Something Old, Lots of New
How to have the most modern wedding ever
By Anna Lockhart

From flip flops in the ladies bathroom – for guests who have kicked off their heels but don’t want to hit the dance floor barefoot – to warm soft pretzels for guests heading to the after party, Lucy Zettlemoyer, 29, has mapped out many of the details for her June wedding.

Plenty of her plans are nods to the past and age-old wedding traditions; she and her groom won’t see each other until she walks down the aisle at the Camden County Boathouse, and they’ll be giving out old-fashioned matches as favors.

But there is one detail that may sound like a science-fiction plot line to a guest more familiar with nuptial celebrations from “back in the day.” As the revelry ramps up with cocktails before the reception, a tiny flying drone will be buzzing above heads, capturing birds-eye view photos and video of the entire guest list on the balcony overlooking the picturesque Cooper River.

Aerial drone photography is just one high-tech element of millennial weddings that has come into fashion in recent days.

“We just want to take advantage of what the boathouse has to offer,” says Zettlemoyer. “It is an amazing venue and with the drone you will be able to see the beautiful water views and the Philadelphia city sky line.”

From gadgets for planning to automated thank-you notes, there are lots of ways to have the most modern wedding ever.

Apps and Apple Watch

Ditch the paper planner. There are scores of easy-to-use free apps to take care of every aspect of your wedding planning, like Social Tables, which allows you to drag and drop tables into the perfect arrangement, craft the best guest combinations, and even see a 3D rendering of the layout. Other apps send a ping to your phone when it’s time to check off important tasks, like mailing save-the-dates or booking vendors.

“Websites and apps such as The Knot, Wedding Wire and Zola are connecting newly engaged couples with venues and vendors at the touch of a button,” says Jolene Cross, event specialist at The Merion in Cinnaminson, noting that couples can “visually interview” vendors and services by checking reviews of other recent brides and grooms.

River Operations at Camden County Boathouse, has noticed the Apple Watch becoming a handy tool for couples. Not only can it help frenzied brides and grooms keep track of appointments and communications for wedding planning, but when the big day comes, its heart rate monitor can document the literal flutters of the bride’s heart when she walks down the aisle.

“The brides use a nice jewelry-looking watch instead of the typical Apple Watch,” Cass says.

Another paper-free touch she’s seen? Couples reading their vows off their smart phones to avoid forgetting their lines.

“Instead of reading off of a paper, they’re using their phones,” she adds.

Bird’s eye view

Capturing each moment of a wedding day has never been more comprehensive. Wedding photographers offer slick videography from the start of the day, when the bride gets ready, to the end of the night when the last dance is called. Beyond drone cameras, high-end cameras built for action can capture the candid shots.

“People put a camera in a bouquet,” says Cass, “and then you kind of keep track of your whole day.” 

Gone are the days of waiting for months for a hefty set of prints from the wedding photographer. Most photographers offer a few instant shots for couples right after their party. But more and more, tech-savvy guests can act as paparazzi for wedding celebrations, snapping photos and uploading some themselves.

A wedding hashtag is a new wedding standard, helping to collect photos under one location on Instagram (Zettlemoyer’s is #kenandlusayido). Instagram, Snap-chat, Facebook and Twitter are the mainstays for letting guests share and see their photos throughout the night, Cross says. Meanwhile, some photo-sharing apps allow couples to capture any photo taken by their guests throughout the night into one place, regardless of the platform. With a projector, they can even share their photos in real time in an endless scroll onto the dance floor or the ceiling. 

Photo booths are a fun add-on for capturing goofy wedding reception snaps, but new hologram photo booths make a pair of oversized glasses and a feather boa look primitive.

“Photo booths seem to be emerging with new technology every week,” says Cross. “The traditional open-air photo booth has been enhanced through use of iPads and other touch screen devices that allow the guests to control filters, backgrounds and when to take the shot.”

In a hologram booth, guests can pose next to a dinosaur or a celebrity, or on a tropical beach, and see their image projected in front of them instantly. The company emails or texts them a picture, video or animated GIF of their image, which they can share on the spot.

Have your cake and print it too

“Our couples are somewhat more DIY,” Cass says.

For example, a couple might opt for a simple cake, but have a custom 3D-printed trim to adorn it – even lace that matches the lace on the bride’s dress. 3D-printed cake toppers and party favors are other high-tech DIY touches couples incorporate. To go the extra mile, couples can have an exact replica of themselves printed in 3D.


The bones of the wedding, though embellished by technology, remain intact, say regional wedding planners.

“I think the father-daughter dance, the first dance, those will always be,” says Cass. “The garter toss and the bouquet toss, those are being replaced by other things, even the cake cutting, but the dances are things that everyone wants to hold onto.”

Cross agrees: “Parent dances are a special way of honoring the important people in couples lives that have helped build them into the adults they have become on the wedding day.”

Paperless send-off

Wedding guests might notice that the cursory “gift tables” may be reduced or missing entirely from contemporary receptions. With gift-giving and registry apps, guests can give money electronically or send items from the bridal registry straight to the couple’s home. And as an extremely practical option, guests can even send money through a cash-transfer app, swapping a check in a greeting card for an emoji and an automatic deposit.

To thank their friends and family for celebrating with them, couples traditionally scrawl handwritten notes to send off after the big day. Now, they can streamline that process and avoid writer’s cramp with an automated thank-you note app – and simply place their e-signature on the dotted line.

And with that, happily-ever-after gets off to a modern start.

April 2019
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