The web has become the dominant way to shop for electronics, travel, cars, housing, even education. But you can just as easily use the web to find caterers, event halls, dressmakers, DJs, photographers, videographers–even a wedding planner if you decide to take a break from doing it all yourself.
Here’s how the web helps you plan a wedding:
* Local search. No, you don’t have to sort through vendors from here to Timbuktu. Local search technology now makes finding someone downtown as easy as finding someone anywhere. If you use Google, you only have to enter a place name along with your keyword to get a list of local businesses. Try “wedding planner fargo” (without the quotes) and see for yourself.
* Real people. The people you are buying from online aren’t “virtual.” They’re as real as the people you’d meet in person. In fact, especially with local business, the website is just a first contact. You can always call them up or arrange to meet in person.
* Dedicated wedding information websites. There are now websites solely devoted not just to planning a wedding, but to catering, wedding cakes, even dying shoes for weddings. These same websites often have directories of wedding vendors arranged by location.
* Message boards and customer reviews. You wouldn’t buy a book on Amazon without reading a review a customer had left. Now you don’t have to buy decorations that way, either.
Web Wedding Planning Alternatives
The web has a lot of advantages over most other ways of discovering and evaluating wedding vendors. Just look at what your other options are:
* Recommendations from friends and colleagues. How much do your friends and colleagues really know about wedding planning? Very often, one person’s idea of wedding elegance is any sane person’s idea of bad, bad taste. Just look at anyone’s wedding pictures. You can’t trust this decision to your friends. This is your big day. It deserves a little research.
* Bridal fairs. If the vendors at bridal fairs were so great, why would they be trawling for business? Do you want an in-demand wedding vendor, or one who has to set up a booth and hand out free samples?
* Yellow pages. I remember the time my mother used the Yellow Pages to find a contractor to install some new doors. During the holiday season, the draft would blow out the candles in the window if they weren’t electric. Anyone can get in the yellow pages–and believe me, anyone does.
Web Wedding Planning Advantages
* Selection. No offline source will ever have as many options, whether it’s songs for the wedding reception or fabrics for the gowns.
* Ready information. As soon as you see an option you’d like to consider, you can find out all you’d ever like to know as easily as copying and pasting into Google.
* It’s All in Writing. By their very nature, websites put a lot of information in writing. The written policies regarding shipping, warranties (if any), returns, and service will almost always be easy to access. (Hint: look for links to policies at the bottom of each web page.) The fact that everything is written down gives the vendor much less wiggle room to change the terms of the deal. Almost as good as the paper trail is the photograph trail–at least when it comes to merchandise. Save any relevant images along with the text.
* Better Business Bureau’s Convenient BBBOnline. On the web, it’s easy to check for Better Business Bureau membership. The site should have the BBBOnline logo displayed prominently on the order page. Click on the logo to be taken to the BBB.org profile for that business. The BBB page should say that business is a member in good standing. With the BBBOnline, the Bureau’s ecommerce program, you can dispute a sale without having to go to the local Bureau where the store is headquartered.
In short, the web makes it much easier to get a perfect wedding.
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