Monday, February 3, 2014

Creating a Custom Wedding Website Using Blogger: Part 1

I just realized that in all the excitement of showing you our Save the Dates, I never mentioned our wedding website.

I spent an entire night (and let’s be real, a good part of my work day) looking into pre-made wedding websites.  You know, the ones where you plug in your information, upload a few pictures and you’re done.  And honestly, what a let down!  Most are so girly and fru-fru that it almost hurt my eyes.  

None of them really fit with our personalities or the feel we wanted for our wedding, so I kind of resigned myself to creating one from scratch.

Before I get into my tutorial, I want to make sure you guys are aware that I am, by no means, a web designer.  I had an Angelfire website when I was in high school, I binge-watched The IT Crowd on Netflix last year, and that’s about as far as my web skillz go.

Ok, and I set up this blog but if my Mom can set up a blog, anyone can do it. 

I’m going to explain as best I can how I set up our website after the cut.  This is gonna be a long one, so grab some coffee and some snacks.

First, I purchased a custom domain through GoDaddy.  That was pretty much the easiest part of this whole process.  I made sure the domain we wanted was available, searched for a coupon code and ended up registering it for a year for $5. 

So now you've got this awesome custom parking spot for your website, but you need to create pages for it and you need to host those pages somewhere.

From what I can tell, you basically have two options - purchase a monthly hosting subscription through a multitude of places or use a free blogging site to host your website for you. 

The benefit of purchasing hosting is that you start with a blank slate and have a lot more options to jazz it up - you can get as fancy or stay as minimal as you want.   The downside to purchasing hosting, other than the cost, is that you need to be at least a little literate in website coding to use it. 

The benefit to hosting with a blogging website is that you have an easy-to-use template already set up for you so you can adjust settings, fonts, and the layout without worrying too much about coding.  The downside is that you are limited to the options Blogger or WordPress has set and if their site should go down for any reason, your wedding website will go down as well.   

But after spending $5 on the domain name for a project I originally budgeted $0 for, I didn’t want to pay for anything else, so I decided to host our wedding website through Blogger.

I chose Blogger only because I’m familiar with it and I thought it would be easier to have my wedding website and wedding blog in the same place.  I’ve heard WordPress is easier to use, but as you all know, I'm lazy as hell and didn't feel like venturing out of my comfort zone.

So, first things first, you've got to create your blog.  To do that, go to Blogger’s homepage and sign in using your Google+/Gmail account and then click the New Blog button.

Title your blog and enter a temporary address. You can pick any template you’d like, but it’s probably easiest to just pick the Simple Template.  Click the Create Blog! button to proceed.

Doeblerghini Bunch:  Blogger Wedding Website - Setup
Ta-Da!  It’s that easy, your blog-tastic wedding website has been created!

Doeblerghini Bunch:  Blogger Wedding Website - Setup

Now we’re going to fiddle around with the settings so that your newly created blog looks more like a website.

Click the More Options down arrow on your blog’s line and then go to Settings.

Doeblerghini Bunch:  Blogger Wedding Website - Editing Settings

Select Posts and Comments and then change the Show at Most setting to 1 post.  We’re going to make this one post your landing page and then create other pages for more information about  your wedding.    

Doeblerghini Bunch:  Blogger Wedding Website - Editing Settings

Save your settings using the Save Setting button in the upper right.

Now, we'll create our landing page.  Click the orange New Post button at the top of the list.

Doeblerghini Bunch:  Blogger Wedding Website - Landing Page

Title and type up your post.  I kept mine short.  Remember, there’s no need to put any additional information on this page unless you want to.  We’ll be creating other pages for information about accommodations, your registry, the reception and ceremony sites, etc.

Doeblerghini Bunch:  Blogger Wedding Website - Landing Page

Play around with the buttons between the title and the body of the post to add pictures, link text, at a cut, change your fonts, etc.  If you hover your mouse over any of the buttons, it will give you a description of what the button does.

When you’re satisfied with your landing page, go ahead and click Post.   Don’t worry about it being perfect, you can always come back and edit it later.

So now that you've done that, I think you deserve a break!  Next time we'll add more information to your site by adding Pages.  And in the final installment of this series, we'll update the layout and link your custom domain to your blog.

For next time:
Make a list of all the different information you want on your wedding website.  Do you want a story about how you met?  How you got engaged?  Do you want a page for Ceremony and Reception information?  Do you want a page for your registries?  What about a page for out of town guest accommodations?  The sky is the limit, you can add as many or as few pages as you like. 

Feel like you can skip ahead?  Here's my entire series on creating your own custom wedding website:

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