Wedding Websites: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

We all know that planning a wedding can be overwhelming.

After all, there are hundreds of choices to make, from the dress to the decor and everything in between. One thing that technology has made easier is organizing your event through wedding websites.

We have taken a peak into four big-name wedding websites and reviewed them for ease of use and features. Read on to see how yours stacked up!

www.brides.com:

Brides Website
The online presence of the successful “Brides” magazine offers an abundance of information for brides-to-be. This site is massive and offers a wide range of categories, including dresses, rings, real-weddings, celebrity weddings, cakes, general advice, honeymoons, wedding planning, photos, registry and even a blog.

The Pros

Tons of information, ensuring every bride-to-be can find something that will interest her regardless of her tastes. In addition, within each category are helpful features that can transform even wedding novices into wedding experts.

For example, under the wedding dress category, there are several subcategories revealing galleries of dresses in various styles such as ball gowns, mermaids and A-lines. Another gallery shows common necklines including strapless and v-neck.

In addition to the galleries showcased, Brides.com also includes applicable articles within each subcategory. For example, in the dress category, articles such as “The Top Wedding Dress Trends” and “How to Find the Perfect Wedding Dress for Your Body Type” are just a few examples of the types of articles found on this site.

The Cons

There isn’t much not to like about Brides.com. However, the shear volume of information can be overwhelming, especially for those brides that tend to not do well with too many choices.

www.theknot.com:

The Knot Website
The knot is yet another excellent site for the bride-to-be. It includes many categories, including a blog, wedding ideas, dresses, photos, real weddings, honeymoons and many other features. Their motto, which is simply “Inspiration. Personalized” exemplifies what this site is all about, teaching brides how to create a wedding unique to them.

The Pros

This site includes interesting advice on hair styles, perfect for the big day, and includes tips on how to accessorize with jewelry and how to create the best invitations.

In addition, there is a feature that links to actual products in the “knot shop,” which are mentioned on the site. Some of these are ideal for low-budget weddings or for those who do have the budget but love to save money where they can. Therefore, this feature is especially helpful and not as common on other wedding sites.

The Cons

There is really nothing of note that stands out as a negative pertaining to this site.

The two sites listed above are just two of the many sites that are out there, perfect for planning a dream wedding.

www.mywedding.com:

MyWedding website

This site is a bit different from the other two previously mentioned in the wedding website reviews piece. Instead of being formatted like an online magazine, it is more a planning guide site. The motto, “your wedding planning adventure starts here,” which is placed prominently on the front page, says it all.

The Pros

This sites offers a wide range of options for brides planning their big day and does so in a techie manner. There are several categories to choose from, including information pertaining to setting a budget and creating a wedding checklist, and shares how to construct and add registries, offers help finding various wedding vendors, gives help in regards to choosing a destination for weddings and honeymoons, and finally helps couples build a personal wedding website.

Designing a personal “wedding website” is a recent trend for tech savvy brides and grooms. This site, which is constructed by the engaged couple, keeps family members appraised of wedding plans and can even offer them the opportunity to contribute to the wedding budget.

Some couples even use it as a means of inviting wedding guests. However, at Paper Direct, we still feel printed invitations are a must, but adding an online invitation with information for family is a great addition to a standard invitation.

The Cons

There are many ideas on this site; however, it does not go into great detail for specific tasks. For example, there are wedding dress ideas but no articles on how brides can choose the ideal dress for their body types. In addition, if a couple is not tech savvy, they likely wont appreciate many of the site’s features.

 

www.marthastewartweddings.com:

Marth Stewart Weddings website  review

Any wedding website created by the queen of event planning is sure to be packed full of valuable information and contain scores of creative ideas, and this site lives up to that expectation.

The Pros

Of course, being a Martha Stewart creation, this site is full of do-it-yourself ideas for wedding decor such as how couples can make their own wedding favors or their own center pieces for reception tables and even offers tips to teach brides how to make the most of their big day.

Categories on the Martha Stewart site includes sections about flowers, bridal gowns, beauty tips for the bride, information on choosing venues and how to create registries. In addition, Martha adds an etiquette category, which is often overlooked in today’s society, but is still important when planning a wedding. The site also contains an abundance of articles explaining each category in detail.

The Cons

If engaged couples are not the do-it-yourself type, they probably won’t appreciate all the many features on this site. In addition, anyone who doesn’t fit in the traditional bride mold, such as someone who doesn’t care about etiquette or how things “should” be done will not benefit as much either.

