Wedding Bells on the Web – wedding planning on the Internet

Wedding Bells on the Web – wedding planning on the Internet

Not to mention bubbles and butterflies, if that’s what you want.

When Joan Bakewell wanted to buy a new washing machine, the first thing she did was log on to the Internet to research models and prices. When her father had a stroke, she went online to find information about heart disease. So when her new boyfriend proposed in December 1997, it was only natural that the 31-year-old hotel manager from Ohio turn to the Web for help with the wedding.

Bakewell didn’t have to look far. From gown styles to reception menus, flowers to cake designs, she found almost everything she needed for the day of her dreams–and spent about half what an average wedding costs.

But what surfing the Web really saves you is time. Comparison shopping becomes, so to speak, a piece of cake. And if you want an over-the-top wedding, you’ll find ideas you never dreamed of (how about releasing live butterflies as you leave the ceremony?). Then there’s the luxury of obsessing over details with other prospective brides, maids of honour and mothers–even the occasional groom–at any hour of the day or night.

Using the internet brides to be can find advice on all the burning issues: marquise or princess diamond? Puffed sleeves or three-quarter length? His church or her synagogue–or both? Full buffet or hors d’oeuvres?

In the days before environmental awareness, people threw rice as the bride and groom left the church. But then we learned that birds were choking on it. Now, from bubbles to birdseed, bells and butterflies, the Web abounds with creative ways for your guests to salute you as you leave the church or reception.

If you really want to let your imagination soar, you can have guests release butterflies as you make your way out the door. Butterflies, of course, aren’t free–or even inexpensive. Fragrant Acres (, for instance, sells Painted Lady butterflies for $47 per dozen plus $20 shipping. Butterflies are shipped in one or two boxes to be released all at once in what the site calls a “natural display of beauty and love.”

At competing butterfly-release sites (there are about 20, believe it or not, charging up to $100 a dozen), you can get your Lepidoptera individually packaged. After your guests participate in the release, they have a keepsake envelope inscribed with your names and wedding date.

Roann Sakai of Cupertino, Cal., thought the idea was “kinda cute” when she first heard about it, but thanks to advice she got from online bulletin boards, she decided not to pursue it. “People were saying, don’t do it,” Sakai says. “They had been to weddings where the butterflies were released and half were dead. Or they were caught in the rain. Butterflies don’t look good in the rain.”