Are you thinking about building a custom website for your big day? Are you planning your wedding and feel like the free wedding websites out there just don’t offer enough for your event? Do you feel like the free wedding sites limited and don’t provide enough space and design for you to give your guests everything you want to give them on your wedding website?
You are in for a treat today, because this is a wedding planning advice post full of tips for building your very own custom wedding website! This is everything you need to know about how to build your own website for your big day - when the free wedding website just won't do! This advice is about what to include on your wedding website, how much it will cost, how long it will take, and all of the pitfalls to avoid from a bride who just built her own custom wedding website from scratch!
I’m so excited take a break from the wedding garters and share these wedding website tips written first-hand from one of my engaged blog writers about her advice on creating a custom website for her destination wedding! She is right there with you!
XO, The Garter Girl
Take it away and give us the inside scoop on how you built your own custom wedding website....
Advice On Building A Custom Wedding Website
When my fiancé and I got engaged and began wedding planning, we knew we wanted a multi-day, destination wedding. Our wedding celebration would be built around casual moments of connection with our guests, rather than rushed hugs and quick “hellos” in the lobby of a hotel. While this sounds fun (and is!), it added a level of complexity for both us and our wedding guests, one that we knew if done right, our wedding website could help to alleviate.
The only catch was that for our needs, the free wedding websites available on websites like The Knot and Joy wouldn’t do for us. The only option left was for us to create our own, custom wedding site from scratch with our own URL (or web address).
Free Wedding Websites
Just in case you are feeling the free site, which is totally fine for so many reasons, here are some links to sites where you can find free wedding website options:
Why Create Your Own Wedding Website?
Why did we need to build our entire wedding website all from scratch, you ask? Well, outside of being a very type A type of person, many of the free wedding websites didn’t go to the depth of information sharing that we needed for our wedding guests. We aren’t just having a wedding - we are having an entire, long weekend of celebrations at a destination location for most of our wedding guests. We need to provide our guests with travel and hotel information, as well as event information for multiple gatherings throughout the weekend, in addition to the wedding ceremony and reception.
Also, we wanted our wedding website to match the branding and design of our wedding celebration with the same font type and color scheme. I quickly found out that matching fonts and colors isn’t always possible with free wedding websites!
Pros and Cons of a Custom Wedding Website
Building your own wedding website takes a good deal of time. It is not your typical wedding DIY project that just anyone can take on! A custom wedding website is for a bride and/or groom that has the capacity it take it on, a sense of style for their wedding, and a true reason for why a standard (free) wedding website won’t work for their wedding.
There are plenty of pros (and cons!) to having your own custom wedding website.
Some pros include the fact that your web address is your own domain address. First off, there is no pesky www.theknot.com/us/johnandjane2blahblah that it super long to type and confusing for your wedding guests. Your link or website address is unique to you and you can make it whatever you want with its own .com! In addition, when you go the custom route, your wedding website looks different than any other wedding website, because you’re not using a standard wedding website template. You can add as many tabs, topics, or pieces of information as you desire. And, did I mention that you can use your own fonts and colors?!
Finally, while many free wedding websites have started doing so, with your own wedding website domain you can have a custom RSVP form – one that runs analysis and does all of the work for you. We were really drawn to the ability to have a custom RSVP form online for all of our weekend events for our wedding guests!
While there are so many great reasons for creating your own wedding website, there are a number of cons to consider before jumping in.
First, it takes time to create a wedding website from scratch. If you don’t use a general template, you have to pick and layout everything from the background color to the exact location of each text box. The freedom and flexibility of your website being able to “do it all” can be a little too much for some engaged couples!
Second, creating a wedding website from scratch does have a financial cost associated with it. If you want your own domain name, a complex layout, or fancy website design offerings, it can cost you upwards of a few hundred dollars.
Be sure to take all of these considerations into your decision when creating our own wedding website for your big day.
My Tips on Building Your Wedding Website
Does the above bride and/or groom sound like you? Tech savvy with time to dedicate to design and building your wedding website,and needing more features than what a free wedding website can offer??
If you are like my fiance and me, here are a few of my wedding website tips for you:
1.) Pick an easy to use website creator.
You don’t need to have a master’s in computer science to create your own wedding website now a-days. There are website service providers out there, like GoDaddy, Wix, or Squarespace, that are a one-stop-shop for a website that can have you up and running, live on the Internet in minutes! These website service providers will let you choose and register (aka own and pay for) your custom website domain address. They will also give you templates for building your website with plug-and-play features where all you have to do is drop in your photos and text.
The templates from website service providers are similar in concept the free wedding website templates, but they way better with unlimited features, designs, layouts, fonts and colors that aren’t possible on the free wedding websites options. Think of the website templates as a stepping stone to get you started in your custom wedding website design and after that - the sky's the limit!
Find a website service company that feels natural to you, with a the design interface that is easy to use. Also, look for the the features that you like and one that has the colors and text you want to use. For us, the ability to create a contact form and have an RSVP form online for our wedding guests was important.
When you use a website provider with a basic website design template, you can repurpose it for your wedding website, no coding knowledge needed! You will be off and running in no time!
2.) Think through all of your content before you start building.
Before you even start building your custom wedding website site, lay it out in a MS Word, a PowerPoint file, or a Google doc. You can even sketch it out on paper, if you need to! Decide what tabs you want at the top of your wedding website, what content will go where on what page, and make it as easy and intuitive to navigate for your guests as possible.
