Technology is on the same footing as tradition in modern weddings, maybe even a step ahead – wedding planning website The Knot states that a third of all couples use technology on their wedding day and you wouldn’t expect any less from the nuptials of the smartphone-toting millennials who find love and partners online, to use that technology to streamline their big day too. We’ve (double) tapped the minds of some of the UAE’s top wedding planners so trending wedding tech trends are on the top of your timeline.
1. I now pronounce this wedding live
Like Meghan and Harry had the whole world tune into their nuptials, your long-distance loved ones who RSVP’d ‘no’ due to ill health, distance or unforeseen circumstances can host their very own viewing party to celebrate your union, thanks to technology. All they have to do is log onto a password-protected live stream link on your wedding website, or YouTube channel, and remotely cheer on every ceremony from the ring exchange to the bouquet throwing.
You don’t even need the might of an entire television crew to broadcast your wedding: ‘a family member or friend can log onto free social media platforms such as periscope, Facebook and Instagram through a phone or laptop and live broadcast the festivities,’ says Julie Droin Ziani, CEO of wedding design firm Julie and Romeo, suggesting the numerous cost-effective ways to DIY a wedding stream.
Or get a bridesmaid to be the maid of social for the day, and set up a video-conferencing call hooked to a 360-degree camera allowing virtual guests to view the wedding from every angle. But always discuss the options with your photo and video team, advises Arun Bablani, executive director of wedding planning company Vivaah Weddings: ‘They will have the right cameras, mics and internet connection with enough bandwidth to upload content live [without lags or grainy pixelated feed].’ This ensures grandma isn’t still watching you walk down the aisle way after you’ve said ‘I do’.
2. Knot without my hashtag
If your wedding doesn’t leave a trail of trending hashtags in its wake, are you even really married? Hashtags, geotag filters and unique logos (usually an artistic or calligraphic amalgam of initials) are all part of the exercise of creating a brand around the weddings, says Tania Kreindler, wedding planner and stylist and founder of My Dubai Wedding. Couple hashtags, usually a portmanteau of the bride and groom’s names, or puns and witticisms derived from nicknames, inside jokes or an element of the couple’s love stories, weave their way into every aspect of the wedding, from the décor, to the invites and even pictures.
‘Couples brainstorm about wedding hashtags as soon as the proposal is done,’ says Menka Bhatia and Preeti Shahpuri, founders of Love Details. The trend that came to the limelight in 2013 is a great way to keep track of wedding photographs guests share, says Julie: ‘it helps them see the wedding through their guests’ point of view and easily find photographs online.’ When Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel supermodel wife Miranda Kerr announced their engagement with a customised Snapchat cartoon filter, they set in motion a trend that’s now a wedding mainstay. Arun breaks down it’s working: ‘Geotags automatically track the location of the guest using the app, and when it recognises they’re at the wedding location, the customised animations and filters pop up.’ It usually takes anywhere from four to 14 working days to process your request for a unique geotag and can be purchased for a nominal fee.
3. Three cheers for 3D
Love isn’t two-dimensional, then why must weddings be? While 3D technology is still a relatively fresh entrant to weddings, it’s fast making its presence known across different areas of the wedding from the cake toppers, to customised edibles and weddings souvenirs, Arun. 3D cake mapping, where a 3D projector casts designs onto a cake, has been doing the rounds for a while now but isn’t the norm here in the UAE.
It’s more common at weddings where mere icing and fondant can’t factor the theme into the cake. While the UAE’s many talented cake artists can ensure you can have your masterpiece of a cake that matches whatever outlandish theme you’ve dreamed up and eat it too, 3D saves the day when it comes to maximising your venue and minimising expenses.
It’s great for those with slender budgets and can’t afford a destination wedding says Tania, who has used it to transform unassuming indoor ballrooms into an Italian castle. ‘3D mapping can [harmonise] an imposing archway or wall to complement the aesthetics of the wedding theme,’ Tania explains.
At Vivaah, Arun and his team have recreated ‘frosted snowy woods in a sultry desert venue using projection mapping and enhanced it with added elements of sounds, animation touch and smell and a host of interactive features.’ Your imagination is the only limit.
4. Drone on
No, we aren’t talking about the endless service, the best man’s speech. Drones are the modern, robotic incarnations of cherubs, doing everything from flying in the wedding cake, to being the ring bearer if cute kids aren’t readily available. Hitched to a camera, drones become the better halves of wedding photographers and give your real love story the swooping cinematic effect of a movie.
