10 Wedding-Planning Tips From An Online Expert Of I Do!

From the moment a women gets engaged, the crazy wedding planning begins. But why fold and tear bridal-magazine pages to build the wedding of your dreams when there's the Internet at your fingertips? We've got a great place for you to start your search: StyleMePretty.com, an amazing, inspirational portal for all things wedding related. The site as well as its Pinterest and Facebook page have exploded in popularity since it first launched in 2007 — and with good reason. From vendor guides and DIY projects to inspirational pics and real-life wedding coverage, even non-engaged gals will get excited.
Despite its global appeal, StyleMePretty.com founder Abby Larson has put together 10 wedding-day-planning tips (including a couple of those fun DIY projects we mentioned!) for the Chicago bride. So, toss that mag aside, grab a pen and paper, and let the brainstorming begin!
1 of 10
1. Choose Your Venue, Then Your Dress
"There are an incredible amount of amazing Chicago venues, and those rooted in tradition but modern in style are abundant. Take for example this Fulton's on the River celebration, where the bride allowed the simple, architectural style of her space to dictate the style of her day. The gown that followed was traditional yet enhanced with modern details — a match made in style heaven."

Photo: Courtesy of Victoria Sprung Photography
2 of 10
2. Keep An Open Mind
"When it comes to choosing a gown and making the experience happy and stress-free, know what you love, but go in with an open mind and an even more open heart. A good gown aficionado can guide any bride to the perfect dress, but it's helpful to have a general understanding of what you love and what you don't when it comes to style." Editor's Note: Vera Wang, Mira Couture, Belle Vie Bridal Couture, and Alice Padrul are just a few of our wedding dress faves. Happy hunting!

Photo: Courtesy of Cluney Photo
3 of 10
3. A Happy Maid Equals A Happy Day!
"Be conscientious of your bridesmaids' personal issues and feelings...their body shapes, tastes, and styles are different, and personalities are all different. Allow them some freedom in choosing a gown that makes them feel beautiful and you will have a far more fluid, stress-free planning experience."

Photo: Courtesy of Jessica Lorren Organic Photography
4 of 10
4. Hit The Web For Bridesmaid Gowns & Wedding Dresses
"Online sites are great to shop for your girls. Bluefly and Piperlime often has awesome prices on name-brand designers; though, you might have to get creative with sizing. Try putting your girls in different gowns within the same color spectrum instead. Gap, J.Crew, BHLDN, and many others always have great sales going on, and since you're buying online, stock is generally not an issue. For bridal, keep your eye on Net-a-Porter, or for the “commitment phobe,” Rent The Runway has amazing gowns that you don't see on every aisle." Editor's Note: Check out this Narcisco Rodriguez gown from RTW. It retails for $2,355, but can be rented for $275!

Photo: Courtesy of Rent The Runway
5 of 10
5. Know Your Budget & Be Willing To Negotiate
"Be clear on your budget when you go in and don't be afraid to ask for a lower price point. Even the highest-end bridal salons understand that everyone has a budget. And most likely, they are willing to work with you on price. Setting your budget right from the start will avoid any of those 'I have to have it, but I can't afford it' moments and will allow you to fall hopelessly in love with your dream dress without unnecessary stress. And if you still think there is room to move on the price, speak up!"

Photo: Courtesy of Cristina G. Photography
6 of 10
6. Simple Gowns Can Be Made Quite Fabulous With A Few DIY Accessories
"See a perfect DIY right here. The right accessories can elevate any wedding look, so that if you find a lovely, conservatively priced gown but miss the sparkle, consider crafting yourself a great statement bangle or a stunning veil and suddenly, your look is Carrie Bradshaw chic. I promise, the most challenging part of DIY is convincing yourself that you can do it. If you have a bit more money to work with, consider someone like The Dress Doctor, who can add that bespoke touch you've been craving."

Photo: Courtesy of Justin and Mary Marantz
7 of 10
7. Look To Your Closet To Complete Your Look
"When it comes to both you and your maids, your closets just might be the key to fabulous. Although it’s tempting to buy a new pair of occasion shoes, you might already have a killer pair in your closet. The same goes for a gorgeous necklace, a pair of faux diamond studs, or a collection of pretty bangles. And your maids will thank you until the cows come home if you give them permission to raid their own closet and craft a look of their own!"

Photo: Courtesy of Heels.com
8 of 10
8. Gift Your Girls Something Useful
"If you aren't convinced that your bridesmaids will create a look that is cohesive when left to their own devices, gift them those pieces yourself. A fabulous pair of earrings or a great pair of shoes (I literally found a killer pair of patent leather pumps at Payless that I gussied up with a bit of gold glitter) will ensure that they look as envisioned without putting the financial pressure on them." Editor's Note: Check out Abby's great DIY painted heels article!

Photo: Courtesy of Payless
9 of 10
9. Shop Consignment
"Sometimes, the most beautiful gems are found in fabulous little places like I Do Designer Bridal Consignment or the Haute Spot (pictured). Gowns that are gently used, perhaps vintage, and carefully curated equals great prices with a bit of an adventure built in for good measure." Editor's note: Check out our guide to consignment shopping in Chicago!

Photo: Courtesy of the Haute Spot
10 of 10
10. Style For Your Flower Girls
"These little lovelies walk down the aisle, and it’s an automatic 'how adorable' from your guests. Outfit the youngest members of the wedding party in style savvy silhouettes. Flower girls will love DIY dresses. Pair a tutu from Chicago Dance Supply (or from a past dance performance) with a white cami and a headband of bunched together baby’s breath. For these bang-for-your-buck flowers, shop Dilly Lilly or Exquisite Designs, Inc. Your little flower girls will dance the night away in swoon-worthy frocks."

Photo: Courtesy of One Love Photography