It took me a long time to admit it to myself, but I'll say it: Wedding planning is stressing me the eff out. When my fiancé's birthday dinner last night turned into a tense discussion of whether we should do our first dance to a band or a DJ — and we subsequently stayed up until 2 a.m. trying to get on the same page and, oh, figuring out how we're going to pay for it all — I began to realize that something needs to give. We either need to designate a wedding-free zone, which the birthday dinner should have been, or find a way to make decisions faster.
One way that we have been staying sane is by setting up a wedding website that helps keep us organized, with everything from the weekend's schedule and transportation information, to our registry, to, most crucially, FAQs, included. It's a pretty basic website, but it helps. But we really wish we had made it after Zola launched its wedding-website service — which happened today — because there are so many more features on it.
Zola Weddings is Zola — the service where you can register for stuff like wine tastings, not just towels and flatware — going beyond registry with a suite of free planning tools including a website, a customized checklist, and a guest-list manager.
"Zola wants to offer beautiful, interactive designs that are free, that are also integrated with your registry, where you can manage your guest list, RSVPs, and to-dos," Zola CEO and cofounder Shan-Lyn Ma said in an interview with Refinery29. "We focus on design and technology." The site is launching with 30 designs, each named after a different couple.
In its announcement about the launch, the company notes that wedding planning "remains an antiquated, inefficient, and fragmented process." You can say that again. I'm currently tracking our guest list in an Excel spreadsheet and our to-do checklist and budget in one of those scary pastel wedding-planning binders you find at Barnes & Noble. I really wish everything could be in one place and less cookie-cutter. Unlike the old-school scary binders, you can tailor Zola's checklist to your religious or cultural affiliation.
Manually managing the guest list is stressful AF times 1,000 (and about to get more stressful for us as the RSVPs start rolling in), so Zola's guest-list tool is particularly useful. I clicked through it, and it's easy to use, too — couples can contact guests directly to request addresses, track RSVPs and gifts, and more. Plus, your Zola registry is automatically integrated into the website, and automatically tracks purchased gifts through the guest-list manager.
"This all started when my friends who were getting married started complaining about their registries," Ma said, describing her reasons for founding Zola. "What we see in millennials is that they're getting married at an older age," which means they prioritize experiences over stuff. Since over 80% of couples live together when they get married, they often already have plenty of shared possessions, so registering for cash or a wine-of-the-month club makes more sense. The company is currently trying to up its personalized-suggestions game, helping couples find items they like based on their preferences as well as cultures and traditions.
As for us, maybe there's still time to switch over to Zola. Our website's countdown function helpfully tells us we have 109 days left until our wedding. Yikes. At least we know we're not alone when it comes to being stressed out: A recent survey of engaged and newlywed couples by Zola found that 96% of them think wedding planning is stressful — with many saying it's even more stressful than finding a job, moving to a new home, or applying to college. About 16% of respondents have even considered postponing the event. Wedding planning, stressful? Nah.