Monday, September 13, 2010

Wedding Wedsite

We are getting into the nitty gritty of wedding planning and (shocker) it's not exactly a walk in the park. Whereas we've already had our share of tiffs (wedding look-and-feel, budget, ipod versus DJ, and guest list, to name a few) for some reason, those tiffs felt important to work through. Those tiffs helped us define a wedding that reflects our true joint vision for the day.

Unfortunately, our new tiffs are different. Our new tiffs are all about details that feel vitally important in the moment, even though we're both sensible enough to know better. I mean really, do eco-plastic plates and the color of our paper flowers really matter in the grand scheme of our lives? Apparently they do. But they still don't matter nearly as much as the wording on our wedsite. Obviously.

Oh the wedsite, the focus of all our current frustrations. Honestly, I've never been so irritated that Jason is just as creative as I am when it comes to writing. Trying to get two creatives on the same page about something as emotionally charged as their own wedding... arg. Just ARG. I've heard from other people that their wedsites were unimportant in the end, but  I've been a big fan of using friends' wedsites in the past. Oh, and because save the dates and RSVP cards were a non-priority for us and our budget, we're doing e-save the dates and wedsite-based RSVPs. So I feel like the wedsite might be more utilized, and therefore more important, than in other situations. Oh, and because we're just about six months out and really need to send save-the-date information, we really need to get our wedsite wording, hotel info, and other important information in order NOW, along with finalizing that guest list and tracking down emails.

Oh, and did I mention that we're doing this all on the cheap? Yeah. Cheap. We don't really like the free wedsites we've seen and we're not willing to throw $100+ at a paid option when we can build one ourselves on a blog, use a free email campaign program for the save the dates, and use google forms for online RSVPs. So far, we're tiffing about wording, stressing about hotel block research, trying to learn how to design a pretty and functional save the date in Mailchimp (which offers a free mass-email program if you have less than 500 email addresses, has invitation options that won't look like evite, the mass emails won't get caught in a spam filter, and we can use html and images to make it look very pretty and professional with links to our wedsite), and we're trying to agree on design and wording. Fun. Oh so much freaking fun. If anyone has any free website/save-the-date/RSVP technology or practical advice to help, we're all ears. Please.  

Yay September and that impending six-month-out deadline on October 3. Arg.

24 comments:

  1. OOH. We did this. Yes...it is a HUGE amount of work (and no one but you guys will realize how much work went into it) but I personally think it is worth in weddings that are relying on the internet to reduce paper/costs. Like you, we did e-save the dates (which had a link to the website and caused people to begin RSVPing right then...YAY!) and online RSVPs and I think people used the site. We also put a link to google maps and to the weather forecast. For us, the email-able save the date (a "postcard" we created in Publisher) helped out our timing tremendously since we were running late on mailing the invites, especially for an international guest list. And the notes people sent us were fun too. :)Good luck! (And yes, the fights about stupid stuff really stink.)

    ReplyDelete
  2. You're not alone. Isn't it funny when you start approaching the six month mark and you're like "Oh crap! We've talked about all this, but now we have to actually do it!" That's how we've been. It's like all fun talking about it, but when it comes down to doing it - we're beside ourselves with all the choices! Good luck working it all out. I'm sure your website will be fab!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I like Wedsites and I honestly wish my friends who have already gotten married had made them or utilized them more. We're making one.

    I also think it's important to send your wedsite out when you do Save the Dates and Invites. People forget the address or to look at it unless they are reminded. You might also resend it two weeks before the wedding to those that have rsvp'd and say something like, "It's getting close. If you have any questions, don't forget to check our website."

    And lastly, I really don't think you have to have your hotel block done before the save the dates. I don't think it needs to be finalized until you send out your invites.

    ReplyDelete
  4. We totally built our website on a blog for free too! It really was the best way to get a customized freebie! But ugh am I glad that's over. So good luck! I have to say that time really sneaks up on you (or accelerates at some point) when you have a long engagement... Here I was rolling through life thinking we had SO MUCH TIME to get everything done and um, now we're getting married in less than a week! Don't stress too much and have some fun with it b/c it's over damn quick! That's my seemingly zen advice this morning as I return to my final pile of projects before the fam arrives! :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. @Ms Bunny - bingo. We're pushing on our self-imposed wedsite deadline because we think it's important to go out with our e-save the date. And we're going to send out emails again once the invitations go out - so people can do a one-click RSVP and are re-reminded to check the website for vital information (directions, hotel info, shuttle info, registries, schedules, etc) I always use friends' wedsites, and I think most of our friends (though perhaps not older generations) will really appreciate and use it.

