Aol.|Mail|Click here to return to


High-tech methods of hosting a low-cost wedding

Whether it's your first marriage or your third, there's always one piece of advice that wedding planning websites and wedding planners will always give: decide what's important to you and budget accordingly.

However, it doesn't mean that if you skimp on something less important to you as a couple, your wedding won't be just as great as a couple who broke the bank on everything. With the advent of new technology, software, and applications, it's now possible to have it all without spending it all.

The Wedding Planner

One of the most obvious places where one can save money planning a wedding is on the services of a wedding planner. The Internet is a better resource for searching and finding recommendations on vendors and venues than it used to be, and it has also become much easier to comparison shop and ask questions without having to make on-site visits.

With Google Drive and a reasonable amount of organization, a busy bride or groom can definitely keep track of all the elements involved. But what if you want a little more control over all the moving pieces? That's where project and task management applications like Asana can come into play.

A web-based application used by businesses like Pinterest and universities like Virginia Tech, Asana can help you keep track of every task that's related to hosting your wedding. Up to 15 people can sign up to be a part of your team for free, which will come in handy when you need to delegate certain tasks to your partner or mom or dad. There's an app for iOS and Android, but right now it's just a "thin wrapper" for the website application, which features a lot more functionality.

Initial setup is easy, but it will take some experimentation before you've got the hang of the interface. Once you've got the basics down though, being able to go through your list, check things off, and send and receive updates from the other people helping you plan is a breeze.

Other Services: Remember the Milk, Wedoist, Toodledo, Wunderlist, Trello, Wedding Happy

Wedding Invitations

Once you've wrestled with your partner, your family, their family, and everyone else about the guest list, it's time to send out "Save the Date" reminders and wedding invitations. Depending on how many people you're inviting and their relationship to you, that can get a little expensive. However, as members of the technological generation know, not all of those invitations have to be sent by snail mail.

Paperless Post combines the aesthetic of designers like Oscar de la Renta and Jonathan Adler with the bulk-email-invite services of Constant Contact to create beautiful invitations which can be sent via email to your family and friends. After signing in, adding your guest list database is as easy as either manually inputting them or uploading a spreadsheet; they even provide a handy template for you to fill in.

Depending on which designs you choose and if you must do so, you can even send matching paper invitations as well. They're printed on quality 120 lb. matte stock of either 16 point or 32 point thickness for a small cost per invitation, including the postage. Additional features such as custom envelopes and design elements like custom logos can be purchased using their proprietary currency which is sold in batches; unfortunately, there are no refunds given for unused "coins."

However, if your wedding has an environmentally-friendly theme and you're committed to forgoing paper invitations all together, you may want to go with Greenvelope instead. For a one-time fee of $99, you'll be able to access their selection of wedding invitation designs and send them to up to 1,000 contacts. They also provide RSVP-tracking services as well as an event page and wedding registry information that can be linked seamlessly into or with your wedding website (more on those later). For only $29 each, you can also add a "Save the Date" and "Thank You" e-card component as well.

If you're thinking the cost might be a bit high for online wedding invitations, it's not without a good reason. According to founder Sam Franklin, since launching the company in 2010, every quarter-yearly he makes a donation to Mountains to Sound, a Washington state non-profit dedicated to conservation efforts. The amount of that donation has increased since then, with last quarter's contribution equaling approximately 4 to 5 percent of their total profit.

Other Applications: glö and Zazzle, pingg

The "Wedsite"

Once you're ready to set up your wedding website, there are several options. The hardcore techie couple will have already purchased their custom URL and coded the site from the ground up, but if you're less familiar with code, don't feel like futzing with WordPress or Blogger templates, and might be willing to pay a small price, there are many services to choose from.

Some of the major online bridal magazines offer free wedding website services (aka "wedsites") where all you have to do is sign up for an account, fill in your pertinent details, choose a themed design, and voilà, your wedsite is ready to be shared with your family and friends. A site like The Knot or Wedding Wire offers designs for both the classically traditional couple as well as the more modern couple. At Wedding Wire, each section is fully customizable to your specific details, and sections like "Travel and Accommodations" feature widgets to allow your guests the ability to search for airfare, lodging, and car rentals through Orbitz right from the page.

Of course, you can edit the Registry page to include the unique link to your own gift registry, but if you haven't set one up yet, there are several to choose from, including stores like Crate & Barrel, honeymoon registries like Honeyfund, and cash registries like Present Value. Also, select pages are optimized for mobile phones.

However, if you've always wanted to have your own smartphone wedding app and aren't a programmer, Appy Couple has got you covered. Still in beta, Appy Couple is offering their services to provide a complete website and matching wedding app for $28.

After you've paid your fee, all you have to do is fill out the sections as you would for the wedsite; however, once you're done, in addition to a fully-functional wedsite, you'll also get a link to an app that you and your guests can download on your phones. That way, when you have updates to announce such as hotel blocks and the location for the rehearsal dinner, that information will get pushed directly to their phones, bypassing the "I didn't read the email update" phase. Other features include the ability for your guests to upload photos of you and your partner for inclusion in the gallery -- you have final approval, of course -- for both before and after the reception's done.

Other Services: Pocket Couple, Nearly Weds, eWedding

Photo: The Falcondale