Once you’ve chosen a wedding website, browse Paper Direct’s selection of wedding invitations, place cards, programs and more. Happy planning!

 

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Empower your Female Work Force: Day of Hire

Starting a new job can be overwhelming. Empower your female work force from day one by making it easy for new hires to assimilate into your company.

A few techniques that are especially helpful for women who are new on the job:

Make It Easy to Get to Know Everyone

When your new employee first arrives, give her a tour and introduce her to everyone she will be working with.

To make it easier for her to learn names, create either an online or paper photo book. The book can be as simple as printed sheets inside a report cover and contain employee names, pictures, titles and brief bios of the other people who work for your company.

If it is feasible, schedule a department or company lunch sometime during her first week. This allows her to get to know the people she will be working with in a less formal setting.

It will help build rapport and foster better teamwork.

Use the Buddy System

By assigning a fellow employee who can be your new hire’s guide, she’ll have a go-to person for questions about her work and the company. This can save her time that would otherwise be spent wondering who to ask and make her feel more at ease.

This can also take the form of shadowing an established employee. By watching someone else in your department complete a task, your new hire can absorb important cues about company culture and procedures.

At the end of the day, walk through the jobs she saw completed and address any questions. While this can slow down her transition into her new position, you will be rewarded by her efficiency and knowledge in the end.

Give Her an Independent Project on Day One

An opposite tack is to let her start working independently immediately.

You can empower your female work force by letting new employees know at the start that you trust them. This is also a great way to see how your new hire performs under pressure and how well she is able to handle new or unexpected situations.

Be sure to praise her accomplishments in her new task while giving tips on best practices and ways to improve.

Paper Direct is committed to providing materials to make your employees feel appreciated. Shop with us for employee award certifications, brochures and more.

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Top 5 FAQs: Business Etiquette

Whether you are just starting out on your career path, or you have been climbing the ladder for years, it’s never too late to refresh yourself on the best business etiquette techniques.

When you follow the proper protocol, you will be noticed by your employers as an exemplary employee and your fellow co-workers will admire your professionalism in the workplace.

Top 5 FAQs: Business Etiquette

How Am I Expected to Present Myself in a Professional Setting?

You should always be confident and maintain a professional demeanor. Sit with good posture and stand straight when you are introducing yourself. When speaking with a co-worker, client or supervisor, always make eye contact and introduce yourself with a firm handshake.

Respect the dress code of your particular office, but remember to dress for the job that you want rather than the position that you currently hold.

How Quickly Am I Expected to Return Phone Calls and E-mails?

In today’s interconnected world, you are expected to return all e-mails and phone calls within 24 hours. The quicker you are able to respond to your messages, the more professional you will appear to others. Always keep people updated when you will not be available via phone or e-mail.

How Should I Handle Phone Conversations in the Workplace?

Keep your voice low and try to minimize personal conversations at all costs. If you do have a personal conversation, keep it short and do not divulge details of your personal life while on the phone.

How Should I Manage my Workspace?

Your office and your desk are a reflection of you. Keep your space clean, neat and organized whenever possible. Keep personal items to a minimum.

How Should I Navigate a Business Meeting?

Never arrive late for a business meeting, but don’t arrive more than five minutes early. Avoid interrupting others during the meeting, and save any confrontational moments for another time and place.

Note that the rules of etiquette in the workplace are constantly changing, especially with the constant stream of technological advances and the new approaches to doing business in the 21st century. However, if you understand the basic rules of maintaining a professional demeanor in the business world, you will easily adapt to the ever-changing business environment.

Always be prepared for whatever comes your way by having the best business paper products on hand.

Find out what’s available at PaperDirect.com.

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8 Bold “Save the Date!” Ideas

Save the Date Modern Photo PostcardsIn the last few years, the process of announcing wedding dates has transformed into a game of one-upmanship on Facebook, with each couple eager to gain the most feedback from friends and relatives. While a social media announcement is essential in this day and age, there’s still something special about receiving tangible wedding announcements. Consider spreading the great news with one of these new ways to say save the date!

1. Movie Poster

Instead of standard black and white engagement photos, show your silly side by creating a parody of the poster for one of your favorite romantic comedies. Mr. And Mrs. Smith and How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days are both perfect for this approach.

2. Candy Wrappers

Who doesn’t like a sweet treat? Add a special touch to your save the date by ordering mints or some other type of candy, with all the essential information included on the wrapper.

