I love weddings. Something about the whole process screams fairytale romance. So, I’ve gone ahead and compiled some great tips from weddings expert, Cara Davis! Go on and enjoy…and leave a comment to let Media Maven & Cara Davis know how we’ve helped your fantasy day come true! And now, here’s Cara…
While you’ve likely been planning your wedding for years, the Internet offers a seemingly bottomless database of online resources for your big day. Here are 13 must-see wedding websites to help in your planning, inspiration and execution of the ultimate celebration of love.
This beautiful site features a blog, marketplace and vendor request section where you can submit your wedding needs and budget and allow vendors to bid for the job.
A perfect solution for today’s modern bride looking for an alternative to a traditional registry, Card Avenue allows you to register for gift cards to national retailers. Guests can contribute any amount they like and even take advantage of savings by purchasing discount gift cards.
This site is chock-full of wedding planning tools, including creating a personal website, budget tools and an RSVP manager.
No one wants a cookie-cutter wedding! Offbeat’s approach will spark creative ideas and connect you with vendors who think out-of-the-box.
Founder Emily Newman started this site as the only free listing service for used gowns. Now she has a media empire with Once Wed, which includes a newly published magazine.
Don’t just pin and repin. Set up multiple boards for each aspect of your wedding and invite your maids and moms to weigh in on such important decisions as side-swept hair or chignon?
A leader for creating free, personal wedding websites, this is another one-stop-shop for wedding planning and resources. Tip: Set up a personal domain name, like EricandErin.info to forward to your wedding website URL.
This UK-based website is brimming with nontraditional, unique and beautiful wedding ideas. If all things pastel and princess are not your thing, you’ll feel right at home here.
Pre-wedding, browse this collection of DIY projects and real wedding inspirations. Post-wedding, list your items for resale for free in the Recycle Your Wedding section.
The gorgeous photography featured on this blog is unparalleled and will leave you clicking through galleries from real weddings and vendors for hours.
Boards and classifieds connect you with other brides while DIY and template section and a wiki will get you hands-on in no time.
There’s plenty to love about this site, but one of the best features is its extensive printable online invitation suites. Print your own custom, designer invites for the cost of the ink and paper!
Think of it as Pinterest solely for weddings. This site features gorgeous photography and days’ worth of unique, modern ideas for today’s celebrations.
No one wants a cookie-cutter wedding. The day you tie the knot should be as unique as your individual personalities. There’s a quote that says, “The universe is not made of atoms. It’s made of tiny stories.” Just as you’re coming together as man-and-wife, allow your creativity to spill into the details you’re sharing on your wedding day.
1. Craft a story.
Telling your story as a couple as you approach the altar is a powerful way to connect with your guests and chronicle your journey to this point. Think of every element of your wedding — from the invites to the wedding favors — as a chance to craft a story from beginning to happily ever after. Don’t be afraid to incorporate religious or ethnic touches that are special to you.
2. Pick a theme.
A well-executed theme can add loads of personality to your wedding day without looking cheesy — like these Lego, hockey and 50s-themed weddings. By picking a theme that’s already a hobby or interest, you’re likely to already own a lot of materials you can incorporate into the decor.
3. Pick a repeating element.
If a theme is a bit much for your taste, focus on one element you can repeat throughout the printed materials, decor and attire for big impact, like these feathers or parasols.
4. Go handmade.
Making decor by hand ensures that the look of your wedding is one-in-a-million. Consider paper or fabric flowers (like these cuties) or buy a custom wedding stamp to personalize all your paper goods.
5. Shop vintage.
Shopping for vintage or thrift items for your wedding and reception may save you some time and headache over everything handmade. A vintage wedding dress customized with modern accessories could be the thing that makes your wedding standout and memorable.
6. Register for gift cards.
Create a wedding registry online at CardAvenue and register for the the stores you most like to shop at nationwide, instead of just one or two generic ones that offer wedding registries.
