How to Create a Wedding Website

There is no doubt we live in a digital age. And while that little fact can bring on it's own issues, it's also proven to be helpful in the wedding world. Don't get me wrong - paper invitations and RSVPs are considered proper etiquette for weddings. But wedding websites are rising in popularity - and necessity! With most weddings being a destination for guests, a website is an important piece of the puzzle to ensure wedding information is properly communicated and in some cases expanded upon. Save the dates and wedding invitations are for informing your guests about the time and place of your celebration. You should include additional cards with your invitation suite for other information, such as an accommodation card or direction card. Or you could just simplify it and include an additional card with your wedding website, and let the website guide your guests to all the additional information not communicated with your invitation that they'll need about your wedding weekend, such as dress code, transportation, and registry information.

Invitation Suite by Elisabeth Rose | Photography by Lauren Rosenau Photography

Invitation Suite by Elisabeth Rose | Photography by Lauren Rosenau Photography

Wedding websites should be something each couple creates for their wedding weekend. But how do you do it?! We create a complimentary custom wedding website for each of our couples, with a custom URL to go with it. (See the photo above from Angela + Charlie's wedding.) Here are some tips on how to create your wedding website and what all you should include.

1. Do purchase your own domain. It's inexpensive and convenient! Make it something easy your guests can remember, like your names. But don't include this on your actual invitation. It should be printed on an accompanying card, such as an accommodation card.

2. Don't be intimidated about building your own website. There are plenty of websites that offer wedding website templates - Squarespace, Weebly, etc. They're easy to figure out and easy to customize. Minted actually offers wedding websites that match your wedding invitation suite.

3. Do let your guests know about the area attractions. Your out of town guests are going to want to experience the city where you're getting married through your eyes. So, create a tab where you share all your favorite restaurants, bars, and sights. Don't forget to include the contact information, like the website, physical address and phone number. 

4. Do share your registry information through your website. You should never include registry information in any of your invitations. So add a tab for your wedding registry on your website and link out to your wedding registry lists.

5. Don't feel like you need to share everything on your website. Keep it simple. The most important details to include is the when and where of the wedding, accommodations in the area, transportation, travel information, and registry locations. If you want to include a story about how you met and/or how you got engaged, then feel free... After all it is your wedding website! But don't feel like you need to include every little detail about your relationship and your bridal party on your website. Think of the wedding website as an extension of your invitation where you provide a bit more detail about the wedding weekend. Keep the wedding website focused on the events of the wedding weekend so that you can ensure that guests won't miss any details.

6. Do be mindful of what information you include on your wedding website. Yes there will be a rehearsal dinner, but if all your guests are not invited then it shouldn't go on your wedding website. Consider the website a place where you communicate information to everyone; not just family and vip guests. So if one of your room blocks is earmarked for family and bridal party only because there is limited availability, don't include it on the website or in your invitation suite. Share that information privately through email or word of mouth. You should include things like a welcome party or farewell brunch, where all your guests are invited to attend. And you can use the website to allow guests to RSVP to these additional events.

7. Don't skip the paper RSVPs. Your website might have an RSVP function available, but please do not go all digital for your wedding RSVPs. I know, I know you don't want to pay for the RSVP card, envelope and postage, and this feels like a great area to save money. Remember, not all your guests will be Internet-savvy. And guests aren't very pro-active - they like things to be easy! So asking them to write their name, check a box, and put a pre-stamped envelope in the mail (which is already in their hand upon opening the invitation) is less steps than telling them to get online, type in a website, and RSVP. So, if you do plan to offer a digital RSVP option through your wedding website, you should still include an RSVP card with your invitation suite and just simply add a sentence at the bottom saying, "You may also reply by way of our wedding website: www.yourweddingwebsite.com." 

We are quoted on InStyle Weddings today giving some wedding website tips alongside other wedding pros. Check it out for even more tips and how-to advice!

What do you think of wedding websites? Are you planning to create your own wedding website? We want to know! :)

xo,
A.

Real Wedding: Organic and Elegant North Carolina Mountain Wedding

This gorgeous fall wedding at Hawkesdene House in Andrews, North Carolina was the perfect way to close out 2016! At the peek of the fall season, surrounded by beautiful colors of nature, Jessica + Ryan celebrated amongst family and friends. Jessica's inspiration behind her wedding was the natural scenery of the North Carolina Mountains. We incorporated different types of lush greenery among the centerpieces. With rich, vibrant reds and lots of organic textures, we created an elegant evening with an organic inspiration in the mountains.

Jessica + Ryan met thanks to their moms, who were already good friends, and had arranged for Ryan to show Jessica around California, since it was her first time visiting. It was crazy how well their plan worked! The pair had so much in common, and flash forward 8 years later - they finally got married! Since both their families live all over the country, the couple choose the lovely Hawkesdene House, about 2 hours west of Asheville, for their destination wedding.  Our bride said that whenever the couple would visit the mountains, they always leave with such a sense of peace and happiness after getting away from the hustle and bustle of life. So, they wanted their guests to have a similar experience and feel leaving refreshed after a fun weekend away!