3. Infographic

From informational articles to workplace flow charts, the infographic is the ultimate in effective communication. Offer up a modern touch to your save the date by sharing all the details in a straightforward, but unique infographic.

4. Old School Family Portrait

If you or your fiance already has kids consider including them in the save the date. A goofy 80s family portrait — complete with big hair and mullets — should provide plenty of laughs for the lucky recipients.

5. Puppy Love

If your family already includes a dog, feature your pooch in the engagement picture, as well as a cheesy pun such as: “It will be a pawsitively amazing experience!”

6. Calendar Magnet

Sand Save the Date Magnets

If there will be several events taking place in the lead-up to the big ceremony, consider sending a calendar magnet marked with all the important occasions. Feel free to spice up the calendar with a unique background picture.

7. Beachy Magnets

Magnets in general make excellent save the dates. If you’re planning on throwing a getaway wedding, consider sending beach-themed magnets to get your invited guests excited for the big trip.

8. Wedding CD

If you’ve already chosen the songs for your ceremony and reception, why not share them on an exclusive save the date CD? Feel free to share all the specifics related to the wedding on the front of said CD. If nothing else, this will provide a little entertainment for those forced to drive across the country for your big day.

Your save the date will communicate the essentials about your upcoming nuptials while also setting the tone for your ceremony. Think outside the box and send reminders that guests will remember in years to come.

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How to Balance your Day Job with your Side Business

Graphic Circles Business Cards  by PaperDirectThe cliche about not giving up your day job often turns out to be solid advice for business ventures that net little or no profit. Unfortunately, juggling a traditional 9-to-5 gig with a side business can be incredibly difficult, particularly if your schedule is also swamped with school, family and social obligations. There’s no need to give up your dream business just yet; with a little streamlining of your daily routine, you can continue to pursue your passions without leaving behind the financial comfort of your normal job.

Learn How To Say No

Garden Gate Business Cards by PaperDirect

As a day worker with a side gig, you will eventually need to learn how to draw a line whenyou’re up to your ears in work. If you take on too many freelance clients or spend twelve-hour days at the office, you’ll quickly find your quality of work suffering on both fronts. Learn to only take on clients and assignments capable of furthering your business. You should also determine whether your current day job is ideal. Although you cannot completely give up traditional employment at this time, switching to a more flexible day job could prove beneficial.

Evaluate Your Schedule

With two jobs, it may feel as if you never have a moment to yourself. But with careful tracking of your day-to-day activities, you may find that you possess more spare time than you initially suspected. Those mindless fifteen minute periods of Facebook surfing add up quickly; this is all time you could be using to promote your business.

Use Your Day Job To Your Advantage

Cleaning Supplies Business Cards by PaperDirectInstead of looking at your normal workday as a source of drudgery, try viewing it as an opportunity to further your outside business aspirations. The contacts you make at your current place of employment could be invaluable in the future. Make a point of attending social functions sponsored by your employer when you can squeeze them into your schedule. While chatting with coworkers and clients, tell them of your aspirations and offer them professional business cards decked out with all the necessary details surrounding your side venture. Patrons are eager to support businesses run by friends and associates; they’ll gladly lend you support if you give them the opportunity.

The combination of a day job and a side gig can create a scheduling nightmare, but this setup will also offer you a greater sense of financial stability. By streamlining your efforts, you can make the most of a challenging situation.

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How to Zero in on Your Target Market

Color Bazaar Border Paper by PaperDirectYour company may have the potential to help a lot of other businesses, but you’re not likely to effectively reach them unless you zero in on your target market. You can do this with some helpful tips that make it easy to reach the companies you can benefit most.

Figure Out Who They Are

You can’t very well target if a specific audience if you’re not sure who they may be. While many businesses like to think that the entire world is or should be their target, that mindset doesn’t typically net results. The world is too broad a place to home in on the specific message or content that will draw in your ideal customers.

And that’s exactly what your target audience is: your ideal customers. They are businesses most likely to use your service and products. Set up a profile that outlines their common characteristics, such as industry, annual revenue, number of employees, company culture and other defining factors that can guide you in your marketing efforts.

Determine What They Want from You

Once you’ve outlined your ideal B2B customer, it’s time to determine what they want from your business. The most effective marketing strategies always highlight what the company can do for the customer. Can you save a company time and energy? Reduce their spending in key areas of their business? Focus on the biggest benefits companies can reap from your brand and make sure they’re mentioned in your marketing messages.

Reach Them through the Ideal Channel

Here’s where you need to figure out where your target businesses like to hang out. Certain social media channels, such as LinkedIn, are geared specifically toward business. Other means include emails, direct mail and face-to-face encounters.

