4/4 Real Bride Megan: Taking on the Website as My First Wedding DIY

I am a nerd at heart. It started when I was young and my dad bought this super old Tandy computer (with a joystick, not a mouse) and I would play around on it. No one else in the family really knew how to use it, so I just tinkered around until something worked. Eventually, both my parents entered the age of technology and purchased desktop computers. This was back before desks = laps. I may have just aged myself … I digress.

Since I lived with my Dad at the time, again, I was the one to figure out the computer. I played with all the settings. We had desktop backgrounds that changed regularly and our screensaver was NOT that default crap, no no — we had the brick wall maze with crazy colors. We had a super awesome Compaq and the monitor took up no less than half the desk’s surface. This one did at least have a mouse, so upgrades!  Then we got the Internet. Back when Napster was legal and Limewire wasn’t shady. I don’t even know how I happened upon it, but I was one of the cool kids with a super awesome Geocities site. In case you haven’t gathered already, I was totally cool.

A few years have passed since then and I knew that the fastest way to get information out to our guests would be a wedding website. You can easily set one up for free at various places around the Internet and so that’s what I did. I started with a Knot website and I just wasn’t in love with it. Then I set up a wedding registry with Sandals because that’s our honeymoon goal and they offered a website for free, so I tried theirs. Still, I was not impressed. As a blogger, I know some basic code, but not enough to really do much other than bold, italics and center.

I started doing some research and originally had planned to use Drupal to set up a website for the wedding and host it with Google — $12 a year for a Google domain and done. I felt like that was effective cost-management. But then I started to teach myself Drupal and after 30 minutes of YouTube videos that made me want to gouge out my eyeballs, I was disheartened. I turned again to Mr. Google and asked for information on website creation. I needed something that was drag-and-drop without all the background tech to overwhelm me.

Enter weebly.com and wix.com. Both offered free website set up. There are other sites out there that do the same thing, but these are the big two I found. I did a little research and opted to use Wix. I figured I’d create the site and then just get the Google domain, still $12 and be done.

I went through all the templates and finally decided on one that I thought was fun, cute, and serious enough to represent “us” on a website. AKA, I liked it, it was fun, and it looked easy to change out the defaults to enter our info. I showed Timo before I started working on it and he agreed that it was a cool template. So I set to work. After 4-5 days of intermittently working on the website, I had a crushing realization. To get rid of the Wix logos on the page, I had to subscribe to the Wix plan. Just buying the domain would get us the web address we wanted, but it would get rid of those unsightly “this page was built for free” ads.

I was super disappointed and considered starting another site, something like WordPress or Blogger where there were no glaring ads and the domain would only be $12. Then I remembered how many hours of my life I had already dedicated to the Wix site and how we both liked the template and how overwhelming the idea of starting (again) from scratch would be. I checked out the Wix price plans. The plan that would get rid of the ads was $10 per month. Truthfully, we don’t really need the website for longer than year, so that put me at $100. Siiiiiiiigh.

why-buy-it-for-7-when-you-can-make-it-yourself-with-92-of-craft-supplies-517e5

Story of my life.

I just decided to swallow the pill. I was over halfway done with the site and I liked it. Yes, I could have done it for cheaper, but would I have been as satisfied?  Probably not. ANDDDD this was the website that every guest would be using to RSVP, so I had to put our best foot forward.

I took my time designing the website. We were over nine months away from the wedding when I started creating the site, so I knew I had time. This worked out perfectly. In early February, Wix sent out an email with a “Valentine’s Special”. Two of their subscriptions were 50% off. The $10 subscription that just removed the ads was NOT a part of that, of course. But, the one tier higher subscription was $7 instead of $14 and while it offered extras that I knew we wouldn’t use, it was cheaper than the subscription to remove the ads. So I bit the bullet. $84 later, I was able to get our domain name and remove the ads from the website. Can you still say money saved if it’s more than you originally budgeted?

The Website

There were many factors that went into play when I was designing the website. I knew when we started this process that our RSVP process would be electronic. Yes, I’m aware that the elders may struggle with this, but I can’t take every individual situation into account when I’m dealing with 100 people. I know that the majority of our guests are computer competent (or at least I assume and I could be able to learn a difficult lesson). I figure people will let us know one way or another (probably via a phone call) if they are coming or they could ask someone else to RSVP for them.

I admitted in the beginning that I had asked the Google “how to plan a wedding.”

One of the sites that came back was Offbeat Bride. My Type-A, OCD, planner self squealed when I saw their list of spreadsheets they had available for download. So many glorious tabs waiting for all our information!  Guests lists, vendor comparisons, and seating chart, oh my! (Eds note: BAB has a few too!)

Next, it was time to start figuring out how to set up an RSVP site.

Back to the Google!  Coincidentally, Google offers Forms. Even better, said forms can feed directly to a spreadsheet in Google Drive. How fortutitious that my wedding spreadsheets were saved in my Google Drive. With some instructional videos and lots of trial-and-error, I created a form that would feed directly to a new tab in the wedding spreadsheets. I’d be able to easily see guests who were coming, their email address, where they were staying, if they had any food restrictions, etc. I also put in some fun fill-in-the-blank questions as well. Before I had officially decided on a from-scratch website, I had originally planned to put the RSVP link on the invitation info so people could just go to it. The problem was it looked something like this: goo.gl/r832fkVDefkO93. #aintnobodygottimefordat

The biggest function of the website, other than to provide accommodation information, was for RSVP access. I knew that no one would ever be able to type in the link to the form, so I needed something simple. Another perk of Google Forms is that they can be embedded into a website. It’s really like magic. I set up the website, so that if you are on a computer, you are able to fill out the form without even leaving our website!  On the mobile version, there is a link that takes you to the form since it is easier to fill out on from the Google site than through our website due to the embedding. No having to deal with that obnoxious web address at all!

Our final design looks like this on the computer, the mobile version is slightly different because of screen constraints (edited for privacy because 2017):

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How do you feel about a wedding website?  Are you going to have one?  Will you make it from scratch or will you just use a template?

 

 

Megan emulates an old-lady in Charleston, SC. She's a fan of the oxford comma, all things Disney, most things chocolate, handy-dandy notebooks, earning medals for running, giving inanimate objects names, and laziness. Timo, Phil, and Meri alternate between driving Megan insane and keeping her sane. She knows it's all about balance, but if you could please pass the run, or the gin will do, too. When she isn't wedding planning, she blogs at < Can I Decide Another Day?.