Simply put, the purpose of a wedding website is to provide easy-to-find information about the details of your wedding. If you're planning to invite more than 30 guests, having a destination wedding or are inviting guests from all corners of the globe, a website can be an indispensable tool for relaying information about your Big Day.
Where to start?
1. Find a host.
There are both free and paid options, and most require no coding experience at all. The easiest and least expensive option is to find a host site that allows you to create your own wedding website address for free. The Knot, Wedding Wire and the Wedding Channel are a few of the most popular sites that offer free hosting and hundreds of pre-designed, user-friendly templates to choose from and personalize. These free sites offer the option to delete and add pages, add hyperlinks, change the layout, and even rename your pages. They also offer an RSVP form, a gift registry service and a limited amount of wedding music selections.
Paid sites often offer the most up-to-date templates and more detailed wedding planning checklists along with additional guest management features, budgeting tools and one-on-one technical support. Some sites will even allow you to send and manage email blasts and invitations to multiple wedding-related events to a portion or all of your guests and will keep the information private from your main site and uninvited guests. Some of favorite paid sites are Wedbuddy, Wedding Window, Glosite, Wedding JoJo and eWeddding—with pricing ranging from $4.95 to $24.99 per month and discounted rates on one- and two-year subscriptions. A few sites even allow you to try it out free for a few months.
2. Choose a domain name.
Wherever your website is hosted, it will have a URL address. However, this may include the name of the hosting site and will most likely follow one of these formulas: (www.yourname.sitename.com) or (www.sitename.com/yourname). Many sites will offer the option to create or add a a separate domain, (www.yourname.com), but will charge a one-time fee ranging from $15 to $25.
3. Keep it secure.
It's crucial to protect your personal information online. Always. Identity theft affects millions of people annually, and if somebody targets you, you want to make sure they can't collect your personal information or that of your wedding party.
First check with your website host to see if they have measures in place to protect your identity and the security of your guests. Most of the larger wedding sites offer password-protection security and prevent your site from being indexed by search engines so you don’t have to worry about the plans for your Big Day appearing in a Google search.
Next, limit the amount of content you publish about your wedding party even if the template you choose prompts you to add details about your family and friends and you as a couple. Wedding websites tend to not only detail every aspect of when you're getting married (as in when your entire family will be gone and their houses likely empty for multiple events) but often provide other extraneous information like your birthdays (that "about us" section) and provide the bride's soon-to-be maiden name. If you choose to introduce your wedding party to your site, don’t list their last names and relation to the bride or groom (friend of bride, cousin of groom, etc.) In addition, if you and your wedding party are traveling for a destination wedding and will be out of town for an extended period of time, or even if you plan to get married in your hometown, personal information that could lead to an unauthorized person finding out where you live and when you will be gone should be kept private.
If you want to include additional information about your wedding party attendants, their contact information or stories about you as a couple, consider emailing them in a Wedding Newsletter instead.
4. Start creating your site.
Keep it simple. The most effective and useful sites for your guests streamline key information and make it easy to find and navigate.
Homepage: Include a welcome message and thank you for visiting your site, an image or collage of you and your partner and, of course, your wedding date.
About Us: Upload an engagement photo or an easy-to-open slideshow and add a simple description of how you met and got engaged. If “your story” were a movie, keep it rated PG, without any depictions that you wouldn't feel comfortable telling your grandma and her friends in person.
Ceremony and Reception Details: Location names, dates and times are on this page. Include maps, directions and parking information as well. Inform guests if there is a dress code and food service outside of your wedding reception so they are aware and prepared.
Schedule of Events: A timeline of the Wedding Day is helpful so guests can plan ahead, especially if there is a gap between the ceremony and reception. Suggestions on what guests can do/visit between wedding events can be added here too.
Information for Out-of-Towners: Include links to accommodations (don’t forget to reserve a block of rooms) and add the appropriate hotel links that will allow them to book their hotel with access to the discounted group rate. You also can recommend a list of nearby "Things to Do/See" and "Places to Eat" during their stay.
Announcements/Updates: If there is a change in plans or any updates your guests need to know, post them on this page. Add a signup form where guests can enter their emails and have updates sent directly to their inboxes.
RSVP: Offers guests the option to RSVP via your wedsite. This updates a list you can access at any time to check how many guests have replied and are likely to come. Sometimes this also involves a meal-preference function, so you can see online how many people are planning to eat what and a final count to provide your caterers.
5. Make an announcement.
You've got a few options for directing people to your wedsite. Save-the-date cards, if you're sending them, are a perfect way to share the info—just include a line like "for more details, check out www..." As for the invites, rather than including a reply card and envelope, you can include a card that says something like, "We can't wait to see you! Please RSVP at www...." (if your wedding is casual) or "The favor of a reply is requested at www...." (if your wedding will be more formal). Yet unless everyone is especially net-savvy, consider also including a traditional reply card with your invitation.