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Busy brides can save time by rushing to Web sites

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Once upon a time, harried brides-to-be had to rush all over town and pore through volumes of books and magazines to find information on ceremony and reception sites, dress styles and photographers.

Well, they still run around for fittings and food tastings and the like, but today, a wealth of nuptial information, tips and tools for the busy bride can be found on the Internet within just a few clicks. From displaying 10 fashion shows’ worth of bridal gowns to providing out-of-town guests with a list of local attractions and a map to the church, online wedding sites feature a slew of stress-easing tools.

Some take a more light-hearted, fun approach to wedding planning than others, along with providing useful tips. With the more comprehensive sites offering links to local services and bridal businesses, all that’s left for the betrothed to do is work on the happily ever after.

Wedding Channel
www.weddingchannel.com

The gold standard in wedding planning tools and information, Wedding Channel organizes its site logically in a most user-friendly fashion. Articles on budgeting and etiquette, as well as bridal gown and accessory search tools, are available to visitors. With a quick and none-too-involved registration, users can gain access to time-saving features such as online guest registries - the site has joined forces with several regional department stores - and a to-do schedule that can e-mail users with reminders. A handy guest-list manager and out-of-town guest resource add to the wealth of what Wedding Channel has to offer.

The Knot
theknot.com

This popular site has emerged from a recent redesign as a more eye-catching stop with an easy-to-use interface. Those tying The Knot can peruse loads of guides about wedding vows, invitations and bridal showers, among other topics. Brides can tuck any gowns, jewelry or accessories that strike their fancy into a notebook of favorites, and, unlike many wedding-oriented sites, The Knot lists price ranges for bridal dresses. Grooms have a home here, too, as a page geared to them is well stocked with useful tips and ideas. In a fun twist, the site offers several registry themes, such as one for adventurous, sporty couples and one for foodies in love.

Town & Country Weddings
tncweddings.com

For the bride to whom money is - or will be - no object, this site touts its high-end "dream" dresses. Here, brides can browse the latest fashions from Badgley Mischka, Christian Dior and Armani, to name a few. Prices start at $1,000 and skyrocket from there.

Unfortunately, distracting ads crowd in on the gown pictures, practically framing them. Additional Town & Country features include etiquette tips and city guides for a few select cities - Dallas included - with links to local businesses.

About.com
weddings.about.com/style

An About.com wedding Web site "expert" has done all the hard work, compiling this huge network of links and topics. Here, users can perform a more specialized bridal information search than if they used generic search engines. About.com turns up links to actual bridal designers’ sites rather than every dressmaker that cranks out a formal.

Matrimony Mambo
houston.webpoint.com/wedding

If you’re going to have fun planning your wedding, you’d do well to start here. Mambo melds practical advice with an irreverent sense of humor. Indexes are chock full of helpful categories such as questions to ask the photographer and how to thaw those cold feet. But what really sets this site apart is its humorous take on typical situations that a bride experiences. Users can download two funny, stress-busting games (Shockwave software required), including Torture Your Sister, in which you dress and overdress a cartoon bridesmaid until she screams in frustration. What wedding worries?

Ultimate Weddings
www.ultimatewedding.com
Billing itself as the ultimate Internet wedding guide, this site boasts a gallery of wedding song clips to help couples build the soundtrack for their special day. Song links lead to Amazon.com, where users must click around before finding their tune. But overall, the clips are a good feature.

Wedding Links Galore
weddinglinksgalore.com

Sort of the Yahoo of wedding-oriented Web sites, this comprehensive search engine offers a chat room for brides, as well as links for everything from party favors to ceremony sites in the United States and abroad. Users can also look up other people’s wedding bloopers, then click on the photo gallery to view prouder moments.

Della weddings
weddings.della.com/login/homepage.asp

An offshoot of the Della.com online shopping resource, this site features gift registries at well-known favorites, including Crate & Barrel and Dillard’s. Gift-givers can even opt to buy just a gift certificate.

Wedding goGrrl
wedding.gogrrl.com

Hands down the cutest-looking site of them all, goGrrl neatly culls advice articles and plenty of links to wedding-related sites. One standout is the site’s gown subcategories: Brides can search for a vintage dress or order patterns to sew one themselves. Insightful articles - including usually hard-to-find information on trends in African-American weddings - a short list of links to groom-oriented sites and one devoted to online wedding magazines make this a well-rounded resource.

Latinabride.com
www.latinabride.com

This site’s highlights include stories on cultural traditions, a chat room and links to wedding businesses nationwide. A bridal question-and-answer section tackles etiquette and the sometimes difficult task of incorporating wedding rituals from a Latino perspective.

Bridesave.com
www.bridesave.com

Except for those handy bridal registries, most wedding Web sites don’t offer much in the way of online shopping. This is where Bridesave.com hopes to set itself apart by offering hundreds of gowns, bridesmaid dresses, shoes and veils for secure purchase over the Web. Be forewarned, though: Returns aren’t allowed on shoes and gowns except for damaged or wrong merchandise. Thankfully, the site offers size charts for each designer to make picking the right size that much more accurate. U.S. shipping is free, too, except to Alaska and Hawaii. Brides can choose from a number of vintage and consignment dresses, as well as gowns in all price ranges. Coming soon on this site-in-progress are areas about invitations and honeymoons.
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