Things I didn’t think I cared about: wedding websites.

I have never been a fan of wedding websites. No, ma’am. They always struck me as silly vanity projects for the sole purpose of showing off what a special snowflake you were.

And then I started getting invited to weddings, and I actually found them to be pretty helpful. (What is the count now on how many things I’ve been wrong about?) Timeline of events? Right there! Registry info? Bingo! What is the deadline to reserve a blocked room? Really soon! You know, things along that line. Actually, true story, I threw out a wedding invitation by accident once because I’m an idiot, and since the couple had a wedding website, I just used the website details to figure out where I was going and when I was supposed to be there. Because I couldn’t have just called and asked them.

Even so, I was really apprehensive about setting one up for our wedding. The last time I did fancy things on the Internet was when I had a Xanga in high school; I don’t know anything about HTML or Flash or whatever people use to build websites these days. And I wasn’t thrilled with broadcasting our wedding details across the web for everyone to see – although clearly, I got over that real quick, considering I’m now blogging about it on the Bee. But I digress.

The reason I ultimately did it? Every single one of our guests will be from out of town. Most of them have never been to Cape May. Stallion and I love Cape May, and we’re so excited for our guests to experience it for the first time. By setting up a website, we can save everyone some legwork as far as directions and recommendations for things to see and do. Honestly, if I were having a local wedding with few out of town guests, I’d probably skip the website – I know online RSVPs are gaining traction these days, but we have a lot of elderly/not technologically inclined guests with whom that would not go over well, so we’re not going down that road.

Enter BM B. She works in public relations, specializing in social media, so she is hip and with it regarding all things Internet. I don’t even remember actually asking her to help me with this, but she took it and ran with it anyway. She did a fantastic job. I would have felt terribly awkward doing this myself; this type of stuff is right up her alley, so I’m especially thankful she took the lead on it. What a rock star.

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We set it up on mywedding.com because it was dead simple. Like, so simple a trained monkey could do it. If you are simply looking to plug in information and be done with it, this is the website host for you. While they have a ton of layouts to choose from, there are no customization options, which was fine by me, since I wasn’t looking to put that much work into this project. For me, the important part was the website content, and their setup in that regard is extremely effective.

In case you can’t tell from the screenshot, our headers are “Home Page”, “Our Story”, “Wedding Party”, “Photo Galleries” (of which there are exactly two: engagement photos, and a miscellaneous album which reiterates my point about us not having any nice pictures together pre-engagement shoot), “Wedding Events”, “Accommodations”, “Directions”, “Around Cape May”, “Song Requests”, “Honeymoon”, “Guestbook”, and “Registry”.

If you’re putting together a website, my best advice to you would be to think about the content from a guest’s perspective. Sections for directions, accommodations, and event timelines are really important. Make it easy for your guests to understand where they have to be, when they have to be there, and any pre-wedding deadlines. For example, our hotel block expires a full two months before our wedding date – such is the consequence of getting married in a resort town – so on the “Accommodations” page, we have that deadline bolded to draw attention to it. Once the important stuff is taken care of, you can work on the cutesy things like your proposal story (or don’t, if you don’t want to – I don’t know that I would have included that kind of stuff if B hadn’t done such a wonderful job with it).

Something to not include on your website? AUTO-PLAY ANYTHING. How can I surreptitiously creep on your website while I’m at work if you have Michael Buble blasting as soon as I open it up? As far as any other content goes, think of it this way – what value does it demonstrate to your guests? If the answer is “none”, don’t waste your time working on it.

One last hint? Test your website out on multiple browsers before sharing the URL with your guests. Aim for functionality over form and you’ll be fine.

We spread the word to our guests by including a business card sized insert with our save the dates (we did the 250 for $10 deal at Vistaprint, so now we have PLENTY of extras that I have no idea what to do with), and we’ll include the URL on an insert in our invitations as well. We’re not posting the URL on Facebook or other social media; frankly, the rule of thumb we’re going by is to keep all things wedding-related off Facebook.

At the end of the day, you don’t have to buy a domain name, create elaborate slideshows, or even spend all that much time working on a wedding website if you’re not so inclined. If it’s something you want to do, and/or you have the skills to create something from scratch, by all means go for it! But if you’re a technological luddite such as myself, no worries. There are plenty of tools out there that can make it look like you know what you’re doing. As long as you have useful content, who cares about the rest?

Do/did you have a wedding website? What are the must-haves for a great wedding website?

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