For many engaged couples, a personal website is an important part of the wedding-planning process. Often, it’s where guests go to find gift registry information, directions to the reception, preferred attire suggestions, and other useful information about the upcoming nuptials.
Seventy-four percent of couples who married in 2018 created a wedding site, up from 59 percent in 2015, according to the WeddingWire’s latest Newlywed Report.
Of course, not all wedding websites are created equally. What sets great web pages apart from so-so ones? Here are a few tips for building a stylish, fun and innovative website for your big day.
Wedding resources like the Knot, WeddingWire and Zola allow couples to create personalized web pages for free. Their standard templates are easy to use, which helps streamline the process. But they aren’t your only options.
And for the more technically inclined, you can create a self-hosted website, where you pick the software (and add your own coding) and the hosting company. This allows for maximum customization in design and function.
It’s fine to choose a fancy template and maybe add a few creative flourishes to the layout, such as a live countdown to the wedding day, or a vibrant color scheme (perhaps one that matches your wedding’s theme or palette). But don’t go overboard.
“Keep things simple and minimal,” said Carrie Schwab, the general manager and editor in chief at JunebugWeddings.com. “Couples sometimes forget that older guests might not be able to read small text or understand how to navigate more complex websites, so my pro tip is to make your website easy to navigate and read.”
Many of the website builders will charge extra for you to create or use a customized web address, or URL. Buying one, however, makes sense.
First, they’re inexpensive (about $15 to $20 for a year). But, more important, a custom address, like couplename.com instead of couplename.minted.us, can make your website easier for guests to find when looking for it on search engines like Google. This is something many attendees end up doing, regardless of whether you had included the URL on your save-the-date cards or wedding invitations.
Industry experts recommend keeping a site active for about a year after the wedding, since the general rule is that guests have up to a year to buy the couple a gift.
If you want to keep your wedding details and photos out of the public eye, you can add password protection to the entire site or just some of the pages. This is an option offered by many of the website builders.
Ms. Schwab says most people won’t need to have passwords. But, she added, “If you’re getting married at home or at the home of a relative, then I think it makes sense to password-protect your wedding website. If you do choose the password route, remember to include that password on your save-the-date cards and invitations.”
Don’t just slap basic wedding information onto the home page and call it a day. Ms. Schwab recommends constructing a page on your site that is dedicated to frequently asked questions.
Here a few questions you might want to include:
When is the R.S.V.P. deadline?
Are children welcome?
What should I wear?
Is there parking at the venue?
Is the wedding indoors or outdoors?
Can I take photos during the ceremony?
Is the venue wheelchair accessible?
Is there a block of hotel rooms reserved for guests? (Pro Tip: Christine Janda, a Chicago-based wedding and events planner, suggests including relevant hyperlinks and reservation codes.)
Where are you registered for gifts?
Share information about your relationship — how you met, when you knew your partner was “the one” and how you got engaged, for example. This feature “can help connect guests to your story,” Ms. Schwab said, “especially if you’re having a big wedding and you don’t personally know everyone attending.”
Zoe Cousin, a wedding and events planner in San Francisco, recommends calling this page simply “Our Story.”
To break up the text in this section, you can also share photos that illustrate notable moments from your relationship, such as pictures of your engagement or eventful trips the two of you might have taken together.
Out-of-town guests visiting for the weekend will be looking for things to do. Use real estate on your website to share information about restaurants, museums, shops and tourist attractions. You can include directions, say, from the suggested hotels. Ms. Janda recommends creating a map, with links, to make this information more interactive.
Include short bios of your bridesmaids and groomsmen (or bridesmen and groomswomen) on your website. Such information, Ms. Cousin said, is a “smart way to break the ice before the wedding day between all the other guests and the bridal party,” Ms. Cousin said.
You can have some fun by sharing embarrassing photos of them and little details, like each person’s favorite ice cream flavor.
“I recommend my wedding clients use their wedding website as a neutral territory to inform their guests about important and sometimes tricky information which they do not want to tell them face to face,” Ms. Cousin said.
For instance, if you only want cash gifts, it’s O.K. to spell that out on your website. And if you’re on a tight budget and won’t be offering an open bar, you can do that, too. Ms. Cousin recommended this script: “We so look forward to dancing the night away with you! Please note we will be offering a cash bar with a full selection of cocktails, beer, and wine all evening long.”
If you plan to have a designated wedding hashtag that attendees can use when posting photos on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media platforms, let your guests know what it is on your website.
José Rolón, a wedding and events planner based in Brooklyn, says guests often miss the hashtag on the wedding day “because they didn’t catch it on your welcome table or the 4-by-6-inch bar sign.”
“The more the guests see your hashtag,” he said, “the more you’ll see and enjoy stalking your social media feed the morning after.”
The site can be transformed after the wedding takes place. Ms. Cousins suggests changing the tone from “here’s what to expect” to “here’s what happened.”
You can display the photos guests took and posted on social media via the wedding hashtag, along with the images from the professional photographer.
These changes are a nice way to thank your guests and to share memories of your special day with those who might not have been able to attend.