Wedding Planning With Zola

I’m not planning a wedding, but it feels like I am because one of my closest friends is engaged. Lynsey, whom I’ve known since we were 12, is getting married this summer. We’ve checked out dresses, brainstormed songs and looked at every image of wedding cake (and pie!) that exists on the Internet. So, when Zola invited Cup of Jo to try its new wedding planning features, we decided to give it a spin…

Wedding Planning

Zola Weddings is a new set of tools, including wedding website templates, a customized checklist, a guest-list manager and a gift registry.

The best part is that all their offerings are interconnected. For example, if a guest buys a gift for you, it’s automatically noted on your guest list, and your checklist will remind you to send them a thank you note. “It feels like I have a wedding planner in my pocket,” Lynsey says.

Even though she and her mom live 1,200 miles apart, Lynsey says coordinating logistics has been surprisingly easy. “My mom and I will both log into Zola Weddings and look at the same lists,” she says. She and her fiancé Tim created their universal registry together (Zola offers 50,000 gifts and experiences from 450 top brands and stores) and set up a Honeymoon Fund so guests can easily contribute cash. “Tim often adds stuff to the registry after I’ve gone to bed,” she says. “Days later, when I’m browsing our list, I’ll find fancy chip-and-dip bowls and Star Wars robots. It makes me laugh.”

A few more things we love about Zola Weddings:

* It’s completely free. No fees are passed on to you or your guests.
* Their to-do lists are tailored to many different religious and cultural traditions. (Zola spent months interviewing couples to learn their specific needs, and says 40% of couples getting married today come from a different background than their partners.)
* The wedding website options are beautiful and highly customizable — yet they’re also streamlined. Zola doesn’t overwhelm you with a million and one choices.
* You can use Zola on your computer or via its great mobile registry and wedding planning apps.
* Their universal registry offers price matching, free shipping and a 10% post-wedding discount on any items that weren’t purchased. “It’s exactly the registry I wanted,” Lynsey says. (Zola can also hold onto your gifts until you’re ready for them — no more stacks of boxes in your living room!)

Wedding Planning With Zola

Wedding Planning With Zola

Lynsey’s wedding is three months away, and most of the items on her checklist are done. I asked her if there’s anything else on her mind these days: “I’m just nervous I’ll cry through the whole ceremony,” she said.

Wedding Planning With Zola

It has been so much fun helping Lynsey through this experience. After all, I was there nine years ago — on the night she first saw Tim and whispered to me, “I think I’d like him.”

Are you (or someone you love) planning a wedding? Which tools have been most helpful?

(Photos by Ana Gambuto for Cup of Jo. This post is sponsored by Zola, the one-stop wedding planning site. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Cup of Jo.)