1) The Wedding Book by Mindy Weiss
There aren't enough words to describe exactly how much I love this book as a wedding planning God-send. For real... instead of being chock-full of ideas, it succinctly lays out the various factors that should be taken into consideration when making your planning decisions. This book won't show you pictures of pretty bouquets that you can flag and keep in mind for your next meeting with your florist; instead, it will teach you about the flowers that are in-season during your wedding, how to cut costs on the wedding flowers, and questions to ask a prospective florist. I think my favorite part of this book is that you just feel... smarter... about wedding-related things once you're done reading any single section in it. You get big-picture and little-picture stuff all rolled into one. Definitely a must-buy for any newly engaged gal.
2) Wedding blogs. Don't get me wrong, I like informational sites like theknot.com that tell me what I should be taking care of when, but there's a little something missing on those educational sites... fortunately, blogs step in and fill that void. From my experience, wedding blogs, whether entirely personal or more "professional" with assigned contributors, offer a great look at weddings and wedding planning. Instead of just seeing a pretty picture of a cake topper and wondering where it was purchased, blogs give you a picture of the cake topper, how the bride decided on it, all of the stores she visited to try and find it, and how much it ultimately ended up costing her. It's almost like you have a more experienced BFF, holding your hand through the entire process -- you may not always agree with her, but at least you have a ridiculous amount of information at your disposal to help guide you in the future. My personal favorites? Stylemepretty.com and oncewed.com. I ooh and aah over these blogs on a pretty frequent basis, but my affection for these sites (and others like them) doesn't even COMPARE to how much I adore...
3) Weddingbee.com. Oh. Mah. Gah. I love this site. L.O.V.E. For realz. OK, let me collect myself and try to actually verbalize exactly how much I love this site. It's a wedding blog, but it uses a collection of brides-to-be and newly married brides to blog about their own wedding experiences. That way, you can follow about 20 different women from proposal all the way through their planning, ending with their wedding recaps. You can contact these amazing women to comment on their ideas or ask for more information. They are almost all affiliated with a large city, so you can see what vendors or local ideas they use that you could employ in your own wedding, if they happen to live in a city near your own. They have totally cute handles to maintain their own privacy, so you get well-acquainted with the likes of Mrs. Cheeseburger or Mrs. Octopus, who have already gotten married, or Miss Lioness or Miss Panther, who are still prepping for their own big days. Without a doubt, though, my favorite part of this site is that no one attempts to tell you how a wedding should be planned or how important it is to maintain this, that, or the other traditions... instead, all of these lovely ladies simply tell you how they are planning their own weddings... ups, downs, smiles, tears... the whole gamut. No judgment, just ideas, explanations, and opportunities for feedback. Love love love!
4) A wedding planning binder. The reality is, even in this technologically advanced time, not everything is digital. Some things, like signed contracts and price quotes, often come in hard copies. Given that these documents often detail how many hundreds of dollars are going to be spent, I'd say it's pretty important to keep them in a safe place. Enter: the binder. You can either make it yourself with a basic trip to your local Staples store, or you can buy a pre-made one like this one:
It's a great way to stay organized, keeping all of your important documents in one place. I proudly own this big, pink, polka-dotted one. Subtle? Not so much. But I figure, when else can you go to a meeting with a vendor with a garrish pink binder and not have everyone look at you like you're crazy? Take advantage of the opportunity!!
5) Last but not least, my absolute favorite wedding planning bestie... CTL+D. I can't even tell you how large my "wedding" folder is in my browser's favorites is. Anything even remotely wedding related... ideas for a gift for my parents, a picture of a centerpiece I like, an invitation wording that's different, and so on and so forth... boom. I now punch my "control" and "D" buttons without batting an eye. It's the easiest way for me to keep all of my ideas and inspiration in one place. It's also kind of like a weird, techno-scrapbook of the wedding planning process... I have pictures of dresses I thought I liked, I have inspiration boards of color palettes that never came to fruition, and I have bridesmaid dresses that I like well enough now... we'll see how that all shakes out in the upcoming months. It's a cute and easy way to see where you've been and how it compares to where you're going with the planning.
What do you use as your planning besties?