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How I Used Twilio, Python and Google to Automate My Wedding (twilio.com)
425 points by SteveMorin on Apr 12, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 220 comments

In my opinion, this makes the whole process very impersonal. I invited people to my wedding because I care about them and wanted them to share that day with me. Although it was a lot of effort, I was happy to make save the dates, invitations, and hand write thank you notes to every singe one of them. If you're not willing to do that, then you're inviting too many people in my opinion.

Not everyone cares about the same things you do. I used paperless post for my wedding because it was easy, free, and physical wedding invitations are not important to me or my wife in any way.

Nobody complained, it took a couple hours to get everything set up the way we wanted it, and within a few days we had around a 90% response rate. Only 1 person RSVPed as no so it doesn't seem like anyone got the impression we didn't care about them

> Nobody complained, it took a couple hours to get everything set up the way we wanted it, and within a few days we had around a 90% response rate. Only 1 person RSVPed as no so it doesn't seem like anyone got the impression we didn't care about them

wow - any idea on the conversion rate? if so, how many sigma are you talking here? did you do any a/b testing for future iterations?

With this level of customer focus, it is easy to see why noone complained, which by the way is totally a great metric for measuring ROI.

Does this post add any value or just pointlessly assert your disgust in a passive way? Because from my perspective it seems like it's the latter

Seemed like just a joke to me.

When did silicon valley lose every inch of sense of humour and started taking everything super seriously?

December 14, 1981

January 1, 1970


January 19, 2038 (03:14:07 UTC)

I performed multiple rounds of A/B testing beforehand by getting engaged and unengaged multiple times. Analysis on response rates was done to find the optimal invite and I tried my best to remove any bias based on the bride and the inherent "boy who cried wolf" effect.

In the future I would like to run experiments to see how the invite affects gifts received, but I haven't yet convinced my wife to participate in that study.

Sometimes it isn't about you, but it is about the guests themselves.

My wife and I opted to do both physical + digital for our wedding and we found that the older crowd all relied on physical invites and info for things like the schedule, RSVPing, etc, while the younger crowd all used the digital alternative.

To be clear, the older crowd all knows how to use FB etc, and most had smartphones, but many still appreciated having something physical both to remember the wedding (my grandmother keeps the save the date on her fridge 5 years later), and to reference without having to constantly pull out a smart device.

Sure, you could argue that it is your day and you can do what you want, but I look at a wedding as a collective celebration. If it was just my day I wouldn't invite those people. I invited everyone that I wanted to be a part of that celebration with me, so I also put in a little extra effort to help them enjoy the day as much as I did.

Our older guests all figured it out and didn't complain, even the ones who aren't particularly technical. Would they have liked a physical copy? Maybe, but wedding planning was already stressful enough without having to deal with one more thing. If they wanted a keepsake we had physical programs at the actual ceremony.

Having everything digital also allowed us to send reminders and updates to everyone all at once. For us the tradeoff was absolutely worth it.

I'd love it if I didn't get dead tree invitations. I have nowhere to put them and I feel bad throwing them away. And also of course, dead trees.

I've kept every wedding invitation I've ever received. They take up a small corner of my "personal memories" shoebox. I don't really understand how you can have nowhere to keep them unless you're living out of a suitcase.

How often do you pull those old wedding invitations out and what value do you get by holding onto them?

Rarely. Certainly not more than once a year; if I'm adding a new one to the box, I might leaf through the old ones. But it's a nice sense of joy and continuity, and I can of course know that they're there without having to even open the box. The emotional value like most mementoes varies over time, but trends gradually upwards.

(I do wonder if all the people who say "collect memories, not things" have more vivid, eidetic memories than I do; mine can be a little fragmentary without help.)

For things that I want to remember I take a photo and then get rid of the item.

I began doing this when my kids started school and would bring home new art every day. I love that they made a portrait of me by gluing macaroni to a paper plate then covering it in glitter, but I don't necessarily want to become the caretaker of that masterpiece forever.

Jimmy shows dad his new masterpiece.

"That's great Jimmy! Now let me get my camera..."


"There, now we've got that memory forever. Now open the trash can and throw it away!"

I know you don't literally do this, but that's what your comment made me think and it gave me a chuckle. How long do you usually hold on to them?

My kids are teenagers now, so the flow of glitter and glue art has slowed considerably.

There was no rigid routine. Things would go in a pile and periodically the pile would go to the recycling bin.

I think the fundamental dilemma here is between the "packrat" and the "thrifty liver"

I have a box with all my old handwritten letters from just before the Internet and email exploded. I rarely take it out, but when I do, it's kind of neat to show my niece and nephew.

Seriously? I received maybe 3 cards of weeding and more thant 30 for my birdthay. I kept them all too. We can save tree when there's purpose like printing for reading an email, for invoice, etc. because they don't give or add any value, but my handmade card for my weeding, if you throw it is disrespectful, because If I had invite you, it's that I take care of you. (BTW I made only 15 invitations.)

I wouldn't assume disrespect. Material items don't hold the same meaning or power for everybody. I used to move a lot and if you expect me to carry something you gave me from place-to-place for the rest of my life, well that could be seen as disrespectful as well.

don't forget the ecology argument, that's always saver if someone doesn't wanna admit they are just cheap

I felt very similarly for my first 3 weddings. But I finally let go and automated my 4th, and I think everyone appreciated it.

