The First SnapSpace: Our Origin Story

It’s April 2021. My cousin’s wedding was upcoming after having been postponed from an original date in 2020 (thank you, Covid). I was frantically looking through my cousin’s wedding registry, for their upcoming May wedding, trying to find something that was 1) within my price range as a recently self-employed engineer and 2) something I was excited about gifting my cousin. Well, as much I personally enjoy cooking, getting my cousin a pot or a pan just didn’t really reflect the relationship I had with them. Our family has a lot of only-children in my generation and our cousins became our siblings.

I grew up as a decently skill hobby photographer. I took a film photography class for several years during high school and learned the ins and outs of developing film and film prints in a darkroom (that’s what you had to do before digital cameras, for those of you who don’t know what a B-side is). I always loved looking through old photos and guessing who was in them (the original 10-year facebook challenge in reverse). I also really loved the show Friends. I had recently watched the episode of Chandler and Monica’s wedding when he lost all the disposable cameras they had left out at their wedding reception for guests to take candids. Which in turn got me online looking to buy, well SnapSpaces, to give my cousin as a wedding gift. However, in April 2021 such a thing didn’t exist.

Thankfully, in addition to being a hobby photographer, I am a professional software engineer. I could build it. Which solved all my problems! 1) I didn’t have to actually shell out money just time, 2) it’s a gift that money literally couldn’t buy at the time, and 3) it gave them a gift they could keep forever: memories of their wedding and all the people who were there. The first version of SnapSpaces was very simplistic. Everything was custom coded. There was no website builder that we have now, no support for video, no duplicate detection, no AI tools, and no sharable gallery. It didn’t work flawlessly, but it worked. Thanks to covid, everyone who had gone out to eat in the last 9 months, including my technically challenged mom, knew how to use and scan QR codes. Perfect, this is how I would get them there. Off to office depot I went to pick up an order of business cards I had printed with a QR code to their site, and onward to the rehearsal dinner. Yes, I was testing things at the last minute.

I put out cards at each place setting. One of my aunts later told me she was horrified and initially thought I might be trying to leave my actual business cards for people until she read them. All’s well that ends well. We have photos from their rehearsal dinner that otherwise might not make it to the bride and groom. The nuclear family photos that your extended family takes because it’s so seldom everyone is both together and dressed nicely. Selfies of your cousins exploring New Orleans since they flew in for the weekend. Even if you have a professional photographer, they can’t be there for all those little moments. The next day at the wedding we left the QR code cards out by the guest book, the bars, and scattered throughout hightop and regular tables.

A week later my phone rings. It’s my newest cousin[-by-marriage] Rebecca, “Can you set one of those up for my sister’s wedding? It’s this summer.” Well in my head I’m thinking: okay but this isn’t designed to scale, and I don’t know what their wedding colors are, and someone pointed out at the party it didn’t do video and I feel like I have to fix that before it’s worthy, but what actually came out was, “yes definitely”. During this conversation Rebecca outlined to me that she had been forced to essentially plan her wedding twice in a row thanks to covid and the postponement. In no uncertain terms she told me she never came across anything like this and that I should, “make it a thing”.

So now, it’s a thing. We hope you enjoy it.

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