Wedding Website Dos And Don'ts

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Posted: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 12:00 am

If you're engaged and reading this column, you've probably already stumbled across the new wedding website trend. I've mentioned how awesome they are before, and even used one for my own wedding. After all, wedsites, as they are often referred, blend the practical ability to communicate important information to your guests with the contemporary need to share your story via the Internet.

In the past when we've talked about wedding websites, we mostly just covered some of the pros and cons of having one. For example, we talked about how great it is to have access to online tools such as RSVP apps and mobile budgeting gadgets, and even some criticisms more traditional guests may have about the informality of a wedsite. But recently, I've been getting a lot of questions about what is appropriate to post and what should be avoided. So here are some dos and don'ts to consider before you launch your wedsite.

Do research all of your website options before choosing one. They, like everything else wedding-related, are saturated with options. The first thing you will need to decide is whether you want to use a free site, a paid site, or hire a web designer to fully customize a site for you. Each of these options come with their own positives and negatives. I personally prefer the free sites. Although the customizations to design are usually limited to pre-designed "skins" a la old MySpace pages, saving money is worth it. Not to mention, most free sites include backdoor planning management tools. My personal favorite has always been WeddingWire.com.

Don't publish your guest list. If you haven't started your guest list yet, then you have no idea how tedious it can be to whittle down the people to a reasonable number while still keeping everyone involved in the planning happy. Trust me, you don't want that drama to extend to a public forum, such as a website where guests can post comments, by publicizing who made the cut and who didn't.

Do include some personal stories and pictures. When you start filling in all the important "who, where, when, and why" information about ceremonies, receptions, and other guest-related information, don't forget to upload the fun stuff. Be sure to include stories of how you met and your awesome engagement pictures. While not everyone on Facebook will want to know all the gritty details of your up-coming nuptials, people who visit your wedding website probably will. Including bridal attendants' information and your engagement story will not only help your guests feel more connected to your wedding, but may even stave off some of the redundant questions you'll get. Not to mention, there may be some guests who have yet to meet the bride or groom. This is a great time to introduce each other to extended family and friends.

Don't list the items on your registry. Traditions and etiquette on registries have started to relax. It used to be that couples could not publish their registry anywhere, but had to rely on word-of-mouth to get the information out to potential gift-givers. While it's still unacceptable to put registry information on your wedding invitation or save the date, it's totally acceptable to put a link to your registry on your website. Try to post the link on it's own page, closer to the bottom of the site. However, DO NOT list all the items on your registry. If you cannot link to the registry, simply put the information of where to find it on the site. No one wants to be reading a cute story of how you fall in love and then stumble upon your wish list of items. It could appear, especially to more traditionally minded guests, that you are merely fishing for gifts.

Do set up your website before you send out save the dates. The key to a successful wedding website, especially if you plan to use it to collect RSVPs and as a primary source of information for your guests, is to spread the word as early as possible. The first official announcement of the website should be on any save the dates you send out. This will give you (and your guests) time to iron out details and any problems you may have with the website. Guests will have plenty of time to make sure they can access the site and the information they need, and you will have time to fix any glitches that occur so there aren't any miscommunications. This means if you are sending out traditional save the dates, your website should be up and running by six months before the wedding. If you are planning a destination wedding or similar situations that require guests to have more notice, a year is not unacceptable. Remember, you can always update information as you go. Be sure to notify guests that information may change and to check back often.

Don't post negative things or rants about wedding planning. Many websites offer a blog option on their sites. It can be pretty awesome to document your planning process, and you may even have a few guests that are interested in all those very specific details of the planning process. However, much like publishing your guest list, writing about all the negative and frustrating things about wedding planning in such a public forum can only bring on more drama. The website may seem like a safe place to vent, unlike Facebook, but inevitably someone will get wind of your rant and be upset. Save the ranting for your best friends and private journal.

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