While every bride and her sister was out brainstorming the best wedding hashtag for Instagram, Teona Ostrov, 31, decided to take the customization of her big day a step further. The New York City publicist collaborated with a coworker to develop a personalized Snapchat filter full of bride-and-groom emojis, a couple name, and even a picture of her beloved dog.
Ostrov's special touch is part of the next high-tech trend taking the wedding market by storm. It wasn't long ago that the perfectly curated hashtag was the norm, but now it seems almost passé for those who love social media. After all, when you have the perfect dress, the perfect hairstyle, and the perfect table setting to boot, why not go all the way and create a filter that fits the aesthetic of your wedding?
"The second I found out about customized filters, I knew I wanted one for my wedding," says Ostrov. "Everyone does the hashtag thing, but I wanted unique additions that I hadn't seen everywhere already. So I gave it a trial run at my bridal shower, and everyone loved it, so it was a no-brainer when it was time for the wedding."
Everyone does the hashtag thing, but I wanted unique additions that I hadn't seen everywhere already.
The trend has been picking up steam since Snapchat launched its on-demand geofilters (ODGs) stateside in February. Now also available in the U.K., Canada, Australia, and Brazil, Snapchat says thousands of requests are submitted per day with roughly half coming from businesses and the other 50 percent from individuals, like soon-to-be brides.
The real reason for all the hype can likely be attributed to the high reward you get for such little effort. Starting at just $5 a pop (prices vary based on the area size you want the ODG available in and how long it'll be live for), it's relatively inexpensive so long as you have some design skills to actually create the filter, or know a friend who can help you out pro bono. Once you've submitted your ODG for review, mapped out the area it will cover, and calculated how long you want it to last, Snapchat takes about one business day to approve it. Then voilà, you've got yourself an extra layer of fun personalization that guests tend to go gaga for (you'll even have access to a dashboard to see how many views and uses it got).
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"People came up to me throughout the night commenting on it, saying things like, 'Of course you have a Snapchat filter!'" says Ostrov. "They all found it to be a really great touch, especially since we had signs at the wedding to let people know it was available."
Elizabeth Millett, an expert on social media for WeddingWire, says the ODGs have been so successful because filters are undoubtedly the one feature that keeps users coming back to Snapchat. “We know that weddings are extremely personal events, and couples are looking to put their own unique stamp on the day more than ever before,” she says. “Geofilters are a fun, customized planning choice that can integrate their color palette, theme, or aesthetic. They can even be thought of as a modern party favor for guests to make them feel like they played an integral part of the couples’ special day.”
Rebeca Navarre, 25, agrees. She found out about ODGs while at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans for an event. "There was a wedding happening in the same area I was in, and while I was swiping to find a filter for myself I saw one available for the wedding," she says. "I thought it was such a fun idea, and after I looked into it and realized how simple it was, I knew I had to make one for my friend's engagement party."
That action also taps into the research that millennials are integrating more and more tech into their big day. Millet says that 80 percent of WeddingWire consumers are millennials, and of those millennials, 42 percent of them are spending their social media time on Snapchat. “Because it’s easy to use and images only last for 24 hours, it lends a level of spontaneity in sharing that is unique to that social media platform,” she adds.
And for those who are obsessed with the animated dog or the flower crown (who isn't?), Snapchat has you covered. Just hold down the screen after choosing one of the app's original filters, and then overlay the wedding filter for the ultimate snap.
The only downside: If your wedding (or bridal shower, or engagement party) is in a high-traffic area or if it overlaps with Snapchat's Live Stories, your filter may be turned off. For example, ODGs were turned off in official Rio 2016 Olympic areas, including official venues, hotels, and the Olympic Village, according to Snapchat. So if there were any wedding parties gettin' down at one of the nearby hotels, it's likely they were SOL. But the area truly has to be a high-traffic or a high-press event (like, um, the Olympics) in order for that to happen, so the odds of your filter being nixed are relatively low.
Still, "the majority of the pictures we have from guests were taken on Snapchat with the filter," says Navarre. "It's a superfun touch, and for such little cost, it's totally worth it."
In other words, if your goal is to be an of-the-moment, high-tech bride, Snapchat is where it's at.
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