WedPics CEO Justin Miller will always remember July 7, 2012. It was the day his best friend got fake-married.
At the time, Miller was running a small, eight-person startup that had spent the previous few months hunkered down in his Raleigh, N.C., basement building WedPics, an app for sharing and collecting wedding photos.
The team didn’t know much about weddings. Seven of the company’s employees were male and six were single. But they’d built a similar photo-sharing app, Deja Mi, that was having trouble standing out from a slew of other photo apps launched during that time.
So they decided to build an app focused on weddings, one of the popular use cases they’d observed within Deja Mi. They also decided that the best way to launch their new product was with a video that showed how WedPics worked. All they needed was wedding footage.
So Miller threw a “wedding” for his best friend and his wife (yes, they were already married). The day even included a reception at Five Star, a Chinese restaurant in Raleigh’s Warehouse District.
“One of the biggest challenges,” Miller, 34, said, “was finding a friend that had a wedding dress.”
The short video worked (you can watch it below) and Raleigh-based WedPics, which is about to enter its third full wedding season, has been in the wedding business ever since.
The app serves as a private social network of sorts for wedding couples and their guests. They can share photos with the group, get times and addresses for wedding-related events and even see the couple’s registry.
More than 500,000 couples have registered their weddings over the past three years, and Miller expects to peak at around 15,000 to 20,000 weddings per weekend this summer, up from 7,000 last year.
That’s all with a group of 22 employees, most of whom still lack firsthand wedding experience. The group is still mostly single (17), including Miller, and an even greater majority are men. Miller says it’s almost always brides, never grooms, who spearhead the signup.
“It’s like the Wizard of Oz effect,” Miller joked of the predominantly male, single team. “I’d venture to say the majority of our brides would run and scream if they saw who was behind this wedding-photo-sharing app that they’re using.”
The startup is also slowly moving toward building its revenue stream. The average cost of a wedding in the U.S. is more than $25,000, according to costofwedding.com, but WedPics isn’t taking much (if any) of that right now. It sells photo prints from the images uploaded by users, but in the future, it’s not hard to imagine the company taking a small revenue share from registry purchases, or offering wedding-specific advertising.
WedPics has a lot of competition, like a similar app called Capsule and WeddingWire, which has a suite of tools to help handle all parts of the wedding planning process. It’s also competing with social networks like Instagram that aren’t wedding-specific, but let couples create a hashtag for their weddings to help corral guest photos.
But Miller thinks that despite the competition, WedPics could one day replace the wedding website that has become a staple for couples planning their big days.
They may also replace other event websites. Miller says the the success of WedPics has inspired the company to begin work on another standalone app that would work for other events, like family trips or having a baby. Already, two percent of WedPics users utilize the app for non-wedding events.
The app won’t launch anytime soon, as wedding season is likely to get in the way. “Once we get in the thick of wedding season,” he says, “we more or less have to go on a feature freeze. We can’t jeopardize that experience.”
After all, these weddings are as real as they come.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.