Pinterest replaces old-fashioned wedding folder

| Monday, Feb. 25, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Angela Gaitaniella, a Shadyside bride-to-be, could just describe what she has in mind for her bridesmaid dresses, cake, table linens, flowers and other wedding details, but showing Pinterest photos makes her ideas more concrete.

“It's definitely one of the tools I've been using to get a good visualization of certain elements of the wedding,” says Gaitaniella, 27. The Pleasant Hills native will marry her fiance, Jonathan Ford, on July 20. “Really seeing elements that you like and don't like offers a completely different aspect or perspective.” is a free website where users “pin” photos of items that they like from other web-sites or their own photo collection. The photos can be organized on boards under specific topics, such as wedding dresses or cakes. Then other users can see the photos and re-pin those that they like to their own Pinterest accounts.

Pinterest photos inspired Gaitaniella's choice of gray and purple bridesmaid colors, a three-layer cake with real flower embellishments and her wedding dress. A Pinterest search can turn up thousands of photos.

“At times, it was a little bit overwhelming, because there are so many options,” she says. “With the good comes the bad. ... It is easy to get caught up in the details.”

Gaitaniella illustrates a growing wedding trend of how Pinterest is changing the wedding industry. In a December survey of about 700 brides at, 38 percent said they had used Pinterest when working with their vendors, 15 percent emailed a Pinterest link to vendors, and 19 percent said they use Pinterest to keep in touch with their vendors as the planning proceeds.

“It's such an easy visual-communication tool,” says Anja Winikka, site director of The Knot, based in New York City. “Pinterest is just a really easy way to do it.”

It's like bringing a clipped magazine photo of a celebrity to your hairstylist, compared to just describing the type of hairdo you want. Some brides create their own inspiration boards on Pinterest, Winikka says.

“It's very clear to us that Pinterest has become a very valuable resource for brides,” Winikka says.

Sharon Naylor, who has authored more than 35 books about weddings, including “The Bride's Guide to Freebies: Enhancing Your Wedding Without Selling Out” ($14.95, Lyons Press), which came out in December, agrees.

“You go on Pinterest and you're getting thousands upon thousands” of images, Naylor says. “At bridal sites, you might go to a few galleries. With Pinterest, you're going to one place.”

Elysia Smith, owner of Mt. Pleasant-based Steel Penny Cakes, has observed this Pinterest craze with her bride clients, about 90 percent of whom bring Smith pictures from the website to give her an idea of the look they want for their cakes.

“You can find cake after cake,” Smith says. Many of her sweet creations have been pinned on the website.

While photos — whether from Pinterest, magazines or family/friend wedding portraits — can give cake designers general ideas, people should respect that individual designers are artists and usually won't make an exact duplicate, Smith says.

“I don't like to replicate somebody else's design. ... I prefer to do my own designs,” Smith says. “I can try to replicate (a photo) as much as possible ... but everybody has their own hand.”

Pinterest, she says, “is a good tool to use for inspiration.”

Vicki Beuth, owner of Leechburg Floral Co. says brides who come to consultations armed with Pinterest photos help her design the brides' dream bouquets. They either show Beuth the photos on their iPhones or laptops, or bring printed photos on paper.

“Truthfully, it's great, because they come in more informed,” says Beuth, who estimates that about half of the brides who come to her shop use Pinterest. “They can narrow down the style that they are looking for. It also gives them more creative input into it. It gives (brides) a wider range of options.”

Pinterest users, however, might become disappointed if they like a floral arrangement that is out-of-season and unavailable for their wedding date. Peonies, for instance, are popular, but are a late-spring and early-summer flower.

Pinterest photos also don't tell the story behind what's in the image — namely, what the item costs. A bride may fall in love with a certain dress, for instance, then discover that a similar dress costs way more than her budget allows, says Heather Lahtinen, a Beaver-based wedding photographer.

“I'm just glad (Pinterest) wasn't around when I got married, because I wouldn't be able to afford myself,” Lahtinen jokes. Her business is called Weddings by Heather, and the website has a Pinterest link, which visitors use to pin her wedding photos. “There are so many beautiful ideas and inspiration. You say, ‘I need this, I need that,' then it all starts to add up.”

Lahtinen has seen a surge within the past year of clients using Pinterest, which can give them ideas for settings and poses in wedding photos.

When planning a wedding, Naylor advises people to work with professionals, who can help make Pinterest dreams come true, even if the image presents something too expensive.

“You may see beautiful things on Pinterest that you think you can do, but there may be far more details involved,” she says. However, “There is nothing on Pinterest that a professional can't do on your budget.”

Kellie B. Gormly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at or 412-320-7824.

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