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How to: Destination Wedding Websites, Registries & Thank You Notes

Destination Wedding Websites

Personal wedding websites are a great option for a destination wedding as there is much more information to share with your guests than can fit on an invitation. You don’t need any web design skills to create your own destination wedding website. There are many companies out there that offer free wedding websites, complete with templates that you can personalize.  In addition, there are paid sites that allow even more customization.  You and your spouse-to-be only need to agree on what details to include. These sites often include photos, information on travel and lodging, wedding plan updates, electronic RSVP options and they are the only place where it is acceptable to include your registry information.

Wedding Websites are a great way to share information with your guests for a destination wedding

Wedding Websites by Wedding Paper Divas

My favorite wedding website resources include:

Wedding Window:  Offers a wide selection of vintage and rustic style templates.

eWedding: Offers free templates in lots of tropical brights for your destination wedding website.

Wedding Paper Divas:  Offers free wedding website templates to match more than 40 of their bestselling wedding invitations.

What to Include On Your Destination Wedding Website

  • Basic Information: Be sure to answer the questions Who? What? Where?  When?  & Why?
  • Related Wedding Events: Many destination weddings include more than just the ceremony and reception.  Consider including a schedule of optional events and their locations such as welcome drinks, a night on the town, and a morning after breakfast just to name a few.
  • Directions and Maps: This is may not be necessary for a destination wedding if your guests are taking taxis or you are providing transportation, however, a map of the area so that guests can get their bearings is still a good idea.
  • Schedule of Events:  You will most likely have several events when having a destination wedding.
  • Hotel Information and Travel Information: Whether you have reserved a block of rooms or just want to recommend nearby options, your guests will need help from you in finding a place to stay.
  • Suggested Attire: Guests always want to what to wear, so help them out by telling them that it’s a formal affair, or that jeans and flip flops are okay, especially if you have several wedding events.

Your wedding website might also include:

  • Wedding Party Information:  You might want to include a list of your wedding party with a little information about them or your relationship.
  • Registry Information: Your wedding website is the only place where you can ‘announce’ your registry information unsolicited.  It is not acceptable to include this information with any other wedding information, such as on your invitations or enclosures, but this is where guests come to get practical information about your wedding.  Make sure that your registry information is not the focus of your site.
  • Stories about Your Engagement or How You Met: A short story about your romance is a nice idea.  Just make sure that the personal stories you post are appropriate for all of your guests.  Also, many wedding websites are public (not password protected).  If in doubt, keep personal information private.
  • Online RSVP: Some couples prefer the convenience of having guests RSVP on their wedding website.  Be mindful of guests who are not computer savvy and make sure to include another means of response on the RSVP section of your invitation.
  • Photos and/or Videos: Your guests will appreciate a few cute photos and perhaps a video or two.  Just don’t go overboard – there is no need to post photos and videos documenting every detail of your relationship.

After the wedding. You can use your site after the wedding to post wedding and honeymoon pictures, anecdotes and a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to all (though this thank you does not replace the individual hand written thank you notes.

Wedding Registries

The etiquette of wedding gifts and registries always seems to be a source of stress for couples.  But it shouldn’t be.  In fact it’s simple.  You have invited you guests to share in the celebration of your marriage and a wedding gift is the same as any other gift -the giving is the sole discretion of the gift giver and it is impolite to even mention “no gifts, please.”   You are getting married and many of your guests will want to give a gift to honor the occasion,  and you are not allowed to talk about it.  So then how do you approach the subject of gifts and registries?

Registry Etiquette

It is impolite to mention your registry on your invitations.  In fact, you should not mention your registry at any time except when guests explicitly inquire as to where you are registered or on your wedding website (since this is where guests will come for practical information about the wedding such as hotels or flights).  You should not even mention “no gifts, please,” on your invitation or aloud.  Information about registries is traditionally spread by word of mouth.   The couple lets their close family and friends (usually the wedding party) know where they are registered, so that they can help answer questions from guests.  Make sure your registry is not the focus of your website.

Traditional wedding gifts developed from the dowry given by the bride’s family, which contained the necessary items for the bride to start a household.  Registries once served simply to let guests know your china, crystal and silver patterns (and that of course you needed eight of everything); now brides and grooms create wish lists that reflect their lifestyles, so camping equipment, power tools, and gas grills are as common as towels and glassware.Your mother’s registry probably consisted solely of household goods.  Today, many couples have already set up their household and bridal couples are registering for anything, from flatware to camping equipment.  It is not considered greedy or tacky to register, in fact most guests find registries a very efficient tool to select a gift that the couple would like or need and will not be duplicated by other guests.  Also, it is okay to have more than one registry, you should not have more than three.

