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#HITCHED: Wedding Tech Getting ‘Extreme’ With Drones, Robot Officiants

A bride and groom use their mobile phone

A bride and groom use their mobile phones during a mass wedding of police officers at the Cathedral of Bogota, on Dec. 9, 2011. LUIS ACOSTA / AFP - Getty Images file

Technology has long been enmeshed in the age-old ritual of saying “I do” -- and now, wedding tech has moved well past hashtags to include Google Glass-wearing brides, drone photography and even robot officiants.

"It's a saturated market in terms of inspiration ... and people are more focused than ever on having their wedding stand out from everyone else’s," said Jamie Miles, editor of wedding website TheKnot.com. "They want that one thing that people will remember, and there are a ton of technology-focused options."

For some couples, it's the tech you'd expect: Nearly nine in 10 couples download wedding planning apps, according to a recent survey from TheKnot, and about 55 percent use a wedding hashtag.

But others have moved well past these now run-of-the-mill add-ons to wedding tech that's become "more and more extreme," Miles said.

Google Glass through the veil

A big subset of that advanced wedding tech is devoted to capturing wedding photos and videos in an entirely new way. Bride Jessica Kuan grabbed headlines when she donned a Google Glass headset to capture her walk down the aisle last summer. Her behind-the-veil video, made as part of the Tumblr project OKGlassIDo, was reportedly the first of its kind (though a San Diego bride hid a GoPro camera in her bouquet during her 2012 nuptials).

"Google Glass is a little bit extreme considering that they're so not subtle," Miles said. "Maybe 30 years from now no one will remember Google Glass -- or want to -- but they're in your wedding photos."

While unique videos to coo over after the big day can be appealing, some couples want video captured and streamed live -- perhaps for family members and friends who can't attend the ceremony. DIY options include YouTube Live Stream and Ustream, and an industry of startups like I Do Stream offers packages starting at $199.

But drones are perhaps the buzziest trend in wedding photography. A growing number of photographers offer drones that can fly around to snap unique bird's-eye-view vistas and capture the entire group of guests with ease.

Though some photographers openly advertise their drone services, the practice may not be legal; the Federal Aviation Administration bans the use of drones for commercial purposes with prior approval from the agency. Earlier this summer, New York Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney -- who serves on a committee that oversees the FAA -- came under fire for hiring a videographer who reportedly used a drone to shoot video. The FAA said in July that it was investigating the incident.

Use of drones for wedding photos is soaring 3:28

Hire a social-media maven

After shelling out so much cash -- and possibly risking legal action in the case of drones -- to capture gorgeous photos, some brides and grooms want to make sure they're pushed out to Facebook and Twitter followers in the best possible way.

That's why the W Hotels offers a "Social Media Wedding Concierge" service, available at four New York locations for a cool $3,000.

The concierge publishes live updates to Twitter during the ceremony and reception, posts pictures and videos to Instagram and encourages guests to use the specially "curated" wedding hashtag. Post-wedding, the social media maven will compile a book including a collage of the top tweets and Instagram photos.

Four couples have signed up for the service since March, W Hotels' global social media strategist Alyssa Kiefer told NBC News.

"There's definitely more pressure than ever before to make sure that your wedding is Instagram-worthy," Kiefer said. "Before you had to worry only about what your photographer was sharing. Now it's about creating a coordinated approach to all of the content that your friends share."

The social media concierge service -- and its price tag -- garnered some incredulous headlines at its launch, but Kiefer defended the offer. "It's about making things as seamless as possible for couples who are already stressed with a lot to think about."

Try on gowns at home

That's the philosophy behind Wedding Dress Studio, a free iPad app that launched this week, which allows brides to virtually "try on" frocks to get a sense of what they might like to buy before hitting stores. The company patented a "fabric-remapping technology" that is meant to show what the dress will truly look like on the specific user's body, rather than simply pasting it over a photo.

Brides upload a full-length photo of themselves and tell the app where their shoulders and hips lie. They can choose from various silhouettes, necklines, fabric and details for a total of 300 gown designs. While options are limited now, the company told NBC News it plans to expand the choices and hopes to partner with retailers in the future.

"It's such a massive, one-time purchase, and it can be a really overwhelming task when you get in the store," founder Hillary Sica said in an interview. "We wanted to give people a sense of what looks good on them and find what they really want."

With all the options out there -- including companies that will rent you a robot to marry you off, rather than a religious or civil officiant -- it's important to remember that wedding tech is about making the most of an already special day, said Jamie Miles, the editor of TheKnot.

"You should think about why you're doing it," Miles said. "Maybe you want to livestream your wedding for your grandma because she can't make it, or you want a drone to capture all 350 of your guests in the same photo. If it makes sense for you, you should do it."

It's easy to slip into the use of tech for tech's sake, Miles warned. Superfluous gadgets and services can skew the focus of what's most important on the wedding day, and inflate already bloated budgets.

"It's about spending money where it matters to you, and prioritizing what is actually important," Miles said. "Years later will you be happy you had a drone, or will you wish you invited more people and splurged a little more on the honeymoon?"