Couples about to be married can add a “Wedsite” to their pre-wedding to-do list. Not too long ago wedding guests had to make a phone call to inquire where the couple was registered for gifts. They didn’t know much about what to expect at the wedding. And they likely had to wait for the rabbi to speak under the chuppah to learn how the happy couple had met.
Today, it’s become standard operating procedure for couples to publish a website in the months leading up to the wedding. These websites — also known as “wedsites” — started off as basic one-page sites on the Web that included a few photos of the couple, the wedding date and location, and a guest book. Fast forward to 2013 and many couples now set up interactive sites complete with multimedia slideshows and videos, meet the bridal party pages, shopping portals to the gift registry, video clips of the band at past weddings, and surveys about what songs the guests want to hear.
These wedsites can be connected with the bride and groom’s Facebook profile and the photos guests take at the wedding can easily be shared to Pinterest and photo sharing sites like Snapfish, Polaroid Fotobar, and Shutterfly. The wedsites include such features as the gift registry, stories about how the couple met and where they became engaged, as well as where they’re headed for the honeymoon. For out-of-town guests these sites have proven to be important resources. Links to the hotel, discounts on airline flights, and the ability to coordinate travel with other guests are essential for a wedsite.
Another nice feature of these wedsites is the ability to prepare guests for what they should expect at the wedding. For Jewish weddings in which some of the guests may be first timers, it’s helpful to post some of the basic customs on the wedsite. Couples can introduce their guests to the order of the ceremony before they arrive. Also, the guests can be informed about the dress code for the wedding; not only if it is a black-tie affair, but also if it’s being held in a synagogue in which the women must have their shoulders covered.
“Creating a wedding website was an easy way for our guests to get the details, especially because we were having a destination wedding and felt it was important to post the transportation, lodging, and schedule information online,” said Rachel Schostak who was married to Jeffrey at Camp Tanuga in Kalkaska, Michigan in August. The couple, who reside in Birmingham, used weddingwire.com for their wedsite which included their story, what guests should bring to camp, a link to airline flights, the registry, and the schedule of events for the getaway weekend.
According to a survey done by TheKnot.com, approximately 75 percent of couples marrying last year had websites, which is up from 60 percent in 2009, and 53 percent in 2008. TheKnot.com website makes it very easy for the couple (it’s usually the bride) to set up their personal site. The site also helps with the organization of the wedding, setting up easy to follow to-do lists and recommending service providers and places to register. The wedsites have also become a valuable marketing tool for everyone involved in the wedding industry as the couples – intentionally or not – advertise their photographer and videographer, the caterer, band, wedding planner, florist, venue, and clergy simply by mentioning them on the wedsite. While websites like TheKnot.com offer free templates and web hosting space, some couples have taken their wedsites to the next level and hired companies to build custom sites. For the 21st century wedding couple, the wedsite is just another expense.
Tracie Morris, a certified wedding planner who owns You’re The Bride, encourages her brides to make wedsites. And while she doesn’t help them create the site, she does give advice on what to include. “I love the wedsites and I think they are very helpful as well as practical,” Morris said. “They are great for keeping guests informed of pre- and post-wedding festivities. They also set the right tone for the event.”
Amy Yashinsky Stern of Berkley was married in late December at Adat Shalom Synagogue in Farmington Hills. She and her husband Seth set up a wedsite at TheKnot.com. “We felt like we were supposed to just because that’s what couples do. Also, I wanted to share the story about how we met, how we got engaged, and who was in our wedding party,” she explained. “I made the website and then posted the link on Facebook. It was an online way of celebrating us and our story. It was a way of celebrating in a bigger way.”
Mobile apps to help plan the wedding are also gaining popularity. Morris recommends the biz-e-bride app to her clients to help them organize wedding details and select the service providers. One app that is trendy among wedding guests is Appy Couple. The app is by invitation only, so couples have to request an invitation code. Once wedding guests sign in they can upload photos from their phones, view a map to get to the venue, send congratulatory messages, and respond to custom polls. In Appy Couple’s slogan on its website is, “Wedding websites are so last year!”
Not all brides feel they need to set up a wedsite however. Stephanie Lorfel Gelb, of Chicago, was married to Hylton on Marco Island last April. She didn’t set up a wedsite, but she did use other forms of communication to provide guests with information about her destination wedding. One website Lorfel Gelb found very useful after the wedding was missnowmrs.com. “Navigating through all the steps in order to change my name after our wedding was overwhelming,” she said. “This website made all the difference. I used a Groupon and paid $19.99 and it led me through the entire process.”
Weddings have always been a combination of tradition and new ritual. The 21st century wedding, while still adhering to the customs of generations gone by, now includes new technology like customized websites and mobile apps that allow the couple to brand themselves and provide information to guests months before they tie the knot. It will be interesting to see how these wedsites and wedding apps change the way we celebrate weddings in the future.