project Wedding has a great list of vendors and reviews from brides too. (Hit ‘Change Location’ option for your area.)
Find more reviews on Yelp.com.
The Last Few Months
Organize Your Bachelorette Party?
In case you want to take charge & organize your own, the games over at Bridal Shower Games have great reviews.
Find Reception Decorations
Ruffled Blog has listing for gently used accessories and decorations to help you keep down the cost & stay green.
Lanterns, parasols, candles & centerpieces from Luna Bazaar are delivered to your door for ease. We got some fantastic lanterns, parasols and fans for our Asian-themed wedding from them and they were simply gorgeous!
Find green (not literally, I’m talking eco-friendly!) favors at Green Wedding.
Got time to make your own? Martha Stewart offers some great DIY ideas.
My Wedding Favors offer guests gifts from as little as $1 each. My favorite is the personalized lip balms!
We had very generous & talented friends offer to make our favors. The pink one is netting (pink and gold, our colors) holding mints (perfect for after dinner!) and tied together with ribbon. The green one was made by a Japanese friend, and is origami symbolizing good luck.
Find Gifts for Your Best Man/ Groomsmen
Groomsday.com presents great gifts – tell your guy to take a look!
Buy Gifts for Bridesmaids/ Maid of Honor
These bags from BeeGeeBags are an adorable gift for your ladies. They can even use them on your day!
Again I would recommend Etsy to find lovely jewelry, handmade cards, and accessories. Much nicer than finding gifts at chain stores. I bought my girls pearl bracelets which they wore for the ceremony, as well as a goody bag with a hand-picked book, underwear and other silly gifts inside.
Start Focusing on You!
Hey, now that all that stuff above is done, isn’t it about time you started whitening your teeth, got your hair done, toned up, started eating right? Luckily 30 Days is all you need to glow! (Shameless plug for my book =D )
Put Together Your Emergency Kit
Or delegate this task to a bridesmaid! See my list of wedding day essentials here.
And after the big day:
You don’t want it sitting in your wardrobe getting dusty do you? Recycled Bride let’s you list one item for free. It’s a great way to make some of your expenses back!
Blurb offers a great alternative to chunky photo albums.