A is for Apps

 

The AOW A-Z of Getting Married is a resource for brides (and grooms) to be.  It’s a welcome piece of sanity in an industry-saturated world where people are bombarded with what weddings they should have, what they should act like, and how a bride should feel.  Created by the team behind Any Other Woman, this A-Z is the first collaboration of its kind, bringing together posts from readers across the AOW community filled with advice, wisdom and experience from sane, smart, real women, many of whom have been there.  From wedding planning to family trials to breaking taboos, no topic is out of bounds.  We are honoured and excited to run each and every post, and we learn from each and every one of our readers.

 

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A is for Apps, by Steff 

When I started writing this my intention was to end on my ultimate wedding app recommendation, the one that did it all.  As my research and testing progressed however, it became clear that there are just TOO FRIGGING MANY OPTIONS!! Whether you have an iPhone, a Blackberry, an Android phone or a Windows phone there are at least 5 different wedding apps on each platform each being updated regularly with new contenders popping up daily.  And so the intention of my post changed somewhat from a guide to the existing apps to a guide to what you want in a wedding planning app.  What are the options, what’s worth paying extra for, will you really use that option which allows you to record each guest’s favourite colour so you can give them just the perfect favour that they’ve always dreamed of? 

If you want to go ahead and use an out-the-bag planning app there are a few key basic features that your app of choice should have listed as a bare minimum before you even think about shelling out any pennies for it.  These features are;

Tasks

Most apps will come pre-loaded with the most common to-do list items but, for me, it’s an absolute MUST that they let you add your own and remove the ones that you won’t use.  Being able to categorise them, link them to suppliers and set reminders for them are all, apparently, added extras and surprisingly won’t come as standard on many apps so make sure you do your research (or download the free version) before you commit, some apps will have these as in app purchases which you can add on later. 

 Guests

Again, most apps will allow you to manage your guest list fairly easily and enable you to keep track of replies.  Some apps will group your guests into “parties” which I’m not a massive fan of because I’m a control freak and I think that what you gain in ease of management by not having to add Jane, Paul, John and baby Alice Jones each individually you lose in granularity of individual notes and preferences. What adds to this feature is the ability to record food choices, dietary requirements, transport needs, contact details (you don’t necessarily want your Fiance’s Aunty Jeanie in your phone contacts but you’ll need her address to send a thank-you for the wonderful towel bale she bought you), gifts given / received, thank you notes sent. 

 Suppliers

Contact details, prices, discounts, special offers… look for an app that lets you record as much information as possible about your supplier, ideally look for one which allows you to customise what you can store and put them in categories.  It will come in really handy when it comes to comparing them.  I was a deleter, anything I had decided against got deleted so I didn’t really have much use for the facility to mark which supplier you have actually selected in the end but it’s a nice feature to have all the same if you want to keep a note of everyone you considered.

Budget

As with task lists, most of the apps that you download will come with a sample budget but again, customisability is the key.  First, you want to be able to select your own currency, you want to be able to set your targets and as a bonus it would be nice to be able to set targets for specific categories (bride / groom / cake / bridesmaids outfits etc).  It’s also nice to be able to track how well you’re saving, how much you’ve spent, what you need to save each month to keep on track.  I was terrible for budgeting (I honestly couldn’t tell you how much my wedding cost, not even to the nearest £1k! Truly awful!) so I didn’t even glance at this section of any app that I downloaded.

 Be free (or have a “lite” version for you to try)

As a software developer myself I don’t begrudge paying money for my apps, I understand that these people have to make a living, however I do begrudge not being able to try before I buy.  “Lite” apps are a great way to do this, if the app that you really want isn’t free for the full version download the lite version first, if there’s one available.  You might find that you don’t even need the features of the full version and you don’t need to pay a penny.  Free apps are great and often knock the spots off a paid app, just because it costs £6.99 doesn’t make it the best on the market… again, always read the reviews and, if the developer has one, view the website!! Often apps will be developed by small software houses so you can even get in touch with the developer directly in a lot of cases if you have any questions that aren’t answered on the site. 

 There are, of course, extra features which may elicit more pennies such as;

A countdown to the big day

A fluffy addon, doesn’t really add any value but it’s nice to know.  Some apps I’ve seen let you email the countdown to others or post to facebook/twitter, I quite liked that.

