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How to Plan the Perfect Wedding Online

Dana Oshiro is a Canadian writer and the senior analyst and publishing strategist for NetShelter Technology Media‘s 200+ gadget, mobile and IT bloggers. She writes regularly at Villagers with Pitchforks, tweets as @suzyperplexus and connects with others via LinkedIn. When I began planning one of the happiest days of my life, I felt like a failure. I’m just not one of those people who had dreamt of getting married since the age of four. So, when a friend forwarded me her Pinterest inspiration board, I panicked. How could a mere mortal like me possibly collect 300 antique milk bottles, fashion an all-feather headdress, design a signature cocktail for 200 people, and still find time to do my job? SEE ALSO: 10 iPhone Apps for Planning the Perfect Wedding Then I came to my senses. Martha Stewart or Real Simple wasn’t going to suck me into a downward spiral of shame. With the help of a few friends and new brides, I’ve amassed a list of digital (and practical) resources. Here’s what we came up with to make it out of our weddings alive, on budget and in love. 1. Collaborative Planning Many wedding planning tools don’t offer a collaborative, real-time editing feature. In other words, they assume one person is planning everything — not always the case. Meanwhile, DropBox and Google Docs let you share contracts and spreadsheets with ease. Use these tools in combination with Google Tasks or Remember the Milk to create calendar reminders. 2. The Venue Let’s get real — the venue can wreak havoc on your budget. Site rentals may not include furniture, linen, staff, security, liability insurance, corkage and cake-cutting fees or gratuities. Glamour compiled a list of questions to help you uncover hidden costs. Also, check directories like VenueTastic, Eventective and Here Comes the Guide for quotes. There are also a number of location-specific venue directories, including DailyAisle for the Bay Area and LeadingSpaces for New York. 3. Invites and Next Steps Pingg and Paperless Post are great electronic invite services. Afraid your Internet-challenged relatives might miss the memo? Check out Ink Garden, Moo, Minted and Etsy for a wide range of print designs. Once the invites are out, collect RSVPs via email or through a Google Form linked to a website. Rather than using a more expensive wedding service, our brides chose Virb and Tumblr to customize their wedding sites. 4. Food and Beverage If your venue has a preferred list, then meal options are determined for you in advance. If not, consider booking a gourmet food truck to feed hungry guests. Or scour the reviews and pricing on sites like Local Catering and Yelp. If your venue allows you to bring your own booze, check liquor store sites for flash wine case sales. BevMo! has a great deal on wine: Buy one bottle, get the next one for $0.05. 5. Registries In addition to a lifetime of everlasting love, another great result of your wedding is matching dishes. Amazon, Crate and Barrel and a number of ecommerce stores offer gift registries. Once you choose your items, aggregate your registries into MyRegistry. Some couples forgo toasters for travel with services like HoneyFund and Traveler’s Joy. Others register at JustGive to raise money for their favorite charities. 6. Ceremony and Officiant You can transform your wedding into virtually anything you want — as long as someone remembers to file the certificate. Certain states and countries do not recognize ministers who’ve been ordained online. Call your local marriage office for clarification. Before hitting directories like Wedding Wire, ask your locally married friends to suggest officiants. Once you’ve targeted someone to officiate, meet with him or her and ask for a sample script. 7. Photography Crowdsourcing photos from guests is an awesome idea — if your guests aren’t already drunk. Otherwise, search local Facebook and Flickr groups for wedding photographers. Be sure to ask for portfolio links and references. If all else fails, check out Offbeat Bride, BridalHood and OneWed. Some couples skip the party photographer and rent a photo booth like Lensley. One friend rented The Laugh Box, a photo service that produces flipbooks on the spot. Once you get the digital photo files back, Lulu and Blurb are great album-making services. 8. Music One thing you can crowdsource is your music playlist. If you trust your friends to keep it classy, try Turntable.fm, which lets you create a real-time playlist as long as you have Internet access. We asked guests to contribute to an Rdio playlist ahead of time, and then and cached it offline. (Spotify lets you do the same.) And finally, Dropmark lets you make collaborative SoundCloud playlists. Still want to go through with it? If you’re committed to planning a wedding and you’ve got tips for others, let us know in the comments below. Disclosure: The author’s husband works at Rdio. Images courtesy of iStockphoto, Brasil2, Flickr, [Filhi][bahthi] photography ( with great hopes ) More About: contributor, features, internet, Social Media, trending, weddingFor more Social Media coverage:Follow Mashable Social Media on TwitterBecome a Fan on FacebookSubscribe to the Social Media channelDownload our free apps for Android, Mac, iPhone and iPad

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Dana Oshiro is a Canadian writer and the senior analyst and publishing strategist for NetShelter Technology Media‘s 200+ gadget, mobile and IT bloggers. She writes regularly at Villagers with Pitchforks, tweets as @suzyperplexus and connects with others via LinkedIn. When I began planning one of the happiest days of my life, I felt like a failure.

I’m just not one of those people who had dreamt of getting married since the age of four. So, when a friend forwarded me her Pinterest inspiration board, I panicked. How could a mere mortal like me possibly collect 300 antique milk bottles, fashion an all-feather headdress, design a signature cocktail for 200 people, and still find time to do my job? SEE ALSO: 10 iPhone Apps for Planning the Perfect Wedding Then I came to my senses. Martha Stewart or Real Simple wasn’t going to suck me into a downward spiral of shame.

With the help of a few friends and new brides, I’ve amassed a list of digital (and practical) resources. Here’s what we came up with to make it out of our weddings alive, on budget and in love.

1. Collaborative Planning Many wedding planning tools don’t offer a collaborative, real-time editing feature.

In other words, they assume one person is planning everything — not always the case. Meanwhile, DropBox and Google Docs let you share contracts and spreadsheets with ease. Use these tools in combination with Google Tasks or Remember the Milk to create calendar reminders.

2.The Venue Let’s get real — the venue can wreak havoc on your budget. Site rentals may not include furniture, linen, staff, security, liability insurance, corkage and cake-cutting fees or gratuities. Glamour compiled a list of questions to help you uncover hidden costs. Also, check directories like VenueTastic, Eventective and Here Comes the Guide for quotes. There are also a number of location-specific venue directories, including DailyAisle for the Bay Area and LeadingSpaces for New York.

3. Invites and Next Steps Pingg and Paperless Post are great electronic invite services. Afraid your Internet-challenged relatives might miss the memo? Check out Ink Garden, Moo, Minted and Etsy for a wide range of print designs. Once the invites are out, collect RSVPs via email or through a Google Form linked to a website. Rather than using a more expensive wedding service, our brides chose Virb and Tumblr to customize their wedding sites.

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How to Plan the Perfect Wedding Online

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