Planning and executing a wedding can be a full-time job, one that can suck up all of your free time and most of your money. Trust me, I know — I just got married last month. But I managed to survive with my sanity and checkbook relatively intact, thanks to a few tech hacks I learned along the way.
The very concept of throwing a ceremony and reception for 150-plus people completely overwhelmed me. I also happen to be incredibly frugal (my friends might say cheap), so planning a wedding on a modest budget for so many people seemed Herculean.
These days there are hundreds of apps, web sites, and services trying to make a buck off brides. I feel like I gave almost all of them a shot. Most failed miserably; they simply weren’t very consumer friendly. I also tried a lot of tools that weren’t specifically geared toward brides and grooms but made our big day easier all the same. These are the tech hacks that were worth their weight in gold and helped me keep my wedding well under budget.
SpeechBooth. Everyone has a photo booth at their wedding. But who has a video booth? SpeechBooth allows absolutely everyone at your wedding to give a speech that will last forever. It is also the perfect whimsical alternative to the traditional wedding video.
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Wedding videographers can be crazy expensive, running up to several thousand dollars and more. But for just $500, SpeechBooth will send you a personalized kit that includes an easy-to-use touchscreen video recorder, a tripod, and a microphone.
All through your reception your guests can simply walk up to the SpeechBooth and record messages for you. Then you just send the kit back in the easy pre-addressed, postage-paid package. Within ten days the SpeechBooth team will give you three videos, an edited short to share with your Facebook friends, and all of the speeches set to music. Everything about this is perfect. And since people can give speeches until the very end of your reception, it is a fairly good indicator of whether you purchased enough liquor (or possibly too much).
Wanderable. There are too many Web sites out there these days that allow you to create a honeymoon registry, but Wanderable is a little different. This site helps you pay for your honeymoon in a way that provides a wonderful user experience for both gift givers and recipients. You can browse curated experiences, but couples can also add anything else they wish to their registry.
Wanderable can help you choose the very best in honeymoon destinations or simply help you pay for it all. (Photo: Wanderable)
WedPics. We hired a wonderful wedding photographer, but we cut costs by about $1,000 by only hiring her for a couple of hours instead of for the entire day. We subsidized our photographer’s pictures with snaps from our guests and used WedPics, an app that allowed all our wedding guests to take their own photos and videos and share them in one place.
WedPics lets you quickly and efficiently gather all of the photos from your guests. (Photo: WedPics)
WedPics is free; the site makes money when guests order their own prints from the event. It is so easy that my mom was able to go to the site the next day and print out the pictures she loved. She says they make her smile every morning. The app also allows you to share different photo albums across social networks and share subsequent events, like the honeymoon, with your guests.
Squarespace. My husband runs a publication about the business of sustainability; when I told him we needed to send out more than 100 paper wedding invitations he suggested we create a Web site instead. Squarespace offers gorgeous and easy-to-use wedding templates that don’t look canned or boring. By skipping the paper invites we estimate we saved about $2,500 in stationary and postage, and we saved a few trees in the bargain.
Our Square Space wedding website was clean, professional, and free of the annoying advertising you get with other wedding Web site templates. (Photo: SquareSpace).
Google Docs. I saved about $2,000 by not hiring a wedding planner. Instead, I used Google Docs for everything from keeping track of RSVPs to gathering guest addresses and writing (and then reading) our actual vows. For two months, Google Docs was my Bible.
Reading our vows from Google Docs on the iPad (Photo: Jo Piazza).
MailChimp. Need a way to quickly communicate with your wedding guests? A MailChimp account lets you easily manage an email list of invitees, RSVPs, regrets, and maybes, allowing you to tailor a custom message to each group. The best part? The service is free!
Luggage Forward. We live in San Francisco; our four-day wedding was in Philadelphia. We planned to head straight to our honeymoon in Mexico the Monday after the festivities.
We had a ton of stuff to haul out for the party, but we didn’t want to bring it all with us on our honeymoon (and then back through customs). So we used the Luggage Forward delivery service to ship the important wedding things home for us— including my dress — so we didn’t need to drag them with us across the border. Total cost? $69 and worth every single penny.
Rent the Runway. Brides aren’t just expected to look ridiculously perfect on their wedding day; they’re expected to look ridiculously perfect for four days of wedding festivities. That level of perfection is pricey. And, of course, you can’t wear your wedding dress all week, so I needed new outfits for each day.
Rent the Runway offers a wide range of dresses for rehearsal dinners, receptions, and post-wedding brunches (Photo: Rent the Runway).
Rather than purchase three new dresses, I ordered three from Rent the Runway, wore them for the wedding weekend, and then threw them in a return bag. Total price was just over $100, or barely more than it would have cost me to dry clean them.
Even the calmest brides get stressed on their wedding day and absolutely no app is going to change that. Still, a little tech help can go a long way to taking the edge off the big day.