Wedding planning has been going high-tech for years. In fact, many traditional industries are being left in the dust by technology advances. As an example, online counselors are available for pretty much everything you need for your mental health requirements, or online universities and virtual learning provide the opportunity to stay home and get an education.
Nowadays there are platforms that offer all the services of a wedding planner, and more. It is open for debate whehter this is a good thing, as both a personal wedding planner and the DIY planning strategy have their advantages. We do think it’s a good time to explore these sites and what they can do for you to make planning your wedding as stress-free as possible.
We tried and tested three the most popular wedding websites:
- The Knot
Let’s take a look at each in this Minted vs Zola vs The Knot article!
Minted began as a virtual marketplace for independent artists and designers creating stationery items, original pieces of art, and decor. The purpose was (and still is) to showcase independent artists, and Minted Wedding grew organically from the site’s expansion.
Supporting seriously talented artists, Minted offers the unique advantage of individuality. Your wedding’s design suite is practically guaranteed to be one of a kind.
Classy and upscale. Minted Weddings reminded us of that fancy lady in the boutique graciously and patiently helping you try on every single gown in the place with genuine loving-kindness and without judgment.
Really. No purchase required.
Navigating Minted Weddings is relatively easy, and creating your wedding website is pretty quick as well. We published a mini tutorial a little while back that helps navigate you through creating your own wedding site there.
Just remember when you go to check it out, you’ll notice they focus up-front on the aesthetic planning before task management and wedding coordination options.
This makes sense because, as we said above, before Minted got into the wedding planning business, they were primarily a vendor for stationery goods and wedding decor. TBH, that’s at least 50% of planning a wedding anyway, but it can be a little frustrating if you want to switch up the sequence.
Once you go beyond the design selection portion of the site, get into the details of organizing and planning the practical aspects of your wedding, including the creation of a custom wedding website, putting together your registry, guest list management, travel information, etc.
- The free customized monogram maker was a cool place to start.
- The “bride on a budget” option is great. They offer the same quality, gorgeous, personalized products, only pared down and without the extra (and sometimes expensive) frills.
- A sample kit complete with paper types, color swatches, your favorite designs, and more. It’s a great, no-risk way to shop your invites, save the dates, etc- completely free.
- Coordinate designs for your website, ceremony, reception, bridal shower, etc.
- The style quiz! This is an awesome feature, it means you don’t have to spend hours scrolling through color palettes and designs. They calculate what they predict you’ll like and show you options accordingly, and you can expand from there if you choose (feature is optional, of course).
- The etiquette section is particularly useful, it comes complete with lists of helpful questions you should be asking your vendors, and a list of FAQ’s your guests will most likely have so you’ll be ready with answers.
- Toggle content display settings in one place to keep everyone updated with changes, control which groups see what changes. For instance, if you only need to communicate something to the wedding party, you may adjust your settings so only they see the changes relevant to them.
- Delete RSVP responses in bulk – a great feature if you’ve made scheduling changes. For instance, in case a pandemic hits and you’ve got to postpone the wedding, so you can start over with new RSVP requests.
- Switch your website design from the website manager without losing any information you’ve already entered on the site.
- You can create a virtual event on the website. You know, in case a pandemic hits and you have to have a virtual bridal shower or ceremony.
A few drawbacks
- It takes a while to get to the checklist. While it’s nice they provide suggested time frames to get each task done, the tasks are centered around what you’ll need to mail when, or suggestions for times to update your website. This is certainly important, but it’s nice to have the added features of timelines for coordinating with vendors and venues.
- Geared more toward host/guest communications rather than a comprehensive planning and coordinating experience.
- The gift registry consists of off-site links. While this can be inconvenient, it can also be a good thing. We’ll get into why a little further into this article.
Premium And Custom Tier Options
- In addition to all of the features of the free option, for a one time $15 fee, you’ll receive specialized services for website privacy, your own URL, photo gallery, and custom pages.
- For a one-time fee of $98, the custom tier offers the same features as the free and premium packages, but you’ll work one-on-one with an independent artist to create completely original designs for your website and matching wedding stationery.
Minted Weddings is certainly a fantastic choice if you want your wedding’s aesthetic custom-designed to your style. You can be certain that you won’t have the same invitations as your cousin’s sister, everything is designed specifically by local artists to fit your tastes, especially if you take advantage of the custom tier offer.