‘They’re widely used to capture aerial views of celebrations outdoors,’ says Arun. It makes the décor pop and adds a fresh perspective and vantage point to the entire ceremony, ‘swooping over the cake, across the dance floor and around the hall,’ says Julie. But drones, she cautions, require special permits in the UAE and hence must only be operated by photographers who are certified drone pilots.
In the West, GoPro action cameras find themselves snuck into the bride or bridesmaid’s bouquets or buttonhole cameras slipped into the jackets of grooms to document special moments like the vows, the walk down the aisle from the bride and groom’s perspective; footage videographers can incorporate into the wedding video. But the game changer is a trend that’s straight out of The Matrix – Virtual Reality. ‘VR technology has just set foot into the wedding industry and specialised teams shoot the entire wedding, so the couple and families can revisit celebrations using a VR headset that immerses them in a 360-degree world of their wedding.’
5. Photo booths on steroids
Gone are the days of stationary photobooth with its goofy wigs and moustache props. Fast-paced, on-the-move millennials who boomerang every milestone want moving images in their weddings too leading to the advent of GIF booths. Special video equipment captures bursts of photos and stitches them to create three to six second animated video loops of the guests’ goofy actions that can be shared with them on email or upload directly to your social media account. The technology extends to slow-motion videos and flip book photobooths that bind pictures shot within a 10-second window into a mini book that creates the effect of stop-motion movie as you flip through the pages. Couples often choose digital walls over static backdrops that they can customise with patterns and designs of their choice, say both Arun and Julie.
Menka and Preeti’s team have gone a step further and installed a special Instagram printer at a wedding - ‘it would track each photo uploaded using the wedding hashtag and print it out instantly, to be handed over as a souvenir to guests,’ she says.
6. Online wishlists
Wedding registries have evolved from in-store purchases at department stores to ringing up items from the comfort of your couch with a click. Modern weddings don’t need you to come bearing gifts – digitised registries such as Amazon and UAE-based multistore gift registry mylist.ae send them directly to the couples’ doorstep. ‘If someone wants to buy you a gift and you don’t have a registry means they have to shop around and guess what you want,’ says Julie.
‘Online wedding registries give guests a choice of items that the bride and groom would really appreciate and actually make use of,’ explains Arun.
Contributions to the couple’s honeymoon are also common, says Tania. And let’s face it, would you rather have a sponsored trip to the Maldives or a food processor?
7. Double-tap to RSVP
Elegant calligraphy, customised fonts and personalised boxes of sweets and gifts can only relay so much of love story to guests. Cue e-vites, wedding websites save the date videos and wedding apps.
‘Electronic invitations allow the bride and groom to connect with the guests on a personal level and tell their story,’ says Arun. Most save-the-date videos function like a teaser or a trailer to movie reflecting the bride and grooms’ personality, function as souvenirs and are the next best thing to invite each guest in person.
Menka reminisces creating physical cards that opened up to reveal an LED screen and a pre-loaded video message from the couple. Wedding apps ensure RSVPs are instantaneous and error-free.
The World Wide Web functions as a safety net if you’ve decided to have a destination wedding say wedding planners. It’s a go-to resource for guests, covering dress codes, location, activities, weather, often links to a digital guestbook and help guests track several days of celebrations and multiple events or last-minute changes in venues and timings. ‘Updating a website is far easier than reprinting and sending [cards],’ explains Tania. Having said that all wedding planners unanimously agree that physical wedding invitations are still a must for some family members as it is a gesture of respect and auspiciousness in some cultures.
8. Wear your gadgets on your sleeve
Your heart’s racing as you serenely walk down the aisle and your husband’s heart literally skips a beat the first time he sees you as a blushing bride. Photographs will capture the awe, the smiles and the tears but wearable technology, such as Fitbits and Apple watches can track physiological changes in you that the chemical imbalance called love creates – spike in your heart rate to charting the number of steps taken at your first dance.
Forget the depth of oceans and the height of mountains to answer ‘darling how much do you love me?’ And this nerdy, scientific documentation is as romantic as a live painting of your wedding or a poem: ‘We’ve had couples print the tracking report from their wedding day and frame it as a memento from their big day,’ says Arun.
Besides tracking heartbeats, wearable tech also allowed Menka and Preeti’s guests dance to their own beats at a silent disco: ‘We synced wireless headphones to the DJ’s music and handed them out to guests at an outdoor wedding party as the venue didn’t allow loud music after 11pm. They danced away ‘quietly’ until 3am!’