Getting married in the digital age

Vintage wedding portrait (Flickr/Freeparking)Last week I got married (Read this blog by Lori Schwartz on engagement in the digital age). It was a fine affair-we kept it as small as we could and capped our budget at about half of the average spent on weddings in the U.S. We also attempted, out of curiosity and a desire to save some dough for our honeymoon, to go digital for as much of the planning and execution of the wedding as possible. My father-in-law was a little disappointed at the lack of traditional means of communication, but our friends who attended gave a rousing thumbs up to the experiment.

Here was our attempt at a 21st century wedding:

-No mailed invites. And no, we didn’t use Evite. This one step alone saved us tons of money and time-not to mention a few trees. I looked around for a wedding website company that would enable us to put all our festivities online in a secure environment. While some companies charge upwards of $1000 for a Website, I found which, for $65 allows couples to download their software and takes care of buying a domain for the couple for a year’s time. The software is so inexpensive I had to contact the company to make sure I was really getting what they promised. The software enables creation of your own personal Website with online RSVPs, guest tracking, table chart and seating applications, and gift recording. We simply sent out an email with the website URL and password, and our guests used the Website to their fancy-leaving us messages, registering online, downloading maps, reading our FAQs, etc. I am more than a little proud of this decision-and encourage future couples to look into the concept as well. Many couples use Websites now as an addition to their traditional invites-but with such a complete online experience, who needs those stuffy invites anymore? Advertisers might be wise to get in on the action.

-No registry at a store. Instead, we asked guests who wanted to give to us to contribute to our honeymoon fund. This saved on packing and mailing costs, not to mention needless trips to return unwanted gifts. There are many Websites that now allow couples to register (often for free if you do it with the travel agency you’re booking with, or Starwood Hotels has an awesome honeymoon registry program) and guests can “buy” the couple a massage or a portion of their airfare. If you have all the china and silverware you want, consider this as a great (and potentially green) alternative to a department store registry. Department stores-consider updating your registry programs to include flexible online setup and purchasing.

-No expensive photo albums. We will print out a couple of the photos and put them somewhere safe, but for our time and money, online galleries are so much more practical. We’re using’s (or sorry, they now are calling it-and don’t get me started on how bad their new applications are). But numerous other sites such as Flickr and Google’s Picassa could be used as well. One downside to Mac’s offering is it does not link to a photo order plan where guests can have hard copies mailed to them-although, given this is the digital age, is anyone even doing that anymore?

-No expensive floral centerpieces that wilt the next day. Instead, I used small submersible LED lights at the bottom of a vase, with a strand of orchids submersed in water. We saved between $1000-$3000 by doing this and got many requests for where to buy the cool $2 LED lights.

-Finally, thank you notes we are also sending, of course, via email. The grandparents get a handwritten thank you, and maybe our parents, but to everyone else, we’re not only saving a stamp (heck, we don’t even have attendees addresses if we wanted to send a thank you card via post), we’re providing links to our online photo galleries and sending attachments of our favorite digital images from the wedding. The only thing missing from this equation is that while there are plenty of companies that will print up thank you cards with photos of the couple, I haven’t been able to find a company that will build an original html card to be sent via email. Again, Mac cards come close, but you can’t customize them enough. Any takers out there?