Given that divorce is a $50 billion industry http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/06/divorce-documentary..., I'm guessing that automating divorce has a lot more market potential

There's a WaaS (Wedding-as-a-service) opportunity right there.

- Donald Trump

Glad you followed up with "in my opinion". All in all sounds very preachy to me. Either way, this sounds like a way you say it vs. what you said argument. I'd rather have someone share a special moment in their life with me than worry about wasting 10 minutes writing an invitation. Plus as stated else where one can pay a company to handwrite notes for you.

I think writing all these programs and functions, setup everything etc. in total it takes longer than just doing it 'by hand'..

Well now you have some source code to start with :)

I doubt writing all the notes which people send out, of which there are a few batches (invites, RSVP, thanks), could be less than writing this, which isn't much more than sample twilio and a database, and reusing it for each letter "event".

Depends totally on the amount of people invited. When you start coming close to 500, you don't want to do everything by hand...

What you value might not be what everyone else values.

Many weddings in this world also are not just about the bride and groom. They are often family reunions with a wedding on the side as the excuse for lots of people to get together after many, many years.

Weddings are a time for celebration and enjoyment for the bride and groom, as much as guests. Guests often forget that the bride & groom often have no memories of their day as it's a blur.

In addition to printed invitations, I heavily used technology where possible:

- Mailchimp segmented similar to this post was invaluable. - Google Sheet that grew like crazy - My wedding ended up having a ceremony in two cities, double the work and planning - used Asana, worked great. - A little app on Android called Textpansion was fantastic for sending out pre-made snippets of information as needed - addresses, dates, times, locations, updates. All it would take is click on a snippet, paste it into the message, and off I go.

The one thing I couldn't get to?

- Running facial recognition on all the photos that will never see much circulation. Luckily, waiting on this has made it easier.

Maybe we could have personalized chat bots do the dating for us too, that would make it even more efficient.

OP also went to "a lot of effort" to build a cute automated solution, akin in spirit to your cute invitations. Same art, different medium.

I didn't go as far as using automated messages with my guests, but

- organised everything, from guests attendance to guests in tables location, in a huge Gsheets with my wife and a few close relatives.

- did a mobile game for Android and iPhone that was a quiz about me and my wife to be with over 200 questions, that still, 2 years later, people still play at and try to get higher in the leaderboard.

- programmed a Raspberry Pi that showed a slideshow of over 500 pictures of us with our guests since like forever. These pictures were also printed and hanged around the venue for them to find them and take them home.

I also did 10 programmes in 10 different programming languages that printed the food menu (to be used as per table printed menus), but my wife wisely thought it wasn't a good idea.

Example of the couples trivia game? Sounds like a fun project for me and my fiancée!

That last one might be one of the biggest reasons I hang around here.

Author here.

Weddings are time sinks even small ones like mine, we viewed around 20 venues for example, multiple caterers etc. Anything you can do to save time is a good thing. Handwriting invitations, making 500 paper cranes by hand all are lovely gestures but we focussed on what was important to us - food! For example saved a bunch from ditching traditional wedding invites and table favors (we did have amazing flowers for the tables) that we could then reallocated to having the best food and wine for our guests.

Plus it may sound strange but we don't have all of our friends postal addresses noted down, so mailing out invites would have been even more cumbersome.

We were repeatedly told that nobody remembers the food at a wedding and not to worry about it.

We insisted on a good caterer who could actually serve hot food, instead of that limp cold mush that usually ends up out of those serving trays.

It was amazing food and they did an amazing job with it.

And people remember it as one of the great parts of our wedding. Totally worth it.

I'd say don't try to get too exotic or fancy with the food. Just make sure it's good quality (doesn't have to be great, just good). Do that, and you'll have beaten over half of the wedding receptions I've been to.

If I can go to a local BBQ joint, spend $10 on a pulled pork sandwich and baked potato, and feel like I had a 3x tastier meal than the $40+ you spent per plate at the wedding (or whatever crazy number it is nowadays), then I think you screwed up.

And I am not a picky eater at all. There are a lot of people much much pickier than me.

When you try to get super fancy then a lot of people won't care for it, because they don't have the same palates that you do (when you average people out, they collectively have a very boring palate, it seems to me).

Food was by far our largest expense, but not because we choose the fancy fish and steak options. Instead we picked lots of food we wished we had been served at weddings we had been to. Tasty comfort foods, like a mashed potato bar (add your own toppings) and buffalo chicken sliders and lots of little tapas-style treats. We got so much positive feedback on the simple items, and continue to do so to this day. So glad we resisted the urge to serve uptight "fancy" selections!

Yeah, you did it right in my opinion. Good on you for resisting the urge to make everything fancy.

Food, music, and making memories is the main thing I hear about. None have to be super expensive, just memorable.

This was a fun read! When I got married the invitations were very important to my wife, but I built a website to handle RSVP (with my mother as a fallback phone#). It was a fun project, I had my wife help me design it and I also found the tally-at-a-glance helpful. I'm sorry you have to read all this bile about how you did your wedding, but I'm glad you had fun with it!

We did something similar for our wedding, except that I skipped SMS and used Google forms and sheets for all the organisation. I don't think we actually had the mobile numbers of all our guests... even some of the email addresses had to be pre-procured. My wife and I could keep track of things just by going to our Google drives, and I didn't feel the need to write any scripts. In your opinion, what was the main advantage of using SMS? Was it the part about keeping up to date on rsvp stats?