The ability to export your data from the app

If there’s one thing that I found frustrating about wedding planning apps it’s how few of them that I tried (and I only tried iPhone/iPad apps – I’m an apple girl all the way) had a facility to export data from the app.  The ability to store and track guests and their food choices or your budget is all fine and dandy until it comes to a point that you want to give this information to your venue / wedding planner and you can’t because it’s all stored away neatly in the app on your phone, inaccessible from anywhere – actually does my box in.  But it does bring me nicely to my next point;

Accessibility

If your app is universal (iOS) and will run on all your iDevices quite happily syncing data across iCloud then that’s awesome – kudos to the developer.  What I really like are apps which give you the option to register for an online account so that you can access the data either through your phone or through any device which connects to the internet (if you lose your phone this can make for a really nice backup).  What I LOVE LOVE LOVE is apps that do all of this and more, which brings me to Evernote.  Nobody, and I mean NOBODY does this as well as evernote.  I had the app on my iPhone, iPad, work PC, macbook and of course you can access it online too so I was never far away from my wedding bible.  If you’re not fussed for the sparkles and templates that come with wedding planning apps I would thoroughly recommend Evernote, not just for wedding planning but for LIFE.

Customisability

Providing an app full of preloaded lists is great, it’s less daunting for a user than a blank canvas, but it’s important to let the user delete all these options and start from scratch if they want to.  There’s nothing worse than someone else’s items on your to-do list.  The ability to add your own background pictures or change the theme to match your wedding theme would be a nice touch but isn’t strictly adding anything to the experience.

Table planning

More and more apps are recognising that this is a feature in itself and not just an attribute attached to a guest.  There’s one iPad app in particular (tablet apps tend to be better for this purely because of screen size) which does a nice visualisation of the room with different table shapes / sizes and lets you arrange them all just so.  Great for those with mild OCD like me.  It’s quite an expensive app but it does seem rather comprehensive.

Gifts

Does the app let you record your own gift list and update it?  Can you match gifts to guests and record that you’ve sent them a thank you?  I’ve not seen an app on the itunes store which does this quite as well as I’d like… 

Ideas, mood boards, blogs, dresses

I’d like apps to help with not only recording the organisational details but to inspire too.  I’ve seen apps which come with a built in blog roll but, sadly, it was very American and didn’t allow me to add my own blogs.  Yes an RSS reader will do all this for me but I wanted all my wedding stuff together not mixed in with the latest pacman manicure.

Localisation

One of my main bug bears with a lot of the apps I downloaded were just how American they were, from suggested suppliers to styles and trends to budgets being in $ it really grated on me.  Read reviews and always check the descriptions carefully before downloading anything, I found some to be really disappointing just because of this. 

 

Finally, if you can’t get one app that does everything you’ll certainly be able to get more specialised apps which handle specific areas of your planning very well.  Apps which claim to do it all may well turn out to be the Jack of all trades but master of none, letting you down in the long run.  It might mean a bit of duplication but do whatever works for you.

 

So, to summarise a post which was a lot longer than I intended it to be;

1. Try before you buy and ALWAYS read reviews.  Wedding apps can be pricey, don’t get caught out spending your hard earned manicure money on dud apps.

2. Prioritise what features you want from your app and shop around accordingly.  If you don’t want to record your budget within your app don’t go for an app with all-singing all-dancing budget facilities that scrimps on the guest management.

3. Make sure you can customise the features as much, or as little, as you want.

4. Make sure the content is relevant for your locale. 

5. Try and go for an app with some kind of backup or sync feature.  My app was my bible, if I’d lost it and not had a backup I’d have been inconsolable.

6. Remember that more money doesn’t always equal a better quality product.

7. Sign up for Evernote, even if you don’t use it for planning your wedding it will revolutionise your LIFE! 

Overall, if you have an iPad and you’re willing to shell out the £7 for it, the “Wedding Planner for iPad” app is by far and away the most feature-rich app going at the moment with a lovely user interface.  It’s updated regularly with bug fixes and the developers seem good at taking on board user feedback and are constantly updating the feature range of the app.  It lacks the cross platform sync that I love so much (it’s iPad only) but I’ll forgive them because you can export data, do it regularly to make sure you don’t lose essential planning information.