I think their plan worked because it was one heck of a wedding weekend. I am so excited to share photos from Jessica + Ryan's amazing wedding day! But first, a huge thank you to our fabulous team of talented vendors who helped create a magical day for our bride + groom.

Planning + Design: The Graceful Host
Photography: Josh Jones Photography
Flowers: New Creations Flower Company
Venue + Catering: Hawkesdene House
Cake: Sugar Cloud Baking Company
Linens: Nuage Designs + Party Reflections
Tent, Draping, Lighting: Classic Event Rentals
Photo Booth: Shutterbooth Charlotte
Live Artist: Wed On Canvas
Paper Goods: Elisabeth Rose
Hair and Makeup: Makeup by Jenny Le
Band: OnLive via Sam Hill Entertainment
Officiant: HeartLight Wedding Ministers
Videography: Five 18 Productions
Dress Designer: Amy Kuschel
Dress Boutique: Bellissima
Mens Attire: Mens Warehouse

I truly believe that wedding videography is such a worthwhile investment. While your photographer will capture your wedding day memories, a videographer will capture it in a way that photography just can't. So many nuances can be captured on video, not to mention your loved ones voices and mannerisms... and maybe some sweet dance moves? These are fleeting moments, never able to be repeated, are now frozen in time. It's a great way to relive your wedding day over and over again long after the wedding high has passed.

Jessica + Ryan, thank you so much for allowing The Graceful Host to be a part of your destination wedding celebration! You two were such a dream and a joy to work with, and the love you have for each other is captivating. I wish you a lifetime of happiness together and memories, just as sweet as your wedding day.

XO,
A.

Real Wedding: A Cherry Blossom Inspired Spring Wedding at Foundation For The Carolinas

This couple couldn't be any sweeter. And there is no doubt that they are perfectly matched for each other!  Which makes the story of how they met all the better. Angela + Charlie met during their first year of law school at UNC Chapel Hill. But they didn't exactly hit it off, Angela notes. Angela didn't care for Charlie after their first meeting, when a mutual friend introduced them. Fast forward a year later, after a few study sessions, Charlie finally got the courage to ask Angela out. And Angela accepted after getting to know Charlie a bit better. After their first date, they both felt the spark ...and the rest was history, as they say!

Their April wedding was the epitome of a spring wedding. Angela's inspiration was everything floral, especially cherry blossoms. Beautiful blooming flowers in blush and ivory, with delicate details, made this stunning wedding absolutely eye-catching! Following a church ceremony at St. Peter's Episcopal Church, guests headed to Foundation For The Carolinas where the celebration continued into the night.  We loved working with this sweet couple and helping them create such a dreamy wedding celebration! 

A very special thank you to our vendor team who helped make Angela + Charlie's wedding day perfect!
Planning + Design: The Graceful Host
Photography: Lauren Rosenau Photography
Floral Design: New Creations Flower Company
Invitations, Paper Goods: Elisabeth Rose
Hair: Mirror Bomb Studios
Makeup: Erin Ashley Makeup
Catering: Something Classic
Cake: Wow Factor Cakes
Band: The Business 
Ceremony Venue: St. Peter's Episcopal Church
Reception Venue: Foundation For The Carolinas
Musicians: Charlotte Strings For Events
Linens: Party Reflections and Nuage Designs
Welcome Box: The Graceful Host
Wedding Dress: Enzoani from J.Majors Bridal Boutique
Bridesmaid Dresses: Jim Hjelm from J.Majors Bridal Boutique
Groom and Groomsmen: Jos A Bank

Angela + Charlie, it was such a pleasure working with you both and your families! Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your big day. 

XO,
A.

2016: Year In Review

It's hard to believe we are about to say goodbye to 2016 and welcome in 2017! Each year, I like to take a look back to see all the celebrations and milestones of The Graceful Host. This year was unlike any other. We had the pleasure of working with some amazing couples and talented vendors over the past 12 months. We visited old, familiar places and new places, made some incredible memories, and continued learning and sharing. Here is a peek into the year that was!

We kicked off the year with Meg + Heyward for a winter wedding celebration at the Bride's family's home. (iPhone snaps by me)

Then a few weeks later we celebrated an amazing couple at the Mint Museum Uptown with a serious wow-factor winter wedding for Katie + Kyle. These two know how to party, let me tell you! View the full gallery, here. (photography by Crystal Stokes Photography)

In March, we celebrated a very special couple. Melanie, the talented florist behind New Creations Flower Company, got married! It was an honor to help one of our own on her big day! View the full gallery, here. (photography by Lauren Rosenau Photography)

Lauren + Andrew's wedding will always hold a special place in my heart. I was due the day before their wedding. It was so important to me that I be able to be there (I've never missed a wedding!), and by some miracle that wish was granted. Though, I was 40 weeks and 1 day pregnant, everything went off without a hitch. And it is all thanks to my awesome team and to this amazing family who never once questioned our dedication to making April 2, 2016 the best day ever! View the full gallery, here. (photography by Julia Laible Photography)

