Using computers to take a byte out of wedding worries


September 29, 1993|By HOLLY SELBY

When John Carlineo panics for a moment and can't remember who among his relatives has accepted invitations to his October wedding -- or when they're arriving -- he knows what to do.

The Parkville resident simply calls up the wedding program on his computer and checks the lists. Everything from who's coming on the bride's side to who from the groom's side is arriving when is neatly stored in his personal computer.

"You can put in all the information about your wedding and your wedding party and your guests and where they're coming from," says the electronic engineer who works for the U.S. Army. "You can put if you invited them to the ceremony, to parties, to dinner. And you can get printouts of who is going where."

Called the Wedding Workshop, the software program by Precision Inc. is among several wedding planning software programs that have appeared on the market in the last few years.

And while a computer printout may not compare romantically with flowers or long, white dresses, more and more couples are turning to their PCs for help in organizing their weddings.

"The programs have appeared recently because there are more people who have PCs at work and even at home," says Cele Goldsmith Lalle, editor of Modern Bride magazine and author of two wedding planning books. "And a wedding is a major business event. It requires comparison shopping, a lot of money, a lot of tracking of guests, estimates. A one-stop-shopping database is ideal for weddings."

So ideal that the Modern Bride's Wedding Planner ($49.99) is available at software and computer stores. The program tracks guests and budgets -- and will also play a few bars of various selections of wedding music, she says.

The Wedding Workshop being used by Mr. Carlineo was created by a Santa Clara, Calif., couple inspired by the ups and downs of planning their own wedding. For use with Microsoft Windows, the software program organizes the intricate details of weddings.

For about $64.95, it will keep track of nearly everything you might think of: stationery (invitations, thank-you notes), transportation (limousines to and from the wedding, taxis from the airport), flowers (bridal bouquet, bridesmaids' bouquets, boutonnieres,

corsages), and so on.

"When you enter the guest list, with a touch of a button you can log your presents and what present you got from whom and information about out-of-town guests. Everything that should fit logically together is together," says Maria Sumnicht, who co-designed the program with her husband, Peter.

It's remembering all the necessary details that Tina Maher swears will get her down. The Woodbridge, Va., substitute teacher has never been to a wedding, she says. And she's not familiar with the tiny touches needed to make her November ceremony complete.

And like many people who get married far from their homes, she's planning her 150-guest wedding over the phone. Ms. Maher lives in Virginia, is from Arkansas but is getting married in a suburb of Michigan, her fiance's home state.

But she's got it under control. Or at least her PC does.

Using the Wedding Workshop Program, she has "input all the guests and all the people involved, like the florist, the caterer and photographer and videographers and chaplains," she says. "I'm working on the budget -- the program keeps your estimates of the budget. It figures out how much it actually costs and the difference, and it also keeps track of your grand total."

For couples who have MacIntoshes, there's a MacWedding, which came out early this year and costs $49.95. Marketed by Pentley Publishing of Menlo Park, Calif., it can be ordered by mail.

"I work at Apple and I developed my own program when I was getting married," says Lee Wilson, who designed MacWedding. "Suddenly people all over my company were asking to use my program. Then I started thinking, 'Hmm, maybe I have a product here.' "

One of the useful things about computerized wedding plans, besides keeping your lists and budget records straight, he says, is that they can be used months and years later. "When people come to visit you can quickly look up what they gave you and make sure it's on the coffee table."

Locally, Ergo Soft Inc. of Columbia offers a wedding program called Celebrate for $59.95 that, in addition to keeping track of everything from budgets to bridal gowns, can also transfer your guest list from your personal computer to a local stationery store's computer. Push a few computer keys, says Gary Deutsch, president of Ergo, and voila! your guest list is being printed on invitations in calligraphy.

What won't the program do? "The software will not tell you who will not sit with whom," he says laughing. "You're on your own for that."

Some wedding planners forgo the packaged software and go it alone. "One father of a bride did the whole program himself," says Roberta Fleming, wedding consultant and owner of Towson-based Lace and Promises Ltd. "He did little seating charts, he did budgets, he even did a little map on the computer of where everything would be."

Jeanette Sinclair similarly kept track of her wedding.

The Woodbridge computer analyst, who was married last May in Annapolis, used packaged database and word-processing programs to keep track of guests lists, budgets and who was invited to which event for her 200-guest wedding. At frequent intervals during the planning process, she'd send a report printed out by her computer to her fiance in New York. And a friend also used a software program to draw the maps Ms. Sinclair included in her invitations.

"I don't know how people do it who don't have a computer," she says.

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