Categories: A-Z of Getting Married, Wedding Planning
10 interesting thoughts on this

9 Comments

  1. Carly
    Posted August 23, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    Ah, Steff what a cracking, timely article! I’ve got the Sarah Haywood Ultimate Wedding Planner app but I’m not sure I like it, it’s got sliders for the budget and my sausage fingers don’t let me be accurate enough.

    I have got to ask what is an RSS feed? I see it mentioned all the time and I am clueless!

    X

    • Steff
      Posted August 23, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

      An RSS feed is a way of a blog letting you subscribe and get updates automatically. It means you can list all your blogs that you follow together without having to go check each one individually. Google Reader is probably the most common but actually most modern browsers will handle it too (safari is particularly good at it if you’re using a mac, just click on the link to the RSS feed and bookmark it). x

      • Carly
        Posted August 23, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

        Ahhh, now I see. Thank you! X

  2. Becca
    Posted August 23, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    I have an Ipad and quite frankly, I couldn’t live without it. I use pages for spreadsheets (which I know I can send to suppliers). I made my own spreadsheet because I couldn’t find any, as you have already said, British apps (note those UK blogs (you know who you are) that consider themselves to be the UK style me pretty do not try and branch out with an app). My tabs are
    1. To Do,
    2. Day Guests (addresses and food preferences)
    3. Evening Guests (same as above)
    4. Budget (our column, his parents, our parents) with different colours for estimate (blue), booked but not paid (purple), booked and paid (red) and whole row in pale peach (done, booked and paid).
    5. Supplier details – same colour scheme as above.

    I can also save booked marked pages with readings and save photos from blogs onto photos.

    I need the same of the table planning app. Now. Thus far we have (only as a general idea to work out the marquee site) got some book tabs and done blue for boys, red for ladies and green for children and have done it by hand. The tabs mean we can check the ratios of boys and girls at a glance but also move them around by hand if we need to. Its a posher version of the old post-it option.

    • Posted August 23, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

      Steff this is brilliant. Like Becca, we went for the spreadsheets option. Ok, so it didn’t have guides to start us off (what to budget for etc) but then again magazines have that covered and we quite liked just including stuff we wanted. But on the plus side, easy to share and print out bits you want on the go. We started with budget with three columns: expected, actual price and +/- so at the end we could see if we were on budget or not. Then added dates columns for balances and when we’d paid them. I actually loved that spreadsheet.

      By the wedding we had several more, guest list/ rsvps, table plan, to do lists for helpers, gifts. Epic. If only Anna K had known me then, she would have DRIBBLED over it.

      However, those were my PID’s (pre iPhone/iPad days) and I’m pretty sure that as I now find myself attached to both devices on a daily basis (both are currently open on different apps) wedding apps would be my go-to organiser if we were doing it all again.

      Can you share any of these apps with your other half so they can see where we’re up to?

      • Posted August 23, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

        Lucy, I’ve been in love with a spreadsheet too. I was heartbroken when we had to part.

  3. Zan
    Posted August 23, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Gah – now I want an iPad just so I can get a fancy table planning app!

    Until I’d read this, it had never even occured to me to look at wedding planning apps, so far I have 2 spreadsheets and a wedding note book :) I may now scout around the app store and look at some….

  4. Mahj
    Posted August 23, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Woah. I didn’t even know there were wedding apps. Probably a good job that I’m now married otherwise I would’ve been downloading these suckers left right and centre!

    xoxo

  5. Katielase
    Posted August 23, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    This A-Z is entirely awesome in all ways, except the way in which it didn’t start this time last year while I was still engaged.

    I would have LOVED this. In the absence of Steff’s incredible know-how, we also went with a spreadsheet approach. And a Powerpoint slideshow of a table plan. Only two slides long but still. Me and the venue manager had a LOT of fun with that.

    My hubby is addicted to Evernote, I can’t get the hang of it. I am trying though!

    Finally, Pac-Man manicure?! I need that.

    K x

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  • By My secret trimester on September 3, 2012 at 9:44 am

    [...] my grubby little paws on.  I research buggies, cots, baby monitors, changing bags and I download app after app trying to find the perfect one.  I even spent an hour on eBay looking for the perfect diary to [...]

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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