I always dreamt I’d meet my husband through a mutual friend at a local event or party. I also envisioned that when I got engaged I would be buying every wedding magazine on the shelf, spending hours at every bridal show and store in the area for inspiration, and crowdsourcing ideas from family for every detail down to the color of the napkins.
Little did I know that I would meet my husband on the free dating site Plenty Of Fish that my girl friends put me on one summer evening against my wishes, and that I would plan my entire wedding without taking my eyes off the computer screen or my phone.
As you can imagine, the Internet has completely revolutionized the way we do everything, from meeting people, planning our weddings, decorating and organizing our homes, preparing for holidays, clothing our children, etc.
And with Match, eHarmony, Plenty of Fish, Etsy, Pinterest, virtual seating charts, wedding blogs, personal wedding websites, there’s no reason to leave your house to find your soulmate or enter a store when you’re engaged (unless you really want to).
Did you know that more than 1/3 of marriages in the US start with the couple meeting online, according to a study by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences? When it comes to dating and marriage, the Internet is “altering the dynamics and outcomes.” And (perhaps surprisingly), people who ‘meet’ online have “higher marital satisfaction” than those who initially meet in person.
And did you also know that since 2008, “using social media to communicate wedding details” is up 78%, “creating/sending save-the-dates of invitations online” is up 40%, “using an online RSVP service” is up 31%, and 23% more brides are “setting up personal wedding websites” (according to MarketingtoBridesOnline.com and TheKnot.com)?
Not surprisingly, soon-to-be-brides are increasingly accessing the Internet and wedding apps on their mobiles to plan for one of the biggest days of their lives. So once you have met and fallen in love with the man/woman of your life, ditch the overpriced wedding magazines and planning binders, and instead open your web browser. Everything you absolutely need to plan and execute your big day is at your fingertips (trust me on this):
I absolutely love Etsy. I first joined in 2009 and since then it has been my-go-to site for gifts, decorations, home items, wallets, soaps, etc. When I got engaged the first thing I thought was how exciting it would be to browse Etsy and find great items to make my wedding as authentic to our personalities as possible. With tens of millions of items on the site, there’s no way I would not be able to find what I want/need.
In April 2012, the site launched a wedding hub where brides-to-be (and husbands-to-be if they’re so inclined) can find literally everything from wedding rings, dresses, accessories, invitations, cake stands, card boxes, and more including creating a registry (which I was most excited about). Etsy is a one-stop-shop (pun intended) for everything bridal, especially if you appreciate unique, handmade items to give your day that added personal touch. So far from Etsy I have ordered my wedding bouquet, invitations, boutonnieres, corsages, flower girl wand, bridesmaids and groomsmen gifts, cigar bar box, first Christmas ornament, and I’m not done!
And the best part is that you are supporting small businesses and individuals instead of contributing to the $40 billion wedding industry.
I created an account in early 2012 at the request of my professor for a 3D Branding of Space graduate class. The site was still catching on and I had no interest in joining, meanwhile once my account was made, I was hooked! While I was supposed to be creating my retail brand for my final presentation, I also planned my wedding, bridal shower included, before the end of the semester. I was also able to find wedding timelines, worksheets, questions to ask vendors, invitation how-tos, guest book ideas, mad libs for RSVPs, DIY tips, and more.
Pinterest is fantastic because it is like a visual map where you can place all your ideas/wants/thoughts/inspiration in one place for very easy, quick access. I consider it to be my ‘inspiration board’, in a sense (which has come in handy for my mom for my bridal shower – totally did that on purpose). You can also allow people to pin to your boards should you want your mom, siblings, cousins, friends to contribute ideas as well, which I’ve done (one of my cousin’s is practically living vicariously through me!).
And with the Pinterest app, you can take all your pins with you wherever you go and even pin along the way – no wedding planner or bulky binder needed (I have 3, ask me if I use them). The app really comes in handy when, for instance, you’re in a bridal store and the consultant asks what kinds of style dresses you like. Although, whipping out the Pinterest board dedicated to gowns on my cell phone didn’t exactly have the kind of shock value I was looking for (I was excited?).
Wedding blogs, such as Mrs. Why Knot, Offbeat Bride, Once Wed, Wedding Chicks, and Wedding Bee, should be your go-to for advice, ideas and DIY tips, and tantrum throwing (“yelling” at a magazine just doesn’t have the same effect).
Not sure how to execute a steampunk wedding (or what steampunk really means)? Not sure how to tell people they’re not invited or can’t bring a guest? On a budget and want to create your own décor? Want to get creative and design your own invitations? Looking for advice on a vendor? Need to diplomatically kick a girl out of your bridal party? Done, done and done.
Wedding bloggers have created a community of sorts for desperate brides looking for answers, and those enjoying the ride. I have downloaded so many DIY ideas for my engagement party, bridal shower, and wedding day that I don’t know where to start printing! From triangle banners, church programs, invitations, to RSVP mad libs and Manzanita wish tree tags, wedding blogs are chock full of brilliant ideas, no matter your theme or season. I’ve also sought advice and ideas from fellow brides-to-be (and former brides who chime in from time to time) for my ceremony, reception, and theme, which I found to be helpful when I felt like I hit a brick wall.
And if you have any thoughts/ideas/feelings you want to share, some wedding bloggers are open to guest bloggers, so if you feel like you need to shout something exciting from the rooftops, or even give a soapbox rant, your fellow bride(zilla)s will be there to yay (or nay, but take it with a grain of salt – not everyone is a fan of cowboy boots, barn weddings, fake flowers, black for bridesmaid dresses, and blush for a bridal gown). More often than not, it’s comforting to know you’re not the only one going through whatever scenario, and sometimes it helps to speak to strangers on the Internet when you don’t want to ‘burden’ your mom, fiancé or bridesmaids.
Personal Wedding Websites
With a wedding day timeline, virtual guest book, RSVP page, and section for your guests to request music for the reception, who needs to print invitations and waste postage? All the information your guests need is in one place, from ceremony time, to reception location, accommodations, gift registry access., maps/directions, and more. Just email/Facebook/Tweet the link to the special, important people in your life (who know how to use a computer, of course), and remember to update it when necessary!
Most wedding websites are even optimized for mobile devices, so if your cousin spends more time on her cell phone than on a laptop, she can access your site easily and conveniently.
Should you decide to mail invitations, add the link to your wedding website at the bottom, or on the back, so your guests can access it if they have any questions. And once the wedding is over, take screen grabs of your site to add to your wedding scrapbook.
Kylie Carlson, Founder of the Wedding and Event Institute, states: “Social Tables is a powerful floor plan design and guest list management tool that will transform how future weddings and events are designed and coordinated.”
For the virtual savvy bride-to-be, you can dodge questions from guests about who they’re sitting with, and avoid the stress of hand-written seating cards and scribbled circle charts. Instead, just import your Excel guest list, drag names to their respective seats, and voila! You can even add notes (ie who is a vegetarian, who has food allergies, who wants the prime rib, etc). Once the chart is complete, share this interactive seating plan with everyone (including your venue) prior to the wedding so not only do your guests know where they are sitting, but they become familiar with who will also be seated at their table.
The best part is Social Tables is 100% cloud based, so you can bring it with you anywhere that has an Internet connection. No software or printer needed.
One last thing you can’t forget! Once your engagement and/or wedding day arrives, be sure to Skype in those who are unable to make it, so that everyone is there to witness and join in the festivities, whether near or far.
Now get off Facebook, find your spouse, and start socializing your wedding!