The reality of modern wedding planning isn’t what it was a generation or two ago. Gone are the days of scrolling the yellow pages for florists, relying on friends for photography references and crossing fingers that at least one of the three bridal shops within driving distance carries The Dress. Today’s savvy brides frequently turn to the Internet when planning their own weddings — time, space and distance be damned. And with so much of the wedding industry also going online, more brides than ever find themselves connected to vendors and other brides from around the country and the world. Wedding resource Web sites like TheKnot.com and countless personal blogs (often combined in the form of “blog sites”) have become popular sources for research and vendor directories, and they offer a wealth of ideas for everything from unique DIY favors to cake designs and invitation motifs to guest entertainment.
But what’s the Jewish bride to do when she needs help researching the meaning behind the tish and bedecken, finding ketubah artists or searching for the perfect groom’s yarmulke? Before last April, she had no choice but to Web site hop, perform lots of Google searches and hope other brides in her circle of friends had answers. That’s because there was no Web site dedicated to offering tips, advice, ideas and vendor connections specifically to the Jewish bride.
Twenty-something newlyweds Alison Friedman and Nicky Kahn, Jewish brides in 2008 and 2006, respectively, saw the void and solved the problem. Last April, the Los Angelinos launched The Wedding Yentas: A Guide for the Jewish Bride, as a one-stop shop for any bride looking for a little help planning her big (Jewish) day.
“I could never find anything that was really centralized to Jewish weddings,” Kahn says of planning her own big day. “I would have to hop, Google all the time…In the whole wedding industry, blog sites were becoming very popular, and so I just thought, there really needs to be one targeted to Jewish brides.”
Serendipitously, Kahn and Friedman’s relationship began not as friends or business partners, but as client and vendor. Friedman, a first-grade teacher, had hired Kahn, who co-owns with her husband their own wedding photography business, to photograph her wedding. The two became friends, their husbands hit it off, and when Kahn approached Friedman to join her in a Web site venture for Jewish brides, they had a match made in Jewish-wedding heaven. Their husbands pitched in to design and build the site, Friedman lends her voice to the fresh, witty blog writing and Kahn works magic behind the scenes.
Friedman explains that by creating The Wedding Yentas as a blog site, they’re able to join the trend of personalized blogs that deliver ever-changing information to readers in a casual, girlfriends-chatting-about-weddings-over-coffee kind of way.
“It was important that we stick with this trend of personalizing wedding information,” Friedman says. “While we provide informational tidbits — they’re not always as in depth and sometimes are just droppings of information — it should still have a personal feel, like we’re letting people in on our little world, just like the blogs that I would read as I was planning my wedding. It’s much more personable and therefore easier to read.”
In addition to a blog the Yentas update daily, their site also includes an archive of real Jewish weddings, each including the couple’s fun-to-read love story and lots of professional photos from the big day; a portal for readers to submit their own real weddings; planning tools; and a vendor directory slowly filling with vendors in regions around the country who the Yentas have vetted and ensured are suited for only the best Jewish weddings. In the blog portion, Friedman and Kahn maintain interaction with readers by featuring Friday Favorites, where they gush about a particular product or service they love, then give away something from that company to a randomly selected reader who has commented on the post.
Because Friedman and Kahn have been the Yentas for only about nine months, their site, though increasing in traffic and advertisers on a daily basis, they say, is still growing.
“It’s definitely a work in progress,” Friedman says. “I think Nicky and I always think it will be, because as new vendors come into the wedding industry, they’re ideally going to want a piece of the pie at The Wedding Yentas. There are definitely more [vendor listings] in the works.”
According to Kahn, they’re adding about eight to 10 new vendors to the list each month. Adds Friedman, their traffic numbers are soaring, an undeniable indication that readers like what they find on The Wedding Yentas. And, say the women, they love weddings, and they love blogging and offering advice about them.
“When it comes to weddings, look, we wouldn’t be doing this at all — Nicky wouldn’t be a photographer, I wouldn’t be writing for Wedding Yentas — if we didn’t love weddings,” Friedman says.
As to whether or not The Wedding Yentas plan to take their advice off the web and start planning weddings professionally, they say no. They’re happy in their cyberspace Yenta roles (and Kahn snapping away as a photographer).
They would, however, like to see their Internet baby grow healthy and strong.
“Going into this, I knew I wanted to be worldwide,” Kahn says. “I’m from South Africa, so when I started, I didn’t want this to just be California; I didn’t even want this to just be the U.S.; I want this to be worldwide. We’ve featured weddings from South Africa, from London, from Mexico, and we want to do more of that.”
Adds Friedman, readers can expect to see more interactive blogging in the near future, and vendors who join the Yentas’ directory can expect to see increasing traffic to their own sites via The Wedding Yentas.
“It’s no question we’ll get there,” she says. “That’s just the way the Internet works. It’s just creeping and crawling slowly, but it will happen, and I think we’re excited and ready for it.”
Excited not just for the Jewish brides who find The Wedding Yentas helpful in their wedding planning, but also the Jew “ish” brides, Friedman says, as well as the non-Jewish brides with Jewish fiancés, or even non-Jewish brides with non-Jewish fiancés just looking for good advice and beautiful ideas to use in their own weddings.
“We do like to cover all areas of Judaism,” Friedman says, “whether it’s Reform, Conservative, and even Orthodox. We’re there for everybody.”
• Nicky Kahn and Alison Friedman are The Wedding Yentas. Visit them at www.theweddingyentas.com. You can also find them on Facebook as The Wedding Yentas and on Twitter as WeddingYentas.