From weddings to bar and bat mitzvahs, there are plenty of digital tools to plan your next simchah with ease.
By Rabbi Jason Miller
This year marks the 30th anniversary of my bar mitzvah. As I reflect on that memorable life-cycle event, I think about how much has changed in the planning of b’nai mitzvahs since then thanks to technology. In fact, technology has improved so rapidly that much had even changed from my oldest son’s bar mitzvah in early 2017 to my twins’ b’nai mitzvah in late 2018.
The planning process for b’nai mitzvahs, including the hiring of vendors, has become much easier because of the web and mobile apps. This is true when it comes to wedding planning as well. From sending out invitations and getting RSVPs to creating table assignments and figuring out who wants the vegetarian meal, there is no shortage of applications to help make planning a simchah go smoothly in the 21st century.
Let’s look at some of the innovative ways you can save time and energy planning your next simchah.
Managing your guest list and keeping track of responses can create anxiety. Now that it’s considered appropriate to use online invitations and responses for weddings and mitzvah parties, RSVPify has stepped in as the most advanced online RSVP website.
With RSVPify, you can still use traditional invitations, but your guests can RSVP online. This makes it easier to keep track of your guests. RSVPify also has secondary events management to help you keep track of additional events during your party weekend, like a Shabbat dinner, Sunday brunch or rehearsal dinner. Additionally, you can ask your guests custom questions, like whether they require a special meal or size of giveaway clothing or who needs a ride from the airport.
RSVPify has clever features like a seating chart maker, built-in menu options for dietary needs and food allergies and the ability to send reminder emails to guests who haven’t responded. Guests are able to give a monetary gift or make online donations directly from the invitation. rsvpify.com
This website has it all when it comes to planning a bar/bat mitzvah. It is created by Mitzvah Market, an online vendor directory that has ideas and resources for parents planning a mitzvah.
The Mitzvah Organizer costs $69.95 and allows you to manage the guest lists for all aspects of the celebration weekend. The user interface looks like nothing more than a branded Microsoft Excel database, but it allows you to effortlessly manage everything in one app including table assignments, a candlelighting ceremony, party favor sizes, the song list for the DJ, the synagogue honors for the service and many other things that are easy to forget.
For many parents, Mitzvah Organizer’s budget feature will help them figure out which vendors have been paid and which are still owed, in addition to how close they have kept to their budget. Plus, the budget feature allows you to compare the costs of different vendors. The program has predesigned reports to help you stay organized and to provide necessary information to vendors. Like most online apps, Mitzvah Organizer can be used on a desktop, tablet or phone. mitzvahorganizer.com
Wedding websites like Wedding Wire and The Knot are nothing new. Zola seems to have taken what those websites offer up a notch.
Zola is a free service and does not charge for couples to create a custom wedding website. The company does sell invitations and charges a fee if wedding guests use the website to gift money to the couple.
In addition to an online wedding registry, Zola offers expert advice for weddings, like which venue to use and how to find an officiant, how to create the guest list, what innovations to include in the ceremony, which activities to offer before and during the wedding weekend, reception décor and how to choose the right photographer.
Couples can send updates to guests, have a countdown clock on their website, and post videos. Customized wedding websites also make it easier for out-of-town guests, as well as guests at a destination wedding, because everything they need to plan their vacation is on the wedding website. zola.com
The Jewish people will continue to celebrate life-cycle events like mitzvahs and weddings, as we have for generations, but thanks to the Digital Age, we’ll be doing it easier and in a more organized way.