    As for the hotels, we could definitely wait... but I'd prefer for out of town guests to have a good idea upfront of potential costs so they can make their decisions. That might get pushed until October, but we'll see.

    ReplyDelete
  6. What I did was make a free website on the knot (I know, I know it's the knot but whatever) to use their backgrounds and easy building format, then bought a URL with our names at 1&1 for less than 5 bucks, then just set it forwarding so when ppl typed in meganandandy.net, it would take them to the pretty (and totally free!) website. For being technologically incompetent, I was pretty proud of my little Internet prowess. Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm telling you lady. If YOUR friends check it, consider yourself blessed. Your parents friends and your family won't use it, even to RSVP, if they are at all like ours. They'll just call your mom, and be like, "What? With the website and what? And I'm coming. Where should I stay? What should I wear? Where are they registered? Kids these days." And then your friends will email you and say, "Where is everyone else staying?"

    Ours was free on blogger, so I don't regret the cost. But I TOTALLY regret the time and the creative writing that I did. Sigh.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Oh. And PS. We put in analytics, so we could see what was going on. People ONLY checked the registry page. They didn't even glance at the others. FORK TO EYE.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Ugh I had the same issues as Meg! Only the techiest of our friends used it, and mainly just for the registry page. I put all that info into an email as well, but people still called to ask about stuff. I swear people don't read if it's longer than a paragraph. My own HUSBAND didn't read the email that I sent out the week before, with all the times (which were in bold) and places things/people needed to be. And that was the most organized, thought-out email I'd ever written.

    I'm not bitter. Not at all.

    ReplyDelete
  10. @Meg and Emily - ug. We're installing analytics too, so maybe I'll commiserate on the bitterness in seven months or so. But I'm hopeful, perhaps because Jason and I use friends wedsites so often.

    We're planning to send out update emails too, including a week-out reminder (which we'll also print for OOT guests at the hotel. Because no, people don't read anything longer than a paragraph, as I've learned with professional events.) And we're already expecting to deal with calls, especially from the older crowd. And our parents can use the wedsite info when they're fielding calls too, so maybe it will help with that?

    ReplyDelete
  11. So ... we're building a wedsite using Wordpress, and I honestly think it's awesome and that 5 people will look at it (two being me and Tony), but we're doing it anyway. I wanted to push the wedsite sot hat we included the address with our save-the-dates, but we're not close to done with the wedsite yet, and I had something come up at work that made me realize I want to get the Save-the-Dates out right away, so we decided to send the save-the-dates anyway. Tony is a web developer who specializes in email blasts, so we're planning to send an email blast in a couple of months with the wedsite address and a reminder anyway. Then, we'll send another email blast when we send out the invites and another two weeks before the wedding.

    I expect that our families won't use the website, but our friends (who requested it) will.

    ReplyDelete
  12. i don't know if it would make your wording and creative decisions any easier, but on wix.com you can design your own flash website for free....

    ReplyDelete
  13. I dunno, we had some success with the website, but we did do things slightly differently by sending out a few printed RSVP postcards to the older, (seemingly) computer-illiterate folks. Surprisingly, a couple of them used the website form to RSVP back. Of the others who only received the website link in their invitations, only one friend called us to ask "how" to RSVP. As for the details, it's been hit and miss. A few friends have made jokes regarding obscure pieces of information I put on the website, so I KNOW some are actually reading the damn text, and a handful of others have been like, so... what's the attire now?

    Here's what I think. I think those people who aren't paying attention to the website wouldn't have paid attention to printed pieces of paper, either. Or they would have already lost them. So I don't think anyone, anywhere, ever, will ever have the information/RSVP process go perfectly smoothly.

    Here's what I also think: your post wasn't entirely about whether or not your guests will actually pay attention to the website, SO. Moving on. Ugh, I feel for you. This phase was one of the hardest for me, because it was all about Doing Big Projects. While Fighting Over Details. It's so frustrating, and I feel for you. It's such a reward when it's all over, though. Just try not to murder each other before then, and you're golden.

    Stray afterthought: We got one final "RSVP" last week from our website from a random couple who found our website, thought we seemed cool and that it was neat that our stories paralleled theirs, and said hi. That was pretty awesome, actually.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Followup: we received 46 RSVPs via our website form, which is not too bad of a success rate considering that we sent out about 55 invitations (some of them addressed to two people, of course) with no RSVP postcard. No followup or reminder emails, either. So either we got exceptionally lucky, or it just depends on your individual group of guests.

