June is here, which officially marks the opening of summer wedding season. Brides are having dress fittings, grooms are addressing envelopes, and best men and bridesmaids are throwing parties. Amongst all of the wedding planning, couples are increasingly turning to online tools to help them create and plan their special event more efficiently and on a budget.
“Wed-tech,” as coined by a community of bridal technology startups, is the marriage of the wedding and technology industries that’s gaining momentum among entrepreneurs. Brittany Haas, Founder of Happily Ever BorroWED, is working to organize startups within the wed-tech community through meetups and forums that differentiate from the larger sites like The Knot. Haas is critical of the online wedding goliath because:
The Knot, formally known as ‘the’ e-commerce resource for weddings, is a mess. Its content is haphazard and organized in a manner that is unhelpful to brides planning their weddings, its vendor matrix is based on who pays the most money to get a higher listing…
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With increasing visibility, the wed-tech startup community is working to provide positive, personalized wedding experiences and fun, useful solutions for wedding couples and planners. Whether you’re planning a wedding or are interested in this developing tech space, here are a few wed-tech sites that are that are artfully disrupting “I do.”
Find inspiration through Lover.ly
Lover.ly is a visual search engine that provides inspirational content from top-tier editorial partners to offer its users incredible imagery for personalized cloud scrapbooks. This week, Lover.ly launched its first e-commerce and lifestyle partners, including The Wedding Suite at Nordstrom and Kwiat Fine Diamond Jewelry, allowing users to link directly to the stores where the inspirational images are sourced. Kellee Khalil, Founder and CEO at Lover.ly said the goal of the site is “to provide a one-stop destination for brides to find inspirational images, have a way to easily curate their findings (which we offer through our ‘Bundles’) and now, even shop.”
had to work very hard on fostering strong editorial partners so that we can offer our users the-best-of-the-best in visual wedding imagery and content on the Web, while at the same time, building the search technology on the back-end that is going to deliver the most accurate and targeted results for our users.
Unlike other visual search engines like Pinterest, Lover.ly is completely dedicated to weddings and offers hundreds of thousands of images for inspiration, along with detailed information about the image source, the vendors, and how to achieve ‘the look’.
Stay on budget with Happily Ever BorroWED
In an increasing thrifty market, Happily Ever BorroWED offers brides rentable designer bridal accessories, curated for their e-boutique by wedding stylists. Founder Brittany Haas calls the site “the Netflix for bridal attire” and ascribes to the collaborative consumption model that serves the current market quickly and efficiently:
“While brides still aspire to wear gorgeous designer goods, they no longer value the one-time wear item. Why spend thousands of dollars on something you can literally only wear for a few hours of your life? Not only is it a lot of money, but it’s wasteful. With the money that brides can save by renting their bridal attire, they can invite more guests to their wedding, or have an extra night on their honeymoon! I think that the modern bride values the experience more than the sentimentality.”
While the site currently offers only accessories, they are looking to branch out into offering bridal gowns, flower girl dresses, and other special occasion attire. Haas believes wed-tech is ripe for disruption because of the huge part that social media and the Internet plays in the lives of brides. She is quick to point out that “most of us have taken concepts that are already proven in the tech space, and applied them to this bridal niche.”
Get the video you really want with Wedding Mix
Wedding Mix provides couples with an edited video of their wedding, compiled from footage uploaded directly by guests or using rented cameras. Its solution gives couples multiple perspectives from different guests and takes the work out of editing all the files, while still remaining budget-friendly. Mike Fisher, Co-founder and CEO said of the Wedding Mix service:
“There is just no way a videographer can charge $99 and make a living, but we can do it thanks to our technology. Plus, we provide a way to capture the entire wedding story from everyone’s perspective at the bridal shower, rehearsal dinner, and reception. A videographer can’t be there for everything.”
Wedding Mix was born from a previous startup that focused on converting video tapes to digital and custom editing projects, with technical co-founders who were engineers at Ford using production and automation processes and applying them to their video creation platform. They got so many requests for wedding “mixes” it was a natural transition to the wed-tech space. According to Fisher, their biggest goal as a company is to
“expand our exposure. 99% of the 2.5 million brides still don’t know about WeddingMix. We also are building an Android version of our app which will broaden our reach. Finally, we have an amazing new video technology in beta that will allow us to revolutionize video for consumers and business.”
Get great candid photos through Wedding Snap
With Wedding Snap, wedding guests can upload all of their photographs to one centralized album for the wedding couple to view. While individual photo booths are expensive and harassing guests for pictures is annoying, Wedding Snap allows guests to use a mobile app or browser to upload photographs to a couple’s album with all photos instantly available for viewing, editing and sharing. Wedding Snap has customers in over 15 countries and more than 500 cities in the United States.
Sasha Eslami, Founder and CEO of Wedding Snap, had previous experience in the conference and events industry where he learned about the power of photos and memories; this eventually led to the pivot into the wedding photography space. Eslami’s approach to the wed-tech space is simple:
“Wed-tech business can really make a huge impact, if and only if, they listen to their customers first… We need to stop making assumptions and start building from scratch by interviewing brides and grooms about their problems and finding a solution to those problems with THEIR input.”
Jumping the wed-tech hurdles
The natural pairing of weddings and tech is evident even as The New York Times adjusts to the digital trends by offering simple wedding announcement submissions online. But while the products and solutions these wed-tech companies offer seem like they would be natural additions to the arsenal of any reasonably tech-savvy bride, several have had their share of hurdles in the wed-tech space.
Fisher identified a major hurdle of Wedding Mix as a local vendor issue. Because most wedding marketing avenues are set up for local vendors doing a few dozen weddings a year, they can afford local advertising. As for Wedding Mix:
“We’re doing hundreds of weddings all across the U.S. and Canada (and now the world). Paying for every local vendor listing or website isn’t possible. That’s why we have to be creative and really do an amazing job to build word of mouth.”
Eslami also pinpointed a major issue with investors in the wed-tech space as not being “familiar with the wedding industry and the impact that technology could have to completely transform weddings.” He was hopeful this was a short-term problem that would be rectified by the first wed-tech company going public or having a big exit. He said that then, “the investors will wake up.”
Haas agrees that investors have had a hard time with the space because “most tech investors want to see enormous traction or a user base that is open and available to anyone.” This is a challenge because the wed-tech space is based on a rolling market with little to no repeat customer business.Shopping and searching through Lover.ly
As the wed-tech space continues to grow, the opportunities for innovation will grow alongside the enthusiastic market. Fisher aptly said, “Now with wed-tech, brides are in control and can dictate what they want, how they want it, and how much they are willing to pay for it. Tech allows brides to customize and add their style in ways unimaginable in the past.”