Web Weddings—How technology is changing the wedding planning process

April 2014 View more


Photo illustration includes photo by Fender & Donisch Photography

When a bride calls Naperville’s DeEtta’s Bakery and says she’s dreaming of an elegant gold wedding cake, bakery owner and cake designer Kevin Tyschper knows exactly where to start the planning process—Google.

After perusing the thousands of photos and examples online, Tyschper can help the bride narrow images down to just a handful that will inspire the bakery’s designers to construct a cohesive and fantastic looking cake.

“The Internet helps us get 80 percent of the way there, and the other 20 percent comes from conversation,” Tyschper said. “They might know what they want but can’t communicate it. Using examples we find online, we can really get to the heart of what a couple is looking for.”

Pinterest Bride


Photo illustration includes photo submitted by Wes Craft Weddings.

The Internet’s increased use in everyday life hasn’t skipped over the traditional and age-old life ritual of marriage. Brides are now using Pinterest as a virtual dream board to pin everything from the perfect dress, to table settings, to cake topper designs. Couples are logging on to Yelp to check out reviews of potential florists and using Wedding Wire to sift through dozens of venue options in their area.

While most involved in the wedding planning industry say the Internet and social networking sites have helped immensely with generating ideas and recruiting potential clients, there is a down side to the wedding web buzz. Some in the business call it the Pinterest bride.

These blogs, review hubs, and social networking sites are packed with so many luscious and cascading floral arrangements, 10-tier cakes and uniquely decorated venues that brides can end up clinging to a few pictures that exceed their entire budget. The challenge for those in the wedding business is maximizing the everything-at-your-fingertips technology, while also making sure to keep couples’ expectations in the realm of reality.

“These wonderfully sculpted cakes they’re seeing online can take 20 or 30 hours worth of labor and design, and can cost thousands of dollars,” Tyschper said.


Photo illustration top right includes photo by Victoria Sprung Photography.

“Sometimes the perception is that these cakes can be created in a day.”
Kristen Janes, owner of Naperville-based Kio Kreations Floral Boutique, said the Internet is a double-edged sword for her business. On one hand, five-star reviews and hundreds of Facebook tags are largely what she credits for her business’ success.

But on the other hand, she wants to avoid the potential floral plagiarism when couples swipe open their iPads and point to the exact arrangement they’d like recreated for their own day.

“It’s helpful for us to get ideas about color palate, but sometimes Pinterest is visual overload for brides,” Janes said. “They’re presenting us with looks that are literally thousands of dollars over their budget. There’s such easy access to these photos, it can create unrealistic expectations.”

Choosey Chefs

Amanda Scarlati of Naperville-based My Chef Catering says wedding-focused social media sites have been great at bringing in a slew of new and creative ideas for her company and the catering business as a whole. However, sometimes the most-loved images are taken from the cream of the crop, no-limit budget weddings.

“We see these beautiful pictures and say, ‘That’s what I want, it looks so simple.’ If only it were that simple,” Scarlati said with a laugh. “I’m guilty of it myself. I see an image and think, this will be so easy. Then six hours later.”

The Internet has affected the wedding planning process and industry dramatically, said Joe Monastero, Kendall College’s Director of Strategic Initiatives. Monastero, who specializes in wedding and event planning, said Pinterest is now the go-to idea generator and review sites hold businesses at the mercy of their post-event recaps.

“Brides have access to so much more information, including resources for favors, invitations, and other items that, in the past, were expensive and only available via local retailers,” Monastero said. “Reviews have drastically changed how brides do their work.”

Photos of Inspiration

Wedding blogs and websites are bursting with images, so it’s no surprise that Naperville-based photographer Wes Craft has been presented with photos that couples would like him to recreate.

They key to pleasing brides and grooms, Craft said, is to encourage them to highlight what’s unique about their special day. Sometimes a couple will focus on a photograph from another wedding that they love, but it may have been a candid moment that just “happened” and was captured in a photograph at that particular time.


Photo illustration bottom left includes photo by Linda G. Photography.

“You have to get creative, find out what they like and encourage them to be themselves. To really open up and trust the process,” Craft said. “They’re going to have photos that others don’t simply because of the of circumstances of their wedding such as he lighting that day or what the weather was doing. They’re going to end up with photos that are beautiful and unique. We want them to let their day happen.”

In one instance, on the day of a wedding, a bride handed Craft a photo of a wedding party posed across a bridge on the Chicago River. Craft said he asked the bride if she wanted this photo exactly, or something similar Craft could create from his own perspective. She told him, since he was the expert, to make the final call.

“We took what she found on Pinterest, headed over to the bridge and got some great shots,” Craft said. “I was pretty inspired and totally explored it. She ended up loving the shot we got. We used the photo for inspiration, not to copy exactly.”

Faster Communication

Especially in the last five to seven years, Scarlati said the Internet and email have made for faster communication with clients. This can be both a perk and a challenge, she said.

“Our clients prefer doing business by email, and in turn, everyone expects things to happen a lot quicker,” Scarlati said. “The whole process is sped up.”

But with about 200 weddings to cater per year, Scarlati said the good part about the expedited communication is that proposals and menus can be delivered right to the inboxes of their clients without waiting for snail mail or faxes like the company used to do 25 years ago.

Monastero said the Internet has also created an easier path for start-up event planners to find a niche market and grow their business. There are now tiers of wedding planners for every walk of life and every income.

“The professional planners will continue to be the go-to for large companies and high-end weddings,” Monastero said. “The explosion of grass-roots planners, however, continues, as those who have the knack for planning start their own companies.”

There is no doubt among those in the wedding planning circuit that the Internet creates new challenges. However, to be a successful business in the wedding industry in 2014, Janes said there is no choice but to be tech savvy.
To recruit new customers, Janes focuses on optimizing her website’s Search Engine Optimization and encourages clients to use hashtags when posting photos of her work. She said the web wedding planning trend helped her go from a home-based business to opening her own studio.

“I don’t think we would be what we are without the Internet,” Janes said. “Getting clicks and driving momentum to your website helps people find your business. There are all these little tricks you need to learn. Wedding planning is now a tech-driven business.”