What Wedding Apps and Tools Are You Using to Make Planning Easier?


This wedding isn’t gonna plan itself

by Meg Keene, CEO & Editor-In-Chief

two women typing on blue keyboards

Not so long ago, when my friends got engaged, they’d ask me what wedding websites they should read or what books they should buy. (I mean, APW and the APW book and APW Planner obviously, but there are some other great reads.) But lately, the question from newly engaged friends is about apps. What wedding planning apps should they use?

But the funny thing is, wedding planning has never been super conducive to organizing on a tiny hand-held device, so I never know quite what to say to them. “Google Drive is good…” I normally offer. “And like, Pinterest and Instagram for ideas.” But that always feels like a sort of terrible answer, which isn’t a huge surprise, given that in nearly ten years in the wedding industry, I never cease to be underwhelmed. I like to joke that I have a successful wedding business because the bar was so low you could practically trip on it, at least back in 2008.

But the other truth that has been shown over and over again (and this recent article by Ellen Pao stomach churningly proves once more) is that tech is a deeply sexist place. And that means that most of the money that goest to build apps and wedding planning tools goes to men. Worse, it’s not uncommon for it to go to men who have never planned a wedding before. I know. I know. It’s so bad it’s almost funny.

This has been particularly driven home in recent years, as we’ve been on the other end of hundreds of wedding startup press releases, nearly always written by guys who thought, “Weddings would be an easy industry to disrupt,” and have ideas so laughably bad that I wish they’d been run by even ONE female wedding industry professional before money was wasted on it. (Favorite: An app that lets you send out all your wedding invites via Facebook Messenger… Great for people who want their invitations immediately lost to the digital wasteland.)

Which brings me to y’all. As some of the savviest people planning weddings out there, what tools are you using to help master the project management marathon that is wedding planning? What tools do you like? What tools have you found to be garbage? And while we’re at it, what’s the one tool you really wish existed?

P.S. For those of you who like paper, the APW Planner is a great place to get all the information you need to actually plan a wedding, and the APW spreadsheets are a great place to start building your Google Docs wedding planning machine.

Are you using tech (or even just a notebook) to make wedding planning easier? Share your best wedding planning hacks!

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. She has written two best selling wedding books: A Practical Wedding and A Practical Wedding Planner. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in Oakland, CA with her husband and two children. For more than you ever wanted to know about Meg, you can visit MegKeene.com.

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  • Lisa

    We used a lot of Google drive when we got married nearly three years ago. I’ve heard of some commenters saying they used Trello, and finally having access to it through work, I can see where it would be a huge boon. It’s easy to create cards for all of the tasks and assign them to one person or another with due dates. You could also attach important documents like vendor contracts, which would save you the trouble of trying to remember the exact set of keywords to locate them in your in-box.

    • Jane

      Trello was pretty great for many things, like keeping lists of all the DIY projects, supplies I still needed, stages completed etc. More than once I pulled it up in the aisles of hardware stores so I could show the experts exactly what I was trying to accomplish.
      I didn’t do this carefully, but there are, I think, ways to share some thing and not others. So you could share projects involving family and friends but keep your contracts private.
      Trello was not great for guest lists, etc. we used plain old Google docs for that.

    • Maria Holland

      We used Trello + a Google spreadsheet + Dropbox. I’ve turned a few other people onto Trello by telling them about it, and we’re now using it in our post-married life.

  • Zoya

    Super-techie solution: a couple of software engineer friends used a bug tracker to organize their wedding to-do list. They said it was massively helpful. We did not do this, as I am a fuzzy and know not of bug trackers, but now my husband says he wishes we had…

  • Angela’s Back

    My husband and I each had a notebook where we had lists and prices and plans and such… well, I had a notebook and he had a folder full of papers because sometimes he likes to freestyle, but yeah, it pretty much worked for us! But we planned a very small (12 people including us) wedding, I imagine if it had been bigger we would have done a lot more with Google Drive, which we used but really just to collect addresses in one place and also to work on the ceremony script.

  • Hannah

    We’re only about 3 weeks into planning but so far the APW Planner plus Google Docs has been perfect for us! I love that we can both go on the Google Doc and work on it together when we’re not physically together (like when we’re bored at work haha).

  • penguin

    We use Google Drive to share documents, and most of our planning has taken place in a massive spreadsheet that somebody shared on APW a while back. It has sheets for venue searches, planning, invitations, seating charts, budget – it’s great. And the sheets are color coded! And they link to each other! So when you mark down that Uncle Phil is coming to your wedding, it checks if you’ve assigned him a seat at a table yet, and will shade the cells red if not. I don’t remember who originally shared it or else I would give them credit.

