In last 11 months my wife and I have planned two weddings. For the record: both were for us. We had a small ceremony (20 people) in December of 2014, and then a bigger ceremony in early August of 2015 (110 people). While both were wonderful events, the planning for each was incredibly frustrating because there was no master tool to fit my needs. Below are my observations on what’s missing from a product perspective, in this $50+ billion industry (US only).
But first, a PSA:
Hire a planner if you have a wedding with more than 50 people. It seems obvious now, but there are lots of articles and sites (A Practical Wedding, looking at you) that make it seem as if it’s totally possible to plan a wedding yourself. It is. But it may drive you insane.
While we probably saved a few thousand dollars in not going with a planner for either wedding, having one would have saved us countless hours and anxiety from having to rush to make all the decisions, even the tiny ones you don’t think about until the week before.
And now back to the product problem…
From a software standpoint, there are tools for professional event planners that are pricey, and don’t think about the needs of the married couple for other things like gifts and the need for a wedding website. Then there are outdated options for DIYers.
The Knot is the elephant in the room. A solid option for everything on the surface (like a website, a registry, initial venue research), it doesn’t seem to be much help down the line when you’re knee-deep in vendor negotiations, spreadsheets, and charts. What does shine from The Knot is their content, especially around etiquette, which is a great resource.
There is a serious opportunity for some badass wedding SaaS company to make everything easier and provide a cleaner user experience. Why? Because here’s a list of all the consumer tools and services we used:
- Amazon Prime
- A Practical Wedding
- FedEx Office
- Google Docs/Sheets
- Here Comes The Guide
- Hotel Tonight
- Paperless Post
- Preview (for signing docs)
- Rent The Runway
- The Knot
At one point during the wedding planning phase, I ran into a friend at a coffee shop and bemoaned the general awful state of wedding software. After some discussion, he proposed that there’s a big space for someone to come in “Zenefits-style” and aggregate all of the guides/vendors/tools via APIs, take commissions, and wrap it in a prettier user experience. This is the discussion that prompted this post. I would have loved a service like he described. Even if I had a planner, it would be nice to log-in and see everything in one place.
The only tools/sites we found that made the planning part of the wedding easy and fun were Pinterest and Zola.
Pinterest is great for brainstorming. Prior to the nuptials, I had no reason to use my account. But we used it regularly while planning. And now, I continue to use it 1 to 2 times a week for when I have an idea of what I want but need to see more examples. As a search engine, Pinterest is amazing.
The folks at Zola, a site for gift registries, really have their shit together: they let you register for gifts and choose when to have them shipped to you (though people can always circumvent that by buying something they see off your registry and not telling you till they ship it or show up with it). They have fine print around certain items, but their customer service has been excellent thus far in sorting out any issues.
Zola seems to realize the opportunity of the market too. In a user exit poll, they asked me about where I built my wedding site, so I’m guessing that’s an idea they might pursue.
But what I really craved during this experience was a tool that would make these logins easier, and be with me throughout all the planning stages. A twenty tab spreadsheet just starts to be sad after awhile. I craved a service that would do things like automatically track expenses and keep track of deposits, aggregate vendor contact info, and make documents easier to share (ie: seating charts), manipulate (convert seating chart into a master alphabetized list of guests), and design (create place-cards for tables based off guest list).
All the parts are there, they just need to be put together. It’s a huge opportunity for someone to save future couples at least a headache or two, and probably make some money in the process.