To Have And To Hold - Online
by Peter Paton
Not "rated" by the Author.
edited: Monday, August 28, 2006
Posted: Monday, August 28, 2006
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To Have And To Hold - Online
To have and to hold - online
The embossed invites have been printed, the photographer booked and the marriage vows rehearsed. There's only one more thing - the website. Personalised wedding websites are the latest accessory for brides- and bridegrooms-to-be.
To have and to hold is one thing - to sanctify your union online and subject friends and family to the story of your undying love is quite another.
But that's what personalised wedding websites are about. What started some years ago as a convenient way of directing guests to the church or register office - has grown into an increasingly elaborate and ambitious affair.
Popular in the US and Far East, today's wedding websites list every detail of a bride and groom's big day, before it's even happened - the official engagement pictures; the "how our eyes first met across a crowded room" anecdote; the stag and hen frolics, and so on.
And once the vows have been spoken and rings exchanged, the wedding site brings all those special moments from the big day together at one click of a mouse - the prayers and readings, the visitors' guestbook, best wishes from those who couldn't make the big day.
Often the couple will keep the site going for months after the event.
"The vast majority of my orders are American - it's a very big thing," says Jennifer Oxland, a UK-based web designer who has been building wedding websites for three years.
"It's unbelievable how it's taken off. People don't think about having one until they've seen one - all my work is done through recommendation."
Britain is following America's lead
Motivations vary. Some couples sneak away to get married quietly, says Ms Oxland, but when they get home set up a site as a way of getting loved ones to share in the occasion.
Increasingly, Americans are seeing wedding websites as money-savers.
"Instead of posting out dozens of elaborate and pricey invitations, they'll send simple 'save the date' cards with a web address. Only when you log on, do you get the full details of the wedding-to-be," says Ms Oxland.
The British, though, are starting to get on the bandwagon.
Ms Oxland, who runs Weddingorg.com and charges up to £300 per site, estimates 30% of her clients are from the UK. But their standards are notably different from those of American or Chinese customers.
"The English are the easiest clients. They're not too fussy - will go into the lounge to take a few snaps of each other to mark their engagement, send in a few scratchy scanned-in pictures of their courtship.
"They don't really like being as... well, fluffy. They don't think of showing off like the Americans do. They will spend a week getting their pictures together; go to a studio to get them done, or the beach."
But the real business in wedding sites is in Hong Kong, where couples have pictures taken by professional photographers before the wedding in one of their four wedding outfits; spend up to £1,000 on site design and try to out-do each other as far as possible.
Wedding planners and consultants in the UK have also seen more of these sites springing up over the past 18 months. Emily Bramer, marketing director for Country House Weddings, says she even set one up for her own sister who, although she "never looked at it".
But she's sceptical about whether Brits will ever fully embrace the idea.
"I'm not sure guests look at them - some of the ones with message boards, they never really have a lot on them," she says.
Elderly guests may find them confusing, but for the web savvy, it is easier online.
And as for the accusation that some of the sites are... ahem, naff, Carol Richardson, from Confetti.co.uk, says diplomatically: "Everyone has their own taste about what's cheesy - it's not for us to comment on what people like."
Chinese weddings are becoming more and more lavish
But Victoria Armstrong-Jones, creative director of Elysian Consultancy which caters for the top end of the wedding market, fears the shift online is stripping weddings of their romance.
That should be no e-mail RSVPs and just a simple line directing guests to the gift list, she suggests
She says one of the most heart-warming results of the wedding website trend, is that when those of different backgrounds come together - a wedding that encompasses mixed religions, for example - a website can be used to explain traditions and customs that may be unfamiliar.
"But when it comes to websites, we say less is more. The fewer words and images - and a simple design that gets the message out," she says.
"What's the reason for you putting one up in the first place? It's not about yourself, it's about when is the wedding, how do I get there, what do I bring? It is a practical tool rather than a 'love' thing."
Add your comments on this story, using the form below.
I got married a couple of years ago within a week of a friend. She and her husband-to-be had a wedding website that took 'cheese' to an entirely new level. They seemed to spend every waking minute either spending money on the website or worrying about it, and had a major row on the actual day over some minor site detail.
I had home-made invites, a dress for £8.50 off ebay, photos by a mate and a jam-session party afterwards in the back room of a pub. We still get told that it was an incredible day, one that people will always remember.
My friend and her husband split after 10 months saying that they found they'd no longer got anything in common. Don't think they ever got around to setting up a divorce website, but I'm sure they'll appear with time!
I had the misfortune of perusing such a website when a cousin based in the states wed recently. It was unbearably cheesy strewn with declarations of undying love and infantile romantic doggerel. I sincerely hope the trend does not catch on in the UK.
Dr Jugnu Singh, Bangor
I'm designing my own wedding website at the moment. I agree with most of the experts, the purpose is to tell people when and where, with an idea of accommodation in the area and what's on the wedding list. I purposely avoided the guest book as it's just too tacky.
Ryan Cullen, Lincoln
Richard and I have put a wedding web site together as well as sending out traditional invitations. Whilst we have repeated much of the information, we have also put biogs on of the "key players" including the Best man, Bridesmaids and Ushers, this way people will know who to speak to if they have any questions on the day. The web site follows the design and style of our wedding! I think it's a great add on.
Sarah Marr (soon to be Wells!), Haslemere, Surrey
The whole wedding industry is a nightmare. Taking a simple act of becoming legally married and turning it into an over-indulgent, irrelevent, travesty. It's all about showing off really. Look at me everyone! Me, me, me!
Jackie Andrews, London, UK.
We had a website for our wedding built; not because it has become 'fashionable' (I didn't know it had!), but because we wanted to share our special day with our friends and family. Personally, I don't think it takes the romance out of it - if anything, it adds to it even more - to take the time out to design something to celebrate one of the biggest occassions of your life, is wonderful.
Well, my husband, a year before we got married, started a wedding website to enable people to find their way to the church. He did for practical reasons and I thought it was romantic also. Is it cheesy? Maybe, but who cares? We certainly don't. We had two wonderful services and the website has a selection of pictures from each service. The website served a purpose for people who attended the wedding and the pictures are for those folk that could not make it.
Patricia Robinson, Kent
Web Site: To Have And To Hold - Online
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|Reviewed by - - - - - TRASK
|For You Wants Get Married GREAT,i.e. Once For Me is More Than Enough...
I Totally Agree On PRIVACY ...
Write Right On Again Peter...
|Reviewed by Cynthia Borris
You find the most interesting subjects to share. Wish I'd thought of this idea. Makes sense to celebrate so that all can enjoy.
|Reviewed by Shoma Mittra
|Interesting ...but perhaps i am a lil old fashioned..i doan think i wd like to publicize my private life to such a great extent. Very informative write. :-) shoma|
|Reviewed by Sandie Angel
|Very interesting article indeed, Peter!
Sandie May Angel a.k.a. Sandie Angel :o)
|Reviewed by Mr. Ed
|But Victoria Armstrong-Jones, creative director of Elysian Consultancy which caters for the top end of the wedding market, fears the shift online is stripping weddings of their romance.
And I would bet my dear old grandmother would agree!
|Reviewed by Myrna Badgerow
|Interesting concept... but I think I'd rather do things the old-fashioned way, although I will admit that in this fast-paced world it could work.
|Reviewed by Felix Perry
|Wow interesting twist in the internet website communications offerings.