‘How we used technology to help plan our wedding’

  • Amanda and Stephen Comire <br/>Photo by Kate Hamlin
  • Jenny and Timothy Hamilton<br/>Photo by Boro: Creative Visions
  • Ben Pirkey and Rebecca Pirkey<br/>Photo by Thamer Photography
  • Catherine Condella and Thomas McCosker<br/>Photo by Amanda Borozinski
  • Martha and Nick Duffy<br/>Photo by Boro Creative Visions Photography

The days of rigid rules for how to conduct a wedding are long gone. While most couples still mail some type of formal invitation — they have to make sure the grandparents get the word — today’s technology allows them to go online to make plans, find vendors, join gift registries and keep in touch with friends and relatives. We asked several recent brides and grooms with ties to the region to share their experiences using today’s new methods.

Catherine Condella and Thomas McCosker

Town of residence: Peterborough

Date of nuptials: Sept. 29, 2012

Wedding and reception venue(s): Wedding: All Saints Church, Peterborough. Reception: Bedford Village Inn, Bedford

Photographer: Amanda Borozinski

Caterers: Dinner: Bedford Village Inn. Pie (instead of cake): Pete’s Old Fashioned Pies, Keene

Flowers: I [Catherine] grew most of my own flowers and supplemented with the pick-your-own flowers at Rosaly’s. A CSA member of mine, Jen Hudziec in Stoddard, arranged the flowers.

How did you use social media or technology to help plan your wedding?

I [Catherine] didn’t use a ton, I wouldn’t say, but I did use a few things here and there. I made a wedding website, which was free (there are lots of sites that offer that service — I used The Knot), and put basic details like date, location, time and hotel reservation info. on it. I included the website address on my save-the-dates and again in the invitations. What that did was save me money on the invitations, because I didn’t need to print up a card with maps and all those details on it, and the envelopes weighed less for postage.

I also used Google, Weddingbee (a wedding blog) and WeddingWire in vendor searches, to check out reviews, and to find tips on how to navigate vendor contracts, etc. Though I would say the advice was very helpful, ultimately I found most of my vendors through friends and personal connections. That’s one of the perks of planning a wedding where you live, I think.

I made a Pinterest account earlier on, thinking I could use it to get ideas on decorations and hair styles such, but ended up hardly using it.

What worked and didn’t work in doing so?

What I ended up choosing to use, especially the wedding website, seemed to work great. We didn’t get a lot of questions or confusion about hotels or directions or anything, and the only place we really provided that information was on the website. And again, since we designed our invitations and paid to have them printed, not having that extra card [for directions and accommodations] in the invitation suite saved money both in printing and mailing costs.

If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently when it comes to the use of social media and technology?

Honestly, probably nothing. I’m happy with what I did, and it went well.

What advice would you give couples who are planning their wedding now and considering the use of social media and other digital technologies?

Don’t be afraid to use whatever tools the Internet has for wedding planning these days, but be careful not to let it make you start feeling pressure to have a “perfect” wedding or to have a certain amount of DIY or personalized details. There are so many wedding blogs these days that it’s easy to get caught up in how your wedding “should look.” While it is definitely helpful to check out how other people did things — to find ideas on how to save money, do a seating chart, or learn from others’ mistakes in handling contracts — remember that it is YOUR wedding and all that really matters is that you are marrying the love of your life and celebrating that beautiful thing with family and friends.

Amanda (Dailey) and Stephen Comire

Town of residence: Wakefield, R.I. (Amanda is a 2006 graduate of Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative High School).

Date of nuptials: Aug. 12, 2012

Wedding and reception venue(s): The Carousel House at Goddard Park in Warwick, R.I.

Photographer: Kate Hamlin

Caterers: None, food was homemade

Flowers: Flowerthyme of Wakefield, R.I.

How did you use social media or technology to help plan your wedding?

Sometimes, I [Amanda] don’t think I could have planned my wedding without social media and technology. I even joked with my mom asking her how it was possible back in the ’80s when she got married. TheKnot.com was crucial in the whole process. It is a great tool, where brides and experts can share information, pictures, articles, advice, etc. They even have a guest list application that keeps track of invitations, addresses, gifts, thank you notes, and coordinates [that information] with their seating chart application. This made life so much easier. It had a budget tracker as well, but I did not end up using it.