    I also found the seating chart tool from Wedding Wire to be pretty good – you can add tables with seats to a diagram, and then drag and drop people into seats.

    • Katelyn

      Oh hi! That sounds like mine! https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1RldrmDe_eCpSB75DHtqIa3vOEOYGQcU1-c0wmsTwOxs

      Maybe it’s the same? If not feel free to lift anything off of it that you like!

      • penguin

        YES this is it!! You’re my wedding planning hero, this spreadsheet has been AMAZING. Thanks so much for sharing it!!

      • Rosa

        Why did I not have this two years ago?

      • Lexipedia

        Oh my goodness, you are a lifesaver.

    • ssha

      +1 for wedding wire seating chart! So helpful!

  • Kaitlyn

    I pretty much only use Google Drive. I’m also planning on using Postable to get everyone’s addresses for our save the dates. I figure we get deeper (seating charts, etc) we might need other things.

    • Jess

      We pretty much used Google Drive too.

      I did the seating charts using post-it notes w/ color coordination for how we knew them so I could quickly rearrange and move sheet of paper “tables” to get related tables to sit near each other.

      • Kaitlyn

        Ooh I like the post-it idea!

        • Jess

          I’m like 99% sure I got it from a APW happy hour, so I can’t take credit, but I can confirm it is *extremely* useful to avoid seating “table of rowdy college kids” next to “table of Jess’s older family members”

  • sage

    Not related to wedding planning in general, but I love that all the places where we have registered for gifts have apps. It makes it easy to add things to the registry as they pop into my head, plus having access to the online reviews is useful.

  • angela

    I thought wedding email addresses were a little silly before we got engaged (or at least more of a fun detail than a practical choice), but I ended up being so glad we made one. It ensured wedding emails didn’t get lost in the hundreds of other emails we get in our personal/work lives and made it easy to search for what we needed. We didn’t have to worry about vendors dropping the cc:ed email, and it cut down on vendors only addressing me.

    • Jane

      My number one wedding planning regret is not making one at the very beginning.

    • K8314

      Plus, if you avoid picking something overtly wedding-y, you can continue to use it as a joint email address down the road (if you’re into sending e-holiday cards, having a shared calendar, etc.).

      • penguin

        This is what I wish we’d thought about – ours has “wedding” in the email address, so it won’t be super useful after the wedding is done. I like the idea of a joint account for other stuff though.

      • Lexipedia

        This was a tip from my brother who continues to use his himandwife@gmail account six years later for family email chains and baby pix, etc. We now have meplushim@gmail with the same as our wedding URL and insta hashtag. It has worked really well, and that email can continue to be useful.

    • accidental_diva

      Also grab them for wedding parties – we did one for my SIL’s bachelorette and one for the bridal shower – saved our lives having everything go to one spot (and we had them auto forwarded to my email and her sisters emails – which you can do if they are all gmail)

  • Rose

    I don’t particularly care for Google Drive, so we used a shared Dropbox folder that had a bunch of spreadsheets plus some text documents of various things. I thought it would work well to share schedules and let parents help put in addresses and such. It worked great for about 2/3rds of the people involved! The callenge was from my now-wife and her family. Both my wife and MIL use OpenOffice. Which meant that every time they opened one of the documents, it got saved with no formatting at all. Like, not even the width of columns in spreadsheets could be kept. It drove me crazy–fortunately by the time that MIL’s computer did this to our program about a week and a half out, I had learned to save another copy, so that I could just make her changes by hand on my version, which hadn’t been reduced to a basic page of text.

    Also, at some point a few months before the wedding MIL’s Dropbox stopped updating. She did not know this had happened. So I started getting emails (ugh, I know, my wife told her to talk to her instead of going directly to me but that didn’t happen) about why MIL’s friends who were expecting to be invited and had gotten save the dates weren’t on the guest list, even though they totally actually were. Also why her mother, who had passed away a couple of months before then, was still on there. I still feel bad about that one, even though it wasn’t my fault, because I had in fact updated the guest list.

    My MIL is actually lovely and we get along very well, but it was super frustrating. I’d say Dropbox works well if everyone can use it and their computers actually work (and they don’t have moral objections to just buying Microsoft Office like the rest of us have to). My mom and our friends did just fine with Dropbox.

    For our registry, we used Thankful, and they were WONDERFUL.

