WeddingLovely, a 500 Startups-backed wedding planning service, is opening its doors today in an effort to “humanize” the wedding planning experience. It’s no small feat to take on wedding industry giant TheKnot.com, but co-founder Tracy Osborn believes there’s potential to do exactly that because many find TheKnot “overwhelming, confusing and very advertising-oriented,” she says. With WeddingLovely’s how-to’s and vendor directories, there’s more of a feeling of a sister or friend telling you how to get started with all the tasks leading up to your big day, including things like picking a venue, budgeting, finding a dress, flowers, catering, locating an officiant, photographer, videographer, picking out invitations, finding a band, and more.
Planning a wedding is a very stressful process, as anyone who has done so can tell you. It’s a lot of work, expensive, and for many new brides-to-be, it can even detract from the joy and excitement of the forthcoming marriage, as they get bogged down in details.
With WeddingLovely, everything about the process has been simplified. The site helps to walk you through each step, offering helpful advice and tips (e.g., flower mistakes to avoid, be aware that wedding venues have minimums, questions to ask when hiring a caterer, should you choose a band or DJ?, etc.), and it then links you to directories were you can find vendors associated with the task at hand so you can book their services. The company had previously created some of these directories as standalone websites, but with WeddingLovely’s launch, those are being integrated so the new site can serve as a one-stop shop for the entire wedding planning experience. (Note: full integration is still about 2 weeks out, we’re told.)
One thing that makes WeddingLovely different from the competition, is that it’s not an entirely advertising-based service. There’s no affiliate revenue generated from the vendors it suggests, but vendors can opt for a $25/month paid placement which will put them up at the top of the search results in the vendor listings. This feature has not gone live yet, but when it does, those vendors will be flagged in some way, so there’s no confusion.
However, WeddingLovely’s monetization mainly comes from the fact that it’s a paid service. There’s a 14-day free trial, then brides can sign up at $19/month or a flat rate of $119/year. (TechCrunch readers can take a 33% discount using the code TC33).
In addition to the tips and planning features, WeddingLovely also offers wedding websites for couples with all the usual features – event details, registries info, an “About Us” section, etc. Currently, there are just three themes to choose from, but this is being expanded soon.
Osborn, a designer by trade, impressively taught herself to code in just six weeks in order to build the service before finding co-founder and CTO Julia Grace to join her. “It’s a weddings product, and I was trying to find a co-founder like most people,” she says, “but not many people – and especially because it’s mostly all dudes in tech – were interested, or had the same amount of interest I did. So I said ‘screw it, I’m doing it myself.’” Nice!
In the near future, the product is expanding to include not only the deep integration of the vendor directories, which currently offers access to 1,500 vendors worldwide, but it will also be adding vendor reviews, spouse/friend integration, additional social features (via Facebook) to connect brides with each other, and aggregated, anonymized data that can tell brides things like how much money others have spent in various categories, for instance.
Based in Mountain View, and now a team of three, the startup has seed funding from 500 Startups, and is considering raising additional funding. However, says Osborn, they want to be picky about their investors. “With weddings, you want to make sure you have the right people on board,” she says. “We don’t want to go the way of TheKnot and be very tied to advertising revenue…we want to keep it morally correct. It’s about finding the right investors who believe in the vision.”
WeddingLovely is a collection of wedding tools and directories, aimed at promoting small business, local, and independent wedding vendors. The first product, WeddingInviteLove.com, launched in January 2011 and now lists over 300 wedding invitation designers, printers, calligraphers, and illustrators worldwide. We’re continuing to grow by launching other specialized directories (WeddingPlannerLove.com in October, WeddingPhotoLove.com in November, and more to come), as well as fostering community between vendors.