Perhaps you were the romantic last weekend and popped the big question on Valentine’s Day or maybe you were the one asked. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a few tech solutions to ease some of the stresses and worries of planning a wedding?
My wife is amazing! I mean, not only does she put up with me on a regular basis, but she also came up with a ton of great ways to reduce some of the stress that comes with planning a wedding. She deserves a lot of credit for providing the knowledge about these services, sites, and traditions (and explaining them to me) so that I can publish them here for you. I also may have contributed a few of these ideas to the list… There has to be some benefit to marrying a geek like myself.
Preparing for the Big Day
Google Maps – The phone book is out. Now when you’re looking for local shops that might provide the cake, dress, or tux you can turn to Google Maps instead. Not only will you get the phone number and address of places in the area but you can easily translate it into directions and you might also find reviews to give you some insight into a company.
Facebook – I hate to link to Facebook out of principle, but it certainly proved its usefulness while wedding planning to get people’s addresses and estimate whether or not they might be bringing a plus one.
The Knot – The Knot has set itself as one of the primary websites handling weddings. They’ve also grown their network to include The Nest for when you get a house and The Bump when planning for a baby. The Knot offers among its free services a checklist, budget, guest list, notebook, and website. Even though The Knot is the most popular site, it might be worth checking out some of the other services as we found that they made some terrible technical decisions (like requiring all guests to input an e-mail address for RSVP-ing, including babies…). Some of those services include:
Bit.ly – Bit.ly is a URL shortening service similar to TinyURL and the other multitudes of the service but I prefer Bit.ly for a variety of reasons. We wanted to use Bit.ly in our wedding announcement because the URL you get for “Your Website” through The Knot was terrible. To fix that, we put the long URL through Bit.ly, which made less to type and less room for typos. Bit.ly also provides statistics about your URL to show how much traffic it’s seen. If you visit a Bit.ly URL and append a ‘+’ (plus sign) onto the back of the URL, you can get to the Info page for that URL. Bit.ly allows you to make custom short URLs, but they’re case-sensitive so make sure you take that into consideration when you create yours.
Google Voice – I’ve covered Google Voice in-depth on 404 Tech Support before but it came in handy for our wedding planning. Since we tried to take the modern approach with RSVPs, we had people RSVP through the service provided by The Knot. Since we would have older friends and family members coming, we didn’t want to inconvenience them through the online process so we provided an alternative through Google Voice. Neither of us wanted our phones ringing off the hook during work, so we used a Google Voice number, set a voice mail message, and set it to Do Not Disturb so it didn’t forward the calls to our cell phones. This also provided us a text transcript in our Gmail Inbox so we could easily track who we had heard from. Overall, it seemed to go over very well.
I was also able to configure Google Voice through a call widget that the day before we needed to have a final count, it would call people we hadn’t heard from and send them to the voice mail for their RSVP. It was very handy and when there was enough other stuff going on, it was nice to automate some of the tasks.
Amazing Registry – Figuring out where to register is never fun. Some stores are more than an hour away for some of your guests so having a variety of stores and turning online is a great choice. Unfortunately, the more stores there are, the more there is to wrangle in and manage. Amazing Registry helps out by tying all of your registries together for either wedding or baby. It provides you one place to manage your registries from over a dozen stores after they’ve been made and one place for your guests to visit to see all that you’ve registered for. Amazing Registry covers stores like Target, Wal-Mart, and Amazon, to just name a few.
The Webstaurant Store – If you need to find any components for the reception or rehearsal dinner, The Webstaurant Store was a great resource for ordering in bulk at fair prices. They had napkins, plates, cups, and flatware.
Arts, Crafts, & Details
A number of the software titles I’ve reviewed before came into use in preparing for the wedding. Some of the arts and crafts ones:
- Paint.NET (for image editing) / article
- CutePDF (for creating PDFs) / article
- Scribus (for invitation work) / article
Here are some online guides for wedding traditions:
- How to address somebody in your wedding invitation.
- How to address the wedding invitation envelope.
- The order of service for a wedding.
- The reception timeline.
Many people tend to get married right after college. This is also a time when friends are very mobile and scattering to the wind for grad school and jobs. To address this, many women are being thrown virtual showers. A lot of the traditional shower activities can make the transition to online and those that can’t leave an opening for new traditions to be made.
For After the Wedding
Hotwire – Hotwire allows you to book hotels, cars, flights, and cruises for discount rates. I’ve only used the hotel booking service but it was a pleasant experience. We got a $300/night 4-star hotel room for $80/night in the center of downtown Denver. You specify the details regarding your stay: the night, the area of town, and how many stars the hotel should have. Hotwire then finds you an unnamed hotel and tells you its amenities and the discount rate you’ll get. You can then reject the offer or accept and pre-pay for the reservation. Once you accept an offer you’ll be told the name of the hotel and your reservation is booked. Hotels don’t want their name listed before the booking because it might hurt their PR that they’re not fully booked each night, but Hotwire helps counter that too.
Google Streetview – Google Streetview provides you with a panoramic view of an area. This proved to be very useful in checking out honeymoon locations, finding the perfect hotel downtown, and understanding directions in an unfamiliar city.
Many thanks for all the tech resources that made the process easier, and many more to friends and family who made it possible. Also infinite thanks to my now-wife for pulling it all together in an amazing way and continues to amaze me daily. (This was supposed to be posted last week, so it’s late, but) Happy Valentine’s Day!