Speed of confirmation, stats were useful as a show off feature. I had considered using email but as with postal I didn't have everyones address (can't actually think of the last time I emailed friends), we had around 90% of peoples telephone numbers and so it became the logical mode of communication for this project.

I had thought about a phone call out with a prerecorded message to our guests and then collect their input via dtmf ;) But SMS was the easiest method for our needs, but it depends on what networks your guests use I guess.

I've seen many of my friends get married and it can be so expensive (tens of thousands) and for a single day!

Did you automate the Thank You's as well? That would be a time saver!

I did want to! However my wife put a stop to that idea....

I like it, but I think if I'd sent out save the dates via SMS for my wedding I'd have been sleeping alone for quite a while.

I am sure there are APIs for postcards. Heck, there are APIs for handwritten postcards ;)

You can also facetime the ceremony if you a groom but still insanely busy working startup life...

What about a bride having a busy startup life and facetiming the ceremony?

i.e. the ending of Flubber[1]


https://maillift.com/ - because handwritten is basically a necessity in a wedding scenario

Lob.com - postcards API

Just an anecdote, but I tried to use lob.com to send out Save the Dates for my wedding. The couple of test postcards we used did not arrive on time, and the tracking didn't work at all. Their support wasn't good at addressing my specific case – they mostly told me “This is how the website works”.

It could have been that I wasn't using it right, but I didn't have the time to troubleshoot. We ended up printing a bunch of cards at FedEx and addressing and sending them by hand. Everything worked smoothly.

"Save the date" isn't the actual invitation though. I think it ought to be OK to make it low-key and put the effort into the actual invitations.

Perhaps a nice card from https://lob.com/ with a QR code to the RSVP form?

I spilled my coffee!

"Perhaps a nice card from https://lob.com/ with a QR code to the RSVP form?"

Better to use an Oh By Code, which doesn't need a reader and can be written/read by humans:


That is only if you have a bride/groom still :)


Nothing says special like sending SMS weddings invites...

I think what he means is a wedding is a symbolic event that should be mirrored in all the small details, from the hand written card, to the ring, etc, etc... So ya think about it.

Privacy and 4th amendment concerns: They'll need a warrant to open your guest's mail

And the divorce announcement will be an "Our incredible journey" post on Medium.

With an article about how he used python and tensorflow to "hack tinder" and replace his ex lol.

This may sound like a joke now, but as impersonal this guy got with his wedding, I wouldn't be surprised if he'll use his strengths in this way to manage his life further.

For the whole pipeline, you should also connect:

Tinder + your calendar app + Opentable

to automate the dating process.

The output of that can be the input of this.

You think it's simple, but you're ignoring all sorts of error handling and alternate process paths.


As someone who has attempted to date (not bragging) in what I affectionately call "real life", I am somewhat acquainted with the dangers of both error and alternate paths in dating.

You should read The Rosie Project. I enjoyed it, and your comment reminded me of the protoganist.

Yeah, at a minimum you need to include Burner and Ghostbot https://ghostbot.burnerapp.com/#/

RaaS? Relationship as a Service.

I believe that is the world's oldest service.

Add a couple more features, we might well have LaaS (Life as a Service)

And SaaS (Sex as a Service).

The day there's an app for people seeking prostitutes where both parties leave stars and text reviews like Airbnb or Uber will be a weird day.

not that those rating systems can't be gamed, but yeah, this would definitely be better than the current situation of criminalized prostitution. esp if prostitutes could leave reviews of clients. i imagine there'd be less scamming, violence, and disease transmission on both sides of that sort of transaction if there were reputable rating services that let prostitutes and clients vet one another. it would also lessen the value of pimps/madames/etc, thus making it easier for prostitutes to work independently, which would hopefully lessen the prevalence of sex trafficking and sexual exploitation.

so yeah, weird, but in a good "we finally got rid of a relic of our prudish past" sort of way.

You could even get a little blue "verified" checkmark next to your name after you pass an STD test.

Holy shit this is a startup idea! Who is in?

I'm in. We'll call it Layd.

I'm thinking http://layd.io would be an awesome title. I think the IO really gets at what we're going for.

Domain is available, who's in?

I can't stop laughing at this thread.

In? In jail, you mean?

And if you're operating in an area where the legality of the service is gray, you can use machine learning to make sure clients with high probabilities of being government enforcers don't get any action.

Well, not exactly an app, but some forums dedicated to reviews for courtesans are quite old.

WIOIP (Wedding Invite over IP)

There was a short story / satire article posted about this in the past. The author automated dating with open table APIs, tinder and facial recognition, uber for ride home, etc.

Does anyone remember this / have a link? My Google fu is failing.

Going out to eat, food, for the first date is a bad thing to do. It's more efficient and your date will appreciate it if it's drinks. (Second date go out to eat)

nice dating pipeline.

Although, I'm interested of designs for later stages - around kids. Any suggestions?

Sure. https://airwnb.io/ will connect you to independent contractors happy to share their wombs and breasts with your preferred IVF candidates. Later, there's https://aupa.ir/ and https://babysitt.tr/ .

EDIT: Inspired by http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/30/magazine/30Surrogate-t.htm... . You really can have it all!

I got profundily sad that those url returned 404.

I have a feeling he was talking about the process prior to that.

None of those links work...

There are just some things in life that you should not automate.

i was just talking with my friend to have something like this. It takes a while from being swipe right to book an actual date

There was a Youtube video of a guy who did that.