I also used Facebook a lot when planning the wedding. I had a group with all the wedding attendants in it so we could discuss planning, clothing options, etc. Sometimes when I needed help with something, I would make a general post on my wall like, “Who knows where to find cute flower girl dresses?” It was great because many of my friends had recently gotten married or were planning weddings as well. Facebook made it so simple to share information and help each other.

If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently when it comes to the use of social media and technology?

I would say I should have used the Facebook groups I set up for the attendants more than I did. I tried keeping them updated with texts and calls, but I would forget who I told what and there were some miscommunications. If I had posted everything in the groups, it would have reached everyone at once, saving time and confusion.

When it comes to The Knot, the one tool there I found less than helpful was the budget tracker. I found it much easier to just use a budget template I found in Microsoft Excel. I could tweak it much more to personalize it for my needs.

What advice would you give couples who are planning their wedding now and considering the use of social media and other digital technologies?

USE IT! It saves you a lot of time and headaches. Reach out to your friends and family in this way. You can’t do it all alone. I would absolutely recommend The Knot as well; it was the single most helpful tool I used.

Rebecca (Dufresne) and Ben Pirkey

Town of residence: Henniker. They are both members of the ConVal class of 2004

Date of nuptials: Oct. 6, 2012

Wedding and reception venue(s): Alyson’s Orchard, Walpole, for both ceremony and reception

Photographer: Thamer Photography, Windham

Caterers: Luca’s Culinary Journey Catering, Keene

Flowers: Naturally Elegant Designs (Holly Long, florist)

How did you use social media or technology to help plan your wedding?

We took advantage of two social media avenues to assist with planning our wedding. However, there are an overwhelming amount of websites and programs to assist brides with planning these days. For research purposes, we chose to use The Knot. It is a user-friendly website that gives you ideas in all planning areas (flowers, photographers, venues, dresses, accessories, decorating, cakes, honeymoons and the list goes on and on). You can search vendors in your area for any needs that you may have and a list comes up that connects you to their websites or contact info. This is how we found our photographer, who was amazing. (Feel free to look at our online album at www.thamerphotography.com/clients/. You will need to enter Pirkey as the password for the album.) We could read reviews of vendors and we were also able to watch videos of DJs performing at other weddings to pick the one we felt would be best for us. The Knot also sends you regular emails with new ideas, and notifies you what planning you need to be doing each month prior to the wedding. There are also boards on The Knot dedicated to questions that brides have when planning a wedding. We found this helpful, especially in answering some obscure questions. Also I [Rebecca] really enjoyed the hundreds of pictures of dresses and hair styles. This was especially helpful because, although wedding magazines are fun to look through, they are expensive. The Knot can help you narrow down your preferences and be able to view ideas and present vendors with pictures without having to spend a penny.

The second social media website we used was Facebook. In the messages you can create a string of communication with multiple friends. We used this to keep in touch with our wedding party about specific information they needed to know for the big day and bridal party events prior. The bridesmaids used it to plan the bridal shower and bachelorette party and the groomsmen used it to plan the bachelor party. All other communication and planning was done traditionally by formal written invitation, as electronic communication is still considered impersonal for a formal event like this.

The Knot also helped us design our wedding website. (Feel free to take a peek at it if you would like: http://dufresnepirkey.ourwedding.com). This website was a great use of technology because we had a lot of family coming from all over the country, as well as internationally, who needed to make travel arrangements long before the formal invitation was mailed. We put our website on our “save the date” that we sent out so detailed information about location and where to stay could get to those who needed it as early as possible.

Other bits of technology that made wedding planning easy was the ability to buy and to customize items ordered online quickly, with little effort. The ability to upload pictures to save the date magnets, thank you notes, and completely customize our invitations, stamps, menus, place cards, favors, bridal party gifts, wedding topper, etc., with a few clicks of the mouse and have everything published exactly how you would like it may be something we take for granted, however it is the innovations of computer programming that enable us to use technology in these simple areas. We also used our smart phones to do our planning on the go.

What worked and didn’t work in doing so?

One thing you lose by using social media sites like Facebook to communicate is that you are not always sure when people are going to see the messages. And the expectation for a response can sometimes be vague. We had some of the bridal party who did not always check their Facebook regularly or would look at the message and then forget to respond or not be in a situation where they could respond and would not come back to the message later. Sometimes a good old-fashioned phone call is worth it, but when planning a huge event like a wedding we needed to be efficient as the planning process consumed a majority of our time in the year leading up to the wedding.

