In true millennial fashion, my fiancee Greg and I met in college and then reconnected a few years later on social media. At the time, Greg was working as a substitute teacher/aspiring novelist and I was a freelance web designer and developer.
After 3 years of dating, Greg popped the question during a day at the zoo!
Wedding Planning in 2020
We immediately began planning our wedding. We set the date for October 31st, 2020 since Halloween is our favorite holiday. Neither of us wanted to throw anything enormous or lavish; we planned on inviting just over 100 people to celebrate our marriage with us.
Over time, we realized that we wanted to hold a smaller ceremony and a larger reception instead. We sent out the invitations and planned on renting an AirBNB to host a small ceremony and dinner with 16 of our closest loved ones – parents, siblings, and friends – from all over the country.
The Pandemic Becomes a Problem
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Greg and I made the decision to scale back our wedding even further. Almost everyone we had invited to our small ceremony would either need to travel or had some degree of health vulnerability. It simply wasn’t safe to ask people to travel or spend an evening around others in close quarters. Specifically my mom – who has Lupus – was at high risk of contracting the virus.
When this decision was made, Greg and I were already 4 months deep into quarantine. Throughout that entire time, we had not been in physical contact with friends or family. It was emotionally overwhelming to have to cancel the wedding we wanted, in lieu of an exchange of vows with 2 witnesses instead.
And while family and friends understood our reasoning, we felt guilty. We wouldn’t be able to share the start of our marriage with the people who loved and supported us most.
In a desire to stay connected with loved ones and continue to make them feel like a part of the wedding journey, I put my design skills to work and launched a small, simple website so that I could share details and photos in one place. More than that, it was a way I could tell my friends and family, “Our marriage is ours, but I think of you as a part of our story.”
Adding Virtual Gifts to the Wedding Website
You may be wondering – where does GiveWP come into play here? We had been asked multiple times whether we were going to set up a registry to accept gifts. Gift giving is such a big tradition with weddings, especially in Carribean families like mine.
It didn’t feel right to set up a registry when we weren’t throwing a party. So as a compromise, I decided to set up a GiveWP form where family and friends could send us a bit of money as a congratulations gift.
Here’s how I did it!
I used the free plugin to create a simple form. It was easy to change the wording on the form to say “gift” rather than “donation.” Given our celestial theme, I swapped the featured image for a starry stock photo. I loved that I could change the primary color so that the form meshed with the rest of the site design.
I enabled the custom amount on the form. It was important to me that no one felt pressured to give a specific amount.
I ensured that we could accept addresses so that I could send thank you cards when it was all said and done. And enabled commenting so that if anyone wanted to send us a little note or wish us well, they could do so as well.
Finally, I customized the email that went out to the person who gave us something. The standard email was fine, but we needed something a little more personal and heartfelt. We even embedded a photo so that we knew our “donor” would end their transaction with a smile.
Accepting money online isn’t about what we will buy with it at the end of the day. Even if we only receive $5 with this GiveWP form, it’s nice to be able to mimic the gift-giving portion of a full wedding, even at a distance.