One of the best places to find out specific information about just about
anything wedding are the internet newsgroups, (Usenet). For the most part,
if you have internet access, you probably have access to Usenet.
Newsgroups, (also called discussion groups) are probably one of
the least known and most overlooked areas of the internet. There are
thousands of different newsgroups, discussing just about any known topic,
from politics to pet care to Jimmy Buffett.
There are three major wedding related newsgroups:
For those that are unfamiliar with newsgroups, they are more like
bulletin boards rather than chat rooms, where people post messages in
"threads", and others respond to the posts. Each topic, (or
thread), is open for discussion by anyone who cares to post. The threads
can get quite deep, sometimes with 15-20 levels of messages and responses.
By the time a long thread finally dies out, it may be completely different
from what it started out to be.
There are FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions), for two of the newsgroups.
(The third, Alt.Wedding.Marketplace, is relatively newer than the other
two, and does not
currently have a FAQ). A newsgroup's FAQ is always the best
place to start when joining a new group. Not only is there
excellent general information, they also tell you something about the
group and the kind of posts that are acceptable and what is frowned upon.
The FAQs for the other newsgroups can be found at the following
Alt.Wedding = home.earthlink.net/~altwedding/
Soc.Couples.Wedding = www.thepurplehouse.net/wedding/
The topics that are discussed on these newsgroups cover every
imaginable area of weddings...finding vendors in a particular area, how to
address invitations, when to mail invitations, what questions to ask a
potential vendor of services, how big a cake do you need for X number of
guests...as well as personal vents about wedding planning problems, in-law
problems, wedding nightmares, and things like that. In addition, many
brides and/or grooms post "summaries" of their weddings a few
weeks after they get back from their honeymoons, telling about everything
that happened, what went right, what went wrong, what they would change,
and what they would do again.
Remember that the internet is an international forum. There are people
who post from Canada, the UK, Australia, Scandinavia, and a host of other
countries. If you are looking to incorporate elements of the "old
world" into your wedding and reception, this is the place, since in
many cases you can go directly to the source. This is especially true for
Scottish and British weddings, as there are usually several participants
from the British Isles.
The S.C.W. web page also has a VERY complete list of
links to wedding related articles such as cultures and traditions,
etiquette, music lists, (ceremony as well as reception), attire,
invitations, honeymoon planning, and ceremony readings.
A.W. often delves into some of the more
off-the-beaten-path kind of subjects, whereas S.C.W.
deals with more traditional topics. Both newsgroups have their share of
"flame wars" where someone posts something inflammatory and
others attack the poster. Many of these flame wars are the result of
"trolls", people who post inflammatory messages just for the
sake of starting an argument. It is best if you simply avoid and ignore
these conversations and threads and let them die a natural death.
Indeed, there are some people who don't want to do anything but disrupt
the discussions by posting foul messages and using sexually explicit
language in an attempt to disrupt the group. These posts can really
put a damper on your newsgroup experience. To help alleviate this,
most newsreaders include what is called a killfile,
which allows you to delete newsgroup posts from certain troublemakers,
before you ever see the actual posts. I highly recommend taking
advantage of these features. There are also add-on killfile programs
available on the net, often for free.
If you are unfamiliar with newsgroups, (and indeed, even if you are
familiar with them), you should consider "lurking" for
a while before posting anything, just to get a feel for how posts are
made. Every newsgroup has it's own climate, and care must be taken in
posting lest you accidentally offend someone. Remember that the typed word
conveys no emotion, so sometimes it is hard to tell if you are laughing
WITH someone or laughing AT someone. The use of emoticons (like ;-) and
<LOL>) is encouraged to get your true meaning across. Most books on
the internet, as well as many web sites list a great number of these
tools, so I won't go into them here. If you'd like more information on
them and don't know where to look, drop me an e-mail to
and I'll personally explain anything you're unclear on.
The best part about the Usenet wedding groups are the people.
Indeed, almost everyone on the group is currently going through the same
trials and tribulations that you are right now...trying to plan the
perfect day for their wedding. If you ask for an opinion, believe me, you WILL
get them. You may not agree with all of them, but you will get them!!! You
can find soul mates and empathizers galore. There are all sorts of people
planning all sorts of weddings, from simple backyard affairs to larger,
formal productions. You will find people who are in the final stages
of their planning, and you will meet people who are just getting started.