If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently when it comes to the use of social media and technology?

We may have tried to take advantage of some of the high-tech programs on the websites, like calendars or keeping track of pictures or items liked electronically. There are also some apps you can download to keep you organized that we did not look into. We are still rather old-fashioned and prefer to have things saved on paper. We kept a giant paper binder with all vendor information, pictures of the most specific ideas we liked (flower arrangements, hairs styles, dresses, suits, etc.), which was helpful as it kept everything in once place. This may have been able to be done online or electronically as well, but we did not do our planning this way.

What advice would you give couples who are planning their wedding now and considering the use of social media and other digital technologies?

Technology can make the research process very efficient with little expense. However, once you have preferences, make sure to follow up in person. Meet with vendors to make sure you get along with them on a personal level and that they have the same vision as you do for your day. If you do not get along or do not think the vendor can make your vision come to life without great compromises, then they may not be the one for you. You can plan an entire wedding with your laptop from your couch, however, you will be sorely disappointed if you do not meet face-to-face with your vendors and see tangible versions of your ideas prior to your wedding day.

We would definitely suggest that all couples have a wedding website. We found The Knot to be user-friendly when it came to designing the website, as neither of us had ever designed a website. We had so much information to let our guests know that does not fit or is not appropriate for an invitation or save the date. We had lots of people with questions that could be answered directly on our website. It took pressure off of us having to answer calls and emails, and guests could feel more comfortable knowing what to expect and could reference the information as the wedding got closer.

Jenny (Duchesneau) and Timothy Hamilton

Town of residence: North Andover, Mass. (Jenny is originally from Temple and Tim is from Ashburnham, Mass.)

Date of nuptials: Sept. 23, 2011

Wedding and reception venue(s): Cathedral of the Pines, Rindge, and The Colonial Hotel, Gardner, Mass.

Photographer: Amanda Borozinski and Mark Wilson from Boro: Creative Visions

Caterers: The Colonial Hotel, Gardner, Mass.

Flowers: Windmill Florist, Fitchburg, Mass.

How did you use social media or technology to help plan your wedding?

As every bride does, I [Jenny] bought a few bridal magazines in the very beginning stages, both local and national publications, but that was probably only about 5 percent of the planning. But probably 85 percent of my research and choosing the vendors was done online. In fact, I have no idea how anyone planned a wedding before the Internet. Ten percent was based on recommendations for our ceremony and reception venue (and it was a good starting point, but then we would go look them up online before contacting them directly).

In each stage of planning, I started with a Google search, as it’s the way to get the most results. Then, as I filtered through the searches, I would dive deeper into the sites and blogs that I found to be most interesting. In some cases, Facebook pages would come up before a particular vendor’s website, so I actually had to go through Facebook in order to get to find a link to their website and/or blog. Other than that, it wasn’t until the later stages of choosing the vendors we wanted to meet with that we would dive deeper into their social media pages, and read a little more about them and see what they’re up to.

What worked and didn’t work in doing so?

We did a lot of research in our planning. We really wanted to get the best vendors while staying within our budget (and it was a challenge), but we’re lucky to be able to say we were thrilled with every one of them.

Being able to see reviews of vendors written by brides and grooms on third-party websites like Weddingwire and The Knot was beyond helpful. They told us to stay away from certain ones.

If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently when it comes to the use of social media and technology?

Pinterest wasn’t huge yet when I was planning, so I wish I had had that resource. It’s really such a great way to see ideas for details for a wedding, like color palettes, flowers, hair, fun ideas for receptions and the list goes on. It probably also would have been a great way to find a photographer.

What advice would you give couples who are planning their wedding now and considering the use of social media and other digital technologies?

The Internet is by far the best tool for planning a wedding out there. You can make it what you want it to be. The biggest thing about planning online is to read reviews, and choose only vendors you’re sure you can trust. Anyone can make themselves look legitimate and professional online, and I’ve seen people get burned because of it. Scammers can pose as caterers or DJs, build a great looking website, post stock photos they purchased for a few dollars each, take your deposit and just disappear without a trace because they have “gone out of business.”

