6 Google Apps that will make light work out of your wedding planning
The singular word “Google” has become synonymous with discovery. We often tell people to “Google it” (as a verb) or we say that we found something either on Google or with Google (using the word as a noun). As stated on its website “Google’s [our] mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and usable.” Google searches are woven into our everyday lives, assisting and influencing us on everything from where to go, where to shop, and even what to eat.
Worldwide, it is estimated that we collectively conduct over 3.5 billion searches per day. But aside from its well known search capabilities, Google apps have been incredibly useful in managing how we conduct business- and the bridal industry is no exception.
Let’s ask an expert first
I could not think of a more qualified person to consult with for this post than Sophie Newman, founder and CEO of Florida Winter Marketing. Florida Winter Marketing is a collection of writers, marketing specialists, and strategists that provide branding, social media marketing, web design services, and more to businesses looking for improved digital connection with their potential clients. Before launching her own business, Sophie was a Business Analyst with Hewlett Packard- making good use of her HTML and CSS coding coursework and her Master’s Degree in Marketing from Texas A&M.
In order to keep up with the ever-changing tech world, Sophie subscribes to countless tech newsletters such as Think with Google, Digiday, and those from the Google Premier Partner HubSpot. She regularly hosts social media and branding workshops and has launched her own marketing strategy book. In her spare time, she routinely attends events sponsored by groups such as Social Media Breakfast and is a board member of the Women’s Master’s Network.
Aside from her tech talents, this masterful wordsmith also confesses to keeping an emergency copy of the writing handbook Elements of Style in the trunk of her car at all times. Just in case the need arises, of course.
On a more personal note, Sophie is my “grammar guru”, my right-hand [wo]man in helping me proof and edit content that is universally comprehensible to wedding industry pros and neophytes alike. Although Sophie primarily engages with creatives and entrepreneurs like myself, she also provides one-on-one writing and social media services to discriminating brides and grooms willing to accept no mistakes in how their special day appears in print, on the web, and/or on social media. Florida Winter Marketing’s wedding services include:
Proofreading invitations (before going to print)
Font selection and color palette consulting
Vow and ceremony text proofing
Wedding hashtag creation
Social media maintenance for personal wedding accounts
Sophie confesses to being an avid Google app user when tackling tasks on her many projects. Are you a Google app user as well? Do you know all there is to know about Google apps? Are you using it in the most effective way to plan your wedding?
Check out the Q&A section below with Sophie and let’s raise your Google app IQ!
Q: What is a Google app?
A: An app is a software application that provides a specific function. You may have seen apps on a smartphone or mobile device, but apps also operate on desktop devices. While desktop applications may be more robust, there are even online applications like the ones found in Google Suite that provide significant uses.
Q: What Google apps do you use most frequently in your line of work?
A: I use Google Docs most frequently to collaborate with clients for editing. I absolutely love it! I also use Google Sheets for keeping track of our progress.
Q: What features of Google Docs do you find most useful when collaborating and/or editing?
A: My favorite Google Docs features are the ability to "suggest" edits and leave comments. By suggesting edits, I'm able to add in all of the changes I want to make and the client can accept each one individually, making their own changes as they go along. Another perk is that I can leave comments that collaborators can reply to, that way I can ask questions related to specific parts of the document and receive answers quickly and easily.
Q: Are there any known fees and/or subscriptions required to use Google apps?
A: Google apps are free for individuals with a Gmail email account. If you're looking for a gmail email account associated with a specific website, such as hello@floridawintermarketing or your wedding website, then there would be a fee associated with the email address to access Google's suite of tools.
Q: What should prospective users know about switching over to any of the Google apps? Are there any major limitations or conditions that they should consider first?
A: When switching over to the Google apps, prospective users should realize that they're within their own “technological ecosystem”. For example, while you can download items to Microsoft as a PowerPoint or a Word document, the formatting may be slightly different within a Microsoft software program than a Google app. Also, it may take some time getting used to the online interface and new set of tools.
Q: From your perspective, what are some pros for using a Google app?
A: I love using Google apps for their ability to collaborate with other people. It's made projects much more seamless - there's no emailing of a document back and forth.
Q: From your perspective, what are some cons in using a Google app?
A: Some cons to using Google apps are that everyone does not have a gmail email address. For individuals outside of the Google “ecosystem”, I need to rely on older methods of collaboration that may be more time consuming.
Tai’s Top 6
So as a new bride or groom, which Google apps should you use?
6| Google Slides
Allows you to create and edit slides, as well as share presentations. It's Google's cloud-based version of Microsoft PowerPoint.
Wedding Applications: Google Slides is a great tool for creating wedding inspiration design boards. I frequently use the app to introduce potential color palettes, floral arrangements, attire, and other design elements to clients. Under normal circumstances, it is incredibly difficult for most brides to keep track of numerous magazine clippings and digital attachments spread out over multiple emails during the planning period. Working from one shared Google Slide makes the brainstorming process so much more seamless. Changes are easily managed and dialogue between collaborators is exchanged via the comments feature and saved within the comment history.
