As someone who has spent a lifetime crafting and DIYing, you’d think some of my skills would translate into graphic design. But often when I go to make something pretty in two dimensions, I end up creating a digital embodiment of a Pinterest fail. What’s in my head never seems to translate to the page. Take my wedding website. It was the first thing I “designed” for my wedding, and I wanted it to set the tone for our nontraditional event. So I tried to make something that felt modern and fun. But thanks to the existing technology at the time, I couldn’t figure out how to make that happen. Photoshop felt way out of my league, and my student copy of Microsoft Word and I weren’t exactly making magic together, you know what I mean?
Luckily, we live in 2019, and there are now a wealth of resources that make good design accessible to plebes like us who don’t have a design degree. And today we’re partnering up with Squarespace to share a few of my favorite resources for design hacks that don’t require an excess of time or money, that you can use for your wedding website. And bonus, some of them can carry over into the design of your wedding itself.
Squarespace is, of course, the easiest way to create and personalize a modern wedding website today. Their designer templates are all beautifully minimal and modern, leaving tons of room for you to inject your personality. And their software is actually intuitive. (Pretty much every person on the APW staff has made a Squarespace site in recent history, including yours truly.) In fact, Squarespace has so much built into their platform (from custom URLs, to beautiful templates, and even a built-in logo maker) that you don’t actually have to use anything else on your wedding website. But if you’re a tiny bit of an overachiever like me, or if you just want something that really feels like you, here are three design hacks that will make your life—er, wedding website—just a little bit sparklier:
She comes in colors everywhere
Whenever I’m trying to make something graphic, I always struggle with combining colors in a way that doesn’t feel like a bad acid trip (why can’t it all be neon?). Which is why one of my favorite online tools is this color palette maker. We use it for projects at work all the time when we need color palettes for DIY projects. You can explore color palettes, learn about colors, or even upload a photo and it’ll generate a color palette based on your image.
One of the reasons I really like Squarespace for wedding websites is because their templates don’t lock you into a particular aesthetic or color scheme. So if you’re working on your site and happen to have a great picture of you and your partner, but aren’t sure what colors to make your website fonts or logos, you can just upload your picture, and the color palette tool will reveal which colors go perfectly with your image. Then you plug the color codes into Squarespace and voilà: it’s like you’re a professional designer.
Pro-tip: Your color palette doesn’t just have to be for your wedding website. If, for example, you want to make one of my favorite backdrops for your wedding itself, you can revisit your handy dandy color palette and go to work.
abc easy as 123
Unless you’re the kind of person who really likes the minutia of design, pulling together your wedding website is always easier when you have a unifying element, like a monogram, symbol, or even just a hashtag. Basically, a logo for your wedding. And luckily, there are really easy ways to pull that off for free or very little money these days.
Your best bet is the Squarespace logo maker. It’s free for Squarespace customers and comes preloaded with a bunch of fonts and symbols for a quick and easy monogram (though you are limited to just one symbol and one line of text, so if you want a more complicated monogram, read on). There are a lot of symbols to choose from, so the more specific you can be while searching, the better. But I was able to whip up the ones above in a few minutes.
Or, if what you want is a custom logo that requires no work on your part, Etsy is my favorite resource for quick and easy graphic design elements. I know, you’re thinking: “Isn’t that the place where you buy, like, bottle cap earrings and mid-century dollhouse furniture?” But Etsy sellers actually offer a ton of digital files for sale for really affordable prices (think: $10). My favorite are the premade monograms. You just buy the file, download it, and then upload it to your wedding website.
Pro-tip: Digital files aren’t just for digital applications. If you have a logo or monogram, you can also use it on the rest of your wedding accouterments like invitations and decor. Heck, you can even get it printed on cocktail napkins. Don’t let me stop you from living your best, personalized life.
Work, cover girl
If you really don’t want to have to invoke any kind of digital design skills, the easiest way to create big impact with minimal effort is with a great photo. The highlight of Squarespace’s wedding website templates is that they are the perfect canvas for a nice big photo of you and your partner, and thanks to the minimal design aesthetic, you really don’t need much else to make it look great. But when you’re trying to create your website, it can suddenly seem like you and your partner have never been in the same room together, let alone taken a good photo.
If you have a professional photographer who offers engagement sessions, your wedding website is the perfect place to use those photos. But if you don’t? No worries, we have a whole guide for DIYing engagement photos right here. Basically, the secrets to a great photo comes down to three elements:
- Location: You can’t go wrong with a white wall and a good outfit, but if there’s an interesting wall near you with a cool mural, or great wallpaper in your favorite restaurant, hop in front of it for an instant artsy shot.
- Light: While modern cell phones take better photos than my first professional camera, they still don’t do great in low light situations. So your best bet is to find a space outside in bright light, but not direct sunshine. A cloudy day, sunset, or open shade are typically the most flattering. And if you’re inside, just get as close to a window as possible.
- Editing: A small amount of editing can take a photo from good to great, with just a few clicks. My favorite photo editing apps are A Color Story (for brighter images) and VSCO (for slightly moodier photos). And if you want to add text to your photos, Meg recently introduced me to Wordswag, and it’s my new favorite.
Pro-tip: If you’re taking your own photos, I always recommend taking both a vertical and horizontal option with lots of space above your head (think two thirds of the photo). That way, when it comes time to add text later, you’ll have plenty of room to play around. And if you end up loving your photos, you’ll have the flexibility to use them on save the dates and things of that ilk.
There’s no rule that says you have to go all out on anything for your wedding, but if you’re like me, planning an event is the perfect excuse to unleash all your pent-up creative energy. Learn from my mistakes though, and avoid finding yourself balled up on the floor crying because you tried to get a PhD in Photoshop on a random Sunday night. Instead, focus your energy on taking advantage of all the free tools out there to make the things you want (like a wedding website) feel fun and creatively rewarding, and create a few killer elements like a color palette, a logo, and/or one great photo that can be reused over and over in stationery and decor down the line.