Ditch the hefty binders and start pinning, Tumbl-ing and DIY-ing to craft your perfect wedding day.
A decade ago, brides hauled thick wedding magazines and heavy binders to appointments with vendors. Today they share their thoughts on iPads and smartphones. Through websites, apps and computer software, technology has provided new wedding planning tools and introduced brides and grooms to global ideas. Technology has brought the wedding industry communication, inspiration and instant gratification.
Separate E-Mail Accounts and Visual Technology Aids Vendor Communication
In an age of constant contact, wedding couples and vendors have even more ways to communicate in order to ensure a flawless celebration.
“Visual technology has become more of a norm,” says Leanne Silicato of Make My Day Event Planning in Rehoboth Beach. “Almost half the couples are using technology for communications with vendors.”
Emails and texts have allowed vendors and clients the flexibility to share critical information and exchange ideas throughout the planning process. When dealing with so many vendors, however, that correspondence needs to be centralized and accessible. Louise Bolin, a 30-year-old IT pro and former creative director of this magazine, walked down the aisle in October 2012.
“I started a separate email address for all things wedding-related,” she says, “and that email was hooked up to my phone, which kept me organized.”
Since the initial contact to vendors is often through their websites, pros like Maria DeForrest, owner of Maria DeForrest Photography in Milton, appreciate the opportunity to engage clients in this manner.
“To be able to email with brides and get back to brides quickly is important,” DeForrest says. “It’s the vendor’s responsibility to still treat the brides as if they just walked into the store.”
Pinterest Boards Influence Creativity and Help Define a Bride’s Vision
Silicato praised the newest form of communication: secret boards on Pinterest. These are boards that can be created with invitation-only access. Only the creator determines who can have access and who can contribute ideas.
“We use Pinterest and fill our boards,” says Silicato. “It’s an immediate visual communication tool. For us, as wedding planners, to be able to have this ability to really see what the clients are visualizing is so helpful. We used to use private Google boards, but Pinterest is more efficient.”
Bolin used Pinterest to communicate her ideas with vendors based on their specialty. “For photography ideas, I looked online,” she says. “When I would think, ‘Oh I definitely want to try to get that shot,’ I would pin the shot to my styleboard. My photographer wanted me to do this too, so she could get an idea of what I was looking for.”
Etsy Lets Brides Find the Right (and Custom) Product for the Right Price
Popular flagship wedding planning website TheKnot.com was launched in 1997. Since then, websites and wedding blogs have helped couples plan. Some brides are loyal to large central resources available on sites such as The Knot, while others are looking for non-traditional ideas.
Angela Shields, a 31-year-old marketer from Harrington who married in 2011, initially scoured The Knot for ideas. “I exclusively used The Knot at first, but then I got active on the message boards,” she says. “I continued to use The Knot because it has it all broken out by location, so I could hone in on just the Delaware region. I also relied on theknot.com for email reminders. They let me know when to order flowers, get the dress and other planning aspects like that.”
While Bolin appreciated The Knot as a resource for etiquette questions and beauty advice, she turned to more nontraditional wedding blogs for inspiration, such as stylemepretty.com and greenweddingshoes.com. “I was looking at blogs where real people were repurposing wedding information,” she says. “I needed the do-it-yourself options, and I was using ideas and color palettes that I saw online. What I chose was a hodgepodge of things I liked from other weddings that had inspired me.”
Both brides sought to replicate ideas seen online when possible. From invitation ideas to creating paper flowers, technology introduced ideas they could bring to life. While Shields used vistaprint.com for her invitations, she bought card stock from Michaels craft store and glued it to the back of each invitation to enhance the color scheme. When the homemade route was not an option, Bolin turned to Etsy.com to see what artists around the world had created in hopes of a perfect fit.
“Etsy is a great resource and more authentic,” explains Silicato. “As planners, we are able to reach out to talented professionals who make unique items. With Etsy.com, we found more vendors than ever. It’s a global giant vendor fair.”
Photography blogs, Pinterest boards and wedding websites can help the bride and groom visualize their ceremony and reception.
For music information, check out the Hi-Fi Weddings blog, says DeForrest “It features real-life weddings with their set lists, as well as sample set lists and advice on how to choose the right music for all aspects of the day.”
Managing Wedding Lists, Numbers and Finances With Software
From the proposal through the honeymoon, technology has offered the benefit of instant access. Wedding planners channel this immediate connection into planning and management tools, including vendor access and personal software.
“As a vendor, I really want technology to help the couple, so I have established a virtual online area for my clients,” DeForrest says. “When the bride is inquiring and booking, she can do everything online. Client access is everything. It minimizes stress for them.”
It’s the immediate gratification of access to key information that helps couples feel in control of their wedding planning. For brides who wish to manage vendor communications, guest-lists or budgets from their smartphones or tablets, it doesn’t get more instant than an app.
For those brides who excel at Excel, spreadsheets are simple enough to create and customize. Both Bolin and Shields used Excel to centralize and manage their lists and expenses. Bolin and her fiancé even opened a separate bank account to help keep them on track.
If there is a downside to this vast array of technology, brides state the limitless options can be a lot to absorb.
“You definitely get overwhelmed,” says Bolin. “I want to do this. I want to do that. I had 80 ideas for program cards. Toward the end of it, you just pick. It’s great, it’s inspiring, but it’s overwhelming.”
Vendors like DeForrest and Silicato know the importance of helping brides and grooms sort through myriad information. In the end, it’s the personal attention from the vendor that can translate the technology into a beautiful day.
“My storefront is my website, and I try my best to really portray myself on my website,” says DeForrest. “A lot of times, I don’t meet the couple until I book them. It’s important that know they are getting a person who will capture their authenticity.”
Apps, Tools and Software for Planning a Wedding
A one-stop shop for an overview of the budget, managing the guest list, venue information, contacts, checklists and inspirational photo storage.
This app helps you communicate all wedding-related news with your guests, including directions, hotel information and gift registries. Couples can customize the design and layout of information.
Photo Storage Flock
This app uses background location information and knowledge of your Facebook friends to identify and categorize pictures of guests.
This app assembles all guests’ photos into a timeline so those who couldn’t attend can view the day as it unfolded.
Brides and grooms can register for any item anywhere by scanning a product’s bar code with the app. If a product doesn’t have a bar code, you can take a photo of it and add a description to your registry. >>
This app is TheKnot.com’s answer to having a wedding planner with you at all times. It features common questions about etiquette and planning with answers and resources.
(available on iTunes)
After reading a couple’s set list on Hifi.com, the app will select songs from a vast collection in categories like first dance, bride and father, and most requested.
Not the app type? Popular wedding websites provide planning tools and resources that are easy to download or access via a free personal account. Though most offer checklists, budget calculators and calendar reminders, others offer more specific support.
Martha Stewart Weddings website (marthastewartweddings.com) offers vendor-specific templates as pdf files that include the key questions to ask so you can easily compare services.
TheKnot.com offers a downloadable tool bar to for organizing websites and links to your checklist, guest list and budget.
For brides who want a central source for all their planning, wedding software offers everything from guest list management to vendor communications to stationery for invitations. Some top contenders include:
- PerfectTablePlan (perfecttableplan.com) helps with guest list management, seating preferences and printable charts.
- iDo Wedding Couple (elmsoftware.com/ido) can catch duplicate names on guest lists, assign RSVP numbers, map locations and swap tables on the seating chart.
- The Organized Wedding (theorganizedwedding.com) includes extensive information about multicultural wedding ceremonies and customs.
- My Style Wedding (mystylewedding.com) features a 3D layout so brides can visualize seating arrangements and event space from a real-life perspective.