*Additional perks: Have you ever wanted to see what your bridal gown may look like next to potential bridesmaids’ dresses? Ever wanted to see what a reception table arrangement looks like paired with table linen from a different photo? Cropping tools within Google Slides as well as online photo editors like Clippingmagic.com are fantastic ways of removing unwanted backgrounds, allowing users to see what different design elements look like side-by-side and/or layered on top of one another.
5| Google Maps
A web-based map service that allows you to find a location, get directions, and explore new locations. Allows you to store “your places” and create custom maps with multiple points of interest.
Wedding Applications: While most of us are probably very familiar with using Google Maps in our everyday travels, the app is also a fantastic tool in communicating event locations to your out-of-town wedding guests. Google Maps allows users to create and save custom maps with multiple location markers. These location markers can be saved to different layers that allow organizers to quickly turn applicable and non-applicable layers on and off depending on the purpose of the particular finished map. For example, if a bride is creating a map to send to bridesmaids for a fun-filled girls’ weekend she can easily mark the applicable locations and share with her appropriate guests. However, if a couple needs to create an overall event weekend map for wedding guests showing hotel, ceremony and reception, rehearsal dinner, airport locations, etc. they can modify the map to give general guests an idea of what they should expect.
*Additional perks: Use the Google Map features to share your big plans and locations with guests, especially ones arriving from out of town. There is nothing more disheartening than an inadequately informed, out-of-town wedding guest. Creating and sharing a custom Google Map with your guests (well before the actual wedding date) will help them select the most convenient airport, determine their own personal itinerary depending upon drive times and event locations, and generally be more relaxed and ready to enjoy your big day.
4| Google Forms
Allows you to send free surveys and collect submitted email responses that are stored in one convenient place.
Wedding Applications: While sending a beautiful formal invitation is ideal, let’s be honest- sometimes that just can’t happen. Using Google Forms is a great way for getting guest head counts, receiving very specific information from your guests, and collecting that information very quickly.
*Additional perks: While I’ve primarily used Google Forms for wedding guests that are out of the country when RSVP cards by mail may not have a reasonable turnaround, they can also be used as a “back-up” or “follow-up” to a formal paper invitation. Unclear about a guest’s response on an RSVP card? Try following up by sending a very detailed digital survey to the guest to get a better handle on your event. For example, you may request the specific names of their “plus one”, allergy and dietary restrictions, and even the ages and childcare requests for even the smallest guests on your list.
3| Google Calendar
An online calendar that allows you to manage your time and appointments, share meetings with other digital calendars, and sync your schedule with your mobile device.
Wedding Applications: Adding one or more wedding-related Google Calendars to your existing daily calendar is essential. Not only does it allow couples to easily keep up with things like payment schedules and major planning deadlines, but it also allows them to “take a break” from all of those same things when needed by toggling the view on and off.
*Additional perks: Sharing specific Google Calendars with your wedding party and vendors is a great way of keeping everyone in the know only about what they actually need to know.
2| Google Docs
A word processor application where you can create, edit, format, and share text documents. It's Google's online version of Microsoft Word.
Wedding Applications: Using Google Docs to quickly edit and revise “text-heavy” wedding documents is a must. Especially for items that typically require multiple drafts such as schedules, ceremony readings and programs, and wedding invitations. Not only can you keep track of your own changes, but you can also solicit the help of other editors by sharing the files, commenting on the suggestions, and resolving the changes.
*Additional perks: Save time (and confusion) by having your contributors add comments and suggestions directly into your document. No long email explanations are required of what paragraph you are referencing or precisely where the spelling error is. The shared commenting feature allows users to highlight the exact word, sentence, paragraph, and even photo referenced in the linked comment.
1| Google Sheets
Allows you to create online spreadsheets that you can share with others. It’s great for organizing information in a neat table format and calculating instant values with the use of formulas, pull-down menus, etc. It's Google's online version of Microsoft Excel.
Wedding Applications: As a planner, Google Sheets is my most frequently used app. I repeatedly use it for quick calculations of overall wedding budgets, determining typical wedding planning deadlines once a couple’s wedding date is input, and more. In terms of organizing and table formatting, I use Google Sheets to keep track of things like wedding party participants and their necessary floral items such as boutonnieres and bouquets.
*Additional perks: Utilizing the pull-down menu feature in Google Sheets is great for real-time calculations of reception food and beverage fees. I love taking a tablet along to food tastings so that my clients can accurately match their taste buds with their wedding budget before they are locked into their choices. It allows me to easily provide them with many price options as well as let them know when such things as food and beverage minimums are met or exceeded.
I once planned a wedding in which an outside vendor strictly relied on an online portal to bill and expense my client. Per usual, I always review, re-evaluate, and “reproduce” my clients’ invoices. While pouring over their contracts and online invoices and matching them up with the most current products and services requested by the client, I found an error- a $1500 error. When I entered the data into Google Sheets and recalculated the correct values, the vendor had accidentally overcharged my client by $1500. The vendor gladly agreed with my tidy bookkeeping and refunded my client. Pretty cool, right?
Your willingness to incorporate tech into your wedding planning process makes a significant difference in your planning experience. Google apps should be considered an ally, a companion in making sure that you are well-informed and best-suited to make your future decisions. Finding the right wedding planning professional who has the know-how to maximize the features of Google apps is a benefit that can not only be measured in wasted hours and mental stress, but also in dollars- really big dollars!
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