Forget carrying around a bulky binder filled with notes, magazine clippings, photos and fabric samples. The new way to plan a wedding is just a tap away.
"I've been a planner for over 10 years and the amount of brides who are moving away for the standard bridal binder has been increasing," says Kia Martinson of ESTOccasions. "I notice more and more couples keeping everything on their iPad, their laptop and phone."
Use of smartphones for wedding planning topped out at nearly 90 percent in 2015. That's according to The Knot, which surveyed 18,000 U.S. brides married between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2015.
"Mobile wedding planning allows couples to have their planning details at the tip of their fingers, wherever, whenever," says Lauren Hines, founder of Weddinator, a mobile planning app for weddings that launched in 2013.
Since wedding plans can change frequently, technology can keep everyone in the know, "with the latest information, plans, and new direction for desired wedding items conveniently and simultaneously," says Hines, who calls mobile technology "critical" for individuals and the wedding industry.
*Mobile Makes Sense
"Millennials are spending the majority of their time on their mobile devices," says Elizabeth Brook, Marketing Manager for Wedgewood Wedding & Banquet Center. "This in turn means that wedding vendors, like us, are seeing the majority of online traffic increase over the years from traditional desktop to mobile."
Mobile planning gives couples the freedom to coordinate details whenever they have time in their busy lives.
"Planning a wedding is a full-time job," says Brook, noting it's easier to steal away a moment or two at work to check email or coordinate wedding details on a tablet or smartphone, compared with a "desktop where everyone in the office can see what you're doing."
Aside from a drained battery on a mobile device, there aren't many drawbacks.
"It's easy for the couples and that makes everyone happy," says Brook.
*Digital Shopping and Inspiration
The Knot survey also found 58 percent of all brides use mobile devices to look at wedding gowns, as well as to look up and manage wedding vendor information.
Wedding retailers are ready to meet that need. Beaumade, a free iPhone app, lets users virtually "try on" designer engagement rings. On Menguin.com, grooms can choose a tux style and get fitted online. The tux is shipped to the groom, who can mail it back after the wedding. On WeddingtonWay.com, bridesmaids and groomsmen can browse online galleries of ready-to-wear clothes and then share and discuss the fashion in a virtual showroom.
Couples also using their devices to find wedding inspiration -- Pinterest and Instagram, anyone? Sixteen percent of couples in the Knot survey use their devices to access wedding tools such as online RSVP services. That's up from 7 percent the previous year.
"While it may seem like a trend, this method of planning is here to stay and wedding professionals should embrace it and be ready to offer mobile planning options for their clients," says Tracey Baxter, certified green wedding professional at Aisle Do. Baxter explains mobile wedding planning is environmentally efficient and convenient for busy couples, too.
Baxter says mobile planning services like the one she offers can include "online access to a planning program which allows syncing calendars, creating and sharing lists, delegating tasks and storing contracts and other paperwork digitally."
*Smart Tech Tips
--Get real. While the majority of your planning may be done online, get to know your vendors IRL -- "in real life."
--Be wary of scams. In person and on tech devices, be cautious of cons. "Use your best judgment when giving out your personal information," advises Brook.
--Use web savvy. Mobile versions of vendor websites might be limited, so check the sites on other devices.
--Get hard copies. "Print out contracts, mostly because you should read a whole contract and have a signed copy in your hands instead of just on your phone," says Martinson, explaining couples don't need to print emails, just contracts. "Keeping those important papers together is a smart idea."
Kristen Castillo is a three-time Emmy Award-winning journalist. An
editor and writer for wedding magazines, she's written hundreds of wedding articles, as well as an e-book, "Weddings on a Dime."