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PSFK Retail Conference Preview: Zola's SVP of Ecommerce & Registry On Designing A Wedding Planning Experience For Today's Couples


Ahead of speaking at PSFK's Future of Retail Conference 2020, Maya Simon shares insights on building a holistic wedding planning experience based on feedback from today's couples, as well as serving as a lifestyle partner beyond the big day

In Brief:

  • “Couples today want to have it all,” says Maya Simon, Senior Vice President of Ecommerce and Registry at the wedding planning and registry service Zola. To meet this demand, Zola organizes all the wedding details into one place by offering clients a set of digital tools, encompassing everything from invitations to the registry and personalized websites.
  • Simon aims to simplify the wedding planning experience by replacing it with a one-stop platform. This means focusing on building a holistic experience based on evolving consumer insights, as well as extending support to customers even after they've made their vows.
  • Simon spoke with PSFK before her presentation at the Future of Retail Conference for a glimpse into how Zola has built a wedding planning destination from the ground up, insights on pain points for millennials getting married today and serving as a lifestyle partner to couples beyond their wedding day.

PSFK: Tell us about the work that you do at Zola.

Maya Simon: I’ve spent most of my working life at ecommerce companies, including as a stint at Gilt Groupe working closely with Shan and Nobu, the founders of Zola. As soon as I heard about Zola I knew it was something I had to be a part of. Coming from more traditional ecomm with all the challenges of inventory, returns, and seasonality, I was immediately attracted to Zola’s innovative retail business model, as well as the unique opportunity to work on an incredible leadership team with the best ecommerce thinkers in the industry.

In my five years at Zola I’ve worked across many different teams from strategy and business operations, to marketing, to finance and data analytics. Currently I oversee Zola’s ecommerce business focused on creating the best shopping experience for over 1 million couples and their guests.

How is Zola building an ecosystem of services for modern couples? What consumer insights and feedback can you share that influenced the design and offerings of Zola?

Zola is the only site where couples can plan their entire wedding all in one place online. The tools that we offer include wedding websites, wedding invitations, wedding registry and more. We’ve been able to achieve expansive growth by listening to customer feedback from day one, and delivering products our customers want. The reason we launched wedding websites was that almost immediately after launching our registry business, couples started asking if they could add details to their registry page to use it as their wedding website. So in 2017 we launched free wedding websites. Then, couples were asking if they could print their website and use it as an invitation. So in 2018 we launched an entire line of wedding stationary. That line of wedding stationary has been so successful that we just launched holiday cards.


What are today’s couples looking for, and how is Zola meeting their needs in new ways with a holistic, unified experience?

Before Zola the wedding planning process was completely outdated and fragmented. Couples had to use an average of 20 different apps, sites, spreadsheets to find everything they needed for their wedding. There was no one company building tools for the generation of couples getting married today, who are mobile first, online shopping experts. Couples today want to have it all, from a registry with traditional gifts and cash funds, to affordable invitation options and best in class benefits. On Zola couples can easily do everything they need to plan their wedding right on their mobile device or laptop. We are using design and technology to make wedding planning easy and personalized, in a way that no other company is doing.

Tell us about the relay between your on and offline services. How do you design this planning experience to be streamlined and intuitive, and also maintain Zola’s brand throughout?

Wedding planning is an incredibly personal and emotional time. And, it can be overwhelming! All of a sudden a couple has to plan a big party, which is also a family reunion, which is also a religious occasion, which is also going to be professionally photographed and end up on Instagram, all on a budget. Our goal is to take stress out of the equation and make the happiest moment in a couple's life even happier.

We also want to make it easy, affordable, beautiful and memorable. Those brand values are at the core of everything we do from adding brands to our registry assortment to launching ad campaigns on Instagram or the NYC subway to designing product updates and launching new parts of our business. Every time a couple or guest comes into contact with Zola we want them to feel like we are going to hold their hand as much or as little as they want throughout the entire planning process.

What is Zola currently working on expanding? Any particular services or offerings?

We’re focused on owning this entire life stage, building products that will serve couples from the moment they get engaged all the way through newlywed life. We recently launched our Wedding Boutique where couples can shop for everything they need for the day of their wedding, including party attire, decor, favors, accessories and even wedding dresses. I’m particularly excited about Wedding Boutique because no other wedding company or retail company is doing this, and it's another way we are helping couples build their entire wedding vision on Zola. We also just launched holiday cards! Our paper business has been performing so well for us that  holiday cards is another opportunity for us to continue serving couples through the first years of newlywed life.


What do you plan to share at the Future of Retail Conference?

Zola started as a wedding registry, but the vision was always to solve the pain points of this entire life stage for the millennials getting married today.  Now, six years later, over 1 million couples have used Zola and we’re simplifying the entire wedding planning process. I’m excited to share more about how Zola was built from the ground up, how Zola has become the fastest growing player in the $100B wedding industry, and how we’ve strategically expanded to serve couples from the moment they get engaged all the way through newlywed life.

For more from Maya Simon, come see her speak at PSFK's Future of Retail 2020 Conference this January, tickets available now!

Lead image: Zola