You can’t throw a handful of rice without hitting a website devoted to weddings. They’re full of advice, which is great, because how else would you learn how much of your budget to designate for wedding favors and gifts (two to three percent) or how to word an invitation? Luckily, technology is making the whole process easier, and we compiled a list of apps and websites that can keep you organized, on track, and inspired. We included some wedding-centric sites that can help you pull everything together for your big day, but you’d be surprised how many apps and websites you already have on your phone or visit regularly that will be among the most helpful tools in your wedding-planning arsenal.
Mint’s great for providing a visual breakdown of where your money goes every month: student loans, rent or mortgage, food, video games… It can do the same for your wedding budget, especially if you’ve opened a joint wedding account. Your catering will automatically appear under “Restaurants,” but you can create a new “Catering” category. Since everything you spend on the wedding should come out of this account, you won’t forget to factor in the knickknacks you found at the flea market into the decorations budget.
If you’re keeping things separate, you’ll still need a way to track everything you, your future spouse, and your parents (if you’re lucky) are paying for. You can use Mint to create wedding-specific tags to designate purchases as “wedding food,” “wedding clothes,” etc. Though you’ll have to create and view them online, once they’re set up, you can tag expenses in the app. In order to pull these all together, you can export each tag’s expenses into Excel and go from there.
iOS / Android (Free)
Best for: Creating the guest list
While you don’t need a hard-and-fast guest list right away, getting a fairly accurate estimate how many guests you’ll have will dictate what sorts of venues you’re going to look at. That 80-person-capacity historic church will look a lot more appealing if you know you’d only have to pare down your list from 100 versus 250. Lots of people let their “Contacts” app gather everyone from their Facebook friends to their work colleagues to people they actually text and call. This can add up to thousands of contacts, but it’s better to go through the headache of scrolling through this than to leave someone important off the list. Just Google “forgot to invite someone to my wedding” to see how often this happens. Alternatively, you can sync your contacts with Google, then export them as .CSV file, which you can open as a spreadsheet. (Check out some Microsoft Office alternatives here.) This should give you all their email addresses, as well as home or work addresses, if you have them entered.
Venue: Though the Yelp category “Venues & Event Spaces” leaves something to be desired, the app that lets users review local businesses has details on almost every theater, religious building, and ballroom in cities throughout the U.S. Search for “venue,” “wedding,” or “married,” and you’ll get an idea of all the places — from museums to galleries to zoos to hotels to barns — that people have gotten hitched in your town.
Catering: Once you book your venue, they’ll probably hand you a list of preferred caterers. That doesn’t mean you have to choose one, unless they’re exclusive. If you want to branch out, you should be able to find some professional options on Yelp, or maybe you’ll get inspired to ask the last restaurant to which you gave a five-star review to make the food for your wedding.
Other vendors: Photographers, furniture rentals, florists — the lists of big decisions you have to make goes on and on. Yelp should be a good jumping-off point to search for finding everyone from a wedding coordinator to a magician
If you have a calendar app like Sunrise already synced with your work calendar and other life stuff, you can see you have that huge project due in eight months, aka your crazy time of year, so maybe a June wedding isn’t the best idea. You can quickly add your significant other to events like cake tastings and venue tours and scroll through the weeks and months ahead to avoid double-booking.
Guest list: There are some things that just belong in a spreadsheet and a guest list is one of them. You can have emails, addresses, meal choice, and any other bit of information you think might come in handy all in one easy-to-scan place. Plus, as long as your parents have the tiniest bit of tech savvy, you can share the doc and sit back as they fill in all your relatives’ addresses.
Other documents: Create a folder in Google Drive. Name it “Wedding.” Drop in everything you get from venues, caterers, the people making your invitations, etc. It will be eminently searchable, and you can easily show your caterer the venue’s layout, then share the doc.
Local subreddits are a great place to crowdsource advice about where to hold your wedding and get recommendations about photographers, DJs, and other vendors. If you prefer to lurk, we can almost guarantee someone’s already asked your question before.
Looking for a venue? Type in your city and “wedding” into Pinterest and gawp at the intricately decorated places you’ve probably never set foot into. Invitations, centerpieces, chuppahs, you name it, and there will be pictures upon pictures of them. What’s great is you might find a few like-minded individuals who pin exactly what you’re looking for. Also, you can upload pictures of flowers, cakes, decorations, whatever along the way straight from your camera.
Nowadays, you need a wedding website. Not only does it subtly direct guests to your registry, it’s a one-stop place for your friends and family to find all kinds of information. WordPress lets you make a site for free and has instructions for including a spot for your guests to RSVP. To weed out the randos, make your website private and include the link on your invitation.
If your opinionated friends and family can’t be there to tour the wedding venue in person, perhaps you can Skype them in and give them a 360-degree view as you slowly pan your phone around hall. But it’s also great if someone can’t attend the actual festivities; just have a trusted audience member unobtrusively hold the phone, so faraway relatives can live stream your big day.
