Using Technology to Plan Your Big Day

By: Kristen Castillo

You’re connected to the world through technology. Phones, email and the internet provide so much content in our lives. Need a recipe? Look it up online. Want to connect with an old friend? Send her an email. Need to ask a colleague a question? Pick up the phone.

Why should wedding planning be any different from your regular life? Use technology to your advantage and make the most of email, internet research, and phone conversations. Use these tools effectively and you’ll save yourself time, money and worry.

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Be honest; face-to-face wedding planning isn’t always convenient or an efficient use of your time. This is why a phone call or the internet can be so helpful. You can get informed and comparison-shop on your time.

Think about how an email could get you a quick answer to an easy question like, “How many people can you accommodate in your private dining room?” Imagine surfing the net in your pajamas on a weekend to learn about wedding photography. Picture yourself on your cell phone during your lunch hour discussing which flowers will be in bloom for your wedding.

Use the web to plan your party. Look at samples of wedding packages like dinner menus, music choices and cake flavors. Review a variety of vendors and compile a list of questions you have. Then pick up the phone and conduct an informal interview with the vendor. Or send off an email asking for more info or to schedule a time to chat over your options on the phone.
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One benefit of all these tools is that you don’t have to travel to interview vendors. You can pre-screen them from the comfort of your own home.

The phone is still one of the best research tools because it allows you to interact with the person on the other end. Some of the benefits include hearing the tone of the person’s voice and being able to ask questions and get immediate answers. This is a luxury in today’s fast paced society.

Use the phone interview as a chance to get to know the vendor. You can find out a lot about a vendor based on a quick call. Does she have time to answer your questions or is she too busy to talk? If she’s swamped with work, schedule a better time to chat.
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Vendors really do want to talk with brides on a personal level. They don’t mind answering questions, especially if it helps to quickly clear up a confusing point.

“It’s our job to educate brides about what they’re getting,” says Melanie Harm, wedding event coordinator for Festivities Catering.

Harm welcomes the opportunity to speak to brides and grooms over the phone. She recommends striking up a conversation with vendors to get a feel for the people who could help you prepare your big day.

Harm doesn’t recommend email because she says it can be a bit impersonal and that’s not something couples want when selecting vendors. The personal connection is key.

Still many vendors like communicating with brides via email and the internet.

Wedding consultant Christie Gowdy says 60% of her clientele come to her via the internet.

According to Cathy Lynn, author of “Laptop Bride” (available at Amazon.com, Borders.com, Barnes&Noble.com, and also Booksamillion.com), the internet is easy to navigate and a great place to get wedding ideas.

“The internet gives you the option to think romance, personalize your wedding, fulfill your heart’s desire and find great ideas, prices and items you want; sometimes even items you never knew existed,” says Lynn. “Best of all, you can shop anytime of day, in any type of weather, in any kind of dress, with someone or on your own. Secondly, you don’t have to purchase everything on the internet. You can just check it out and if you see a few things, get them. Let’s face it; shopping on-line is the ultimate in convenience and the wave of the future.”
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Lynn recommends brides take detailed notes when researching and she stresses the importance of developing good communication with vendors. And remember to keep your notes and a calendar handy at all times.

Whether you check in with a vendor over the phone lines or via the web, don’t let your first question be the obvious question — price. Vendors say it’s a shame that money is always the first concern of brides and grooms.

Sandra Ortmeier of Edelweiss Bakery says most vendor prices are competitive. Besides, a bride and groom’s initial assessment shouldn’t be based on price alone. Sometimes when researching wedding vendors, a phone call or an email isn’t enough to make a decision. For example, when selecting a cake, your taste buds ought to make the final decision.

“You’ve got to taste it,” says Ortmeier. “When it’s something that involves quality, you’ve got to sample it first.”

Quality is important and so is a personality match. Brides and grooms really need get along well with the vendor. A great price doesn’t trump a personality clash or a difference in style.

She also advises brides to set up a separate email account to handle wedding business. Free email accounts from sites like Yahoo or Hotmail are very practical and easy to navigate. The benefits of establishing a new account? All your wedding related emails are organized together and not mixed with work or personal emails. And you can access the free email from any computer at work, home, or on the road. You can close the account after the wedding and not worry about spam or clutter in your inbox.

Remember it’s your wedding day and the vendors are there to help you. Listen to what they have to say, ask questions, and make sure you get the attention and service you deserve.

Above all, know that wedding planning help is just a phone call, an email, or a website away.

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