Also, doing research and gathering information online is great, but there’s nothing like meeting your top-choice vendors in person before you book them. You can never tell through email how you’ll really connect (or not) with them. There are a lot of vendors out there that just do weddings because it’s a good business, and not because they love weddings. You’ll be able to tell if they love weddings when you meet them. It’s so important that you have a photographer you know will make you comfortable, or a florist that really has a passion for designing beautiful arrangements. If you’re lucky enough to find them, go with them because you’re much more likely to get the result you’re looking for if the person/company really cares about what they’re doing.

Martha and Nick Duffy

Town of Residence: Peterborough

Date of Nuptials: July 14, 2012

Wedding/Reception Venue: Shattuck Golf Course, Jaffrey

Photographer: Amanda Borozinski and Wes Maggs from Boro Creative Visions Photography

Caterers: Shattuck Golf

Flowers: Coll’s Garden Center & Florist of Jaffrey

How did you use social media or technology to help plan your wedding?

In the first months of planning our wedding, I [Martha] wanted to be working on it constantly, even at 11 or 12 at night. Technology was really beneficial then because I didn’t have to wait for business hours to find out information. I could communicate quickly and efficiently with potential vendors via email, which for an excited and slightly impatient bride-to-be was huge. Pinterest was a website that I used the most and found to be helpful in so many ways. I was able to visualize the wedding before it came together in a way that I never could have done otherwise. I was able to find ideas that I had never even considered before. Through Pinterest, I discovered Etsy, which is not only where I found tons of inspiration, but also a majority of my bridal party/parent gifts, most of which I felt to be very personal and special. That’s also where I found my favorite thing of all — our guest book. It’s a large hand drawn tree and the guests signed their names on a leaf. It’s now hanging in our home. Alternative guest books like this are becoming quite popular now, but they were not something I had heard of prior to my wedding planning.

I didn’t have to spend money buying magazines for inspiration, ripping out pages to save in a folder and carry around. Each time I met with a vendor, I could just pull out my phone, open the Pinterest app and show them all of my ideas. It definitely helped me feel very organized because in planning a wedding there is a lot to keep straight.

What worked and didn’t work in doing so?

While I wouldn’t want to plan a wedding without the help of technology/social media, there is a definite old-fashioned part of me that believes nothing is better than in person. The feel of the dress, the smell and look of the flowers, the taste of the food, how you work with your vendors — these are all things that technology cannot tell you. Especially the vendors. I can’t stress enough how having the right vendors for your wedding impacts the entire process. There are things that you won’t pick up on, even if you meet them, but you can avoid a lot of stress and mishaps by meeting your vendors in person and making sure they are not just good at their job, but also a right fit for you, your fiance and your wedding day dreams. And then of course, there is the inevitable annoyance that technology doesn’t always work. For a while, we had a makeshift laptop and spotty Internet service, making it more frustrating than helpful. Technology and social media have the great advantage of being able to find every possible option, which is exciting and opens up so many possibilities, but is also overwhelming and disappointing. When searching for bouquet ideas, I found the exact flower I wanted, only to discover that it’s not available during my wedding date. Had I just met with a florist, she would have only directed me to the flowers available during my season. Sometimes not knowing those things you can’t have is best. And yet, at the same time as having too many options, I sometimes felt like there were not enough. Only after choosing our venue and talking about it with others, did I discover a few other venues that I would definitely have looked twice at. When you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, some very special and unique options are overlooked.

If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently when it comes to the use of social media and technology?

Though I used social media and technology quite a bit during the wedding planning, I would say I was more of an independent user. I searched on Google or other websites that did not talk back or give advice. In many ways, I found that helpful. But if I could do it all over again, I would be a more interactive social media user. In my searches, I came across some sites with entries from brides-to-be to other former brides or brides-to-be seeking out their help, looking for first-dance song suggestions, vendor suggestions, etiquette questions, etc. I did not partake in any of those discussions, but they made me see that there is a way to use social media to find the balance between technology and in person, and if I could do it all over again, I would work harder at finding that.

What advice would you give couples who are planning their wedding now and considering the use of social media and other digital technologies?

I would tell them to trust their judgment, especially when looking for vendors. Look at their reviews, check out their website or blog, look at their work, ask around about them, but most importantly meet them and get a feel for them yourself. Find that balance between using social media and meeting them in person. I would also suggest having somewhat of an idea of what you’re looking for before doing a blind Internet search. But I would also tell them that there are some amazing tools out there — some that I can vouch for, others that I never tried — that can help you stay organized, on track and creating the wedding of your dreams.

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