Do You Want Hours of Your Life Back From Wedding Planning?

These wedding planning tools will give you just that

Every year, some new wedding startup comes sprinting out of the gate claiming to solve all your planning problems. And every year I’m a little bit hopeful that maybe someone’s finally figured it out. But most of the time, after signing up and exploring, I leave disappointed. It’s like the people developing wedding apps never actually planned a wedding. (Spoiler alert: they usually haven’t.)

So when our longtime partner Zola announced that they’d be expanding their registry platform to include wedding tools (and now stationery too) my ears perked up. I’ve always thought of Zola as a really thoughtful wedding registry, in that their features actually make things easier on you. From being able to add gifts from pretty much anywhere in time and space (including cash, subscriptions, experiences, and even gift cards) to choosing when you receive them, the perks of Zola are all focused on making sure you get the gift you want in a time and manner that doesn’t involve random surprise boxes showing up on your doorstep and cluttering your home pre-wedding. (Speaking from the experience of moving apartments two weeks after our wedding, that one feature would have been 🙌.)

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A couple looking through a wedding album looking very calm and very chill

But a streamlined registry doesn’t exactly solve the rest of your wedding planning stress, amiright? Barring family drama (which to my deep disappointment, I can do nothing about), one of my biggest frustrations with modern wedding planning is that we have an abundance of technology—spreadsheets, tools, online shopping—and yet none of it speaks to each other. If you order invitations with one company, you have to import your guest list into another platform to create your registry, and then export your thank you card list when it’s time to send those out. But Zola has been busy at work the last few years closing the gap on the planning process, and y’all, they are killing it. Not only can you use Zola’s s tools to plan your wedding from top to bottom, but they’ve brought the same level of thoughtfulness to each new development. Here are a few of the highlights:

Free Planning Tools

When you sign up with Zola, the first thing you get access to is their planning tools—things like a guest list manager, checklist, and event tracker (so you can manage RSVPs for all your wedding events separately). While you can find most of these tools elsewhere, what sets Zola apart is that they don’t make any assumptions about who you and your partner are and what’s important to you. For example, the first thing I noticed about Zola’s planning tools is that their wedding checklist is fully customizable and comes preprogrammed with milestones from over thirty different cultures and religions (which you can preselect, so only the most relevant info is given to you). You can also choose your checklist adventure: there’s a behemoth step-by-step planning timeline if you need help keeping all the minute details in order, and a slightly less overwhelming version if lots of information gives you a panic attack.

A watercolor botanical invitation suite from Zola on a pink table displayed with a ribbon and succulents

Affordable Invitations and More

Maybe my biggest pet peeve about wedding planning is that tools and products are often separate. So you need a spreadsheet to create your guest list. Then you have to upload your spreadsheet into whatever invitation designer you’re using. Then you have a wedding website with an RSVP tool somewhere else. And you probably need another spreadsheet for keeping track of gifts and who needs a thank you card. But with the launch of Zola’s brand-new suite of (surprisingly affordable) paper goods, you can basically close the gap on all of that. If you use their planning tools to create your guest list, then all of those details will automatically be linked to your invitation suite (with free recipient addressing, huzzah). You can track your RSVPs directly through the Zola platform, and even get pre-addressed thank you cards when it’s all over, without ever having to leave the platform.

A floral invitation suite from Zola displayed on a marble tabletop with a bunch of white flowers, retro clear frame glasses, a gold pen, and other accessories

Zola recently expanded their paper goods to include:

One hundred printed invites from Zola will set you back just $200, and guys, the designs are good. (I especially love this one with the dainty greenery and also this tropical number.) Plus for at least another week you can get 30% off all their paper goods when you use the code PAPER30 at checkout. Which is not exactly small potatoes.

A woman places headphones on her partner so he can listen to music at the Zola NYC pop-up

Planning IRL (Plus some fun)

While the internet has made wedding planning loads easier, sometimes I do think we’d get things done a lot faster IRL. And Zola had the same idea. Which is why last month they launched their brand-new New York City pop-up store. At their new showroom you can browse and register for gifts, shop for wedding invitations, create a wedding playlist, you can even step inside their cake topper booth with your partner to get scanned for a custom cake topper that looks just like you (that last one is only available through April, though, so make an appointment before it goes).

Various 3D printed customized cake toppers on a shelf at the Zola NYC pop-up

There are also people in the new Zola pop-up. (I KNOW. Novel idea.) Which means that if you’re stuck trying to figure out what to register for and just need some unbiased guidance from normal non-salesy people, Zola has you covered. We’ve met a bunch of their team members in person over the years, and I can assure you, you’re in good hands. (I mean, they’ve quoted Cardi B in their event programming. If that doesn’t build trust, what does?)

Various registry items on shelves at the Zola NYC pop-up

The Best Registry

And of course, I would be remiss to leave out the fact that Zola still has my favorite wedding registry in the game. While the rest of the industry still acts like you spend all your time indoors cooking, Zola acknowledges that your registry might reflect a mix of interests from both you and your partner—from quirky home decor to outdoorsy gear to experiences and subscriptions. And because they’ve thought of pretty much everything, it’s really easy to make any Zola gift a group gift (goodbye guilt over your champagne taste). Plus, as I mentioned above, your registry is not complete until you say it is. For example, if you registered for something and then either changed your mind or were given a duplicate gift (there’s always someone that goes off registry), you can cancel or exchange things online and never have to go into a store (your gifts don’t ship until you say so).

A kitchen full of example plate sets, pots, pans, and other things to put on your wedding registry at the Zola NYC pop-up

If you’re feeling stuck on where to start, you can use Zola’s starter guides to get some inspiration (or their app, which is basically Tinder for wedding gifts). You can shop according to what your guests can afford, with curated lists of items under $100, $50, and $25. Or by your personal style. (Midcentury modern? Scandinavian-inspired? Yes and yes.) Though my personal favorite gift guides are the up-and-coming designer collection and the Made in America shop, which are both filled with homey organic housewares that look like they belong in your neighborhood indie shop. (Do I need this plant stand in my life? Yes, yes I do. And not to belabor the point, but you can also register for plants. Millennials everywhere, rejoice.)

Maybe it’s because I’ve been burned so many times by wedding technology before, but any time I get an update from Zola on how they are growing their business, I’m like:

via GIPHY

It’s worth adding that no one should be surprised to find that the one company really building on the APW legacy of sane, couple-focused wedding planning and taking it to the next level is a woman-owned business with a diverse executive team (over half of their senior leadership are women and people of color).

A wedding cake that reads "Anything For Love" next to two marble plates and a cake topper

So if you’re just getting started in your wedding planning journey and are looking for an inclusive platform to keep all your logistics in order—from your checklist to your guest list to your invitations and your registry—check out the new and improved Zola and then sign up for a free account. Your future=-self called me and told me they said thanks.

Zola Logo

This post was sponsored by Zola. With Zola, you can build the registry you actually want; add items from a selection of over 50,000 gifts (plus add from any store), or if physical objects aren’t your style, register for experiences and subscriptions—heck, with Zola you can even register for your blowout. (They are partnered up with GLAMSQUAD. I’m not mad about it.) And with Zola Weddings, you can manage your wedding checklist and your guest list too. Other perks include group giftingshipping control (aka you tell your registry when you want to receive stuff), and the lowest credit card processing fee in the industry for cash gifts, if you choose to add a cash registry option. Click here for a full list of Zola’s features and sign up for Zola today!

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