Event Planning with Google and Other Tools

Update on July 8th: I realized I had some additional tips about using the Google Docs spreadsheets, so I added more details in a new entry.

A recent entry in The Official Google Blog noted how one couple used a number of Google services to help plan their wedding (see their journal entry). We used Google services to plan our wedding, too. Here's a list of the services we used:
  • Blogger - Our blog was originally intended to share news with our family about our baby. It has changed quite a bit since we started it, and we started to use the blog to update our family about the wedding plans, make some important announcements (e.g., this entry), and post digital media (i.e., photos and video). Our site also uses Analytics, Custom Search, FeedBurner, Gadgets, Groups, Page Creator, Reader, Translate, and Webmaster Tools (more about using these tools for blogs and journals later).
  • Calendar - The calendar was useful for sharing events with each other as well as managing our to-do list and making appointments.
  • Docs - (See update.) We kept a few documents for the wedding in Google Docs, including the guest list and a service provider comparison spreadsheet. We included all of the addresses, and we used the address list later to write thank-you cards and keep track of who we sent cards to. (I also use Docs to manage a budget spreadsheet and a database of music, books, and movies I'd like to "experience".)
  • Gmail - Of course we needed email to communicate with most of our service providers, guests, and other helpers (ourselves too!). Gmail is useful for a million other reasons, too.
  • Maps - We didn't create a custom map like the other couple did, but we did direct people to specific locations, like the reception hall, using Google Maps, usually via email using the link provided on the map.
  • Notebook - We used Notebook quite a bit. I think it's a bit easier to manage collaboration and sharing, and there's an extension to integrate it with Firefox (see below). We had song lists, service providers and costs, a long to do list, the guest list, and all sorts of stuff in a shared notebook. We also used RememberTheMilk (see below) for managing tasks. (I still use Notebook. It has replaced random text files I used to write on my computer.)
  • Picassa Web Albums (aka Google Photos) - Of course we used Picassa Web Albums for sharing photos. Some of our photos are online, but we haven't sorted through all of the professional pics yet. We just got married in May, after all!
  • Reader - I shared various articles with Kyra using Google Reader. I set up a folder with her name, "made it public" (Reader creates a blog and feed for it), and shared the feed with Kyra to use in her Reader. I also have a Blogger blog to share notes with her, which is a bit more flexible, but more time-consuming to manage. (It is set up to receive emails and publish them automatically, and so is the "text-only" version of this site.) Reader is by far the best news feed aggregator I have used so far. (Check out our feeds, by the way!)
  • Search - I almost didn't think of it because it's so natural in my everyday life. With Firefox, I search using the Google Search Engine easily. For the most part, we were looking for service providers for the chairs, reception hall, food, etc.
  • Talk - We used the version of Google Talk integrated with Gmail, not the stand-alone software version. Usually we were just chit-chatting about plans or sharing links. I think we found the leis while searching the internet and chatting on Talk. Once Kyra started her new job, she didn't have access to a computer or the internet, so we didn't use Talk as much. I'm sure if she had access, we would have talked using Gmail Talk a lot more.
  • Video - Eventually, we posted the video of the wedding online. It wasn't smooth, but eventually it worked. (I haven't had significant problems with Google Video like I had with the wedding video. I still wish Google would communicate with its users about problems more.) We've also been using Video to upload the recordings of our baby's heartbeat (sample 1, sample 2, and sample 3). (I decreased the height of the embedded video player for the website, so it's more of a "sound player" than video player.)
Other tools were very useful, too, inlcuding:
  • Facebook - We invited a lot of our friends to the reception using Facebook. We still gave them a physical invitation, but it was nice to see who was going to attend online.
  • Firefox - Firefox is incredibly useful, especially the tons of extensions. I think one of the most useful one is the Email This! extension, which is really useful for sending links via email. I also use Better Gmail 2, Better GReader, Google Notebook, and the RTM extension (see below).
  • RememberTheMilk - We used the Firefox extension to integrate RTM with Gmail. I used this quite a bit and shared to-do items with Kyra. We went back and forth between our to-do list in Notebook, which was a long-term list, and RTM, which was a short-term list.
    That's about all we can think of at the moment. Our wedding was planned in less than four months and under $3,000, so we did quite well! Check out the video of our wedding to see how it went, browse through the photos, and keep an eye out for more videos of the reception.


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