There are a plethora of free build-your-own sites that brides and grooms-to-be can use to start their own website, such as www.easyweddings.com.au, www.weddings.myevent.com, www.ewedding.com, although you can opt to pay for a professionally designed website if you’re not overly tech-savvy. These free, easy-to-use sites provide a wide variety of templated designs to choose from, so you can personalise your site and even match it to your wedding theme.
At its simplest, your site should include your basic information: your names, a photo of the two of you, your wedding date and location, and a brief greeting to visitors.
You can use your site as a way of sharing the initial news of your engagement – acting as a more up-to-date version of the old-fashioned newspaper announcement.
Your website is also a convenient and paper-free way to send save-the-date announcements (or even your actual invites), updated news and tips to guests, manage your gift registry and guest list, and keep track of the RSVPs.
And with the increasing popularity of blogging, many couples use their sites as online diaries, sharing photos and details about their engagement, the planning process and their hopes for their future together.
Megan Hermeling from WeddingWire.com advises setting up your wedding website as early on in the planning process as possible; at least six months before the wedding.
“We have seen a growing number of couples include their personal website address in their save-the-date cards. Since the primary reason for a website is to share wedding details with your guests, you want to give them as much information as early as possible, especially if the guests need to make travel arrangements.”
Indeed, it is destination weddings in which wedding websites become particularly helpful as a planning tool. You can post any and all logistical details that might help your guests, such as the best way of reaching your wedding destination, including flight details and prices.
“Effective communication between you and your wedding guests is essential in the busy months leading up to your destination wedding,” says wedding planner Christine Jones.
“You should think of the site first as a clearinghouse of information. Posting things like, ‘The welcome party is at 6pm on the beach, and we’ll be sending a van to pick you up’. It’s also helpful to include links to hotels, babysitting services, and any local sightseeing spots and activities you think your guests might enjoy.”
For London-based Sarah Aitken, 29, who married now-husband Brett, 33, starting their own wedding website was a way to keep friends and family back home in Tasmania abreast with the planning and preparation. Sarah’s mother Eleanor was also able to add updates to the site which helped eliminate some of the stress involved in organising a wedding from two different cities. “My mum and I really collaborated together with planning my wedding and starting the website definitely helped,” says Aitken.
“She was able to upload pictures of locations and gather comments from our guests in the online guestbook about their thoughts as well. It really felt like a joint effort. Which I would’ve had if I’d been planning my wedding from home, rather than from the other side of the world!”
After the big day, your website can also serve as a romantic online keepsake. You can upload your entire wedding album, snaps from your honeymoon and send your thank you notes to friends and family for their attendance and gifts via the site. “I still log on to our wedding site,” reveals Aitken. “I love looking at all of our photos from the day and also reading through all of the comments our friends and family left. I also direct new friends to the site when they ask about what our wedding day was like.”