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    WEDDINGS '90s STYLE

Contributed by Francie Schultz
Email :francie@rlc.net

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Back in the Dark Ages of wedding planning, brides were forced to visit store after store in person to find exactly what they wanted, whether it was a certain dress style, a china pattern, or a reputable florist. Often, the endless search for perfection made the most important time of her life the most stressful as well. Thanks to the Internet, today’s brides no longer have to face this daunting task.

Wedding service providers have caught on to the convenience and value of creating an internet web site: it allows vendors to
reach a wider potential clientele, while letting future brides and grooms fulfill all their wedding needs with the click of a mouse.
The Internet serves as a resource for referrals, with numerous vendor sites, as well as personal home pages of couples who have been through it already. Brides can find everything from dress designs to wedding coordinators.

“I found almost everything I needed on the Internet, from interactive budgeting software, to dress designs, to chat rooms
dealing with odd etiquette questions,” said Sita M. Sundaresan, a University of Virginia medical school student. “Emailing back and forth with a wedding consultant has been great. I never knew how hard planning a wedding in another state would be -- the services on the Internet have made it all possible.” Sites such as the Ultimate Internet Wedding Guide (www.ultimatewedding.com) not only provide region-specific lists of links, but also offer friendly advice on all aspects of wedding planning, from choosing the ring, to choosing the right song for the father-daughter dance. TheKnot.com (www.theknot.com) gives brides the chance to get in touch with other brides through both live chat rooms and postings. Brides can exchange ideas for bridal shower themes, find out answers to their most pressing etiquette questions, and get in touch with others who are sharing common experiences.

Lest he feel left out, several sites have also been created with the groom in mind. One such site, UnGroom’d.com (www.ungroomd.com), serves as a forum for the male perspective on the wedding and beyond. This site includes articles on wedding planning, thoughts on married life, and even money tips. Grooms, vendors, and all others are invited to submit articles, providing for a wide range of perspectives and subject matter. “I first logged on to UnGroom’d.com when I was engaged, looking for some advice on planning the wedding – I had enough of those sites devoted to pink lace and bridal bouquets,” said reader and newlywed Beau Burris.

One of the most innovative additions to the Internet wedding scene has been the development of online response services, offering an alternative to the common response card. One such service, Wedding RSVP (www.weddingrsvp.com) keeps track of who’s coming and who’s not coming on behalf of the bride and groom. Brides and grooms avoid the hassle of counting through endless response envelopes and dealing with last-minute phone calls amid the hectic whirl of wedding planning, because the company keeps track of respondents and provides a weekly updated list to the couple. “This is a way to avoid embarrassment, higher bills, and lost time that misunderstandings can cause,” said Adam Butler, co-founder of Wedding RSVP, “It puts a new spin on the traditional response card.”

This guest-friendly service puts all wedding information at the guests’ fingertips. In lieu of a response card, invitees receive a card explaining that the bride and groom have registered their wedding information with Wedding RSVP, including the company’s Internet address and toll-free phone number. They log on to the company’s corporate web site to access the couple’s personalized web page, which details schedule and location information for all wedding events, directions and maps, bridal registry specifics, proper attire for all functions, guest travel and accommodation information, local attractions, and anything else the bride and groom want their guests to know. Guests are then directed to respond and indicate the number of people attending. Those who are not as technologically advanced can call the company’s toll-free number to respond and receive all the same information from a Wedding RSVP representative.

Is all this technology a blow to intimacy? How do we reconcile this expansive use of the Internet with a tradition-oriented wedding culture? “Well, it wasn’t long ago when people found it uncouth to include a response card with their invitation; now,
it’s common practice. We feel that, due to the hectic, rat-race world that wedding goers typically live in, tradition must work with technology to provide more convenience for the wedding party when dealing with guests and planning the event,” answers Butler.

Wedding resources on the Internet simplify the often complicated planning process by placing volumes of information,
services, and advice within easy reach. The ‘90s answer to wedding planning helps brides conceive of, create, and execute the day of their dreams, without turning the process into a nightmare.

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