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Fiancial Post

Bridezilla goes digital
Mary Teresa Bitti, Financial Post Published: Saturday, August 30, 2008

It's a nice day for a wired wedding -- apologies to Billy Idol, although the lyrics weren't that great. Still, it's 2008 and technology means you don't have to fret over whether the sun will shine on your big day. Have Web cam, will marry and broadcast over broadband for anyone and everyone regardless of rain, snow, hail-- you get the picture.

Before you traditionalists get scared off, pump up the volume on your iPod and chill. "At the end of the day the outcome of the wedding is the same," says Owen Sagness, the vice-president of the online services group for Microsoft Canada Co. "The digital wedding is about the process of getting you to the wedding date and different ways people are using technology to make it faster, easier, cheaper. It's also about what happens after the actual ceremony and again making it faster, easier cheaper."

Faster, easier, cheaper -- it's got a nice ring to it. According to, the average cost of a wedding in Canada is between $20,000 and $30,000. And, depending on just how fantastical, can take months to plan.

Microsoft recently hosted a mock digital wedding at the very real picturesque wedding venue, Palais Royale in Toronto. There was an eight-week build-up with e-mails to invitees, letting them know that Sarah and John would be tying the knot. Their wed-site allowed anyone who was interested to learn about the happy couple and all the events leading up to the wedding. They used technology to create, publish and send out the invitations, plan the music, choose and buy the flowers, plan the honeymoon -- and on, and on.

And, why not? JL Watkins, a wired tech writer relays his digital wedding advice on You Tube. Click on JL:Wired Weddings and you'll see a cake-top bride and groom lamenting just how hard it is to plan a wedding. The groom wishes there was some way to put technology on their side, while the bride is a little scared by the prospect. Then JL, in his heavy plastic glasses and tuxedo jacket, chimes in with: "It seems that way at first, but it isn't." He should know. He recently planned his own digital wedding.

The beauty of a wired wedding is that you can use as much or as little technology as you like. A few tips: - It all starts with the Internet and building an online presence, which can readily lead to very real-world presents.

Montreal-based, for example, has created thousands of wedding Web sites for couples around the globe. Choose from a number of templates, upload hundreds of photos into online photo albums, create a blog to keep far-flung friends and family up to date on what's going on, create family trees, keep in touch via message boards, have RSVPs delivered straight to your inbox, share your gift registry and so on. - Upload some photos and create and publish your own highly personalized paper invitations to follow up your e-mail announcement. - Out with the cheesy DJ and in with your music player. All you need is a stereo chord, pre-planned playlist and your guests can dance the night away. - Set up a Web cam for the ceremony and anybody who can't physically be there can connect online and watch it. "It's easy to do, and a great way to extend the experience to people who can't attend," says Mr. Sagness.

Microsoft's mock wedding even featured an Xbox at the reception allowing people to play Rock Band. FYI: some of the biggest growth in the online gaming world is the 35 to 49 age group. "It was amazing how many people were playing with it," says Mr. Sagness. Will we see more wedding Web casts? "What we do know for sure is Canadians are the most connected and most technically savvy consumers in the world," says Mr. Sagness. "We are the No. 1 users of Internet search, and enjoy the highest penetration of broadband Internet. With the high cost of fuel, this may be even more relevant than it was a few weeks ago. Why not use the tools we already have in a new way?"