Hmm, not entirely sure I would title this wedding at scale. It does seem like a fairly standard wedding size. Great homebrew solution though.

I did something similar in 2009 with a custom Wordpress plugin. However, guests were imported from a CSV of our Google Sheet guest list as Wordpress users. Each guest was automatically assigned a randomly generated dinner code. The code was included in the wedding invite card as we wanted to be fairly traditional.

When a guest confirmed they received an email with custom directions from their home address and a printable parking pass. Guests could cancel up to two weeks before the event at which time an email was sent to the caterer. The plugin also generated email reminders 7, 2, and 1 day prior with the same links.

Two weeks prior to our wedding the guest food selections were compiled and sent directly to the caterer for final numbers. Seating charts and name cards with food selections were also printed using the WP database and PDF templates via pdftk.

Guest who provided email addresses were sent photos from the event via Picasa Web Albums 3 weeks after the event.

While this is much lighter weight and as others have expressed fairly impersonal the grooms family and bride probably knew this.

Kudos on a quick and fun implementation! In retrospect I wish I had use Twilio ;)

I'm terrible at responding to physical invitations (I had two friends actually have to ask me in person after I didn't get back to them for over a month).

But an SMS invite I most likely would get back to you within a day, most likely, possibly within ten minutes. For people like me, it's so much easier and much lower friction to respond to a text.

I can be just as bad with email. My parents get responses from me a lot more quickly now that they've started getting into the habit of texting (yes, it's taken that long).

Are you going to continue family life the automated way? Perhaps start a family using Jenkins: an enjoyable build process, lots of tests along the way, and release to production once they're out of college.

I'm glad I'm not the only one in the world to have realized that the Duggar family practices continuous deployment religiously.

They're having problems producing a build that passes the user acceptance tests locally.

Hi, For people who want to do this but don't want to code anything, you can use https://www.engagespark.com/twilio-alternative/

* In this case you can do an SMS Poll asking who would like to come.

* If you want to do this a bit more personal, you could use an IVR Poll instead, so they'd hear your voice.

* You can even go further and build some logic, if they replied yes, then you ask them what food choice do they want, no need for interacting with google spreadsheet.

* You can view all this with some pretty graphs and download the spreadsheet with all the information that happened on the engagement.

* Or if you want fancier stuff, do the above, pass the results to Zapier, and manipulate them with any other apps linked into Zapier.

Disclaimer: I work on engageSPARK

What are the odds, wrote this blog exactly 5 years ago,to the day, http://blog.kookoo.in/2012/04/wedding-ivr.html

This was built using KooKoo, the Twilio for India and is more of an IVR rather than SMS as India is a voice friendly country, and who does not like to hear the invite in the groom's own voice :)

Its got options for directions etc too, people always seem to call to know the directions to marriage hall :)

Physical wedding invitations are still tradition such that people may get offended if they do not get one in the mail.

That's a good chance to set the tone on how you'll intend to live life from now on. Many people seem fall back to tradition, succumb to pressure and go against their own values when the wedding comes around: Spending too much on the event, diamond ring, church ceremony despite being non-religious, doing a traditional celebration instead of something individual and fun, or geeky like OP.

Counterpoint: it's also worth considering the costs of breaking with tradition.

I mean, sure, nobody has to get married. But then you might not get custody rights over your children. It might be more difficult to pick your kids up from school. Perhaps it will complicate inheritance. You won't get the tax breaks. You'll have to explain your relationship every time you're introduced to more traditional people, which might include family, or various other people with whom you'd just rather not get into an extended conversation about your life choices. It might complicate banking, especially in case one partner is survived by the other.

There's a direct analog to this in tech. Sure, you're only going to win by innovating. But you have to do so sparingly, knowing that innovation is risky, expensive, and difficult. Sometimes, perhaps most of the time, it's best to "just use postgres".

There are certain things worth innovating on. Perhaps the exchange of some token item (a diamond) is worth one of them. For me, it wasn't, I just bought the stupid thing, and got on with my life. It's nice, it'll last, and it's a time-honored tradition I'll never have to get into 1000 annoying discussions over. Life is just too short, everybody knows it's a diamond, we're married, great.

You're conflating the cultural traditions of marriage with the legal arrangement. You can still get legally married but dump any of the traditions around it that you want.

> You won't get the tax breaks.

Or in the case of a lot of folks like myself, it's worth it to break tradition to avoid jumping into a higher tax bracket due to the marriage penalty [1].

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marriage_penalty

What are the costs of breaking with "tradition" (mostly 19th century inventions) on a wedding?

Honest answer: ask your parents, your spouse, and your spouse's parents.

Liked your main point, but diamond rings are not time honored but invented through advertising.

Is this a cultural thing? I have had 0 discussions about a non-diamond ring.

I was in a museum the other day when a guy asked his girlfriend how she would feel about a non-diamond engagement ring. Her reaction was hysterical, and a good laugh was had by about 20 other people. Not likely they are going to be a thing too much longer.

Hysterical but not worth mentioning, eh?

Sorry... I don't know how to put it into words. There was an immediate pause felt by everyone within earshot, including her. You could tell she was deciding whether the pressure of being in a public social atmosphere was enough to get her to go forever diamond-less. Then the sense of frustration and being offended took over. There was a shriek. There were animated movements. There were at least 7 different facial expressions ranging from anger to flabbergasted to vengeful to mad scientist. There was a very firm "No!" There were some other more colorful words. She stomped off. He followed like a puppy with a tail between his legs. The crowd laughed. Sorry... I'm not really good at this.