Postcards by PaperDirect

Reach Them Like a Pro

No matter what channel you use to reach your audience, you want your content to begeared toward its recipients. That means your word choice, tone, style, layout and appearance of your content needs to be enticing to your target.

You can craft an ideal appearance for any message by choosing the appropriate font, colors and background. While marketing through digital channels comes with certain restrictions, direct mail letters, fliers, brochures and other physical marketing materials can enjoy a wide range of visuals, letterheads, borders and other eye-catching elements on your business communication that match the vibe of the audience you’re trying to reach.

Stuck on where to begin? Get inspiration from myriad options at PaperDirect.

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The Ultimate Office Party Planning Checklist

Cascade Specialty Flat Invitations by PaperDirectWhether your idea of an office party is hosting your company’s version of Michael Scott’s Dundies or simply relaxing with a can of beer and a slice of pizza, you’ll want to make a point of acquiring all the necessary supplies ahead of time. No, you do not need an entire party planning committee to complete the job, but the items in this office party planning checklist could prove useful:

A Good Setup

You work in an office, so you should have plenty of chairs and tables on hand for your party, right? Wrong! Your average office party is plagued by a lack of decent seating. Some partygoers may prefer to stand, but be sure to have a few extra folding chairs on hand, just in case.

Consider renting a few high tops so people can stand while eating.

Classy Conversation

At each table, place a funny photo or board game. This will get the party going and set people up for an awesome night.

Munchies

Office parties definitely need good food
Teamwork Clips Magnetic Sculptureoptions. Have everyone bring in their favorite potluck dish or recipe. Try holding a contest for the best:

  • Dip Recipe
  • Cookie Recipe
  • “Junkiest Food”
  • “Healthiest Food”

You can’t go wrong with chex mix or pretzels!

Prizes

What fun is a game if it doesn’t feature a prize for the winner? Your prize could range from something simple, like food, to a special privilege, like an extra day off. If your budget can handle it, feel free to offer something more extensive, such as a gift card or even a weekend getaway.

Beverages

Non-Alcoholic Favorites: 

  • Orange Juice
  • Coca-Cola and Diet Coke
  • Redbull (if you’re office is feisty)
  • Iced Tea
  • Gatorade

Wines, Spirits, etc:

  • Mimosas
  • Bloody Mary Bar
  • Local Craft Beers

Invites

Majestic Greens Casual Invitations by PaperDirectDon’t just assume that the entire office knows about the upcoming party. An announcement at your weekly meeting or inservice may be helpful, but you’re best off sending out official invites for the big event. This can take place via email or, if you prefer the traditional touch, with special cards.

Don’t turn your office party into a boring, awkward obligation; with the right supplies and, more importantly, an optimistic attitude, you’ll have no problem throwing an exciting celebration that will be talked about for years to come.

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How to Present Your Brand with Style & Confidence

Aquamarine Postcards by PaperDirectWhen you are launching a new business or creating a fresh identity for a current organization, you will want to take the time to create a branding strategy that will work for your company.

Once you have created your new brand, you will want to present it to the world — but you have to feel completely confident in the brand you have designed. When you present your brand with both style and confidence, your customers will have more trust and faith in your business.

You’ll instantly earn their respect and admiration while also securing them as loyal customers for years to come.

How to Present Your Brand with Style & Confidence

  • Create the right print materials in order to market your brand to your target Back Nine Golf Papers by PaperDirectaudience. You’ll want to send flyers with your new logo on it, and create display boards that you can show off at local networking events. In addition, maintain a level of professionalism with a personalized presentation folder. Be prepared to describe your business and explain your brand at all times, and always have print products available to pass out to potential clients and customers.
  • Launch a social media campaign introducing your brand. Whether you are a brick-and-mortar business or an online entity, you need to be participating in the world of social media. You can easily connect with your target demographic online on the various social networking platforms, and you can post daily reminders about your brand. This helps to establish brand identity among your clients, and shows you are committed to your brand.
  • Stand behind your brand and focus on remaining consistent in your brand identity and brand management. Choose a color scheme and design a logo, and stay the course. Your brand defines your business, and brand consistency helps you build both customer trust and satisfaction.

Introducing your new brand and business identity should not be something that is rushed into. You will want to spend a significant amount of time researching and strategizing before you begin to implement a new brand identity.

