This summer, weddings are going digital. Rather than unplugging, couples are leveraging technology to enhance their special day—and to save money.
Evites are starting to overtake traditional paper invites. According to a new survey of 1001 wedding guests by Wedding Paper Divas, more than half of wedding guests received digital-only invitations to wedding events in the past year. And using technology at the event itself is no longer taboo: Less than a quarter of the surveyed guests were asked to put away their phones at weddings. On the contrary, 40% of guests were encouraged to post and share wedding photos social media.
And couples aren't just using Facebook and Instagram to document their vows. Wedding apps have become increasingly popular in the last few years as millennials begin to wed. "We got Facebook in college, we got the first iPhones,” 27-year-old Ajay Kamat, who co-founded the photo-timeline app Wedding Party, told TIME. “We have an expectation that when we travel or shop or do anything, there are services and apps that will help make that experience better for us.”
These smart apps—which are trying to break in to the $53.3 billion wedding industry—help brides and grooms send invites, organize guests, hire local vendors, gather all the photos guests take, register for gifts and crowdsource money for honeymoon activities. Apps like Appy Couple, Carats & Cake and Wanderable are becoming favorites among savvy couples who want to streamline the logistics associated with events like bridal showers, bachelor and bachelorette parties, the rehearsal dinner, wedding and honeymoon.
Some couples are using technology to save money. A recent story in Fast Company profiled a couple in New York who saved thousands on their nuptials by using online errand platform TaskRabbit to hire waiters and cooks, Paperless Post to send invites, Airbnb to book the venue and Spotify as the DJ.
But going high-tech sometimes means sacrificing formality. Even the most beautiful online invitations can send a more casual message. "The invitation sets the tone for the entire wedding," says Jacqueline Whitmore, an etiquette expert. "If you get a beautifully engraved invitation in the mail where someone took the time and money to hire a calligrapher, that notes the wedding is much more formal. If you send out an evite, that sends another message. Maybe the wedding is less formal."
Tech also introduces complicated issues of decorum: Do you need approval from the wedding party to post photos online? The couple might want to ensure only flattering pictures are shared on social media sites and that Facebook friends who were not invited aren't insulted when they see the pictures online. (About one third of survey respondents said they would unfriend someone on social media who didn't invite them to their wedding).
"The nice thing to do would be to ask the bride and groom," says Whitmore. "But people are going to post photos on social media regardless." The survey found 66% of guests thought that people should ask permission from the couple before posting pictures of the bride and groom.
One popular solution among couples is creating your own wedding website and uploading all the photos to that private domain. Four in 10 couples put a URL for their site on invitations. In a decade, parents will be showing their children their wedding site—not their wedding book.