Offbeat Bride + Google Docs = the perfect bridesmaid

Of course every bride's checklist will be different, but we have a few suggestions
Offbeat Bride recently got a shout-out by HuffPo writer Barbara Ortutay in her article, Google Docs, the perfect bridesmaid:

For do-most-of-it-yourself brides, wedding planning means lists, lists and more lists, with some spreadsheets thrown in for good measure. There are also the long, endlessly pored-over documents of vows, readings, even toasts. Did I mention lists?

Enter Google Docs, the search company's free, easy-to-use online document software. With templates for the spreadsheet-challenged and a slew of pretty Web tools, the service is like the perfect bridesmaid. She's calm, collected and full of good ideas but not overly pushy, letting you steer the ship. She's there when you need her.

I started earnestly planning my April 2011 wedding around this time last year. After lots of pen-on-paper scribbling, I decided to join the 21st century and move my planning online. Do you have a wedding, civil union or other commitment ceremony coming up this year? Let good old Google help.

To start, I armed myself with a to-do checklist from the popular wedding blog Offbeat Bride—another invaluable Web tool for independently spirited brides.

With my fiance and now husband, I took to Google Docs for our first task…

Read the full article, full of helpful tips for using Google Docs for wedding planning. And yes, Google has a special page set up for wedding planning: http://www.google.com/weddings

PS: we've also got our own wedding checklist tool for Offbeat Bride Tribe members … so there's that.

  1. I love Google Docs!! I pretty much copied the OBB to-do list into a GoogleDocs spreadsheet, modified things somewhat, and sorted them the way I wanted (by date within category). I'm also planning to use it to keep everything from guest list to vendor options straight… : )

    1 agrees
  2. YES! I used Google Docs for most of my wedding planning… I had a schedule, To Do lists, the address list, the budget, photo locations…I tracked my gifts to make thank you cards easier…everything! It was great for collaborating with my mom and sister who both lived farther away, and allowing read-only access to others who needed to know the information in certain lists but who I didn't want making changes.

    1 agrees
  3. Yes! I have been using Google Docs to plan my ENTIRE wedding with spread sheets and lists and have included my fiance on the files and we have been able to not only edit the files but we at times do it together when we are on different computers! Love it :)

  4. Yes! I couldn't agree more!

    We even had our online RSVPs set up to write to a shared spreadsheet, one that we shared with family to keep everyone updated on who was coming. It was incredibly useful to have all this information in one place, be able to link to it when necessary, and to not have to manually input guest responses. In that same document we also had a tab for the seating chart, and I used the general excel functions of sorting to keep track of what invites had been addressed and gone out when.

    I also relied on it heavily for thank you note tracking, and I have no idea what I would have done without it, because i'm not a particularly organized person otherwise.

    And we also use Google Docs for our personal finances, keeping track of two different incomes and expenses from one checking account, so we set up an "account" within that spreadsheet for wedding expenses.

    The functionality and shareability was fantastic, as well as the ability to track changes with the revision history. (There was more than one occasion where tons of data could have been lost from keyboard mistakes, but was easily recovered by reverting to older versions.)

    Another cool thing is that it's an easy relic of wedding planning. There was a place on our online RSVP where our guests could write a comment, and all of that is saved for posterity in our spreadsheet, full of hilarious and touching things that our guests had to say.

    It's amazing!

    Also, we did a lot of other planning (to do list) in Google Notebook (RIP), but would probably have used a standard Google word document if Notebook hadn't been available.

    4 agree
    • You've said pretty much everything I was going to.

      I LOVE the G-D Google Docs.

    • How did you link your RSVPs to the spreadsheet? This sounds like the best idea!

      • Google Docs –> Create –> Form

        In a blank form, you add all the fields you need. Google will give you the URL to the form (a web page), that you can then give to folks. They go to the form, fill it out, click submit, and ta-da, the data is plugged into a spreadsheet in your Docs repository.

        Here's the official Docs page on the topic: http://support.google.com/docs/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=87809

        1 agrees
      • Actually, specifically what Madeleine & I did is slightly more involved than Google Docs –> Create –> Form. I wrote a WordPress RSVP plugin that was a native part of our wedding website, but which posted the results to a Google Docs spreadsheet.