A Few Tips for Creating Your Registry

Consider registering several places so your guests have the option to shop in person and online.  Just don’t register for the same items at the same place.

Consider your guests budgets.  Make sure your list contains a variety of items in different price ranges.

Make sure to have at some traditional items on your registry.  No matter how cool she may be, Grandma Rose does not want to give you a kayak for your wedding.  The best registries have a mix of both prices and types of items, so that all of your guests will feel comfortable finding something they will be excited to give you.

If you are having a shower, it might be a good idea to set up a shower registry separate from your wedding registry with lower priced items. – especially if your shower has a theme.

Again, remember: in the end, the choice of gift is always up to the giver.  A registry is merely a guide.

“Registering” for Cash or Big Ticket Items

It has always been acceptable to give cash (or a check) to the bride and groom.  But remember, the choice of gift is the sole discretion of the giver.  As with registries, give this information by word of mouth.  Tell your closest family and friends “of course we would love anything you get us, but we are saving for a down-payment on our first home” or something along those lines.

While there are websites that help facilitate cash gifts, or partial payments towards a honeymoon or other large expense, I do not recommend them.  They are distasteful and seem presumptuous.  Plus these sites will charge you a service fees or a percentage of the gift.

Thank You Notes

While we are on the topic of wedding registries, your wedding duties are not complete until you have properly thanked your guests for their gifts.  And in the case of a destination wedding, where guests have traveled to celebrate your nuptials, your guests presence is present enough.

There is a widely circulated myth that you have a year to send thank-you notes for you wedding presents.  That is untrue.  A thank-you not should be sent out within a day or so of receiving a gift or at the latest, within a month of returning from your honeymoon (if it is scheduled immediately after your wedding). If that seems like a lot, don’t forget: thank-you notes can also be written by the groom.

Thank you notes should be written on stationary; no fill-in-the-blank cards, no pre-printed cards, no phone calls, no emails and no generic post on your website.  If you are Also, a bride signs with her maiden (or pre-marriage name) before the wedding, and signs her married name afterward. When using monogrammed stationery, the notes sent by the bride before the wedding have her maiden name initials; post-wedding notes have her married initials or the couple’s last-name initial.

Enchanted Garden Thank You Note by Elli

Enchanted Garden Thank You Note by Elli

So who gets a thank you note?

According to Emily Post make sure you thank the following people:

  • Anyone who gives you an engagement, shower or wedding gift, even if you have thanked them in person. Individual notes should be written to people who contributed to a group gift.
  • Anyone who gives a gift of money: cash, checks, contributions to savings accounts and donations to charities. Mentioning the amount is optional, but it does let the person know the correct amount was received. You should mention what you plan to do with the money.
  • Your attendants. A warm personal note attached to your gifts to your attendants will let them know how much you appreciate their efforts and support on your behalf.
  • Anyone who hosted a party or shower for you. Ideally these notes should be written within two days of the event. Each host or hostess should be thanked individually with a note and a thank you gift.
  • People who house or entertain your wedding guests. A note and a small gift should be sent to anyone who houses or entertains out-of-town wedding guests.
  • People who do kindnesses for you. The neighbor who accepts delivery of your gifts when you are at work; the cousin who supervises the parking at the reception – anyone who assists you before, during or after your wedding.
  • Suppliers and vendors. You don’t have to write everyone you hire for services, but anyone who exceeds your expectations will appreciate a courteous note of thanks.
  • Your parents or whoever is hosting your wedding.

Writing a thank you note can seem a daunting art form.  But remember these simple rules from Emily Post.

  1. Do personalize your notes and make reference to the person as well as the gift.
  2. Do remember that a gift should be acknowledged with the same courtesy and generous spirit in which it was given.
  3. Do be enthusiastic, but don’t gush. Avoid saying a gift is the most beautiful thing you have ever seen unless you really mean it.
  4. Don’t send form letters or cards with printed messages and just your signature; don’t use email or post a generic thank you on your wedding web site in lieu of a personal note.
  5. Do promptly acknowledge the receipt of shipped gifts by sending a note right away or calling and following up with a written note in a day or two.
  6. Don’t mention that you plan to return a gift or that you are dissatisfied in any way.
  7. Don’t tailor your note to the perceived value of the gift; no one should receive a perfunctory note.
  8. Do refer to the way you will use a gift of money. Mentioning the amount is optional.
  9. Don’t include wedding photos or use photo cards if it will delay sending the note.
  10. Don’t use being late as an excuse not to write. Even if you are still sending notes after your first anniversary, keep writing!

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When I was a little girl, there was no greater treat than to see a bride in her dress, walking along the beach, on her wedding day. Now I'm all grown up and have even had a beach wedding of my own. The best part about my job is the wonderful nostalgia that I feel being a part of your special day.

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