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Wedding Planning: Tips for Choosing Online Wedding Vendors
By Jennifer Benson
If you're looking to the internet for help with your wedding plans, you're
sure to benefit from the wealth of organizational and comprehensive wedding
tips, ideas, tools and resources available right at your fingertips! The
internet is packed with useful websites, as well as online stores offering
every wedding product and service imaginable. You'll find everything from
wedding invitations, wedding keepsakes and wedding favors to online bridal
gift registries, travel agencies for destination weddings and honeymoons,
wedding consulting services and much more. To ensure that you can recognize
and hire or purchase from qualified wedding vendors, the key is to be aware
of a few general guidelines.
First, it's important to understand the two basic kinds of online wedding
vendors with whom you may choose to do business with.
Wedding Vendor Type 1) An actual, physical storefront who opts to
have a website to further broaden their customer base and supplement their
+ Possible benefits of this type of wedding vendor: This is a wonderful
opportunity for you, as you may familiarize yourself with the wedding vendor's
offerings via their website and then choose to drop by their store to have
a look around and complete your purchase in person. Or you may do this vice-versa
- have a look around their store and then go online to make your purchase.
This is a very flexible consumer environment for you, as there can be multiple
sources of contact and convenient ways to browse! You can also get a personal
feel for the type and level of service you may expect from the wedding vendor
and their staff.
- Possible drawbacks to this type of wedding vendor: Though not true or hard
to measure in many cases, the wedding vendor with a physical storefront does
have the potential to be more expensive. And though the storefront exists,
it may not be within reasonable driving distance for you to visit in person
Wedding Vendor Type 2) A virtual store who deals exclusively online.
+ Possible benefits of this type of wedding vendor: You'll often find a
reasonable value for your dollar here, as in many cases, online wedding vendors
tend to have lower overhead. As well, take advantage of shopping anytime
you feel like it...even if it's the middle of the night!
- Possible drawbacks to this type of wedding vendor: In general, you will
never actually meet the wedding vendor with whom you are entrusting a certain
aspect of your wedding to. To some brides and grooms, this may be worry-some,
for others, not a big deal. Do what feels right for you, as this issue may
be dependant upon what item or area of your wedding you are shopping for.
What to Look for in an Online Wedding Vendor:
Quality and selection: Look around the website to gain a sense of the overall
image of the wedding vendor or their company as a whole. What general impression
do you get from the products or services offered? What about the tone, variety
and general appearance of the website? As with offline wedding vendors, first
impressions speak volumes online.
If applicable, browse through photographs, screenshots, detailed spec lists,
virtual tours and any other information provided. When dealing with products
specifically, many websites display close-up versions of product pictures,
which accurately showcase items from several different angles or viewing
Availability and delivery: Check into shipping rates and time frames for
delivery, as well as possible limitations/restrictions of service in your
area of residence. In regards to products, ensure that you are aware of shipping
cost variations for items exceeding a certain weight, or oppositely, any
shipping discount awarded for purchases in large quantities, such as wedding
Physical address or mailing location: Many wedding vendors are eager to supply
this information to give customers a sense of security that they're a dependable
and trustworthy "real" business.
Methods of contact: Wedding vendors want to communicate with you! Quality
wedding professionals look forward to meeting your needs and usually provide
several means of communication. Look for email addresses, online forms or
phone numbers. Some wedding websites even provide a "Live Help" button with
which you can carry out a real-time conversation with a staff member. In
addition to giving you many options for contact, many online wedding vendors
also have a "Frequently Asked Questions" page on their website that may be
of some assistance to you. Often, common questions are outlined and explained
for immediate answers.
Helpful suggestions or advice: Not to be confused with the above point! While
a wedding vendor may offer open lines of communication with you, they must
follow through on it! Keep an eye out for their attitude toward you. Was
their response to your inquiry prompt? Enthusiastic? Informative? Look for
a willingness from the wedding vendor to answer your questions, provide details
and offer you suggestions. See if they have an overall positive attitude
toward you and about your wedding, as well as toward their business in general.
Experience: Wedding vendors want to prove that they are trustworthy and reliable!
Check out the wedding vendor's "Testimonials" or "Reviews" web page. See
what other brides and grooms have had to say about their experience with
this wedding vendor's product or service. If available, check out their "Press"
section to see what media coverage they have experienced and for what reasons.
Look for a wedding vendor who takes pride in what they do and in the level
of service they provide to their clients.
Take it a step further and type the appropriate business name or web address
into your search engine of choice to spend at least a few minutes paging
through the search results on a particular wedding vendor before buying.
You may find articles and press releases about the wedding vendor. Even more
helpful: you may come across forums or other valuable feedback from brides
and grooms who have personally dealt with the wedding vendor.
Free sample or trial options: With wedding products, many online wedding
vendors get your attention by offering a free sample of their wares. For
example, a wedding stationery store may offer to mail a sample invitation
kit mailed right to your door so you can see the quality of the cardstock
and design in person. With wedding services, many online wedding vendors
may offer a free trial option. For example, a guest list software company
may offer a trial version or time period for you to check out their system
and see how easy it is to use. Often, if a wedding service provider does
not offer a free trial, they will provide screenshots or an online tour for
you to experience a "sneak peek" of their services. If no sample or trial
options are available, see what money-back guarantees or refund policies
are in place.
Secure payment options: Many online wedding vendors accommodate with several
payment options for your convenience. Some process credit cards directly
on their website, or through a third party website. You may also have the
option to mail in a personal check or money order. Please be advised that
this could delay processing and shipping until payment is received by the
company. It may require longer, more flexible timelines on your part, often
by one week to 10 days.
Keep these general guidelines in mind while shopping online for your wedding,
and you'll be ready to make smart, conscientious decisions. When you choose
to be informed and aware, you possess savvy online shopper skills that enable
you to make the best wedding product or service purchases for you and your
About the Author
Jennifer Benson is Vice President and cofounder of
Websites, a leading online wedding service provider. WedQuarters offers
complete personal wedding websites, enhanced with dozens of useful and fun
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