It depends. If your wedding will be small (30 people or fewer), if most guests live nearby, or if your loved ones aren't big on computers, you can do without. But if you're having an out-of-town affair, or if your guests hail from all corners of the globe, a website is a helpful planning tool.
It is always a good idea to set up your wedding website early on in the planning process, at least six months before the wedding. That way you can add your personal website address into save-the-date cards to give wedding guests as much information as early as possible. "A wedding website is especially important for out-of-town guests making travel arrangements," says Wedding Jojo co-founder Adam Newman. "Users can easily provide their guests with important info like group hotel rates, special attire, or anything that will be helpful for their guests before they arrive!"
Once you're ready to begin, a number of Internet services can help even the least tech-savvy create a semi-custom site with ease. You choose a design from a variety of templates and color schemes, and personalize it with your photos and event details. Some services even let you see a stand-alone web address (others include the company's name). You can often add other bells and whistles, such as online RVSP-ing or a guest book where well-wishers can post messages. And if you're security-minded, you most likely will be able to designate a password for your site so only friends and family can enter.
In general, services charge about $40 to $80 to maintain your site for a year -- you may also choose to keep it active for longer, which will cost more; however, there are also free services out there, including WeddingJojo.com, which is free of charge no matter how long you want to keep your site going.
If you are willing to spend more money, consider going a step further and hiring a professional to create a unique site with the exact look and features you want. Such a service can cost from hundreds to thousands of dollars, but it might be the best choice if you've got something specific in mind.
When you've figured out how you will build your site, it's time to think about what to put on it. At its simplest, it should have basic information: your names and a photo of the two of you, the wedding date and location, and a brief greeting to visitors.
Then, if you wish, you can post any and all logistical details that might help your guests. You should think of the site first as a clearinghouse of information -- "The welcome party is at 6 p.m. on the beach, and we'll be sending a van to pick you up," and it's also helpful to include links to hotels, babysitting services, and any local sightseeing spots and activities you think your guests might enjoy.
Feel free to include a link to your wedding registry (or registries) on your site -- however, do not let it be the first thing your guests see. Our etiquette expert suggests creating a "Registry and Gift Ideas" page that would require people to click on a link to get any details at all, even just the store name. Clicking on the link is the equivalent of asking, "Where are you registered?"
Beyond the basics, it's nice to include a brief story about how you and your fiance met or to recount the proposal. Many couples post casual snapshots or brief video clips of themselves, perhaps on vacation or playing their favorite sport. You might also introduce the wedding party to your guests.
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