Wedding planning in the digital age

Sunday, June 17, 2012

iDO

The days of binders stuffed with guest lists, vendors and pictures of dresses are a thing of the past for couples planning a wedding. The Internet and mobile applications have allowed wedding planning to go digital, streamlining the process for couples, families and wedding planners.

According to surveys by the magazine sites Brides and The Knot, tech is on the rise in the world of weddings, with 65 percent of couples now setting up special sites to manage RSVPs, stream video of the ceremony and/or reception and keep guests in the loop.

"We always encourage (a wedding website)," says wedding planner Amanda Lukefahr of Lukefield Special Events in Jackson. "You can track the budget, track the guest list, so that's a really good tool. Also, if you're having a wedding where a lot of guests are from out of town, they can go to website for information about the area."

Rosie Conrad, bridal consultant and owner of All Occasions, agrees that wedding websites are valuable for couples who need to keep several people in the loop. "Our couples often do have a website," she says. "If you're doing a wedding at a distance, you can get online and get better fix on the details. (The website also) keeps your wedding people informed about schedules."

When it comes to planning the wedding, online resources are equally valuable.

"I have a lot of girls come to me who have been searching the Internet," Conrad says. "That can help the bride narrow down her desires and get a clear picture of what she's trying for." For example, she says, a bride can download photos of flowers she likes and show them to a florist. Then the bride and florist can work together on the price or more cost-effective flowers to achieve the same effect.

One in five couples use mobile apps for planning, including chasing down vendors. But when it comes to working with an online vendor, Conrad advises couples to do their homework.

"No. 1, if it's a local vendor, get references," she says. "A good vendor should have them. Check out their background. Good vendors you'll probably hear about by word-of-mouth, already."

And if you're using an Internet-based service, Conrad says the same rules apply. "See what other options there are," she says. "Check some other places online. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."

Nearly one in five couples go paperless for invitations or save-the-dates. Many of those who have preserved the tradition of paper invites have dispensed with the inserts usually tucked inside envelopes, opting for email or web tools for RSVPs, maps and details on destinations or related events.

Photo websites let couples upload photos that can be used for save-the-dates and other items like guest books with photos, Conrad says.

With the prevalence of camera-equipped phones and social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, photos can be a touchy subject for the bride and groom -- especially when guests take it upon themselves to post photos of the big day.

"Not every couple wants their picture on Facebook and Twitter," Lukefahr says. "With camera phones and video, it's hard to control because everyone has one." She advises wedding guests to think twice and use common sense.

But, she says, if a bride and groom provide a password-protected place to upload photos from the event, feel free to share.

When it comes Facebook or Twitter, Lukefahr and Conrad agree both the couple and their guests should be wary.

Lukefahr says most of the brides she works with don't put a lot of information about the wedding on Facebook before the big day. "A lot of times before the wedding they keep it private," she says. "It is a touchy subject because people you haven't invited can see it." After the wedding, though, Lukefahr says that changes, with many couples posting pictures from the event.

The main thing to remember when it comes to social networking, Conrad says, is to remain socially appropriate because "once it's out there on the Internet, it's there."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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