Class of ′04 alums Margaret and Joseph Wong met during pre-frosh weekend in 1999 and started dating through 8.01 and 18.02. Today the couple runs a successful wedding planning Web site called Project Wedding, which collaborates closely with online dating service eHarmony.
Margaret recently reflected on her work, MIT’s impact on it, and the effects of the country’s financial turmoil on the wedding industry.
Slice: How did you get involved with eHarmony and Project Wedding?
MW: Joe and I started Project Wedding when we were planning our own wedding, to help connect brides with each other and share vendor reviews, inspirational photos, and planning tips and advice. About eight months after we started Project Wedding, Joe got an interesting private message from a bride on the site… who turned out to be an eHarmony executive interested in acquiring us. Now we work on Project Wedding on a daily basis at eHarmony headquarters.
Slice: How does your MIT education inform your work?
MW: Probably the most important thing I learned at MIT was from 6.170 (software lab for the old-school techies), which is KISS, “Keep it Simple, Stupid.” When designing Project Wedding, I keep KISS in mind and focus on what our audience really craves, and filter out all the noise.
I should also add that without my MIT education, I would never have met Joe during pre-frosh weekend. It was through 8.01 and 18.02 that Joe and I started dating. Who knew that nerd love would lead us to eventually get married, which prompted us to start our own company in the wedding and publishing business.
Slice: Has the economic volatility of the last year or so affected activity on eHarmony and PW?
MW: The average wedding budget has decreased dramatically over the past year because of layoffs and economic hardship. As a result, we’re seeing a huge surge of traffic of Project Wedding (over 500,000 brides visit every month) because people are searching online for the best vendor deals using our vendor reviews, creative do it yourself projects, and advice from other brides on how to plan a dream wedding on a budget. For example, one of Project Wedding’s brides got married in Southern California for less than $5,000, which is amazing!
eHarmony’s singles matching service has also seen an increase in registrations. Many people are taking the time to re-evaluate their lives and find that they want to find someone to share their life with. Research shows that stress, including financial pressure, can orient singles to want a strong, close relationship more.
Slice: What do you love most about your work?
I love that I get to think up new and beautiful ways to help people plan the beginning of their new life together. I read and look at the most beautiful images and love stories everyday. I get to work with my husband everyday. We’re with each other 24/7 and I really enjoy working with him, much to the surprise of some people. 😉 It’s a pretty awesome job.