Bride and groom first look
Photo: Laura Foote Photography

The goal of every good wedding website: Give guests the details they need to prepare for your affair—and get them psyched to join you for your celebration in the process. Here is how to pull it off.

BUILD YOUR OWN WEDDING WEBSITE

Determine Your Need

Should you set up a wedding website? 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.

Launch It Right

Start thinking about your site after you’ve chosen a venue. That way, you’ll have some idea of the look you’re going for, which can inform the website design. Setting it up on the early side also means you can include the URL on save-the-dates, if sending.

Play Up Your Palette

Most services allow you to choose a design from a variety of templates and color schemes. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Use the same colors—and fonts for that matter—that will also appear on stationery and signage.

Cover the Basics

In a perfect world, wedding invitations are kept forever. In reality, most are thrown away well before the big day rolls around—and that’s exactly why it’s important to put the who, what, when, and where on your site. At its simplest, your website 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.

Get Personal

Beyond the basics, it’s nice to include a brief story about how you and your fiancé 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. Keep in mind that your site will be yet another reflection of you two as a couple, but that doesn’t mean posting a dissertation-length bio of yourselves. While it’s tempting to gush about your love—getting married, after all, is the sweetest expression of it—showing a little restraint means those details you do highlight will resonate even more.

Add the Details

There’s no need to pad envelopes with superfluous information if you don’t have the budget for it. Print your URL on enclosure cards, then guests can go straight to the site for anything relevant: directions to the venue, dress codes for all events, hotel and babysitting info, a curated list of things to do in the area—you get the idea.

Link to Your Registry

It’s bad etiquette to mention your wish list on your invites, which is exactly why you should mention your wedding registry on your wedding website. Not only will invitees expect to find it there, but you’ll be making their lives easier by supplying links that allow them to click through to shop.

Let Guests R.S.V.P.

Most sites let loved ones respond to the wedding and all the ancillary events, too. Even better, if you’re hosting activities that don’t include everyone, you can customize your site so only the chosen can see that info.

This story originally appeared on Martha Stewart Weddings.