Where To Start: Resources For Beginning Your Search
Google can only take you so far. If you don’t know enough about what you’re looking for, it’s not really going to take you much of anywhere. To begin gathering ideas for the wedding, for everything from venues to dresses to cakes, you need a focused but still broad search tool. Enter the wonderful world of bridal magazines and websites. There are a million out there, each with a little something different to offer. Here’s what I’ve found to be the most helpful.
The Knot is one of the most widely recognized wedding resources out there, and for good reason. In addition to their website (theknot.com), they publish regional magazines (the downside of these being that they are only available in those regions, so if you’re getting married somewhere other than where you live you won’t just be able to run to your local bookstore and pick it up). For instance, there are editions for Chicago, southern California, Michigan, and NYC. There is also a general “big book” magazine as well that is released about every 6 months.
The regional magazines have some general content, like decorating tips, “do’s and don’ts” lists, things like that, but they also contain relatively extensive lists of vendors in the area. It usually provides information on location, price, size, special features (like on-site lodging, handicap access, etc), and so on for ceremony and reception sites. It also lists florists, restaurants, salons, and first hand stories and tips from couples in the region about what they chose, why they chose it, and what their experiences were. These magazines are more focused on venues and a little less on other vendors, and there are minimal dress pictures.
The “big book” magazine they release focuses on dresses and is large enough that you could probably fend off a small wild animal with it, but it is PACKED with pictures and a great place to start looking for inspiration for your own dress (and your bridesmaids’ dresses!). Dresses are approximately organized by designer name and feature a small note on the pricing range the dress falls into.
The website is also massive, even in internet terms. It features pictures of everything from dresses to flowers, cakes to centerpieces, rings to venues, with about a million different ways to search for items (by color? by price? location?). It also boasts and impressive collection of articles written by various industry members on things like what flowers are in season when, different traditions for different religions, advice on how to deal with family members and friends who are disgruntled over one thing or another, and proper etiquette. They also have basic tools for you to use if you create an account there (which is free), like an online checklist, a budgeting tool, and a “notebook” that will house any pictures or articles on the site that you’ve bookmarked. It also gives you the ability to create a wedding website, which I highly recommend doing later, to keep your guests informed about addresses and times (because let’s be honest, a good number of them will probably lose the invitation and need to know where they’re going) and even hotel locations. Another helpful feature of the website is a series of forums that you can lurk on or ask questions on, but be aware that some people take some things far too seriously and far too literally and will jump on their high horse and trample you with it if they don’t agree with you.
This is another website/magazine combo, although I have to say I’m not a big fan of the website. The site feel disjointed, and I personally have a hard time finding what I’m looking for on it. There is also no bookmark feature, so if you want to save anything you have to create a traditional browser bookmark (and if you get enough of those it’s hard to keep them straight). The magazine is fantastic however. It’s released monthly, so if you want to keep fresh on the trends you can get a subscription (a year is cheaper than buying 4 individually) or just pick one up every once in a while. This one usually also has a lot of dress pictures, as well as tips for taking care of your skin in the months leading up to the wedding, hair and makeup ideas, ways to save on your budget, and honeymoon spots.
Martha Stewart Weddings
I will be the first to admit that I am not a Martha Stewart fan. She bothers me, at best, but I have to admit that when it comes to weddings she has some pretty good ideas. The website is full of DIY tutorials on everything from favors to decorations to bouquets. Almost everything paper has a printable template that you can use to recreate the item. There are plenty of pictures here, but the instructions on how to make your own anything are really the gold mine here.
The magazine is just like a smaller version of the website. It also has a lot of DIY ideas, but focuses on pictures of things that could make your event more unique. For instance, the copy I have shows cakes with quilt-like patterns on them, highlights out-of-the-ordinary favors like jars of honey, and shows about 80 different styles for just addressing envelopes.
This is a sister site to The Knot. This has a lot of the same vendors, but usually has more reviews of said vendors (as a matter of fact, half of The Knot reviews actually link back to the review page on this site). The bookmarking feature is a little less intuitive, and I’ve essentially “lost” a couple of things I tried to save because they get archived funny, but I’ve found more relevant and useful pictures here than on The Knot, and the people who frequent these message boards are much more…calm. They also offer a free wedding website with some different template options, so if you weren’t thrilled with what was available on The Knot, check these out too.
Okay this isn’t actually a place to look up info, but it’s a good place to keep track of it. It’s essentially a bookmarking service for pictures. You register (at pinterest.com), and save the “Pin This” bookmark to your toolbar or favorites list (it gives you instructions on how to do this based on your browser). Then, search away on any site your little heart desires. If you find a picture you want to hold onto, click on your “Pin This” icon, and a new window pops up that displays every picture available on your current page. Select the one you want, and it pops up a dialog box where you select which “board” you want to pin the picture to and gives you room to make comments about it (if you what it looks like, go here to see one of my friend’s profiles). It will keep a record of your saved pictures and their comments, along with a permanent link back to the original place you found the picture. I HIGHLY recommend creating an account (it’ll let you sign in via Facebook as well, and in my opinion that is the easiest way to log in) and creating boards for various wedding details (I have one for dresses and flowers, paper products, and centerpiece ideas) for you to save your inspiration in. This way you don’t have bookmarks spread about on different websites, and they’re all in a central location (this is where I save most of the pictures I find on the Martha Stewart site).
Always keep an eye out for local magazines as well. These hide in bakeries, coffee shops, and jewelry stores, and contain information on vendors very close by. These will usually have more listed in them than you’ll find in the above mentioned sites, so if you’re not quite hitting the mark these are a great resource. There are also usually local wedding websites (local answers to The Knot and such) that you can find if you search for them (try Googling “‘city name’ wedding website”). For instance, anyone else who happens to be in the Kalamazoo, MI region should keep a look out for the Kalamazoo Bride magazine (I can guarantee there’s a copy at Morrison’s), as well as their website. There is also the Kalamazoo Bridal Cafe which lists local vendors and upcoming bridal shows.