Thinking through all of the pages and design elements before you start creating your wedding website gives you the blueprint to make it as efficient and seamless as possible to build your custom wedding website! A little forethought will also make it easier for your wedding guests to navigate your custom site too!
For us, we created tabs explaining why we planned a destination wedding, the weekend plans, and logistics - just to name a few! A lot of of our wedding guests were surprised that we planned the destination wedding that we did. But, building out space on our custom wedding website to proactively respond to their questions helped us set our wedding weekend intentions and get our wedding guests excited about our big day! Their excitement also made us even more excited!
The tabs on our wedding website also provided all of the planning information required for our guests to prepare for the wedding weekend, from a Google map to an infographic on the recommended weekend attire. Our custom website has everything our guests will need - and more!
3.) Make sure the website domain you want is available...and then buy it!
Creating your own custom wedding website means picking your own website domain name too! The website domain address is the actual link or .com address that you will provide to your wedding guests.
Do you have an amazing hashtag for your wedding that is perfect as a website name? Or just use your names and call it a day!
Your wedding website should be something easy and quick for your guests to recall and to type. Remember, one of the reasons that you are going with a custom wedding website is so you can also get a custom domain address, so don’t make it too confusing for your guests!
Just be sure to search for the domain you want for your wedding website. Most domains only cost a few dollars to own for a year, but this isn’t always the case. Also, if you have common names (like us!), you may need to get creative for your wedding website domain, because it is likely already taken. This is where a creative wedding hashtag that you can use for your wedding website domain comes in handy!
4.) The personal touches make all the difference, don’t skimp on it!
Adding photos and personal touches to your wedding website really sets it apart. This is why you are creating your own custom wedding website site after all!
If you can, schedule your wedding engagement photos before your website goes live. You can use your wedding engagement photos all over your website!
Don’t forget to add stories on your relationship, fun facts about you and your families. These little “extras” will be so fun for your wedding guests to enjoy, especially those from the other side that you haven’t met before, or those that don’t know you both as a couple yet.
Be sure to give everyone an idea of the level of formality of your wedding at each event. You know that the number one question that most wedding guests have is: What should I wear!? We created a whole page on your website dedicated just to what to wear!
Use your wedding website to not only give your guests the information on where to be when, but to also get them excited for your big day!
5.) Answer every question a guest may have.
A custom website is the place to answer every single question your Aunt Sally has about the wedding. Try to put yourself in your guest’s shoes and think about what you would want to know and what you would need to know.
The timeline for the wedding day? Check out the “itinerary” page.
What and where is everyone staying? Take a peek at the “accommodations” page.
How did you two meet? Gush over how cute we are on the “our story” page!
The best part is that the answer to every logistical, wedding related question for your wedding guests is a simple one: Go check out our wedding website!
The more information that you provide on our wedding website means less questions that you have to answer from each and every wedding guest, which will be so helpful as the big day gets closer!
6.) Only pursue a custom wedding website if you have the time and budget to commit to it.
Free wedding websites are amazing for so many reasons, including the fact you can create one in a few minutes or hours (depending on how fast you go!), and it is free. If you plan to create your own custom wedding website, know that it will take you some time to do it. If you’re already stressed out by wedding planning, that is totally cool – use a free template wedding website and don’t make the website harder than it needs to be.
If you want to make your own custom wedding website, be sure that you have the time to commit to making it andmaintaining it up until the wedding. If you get your own domain and want all the bells and whistles of the website creator, you’ll like need to drop some cash, likely $100 or so.
Keep in mind that if you want your site to live past the wedding and for years to come, you’ll need to keep paying for these annual services.
7.) Expect that many guests won’t ever look at your wedding website.
As with all things, expect that some of your guests won’t read your wedding website - at all. I’m sure you’ve heard of some guests not RSVPing and having to track them down to get a response. Well, the same is true for your wedding website! A handful of your guests - even the tech savvy ones who you know have Internet access - will never look at your website. I’m sorry to be the one to tell you the truth!
Some of your wedding guests will still ask you when they need to be ready for the shuttle or what time the rehearsal dinner starts, or what they should wear to brunch. This is normal and to be expected, so try not to get too upset!
When you get wedding questions that you know are answered on your website, you can politely direct them to your custom wedding website for answers to their questions and much more! Simply tell them it is probably best if they checked out your website for answers, because you have too much on your mind right now and you don’t want to give them wrong information!
On the flip side, if you get questions that aren’t addressed on your website, you might want to consider adding the information to your wedding website and thank that guest for the idea! If one guest has the question, the chances are good that someone else will have the question too!
I never expected to make a custom wedding website, but am so happy that we did. I learned many lessons along the way and I’m happy to now pass all this wedding planning knowledge on to you!
As one of our wedding guests said after receiving our save the date (with our website link on it), “Your wedding is already amazing! I already feel completely satisfied with my experience and all I’ve done is read through your website and booked my reservation!”
Our wedding guest experience was hugely important to us as a multi-day, destination wedding. I wanted that experience to begin the moment they looked at our wedding website. Creating our own wedding website from scratch did just that! If you decide to go down the custom wedding website path, I hope it does everything you dream of too!
OK, it is back to hand making the wedding garter heirlooms for all of our brides-to-be! Remember, if you looking for wedding advice or inspiration for your big day, we've got your covered here on the The Garter Girl's blog!