Your feelings of joy and anticipation about getting engaged are sometimes soon accompanied by worry and stress when it’s time to plan the big event--your wedding. So many details, so little time. Many couples hire a wedding planner, while others choose a less expensive alternative: free wedding planning software.
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"Free software" isn't always free
When researching free wedding planning software, read all the fine print. Some sites that advertise free wedding software are actually only offering a free trial for a specific amount of time before it is purchased. The software may also limit access to some tools and features unless you pay to unlock them. Read the FAQ section extensively before registering online or hitting the download button.
Web-Based or Downloadable
Wedding planning software comes in two varieties: web-based programs that you access online or downloadable software you can install on your home computer. Free downloadable programs are sometimes known as “shareware” or “freeware,” meaning that they were probably created by a single person who offers them to all users at no cost. In some cases, software may be a little buggy since they have not gone through the kind of quality control that commercial software carries, but often enough shareware programs work just fine on most computers. The advantage of using free software is that it costs nothing to try it out to see which interface you are most comfortable with.
Privacy and Security
Free web-based wedding planning software generally requires online registration, is password protected and the data that you input lives on the website’s servers. When doing your research, check to find out how often the data is backed up, which ideally should be on a daily basis.
Also, find the company policy regarding use of your information (whether it is sold to other companies).
Basic or Comprehensive
All of these programs offer the basics, such as keeping track of dates and deadlines, maintaining guest lists and adding information on venues, wedding favours, and vendors. Depending on how computer savvy you are, you can choose free wedding planning software programs that offer a simple interface and tools or one that features more comprehensive databases and an array of options, such as an ability to import contacts from your Outlook address book, print Excel reports, and send periodic e-mail reminders. Some software programs allow you to designate access to certain sections of your account to your guests, such as your registry, by providing them with a special password.
Terms of Access
Wedding planning websites generally store your information for a specified amount of time, usually long enough for you to add photos or information after the wedding or honeymoon. Some companies use activity monitors; if the information is accessed on a regular basis, it may be stored on their servers indefinitely. Others have specific expiration dates. Be sure to find how long you and your guests will be able to access your wedding information.
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