  • Postable was our go-to for gathering addresses of our guests.

    I used Pinterest specifically for 1) mother of the bride dress shopping with my mom; 2) examples of arrangements for our florist; 3) examples of decor for our rental company. I’m a visual person so it was super helpful to share photos of what I wanted.

    We used Dropbox to share docs/files between each other and with our coordinator.

    • penguin

      Yep Pinterest was key in sending a board of ideas to our florist for bouquets, boutonnieres, and my flower crown.

  • Pickle

    My vape pen.

    • yup

      bwahahaha yassss

  • Jane

    On a related note: what shared listmaking apps do people use (like for grocery shopping but also just like a shared notepad that we can each access from our phone)? We could have really used one during wedding planning and now that we are living together and trying to set up our apartment we could really really use one.

    • penguin

      We use Out of Milk, and for a long time I liked it, but now it won’t sync between our phones for some reason. This one is specifically for groceries as well.

    • Lexipedia

      We use AnyList and even the luddite FI has found it really useful. It has different formats so you can have a list that autofills and categorizes grocery items and one that lists wedding songs in the same app. We payed for the Family upgrade, which is $12 a year and 100% worth it.

    • Eenie

      We use keep. We both have Android phones. It’s simple.

    • Sarah Tiambeng

      We use Keep! It’s a simple list app with Google available on android and iPhone. It’s managed through Google so you can just add users with their email address and they can see any edits, even in real time. The desktop version is also handy- keep.google.com

      • Zoya

        +1 for Keep! We also used it for wedding to-do lists, and now we use it for stuff like grocery lists and fridge/freezer inventory.

      • ssha

        Keep keeps my ADD butt in gear. Also there’s a Chrome extension so you can click it and it will add the link to Keep if you’re on a webpage and want to sort of bookmark it in a prominent place! Works well for things that don’t as much belong on Pinterest.

      • penguin

        I forgot about Keep! I like it for packing lists because you can check off things.

    • Her Lindsayship

      We use Wunderlist for groceries, to-do lists, lists of things we want to watch together, meal planning, and recipes. It doesn’t have particularly complicated functionality beyond making a shared list. You can add comments, photos, sub-tasks, due dates, and reminders to each item in a list, and you can assign an item to a particular person, and this has been enough for us. I think there are meal planning apps out there that like, track the calories for you, or organize a grocery list for you based on recipes, and stuff like that. But we’re good with the shared lists, and it’s free. :)

    • Em

      We use Wunderlist for lists, and Trello for more complicated projects (like moving internationally…). I love them both, but use Wunderlist more in the day to day. Shared grocery lists are incredible.

    • ladyjanegreysanatomy

      I use Remember The Milk and it has changed my life. It’s a cumbersome name and it’s more complex than wonderlist (which I used previously) but unlike wonderlist it allows tasks to be in multiple categories and just has way more options for sorting and prioritizing, which is very useful for me. I didn’t like having to organize my lists before I make them and then redo everything if my mental organizing changes. With RTM, it’s very easy to add tasks quickly and to make changes without redoing the whole thing. You can view tasks by due date, category, priority, or your own custom arrangements. You can also add location, so if you have a number of disparate tasks that are all nearby, you can see them and tick them off while you’re there. Oh, and I made a calendar tag which is set up to auto populate my calendar app so I don’t have to enter appointments and stuff like that twice! Their website/blog has a whole lot of other tricks you can geek out on.

      You have to pay extra for sub tasks, but I have found just making a task for each thing within a category and adding notes for longer or multi-step tasks works pretty well. I haven’t shared it with others, but I know you can and given the overall functionality I suspect it would work well. It works on desktop browser and has an app which syncs. It’s also free for pretty broad functionality so you can play around with it without too much risk.

    • I’ve been using todoist.com for years and just now looked to see if there was a function to share lists, and there is! Yay!

  • lirr

    We’ve only just gotten started (this is Day 4 of wedding planning!) but so far we are using just the APW books and Google Drive. Sharing things as “view only” on Google has been a really great way of letting our family feel included, but I’m definitely going to scroll through the comments to see if anyone has something amazing that I haven’t heard of…

  • AmandaBee

    This isn’t a wedding planning app per se, but I organize my home and my work life on Wunderlist. It has an app + a desktop function that sync, and it’s basically project management software that consists of to-do lists, but with some fancy bells and whistles that I find helpful.

