It has the epic sweep of a summer blockbuster and the charm of a great romantic comedy. It mixes genres with the skill of a master filmmaker. It's not James Cameron's follow-up to Avatar. It's Jeff and Erin's save-the-date video.
Jeff and Erin's what?
Rather than sending out dusty old cards, Jeffrey Wong and Erin Martin, who met in California and now live in Australia, announced the date of their impending nuptials to invitees with a slick, over-the-top, four-minute film.
Since it was posted on YouTube in November, "Jeff & Erin's EPIC Wedding Trailer: Save the Date" has been viewed more than 800,000 times. Appearing dressed as characters from The Matrix and featuring the theme song from Indiana Jones (among other highlights), the video tells the story of the couple's love for one another with tongue-in-cheek flair.
"We wanted to do the most over-the-top action movie trailer parody we could think of," the couple explained on their blog in January.
It has been praised as the best example yet of a budding trend. Couples are becoming mini-movie directors in an attempt to get people pumped about their nuptials, creating save-the-date videos to express who they are and set the tone of their weddings much better than a traditional card ever could. The opportunity to have some fun has couples starring in videos that spoof iPhone commercials, mimic music videos and parody Star Wars.
"Most weddings are kind of boring," says Kelly Wollschlager. "We wanted to do something totally different."
Mr. Wollschlager and his wife, Valerie, who live in New York and work in television marketing, turned up the rock 'n' roll in their save-the-date video with a little help from the AC/DC classic Hells Bells. "Get ready for the wedding event of the summer," a voiceover in near-perfect movie guy voice proclaims as the couple mashes cake into each other's face while the iconic song plays.
"It definitely promises a badass time. That was the main objective," Mr. Wollschlager says. The video has been seen more than 37,000 times since it was posted to YouTube in September, 2007.
Adam Levine and Rennie Salomon spoofed Star Wars in their save-the-date video.
"We wanted to add a little humour and have it be a little more us. We're not the embossed envelope type," says Mr. Levine, a 32-year-old architect who lives in San Diego, Calif. A self-described Star Wars "junkie," Mr. Levine says the film's opening sequence seemed fitting, since he and his wife were engaged for quite a while before they finally wed last September. " 'A long time ago …' seemed appropriate," he says. "It was a lot more creative than just going to a printer in our opinion, and I think people appreciated it."
Professionally done save-the-date videos can be created in a day or two and cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars, says Peter Bisuito, owner of The Wedding Producer, a video production company in Buffalo.
Since 2008, Mr. Bisuito has produced several save-the-date videos, including one meant to resemble an episode of the old Wonder Woman television show, with the bride playing the super hero, and another in the style of a silent movie.
"Brides are always looking for something different," he says of the appeal.
Lynda Kim, a 32-year-old commercial insurance underwriter, decided to produce a save-the-date video for her wedding in June, after learning about a co-worker's. Ms. Kim was so struck by the idea she knew she wouldn't be mailing out cards to invitees.
"It was just a cooler concept," she says. The video, created by Norris Films in Toronto, parodies the music video Please Don't Leave Me by Pink. The video shows Ms. Kim kidnapping her fiancé, a Toronto police officer. "People talked about it forever," she says.
"Couples don't want the same wedding their parents had," says Victor Au, sales and operations manager at Norris Films. "It helps tell people, 'We're going to have a fun wedding, it's going to be creative, there's going to be lots of good times.' "
Another benefit of a video, he says, is that it can't get lost under a stack of papers or accidentally thrown in the garbage the way cards can. "If it's e-mailed to you, you can always find that e-mail again, or it's on their wedding website. You can't really lose it," Mr. Au says.
Corey McKenna and his wife Rachel, who live in Chicago and were married last summer, created a stop-motion video of their wedding clothes getting ready at home and driving to the church.
While much can be said in a card, the couple thought a video would do a better job of letting guests know what they were in for.
"We really wanted a relaxed wedding," Mr. McKenna says. "I think that was the one way of kind of steering everybody in that direction."
Editor's note: Lynda Kim's name was incorrectly spelled in the original version of this story. This version has been corrected.