The wedding website is really quick and easy to set up, and the dashboard is quite user-friendly.
If you want to get straight to the meat and potatoes of coordinating, however, you’ll have to be patient.
With the way the site is constructed, you’re directed to choose your visual preferences and designs for your communications (save the dates, invitations, thank you notes, etc) before entering your guest list, registry information, travel details, etc.
As mentioned, that constitutes the majority of the choices you’ll have to make anyway, so it’s as good a place as any to begin.
Zola came out of the gates as a wedding planning website, so that is naturally their focus. Like Minted, they don’t charge for your wedding website, but they do charge for matching custom wedding stationery and decor.
Unlike Minted, when we say custom, we mean that loosely.
Zola is pretty straightforward and easy to navigate. The dashboard is nice and simple, and the features are accessible. But…
If we’re really getting opinionated, and probably a little petty, we weren’t 100% in love with the cheerful “You guys can do it!” “Just breathe!” “You’re a rockstar for planning a wedding!” banner across the top.
Why? Too reminiscent of middle school doodles on your trapper-keeper binder. We’re all adults here.
What does this have to do with its usefulness? Absolutely nothing.
There. We said it. Moving on…
- Zola truly is a one-stop-shop for all things wedding. You can find vetted vendors in your area, their registry is completely self-contained on the site, order your stationery, build your website, the whole enchilada.
- They offer a seating chart manager, which can be a life or death situation, depending on who you’re inviting.
- They offer a gift-tracking feature. Fantastic for taking the stress out of thank-you notes.
- They offer an RSVP feature for private events. For instance, only those invited to the rehearsal dinner can see its information and RSVP for it. Also possibly a life or death situation, depending on who you’re inviting.
- Zola doesn’t make it easy to use a registry from another store. Their major focus is their own universal registry feature.
- While they do offer a price matching feature, they awkwardly leave that up to guests to put in the legwork. Of course, it also has to be an in-stock item. Oh, and it has to be from an approved list of vendors.
- While we didn’t actually get in there and create our own registry (we pretty much did everything but that…), from what we’ve read, they have at least a 20% markup on their registry items.
- You will get promotional emails from Zola recommending products and services (read: potential spam) to include in your registry.
Custom Tier Options
They do offer specialized domains starting at $14.95. Some of the perks of their custom tier options include:
- Domain forwarding – Anyone entering your domain name in their browser will be redirected to your wedding website.
- The domain locking feature prevents any transfers of domain ownership or redirecting your nameservers. Domain Locking
- Get status alerts for changes in your domain.
- Your domains, hosting website builders, etc remain in your name and under your control with the auto-renew feature.
Zola is wedding focused. We don’t mean, like, they care about your wedding, we mean like they’re that bestie who squeals every time you show her your table runners.
Now, that’s not a bad thing by any means. Gearing up for your big day means getting psyched, and finding the joy in the process, so cheers to Zola for that.
The site is fairly easy to use, and super comprehensive in the free services offered. The wedding website interface is, for the most part, low-maintenance. Some guests, particularly those who aren’t tech-savvy may have a difficult time navigating some of the features.
The potential deal-breaker?
They sell so much stuff. All the stuff.
That’s fine, that could be a pro kind of situation for some, it certainly makes it easier (maybe) for your guests to pick stuff on your registry. Keep in mind, it’s not always smooth sailing with that kind of business model. This is how Zola provides a free, comprehensive wedding-planning website – they have to make money somehow, and they do so from their products, services, and “experiences”.
They also do so by providing your information to third-party vendors.
But then again, who doesn’t these days?
Like Zola, The Knot is a one-stop-shop, but they don’t stop there. The Knot Worldwide (TKWW) have brands that cater to every step of a couple’s relationship.
Site for those just getting engaged? Got it.
Site for wedding planning? Well, yeah.
How about baby birthin’? Got that too.
They’ve even got a “marriage health app” to empower couples to build and sustain healthy, happy marriages.
Wow. That’s a lot, but many of us need some hand-holding these days. These are scary times, so why the heck not?