    You could easily create a folder for “wedding planning” and then different lists with to-do items. To-do items can have different deadlines and reminders set, so you don’t have to remember 3 weeks out to hassle the people who didn’t RSVP because your app will remind you to do it. Items can also have notes in case you want to includes notes, links, or instructions. And you can have shared folders/lists and assign someone else tasks, so your fiance and you could assign each other tasks and set up your own individual reminders. I didn’t discover Wunderlist until after wedding planning,but setting up lists for our joint chores, financial tasks, and my work life has been a gamechanger.

    We personally used Google Drive to track our budget and scan and upload receipts, contracts, etc. so we both could access that info. We used an excel sheet on Google drive to track our guests, RSVPs, and gifts for thank-you cards. We didn’t use anything fancy for invitations, but we didn’t have that many guests so it was easy enough to just plug it into a spreadsheet. Ditto vendor info – we only saw a few vendors, so I just tracked the info on Google Drive so we could access/talk about it together.

    I would’ve liked to try a seating chart app, but I waited until the last minute and just ended up doing ours on a piece of paper with post-its (old school style).

    • ssha

      I really like Wunderlist!

  • Alana

    I’m not a huge app person, but Wedding Wire has a pretty good one that replicates all the budget and checklist functionality on their full site. I found that site to be the best for those two tools, with the Knot’s version just not as detailed or useful. For wedding website and registry, we used Zola. I love it, but I suspect my guests are a bit thrown off by a registry that’s not also a store. Otherwise, it’s been Google drive for spreadsheets and Pinterest for visuals.

  • canduh

    One Excel spreadsheet with multiple sheets, one sheet per vendor for notes/screenshots of invoices/etc. For emails I use gmail so I just had a “folder”/tag for each wedding related email. For RSVP I did surveymonkey. Admin passwords for surveymonkey and our registry was in the spreadsheet.

    Father in law kept insisting we needed a binder. He seemed to think there would be some huge amount of paperwork or something…. (he may have assumed it would have been like my SIL’s wedding, which was super traditional and had a zillion DIY things and like a dozen vendors…… both families and the couple met weekly for monthly to discuss details) but we did splendidly with one document, an email tag and two websites. We didn’t feel the need for a wedding website (schedule is in the invitation…. registry was in an email we sent with the invitation….and that’s like 90% of why people check a wedding website)

    I don’t see the point in having apps beyond document organizers (google drive, sure)…. it just seems like adding an unnecessary layer of complication.

  • Katharine Jane Schweitzer

    I wish that all of my vendors had used HoneyBook. My photographer used it, and it was so easy to see how much we had left to pay and when we had paid earlier installments.

    App wish list: an app that helps one make an awesome DIY seating chart display that one can print professionally. I saw various etsy stores that make seating charts, but sending the names to someone else requires that your seating chart be finished earlier for printing and shipping. My wedding is this Saturday, and we just tweaked our seating chart this past weekend in light of unfortunate cancellations due to Hurricane Irma.

  • Sarah Tiambeng

    For wedding reception layout I have used AllSeated.com and really enjoyed it. It has a lot of venues preloaded with measurements and you can add a lot of detail and color coding to a given layout. It also works for ceremony layouts as well.

  • Just married!

    Everything was a bit scattered around for us–google drive for stuff we shared with other people, giant excel sheet and folders of docs on a flash drive for just the two of us, etc.etc., but for me, my best tool for keep track of everything in the moment was my Leuchturm bullet journal. Bullet journaling can go off the Instagram deep end if you wanna get all visual with it, but I just use it for the practicality and simplicity of the system and found the system itself incredibly helpful for remembering what needed doing when and what I had already done. All of our maps and the first drafts of our seating charts went in there too, which made them easy to reference, since I carry that thing with me everywhere even when not wedding planning.

  • ManderGimlet

    Just a shared spreadsheet, a notebook, and my dayplanner! Though I don’t have to coordinate with anyone, so there isn’t really anything to share other than my fiance.

  • Her Lindsayship

    I love that you brought this around to the issue at heart: sexism in the tech industry. I just finished reading that Ellen Pao article and there were several moments where my jaw dropped. I hate that this is where we are today. Also, wedding invites via Facebook Messenger? Really?? I think the most annoying thing about that is that aside from the fact that it’s out of touch with wedding norms, it’s not even helpful! I can Facebook message people myself quite easily! In fact, the lack of effort involved is part of why it’s considered gauche! Just ugh.

    • Pickle

      Right? I’m just imagining these dudes sitting around being like “hmm, the reason that most people use formal wedding invitations must be that brides with their lady-brains are not yet aware that there are modern, faster types of communication. If we tell them about Facebook, we’ll be rich!”

