The (h)Appiest Day of Your Life

More than 50% of American consumers now own a smartphone. When you just look at twenty-and-thirty-somethings, that number jumps even higher to two out of three. So of COURSE there are a million apps for wedding planning.

There is a healthy crop of apps, some of notably higher quality than others, which are designed to help brides prepare for their big day. They allow the user to check off checklists, track which guests have RSVP'ed, or even browse wedding gowns. However, the more interesting apps are the ones geared toward guests. Nearly all of them allow your guests to immediately upload their photos to a shared album, which means that the happy couple can see all the snaps from the wedding without having to scour a hundred different Facebook pages. The five applications below are what this wedding planner feels are the best out there (so far).

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Wedding Party

PRICE: Free

FEATURES: Shared photo album.

PROS: Guests can connect via Facebook, eliminating the need to register with their email address. The website WeddingPartyApp.com includes a customized placecard to instruct guests on how to use the app; you just print them out and set them out at your reception. The app and associated website have a very stylized, modern design and easy-to-use interface. As a bonus, if you have a wedding webpage at mywedding.com, you can link the app to it and display all your photos there.

CONS: Not yet available for Android, so many of your guests may be unable to join in on the fun. Also, this app is strictly for photo sharing, so no informative features like driving directions to the venue.

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miWedding

PRICE: $20 (free for wedding guests)

FEATURES: Shared photo album. Wedding weekend itinerary, including driving directions to venues. Link to couple's Twitter account. Links to wedding party and family members' Facebook pages.

PROS: The price is much lower than other apps with similar features, which is nice for couples on a budget. Couples can add "points of interest", such as nearby restaurants and attractions, which would be very much appreciated by out-of-town guests with a rental car and some time to kill. Finally, guests don't have to register. They just type in the code name you've selected for your wedding, which means that your wedding details are easy to access.

CONS: There is no place on the event pages for notes. Notes could have been useful for the couple to inform their guests about parking, which door guests should use at a big venue, etc.  And it might seem picky, but the name of the app is fairly awkward. If you choose to use it, you should probably get used to explaining, "It's called miWedding, but 'my' is spelled with an I instead of a Y, and it's all one word, and also the W is capitalized." And remember, guests don't have to register, which means that your wedding details might be a little TOO easy to access.

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Be Our Guest

PRICE: Free

FEATURES: Serves as a complete wedding invitation, including the ability to RSVP with an entree selection. Venue info, including driving directions. Pages for recommended dining and sight-seeing. Link to couple's Twitter account.

PROS: This app is sleek and sexy as all get-out. The design is clean, beautiful, easy to navigate, and hyper-modern. Plus, by eliminating the need for paper invitations and RSVPs, it's quite eco-friendly.

CONS: Request driving directions to the venue, and you'll receive them in GoogleMaps - the problem here is that iPhones no longer provide this service, so your Apple guests will be redirected to the GoogleMaps webpage. It's a bit messy. Also, while the amount of customization you can do for this app is awesome, the set up through the website is tedious and a bit clunky.

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The Married App

PRICE: Free (technically)

FEATURES: Wedding weekend itinerary, including driving directions to venues. Shared photo album. Points of interest. Photo album of wedding party members. Tons and tons and TONS of others.

PROS: This app features pretty much everything your guests would want to have for the entire wedding experience. There are sections for guests to receive hotel information, numbers for local cab companies, a down-to-the-minute schedule, the reception menu, and any website the couple feels is relevant (in demo mode, the couple has included a salsa dance tutorial). Plus, there are a few really fun, imaginative touches that no other app out there has got - like the ability to snap "photo booth"-style strips of pictures, a video greeting from the couple, and a "sparkler" for the grand sendoff.

CONS: While it's probably the most strictly useful app out there, it's not the world's most beautiful. It looks a little like your an old Angelfire or Geocities webpage, with big blocks of text and old-fashioned fonts. Also, while it's technically free, there is a waiting list several months long. You can jump to the top of the list by shilling for the app on Facebook or Twitter, but you won't get the app on demand without jumping through some hoops.

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Appy Couple

PRICE: Free (if you register while the app is in beta; beginning in late 2012, new registrations will be $49)

FEATURES: Shared photo album. Wedding weekend itinerary, including event details. Couple's "story" section with photos. Links to wedding party's Facebook pages. Links to gift registries. Ability to RSVP from within app. Countdown to the wedding day.

PROS: GORGEOUS. Knockdown, drop dead, flat out gorgeous. The app has dozens of beautiful design schemes to choose from, and you can change at any time. Looking beyond the superficial, it's easy to navigate and includes tons of information. Each event can be customized with a list of widgets including driving directions, color palettes for the event, suggested dress code, playlist (with links to each song in the iTunes store), menu selections, and many more. It's guaranteed to impress your guests. This is definitely RedBird's favorite wedding app.

CONS: It's in beta testing. There are still a few bugs in the system, and by downloading something in beta you become a guinea pig. Also, like The Married App, you'll have to clear a few hurdles to download it because registration is currently by invitation only. However, if you just email the programmers to say you've Tweeted about them, you'll have your invitation within a few hours (or minutes).