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March 28, 2013 - Image 100

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2013-03-28

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'141 4 The New Wedding

Couples are going hi-tech before their big day.

Rachel and Jeffrey Schostak

Rabbi Jason Miller I Contributing Writer

15t too long ago, wedding guests had to
make a phone call to inquire where the
ouple were registered for gifts. They didn't
know much about what to expect at the wedding.
And they likely had to wait for the rabbi to speak
under the chuppah to learn how the happy couple
had met.
Today, it's become standard operating pro-
cedure for couples to publish a website in the
months leading up to the wedding. These web-
sites — also known as "wedsites" — started off
as basic one-page sites on the Web that included
a few photos of the couple, the wedding date and
location, and a guest book. Fast forward to 2013
and many couples now set up interactive sites
complete with multimedia slideshows and videos,
meet the bridal party pages, shopping portals to
the gift registry, video clips of the band at past
weddings and surveys about what songs the
guests want to hear.
These wedsites can be connected with the bride
and groom's Facebook profile, and the photos
guests take at the wedding can easily be shared
to Pinterest and photo-sharing sites like Snapfish,
Polaroid Fotobar and Shutterfly.
The wedsites include such features as the gift
registry, stories about how the couple met and
where they became engaged as well as where
they're headed for the honeymoon. For out-of-
town guests, these sites have proven to be impor-
tant resources. Links to the hotel, discounts on
airline flights and the ability to coordinate travel
with other guests are essential for a wedsite.
Another nice feature of these wedsites is the
ability to prepare guests for what they should
expect at the wedding. For Jewish weddings in
which some of the guests may be first-timers, it's
helpful to post some of the basic customs on the
wedsite. Couples can introduce their guests to the
order of the ceremony before they arrive. Also, the
guests can be informed about the dress code for
the wedding; not only if it is a black-tie affair, but
also if it's being held in a synagogue in which the
women must have their shoulders covered.
"Creating a wedding website was an easy
way for our guests to get the details, especially
because we were having a destination wedding
and felt it was important to post the transporta-
tion, lodging and schedule information online,"
said Rachel Schostak, who was married to Jeffrey

C 1 2

celebrate! I

March 2013

at Camp Tanuga in Kalkaska, Mich., in August.
The couple, who reside in Birmingham, used
weddingwire.com for their wedsite, which includ-
ed their story, what guests should bring to camp,
a link to airline flights, the registry and the sched-
ule of events for the getaway weekend.
According to a survey done by TheKnot.com ,
approximately 75 percent of couples marrying last
year had websites, which is up from 60 percent in
2009 and 53 percent in 2008. TheKnot.com makes
it very easy for the couple (it's usually the bride)
to set up their personal site. The site also helps
with the organization of the wedding, setting up
easy-to-follow to-do lists and recommending ser-
vice providers and places to register.
The wedsites also have become a valuable
marketing tool for everyone involved in the wed-
ding industry as the couples — intentionally or
not — advertise their photographer and videog-
rapher, the caterer, band, wedding planner, florist,
venue and clergy simply by mentioning them on
the wedsite. While websites like TheKnot.com
offer free templates and Web
hosting space, some couples
have taken their wedsites to
the next level and hired com-
panies to build custom sites.
For the 21st-century wedding
couple, the wedsite is just
another expense.
Tracie Morris, a certified
wedding planner who owns
You're The Bride in Livonia,
encourages her brides to
make wedsites. And while she
doesn't help them create the
Amy and Seth Stern
site, she does give advice on
what to include.
"I love the wedsites, and I think they are very
helpful as well as practical," Morris said. "They
are great for keeping guests informed of pre- and
post-wedding festivities. They also set the right
tone for the event."
Amy Yashinsky Stern of Berkley was married
in late December at Adat Shalom Synagogue in
Farmington Hills. She and her husband, Seth, set
up a wedsite at TheKnot.com . "We felt like we
were supposed to just because that's what cou-
ples do. Also, I wanted to share the story about
how we met, how we got engaged and who was

in our wedding party," she explained. "I made the
website and then posted the link on Facebook. It
was an online way of celebrating us and our story.
It was a way of celebrating in a bigger way."
Mobile apps to help plan the wedding are also
gaining popularity. Morris recommends the
biz-e-bride app to her clients to help them orga-
nize wedding details and select the service pro-
viders. One app that is trendy among wedding
guests is Appy Couple. The app is by invitation
only, so couples have to request an invitation
code. Once wedding guests sign in they can
upload photos from their phones, view a map to
get to the venue, send congratulatory messages
and respond to custom polls. Appy Couple's slo-
gan on its website is, "Wedding websites are so
last year!"
Not all brides feel they need to set up a wed-
site, however. Stephanie Lorfel Gelb of Chicago
was married to Hylton on Marco Island last April.
She didn't set up a wedsite, but she did use other
forms of communication to provide guests with
information about her destination
One website Lorfel Gelb found
very useful after the wedding was
missnowmrs.com . "Navigating
through all the steps in order to
change my name after our wedding
was overwhelming," she said. "This
website made all the difference. I
used a Groupon and paid $19.99
and it led me through the entire
Weddings have always been a
combination of tradition and new
ritual. The 21st-century wedding,
while still adhering to the cus-
toms of generations gone by, now includes new
technology like customized websites and mobile
apps that allow the couple to brand themselves
and provide information to guests months before
they tie the knot. It will be interesting to see how
these wedsites and wedding apps change the
way we celebrate weddings in the future. ❑

Rabbi Jason Miller is an educator, entrepreneur and blog-

ger. He is president of Access Computer Technology in West

Bloomfield and a speaker on the intersection of technology

and Judaism. Follow him on Twitter at @RabbiJason.

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