Stick closely to your theme but allow variations to create a unique look and feel. Think non-matching bridesmaids dresses and a menagerie of vintage vases of differing sizes in the same hue as centerpieces.
8. Re-imagine the guest book.
Set up an iPad to record or photograph guests as they enter, or set up something unique for your guests to sign that you’ll incorporate into your home decor later (a signed vintage map from your location, smooth rocks you can use in a clear vase). In our fall wedding we scattered colored paper leaves on the welcome table and pens and used the leaves in our wedding scrapbook.
9. Festive food.
Marry at a non-traditional time or place and you can pull off a unique reception for cheap. Think coffee bar & pastries for a mid-morning wedding, or a Memorial Day wedding on the lake for a laid-back barbecue dinner.
10. Send off in style.
Forget bubbles, sparklers and bird seed (some venues won’t even allow them due to the cleanup involved). Offer wrapped candy for tossing (which the kids are sure to clean up without complaining), release balloons or have your guests create a human arch or a large paper banner for you run through. For a nighttime wedding, fireworks or glow sticks create a fun and colorful goodbye.
Some brides dream of their wedding day from the time they’re old enough to play dress-up. Some even start making plans before they’re engaged. But plenty of couples find themselves wanting to get married on a time-table that doesn’t allow for meticulous planning.
If you’re planning a wedding — whether three weeks or three months out — here are some challenges you’ll face, and how to address them in a budget-friendly way. It’s still one of the biggest days of your life, no matter how much time that goes into planning, and you deserve to have the most memorable and beautiful event you can imagine.
Challenge #1 – Venue
One of your biggest challenges will be finding a venue that’s not already booked. However, you may find that some of the most economical places to marry aren’t traditional wedding venues. Think private homes, city parks and even city hall. Contact your local visitors’ bureau for ideas.
Challenge #2 – Dress
You won’t have much time for alterations, which are costly anyway, so pick a dress that fits off the rack. David’s Bridal often has a clearance section where you can pick a dress for $99. A bride friend of mine purchased two dresses off eBay in different sizes and simply returned the one that didn’t fit. The other fit perfectly. (Make sure to check return policies first.)
Challenge #3 – Photography
Since many wedding vendors, including photographers, often book up to a year in advance you might have trouble finding one available on your day. Ask for recommendations from friends, but don’t overlook local college students, who are more likely to shoot your wedding on a dime, work really hard and try newer, more modern treatments on your photos (if you’d like).
Challenge #4 – Food
The reception is always the most expensive and hard-to-plan-for part of your big day, so take the sting out by getting married in between meal times (afternoon, perhaps) and giving your reception a theme: like a dessert buffet. Or stick with cake, punch and simple finger foods. Instead of using a catering service, order from a local grocery store or, like bride Becki Fowler, from a big box retailer like Costco. “Everyone was surprised to hear our wedding was catered by Costco!” she told the retailer.
Challenge #5 – Registry
If you’re marrying in a hurry, you probably don’t have time to think about setting up a traditional registry. Spread the word among family and friends that you’d really appreciate cash (perhaps toward a large purchase you’re hoping to make), or sign up for a gift card wedding registry at CardAvenue, where you can select gift cards to hundreds of national chains, like Home Depot or Crate&Barrel.
Challenge #6 – Officiant
If your state laws allow it, have a mutual friend get certified online. Other states let you marry yourselves but you can still have a friend (not certified) conduct the ceremony. Just check the appropriate box and the marriage license and voila! Husband and wife.
Challenge #7 – Flowers
Pick up stems from the grocery store or florist (which are cheaper than a formal bouquet) and arrange in mason jars (look at stores like Big Lots or Walmart for discount jars). Hand-tie bouquets to save on costly arranging.
Challenge #8 – Invitations
There’s no shame in your game if you use e-vites or Facebook to get the word out about your last-minute wedding and ditch mailed invitations. Evite.com has some great designs to elegantly convey your message without the cost. Keep in mind some folks might not use email or social media (like Grandma), so delegate a family member to make the necessary phone calls to relay the details.
