I have this little wedding planner we bought at the bookstore, The Bride's Book of Lists. It's portable, which is the big reason we bought it, but it's also very handy because it has pockets in the front and back covers, a business card holder with a couple of slots (I wish it had more, but it was either buy a book I could stick in my purse, or buy a mammoth book with all the slots I'd want), and a lot of lists and questions to ask prospective vendors, all in the name of guidance. It is actually helpful - Maria had recommended I pick one up, and I'm glad I did - because most of these questions never would have occurred to me to ask. The checklists are clearly not meant to be applicable to each and every bride, but said exhaustive lists are helpful because at the very least, it gets you thinking about what you might want; you obviously don't have to get everything. (I refuse to get a balloonist; I'm not eight.)
Some of these things just make me giggle, though. Since I've purchased this book, I've seen other lists, and they've all consistently recommend seeing a travel agent to book the honeymoon. I'm highly entertained by this, insofar as I'm not sure I've seen a travel agent more than once - and that was only because I had only cash to pay for a ticket, no debit or credit card; I'd already researched the flights and fares online and could tell the travel agent which flight I'd wanted and what the fare quoted. I've had a passport and have been traveling internationally since I was 7, and I'm marrying a pilot; I think we've figured out how to travel.
Today I visited three bridal shops: I Do! Bridal Utah, A Bride Beautiful, and the dreaded David's Bridal, which I've only set foot in once before. Once again, Ed came with me for moral support and to surreptitiously note gown designers and model numbers. We were the only customers in the first two stores, so we could take our time and rifle through the gowns, get some personalized attention, questions answered, etc. I found a few nice gowns: nothing I loved, but some that were lovely. Upon entering David's Bridal, Ed got this saucer-eyed "Yikes!" look. We were immediately pounced upon, given catalogues, and directed to the back of the store, where the "women's sizes" (as opposed to the duck sizes, I guess) were kept. I found two dresses I especially liked, although of course they didn't have my size, but we made notes of their style numbers, took surreptitious photographs, and scuttled out.
The David's Bridal lady did say something interesting: She said that they (David's Bridal) prided themselves on not being a small boutique gown shop; they stocked gowns that fit actual women. I saw right through this: In each of the previous three wedding gown shops we'd visited, I was assured (and I think honestly so) that of course the gowns could be altered, however I'd wished. None of the other shops made me feel that I could not buy a gown, no matter my size.
Today we'd also went to a local jewelry store to see if we could differentiate between white gold and platinum, since that's the material we'd like our wedding bands to be made of. We couldn't really tell the difference, and since there seemed to be a several thousand dollar price difference, we opted for the white gold. This is not to say we're going to be buying our wedding bands at a jewelry store, though, because that's just stupid.
Instead, we bought our rings tonight on - wait for it - Amazon. We'd gone to the jewelry store to get an idea of the difference between (for example) a 4 mm ring and an 8 mm ring, and how such differences affect our own ring sizes. The two rings we bought are matching, bought from the same company online, and combined cost less than one ring at the jewelry store would have cost.
We've been also looking into invitations. We'd stopped off at Tabula Rasa last week; Williams-Sonoma had given us a 10% Off Invitations coupon, so we thought we'd at least take a look to see what was out there, get a feel for what we liked, etc. Invitations are mighty expensive, though. Prices varied, but if we'd wanted invites and RSVP cards, we priced what we'd need at about $3,500, which, as much as we want something nice, just isn't worth it (especially considering who but us will ever be saving the invites). We both really liked the possibility of handmade paper; a Google search led us to Paperfish Designs, from whom we ordered a few samples, and they're nice (and with all the additional stuff we'd want, like matching programs, would be maybe quarter the cost).
The Internet is truly a glorious thing, and I can't imagine getting suckered into paying thousands of dollars for the same thing that can be bought online for less. I feel like a marketing ad, but honestly.