At the end of April, we celebrated Angela + Charlie in a cherry blossom inspired affair at the always lovely Foundation For The Carolinas that will just make you blush ... get it?! ;) Full gallery coming to the blog soon! (photography by Lauren Rosenau Photography)

We headed to beautiful Boxwood Estate to celebrate Brittany + Josh in a glamorous, pastel summer wedding full of heart! Full gallery coming to the blog soon! (photography by Finch and Farrow Photography)

In June, we were back at the gorgeous Mint Museum Uptown to celebrate Jana + Jordan with an elegant and sweet Uptown wedding that was an absolute blast! Full gallery coming to the blog soon! (photography by Crystal Stokes Photography)

We packed up the car and headed 4 hours West to Andrews, North Carolina (just outside of Asheville) to the breathtaking Hawkesdene House to celebrate Jessica + Ryan's vibrant fall wedding. Full gallery coming to the blog soon! (photography by J.Jones Photography)

We were honored to see our work published in some of the most recognizable blogs and magazines in the nation and in the Southeast. Here is a recap of our TWENTY-SIX press features in 2016

 

As you can see, we were very busy in 2016! And we have so many weddings to share with your over the next few months. 

 

But by far, the biggest accomplishment and change of all, was the birth of our son, Ryan Elliott Cash. He came into the world on April 6, 2016 and our lives were forever enriched for the better. We are blessed to have a healthy, happy baby boy who is so curious, sweet, and has never met a stranger. He keeps us on our toes and is constantly on the move! Ryan has been the best part of the day for the past 38 weeks. Running a business and being a mom is hard work. (I'm in no way exaggerating.) I had no idea what to expect, and if I'm honest, I was terrified of the balancing act. Having Ryan has actually helped me in my business. I don't always do things right, or know all the answers - every day I'm learning. But it's made me much more intentional with my time and with my clients. We continue to only take a select few weddings each year so that I can serve my couples the way my heart desires. It's helped me focus on what matters most in my professional and personal life. It's been 8.5 months of adventure with our sweet boy, and I can't wait to see all that 2017 will bring our little family.

photography by Brian Schindler Photography

photography by Brian Schindler Photography

I'm so grateful for all the couples I've had the pleasure of getting to know, for all the celebrations that we have been a part of, and for all the talented vendors that we've had the chance to work with and collaborate with in 2016. Thank you to each of our couples for trusting us to plan and produce your special day. It's a honor that I do not take for granted!

And while 2016 was amazing, I'm looking forward to all the excitement of what is yet to come in the year 2017. I have no doubt it will be incredible in it's own special way. I wish each of you a happy and healthy 2017! I hope the promise of a new year and new beginnings brings you peace and hope. 

XO,
A.

Greenery Named Pantone's Color of the Year

Pick a shade, any shade! Greenery wins the infamous Pantone Color of the Year! I love how Pantone describes their color choice for 2017:

"Greenery is a fresh and zesty yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring when nature’s greens revive, restore and renew. Illustrative of flourishing foliage and the lushness of the great outdoors, the fortifying attributes of Greenery signals consumers to take a deep breath, oxygenate and reinvigorate."

Pretty powerful statement, right? I think you can translate this into weddings and find it's symbolism still holds true. 

Marriage is a new start for a couple. A brand new chapter in the book of life. A page turning with each passing day. In Spring, the Earth is reborn as color and life is restored. So is a couple who starts their journey as one. Greenery, like relationships, are multifaceted and multidimensional. They evolve as the seasons change. They come in many different colors and sizes, and grow stronger with a nurturing and loving touch.

Sick of the sappy symbolism? Sorry, I can't help it. I really love to see how something so simple as a leaf can be a metaphor for life and love.

Let's move on to application of our 2017 Color of the Year! We have so many clients who have embraced greenery throughout the years. I have to admit, I love it! Greenery can be so transformative in a design, and can be applied to many, many aesthetics. I love the versatility it brings to a design! I'm excited to see how brides embrace the Color of the Year!

I can't write a blog post without including some of our favorite photos from past TGH events that involve greenery, and of course, an inspiration board for our Color of the Year!

Photo credit: (L to R) Row 1: Finch and Farrow Photography (1), Lauren Friday Photography (2-4) / Row 2: Lauren Friday Photography / Row 3: Lauren Friday Photography (1),  J. Jones Photography (2-4) / Row 4: Crystal Stokes Photography (1 and 2) and Richard Israel Photography (3) and Lauren Rosenau Photography (4) / Row 5: Lauren Rosenau Photography (1), Alicia White Photography (2-4).

This inspiration board is inspired by the Color of the Year, embracing the juxtaposition of old meets new. I've chosen to go for a more modern interpretation to show that greenery can be used in a variety of design aesthetics, and isn't reserved just for garden inspired weddings. It can be formal. It can be elegant. It can be whimsical. It can be modern. It can be delicate. Greenery is a very versatile design element and a gorgeous addition to any color palette. 

2017 Color Of The Year Inspiration Board - Greenery Wedding Inspiration - The Graceful Host

Will you be embracing greenery in your wedding design? What do you think of the Color of the Year?

XO,
A.