I have worked with some of these websites in the past as a vendor- trying to create profiles, seeing what works the best for me and mu budget (or lack there of). But now that I'm in wedding planning mode, I'm using these sites way more and very differently.
To be honest, I knew some things about these sites, but not a lot. I didn't really know how brides used them, what they were more known for or how I should be using them. Sure I check out their blogs here and there and see their gorgeous wedding photos, but functionality wise, I haven't really done much research.
My first thought when I got started was to use the Knot. They are the most prevalent at bridal shows, I have their magazines, and that was just my gut reaction on where to get started. I also found, and purchased, their wedding planning binder, after asking a planner what their thoughts on planners were. I chose it because it looked simple enough to use, it wasn't super expensivem it wasn't too froo-froo-y, and it had a plastic sheet to hold on to additional papers in the back. I love magazines and get a ton of inspiration from them, so this plastic sheet meant I could cut pages out and hang on to them.
Some of these websites below, I have had free business profiles for a while. I mostly have them just to have them and don't invest too much other than ensuring my profile is up to date. But in order to get the full experience as a bride (and not get a ton of spam to my personal email address), I created an email address just for the wedding and created new profiles with it on all of the sites.
That said, in case you're like me and maybe don't know what each different wedding website really does, here's a quick synopsis of what I've found so far.
THE KNOT | As a vendor, I've heard a lot of different stories, some good, a lot bad, about the Knot. But whether I truly like to admit it or not, it has been the biggest help to me. I've used it for my checklist, budgeting and researching vendors. I downloaded the app on my iPad and it lets me check things off as I do them and gives me a really good timeline as to when I should have things done by.
The biggest vendor the Knot helped me with was my Venue. I was able to plug in the amount of guests, location radius, and budget and it gave me multiple options that I could look at.
WEDDING WIRE | I also created an account on Wedding Wire and downloaded the app to take a look. It's very similar to the Knot, just different. If I hadn't download the Knot app first, I probably could've used Wedding Wire just as easily.
Working in the wedding industry, I know that different vendors invest in different websites. And different brides relate to different wedding websites. So I have researched vendors on this site as well as the Knot to get more thorough information regarding vendors I don't have any background on.
Wedding Wire also had a similar venue search and even included the available dates. Although I will say my concern with available dates is, do vendors really update that regularly? What are the chances that if I contacted a vendor that Wedding Wire said had the date open, but they aren't open and hadn't updated it? That makes me a little skeptical....
STYLE ME PRETTY | Style Me Pretty is more of an inspiration that anything else. I searched for vendors a few times, but their lists are pretty scarce, so I didn't find much. I did enjoy looking at gorgeous photos and their wedding inspiration and plan on using it more for inspiration than finding vendors. I will say that on the weddings in the blogs that I found gorgeous, I did research those vendors on other sites and in Google to see if they would work with what I needed. I'm a visual person, so photos are a great way for me to see what the vendors have to offer.
SOUTHERN WEDDINGS | I LOVE the Southern Wedding magazine the most! Like that is my absolute favorite part of Southern Weddings. They have gorgeous photos, fun inspirations, traditions, and great articles, especially if you want that southern touch. I've gotten some fun ideas and traditions from the magazine that I can't wait to incorporate into my wedding. However, I wouldn't go there for much more than inspiration. Their vendor list is very limited.
WEDDING LOVELY | Wedding Lovely is actually the site I had my first Twila & Co. free profile on. It is similar to the Knot and Wedding Wire in that it's more about planning and vendors. They do have a blog for inspiration, it's also easy to use and has a lot of good information, it's just not quite as 'known' as the Knot or Wedding Wire.
WEDDING.COM | Wedding.com is an interesting one. I wasn't as blown away with it as I was the others. There weren't a ton of vendor profiles, the website was both underwhelming and overwhelming at the same time in that it was somewhat chaotic and unorganized, but as not aesthetically pleasing as the others. It didn't impress me enough to want to create a profile and get more information.
Just a note from a vendor perspective, it didn't matter if the vendor profiles had paid/developed profiles on any of the websites. I still researched each vendor on other social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and their websites and looked at reviews on various platforms.
And a note on vendor reviews. Reviews can be an interesting thing to read. As a small business, I know that sometimes reviews don't always tell the whole story and only share one side. I've seen a lot of situations in the industry that have two very different sides, so I always take reviews with a grain of salt. If a vendor has one bad review but 10 good ones, I kind of assume that that one particular bad one was just an unfortunate situation. If the vendor has multiple bad reviews from differing people with different situations, then I see it as a red flag. I also look up reviews on different websites such as Facebook, Google, and even the business page. It helps to get a more well-rounded point of view before booking.