    ReplyDelete
  15. i have such wedsite regrets. only because josh built the site from scratch and it took him A LOT of work, and it turned out... not very special. well, SPECIAL because it was our wedding website- but sort of plain. after a lot of work.

    but i will admit that people emailed me to say that "our story" made them cry. noone could remember where we said they could park or what time the ceremony started, but the story was memorable. which i know may not help you any... specially since it wasn't the case for many of the folks on here.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Bleh. Sounds like a headache. B took on the website. Ours wasn't too hard, since it was free and all based on their templates (we really liked mywedding.com).

    just as a data point, we did ONLY online or telephone RSVPs, no save-the-dates, and most everyone replied via the website. And our guests were mostly older and not super tech-savvy. We did get one reply to our non-existent knot.com site (I registered for an acct but no website set up) and one "guest book comment" that was actually a RSVP, but no other SNAFUs.

    ReplyDelete
  17. We actually had a ton of compliments on our website- it seemed like a lot of people used it, between the online RSVPs and the registry. The best advice I can give is to collect lots of data with your online RSVP: ask when people are arriving, how they are getting there, where they are staying, if they are renting a car, etc. You will be glad you did, and it doesn't take them much longer. Just be sure to add lots of "Other" fields and "don't know yet" options. If nothing else, it'll make your lazy friends realize they need to start planning their travel.

    Overall, though, we had very few issues with non-tech-savvy people. Most people liked having all the information there. Because we are an interfaith couple, we even included information about what to expect from the ceremony. We wanted everyone to sing, so we posted the song lyrics, and several people mentioned to us that they practiced ahead of time. My only regret is that we didn't post an instructional video about the hava nagilah!

    ReplyDelete
  18. I like wedsites and because I'm so far behind you on the wedding planning process, I don't have any majorly helpful tips and what not. But I'm excited to follow your experience with the wedsite and what not!

    ReplyDelete
  19. we did a free site and were ultimately disappointed no one really checked it out. hope yours goes better! the part about the two creative minds coming together definitely made me laugh since i can totally relate to that (my husband is a writer)

    ReplyDelete
  20. I've built a website. Ed is very creative but he is leaving the website up to me. I know enough about HTML code to build the site myself but I decided $70 is a small price to pay for the time I'd spend on it, so I went with a prefab site. I used "wedding window" and paid to have the extras. I also bought our own url to make it more custom. We will send the Save-the-dates out next month or early November. Our save-the-dates will be magnetized with our photo and the url. So hopefully our guests will put it on their fridge and check out the website. My plan is NOT to send out formal invitations. Our guests will need to RSVP on the website but based on the comments here, we may need to send paper invitations to anyone who isn't down with the website. Originally I had a bunch of tabs and information, but based on the feedback you are getting from your readers, I'll try to keep it short and sweet. And not get too disappointed if the website isn't utilized as much as I want it to be. Thanks for this post - it was enlightening!

    ReplyDelete
  21. I guess the actual use of a website depends on one's crowd? Maybe we were lucky? Even our older family members (including my husband's grand-father!!!) RSVPed on our website. And I agree with Lyn: people who aren't going to pay attention to details on a website are probably not going to pay attention to details on paper either.

    Anyhow, do you guys have a fun reward system for when tasks get done? Could be fun and help with motivation during all the ARRRRGH stages of planning...? :) We didn't do this, but maybe it would have made the process more fun and less stress-overload. Or moments of fun during the stress-overload. People kept telling me, "remember to take time for yourselves" which is great advice, but I remember thinking, "ARE YOU CRAZY??? We have to punch a gazillion fleur-de-lys holes in little strips of paper!" Ah,... oh well.

    ReplyDelete
  22. the website was one of the first things we did after getting engaged, because we thought it would be fun, easy and most importantly free. We used iWeb and our existing MobileMe account to host our site. After setting it up, I sent it to my Mom and got back a whiny response about why she couldn't be listed first under parents, seeing as my wedding is one of the few times being the mother is important. At which point I realized maybe there is NOTHING fun about wedding planning. But enough whining/complaining, I'm so excited to find your site and if I do my math right I think we're getting married the same weekend April 2, 2011? I'm also having a cheap-o LA wedding. Thanks for the blog!

    ReplyDelete
  23. @Jessica - same weekend, different day. Our wedding is April 3 and I'd love to hear more about your cheapo local wedding. And I checked out your blog - we're moving towards a more Metro-centric lifestyle and I love it!

    ReplyDelete
  24. I really appreciated this post and the comments. A website is important to me because our families and friends are scattered everywhere, and I have enjoyed them from friends. BUT I don't want to offend any of the older generations or waste my time. This made it seem like at least some people like it and it's important to me so yay!

    ReplyDelete

I love active conversations, including (civil) disagreement. I don't love spam or people who use internet anonymity to be rude and disparaging. Spam and rudeness will be deleted.