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Couples go online with wedding plans

Last updated on: February 20, 2012 12:11 IST

Couples go online with wedding plans

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Avantika Bhuyan

Don't want to send paper invitations on your wedding? A rash of 'wed sites' send personalised SMS reminders, travel options and weather updates to the guests

No one had ever heard of a wed site, a wedding website, in Ambika Anavkar's family. There were excited exclamations from family and friends when this 27-year-old sent them a link. The site took them on a sentimental ride through the "romantic journey" of the couple and offered them a glimpse of the festivities to come. "I have a lot of friends and relatives who stay abroad and couldn't come for the wedding," says Anavkar who tied the knot on December 26, 2011. "The site, which was gifted to me by a web developer friend, gave them the opportunity to be a part of the ceremonies." The new wife has shifted to Delhi, and is being bombarded with queries about her sleek and elegant site.

Wed sites are creating a buzz in the wedding industry -- estimated now at a whopping Rs 190,000 crore. Recession or not, people are not shy of spending on what they believe is the most important day of their lives. They try to outdo each other by making their weddings unique. Some fly to ancient European churches for the event, others pay international celebrities to perform at a function. Every year a new fad is added to the package. The latest is personalised wedding websites.



Tags: Anavkar , SMS , Delhi

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Couples go online with wedding plans

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Gone are the days when you could lure people to your wedding with an attractive card and a box of chocolates. When your website can send out personalised SMS reminders to your guests, why waste time on paper invitation cards? "I believe that costly and elaborate invitation cards are going to be a thing of the past," says Dhawal Oza, director of DreamZ Events n Ideas, a company that offers wedding planning as part of its services. "They will be replaced by a URL. A customised domain offers couples a platform to put up details from the wedding venue to travel options to what weather to expect."

Websites are easy to use, easily accessible and a reliable means of communication. For people like Anavkar, it is also a sure shot way of ensuring that the invitations reach the concerned people. "Very often, invitations get lost on the way and people don't turn up because they didn't receive theirs. Also, I wanted to minimise the usage of paper in my wedding, so sending an e-invite through the site seemed like an attractive idea," she says.



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Getting an attractive wedding website in place is not rocket science. There are Do-It-Yourself (DIY) websites based in the USA that offer free wed sites on their domains. All a couple needs to do is log on to a site like mywedding.com or eWedding.com, choose a template and follow a series of easy steps. When Gitanjoli Bordoloi and Gurpreet Singh, a couple from Switzerland, came to India last month to get married, they decided to follow this route. Not willing to spend a lot on their website, they found mywedding.com perfect for what they had in mind. "I just wanted my friends back home to connect with our story through music and photographs. So this service was ideal for us," says Bordoloi.

Some websites offer paid themes that can be customised according to a couple's requirements. For instance, for his wedding on January 25, Bangalore-based Hrish Thota purchased a $70 theme from WooThemes.com, a site that allows you to use any of its templates, with flexible components, for the big announcements in your life.

"I had seen a lot of my friends use the free services offered by US-based websites," says 32-year-old Thota who works with Hewlett-Packard, "but that meant choosing the same old templates that had been used over and over again. My friends had a developer account with WooThemes.com and they told me about this announcement service. I was hooked!" Thota put up a page titled "The Couple", which offering guests a ringside view of his love story. Visitors were also guided to "The Countdown", "The Venue" and a special page called "Memories" which had childhood pictures of his fiance Sunitha and him. There was a special forum where friends and relatives could leave messages and comments for the happy couple. "The website witnessed a lot of traffic," he says, "and we got nearly 150 messages from visitors."


Image: Yann Forget/Wikimedia Creative Commons


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But those who want an exclusive, personalised look for their site go to the experts. Experts can design customised sites with a host of interactive features to make browsing fun for your guests. "The options are endless," says Candice Pereira, co-founder and creative head of Mumbai-based Marry Me Wedding Planners, including "online RSVPs, music requests, a guest book with message boards, live streaming video of the wedding for friends and family who couldn't make it, a gift registry, wish list, online poll about the couple, and so on". And the response that a wed site elicits from guests is worth every rupee spent. "The guests love it!" says Pereira. "it is such a personal touch. It especially helps them get to know the couple or partner if they have never met him or her before."

Planners like Oza and Pereira usually put their clients in touch with web designers and also throw in creative inputs. Preparing a customised website is a lengthy process that involves several consultations between couple and designer. "Sometimes couples have no clear idea of what they require," says Naresh Advani of curvez.net. "They only know that they want a wedding website. We have even witnessed couples fight like babies in front of us about things like the colours on the website."


Image: Clickmehul/Wikimedia Creative Commons


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Once Advani's company, which creates websites and offers mid-level software solutions, got into wed sites, its founders noticed the tremendous potential. "People nowadays are more exposed to social networking, so communicating online has become a natural tendency," says Advani who has created 11 so far and has proved to be the most popular with clients. The creation process starts with a mock-up, which may go through some iterations. The website, whose design takes into account the style of the wedding and the target audience, is finished and delivered in 20-25 days. "We emphasise interactivity, and for this purpose create games such as the 'couple quiz'," says Advani. "There are also features like the honeymoon tracker, which allows visitors to see the couple's geographical location. We create chat rooms for all those who wish to chat with the couple."

Domain names are usually booked by the designers for one year. Features such as the honeymoon tracker are created so that the site can be used even after the wedding. The website can then be made public or protected with a password, depending on what the couple chooses. To get a personalised wed site, you will have to loosen your purse strings. "A basic HTML wed site, which offers little interactivity, costs around Rs 10,000," says Oza. "The more elaborate, content-heavy, interactive and Flash-enabled sites could cost Rs 2.5 lakh and more. If you have live video streaming, then the cost spirals — a single-speed webcast with a single camera costs Rs 90,000 a day. For a two-camera setup, the cost goes up by Rs 35,000." If your wedding is the event of your lifetime, how can you let a few (or many) thousand rupees come between you and perfection?


Image: Yogita/Wikimedia Creative Commons

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