STEP 1. SAVE THE DATE
Facebook is your Frenemy
We started the process by creating a facebook event with our save the date information. We created a profile image for the event. Then Facebook changed event pages to have header images instead, so we started over and created a header image with the correct size (currently 851 × 315 px) which showed the basic information as well. I think this was a little confusing because Facebook also changed how people interact on event pages so you suddenly had to RSVP to the event page to leave a comment, which was not the case previously.
|Facebook header image designed to the exact size|
Looking back, we realized it would have been much less confusing for people if we had made a Facebook GROUP instead of a save the date EVENT. This way people would not think they had already RSVPed to the wedding by simply leaving a comment on the event page. (Currently Facebook GROUP banner images are 960x 300px) We signed up for a free account from Postable.com which is a beautiful and simple way to collect and keep track of people's information. Just like those little address books you used to carry around, remember those? (PLUS they can send out cards to people on your behalf for say, birthdays and they are really awesome. Like moaning and caressing, awesome!) We included the link to our Postable.com address book so people could securely put in their contact information and we stated that this was specifically to be used to send the Invitation when it was ready.
STEP 2. THE INVITATION VIDEO
Becoming a Film Maker
We originally decided to work with a friend who had experience making short films to help us create our video invitation. We came up with the plot and basic dialog as well as scouted locations. We put a lot of thought into it, so when our friend ended up not being able to help we actually felt pretty ok taking the project on ourselves. I googled tips on making a short film for some helpful ideas of things to keep in mind when filming. Then we grabbed our camera (which also does HD video) and started shooting scenes which I pieced together later in iMovie. You could easily do this with a point and shoot that does video or even your cell phone! I'd never made a video before and you can see it turned out pretty good for a first try here: http://vimeo.com/68424780
The Invitation from Beth Olson Creative on Vimeo.
STEP 3. THE WEDDING WEBSITE (OR WEDSITE)
The Fountain of Knowledge
With all the wedding websites out there I couldn't find one I really liked. I like being able to have at least a little customization but the pre-templated wedsites don't even allow you to choose your font color. So I decided to use wordpress.com. Simple, hosted, free and allows for a certain amount of customization. We pimped out the site to look and act like a summer camp site. We filled it with links to everything we could thing of, including apps people could download that had things to do with camping and the outdoors (we had a camp-out wedding) such as a compass, star gazing map and campfire songs apps. Wordpress.com has built in forms capability and so we used that to track RSVPs. We also had a form set up for people to suggest music they want to hear at the after party and a sign-up for the Open Mic/Talent Show. Wordpress.com keeps all these forms (and what people submit) in a tab on the dashboard but it also sends you an email. So I set up a filter in my gmail so that every time Wordpress got a form submission from a guest, it sent me an email and that email would go into a special box where they wouldn't clog up my normal inbox.
We decided to keep things especially simple for everyone who was interested in getting us a gift and do an online Honeymoon Registry. We went with Wanderable.com because it has a simple, beautiful set of templates to choose from and no ads. Plus you can allow people to put as much or as little as they like towards any part of your honeymoon instead of having to choose from pre-determined amounts. You can also set your own image for each item. The system was pretty new in early 2013 and had a few annoying bugs which I noted extensively and emailed them about, so hopefully they've been fixed. But nothing that would inhibit it's usefulness.
We also encouraged our guests to download the Wedding Party App. It's like a Pinterest board for photos and notes that pertain to your celebration and events leading up to the celebration. Guests can upload images from their phone (iphone or android) or directly from their computer. They can also leave comments and messages. All of this shows up in an image stream that is arranged chronologically (automatically by the WeddingPartyApp). We used this for some great "get-to-know-you" scavenger hunt shots at the cocktail hour and during the wedding, all of which were projected live on the back wall of the venue. Needless to say, that was great encouragement for people to use the app right away to see their photos pop up in real time. You can link to the site or embed it. Mywedding.com and Offbeat bride WEDsites also have the ability to use this awesome app built right into the templates!
PART 4. USING MAILCHIMP TO SEND AND TRACK INVITES
Being a Creeper Gets Your Guests to RSVP
I can't begin to explain how much I love mailchimp. Usually it's for business but it works fantastically in this case as well! I designed a template by using the same header that I used for the Facebook event page and the wedsite (Wedding branding, yo!). I then highlighted the 2 main components of the invitation. The video which mailchimp takes a screenshot of and embeds right in the email so when guests click on it they are taken directly to the video to watch it in their browser. The other part introduced the wedding website. I reiterated throughout that "THIS is it! This is your invitation so be sure to RSVP!" and had links directly to the pages of the website where I wanted people to go.
In the email sidebar I had a small image of the date of the wedding, another link that said RSVP NOW! and led to the RSVP page as well as a little intro to our Honeymoon Registry and an explanation that gifts aren't necessary but that they can go checkout our plans anyway because we have some fun adventures in store. We sent out the emails to everyone who gave them to us and I could use Mailchimp to see who opened the email, who clicked on what link(s) and this way could keep track more easily of who was going to need a reminder.
What if they didn't give me their email?
For those who didn't give me their email, I simply went and updated the facebook event page. Otherwise I could have also sent all the same information that was in the email to each person's FB Direct Message using the "Message All Guests" option. You can also send them a link to the MailChimp email online so that they can see the pretty thing you put together. I also suggest making a post with this information and making it a "Sticky Post" so that it stays at the top of your Event or Group Page.
So that's it! I estimated that going this route saved us a bare minimum of $800. Of course I spent a chunk of that on the Wedding Field Guide booklets we put together and printed but that will have to wait for another day.
If you're a tech geek and/or love social media this is a great, easy way to save big bucks. You can always print and send a few paper invites if you have guests who's entire family aren't connected to the interwebz.