Planning Tech-Savvy Weddings
You're constantly IM-ing everyone you know, your entire life is stored on your PDA, and you consider your iPod a fifth limb. If technology already rules your daily life -- or even if you're tech-shy -- check out these wired advances in the world of happily ever after.
The high-tech trend: Coordinating everyone's evening availability for phone conversations about dresses and parties can be a full-time job, especially when your busy maids are spread out all over the country. Take advantage of the fact that during business hours on either coast, you pretty much know where your girls are. Schedule an online meeting with them during lunchtime, or use a Listserv to get down to business at a time that's convenient for them and their busy, girls-on-the-go schedules.
How it works: To do an online chat, pick a mutually convenient day and use your instant messaging program to discuss the issues of the moment in a free chat room. On your AOL IM, go into "People" and then select "Send a chat invitation." Enter in all your maids' screen names and voila -- a cyber town meeting. On MSN IM, start chatting with one bridesmaid and then click the "Invite" icon to bring the rest of your crew into the conversation.
Alternatively, get a Listserv together on a portal such as Yahoo (using Yahoo Groups) so that all your maids can plot and plan around their hectic schedules. The group enables you to custom create an email list with all the important participants accounted for. Your attendants can elect to get email messages as they come in, or as a once-a-day digest. Either way, as everyone weighs in on details and schedules you can upload pictures of dress candidates and actually enjoy being at your desk for once!
Say Hello From Cyberspace
The high-tech trend: Keep your guests in the loop by making sure that at any time, from anywhere on the planet with a working Internet connection, they can log on to your wedding website and get details of your event, navigate through hotel choices, or even RSVP. Using one will save you and the other default go-to person, the overworked mother of the bride, hours better spent gown shopping. Does your justice of the peace need directions to the ceremony site? Email him your URL. Is your dad's secretary trying to figure out where you're registered? A few clicks and she's buying you a chrome toaster.
How it works: One thing's for sure, you don't need to employ a dedicated IT department to have your own site. Many companies are offering professional quality wedding web-sites that allow you to create multiple pages with photos, quizzes, interactive guest books, and even RSVPs. A few that we like:
- TheKnot.com (free!): We offer a wide range of chic, modern website designs with cute illustrations that tailor to your theme or wedding season. You can upload an image of yourselves to kick off your site and you can get all your guests to RSVP online. We also allow you to email your guests every time you've made an important online update, and the site will send out save-the-dates. And did we mention that it's free?
- eWedding.com ($89 for one year): eWedding.com gives you many choices for your site style, ranging from more traditional designs to kitchy faux newspaper fonts and fall foliage. Some designs even feature flash animation when you first arrive on the home page. For your yearly fee, you get a personal domain name (BobandMary.com, for instance), you can upload your own music and video or choose from their selections, and you can include up to 1,000 pictures. (That's a lot.) The site also includes fun things like wedding polls ("should I serve white or chocolate cake?") and quizzes. Your friends and family will stay busy for hours.
- WeddingTracker.com ($70 for one year): This company gives you a series of different designs to choose from, tending toward the elegant side. You get a personalized domain name here and the ability to upload many photo albums. In addition to the usual information pages you also get a bonus page, which you can dedicate to such important subjects as the bachelor/bachelorette party details or perhaps a photo essay on the family basset hound. WeddingTracker.com also throws in a bunch of easy-to-use planning software for your yearly fee -- the guest list and thank-you note managers are particularly helpful.
Be a Film Star
The high-tech trend: Personalize your parties (rehearsal dinner, cocktail hour, reception) by screening a custom-made video -- including photos of you both as babies and video of your life together until this point -- all set to music. Sure, you can get your DJ to announce your married names as you saunter onto the dance floor, but think how much more meaningful it would be to dim the lights and treat your guests to an emotional five-minute film of your journey to this day instead. We promise that grandma, and even the groom's new boss, will be in tears by the credits.
How it works: There are two ways to go about it. A simple slide show can run off basic photo programs preloaded onto most home computers. Upload the photos you want to use, set them to music (or have your DJ play something while guests watch), burn the images onto a CD, and using a laptop and a rented digital projector, project the slide show onto any white surface (walls work great).
Fancy yourself a budding Sundance winner? Try your hand at editing a short video. User-friendly video editing software like iMovie (on a Mac) or Dell Movie Studio can walk you through the process of taking those eight-millimeter tapes and translating them into your masterpiece complete with soundtracks. All that's left is to burn them onto a disk (and the programs help with that too). Projecting the video works the same way as the slide show: Find a plain white wall, hook up a laptop to a digital projector (you can rent these), put the DVD in, and press play.
Give The Gift Of Digital
The high-tech trend: Cumbersome favors that end up forgotten in the backseat of a car aren't worth giving in the first place. Make yours memorable by giving a digital gift guests can access from the comfort of their desktops long after they're home.
How it works: In a small envelope (which can double as a seating card) provide guests with a website and an access code or gift card to receive their downloadable favor. What they get is up to you -- a book from Audible.com, an album from iTunes.com, or a cell phone ring tone from Ringtones.com.
Knot Note: With these, packaging is everything. (On their own, gift cards aren't so attractive.) Invest in some petite envelopes with oversize flaps or decorate the front of your envelopes with your monogram or logo.
Beam Yourself Up
The high-tech trend: Don't make people wait for the edited version. Instead, have your videographer stream your destination wedding in real time to a website (or better yet, do it yourself). Let your coworkers, stuck at their desks while you're walking down the shell-strewn aisle in the Florida Keys, take a good look at that sand and sun -- oh, and your dress, too.
How it works: Some hotels and resorts are now offering this high-tech service as a ceremony option (either included or for an additional fee) in their wedding packages.
If you're not getting married at a place that provides real-time video for your friends and family back home, take matters into your own hands. Station a video camera somewhere central -- at the top the aisle perhaps, on the arch or huppah -- and work with a company like MultiMediaPros.com or StreamAce.com.au to stream the video live on the Internet. (Prices generally start at around $200 to $300 per hour.)