Once you have worked through the process, you will be thrilled with the brand you have created and you will be excited about launching this new brand. Be prepared to present your brand by having the best print products on hand with your new logo emblazoned on them in crisp, bright and bold colors.

Check out more business products available at PaperDirect.com.

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6 Low-budget Ideas to Perform Market Research

While performing market research has gotten pretty “high tech” in recent times, with algorithms and analytics bringing business intelligence over mobile devices, there’s something to be said for getting back to basics. Some of the best ideas to perform market research are those tried-and-true classic methods that get you down “in the trenches” with customers; they can also be implemented in a way that’s easy on the budget. If you’re looking for more insight into your business, consider these six time-tested ideas to perform market research:

1. In-person questionnaires. In-person surveys refer to those “man on the street” interviews usually conducted in high-traffic areas where your target audience tends to be. A shopping mall, a city street or wherever potential customers congregate can be an ideal location. Start by creating a concise questionnaire that will help you to analyze your most pressing business questions. The larger the sample group, the more reliable your results will be. Ask targeted questions, show product samples, and get feedback about packaging and advertising ideas. The response rate of in-person surveys is up to 90%, making them well worth the effort.

2. Online surveys. While online surveys have a more unpredictable response rate, their convenience cannot be denied. Online surveys are a simple, affordable way to collect data and find out more about your customers’ opinions, habits, needs and preferences.

3. Direct observation. Responses to surveys, while valuable, can sometimes be at odds with actual consumer behavior. Consider observing your customers in action in your stores as they go through the decision-making process. You might consider setting up a camera system; also, take the time to watch YouTube video product reviews and demonstrations posted by your customers. Observation will provide a more accurate picture of shopping patterns and product use habits.

4. Indepth interviews. Consider contacting some of your most active customers for a more indepth interview about their experience with your product, service and business. Find out what makes them tick, what drew them to your business, and what keeps them coming back.

5. Focus groups. Focus groups are excellent for learning about consumer attitudes and test-marketing new products. The sessions can be videotaped discreetly or observed via one-way mirrors. A neutral moderator should use pre-scripted questions on the topics most pressing to your business. Generally, you should conduct three separate focus groups to ensure accurate data.

6. Field trials. Offering a new product or service in select stores is a great way to assess customer response in real-life conditions. From there, you can make product modifications, improve the packaging/marketing, and adjust pricing as needed.

While the marketing landscape has gotten more complex in recent times, these six ideas to perform market research can generate solid data at an affordable cost. Stop by PaperDirect for all your business communication needs!

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Five Things Not to Do in Your Cubicle

Nostalgic employees love to complain about today’s casual workers and their complete lack of respect. If you’re engaging in one of the following obnoxious cubicle activities, have some compassion for your coworkers and cut it out!

1. Taking Selfies

What to NOT do in your cubicle- #1 Office Selfie

Everybody loves a good selfie, but the office might not be the best setting for your photography masterpiece.

If you can’t resist the urge to pose for the camera, at least wait until you can capture an oh-so-classy mirror selfie in the office bathroom.

2. Make Out With Your Hot Coworker

What to NOT do in your cubicle- #4 Kissing Your Hot coworker

Sure, that guy from IT is attractive, but this isn’t a college bar — you don’t need to swap spit at this very moment.

The office hookup may be every bored worker’s fantasy, but you’re better off waiting until you’ve climbed the corporate ladder and scored a room with a door.

3. Air Out Your Stinky Feet

What to NOT do in your cubicle- #2 Feet on DeskYour feet are aching after that much-needed Starbucks run. Perhaps you should have considered the possibility of sore tootsies before you decided to wear stilettos to work. As uncomfortable as your feet may currently be, you’ll make your work neighbors even more uncomfortable if you decide to slip off your shoes.

You may be blissfully unaware of the rancid stench of your bare feet, but you’re coworkers aren’t as fortunate.

4. Clip Your Nails

What to NOT do in your cubicle- #3 Clipping Nails

Personal hygiene is a wonderful thing, particularly when you spend the majority of your time in an office environment. However, there is a time and a place for grooming and your cubicle is definitely not ideal. The sound of that nail clipper is sure to drive your coworkers bonkers. They’ll be similarly unimpressed with your dedication to dental hygiene if you insist on flossing at your desk.

5. Take A Nap

Remember George Costanza’s specially designed napping desk on Seinfeld? If you don’t possess one of these beauties (not to mention, a private office), you probably better down an extra coffee and return your focus to marketing and business promotions.

These are things not to do in your cubicle: live and die by them.

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