Matrimony made easier

If you're planning on getting married or being a wedding guest any time soon, make note of these made-in-Israel digital services.

Guests dance at a reception. With some new technology, when you can’t be there, you can watch the festivities in real time from your computer. (photo credit: Courtesy)
Guests dance at a reception. With some new technology, when you can’t be there, you can watch the festivities in real time from your computer.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Israeli-designed digital services are lessening the burden of wedding planning for happy couples.
Invite with Wedivite
How galling for the mother of the groom to not appear in any of the wedding photos! That’s what happened to a friend of Ben Novak, and was the spark that led him to create Wedivite.
Recalls Novak, “I was going to create an online wedding album but then I thought, why not add some other cool things?”
In this digital age, what could be more natural than managing your upcoming nuptials online? Through Wedivite, the happy couple can design and send invitations, and provide Waze routes to the wedding venue. Guests can RSVP, add the date to their calendar, suggest songs to play at the wedding, pay for a gift, write a greeting in the guest book and add their own photos to the wedding album.
“The site is designed for communication between the couple and their guests,” says Novak, who works as a marketing consultant by day and lone Wedivite developer by night, from around 9 p.m. until the early hours of the morning. He started developing it in October 2013 and went live in January; to date, some 16,000 couples from the US, Canada, India, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand have used the service.
Couples can design their invitation and distribute it via email, social media or using a QR code (black and white squares that can be deciphered via a smartphone’s camera). “Some guests prefer the traditional paper invitation, so using your QR code, you can either print out a high-resolution copy for the printing house to replicate or print QR cards to send in the mail for the guests to scan,” he says.
The site allows guests to purchase a gift online from the couple’s registry or send a cash gift through PayPal. “In America, unlike Europe and Israel, it is more common for guests to buy a present through a gift registry than give money,” explains Novak.
Guests can add an online greeting to the guest book before, during and after the wedding. There is also a custom page the couple can use to add anything they think might be useful or pique the interest of their guests, such as hotel reservation details or the story of how they met.
Photos taken at the wedding can be viewed in real-time on a big screen, and guests are encouraged to use their smartphone  cameras and share the pictures, which are displayed within moments on the screen; this ensures that no amusing and special moments the photographer might have missed are lost – including, it’s hoped, snaps of the mother of the groom.
The site is currently available in English, Spanish and Korean, the latter the result of an approach by a wedding planner from Korea who wanted a digital invitation platform to offer her couples.
Says Novak, “She helps me bridge the gap between languages and cultures.
“I thought I’d do only English in the first year but a lot of people in the States asked for a Spanish solution, and as I’d already built a system to handle translations, I was able to accommodate them.”
Novak also recently launched a Hebrew-language version in a joint venture with Walla; the site can be accessed from the Walla portal, and is called both Wedivite and Walla! Mazal Tov.
Wedivite includes a blog to which anyone can contribute.
There are some great DIY wedding ideas, such as place settings, outdoor lighting and a pair of socks for the groom with cold feet.
Novak, who will be a bridegroom himself in May, is constantly thinking up new ideas for the site. “I’m planning to add a timeline that visually shows the couple before they met – it starts off as two separate lines, then the lines connect and you see all the different stations of their relationship. The most important thing for me is creating a great experience for the couple and their guests.”
Cost: Basic package is free.
Charges for premium services, such as photo storage, custom page, etc.
Download: Wedivite app for iPhone (currently unavailable for Android)
Join in the celebration, from the comfort of your own home
A close friend or family member is getting married, and you can’t attend the wedding.
Shai Bracha faced this situation when his sister got married and family living abroad couldn’t make it over to Israel for the wedding. “I tried to figure out a way that they could share the event in real-time,” he recalls. “I tried Skype and a few other possibilities but they didn’t work out, and I realized that here’s an opportunity to try something new.”
Bracha, who is currently doing an internship in law and business, launched ChaiStream in March 2013.
Using a private mobile network, ChaiStream streams live video to virtual wedding guests, who can watch the event as it occurs wherever they are in the world.
All they need is a computer and an Internet connection.
Bracha emphasizes that ChaiStream doesn’t replace the role of the regular videographer, but rather focuses on those aspects of the wedding that people faraway, watching the event on their computer screens, would want to see. “We pay special attention to the huppa,” he says, “because that is really central to the wedding event and what most people want to see.”
To use ChaiStream, all that is required is to click a link to the wedding couple’s web page – supplied by Bracha – which also contains photos and a section where messages can be left for the happy couple. As a gift to the couple, Bracha will later upload the video to the website.
ChaiStream can be used for any event type. Says Bracha, “It’s been used to stream video at the Maccabiah Games, funerals and britot. I’ve even streamed video of a lecture in Safed for yeshivot in Brooklyn.”
Cost: Basic package is between NIS 1,600 and NIS 2,000, depending on date, location and length of broadcast
What amount is the right amount?
About 20 years ago, Mitchatnim began as a catalogue, a private venture that was then sold to Golden Pages about seven years ago. The original website was launched in 1999 and over the years has expanded to include a number of other services bought by Golden Pages, such as restaurants and outdoor activities.
One of the most useful and frequently consulted pages at the site is called KamaKesef (“How Much Money”), which provides data on the appropriate amount to give as a cash present at a life-cycle event, such as a wedding. According to events manager Revital Slonim, who is responsible for the information on the page, data are acquired from surveys of the general public, as well as people contributing information to the Mitchatnim Facebook page; all data are updated on an ongoing basis.
The size of the check depends on many factors: the type of event, the number of people attending and whether they include children, the nature of the relationship to the couple, the employment status of the guest, and the location, month and day of the week in which the event is being held. As your pen hovers over the check, it’s helpful to know there’s a resource out there that can alleviate the uncertainty.
Tip: Site is in Hebrew but with a Google Chrome browser, you can use the automatic translation feature to convert the text to English.