The wedding tweetup
BY Mike Gordon
Advertiser Staff Writer
Lucky for Ron Nagata, father of the bride, he doesn't have to foot the bill for his only daughter's wedding. When she announced it on the Web a few weeks ago, she invited the Twitterverse.
Dallas Nagata and fiance Ed White decided to make their July 7 wedding a public event, complete with live-streaming video of the ceremony at Kaka'ako Waterfront Park, photos being uploaded faster than you can say "I do," Twitter commentary and an open-ended guest list that will include anyone who can hit a reply key.
In the new lingo of social media, the wedding will be a "tweetup" that the couple is calling WhiteTwedding2010.
"I guess it's a 'Why not?' thing," said Nagata, a bubbly 23-year-old artist/photographer from Maui. "Whoever wants to show up can show up. It's an opportunity to meet new people. It's a public access event."
For those of you still rooted in a world of things you can hold, such as engraved invitations, the Twitterverse is the online community of people who post what they're doing in 140-character bursts via Twitter. Devotees "follow" people — often people they've never met — and forge friendships.
When followers meet in real life, it's called a tweetup, and the event usually has a theme.
BACON, BEER, LOVE
The first tweetup ever attended by White, a 25-year-old U.S. Army sergeant currently deployed to Afghanistan, focused on bacon.
The couple met at a tweetup last December at Rumors nightclub for two guys who host a beer review podcast. Neither had followed the other on Twitter; they were attracted to each other the old fashioned way and fell in love instantly.
Because the Twitterverse brought them together, Nagata and White felt it was appropriate to share their vows with everyone in it.
"Dallas and I would not have met if it weren't for Twitter and its particular culture in Hawai'i," White wrote in an e-mail. "We often cringe at how overwhelming the odds were that we wouldn't meet at all, just like we would have never met a hefty amount of the people who are now our friends if it weren't for Hawai'i's energetic Twitter community and social media at large."
Theirs was a whirlwind affair interrupted on Valentine's Day when White, assigned to the 205th Military Intelligence Battalion at Fort Shafter, headed overseas. They stayed in touch daily with phone calls, e-mail, Twitter and chat. Nagata even changed her sleeping patterns, staying up all night so she could mimic White's day.
On March 17, amid a barrage of incoming rocket fire, White proposed, but call him romantic: Their engagement wasn't official until he called Nagata's parents to ask permission.
"They love him," she said.
More than 50 people have said they're coming, including 10 that Nagata has never met in person and a few relatives who heard about it by word-of-mouth.
"We have had people even invite other people: 'Oh, by the way, there is a wedding going on,' " she said. "The people on Twitter are pretty excited."
White's family lives on the Mainland and can't afford to fly out for the wedding, but they'll follow it closely via the live streaming to the Web. White said his father once told him that the world is shrinking because of the Internet.
"I have friends and family all over the world and because of the awe-inspiring level of technology that we've achieved they can 'be there' even if they can't be there," White said. "I think that technology is able to bring people together."
Nagata's parents will be there in person. Neither Ron, who doesn't know much about Twitter, nor his wife Linda, who said she doesn't "tweet as often as I should," are surprised by the public wedding.
"They will do what they will do and we just need to show up," said Linda Nagata, an author of several science fiction novels. "It's such a personal event and a personal time, but people do public weddings. They enjoy their online presence and they seem to be handling it well."
Ed Morita, a freelance photographer who knows both Nagata and White, offered to shoot the wedding — but with a twist. He has a gizmo in his camera that connects him to a world of strangers.
"Whatever pictures I take go straight to the Internet," he said. "It's just another way that people can view it while the event is actually happening. Instant gratification. They want the information and they want it now."
Events like their WhiteTwedding2010 say more about the evolution of the wedding industry than social media, White said.
"Some people might say that the modern world in which we can and do publish our wedding like this is a narcissistic place, but I don't think so," he said. "I don't think that everyone wants to publish their lives the way Dallas and I do, nor do I think that they should be expected to, but I think that it's great that everyone has the option to."
And the backbone of social media has everything to do with bringing people together and celebrating shared interests.
Kind of like love, actually.
"The thing about social media," White said, "is that its evolution is as unknowable as interpersonal relationships."