That's really sad because he was 98% on the right side of the issue, bullied by jerks in the service of a criminal enterprise (deBeers).

I don't disagree. But it was a funny moment. He came at it rather innocuously - like he didn't know that it would be a firecracker of a question. Probably was just making conversation. You could have heard a pin drop waiting for her answer though. A room full of people went dead silent.

I had a relative that was a jeweler at one point. She's the only person I know who opted out of a diamond engagement ring. "waste of money. there are prettier things that can mean more" Her engagement ring was awesome. I don't know enough about stones to say what it was, but she got compliments frequently.

My wife and I talked about it beforehand, and specifically decided not to get a diamond ring. Instead, we spent a lot of time looking for the right ring and then also looking for the right jewel to put in the center of it. It was a lot more personal than a diamond... But also a lot more personal than the random ring a guy buys and hopes she likes it forever.

I personally abhor empty formality. I got married 10+ years ago and can't for the life of me remember what we did for invitations and I doubt anyone who came remembers either. I remember the food pretty well because it was great. We did a chocolate cake (black forest) which people still remember.

I think it's useful to differentiate between empty formality and an effort to raise an occasion above the humdrum of normal existence with rituals and behaviors that connote its specialness.

The formality isn't empty in the sense that it's purposeless: it's done for a reason.

After all, marriage itself could be considered an empty formality, so if you're going to bother getting married you might as well embrace the formalized aspects of the occasion.

Marriage (the legal bundle of rights and obligations) is certainly not an empty formality, although weddings might be.

It depends how you construe marriage. Traditionally, it was a vow between two people made at a public ceremony before members of their family and community.

The contractual stuff came later, and is arguably the less important aspect.

If you take the first view, then the formality of the ceremony and its associated traditions isn't empty — it's the whole point. If you think the contractual, legal aspects of marriage are the the only things that matter, then yeah, might as well just sign on the dotted line.

Anyone so offended by the lack of a physical invitation that they don't come to my wedding is someone I wouldn't want at my wedding anyway. Two birds, one stone

I wasn't offended by lack of a physical invitation, but a friend of mine got married and invited my wife and I in a very informal way with a text message. We ended up waiting until way too late to book tickets, because my wife was expecting a physical invitation to follow the informal SMS save-the-date, and we ended up missing the wedding because flights got ungodly expensive (and involved many complicated connections).

Anyway, it's not totally relevant to the main story here, since that was very obviously a "This is the official invitation/confirmation" thing, but I think it's worth considering that if you are going to buck tradition, you should try to be absolutely clear that that's what you're doing so that people can adjust.

Isn't the point of the save-the-date so people can book travel in advance though?

when they get an official save the date, not a tentative SMS about it

"Those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind" - or words to that effect... By dr. Seuss I believe? (Don't hold me on that attribution)

And people who get offended at things like that are the exact people I wouldn't want at my wedding.

Congratulations on being too clever and enlightened to participate in society.

I'm surprised that he didn't find another solution to the cost of sending ~ 140 (70*2) invites for ~ £380 ($480), or $3.50 per invite. The profit margins people make on those invite cards is huge.

My personal hack that I use for invitations/thank you notes/christmas cards/etc. is this:

You can just create them yourself (any design! copy one off the internet!) in Photoshop/Gimp/Illustrator/PowerPoint/whatever. I won't judge (except if it's PowerPoint).

Then have them printed as 4x6 (or whatever) photos for $0.09 each. With envelopes at $0.03 each and postage at $0.49 you're up to $0.61 per invite, or $85 rather than $480 in OPs case.

Don't most wedding invitations include a return envelope and stamp?

IDK about the US. Where I'm from, we don't send a separate "save the date" card, usually the physical invitation gets sent > 6 months in advance and has a link to a website (e.g. maryandjohn2017.wordpress.com) that has up-to-date info, maps etc., and we list one phone number each for the bride and groom (either directly to them or to one of their parents) that people use to RSVP.

Ours included the invitation card, an outer envelope for everything inside, an info card with various info on it (website to RSVP at, hotel info), an RSVP card, and an envelope for the RSVP card. I'm 99% sure we attached stamps to the inner envelope, too.

We bought the envelopes, but made the cards ourselves to make them more personal and cheaper. (We had a paper cutter and made detailed cutouts in the invite.)

My wife and I did something a little similar. I built out our RSVP system on a web app, but we still printed actual invitations pointing people to go to our website, with a unique handwritten code on each one.

You can check out the code here if interested. It also includes the wedding info site as part of it, so there is a bit of cruft, but I'm sure you could repurpose it if you dug into it deep enough: https://github.com/mvarrieur/vovarrieur-dot-com

I did something similar: I made a little Javascript web game which you have to play and win in order to RSVP. Made a spreadsheet of guests and their emails, and emailed them all using the Mail Merge extension for Google Sheets.

Once you play and win the game, it links to a Google Form with your name pre-filled. All the responses go into a spreadsheet, and I can easily do a query against the original spreadsheet to see who still needs to RSVP. Then follow up with those people personally. Overall people really enjoyed the game and thought it was a unique invite.

Plus it saved a crapton of money and trees and gasoline, which was the most important part for me. The wedding industry is built on waste and my fiance and I don't want to support such an outdated, unsustainable tradition.

> It is a cash bar, so please bring sufficient money with you as there is no nearby cash machine.

