Think of a wedding website as one-stop shopping, a place where you can give guests all the
details they need to plan ahead for your big event. It's also a fun way to communicate with everyone, sharing photos and wedding details. No matter your skill level, you can have a great looking, informative site. Here's how.
There are plenty of ways to get online. If you're tech savvy, you probably already know how. If you're a newbie, simply do an Internet search for web hosts. Look for ones with design templates (also called wizards), which will let you choose the look of your pages and input your own photos and information. Most are as easy to use as a word-processing program and offer support if you have questions.
For even more ease, use a provider of wedding-themed sites. (Just search "wedding website.") These are great choices because they likely offer the features you'll want to use most—for example, wedding-themed templates and online RSVP capabilities.
You can also hire a professional to create a top-notch, personalized design for your event. "Working with us is a very customized experience," says Erin Feldman, co-owner of ourweddingwebsites.com, a full-service web design company. "We can pretty much do anything a couple wants." So, if you're strapped for time but want a flawless result, consider splurging $200 to $2,000 on a pro.
You'll probably start by creating the look of your site. "The best ones reflect the wedding's style, colors and theme," says Katie Simpson, who works with Feldman. Many couples put their photo on the home page.
Make your site extra personal by giving it a memorable URL. Something with your names like tinaandtom.net will stick in guests' minds. However, you're apt to pay around $30 extra for this.
Guests will appreciate information that will make the big day easier for them. This means all the details that are on the invitation, as well as hotel recommendations and local activities for out-of-towners. You'll also want to help them find their way around. "Driving directions and a printable map are always good to have," says Feldman.
Continue to add fun pages to keep guests excited. Create a guest book, where they can write you well wishes. You can even keep a blog of your planning. "Friends and family members enjoy hearing that you picked out the flowers or booked the honeymoon," says Haroon Mokhtarzada, CEO of freewebs.com. (But don't reveal too much!) "I like polls," says Mokhtarzada. "You can ask guests to vote on whether the bridesmaids should wear pink or fuchsia dresses."
How can you make your site truly great? "Lots of good quality photos," says Simpson. "It's also really nice to explain the traditions that will be part of your ceremony, especially if it's a multicultural wedding." Your pages should be easy to navigate; have a friend test them out to be sure guests can quickly find information they need. Include links to other resources that guests may want to use, like your Bridal Guide bgregistry.com gift site.
If you're sending out save-the-dates, add a note at the bottom, inviting guests to check out your website. Or send an e-mail to family and friends with a link to it. However you spread the word, don't put the URL on a formal invitation. And always remember that some guests may not be Internet users, so make sure all the essential info (who, what, when, where…) is on your mailed invites.