        What follows is a bit technical, but may be useful to people trying to follow in my footsteps, wear my shoes, or any number of other silly idioms…

        == The Boring Details ==

        The basic architecture was this: the RSVP form landing page checks the input name against the list of invited people cached in a flat-file on the web sever, along with their aliases and some other info for quick loading. If it finds a reasonably close match (using some fuzzy matching to allow for typos and an uncountable number of slight name variations), it loads the full RSVP form. Once submitted, a copy of the form data is cached in a MySQL database on the sever (in a non-WordPress DB instance, for the cleanest possible separation) and then forwarded to an existing Google Docs spreadsheet using Google's GData PHP bindings. I also set it up to email RSVP submissions to Madeleine, who was originally planning to handle moving them to the spreadsheet by hand. Luckily, that never had to be done, and I turned the emailing off before we began receiving any RSVPs.

        PHP is, of course, the clear choice for any kind of server-side WordPress-based shenanigans. Google Docs API has several language bindings. The PHP bindings are marked deprecated, but work reasonably well. Here's a link to the docs: http://code.google.com/apis/documents/docs/1.0/developers_guide_php.html

        The only major issue I experienced was embedding GData in WordPress. I didn't set up the whole Zend Framework, but instead used the stand-alone version of GData. It worked great when invoked directly from the command-line, but failed when loaded inside the WordPress environment. The solution was to tinker with set_include_path and shake my fist in general direction of the WordPress and/or PHP communities.

        The key to programming in PHP is threatening to kill it in various ways, and to plead it to stop doing that bullshit that it does.

        == Even More Boring Details ==

        Our website is hosted for roughly ~$15/yr by http://www.nearlyfreespeech.net

        The domain for the website was bought through https://www.pairnic.com , specifically because of their socially responsible nature and fun environmental claims.

        == TL;DR ==

        "Programming is easy, let's not go shopping!" -Programmer Barbie

        1 agrees
  5. I absolutely love the special spreadsheet for wedding.
    I have planned everything with it so far.

    It is so useful !

  6. I haven't tried google's wedding section yet (I didn't know it existed!) but the google docs have made everything easier. My fiance suggested it so we could both update our music spreadsheet and even see each other changing it in real time. Its so awesome! Now I'm addicted I have tons of google docs and all of our contracts are saved in google docs as well. We live in the future. ;)

  7. google has a weddings page thing? Why couldn't they have done this like, 2 years agoooooo??? darnit, Google.

  8. We used google docs so much during our wedding planning. We had guest organisers, check lists, you name it. The beauty of being able to have several editors meant that if my husband finalised something, he could just check it off the list straight away, regardless of where he was, so I always knew where things were at and vice versa. It was an absolute lifesaver!

  9. Just checked out Google Wedding Docs – supremely awesome – particularly the guest list template!

  10. I've been using Google docs for all of the planning. Love how easy it is to share stuff with FI. Google docs (and reader) + Pinterest = killer wedding combo.

  11. Google Docs saved my butt with wedding planning. Used it for addresses, RSVPs, who gave us what, and thank you cards. It was great to have everything in one spot! Why didn't I know there was a Google wedding page…sad.

  12. Google's site is not clear whether the entire wedding set of tools is related to the Picnik picture-editing stuff that is closing. So I'm not sure whether their wedding stuff will work after April 19. You may want to confirm this with Google directly so that you can put a notice on this article, because right now when you try to get started it pops up with a message saying Picnik is shutting down.

    • ONLY Picnik is shutting down in April. The rest of the google.com/wedding offerings are Google core products (docs, picasa, etc).

      But I'm one step ahead of you! :) I'm friends with a Picnik developer (it was a Seattle start-up before Google bought it — AND THEN KILLED IT). I emailed my dev friend the day this post went up to say "Someone at Google needs to remove the Picnik mention from the google.com/weddings page."

      He told me that the Picnik mention was scheduled to be removed in the next month or so as part of a larger scrub-down to remove Picnik from all Google's product pages. In the meantime, the Picnik services work just fine until April — and in fact they've made all their formerly "pro" features free for everyone.

      SO GO ENJOY PICNIK BEFORE IT DISAPPEARS! But rest assured that google.com/weddings isn't going anywhere.

      *sniffle*

  13. YESSS Google Docs has been so very handy. I have elaborate budget scenarios, actual spending, an extensive collection of venue info, collections of ideas, guest list, to-do lists, everything. Fiance uses them too.

  14. Has anyone used the google Wedsite feature? I'm curious to hear the pros-cons versus other sites. Does it require guests to have a google account?

    (weirdly – they have a template design that we like versus almost all of the other templates we've seen because they 'coordinate' better with the aesthetics of our wedding)

    I transferred all of the data from my own spreadsheets to the ones on the google/wedding – SO GREAT.

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