Creating Your Wedding Website 101
The internet has completely revolutionized the way we live every day, in many ways we depend on technology for almost everything. In terms of how we plan weddings, the internet has helped evolve the industry into what we think of today. No longer do brides only have written publications, friends recommendations and radio/television ads to turn to for wedding information and inspiration. We no longer solely rely on snail-mail to collect RSVPs and we don’t have to stuff invitation envelopes full of detail cards. Using this amazing thing we like to call the internet we can now create wedding websites with all that information easily accessible in one place for your guests – many times even the place for them to promptly and easily RSVP. There are several different wedding related websites that will allow you to use them as a free host for your own website. True, you will have the name of that host website included in the domain, but it is free and most will already have templates set up, so all you have to do is insert the information… but what information should be included?
Along with the basic reminder of where and when your ceremony/reception is being held, there are three main purposes for creating a wedding website… a place for guests to RSVP, a place for guests to gather local hotel/travel/entertainment information and/or a place for guests to be able to see and utilize your gift registry. Some of my favorite (and most widely used) host and wedding website builders that are customizable and can accomplish all these things are: The Knot, Minted, Zola and Joy. These can all be used free of charge. The Knot and Zola even have the option to purchase a custom domain name for a one-time fee. Another very good option, if you are planning on hiring a wedding planner (which you should), is to ask them what wedding planning program they use, because if it is Aisle Planner we, as planners, have the option to create a free wedding website for you – taking that task off your shoulders. The only downside with using Aisle Planner as your host (as of December 2020) is that in order for guests to RSVP via the website you would have to send them an email that they would then respond to; however, they are working on upgrading that feature in the near future because we all know it can be hard enough just getting mailing addresses not having to add on also getting email addresses from everyone.
Once you have decided on which host to use, now comes the fun part… actually building your wedding website! All the sites I mentioned have so many great templates, for any style, that will help walk you through what to include, but let’s talk through the basics to make sure nothing gets missed. For starters, you want to have a welcome page. The big things to include here are: your names (they’ve got to make sure they are on the right website for the right wedding after all), a picture of you and your fiancé, the date of your nuptials and a welcome message. The welcome message can be as simple as “We look forward to celebrating this joyous day with all you” or you can do it in the form of an “Our Story” telling your friends and family (if they don’t already know) how you met, a couple of your favorite adventures and how the proposal went down.
Next comes the actual event information. You will want a page telling guests all the information they need for the events you want them to attend. This can include, but not be limited to, the rehearsal, the rehearsal dinner, the ceremony, the cocktail hour, the reception, the after party and the morning after brunch. If some (or all) of these celebrations are taking place at the same venue you only need to include the address & information once, but if they are taking place at different locations be sure to clearly note the addresses and times you are requesting their presence. Also, many times the smaller, more casual celebrations (like the rehearsal dinner and the morning after brunch) are limited to very close family and friends. The host website builders I listed above will allow you to turn any of these events into a “private RSVP”, so only those guests designate will see that information on the event page. This is also a great place to include any information such as dress code, where to park or any additional requests you have of your guests.
Naturally, next you will want to include is the actual RSVP page. For most websites, your guests will be asked to type in their name(s) and once they click “go” they will be redirected to the place where they can appropriately RSVP to those events they have been invited to. Simple as that! Then on the back end you will be able to keep track of everyone and which events they are attending. And, in turn, who hasn’t RSVP’d and maybe needs a reminder text or phone call.
Even if only a few of your wedding guests are traveling from out-of-town it is always a good idea and thoughtful to include local travel & hotel information. This doesn’t need to be a giant list of every single hotel in the area, but rather a list of 3 or 4 of the best (while still being affordable) hotels within a reasonable distance to the wedding venue(s). I always recommend including the hotel’s name (obviously), the driving distance in relation to the venue(s) and the website where they can find additional information and book a room if they so desire. Don’t feel the need to go overboard with information here because it will likely be repetitive from what they can find on the hotel’s website.
The last page that is necessary, in my opinion, is the gift registry page. This is a great place to either link a registry or at least give your guests a little insight into what you are looking for in terms of wedding gifts. Some of the host website builders will only allow you to add in a registry link that will redirect your guests to the appropriate website where they can view and purchase a gift. Others host websites, like The Knot, will automatically sync everything from your registry into the wedding website from the link(s) you provide, so your guests can view and buy gifts without having to be redirected. If you are planning on asking your guests to contribute to a honeymoon or newlywed fund, The Knot is the only host (of those I’ve mentioned) that is set up to allow your guests to contribute monetarily straight through your website. However, there is a 2.5% service charge with each monetary gift that is “purchased”. The other option, if you are still wanting to ask your guests for honeymoon or newlywed contributions but not wanting to incur a surcharge, is to simply include that information on your website’s registry page, allowing your guests to either send money prior to the wedding date or bring it with them in a card should they choose to do that for your gift.
The other pages that can be included on your website, but are not necessary, are a photos page with all your favorite photos of you and your partner for your guests to peruse and a page introducing your bridal party. This can be a fun page for your guests to get to know some of the most important people in your lives before the big day so they can put a face to a name and know the importance of why you asked them to stand next to you as your marry the love of your life. Things to include under each person would be a picture, their name, their role in the wedding, who they are to you/how you met and one fun fact or anecdote your guests may get a kick out of.
Wow! That was a lot of information to include regarding building one little website, but just imagine how easy and informative all of that is for your guests. Something like a wedding website can help field a lot of questions you may not have the time to answer as well as make it so you are not sending each invitation envelope filled with 3, 4 or 5 sheets of paper. A wedding website is not a must, but for a lot of couples it can be a fun thing to design together and with all the technology we have right at our fingertips today why not take advantage of it!
If you found this article helpful and want to chat further, head on over to the services page for my packages and pricing information. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me or leave a comment below!
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