Congratulations on your upcoming nuptials! You set a date, negotiated a budget, and started your online search for everything from monogrammed cocktail napkins to the best ways to write custom vows to the perfect dress for your figure. Welcome to the wonderful chaos that is planning a wedding in 2016!
The field of wedding websites, blogs and online retailers is vast, and everyone has an opinion or a suggestion. Your mind is swimming with a million small details – all of which are amazing ideas that would make fabulous additions to your big day. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, it can be challenging to balance work, life and wedding planning when there is so much information to take in and process. Wading through thousands of images of inspiration online, hearing advice from your well-meaning friends and family, trying to stay within your budget and making it all come together on schedule is hard work.You need a strategy to organize the details. Here are a few resources to help you find ideas that inspire you, then keep track of them and share them with those that matter to you and your big day.
There is, of course, the mama of all wedding sites, TheKnot.com. You can spend hours in its chat rooms, read reviews of major vendors and look at thousands of dresses and bouquets, all on one mega site. This is a fabulous resource, but many of today’s brides crave something a bit more unique, a bit more “me.” Brides aiming to keep things local will also need to look elsewhere as many smaller, specialty vendors and purveyors do not advertise on The Knot. Fortunately, there are great alternatives.
As a professional event planner, here are few of my favorite inspirational websites:
Style Me Pretty: An amazing blog with gorgeous photos of real weddings, you’ll love their specialty guides for destination and eco-green weddings. stylemepretty.com
Ruffled: This site offers DIY tutorials for easy and realistic projects, template downloads for some of their most popular projects and a section where you can “recycle” your wedding purchases for others to use once your day is over or find great deals on items from other brides. ruffledblog.com
Lover.ly: Similar to Pinterest.com, but more than just a way to search and save inspirational images, Lover.ly connects you directly with vendors who can provide many of the items you view. You’ll love the search by color feature. lover.ly
Equally Wed: This site features real weddings and ideas for same-sex weddings. It’s a great resource for those looking for “gay friendly” vendors and unique finishing touches. equallywed.com
Etsy: The perfect place to find personal gifts for your bridal party, an artist to design custom invitations, even handmade wedding gowns, this site has done an amazing job of connecting small craftsmen and artists with customers. etsy.com
Now, how do you keep all of these sites straight and share them in a manageable way with all those you love? One way to organize your wedding inspiration is through Pinterest.com, the hugely popular website that allows you to pin images from links that you like and share them with your followers. If you’re shopping online and see a pair of heels that would be perfect for your rehearsal dinner, pin them. If you’re looking at a blog and see a boutonniere that your groom would love, pin it.
You can create one large “wedding board” with every idea you come across, or you can make sub-boards that allow you to develop your options and make selections. This is a great way to share with out-of-town bridesmaids, your planner or anyone who might have an opinion on your big day and how to make it the most beautiful event of your life. You can even make secret boards to share with select individuals, like your fiancé.
Once you’ve gathered your inspiration, rely on your event planner. Professional wedding planners spend a lot of time on wedding websites. They see these details put to the test in real life events, they know where the best vendors are and ways to work discounts and they are a great resource for taking your inspiration and making it a reality.
It’s easy to get swept up in comparing your wedding plans to the photos you see featured online. Above all, remember that the most important thing is to plan a wedding that is a celebration of your love for one another. That’s something that will truly inspire others, regardless of whether your favorite blog decides to feature your wedding photos.