Use tech to plan your wedding for free (and ditch that trapper keeper)!

tech to plan your wedding

There was a time when planning a wedding involved multiple trips to the office supply store. You needed a binder, dividers, stickers, pockets, swatches, and countless magazines to clip from. When you wanted to share your ideas and plans with your bridesmaids or fiancé, you had to lug out your book and avoid eye contact as you took what seemed like forever to leaf through its contents – all to show that one picture of the flower arrangement you couldn’t quite describe and “sort of like”. For the disorganized bride, such as myself, there is no greater nightmare, no task more daunting, than the construction and maintenance of a Bridal Book.

Luckily for me, the future is now, and we have a plethora of tools and services right at our fingertips. Check out my favorites below and how I’ve used them to make planning a breeze.

1. Evernote

I could wax poetic about Evernote for the rest of my life. It’s essentially a digital binder where you can store all kinds of notes in various notebooks, and it has native apps for your desktop, smartphone, tablet, and even your browser. The search function is so robust you can upload a photo of handwritten notes you’ve taken and it can search through your chicken scratch for whatever terms you’re trying to find. Seriously, magic.

tech to plan your wedding

Lifehacker

How I use it to plan my wedding

The most obvious way to use Evernote is to keep notebooks that you share with your fiancé. A serious benefit to the service is that it syncs seamlessly across all platforms with everyone who is sharing it. This means you and your intended can snap photos and take notes while visiting venues, tasting foods, and getting quotes on your separate smart phones, and have it all together ready and waiting for your review on your desktop or tablet when you get home.

The app’s camera feature isn’t only good for taking quick pics of cakes and linens either, you can use the document frame to take legible photos of contracts or invitation fonts, and use the Post-it setting to take photos of sticky notes, which you can set up rules for according to color (for instance, pink Post-its automatically file into the Caterers notebook or blue ones tag the note with “Groom” – it’s fully customizable).

You can also store PDFs in Evernote, which are then fully searchable. I store all scanned or emailed agreements, menus, estimates, and receipts for easy viewing later.
Other options are storing spreadsheets (for budgets and guest lists) and web clippings (for inspiration and vendor websites). Though I like to use other services for these purposes (more on them in a minute) you can truly use Evernote as a one-stop for all your planning needs.

Evernote (Free): http://evernote.com/evernote/#

2. Pinterest

Pinterest is probably the most well-known service among brides-to-be and hopefuls alike. A platform to post photos from any number of sources, it’s perfect for collecting inspiration.

pinterest_img

How I use it to plan my wedding

I’ve created a few different boards for things like floral arrangements, gowns, bridesmaids dresses, groom styling, etc. Some boards are shared with my bridal party, some with my fiancé, and I even keep a secret board for a few things I’d like to keep a surprise until the big day.

Pinterest makes it easy for your fiancé to get a clear idea of your vision, and vice-versa. You can also use your boards to ensure that the florist, bridal salon, or wedding coordinator are on your same page, especially when you’re struggling to describe exactly what it is you want.

One of my favorite features is how easy it is to share images. My bridesmaids frequently send me pins they think I’ll like, and since they use my current pins as a starting point, they’re usually right!

Pinterest (Free): http://www.pinterest.com

3. Google Drive

Google Drive is another storage service where you can store PDFs, documents, spreadsheets, and photos. If you and your fiancé both already use Gmail, this could be the most convenient option.

tech to plan your wedding

Google Drive

How I use it to plan my wedding

I have my guest list and budget in Google Drive, to make sharing and editing with my dude a cinch. It has many of the basic features of Microsoft Excel, but with mobile accessibility and real-time collaborative editing. With Evernote, you can also store Excel files, but you will need to open them to edit, and re-save to your notebook, and though that isn’t the worst thing in the world, using Google Drive is a much more fluid experience, and great for making quick changes.

Google Drive (Free): https://drive.google.com

4. Wedding Party

***Totally deserved plug alert!***

tech to plan your wedding

How I use it to plan my wedding

I first downloaded Wedding Party to familiarize myself with the app as a private photo sharing tool for my wedding guests. What I wasn’t expecting was that I would end up using it as a planning and communication tool. Before even sending save-the-dates,  I’ve invited guests to download the app.

We use the events section to list details for our engagement party, bridal shower, and wedding. With so many out-of-town guests, it’s helpful to provide this information even before we send out official invitations, to give folks a chance to make travel arrangements.

The registry is incredibly easy to use, and I can definitely foresee some of our friends making last-minute purchases from the aisle. I actually went to a wedding recently where we had been so busy we didn’t have time to shop their registry prior to the big day. I had to search through my emails, find their wedding website link, navigate the page (which was not mobile-friendly), and that was all before I even got to the registry pages! I would have been very grateful to have it all at hand in an app.

When you have a lot of guests who will need lodging, the accommodations section is wonderful. Seriously, my mom figured it out and she has trouble sorting out FaceTime. You don’t even need to worry about getting all the hotel information; once you search the hotel and location, all the details are right there for you.

I’ve also encouraged our bridal party to fill out the little questionnaires on their profiles, so guests can get to know them, and each other.

Lastly, we’ve really made the most out of the multiple custom albums and included photos from our relationship, engagement trip, and parts of the wedding planning process.

Wedding Party App (Free): https://www.weddingpartyapp.com

4. Facebook Groups

Facebook Groups allow you create a shared private page with specific friends.

How I use it to plan my wedding

My bridesmaids span the globe. I have one in Germany, Toronto, Pennsylvania, New York, and two in LA. With separate timezones and varying schedules, it’s hard to get everyone together to make a decision or plan anything. While we could have communicated with endless email threads and group texts, I found Facebook Groups to be much more reliable and easy to organize.

So far, I’ve used to polling feature to take a vote on bridesmaids dress styles, posted a nauseating number of animated GIFs from the movie Bridesmaids, invited everyone to download Wedding Party (another plug, but it’s true), and discussed different aspects of the wedding with my long distance lady friends. It’s great to have all the bridal party goings on in one place, rather than digging through my inbox, or iMessages.

Facebook (Free): https://www.facebook.com

Though I still keep a small leather-bound notebook for jotting down quick ideas or sketches, these tools keep me on point, inspired, and prepared. No matter where I am, as long as I have my smartphone, I have access to everything – and so does my fiancé. What do you think? Are you a Bridal Book purist, or have you taken the digital plunge? Let us know in the comments!

krystal_gibbon copyKrystal Quinn Gibbon is a Canadian bride-to-be/MOH living in Los Angeles with her fiancé, Josh, and their chihuahua-mutt Asparagus. They both believe a wedding should be more about creating a fun and memorable experience for their loved ones than sticking to traditions, and hope their trials and errors can provide insight for others (or at the very least, entertainment). They keep a photo diary of all their adventures together at: coulddo.tumblr.com.