It’s the day every little girl dreams of. Her wedding day. The biggest day of her life. A day planned to perfection. From ‘the dress’, to the flowers; from the music to the fold of the napkins. Everything has to be thought of.

So when I became engaged in the middle of last year, it didn’t take very long before I found myself with a second job. PR manager by day; wedding planner extraordinaire by night; and there was my new fiancé thinking that he’d done his bit by actually plucking up the courage to propose! Little did he know. The work had only just begun.

Add approximately 3,500 miles to the terrors of a slightly over-zealous mother and a grandmother freely expressing her opinion that it had been her fear that I’d end up a spinster, and, like so many other expat brides out there, I had a challenge on my hands.

Initially I followed the instinct of brides before me. I took refuge in magazines. Piles of them. Some were old, some were new, some were borrowed. I read them all. I even had people bring them over from the UK as a condition of their visit. I cut out pictures, I tore out pages, but reading and looking at pictures was a far cry from actually taking action. Those 3,500 miles looked further than ever before.

That was, until one day a colleague who was also deep in wedding planning mode, introduced me to the wonderful world of the online wedding community through a couple of blogs (dangerously voyeuristic, worryingly addictive). I explored further the online wedding industry further and to my surprise and relief I slowly discovered that wedding industry of England’s Shire Counties has embraced social media in all its forms. More than this, social media is helping, what are often small and medium-sized enterprises, to thrive.

It all started with the dress. Google led me to the perfect boutique. But without even stepping foot through the door I knew it would be from within those four walls that I would find ‘the one’ for me. How did I know? I followed their blog and Twitter feed, as well as liking their Facebook page. I checked out the people they were following and were following them in return, and slowly but surely I was able to put together a network of referrals, positive experiences and suppliers. By the time I eventually got to the boutique they were almost guaranteed a sale.

Photographers have embraced blogging to showcase their work. I spent countless hours checking out blogs before I reached out to people I thought looked as though they would fit the bill. I had a similar experience with the people who supplied the wonderful flowers, did our hair and make-up and provided the beautiful stationery. We even used social media and the internet to locate our band. A big risk. But it paid off. They were amazing.

But it was the lady who made wedding cakes from a shed in her back garden that stands out as the wedding social media queen for me.

“My website’s great, but if you want to see my most recent work check out my Facebook page,” she said.

She currently has more than 1,200 fans of her page – from brides through to industry heavyweights. It’s exactly what the fan page of a sole-trader should be: updated daily, retains a personal approach and has great photos.

It wasn’t until the week before the big day that I realized what I had on my hands: a big fat social media wedding.

Social media was critical in the success of the day. I was able to read testimonials, see their work on Facebook pages and follow their blogs. It’s this kind of personal experience through rich media content that worked for me. Regular updates of content, ideas, pictures and comments that delivered a personal experience that traditional magazines weren’t able to. It helped me to bridge those 3,500 miles and critically, helped me stop my mother from becoming a mum-zilla.

Now, please excuse me, I must go and start un-tagging all those pictures of me my guests have put on Facebook…