There are a couple of "etiquette gurus" who help answer
questions about what is considered "proper". If you have a
question about the acceptable wording for an invitation, how to address
"Thank You" notes, or any of the other myriad of social pitfalls
that lie in wait for you, these ladies, (as well as many others), are more
than willing to help.
There are also a number of wedding vendors (like myself) who
participate on a regular or semi-regular basis. These vendors offer
their advice and suggestions just as everyone else does, without
necessarily trying to advertise their own businesses. Blatant
advertising is not permitted in the groups, (except for A.W.M.),
but of course it does happen periodically by vendors who don't bother to
play by the rules. Renegades notwithstanding, the majority of the
vendors who participate offer timely, thoughtful advice, and they are
quite willing to share their experience with everyone.
If you are looking for specific services, the Alt.Wedding.Marketplace
group could be an excellent resource for you. Vendors from
all over the world advertise their services here, and generally have an
e-mail address or web site that you can go to for additional information.
You can also post a request for a specific type of service for a
particular area, and vendors can respond to you on the newsgroup.
Newsgroup posts are only kept on your local server for a short period
of time, (depending on your ISP, they may be there for a few days to a few
However, there is another resource available to you on the
net that enables you to review and search posts going back several years.
This resource is an archive of ALL Usenet posts. Formerly called
DejaNews, it is now a part of the Google search engine, and the best place
to access it is from the advanced search page located at groups.google.com/advanced_group_search.
You can search just the wedding archives by entering the name of the
newsgroup you want to search in the "newsgroup" section, and
then specify a series of keywords to search on, for instance, "band
wedding music variety maryland". The search engine will then return
all of the articles that contain all of the keywords you specify.
This is particularly useful when searching for vendors on A.W.M.,
where a vendor may have posted about their services a month ago, but your
ISP may delete posts over two weeks old.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention one other newsgroup that
is really popular. Alt.Newlywed
is where many of the former A.W. and S.C.W.
folks go following the wedding, (although they are still encouraged to
stop by from time to time to offer their experience and advice to the
Topics on A.N. are somewhat more general, but
basically address the issues and problems relating to settling into
newlywed life. You do NOT need to be a newlywed to participate in
the discussions, though. All are welcomed, and although spats can
break out from time to time, the atmosphere for the most part is quite
supportive and friendly. They have a FAQ posted at www.jifvik.demon.co.uk/newlywed/faq.htm.
The wedding newsgroups use a lot of abbreviations in their messages,
many of which are unique to the wedding related newsgroups. Here are some
of the more frequently used abbreviations:
- B&G = Bride and Groom
- HC = Happy Couple (sometimes preferred on the newsgroups over B&G)
- BTB = Bride to Be
- GTB = Groom to Be
- SO = Significant Other
- BM = Bridesmaid or Best Man
- MOH = Maid or Matron of Honor
- MIL = Mother in Law
- FMIL = Future Mother in Law
- FIL = Father In Law
- FFIL = Future Father in Law
- TLOTH = The Lady of the Hour
- SIL - Sister in Law
- FSIL = Future Sister in Law
- BIL = Brother in Law
- FBIL = Future Brother in Law
- LOL = Laughing Out Loud
- ROFL = Rolling on Floor Laughing
- ROFLMAO = Rolling on Floor Laughing My A$$ off
- IMO = In My Opinion
- IMHO = In My Humble/Honest Opinion
- FWIW = For What It's Worth
- TIA - Thanks In Advance
- HTH = Hope This Helps
All in all, I believe these newsgroups are a valuable asset to any
prospective bride or groom, or members of the wedding party. Advice
and great ideas abound, and considering the stress that is generally
present during planning stages of a wedding, they are a great way to take
the pressure off and know that you're not alone.
In addition, wedding vendors should consider reading the posts on a
regular basis just to keep in touch with what the "real people"
out there are thinking. Remember that advertising is strictly
a no-no though...if you post an ad you'll probably receive a warning from
myself and others advising you of your transgression!!! If you are a
vendor and would like to read more on how to best participate in the
newsgroups without getting into trouble, read my article Vendor
Participation on Wedding Newsgroups for some ideas.
So, to everyone...I'll be seeing you on the boards!