- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 3, 2008

When Aaron Hall, 29, proposed to Kristen Carter a year ago, neither expected their approaching union would produce a monster.

Weddzilla.com, the brainchild of the engaged couple from Arlington, is scheduled to launch at the end of August, and 2,200 vendors from across the country have already signed up to participate in the online forum where brides can solicit vendors to court for their business.

“There are a lot of ideas out there that try to help the bride or the vendor, but not both,” said Jackie Achekian, who owns Eleganza Intima, a Centreville wedding planner, and is organizing Weddzilla’s Aug. 27 launch party at the Clarendon Ballroom in Arlington. “Weddzilla is trying to make it mutually beneficial for everybody.”

Vendors face difficulty targeting advertising, and brides often feel bombarded by the number of wedding vendors at bridal shows, Ms. Achekian said. With Weddzilla’s “Weddifieds” - the Web site’s classified section - brides and vendors will be able to better identify good fits based on budget, category and wedding date, she said.

“I think it’s really needed in the marketplace because I basically wait until the brides come to me,” said Fairfax resident Barbara HilI, who owns Bridal Artistry, a bridal hair and makeup business. She is doing Miss Carter’s wedding makeup and liked the Weddzilla concept so much that she became a launch partner.

“This gives them the capability to be specific in what they’re looking for. It gives us the capability to connect with brides,” Ms. Hill said.

The Web site is an outgrowth of Miss Carter’s months-long search for wedding vendors. She hopes the site will help brides-to-be by taking some of the legwork out of wedding planning. She also hopes the site will provide a forum for vendors to bring their business to her as she posts about her wedding ideas - “weddnouncements” - in any of 25 categories, including flowers and decor, hair, chocolate fountains, and dance lessons.

“Days of calling, weeks of waiting,” said Miss Carter, 27. “When you’re planning a wedding, you’re on a budget crunch. You’re on a time crunch. And you’re at the mercy of waiting to hear other people call you back. You kinda feel like you want to be more in control of everything, rather than being at the mercy of them.”

Miss Carter, a pharmaceutical sales representative, spent hours in fruitless searches for florists and string quartets. Mr. Hall said her complaints led him to look for a simpler solution to Web sites that required hours of cold-calling vendors.

“You start to see where the term ‘Bridezilla’ comes from,” he said. “We didn’t want future brides to go through the same painful process that they go through now. Vendors come to the brides, instead of brides going to all the vendors.”

The search forum - an inversion of typical online vendor searches - may also help create competition among bidders “and a bit of transparency, which, traditionally, there has not been much of,” Mr. Hall said.

“I definitely think it’s a new model,” said Anne Chertoff, senior editor for Brides.com.

Finding vendors is a challenge for a bride-to-be, Ms. Chertoff said. Right now, she said, the best ways to connect with vendors is through friends, wedding shows and magazines.

“The thing with cold-calling is you never know what you’re going to get,” she said. “You want to be working with someone who gets what you want. You want to know that this person gets you, that they know what you like.”

With some of the built-in features of the Weddzilla site, brides will be able to rate services, and vendors can recommend other vendors.

The couple said friends planning their weddings can’t wait for the site to go live.

“People are really champing at the bit to get this thing out there as fast as we can,” Mr. Hall said.

The couple met at a Cinco de Mayo party in 2005 and plan to marry Oct. 4. They like to joke about how they have structured their relationship around significant dates.

“We met on 5-5-5 and got engaged on 7-7-7,” Miss Carter said. “We’re getting married on 10-4. Over and out.”

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