Instead of lugging around a book bursting with receipts, business cards, and swatch samples, let Evernote be your guide. The pair of you can sync up on a notebook and share links, photos, itineraries — basically anything that might make your wedding better or easier. Use task lists, sync with your calendar, and add reminders to keep everything on track.
We’ve heard couples say they wish they’d only registered through Amazon. Unlike some traditional options, you get a wider array of options on what to register for. If you end up getting duplicates of a gift from one of your registries, you could be hanging on to that in-store credit a while, simply because you just received all the cooking supplies you need for the next decade. The Universal Registry isn’t perfect, though; it redirects guests to a third-party site, then asks them to come back and confirm they purchased your tea cozy, or what have you. Amazon also gives you a 10-percent discount after all is said and done to help you “complete” your registry, so you can throw a few big-ticket items on your list with the expectation that no one will purchase them, but you’ll save a little money buying it yourself. Side note: Let’s say you want dozens of tea-light candles to decorate for the ceremony; you can use a browser extension like Camelcamelcamel to alert you when there’s a price drop.
Next page: Wedding-centric alternatives
There are some things about weddings that pretty unique. Besides maybe a baby shower, there’s almost no other time when you can dictate a list of gifts be given to you and have guests happily comply. Sites like The Knot, WeddingWire, Martha Stewart Weddings, and David’s Bridal cover a lot of this territory. However, sometimes there are competing sites that do things a little differently and, in some cases, better.
Unlike Mint, iWedding Deluxe isn’t tied to your account. However, it is helpful for giving you an idea of where your money should go. Type in your budget, and it will break down suggestions for how you should dole it out; 10 percent for the venue, 20 percent for catering, and so on. You can either manually add in the numbers, or have it automatically draw from your “Details” list, where you enter in all the information about each vendor, like the due date for deposits and any notes. Once you sign up, the Knot has a similar tool, though its app version is a bit clunky. (You can’t put any item as $0, even if your friend is acting as your officiant, for example.)
The All-Seated online application has a few extras that go beyond Excel. You can import your Facebook contacts or a spreadsheet and put people into multiple lists, like wedding party and morning-after brunch. You can also use your venue’s floor plan to preview how you’d like the tables and chairs set up, then make your seating chart. It’s not going to magically help you remember Great Aunt Martha out of thin air, but you’ll be able to add her to multiple event lists and keep her far away from Cousin Carol’s table at the reception.
Though it’s not too hard to find wedding singers on Yelp, Gigmasters offers an extra round of reviews, plus the number of times the musicians have been booked through them. You’ll probably feel more comfortable booking DJ Shadough knowing he’s done this 36 times before. If you end up booking someone through the site and he or she flakes for some reason, Gigmasters offers a full refund and a promise it will try to find you someone new. There’s a booking fee, but you can filter for only acts that will pay it themselves. You can also find photographers, bartenders, and other vendors, but there are far fewer reviews for these types of professionals.
If you’d rather have all the heavy-lifting of creating a website done for you, plus create an app for your guests to download, Appy Couple is a pretty good option. The designs are attractive, and the RSVP feature is pretty powerful. If you want to save on postage and ditch the response cards in favor including the link on your non-luddite friends’ and family members’ invites, it pays for itself.
Each site has sections dedicated to venues, but neither is exhaustive. However, they both have reviews from brides and grooms who have been there, done that, which is useful. The Hitch is a site dedicated to finding the perfect locale, but at least in Portland, it left lots of options out and the listed prices weren’t always consistent with our research. Though it’s actually made for event planners, Cvent has a pretty comprehensive venue list that you can search for free.
Since a lot of couples live together before moving in, they might not need a slew of kitchenware. Still, it’s nice to upgrade from the Teflon pan you’ve had since college, and Zola is prettier than Amazon. It also lets you register for cash, honeymoon expenses, and experiences, like a cooking class or snorkeling lesson. It does charge you a transaction fee for some of these, however. If your main focus is paying for your honeymoon, Honeyfund is a good option, too. Not only does it break down exactly what guests are giving you money for (your Uncle Charles might grumble less if he knows the $50 he’s sending is going towards your whale-watching tour), it doesn’t collect any fees for the cash or checks your guests send. If they use their credit card to deposit funds, however, PayPal will charge a transaction fee.
Since many people’s last party invites were probably sent via text or Facebook, lots of them want to reclaim the lost art of mailing something for their wedding invitations. Others don’t. Paperless Post is perfect if you want to do a mix of both, because you can get both online and print versions of your invitations. Minted just has lots of options and can provide inspiration for those making their own. If you are DIY-ing it, CatPrint can print them out for you.
Who knew there were so many steps to changing a name? Anyone taking on a new moniker who’s worried about missing a crucial step or two can use HitchSwich. The company offers an at-home package or one with a little more hand-holding.