  • boo

    I used the google drive apps so if I didn’t have access to my laptop I could easily see my spreadsheets on my phone. Otherwise I had the huge wedding planner that I loved checking off tasks that I had completed, and then a excel spreadsheet for all the people/addresses/vendors/etc.

  • Engaged Chicago

    I created an iCloud photo folder for wedding dress shopping. My sister, mom, friends and I added to it as I tried on dresses and I shared it with other bridesmaids, family or friends who live far away. They were able to comment, like and ask questions in real time (or see after, depending on when I shared it). Plus now I can easily access and look back on those photos! Some people may be more private than this but my friends told me it was so nice to feel like they were there, too.

  • ep

    We are using Joy for a wedding website and really enjoying it so far. If you have guests email addresses, then you can use joy to send save the date emails and collect mail addresses and RSVPs. (Plus fun things like “what song do you want to dance to at the wedding?” and “what words of advice do you have?”) They do have an app, but I’ve found it less functional than the regular browser version. For registry, we went with Zola because it allows physical gifts and monetary gifts, and I love that it 1) allows group gifting and 2) records all the gifts for me to make thank you cards easier :)

    • Engaged Chicago

      I used Joy too! Sometimes I wish the text was bigger than the photos but I thought it was visually attractive and agree it’s helpful and intuitive.

    • Kaitlyn

      I was contemplating using Joy! Some of the functionality I want isn’t there though so I’m still hemming and hawing haha

      • ep

        Would recommend! I agree that there could definitely be improvements in some functions…but on the other hand, it’s free :)

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  • jem

    I really liked the app WeddingHappy to track our budget and vendors. We also used google docs, but it was nice to have it in an app so when someone asked, I could see the info I needed in less than 10 seconds (I never downloaded google docs to my phone)

  • suchbrightlights

    Website by WithJoy, organization by Google Sheets. I make spreadsheets in my sleep. I’m not really finding myself using a lot of the website tools, preferring to export the guest list (we offered online RSVP as an option) and manipulate data my own ways.

  • Jan

    We mostly just used Google Drive. We both use it a ton for planning work events so I just took the same template I use for that and used it for wedding stuff. We mostly kept things to one master spreadsheet, til a week or two before the event (minus contracts and stuff, but it was helpful to have all those saved in one folder for ready access).

  • Katy

    Google docs!! We are in a LDR, so many of our planning nights were skyping while editing the same document at the same time. Amazing!
    Also, it’s not an app, but http://www.canva.com , was priceless to design everything, from invitations, to order of service, table distribution and menu.

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  • We’ve gone full google. Our website is a google site, with integrated google maps and calendar and form for gathering addresses. The form feeds straight into the massive spreadsheet to create an RSVP list, alongside a RAG statused gantt chart, a colour coded budget, a honeymoon budget that auto-updates the exchange rate, and links to all of the contracts stored within the drive. If I could integrate google keep better for storing possible vendors / centerpiece ideas / to do lists (come on, google, I want to auto-update my gantt chart by ticking a box on my phone!), I would be 100% set, but I have to live with that being just a little bit more separate for now.

  • idkmybffjill

    Google Drive and WedHappy! WedHappy came with a laid out timeline of when to do stuff, and you could add/subtract/change due dates from there. I loved it.

  • Rhea Bishop

    WeddingHappy Wedding Planner was created by a woman (BONUS!!) and one of the better wedding apps I’ve seen around. Super detailed and helps by prompting you to get things done – keeps track of budgets and spending – which is SO important – as well as hitting all of your due dates. Check it out!

    https://www.weddinghappy.com

  • Leah

    I love Zola’s new wedding app with the customizable checklist- I feel like the timeline makes sense and the app is easy to use! If they had the website feature before I started wedding planning I probably would have used that too to keep registry, checklist, and wesbite all together.

  • Lesley

    I really appreciate this article—so true about the app industry! Specifically for planning (for both industry insiders AND brides/grooms), I think Aisle Planner (a new cloud-based tool run by women!) is onto something great. For a photo/video and day-off organizational app, Ceremony is the best out there. Full disclosure: I work for Ceremony, and I’m extremely proud to be a female staff member working with a mixed-demo app staff who have ALL planned, budgeted, and dreamt about their own weddings. Like Aisle Planner, we’re constantly talking to professionals, our users and potential users about which features work, which ones could use some tweaking, and which ones they’d like to see.

    • Lesley

      *day of