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Our Top 10 Wedding Planning Resources

When I was a bride-to-be, I hopped online eager to find all the World Wide Web had to offer a do-it-yourself wedding planner. But when I ran my first Google search for "wedding planning," I was disappointed to find a huge number of junk websites. It was difficult to find real help, and hard to know which sources to trust.

In the 18 months that followed I worked hard to find some reliable resources that would help me plan my dream wedding on a strict budget. After the wedding, I heard my cousin had guessed our wedding cost $40,000. The actual cost was less than $20,000! I was so glad I'd put in the time to find the right help.

Since then, I've come across a few more jewels. Here are my 10 best (in no particular order):

  1. Bridal Bargains: Secrets To Planning A Fantastic Wedding on a Realistic Budget

    This gem of a book, updated every two years, thoroughly covers how to buy just about everything you could possibly want for your wedding. Tips from the authors' extensive research and real brides will literally save you thousands, from flowers to gowns to favors and more.
  2. The Knot

    Aside from a pretty good local resource directory and their free wedding webpage, I loved the Knot's budget planner, which gives you average costs for all your wedding-related expenses. You can enter your actual expenses alongside to track how you're doing. The Knot also has the best wedding discussion boards on the Web, especially if you have questions of other brides in your area.
  3. Brides.com

    With active discussion boards and a robust online wedding planner, Brides.com rivals the Knot. But what they do best is ideas—their "Brilliant Idea of the Day" e-mails contain some very creative tidbits for both wedding and honeymoon.
  4. Local Event Space & Location Guides

    If someone in your area publishes a book of wedding and reception locations, get it! These invaluable books list a plethora of possible wedding and reception sites, along with key info like cost, maximum capacity, catering restrictions, corkage fees, etc. This lets you easily narrow down your "to see" list without having to make a single phone call.
    1. Here Comes the Guide, Northern California & Here Comes The Guide, Southern California
    2. 2013 Bravo! Wedding Resource Guide —Oregon and SW Washington
    3. The Book for All Brides - Vermont Wedding Resource Guide—Vermont and New Hampshire

     

    If you're getting married somewhere else, try searching for your state and "event resource guide" on Amazon.com or in Google. Also, local wedding magazines will often have a list of reception locations in the back; however it may not be as comprehensive because vendors usually have to pay to be listed.

     

  5. The Knot Ultimate Wedding Planner & Organizer

    I love this comprehensive three-ring planner because it has a fantastic checklist of To Dos, broken down by the time frame in which they should be done (i.e., six or more months ahead, four months ahead, etc.). This really helped us stay on track. Martha also includes information about etiquette and provides pockets and dividers where you can organize and keep contracts, receipts, photos and the like. If you choose another wedding planning book, just make sure it has a similar checklist. I recommend a physical book versus a planning software tool, because you can take it with you anywhere and you'll have a place to keep your important documents. You can also browse a plethora of specialty wedding guide books at Amazon.
  6. Online and Local Travel Agents

    Whether you're planning a straightforward one-stop getaway or an elaborate multi-destination odyssey, travel agents can be a big help. Their wealth of knowledge is an indispensable resource; helping you choose which cities to visit and arranging top-notch accommodations, excursions and local transportation. Remember, you shouldn't have to worry about a thing during your trip! Visit a local travel agent for ideas, and then see if you can book online to save money. Try Expedia.com—they have great package deals with telephone agents available 24/7.
  7. Etsy and Pinterest

    Whether you're ordering decor, favors, or accessories from Etsy, or simply looking for ideas on Pinterest, you'll be on these two sites all the time. If you do order on Etsy, make sure leave plenty of time for the artists to make and deliver by your wedding date.
  8. eBay and Craigslist

    You can get some incredible deals on common wedding items by buying second-hand. eBay and Craigslist are probably the best resources for second-hand stuff. The best part is you can turn around and sell it all after your wedding!
  9. Wedding Wire

    The best free wedding website I've found, plus a pretty robust gallery of inspirational photos, not to mention a vendor directly, planning tool and much more.
  10. WedPics

    A fund app that lets your guests share photos they snap at your wedding with each other, and best of all, you!