Exclusive Interview: How This Wedding Company Just Changed the Entire Game

Big day. Dream wedding. I do. There is major pressure around weddings, but Zola is determined to streamline the process for the ease, comfort, and bliss of new couples. Taking you from planning stages through your first year, the wedding-meets-tech company just released brand new functionality with Zola Weddings, a free suite of wedding planning tools including: your wedding website, registry, check list, and guest list all in one place. Reread that. It's everything in ONE PLACE. It not only saves you time, but major wedding headaches, so you don't have to get bogged down in details. Keeping track of your guest list? No problem. (Mapping your seating chart, that's still on you.) The company's co-founders took to the Zola blog to announce, "Today, we’re so excited to introduce you to Zola Weddings, a suite of wedding planning tools including your wedding website, registry, checklist, and guest list all in one place. And because couples have enough quotes and bills to take care of, we made these tools entirely free to use."

We caught up with Jennifer Spector, Director of Brand at Zola, to find out more about the new suite and why she wishes it was around when she was planning her wedding. As she says, "My wedding planner described weddings as a live performance, a family reunion, a religious ceremony, and the biggest party you’ve ever thrown, all in one day. That is a lot."

What were you hearing from couples and users that made you realize now was the right time for Zola to expand the brand? Why become a one-stop shop?

Since Zola was founded in 2013, we have consistently heard from couples that they wish their wedding websites could be as beautiful and easy to use as their registry. As we have grown, these requests have only gotten louder. Once we decided to build websites for couples, we took a step back and asked ourselves, how else can we help people plan their wedding? The average couple uses 3+ wedding tools to plan their wedding, which is just one part of the planning process. We realized we had to do more, wedding planning was outdated and today’s couples were spending all their time stressed out, instead of enjoying their engagement. So we created Zola Weddings - a free suite of wedding planning tools that includes your wedding website, a customizable checklist, guest list manager, and your registry, all in one place and all for free.

How did the company determine what functionality and platforms to include?

At it’s heart, Zola is a technology company and is focused on delivering the best possible experience to couples and their guests. Most other wedding companies are focused on inspiration, and the look and feel of your wedding day. But for anyone who has planned a wedding (or been involved in a friend’s wedding), there really are a year’s worth of details that take a lot of time and energy. So we focused on streamlining the logistics and planning, so that you can take pleasure in the day of your wedding, not all the endless details that pile up. The biggest pain points we heard from couples were around getting everything done, managing timelines, handling guest communication, and having one place to do it all. By having our Wedding Website, Checklist, Guest List, and Registry all in once place, couples can stay organized at home or on mobile, and take the pain out of planning what should be a wonderful celebration. Zola Weddings is so easy to use, that you can focus on your wedding day, not collecting RSVPs, or remembering to pay the deposit for the band.

Piggybacking on that, you said you wish this was around when you were getting married. What are the functions and tools that you’re most excited by?

I got married in 2015, and two of my biggest challenges were creating our wedding website and keeping track of our guest list. The wedding website becomes this bottleneck for many people, myself included, because before you send out save the dates you need to have all your information on your website. The details need to be close to final. We used what was supposed to be a very simple website builder, but it took weeks and was really frustrating. So I really wish I could have used Zola’s Wedding Websites, because the designs are beautiful and fit with any wedding theme, but it is so easy to use that you don’t need to know how to code, or sacrifice your style with a cheesy theme. For the guest list, my husband and I had our guests, and then both sets of our parents had lists. It became a puzzle fitting it all together and trying to get information from people. Zola’s Guest List manager solves that.

Speaking of, the automated guest list sounds like a GAME-changer. To totally nix the old-school invite, mail-in RSVPS, and to also manage gifts and thank you notes in one place— you’ve saved the new couple so much time. Is time a major factor for the millennial couple?

Yes the Guest List is a total game changer! Time is a major factor for the millennial couple, planning a wedding becomes like a second job for many people because there are so many details and logistics. Today’s couples can order anything from their phone but when it comes to wedding planning everything is so analog. Our Website, Checklist, Guest List, and Registry bring wedding planning into the 21st century, and help simplify and save time.  

What are the main considerations for a company when rebranding? Especially online. People get used to an interface and can get thrown when they see something new.

For Zola, we always had an incredibly well-designed site and mobile experience. Our tech, product, and design team is incredible. So our rebrand was less about changing the site or the experience, and more about adding warmth and humor to the brand. I joined Zola right after my wedding, because I had fallen in love with the experience, and wanted to share that obsession with anyone getting married or buying a wedding gift. We approached the rebrand as a way to share our story with couples and their guests. So we relaxed the brand a bit from being quite minimal, to livening things up with more color, whimsy and a personalized tone. We A/B tested every change on the site to make sure that any new addition did not negatively impact our user experience. The result has been a great marriage of new form but the same superior function.   

Your pool of millennial users is massive, but in an ideal world, they’re also one-time users. How do you deal with this as a brand?

Ideally our couples only get married once, but they are guests at other people’s weddings, and continue to shop the site after they are married. Zola Registry is an ecommerce site with over 450 brands and almost 50,000 gifts and experiences that we curate. Many couples rely on us to decorate their entire home, long after they are married.  So as a company, we want to make sure the experience as strong whether you are a couple or a guest so you will continue to come back and refer friends to use the site.

Big day. Dream wedding. There’s a lot of high pressure marketing lingo around weddings. And globally, it’s a 300 billion dollar business. Does it ever feel like the pressure to ‘perform’ is greater because of those factors?

100%. My wedding planner described weddings as a live performance, a family reunion, a religious ceremony, and the biggest party you’ve ever thrown, all into one day. That is a lot. Then if you add on all of the wedding content online and on social media, it can be quite overwhelming. My advice to couples is to think about the day after, and the year after your wedding - what do you want to remember? Then reverse engineer your celebration to make sure you make those memories, and forget about everything else that won’t be memorable or important to you. The best weddings are the ones where the couple is having the time of their lives, people just want to see you happy!

Is it exciting to be in the middle of an industry that’s in transition?

It is definitely exciting to be in the middle of a company that is transforming the wedding industry. But the industry in general is still quite traditional, and the act of getting married is still very traditional. Even though couples are changing societal norms in many ways, they are still getting married and still celebrating in the same ways that their parents celebrated. So that is what is very exciting - how do we take this very traditional, emotional, and important time, and make it easier and more modern without sacrificing any of the sentimentality or specialness of the occasion. That is most exciting - making couples happy during the happiest time of their lives!

Whether you’re hitched, engaged, or making guest appearances at several nuptials this season, sign up now to use Zola Weddings here for free! And for any NYC-based peeps, celebrate the launch of Zola Weddings with the Zola Retreat this Saturday. Experience some chill vibes and serious om at 43 Crosby Street this Saturday, April 22, 11AM – 4PM. Here’s a sneak peek at what you can expect.