Planning a wedding is difficult. I’ve been meaning to write this post for some time to share some of the digitals tools and skills Ann-Marie and I used to help us plan for our big day on the 13th June 2015.

Wedding CRM

Communicating about your celebration and the logistics is a vital part of the story. Without your family and friends it would be a very different sort of party.

Its commonplace for couples to design and send beautiful and tangible ‘invites’ and information through the post. For us seperating out the need to communicate effectively from the desire to produce a ‘beautiful’ thing was a great decision.

Having a fully online journey for our wedding communications just made so much sense. Why stop at one email? Why not create a full journey feeding the right information at the right time?

People now carry their inbox around with them, meaning no more last minute phone calls on the day to find out the venue location, and for us collating and acting on the responses would be much quicker.

Communication planning

We started by mapping a full communication journey for our guests from the initial ‘save the date’ through to the on-the-day logistics, finishing with an automated thank you sent whilst we were away on Honeymoon.

Mailchimp offers a free email campaign service that is ideal for this. They have a range of customisable templates, reports and statistics and also a mobile app meaning we could send and check our campaigns on the go.

By far the most useful aspect (as anybody that’s run a digital marketing campaign will tell you) is the subtle invasion of privacy that’s called tracking. We could see who had opened our emails, who had clicked through on which links and most importantly who hadn’t. Useful stuff, especially when you can see who responds quickest, who clicks on the link about cake the quickest and who only ever thought about the wedding gift the day before the wedding (come on, we’ve all been there), it’s just that I’ve now got proof.

It was also incredibly useful to allow further segmentation and targeted follow-up to those that needed gentle reminders about dietary requirements! People do need follow ups! Doing this online through MailChimp made it extremely simple to send a reminder to those people who definitely hadn’t opened and seen our invite!

Stats a digital marketer could only dream of…

Our open rates and click through stats for each mail were extremely high but then we did have a very engaged audience (I’d have been worried if it was the other way)

We treated everybody as individuals but personalised by couple, meaning that we expected a lower than perfect response rate as only one side of a couple had to respond. That didn’t stop duplicate responses as we learnt which of our friends communicate in isolation despite being together…

Data capture

Communication isn’t one way. You need to capture data from your nearest and dearest about such things as RSVP’s, menu choices, accommodation etc. We did this all online too. Google forms allows you to set up very simple data capture web forms that drop their data into Google spreadsheet. This allowed us to have a single place of truth about who was coming; with what offspring and what their dietary requirements were. We also could easily share the real-time information directly with our suppliers. Another real time-saver.

Digital gifts

We also went digital with our gift list and signed up for a HoneyFund account. This allowed us to list a number of gifts / adventures for our honeymoon and for people to buy them online and for the virtual gifts / money to be delivered direct to our PayPal account. PayPal do take a small percentage which did grate a little, but for the ease of collection it was just about worth it.

Shared photos

We sent out a Dropbox link which allowed people to share their digital photos directly with us after the ceremony.

Trello eases the stress…

Trello is a online/device-based task management tool, that can be used in a huge number of ways and for a huge number of purposes. We used it throughout our planning to track every task that needed doing (and crickey there were lots of them, from buying the rings to putting up decorations). Having a single, visible list of progress and things to-do massively helped us and importantly prevented any unnecessary stress from forgotten tasks

Its too easy not to…

Each of these steps was in itself incredibly straightforward to do and proved to be really effective, particularly the communication journey.

Over the next few years I’m sure they’ll be some budding entrepreneurs that will pull together some of the stuff we pieced together across platforms like MailChimp and Google, into a single ‘wedding communication as a service’.

Hey, you know maybe thats not a bad idea……

This post was first published on LinkedIn Pulse on 14th July 2016 My Big Fat Digital Wedding