Are guests expected to purchase their own alcohol at their wedding?

In the UK the parents of the bride pay for a full formal sit-down meal with wine and champagne, and then guests pay for drinks after that.

British weddings start around 1 or 2pm, while US weddings are just the evening. A full day with an open bar would be insane.

This is what would be expected in the UK, so nobody would be upset about it.

I think the author is in the UK where I believe cash bars at weddings are more socially acceptable.

I've been to a few weddings here in Canada with cash bars. Some people really frown on it, but it's not a big deal to me. Some people just can't afford it.

would not be then better to have smaller wedding with amount of guests one can afford without asking them to pay for food or drinks? it's very odd idea for me to invite me somewhere and then expect i will pay, of course i can give some gift to couple, but expecting hard cash at bar or waiter, sorry but I'm that case i will rather go to normal restaurant of my choice and pass on such wedding

In some cultures+locations, alcoholism is so rampant and alcohol so expensive that it's unreasonable for the host to pay for it.

If you're so alcoholic that you can't attend a single meal without being served unlimited alcohol, you should understand that.

what? just put bottles on tables and let guests manage sharing it and when they run out of bottles bad luck

wow, something i hear first time, it would be scandal in my country or country of my wife to ask guests to pay for anything, though in China is pretty much mandatory to give red envelope containing money at entrance pretty much as ticket, people even keep databases for future weddings do they won't pay too much more or less than they got

I'm working on a check-in system for our reception using a Raspberry Pi, a RC522 reader and MIFARE RFID cards. Guests tap their card to check-in and the monitor displays their table number. I'll log their check-in time among other things. Is there a point to it? No, it's just to be fun and cool.


Just make sure you have a hard backup. You don't want to be troubleshooting tech on your wedding day.

Happy Wife = Happy Life.

Would have been better without the sexist cliche :)

If you're doing RFID cards I'd appeal to you to make them in the form of pin-badges that the guests can wear after 'check-in'.

I've been to many weddings over the past couple of decades and the one that was most successful in terms of breaking the ice between strangers had simple badges with ${NAME} and ${RELATIONSHIP TO COUPLE} on them. People felt very comfortable striking-up a conversation when they knew these two pieces of data, and there was less 'must remember the name' anxiety.

Lol. No wonder Nerds are single. There are events in life which are very personal and people value it when you actually spend time for them and with them.

What happens when some oldie replies "Sorry, I'd love to say yes but Wilbur's having his heart surgery that weekend."?

It had a case for "yes or no dammit!"

hah, I thought I was a nerd until I saw this. I wish I had done this for my wedding. Kudos!

Why do you need to "automate" an action you're expecting to perform, in the happy case, once in a lifetime?

Because he can?

I'm not sure what the OP had to learn exactly in doing this, or whether he knew it all already, but it's far easier to learn stuff when you have a practical application to apply what you're learning to.

This is such an example, and other people could learn a thing by the approach.

(Although personally I agree, automating is often premature optimisation)

My answer to that question would be "why not"?

So much critical thinking and negativity in these comments for a fun hack... What's wrong with having fun these days?

In addition to the other reasons, there are hundreds of other things you have to attend to when planning and prepping a wedding. Figure out what's important to you and focus on those things first and foremost, automate the rest away (or hire someone...)

Well, let's say you send out a hundred invitations. You're only doing it once, but that once, you're doing it a hundred times...

You're missing the bitcoin registry.

I built a platform to manage invites using email for my wedding. We tracked delivery and opens. On the wedding website itself, we were able to have RSVPs for the people we sent to, intake song requests with Spotify with autocomplete.

It was pretty successful. It saved a ~$1000 in paper invites with postage and the stress of making sure people sent them back. We even had followed-up by sending reminder emails. Which we definitely couldn't have done with paper. The downside is that it's more informal but our guests appreciated the open bar instead.

I'm building something similar for a friend's wedding right now with the intention of having open to the public with features like SMS and table seating generators.

>invites are not environmentally friendly

As opposed to the sustainability of dozens of people traveling from near and far.

Also, re: invites-

Everybody seems to forget paper is a renewable resource. Cutting and re-growing as it is practiced in the regulated world (ie. all countries with stable governments) is actually good for the environment.

This article is a sick hack for how to invite people to your wedding without paper invitations, not about environmentalism.

Missing forest for trees etc.

Well, you missed the part where he points smugly to those particular trees.

>not about environmentalism

From the article: "Finally, invites are not environmentally friendly as they are one time use and easily lost or misplaced."

Yeah, one person flying to your wedding would do much more than all the paper invites combined.

and let's hope the happy couple didn't take their honeymoon on a cruise ship

Or serve any food beyond the caloric necessity for the day

Easy small wins are better than no wins. The goal should be improvement not perfection.

>Easy small wins are better than no wins. The goal should be improvement not perfection.

Easy small wins of that kind are feel-good gestures that get detrimental to actual change.

The goal should be making a difference, not token improvements.

False dichotomy. The claim is that spending more time on easy wins means you're less likely to spend time on big wins.

The goal should be to maximize the impact of the changes you make.

The goal should also be sparking discussion. If a few guests starting having the same thoughts that are going on here, that would be a win.

Yes if everybody shared his post the environment would be so much better. Kind of how Facebook "Likes" on sappy posts help the third world.

Discussion != likes. If someone twigs that they could cycle to work instead of driving - win.

>Discussion != likes.

No, but they have in common that both != action.

