These days, couples are embracing technology throughout their wedding planning process more than ever before. Personalized wedding websites are one example of this trend. Practical and easy to use, they provide a central location to organize, store and share information about your wedding. They are an invaluable resource for guests and a great way for you to communicate your plans and progress.
Here are some of the many things you can include on your wedding website:
Key Wedding Day Details– Even in you’re sending out traditional invitations, you’ll still want to include all of the major details for your wedding- namely, the date, times and locations of your ceremony and reception.
Wedding-Related Events– Having a Welcome Reception, Day-After Brunch or other outing? Tell guests about it so they can put it on their schedules and make arrangements to attend.
Accommodations– Let guests know about local hotels and any room blocks you may have reserved. Be sure to give them the phone number or website to make reservations and any pertinent discount codes. Provide information and times for guest shuttles if you’re using them.
Maps and Directions– Some websites offer Google maps or similar directional resources so that your guests can get directions according to their location. You can also include detailed written directions for key routes.
For brides looking to use less paper, this is a perfect example of something you can opt to leave out of your physical invitation.
Local Attractions– Highlight your favorite local attractions, things to do, or places to eat to keep guests entertained.
Registries– Your wedding website is a great place to keep all of your registries in one spot. Link directly to each one so guests won’t have to search.
Photos and Stories– Be sure to add personal touches that will make your website more “you”. Tell the story of how you met or how your fiance proposed. Guests will love reading about those details. Add photographs of special moments throughout your relationship.
Who’s Who– Some couples like to introduce key players in their wedding day, such as the wedding party, to their guests.
Blogs– Blogging is hugely popular these days. With this in mind, several websites allow for the inclusion of planning blogs and updates for couples that want to keep guests informed every step of the way.
Interactive Areas for Guests– Online guest books are an easy way to make your guests feel included by allowing them to leave a note or send well wishes. Other common interactive options include polls, quizzes, or places for people to include song requests for your reception.
RSVP Sections– This is another great idea for those looking to keep things green. Skip the RSVP cards and have guests respond directly through the website. Your invitation and postage costs will be reduced significantly.
Once you determine exactly which of these details you’d like to include, search the internet for sites that provide what you’re looking for. Browse sample pages, test out as many free sites as possible and compare their styles and offerings. There are several questions that you should keep in mind. Do you want something simple and straightforward or more elaborate? Will your website be strictly informational or will it be used for detailed planning and interaction with your guests? Are you design savvy or do you need a site that handles all of the groundwork for you? Be sure to factor in your budget and whether or not a website is something you can afford to pay for or need to create for free.
There are so many websites with unique capabilities and features out there, you’re guaranteed to find at least one that matches your criteria. Here are several options to check out during your search:
WeddingWire offers a free membership that not only entitles you to excellent planning tools and vendor resources, but tons of free website templates from a variety of designers including Hello Lucky, Vera Wang and Martha Stewart. Several of the designs include Flash intros for added flair. Users are given and unlimited number of pages as well as 100MB of storage for photos and music. One of WeddingWire’s best features is its selection of apps which can help guests access everything from flights and car rentals to local weather and entertainment.
MyWedding is another free site with a great planning section as well as beautiful designs. Choose layouts from content partners such as Brooklyn Bride and Green Bride Guide or find ones with matching invitations. Photo lovers will enjoy the ability to upload unlimited images. Send group emails out to guests by uploading your address book from mail services such as Outlook or Gmail.
Other free and easy websites with great options and a variety of layouts that can also be matched to your invitations include OneWed and Wedding Paper Divas.
Looking for everything in one place? You will love the simplicity of Google Weddings, which combines four easy-to-use tools- Google Sites for the actual design of a wedding webpage; Picnik for editing photos and creating save the dates; Google Docs for all of your planning and organizational needs; and Picasa for sharing photos and gathering inspiration.
Wedding Jojo has a free version as well as a paid version. Your options are limited if you select the free sampler version, but for $14.99 a month, you’ll have the chance to create a website with incredible levels of customization. The designs are sleek and modern and allow for color changes. Photos can be stored and sorted into albums for easy viewing. In addition to the inclusion of traditional registries, you can use their special honeymoon registry where guests can contribute to anything from suite upgrades to romantic dinners or excursions. As administrator of your Wedding Jojo site, you can opt to make all or part of it private so only the people you choose can view specific pages. You’ll also have the chance to create a domain name that is personal and easy for guests to remember.
Another paid site with truly unique and whimsical designs is Nearlyweds. It offers unlimited storage and pages, the ability to upload YouTube videos or MP3s, custom domain names and easy Drag and Drop editing. Guests will love the ability to comment on multiple areas of the site from pictures to blog posts and stories. They can even upload their own photos in the guestbook. You have the option of emailing some or all of your guests directly from the site to keep them updated on any changes. Nearlyweds costs $14.99 a month or $99.00 for the year.
Once you’ve selected a site and added some content, be sure to pass the web address along to your guests. You can send an electronic announcement or include the link on your Save-the-Dates or invitations.
Regardless of how simple or elaborate you get, taking the time to make a wedding website is definitely worth it. All of your plans and details will be organized and your guests will be informed and prepared to celebrate your wedding day!