Wedding Websites - Tools of the trade

So having recently gotten married, a website is very useful when it comes to updating guests on the latest information, gathering RSVP's and generally building excitement towards the big day. Initially I looked at using one of the many services available but most of the free ones are very limited in functionality or you have to pay an huge fee to get the decent features. I then figured that I do it myself for much cheaper using existing resources I had at my disposal.

The website itself is another Jekyll site with a bootstrap based theme. The site structure was controlled by configuration in the _config.yml file, and content was from markdown files (although I did write a lot of html and some javascript). The site is hosted next to this one using nginx, with the only extra was to add a .htaccess file and associated configuration to have a password protected area on the site. All other backend requirements were fulfilled by using Zapier. This is a hugely useful service for businesses and personal alike, they very simply join internet services together without any coding required from the user. Initially I used it to take Typeform responses and add them to a Google Sheet, again I cannot recommend Typeform enough a beautiful, easy to use service (although a bit pricey if you need to pay and are just one person). Then I used the inbuilt Zapier webhooks in combination with a ReactJS UI to take process the more complex response (multiple guests from one submit) of the RSVP to email a confirmation and again add them to a Google Sheet. All of the above allowed for a very smooth interaction on the site with minimal costs ($40 for 2 months of paid Zapier while we took RSVPs).

The other main task when organising a wedding is emailing out information or reminders and allowing people to email you. Luckily I have a Google Apps account from when it was free so it was incredibly easy to setup a new user with the domain we have purchased and then forward emails to both me & my wife. For those that do not have the fortunate access to Google Apps and would like to use a custom domain I would recommend Mailgun (check out this post for details). Finally for emailing everyone we used Mailchimp. With their list management you can organise each guest into groups making it easy to target specific guests with relevant reminders. Also given each email is wrapped up in a marketing campaign you can (in a slightly creepy way) track opens & clicks of links making it super easy to follow up individually when needed.

One thing that I have left todo is use flickr (and if possible Google Photos) to display photos of the day on the site and if guests still remember submit their stories from the day (still working out how to do this easily...!)