My tech savvy wedding

100% human

The social network

Social media is probably one of the easiest things a person can do when it comes to planning the digital side of a wedding, and that’s because many of us are using it regularly, it’s become transparent and a part of our lives.

It’s probably a safe assumption that a large number of adults attending a wedding — and some of the not-quite-adults — will have a smartphone, and will be taking photos and writing the odd status update to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

But knowing this is only useful if you have something that ties it together.

All major social networks now have a way of doing just that with hashtags.

You’ll probably have seen these used in your travels online, and it’s usually a word or phrase with a “#” preceding it. In use, you just write or post your update — images, text, whatever — and somewhere in the update, include the hashtag.

From the social network’s point of view, a hashtag is basically a conversation topic, and anything posted using this specific phrase will be linked up using the topic, so when your parents or friends post using the hashtag #techsavvywedding (which we’re not using, but you certainly could), it will all be linked when you search for that hashtag.

Find it on Twitter and you’ll see tweets, do it on Instagram and you’ll see the photos where the hashtag is used, and check it out on Facebook and any Facebook post made referencing that hashtag will be shown.

The webpage for our wedding collected entries on Twitter and Instagram for our hashtag and displayed them so people can see.

While it’s not necessary to have a hashtag, it will certainly make finding social posts from friends, family, and anyone else much more easy than searching through their profile line by line.

Registering a hashtag is easy: you simply conceive a name and start posting using it. You can look at the word or phrase by searching for it on various networks, seeing if it’s clear, or not worrying about it to begin with because anyone can use a hashtag if they so choose, even if they’re unfamiliar with why you’re using it.

That’s the unfortunate thing about a hashtag: while it can be useful for tying topics and posts together, if another person decided to use it for their own purposes, there’s not much you can do to stop them.

But if you make your hashtag so unusual that it’s not likely to be thought up by anyone else, you limit that chance of happening. You really do.

Thinking in three dimensions

When we were scouting the venue out, one of the people coordinating with us asked me if I wanted the DWG.

Surprised I was even offered, I eagerly accepted, because the moment I was asked, I realised what I could do.

So for those who have no idea, a DWG is a filetype for an architectural plan, with the three-letter initialise translating to AutoCAD drawing, an export format from a major architectural application.

Now you don’t need to be an AutoCAD expert to use this, so let’s get that out of the way to begin with. This writer is a journalist, and while he has some experience with architectural applications such as Revit, you don’t need to be a designer of buildings to know how to use this file.

Instead, if you use one of the many free DWG viewers to look at the file, you’ll see a top-down drawing of the venue, ready for you to print and work out where things go, generally by drawing them in yourself.

But we can do a little better than that these days. After all: technology (say it boldly, like it’s the greatest thing in the world).

So what we’ve done instead is make use of a program formerly owned and worked on by Google called “SketchUp”.

If you’ve never heard of the application before, SketchUp is essentially a 3D modelling program designed to make simple models that you can move around in, load objects, plan, create, and essentially build and design a world and the various elements that make it up.

And with an AutoCAD DWG at our ready, we can import the layout and start modelling on top of it in SketchUp, crafting a digital world to walk around in and plan elements.

Please note that this will take time, and it is not remotely an immediate experience. For our wedding, I spent roughly two to three hours building a layout, and then set another hour or so setting up animation points to show people the various angles where one might want to walk.

On the plus side, SketchUp does have a “3D Warehouse” where one can download models for use in your model and layout, meaning you can easily find some tables, chairs, possibly even a band, bride, and groom.

Once the model is done, you can fly around it, animate how movement down the aisles should work, and even export images for wedding planners and other decorators, so they fully understand what you’re going for.

Curious what our model looked like? We’ve loaded it in an interactive system for you to see. Please note, this can be system intensive, so don’t be surprised if the web browser struggles.