>If someone twigs that they could cycle to work instead of driving - win.

I don't think those are actual wins. Those are empty feel good gestures when 350 million others will continue to just drive. Only coordinated action, and even better legislation, matters.

Yes and computers run on magical energy dust.

They're doing what they can. Are people now supposed to not have weddings because it offends environmentalists' delicate sensibilities?

>They're doing what they can

To be a little more accurate, "They're doing what they choose to." Nobody does what they can.

My problem is in even saying that this is an environmental decision, like that matters at all.

They're doing what they can within the confines of the activity they are engaged in, which happens to be having a wedding. That involves travel, whether environmentalists like it or not.

Reading the article it's pretty clear the environment stuff was an afterthought, but if they really cared about the environment they could have skipped having a big event and gone to the court house and got a certificate.

I think the point people are trying to make is that it's silly, misleading, and hypocritical for people to pat themselves on the back for making a tiny token effort to protect the environment while participating in activities that are overall terrible for the environment.

If that's what they want to do, good for them, but let's not pretend they're making a real effort.

If I decide to fly by private jet but bring my own reusable water bottle, have I done what I can?

Yes, if you needed to fly by private jet somewhere, either for time or because the place you need to get to doesn't have commercial air service. You would indeed be "doing what you can".

I think his point is you wouldn't need to fly by private jet anywhere.

Doing what you could would be choosing another solution.

I understood, which is why I qualified my response. There are legitimate business needs at various times where the use of a private jet is fully justified.

Within the confines of my current activity (sitting on my ass) I am doing what I can (nothing since I'm sitting) to become a world-class marathon runner.

yeah, live streaming wedding ceremony and feast would be much more eco friendly and cheaper for OP, not sure why he insisted on physical presence, heck they could even send some Tesco gift voucher so people can buy some drink for watching it, it would cost less than catering company for sure

I don't understand the mentality expressed in the article, where environmentalism is only observed for tiny pieces of waste that don't matter. These same people (like you mentioned) fly dozens of people on airplanes, which is so much worse. Or they have kids or don't update their home's insulation or drive a gas-guzzler. At the end of the day, there's only so much you as an individual can do (and certainly the CEO of ExxonMobil is way more complicit in climate change than Jane Doe walking down the street), but as far as carbon footprint is concerned, paper invites (which are biodegradable) are barely a blip on the radar.

The same kinds of people who admonish you for taking an elevator because it's bad for the environment, even when your legs are sore from cycling to work.

I guess it's a kind of armchair environmentalism: it's easy to "go green" by switching to canvas bags (which _does_ help, a little), but then not make large, more sacrificial changes that would _actually_ benefit the environment. I don't know. It's tough, though, because to a large extent we're forced into lifestyles that are bad for the environment. You can't just decide to stop using the electricity produced by the coal power plant in your city, for example.

This -- a lot of the environmentalist movement is more about signaling that you care about the environment (turn the lights off, use one sheet of toilet paper) than actually investing the time or energy into figuring out the most cost-effective changes to make (stop flying as much).

This is true about almost all human groups/movements though, and I'm not sure that environmentalists are more guilty than average.

I have a smaller carbon footprint than most, I guess, though usually for selfish reasons. I ride a bicycle because I don't want to spend money on a car - either purchasing or maintaining one. For me it's a luxury item that can wait. Plus it's a time saver to do some cardio and get to work at the same time. Similarly I'm interested in these hippy "sustainable" house building techniques mainly because they're cheap and I want to avoid a mortgage.

But people who drive to work everyday still try and lecture me over nothings like putting a laptop on standby overnight.

Similarly, I drive an old SUV to work that gets terrible gas mileage because the environmental impact of prematurely switching to a new car is so much worse when I take my commute length into account.

I live within 8 miles of the office and subsequently put about 4,000 miles on my vehicle annually. I consume less fuel than 90% of the people in the office with new 'environmentally friendly' cars who live 40 miles away, yet it is I who receives the rash of shit. /rant

Penny wise and pound foolish...

Micro-optimizations are often easier to wrap our heads around, so we tend to want to focus on them. They're also often situations where you can get a clear win rather than a much more imperfect improvement. In development, it's sometimes called bikeshedding. You see it often in financial planning where people would rather cut out their morning latte than focus on investing better.

This behavior makes little sense, but it does appear to be a fundamental human tendency and those who are better able to maintain perspective definitely have a huge advantage in life.

I'm going to take the more pessimistic view. It has little to do with what you can wrap your mind around and is much more correlated with the inconvenience of fixing it.

Dropping paper invitations has very little real inconvenience factor, so people do it and tout their environmentalism to receive their karma from their friends that care about that type of signaling.

When it comes to making a real sacrifice (e.g. not inviting people who would fly to the wedding), you will find very few people willing to do that.

It's the reason the prius is so incredibly popular compared to fully electric cars. It comes with the environmentalism bragging rights while still burning plenty of fuel so there is no change in lifestyle. Toyota was even nice enough to build it in a weird shape so people can easily see how forward thinking and smart you are.

Ah, the Prius is popular because it has a 15 year head start on electric cars.

If and when I get married I probably won't take it to this extreme, but I can imagine it might be nice to use some sort of CRM to manage my communications with all the guests and wedding vendors.