Challenge #9 – Guest List
After the wedding you can send out formal wedding announcements (with a pretty photo from the big day) to everyone you know, but keep the big day itself small. The smaller your guest list, the cheaper your wedding will be, the less stress it will be to plan and the more intimately it will be remembered. If you want to include a large crowd in your celebration, organize a reception party when you have more time.
Challenge #10 – Travel
Don’t feel pressured to jet off to your dream honeymoon when you barely have time (and money) to plan your wedding day. Just wait. Take your time to plan your dream vacation when funds are replenished and you’ve got the space to relax, plan and enjoy.
Looking for a custom invitation without spending upwards of $700? The average cost of wedding invitations and reply cards is $659, according to 2010 data from The Bridal Association of America.
Here are some ways to trim costs for your 2012 wedding. When using these tips, expect to pay around $200 for 100-150 invitations.
1. Establish the Look
Use Pinterest to browse for invitations from which to draw your inspiration. Start a board and “pin” examples. Once you find a direction you’d like to go in, you’re ready to start on your very own. There are several options for today’s budget bride including free online templates, designing it from scratch or ordering at a discount.
2. Use a Template
There are several online printers that are affordable. Some offer wedding invitation templates, and if you’re feeling like you don’t want to try designing an invitation yourself and don’t have access to a designer, this is the way to go. One of the best sites with customizable templates I’ve seen lately is WeddingChicks.com. They offer entire invitation suites for free (invitation, rsvp card, table numbers, escort card, etc.), and you can edit it all online, instead of relying on software. Oh – and the designs are modern and gorgeous.
3. Design it Yourself
Use a stock photography sites like iStock or Shutterstock where can search for stock illustrations and graphics. Search for illustrations or vectors similar to the look you’re going for by using keywords like “swirl,” “scroll,” “vintage,” “invitation,” etc.
Using your inspiration invitation, find a font(s) that closely matches your look by searching websites like DaFont.com and UrbanFonts.com.
4. Save on Printing
If you create you own design, look for a printer who specializes in invitation printing so you’re sure to get the type of paper you need. Online vendors like PSPrint.com and VistaPrint.com provide online quotes for easy cost comparison. Before using any site to order invitations, find online coupons from CouponSherpa.com for money-saving discounts you can use toward your purchase. Some of these sites regularly run specials like 25% off on invitations. Plus, when using a new site, always sign up for newsletters or free loyalty accounts.
5. Think Small
If you’d like a separate RSVP card, consider making it the size of a business card and include a URL where guests can register. When the RSVP was a web address, there is no need to make the RSVP card postcard size to return, so you’ll saved money on printing costs and return postage (and extra envelopes!). ProjectWedding.com offers free wedding websites where you can track RSVPs, but there are other sites that offer this service as well.
6. Picture Perfect
Bride Erin added a really cool touch to her invitations to ensure that it wasn’t quickly tossed. On the back on the wedding invitation she included a photo of her and Eric from their professional engagement portrait session. It printed beautifully and now her friends and family have a photo they can keep of the couple. The cost to print on the backside was nominal and she saved a lot of money by not developing pictures separately.
7. Off the Shelf
Printing custom invites still out of your budget range? Craft stores offer kits you can use on your home printer. Nashville bride Amanda says, “We’re making our own invitations from those prepackaged kits you can buy at any office supply store. We’re doing all the invitations for $80, and they’re actually quite pretty.”
8. Handmade Touch
A big trend for weddings and paper goods these days is using a personalized, custom rubber stamp. Etsy.com artisans offer both custom and pre-designed choices, while sites like PictureMyStamp.com allow you to upload your own art. Antiquaria Design Studio offers some absolutely stunning customizable stamps for weddings. The bonus? Use your stamp to customize paper goods for the wedding — like the wedding program, water bottle wraps, paper bags and more.