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Keep your sanity (and your job) while planning your wedding by using the Internet

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If you answered yes to either question, planning a wedding can be a logistical nightmare; but for savvy brides and grooms-to-be, online wedding planning has become a lifesaver.

Lourdes Reigosa, a Web developer and advisory committee member for the Multimedia & Web Design department of The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale recently planned much of her own wedding online. She believes the Internet has revolutionized the way people plan a wedding.

“With 165 million Internet users in the United States, and so many excellent search engines available, it’s no wonder that planning a wedding online has become so popular,” said Reigosa.

According to Millie Martini Bratten, editor in chief of Bride’s Magazine, “The Internet has become an invaluable tool for couples planning their weddings.” Some 73 percent of Bride’s readers log on to the Web regularly for pre-wedding research, including everything from fashion and beauty styles to etiquette advice and inspirational reception ideas,” said Bratten. But for some, the idea of planning a wedding, or ordering wedding-related merchandise online, is a bit nerve wracking.

How do you know what you’re getting is really what you want for the big day?

Britta Wheeler, academic adviser at The Art Institute of New York City, used a source she found online to pick the perfect silk for her wedding gown, but also made phone calls directly to the supplier.

“I’m from Nebraska, and as it turned out, the fabric source I used was a stone’s throw from where I grew up,” said Wheeler.

She recommends taking advantage of expertise you can find online, or over the phone. Wheeler used the search engine “Google” to locate silk, and then called for swatches to help her make her final decision.

Stephanie Dowling, public relations director for The Art Institute of Phoenix, is doing much of her wedding planning online; however, she recommends whenever possible, having someone validate your decisions. Dowling chose an island in the Caribbean for her May 2004 wedding.

“We have never been to the location we chose, so we used the Internet to help us find a beach (for the ceremony), a reception location, minister, photographer, videographer, flowers and a wedding planner,” she said.

However, when Dowling’s wedding planner heard she was booking rooms at a particular villa, “She told us not to because it would have put our guests on the other side of the island.”

For many soon-to-married couples, creating a wedding Web site has been key to keeping wedding planning organized and sane. Dowling and her fiancée set up a wedding Web site to keep track of RSVPs. They’ve also done all their registries and shopping through online services.

“Our registries convert to store registries, so our guests have the ease of purchasing online or in-store for our gifts,” she said.

For brides-to-be looking for the perfect invitation or wedding favor, the Web offers great solutions. “Many sites let you order samples,” said Reigosa. “If you’re looking at invitations online, you can usually get free samples. For wedding favors, many Web sites offer an opportunity to purchase one sample, at a low price.”

If you’re looking for personal feedback from other couples planning weddings, Kirsten Wright, graduate employment advisor for The Art Institute of Washington, said she has found wedding chatrooms very helpful. But keep in mind, despite everybody being in the same boat — engaged, that is — people’s style, taste, and dreams of a wedding vary greatly. So, Wright said to “trust your instincts, and stick with your own style.”

Web sites she recommends include www.brides.com, www.nola.com, www.felicite.com, www.theknot.com and www.weddingchannel.com.

Is there anything that shouldn’t be ordered online for a wedding? “I would have to say the dress, although, it’s a very valuable tool in researching dresses. I located stores — all on the Web — and then went in person to try dresses on,” said Dowling.

— Courtesy of ARA Content

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