Contributed by Info Guru Lindsay Shugerman
It used to be that a bride could spend weeks or months planning her wedding. There was plenty of time to browse for table decorations, favors and wedding party gifts. And then there were hours at a stationery store, spent pouring over big albums of wedding invitations and thank you notes.
But today, most brides struggle to find any free time to do any of that. Between busy careers, remarriages where there are already children to care for and long distance wedding plans, it can seem overwhelming.
Relax! With a good checklist, a fast Internet connection and a plan, you can just about plan a wedding in your pajamas. Here are ten things to shop for, research and book online from your favorite armchair.
10. Invitations and other wedding stationery
Once upon a time, when people used to send printed invitations for things like parties and change of address (really, it’s true!), there were stationery stores in almost every city and town. That’s where brides (and sometimes, even grooms) headed to pick out their wedding invitations, announcements and thank you notes.
Instead of searching out the few that remain, take your search online. You can browse full-size samples, compare prices, and on many sites, even see your wording in your choice of fonts and colors before you order! Try that with a regular store!
9. Wedding officiants
If you already have a Priest, Minister, Rabbi or Imam who is going to officiate at your wedding, that’s one big thing you can check off of your list immediately (although do make sure they’re available on your day of choice!) But if you’re like most couples, finding someone to perform the ceremony is another thing on your to-do list.
Thankfully, there are sites which allow you to search for licensed wedding officiants by location to find the perfect person to help you two tie the knot. Most of the sites even offer reviews from couples who have used each service, so you’ll be able to narrow your search to the ones who seem best for your ceremony.
8. China and silver patterns
Weddings usually mean gifts, and that means wedding registries. With most registries allowing you to sign up and add items online, one piece of the puzzle is now simpler. But what about picking out your china pattern or silverware?
Yes, you can do that online now, too. Browse by formality (fine china or sturdier stoneware?), color, pattern and price. You can always head out to a local store to look at your short list of choices in person. But most of the time-consuming work can be done at home during the commercials of your favorite TV series.
7. Honeymoon plans
Travel agents used to handle planning honeymoons…and almost every other kind of journey, from cruises to business trips. Now most of us book our flights and hotels online. But what about a honeymoon? Can you really plan so important a journey on your laptop?
The answer is yes! There are online booking sites that specialize in wedding trips (do check out ratings!), sites that rate honeymoon destinations in detail, and sites that offer amazing discounts on cruises and other travel to help stretch your travel budget. Sit down together, dream, search and book, all over breakfast or on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
6. Wedding jewelry
From wedding rings to the bling you’ll wear on the big day, you can do you all your wedding jewelry shopping in comfort. Look for online stores that allow close-up views of the details. Check out the materials used (gold plated? Nope!), and make sure the site has generous return policies. Order early to allow for exchanges and returns in case you don’t love it when it arrives.
5. Bridesmaids dresses
So where do your bridesmaids live? If you’re like most people, the answer will take awhile. One is on the east coast, one is out west. A third is soaking up Florida sunshine and the fourth is way up in Maine. Finding a store that has locations in every city can be almost impossible. And who has time to buy everyone’s dress and ship them all out?
Don’t you just love the fact that you can order the bridesmaid dresses online and have them shipped to almost anywhere? One more looooong shopping trip reduced to a little time online.
4. Wedding party gifts
Of course you want to give your bridesmaids and groomsmen something special to remember their part in your day. But where to go? The mall. The outlets. The local shops and boutiques. And then hours and hours and some very sore feet later, you still haven’t decided what will work for everyone.
Yup, this is yet another thing that falls oh-so-perfectly into the plan a wedding in your pajamas category. In the time it take you to get dressed, drive to the mall, find parking and look through even a half dozen stores you could browse 20 or 30 online gift catalogs and websites, place your order and have the perfect gifts on their way to your door.
3. Wedding and reception venues
Yes, you will need to check out wedding venues and reception sites in person. But there’s no reason to spend time visiting places that won’t work, are too expensive or aren’t available on the day you need.
Use the Internet to search locations, read reviews, check out costs and even see availability. You can also look at restrictions (can you bring in a caterer, or do you need to use theirs?) that you might not think about in person.
2. Wedding decor
Whether you’re getting married in your backyard, in church or at a hotel, you’ll probably need wedding decor. I can’t imagine how brides took care of this before the web brought shopping home! All the little things that make such a difference like table cloths, ceremony candles, aisle runners and strings of garden lights are easy to search, compare and order before you even change out of your jamies.
1. Marriage license rules and requirements
Did you know that every state (and some counties and cities) has different rules for marriage licenses? Some require waiting periods. Some will allow one party to apply and pick up the license, some require both. Some need only a picture ID, some require birth certificates or proof of residency. Save a trip to city hall, and do your research about marriage license rules, fees and other details online well in advance of the ceremony.
The more wedding planning and shopping you do online, the more time you’ll have for the big things in person like picking out your gown or celebrating with your beloved.