"small pad of paper and a pencil"

It's a great CRM for the sort of thing you're considering.

i get you did this as exercise but from efficiency point it seem like waste of time just to invite around 60 people (have i got it right if 40 accepted means acceptance around 70%), I would understand if you would have few hundred guests that it's with automating bit if you calculate your invested time compared doing it manually (send me group SMS and manually write in sheet who accepted, refused or didn't answer) you are actually losing time

i wish i had such small wedding

If it hurts, do it more often so we feel the pain hard enough to justify automating. I wonder how many weddings he has gone through in his life :)

I remember working too long on the email version of my wedding invitation for those who chose to receive the electronic edition when they filled out the Gogle Form to RSVP... trying to get fancy with email formatting is such a pain! I sent out the initial "Save the Date" postcard by mail.

Cash bar is poor form

Not in countries where "poor form" is part of the dialect and not an affectation.

First time I heard about that was in the UK

I'm creating a process like this at the moment for my weddings RSVP, i'm using a paper invite that will be mailed out directing guests to a simple website that posts to a Google Form and generates an calendar invite for them with the details.

Who says that romance is dead

I made a simple ruby Sinatra app using Google docs as my spreadsheet and then used Mailchimp for emails. It worked fairly well and made it easy to play with the data.

So could somebody build this please? I can already see the pricing page in front of me charging per invites and different features. I'd use it.

Has someone an idea why Twilio stocks are going "sideways" for months?

Hah, my sister did something not too different, she wrote a small Flask app hosted on PythonAnywhere[0] for guests to RSVP to her wedding.

[0] https://www.pythonanywhere.com/

I've build the system already, now where's my bride?

I like the general spirit of automating things, but I find the attitude behind some of this automation a little weird. The point of a lot of these courtesy 'messages' (whether invites, postcards, thank you notes etc.) are that they were personal. The medium does not matter as much as the fact that they were personal, and the money spent on it matters even less, at least to me.

There's no joy in receiving an automated message any more than there is joy in listening to an IVRS voice or an automated sales call. I'd be happier if I received a simple handwritten note or a phone call from a friend inviting me to something than if I was one of 1000 automated recipients of fancy gold-plated card.

For instance, a friend wrote a script to auto reply to people who had wished him on his birthday (he wasn't hiding it, so I didn't have to guess that it was an auto-reply).

Now, the way FB displays and folds posts made on your timeline makes it very difficult and painstaking to reply to a lot of them (if you refresh your page by mistake, you'd have to keep clicking on More... multiple times to get back to where you left). So I'd be completely fine with him posting a common status saying Thank You to everyone.

But knowing that it's a bot reply kinda took away the point of the reply, at least for me.

But is there anything more personal than a computer programmer writing a bot to send messages for him?

Haha I'd agree it's more personal than using a random bot downloaded from the net to achieve the same thing :D

I'm curious to know where it fell on the time matrix :)


SMS wedding invites... this needs to be a real thing.

I cringe at getting one of those hand-written save the date cards... knowing full well each one cost the host $5+ and all the time of writing those addresses. And all for what? So it can sit in my mailbox for a month with all the spam grocery store coupons until the next time I check? So inefficient.

I love this so much. I love the simplicity of it. Someone needs to set this up as a real service...

Upload a list of names and cell numbers...

Wedding tool confirms names, asks for photo so they can auto-sort photos of you.

Stolen from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14102182 -- Wedding tool posts pictures of people who RSVP'd as solo and let's them Tinder each other. What a brilliant idea!

Along with lettings singles match up... the tool could let people say who they wanted to sit next to, and who they didn't... taking a lot of the stress off the bride for seating arrangements.

Wedding tool sends save the date RSVPs. Wedding tool sends status updates to all guests in real time... allows people to see if other friends will be there... (I know there are some weddings I only go to if I know enough other friends from college are going.)

Wedding tool sends link to some pretty online invite... with some cute backstory about the couple, or just their TheKnot page.

Wedding tool sends wedding registry to people... segmented would be hot. (I hate how people send those sorts of lists with huge gifts on them to everyone... a lot of that stuff should be targeted towards family, or long-time friends. Toasters and other $50 items for people flying in from out of state.)

Wedding tool figures out dinner options.

Wedding tool sends reminders, calendar invites, cute little pre-wedding marketing posts to generate some excitement. Polls users to share stories about the couple.

Wedding tool lets guests upload photos during the event, tracks back name to their phone number so all they have to do is text photos to the designated number. All photos are available in real time... and to all the guests after. (Of course some level of cleanup could be manually applied after the wedding.)

Wedding tool sends out thank you, links to photos you sent, photos with you in them... lets you say if you want your name tagged in it... or if you think photo is objectionable and should be removed...

Man, I want to go to that wedding... I never want to see another hand-written invite, having been suckered into writing about 500 of those once... yeah it's just torture that the couple inflicts on their closest friends. When my buddy who asked me to write cards was having some trouble, my first thought was literally, "Bro, stay with this girl... I ain't writing invites for you ever again... you'll die alone without her." Ha.

Good luck with that. Come back in a couple years and tell us how it went.

Maybe you can automate your divorce too.

See? This is the future liberals want...

(note: this is a joking reference to a meme.


Feel free to down-vote but at least realize what it is).

Please don't do this here.

We detached this comment from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14102195 and marked it off-topic.

It is a joking reference to a meme "this is the future liberals want"

see: https://www.buzzfeed.com/juliareinstein/this-is-the-future-l...

It is not really a political opinion on what liberals want!

Although out of context, of course, it doesn't make sense anymore. I would delete it if I could.

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