FEATURE: Software, smartphone apps help simplify wedding planning
(Japan Economic Newswire Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) TOKYO, Oct. 10 -- (Kyodo) _ Getting married may be one of the biggest moments in a person's life, but with endless preparations from choosing the wedding gown and venue to fine-tuning the guest list, many couples often end up quarreling.
To help couples keep track of their schedules and make preparations easier, many wedding service companies in Japan are now offering computer software and smartphone applications to easily organize the big day. The programs are also important tools to attract customers in a stagnant market amid Japan's shrinking population.
Koki Fukumoto, a 26-year-old office worker planning his wedding in November, said he uses the free "Wedding Chic" smartphone application provided by major wedding services company Novarese Inc.
By simply entering the date of a wedding, the application automatically presents a schedule for completing around 170 tasks, ranging from compiling the guest list to choosing and ordering gifts for those attending. It also sends e-mail reminders to the user when the deadline for an important task approaches.
"I was surprised there are so many things that need to be done, far more than I had imagined," said Fukumoto, who lives in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture. "It's too troublesome to look things up in books. This application is really helpful."
The application has been downloaded about 40,000 times since Novarese released it two years ago.
The company also introduced new computer software called "Wedo" last year that enables couples who have reserved wedding venues with Novarese and their wedding planners to communicate over the Internet, reducing the need for face-to-face meetings.
"Then when the wedding planner and the couple do actually meet, they can have plenty of time to discuss the details of the wedding itself, such as how they would like to set the mood for the ceremony and how to entertain the guests," said Keiichi Suganuma, manager of the sales planning division at Novarese.
To make wedding preparations not only easy but fun, Bridal Produce Co., which runs wedding halls mainly in the Tokyo metropolitan area, introduced game-like software called "Styleus" in April.
In the game, using an old European streetscape as the background, the players' car gets closer and closer to a castle each time one of the 42 preparatory tasks is completed.
The software is also linked to partner companies so couples can easily make reservations such as for food tasting and dress fitting at their convenience.
"We came up with this hoping that young couples can enjoy the preparations as if playing an interesting game," said Masashi Shimoyamada, manager of the sales management section at Bridal Produce.
Meanwhile, Recruit Marketing Partners Co., publisher of Japan's major bridal magazine Zexy, offers a checklist-type smartphone application through its "zexy net" website, providing users with the average schedule and detailed explanations for around 240 wedding preparation tasks.
"By providing know-how accumulated since the launch of Zexy, we would like to enliven the wedding industry," a Recruit official said.
(c) 2013 Kyodo News International, Inc.
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