So back to the wedding site…
If Zola is your enthusiastic bestie, The Knot is a combination of your hip aunt tellin’ it like it is if she were your personal brand manager. Again, all of these first impressions are totally just opinion, so grain of salt, yeah?
Setup and navigation were easy, and it took hardly any time to get a wedding website up and running.
The superstar feature of this site is the dashboard. We have to say, from a visual standpoint, the navigation tools are intuitive and pretty on point. It’s as if someone created project planning management software just for your wedding, and it’s super easy to organize and coordinate through their system.
We can see how it could easily get a little overwhelming- even bossy- if you don’t need all of the features they offer. The point is to keep it simple and stress-free, so if you feel like you’re a bad bride for neglecting to keep up with your tasks and timeline, that’s no fun. This ain’t a job, you’re not getting paid. Unless you’re a wedding planner.
- It’s got a really, really easy to use visual dashboard.
- Including registries from other places is a lot easier than Zola.
- You’re not limited to options from their website for wedding stationery. They partner with companies like Minted, Wedding Paper Divas, and others to create custom invites, programs, menus, decor- whatever you need- that coordinates with your website and your aesthetic.
- The Knot has a selection option for meal choices on their guest list where your guests can list what they’d like if you’re having a sit-down reception. Very cool.
- There’s an RSVP-for-anyone option, even if they’re not on your guest list. Sometimes that’s super helpful, sometimes it’s not. That’s why you can toggle it off or on.
- Like Minted Weddings, they have a style quiz to “define your wedding vision”. The extra option of sharing that aesthetic with your local vendors is an added bonus.
- They have a feature that incorporates your photos from hashtags or FaceBook albums onto your wedding website.
- It’s a lot easier to incorporate outside registries to your Knot site than on Zola.
- Budget tracker! This is a great service, it helps keep you in check and within budget with a personalized spending plan.
- Like Zola, The Knot shares you and your guests’ information with third-party vendors for marketing and advertising purposes. This can multiply exponentially when you take into consideration their world-wide domination of all sites love, weddings, babies, and marriage.
- The Knot isn’t as suited to small weddings as some of the other sites, there are a lot of extra features on the site you just may not need if you’re not throwing a society ball.
- The template designs are contemporary and hip, but you get the feeling you’ll be seeing them pop up at every wedding you go to for the next five years.
- The phone/app interface isn’t so smooth, some users reported that making updates to your website from your mobile device was a hassle.
Custom Tier Options
- A custom wedding domain is available for $19.99 for a full year and is renewable for the same price each year after.
- The Knot provides full tech support for your domain purchase. They handle the set-up, registration, and purchase process for no additional cost.
If you’re in the mood for a glitter-packed extravaganza, The Knot is awesome. They handle the paparazzi, your social media accounts, the VIP guest list, all of it. OK, that’s a little over the top, but they do have some perks that manage some of that stuff. The paparazzi is all you.
The Knot does have a really cool, user-friendly, visually engaging interface to help guide you through the coordinating and planning process. While they do make their money through products and services provided through the site, as well as third-party marketing agreements, they’re pretty good at giving you more freedom for where and from whom you purchase your stuff. Goodness knows there’s a lot of stuff to purchase.
The first thing that struck us when writing this review was the distinct personalities of each service, and what that brings to the table.
From a retail standpoint, think boutique vs department store.
A boutique may be a little pricier, but for something like planning a wedding, do you really want to scrimp on the most important stuff?
At the end of the day, it’s more about your experience in the moment (as much as you can be in the moment when your stomach is doing somersaults and you’re worried about losing your tiny breakfast on your dress before the ceremony), and less about who gave you what. Although, we concede, sometimes what someone got you can be seriously epic depending upon what it is.
The point is that all those sights, sounds, and fragrances – lovely textile sensory experiences – live on in your memories longer than the material stuff. These are the investments that pay off when planning your wedding.
So the verdict?
If you’re entertaining the idea of using a DIY wedding planning site, we highly encourage you to take a look at each site on your own. We’ve given you the lowdown of the primary points as we see relevant, but there are some pros and cons to each we didn’t have time to list here. We’re quite sure you didn’t want to read a ton about wedding planning sites. That’s boring, so we included what we thought would be useful.
Your wedding’s gonna be fabulous because of what it means, and because it’s yours! The rest is icing on the perfect cake.