Usenet Newsgroups

By Steve Kimbell - Oracle Band Business Manager
Past President - Association of Wedding Professionals

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:

  • Alt.Wedding
  • Soc.Couples.Wedding
  • Alt.Wedding.Marketplace

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 locations:

Alt.Wedding =

Soc.Couples.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 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 weeks).  

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   

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 wedding discussions). 

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

Usenet Abbreviations

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!

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