From deposits on rentals to catering costs, planning a wedding can quickly wear out one's wallet. But not every step of the process has to be budget-busting. These five fabulous websites offer services allowing brides to shave a few dollars (or more!) from traditional wedding elements.
Who needs to pay for a wedding planner when you can set up an account on Lover.ly. This new wedding-focused search engine is the place where brides can read about new trends, look for products, find vendors and peruse real weddings for inspiration -- then "bundle" their favorites all in one spot. It's like Pinterest, but more focused and with an option to purchase what you love through direct channels to business owners.
While the look and feel of embossed invitations is unparalleled, the price tag attached is unforgiving toward tight budgets. Instead, scour the customizable suites on WeddingPaperDivas.com, where brides can score free samples as well as free color customization on the Signature Collection. Still want a taste of the luxe life? Couture wedding gown designer Claire Pettibone will be offering 12 romantic suites in collaboration with the site beginning in January 2014 (pictured). Another collaboration with BHLDN is on the way soon.
If you've ever felt the pressure to buy or spend more than you normally would in a department store or boutique, Kirstie Kelly removes all of that on-the-spot anxiety from your wedding gown search. For $35, women can borrow a dress from her dreamy West Coast collections and try it on at home for two days before sending it back. The cost of shipping both ways is included. If you decide one of her gowns is "the one," you can purchase it online from her site and receive it 12 to 14 weeks later cut to your measurements. If not, there's no awkwardness and shopper's remorse later. Bonus: Many of the Kirstie Kelly gowns are less than $3K.
Hot new registry site Zola, created by the founder of Gilt Groupe, offers a collection of stylish home decor, bed linens and kitchen electronics so couples can start their new life together on a hip, modern foot. But one category of the site called the "cash fund" makes sure they're not digging out of a wedding money pit first, allowing family and friends to make donations toward the cost of catering, music or even car services for the big day.
If the cost of a professional wedding photographer causes you to break out in sweat, consider letting your guests do all of the documenting that day for you. WedPics lets couples create private pages where friends and family can upload all of their photos from your wedding in real time via their phones or afterward on their desktops. The site will host them for life, or you can download hi-res versions for printing and framing. The good news? Signup is free.