Today people like getting a printed map as well as looking at a more detailed map online while in route to the wedding and reception.
The reasons for having a wedding map online are many:
1. Late wedding changes in location(s) and times can EASILY be updated on an online Google map.
2. The map can be posted and emailed. Also, Wedding Vendors and late invites can be directed to the online map.
3. You don't have to deal with reprinted revisions to your wedding map if you do one online. Time is money and I know a lot of people who have had to throw out printed wedding maps due to wrong locations, routes, dates, times and errors. If you do the map and directions on a Google Map you have total control to change things the even on the day of the wedding.
You can easily create a free wedding map or any custom Google Maps in minutes using the free Google Maps. The advantages to this are you have full control over creating the map that is clickable with your links and photos. Also, it is associated with your Google account and not some commercial third party host that could mine and sell any information you give them. Also, some of these sites suggest you actually print and copy Google Maps and use Google maps as you're wedding printed map. Copying and re-printing Google maps on paper for publication is technically illegal without permission. If you want to use an on-line map for base maps to draw over and send to a printer, than use open source maps (OSM) for any paper printing, since it is public domain. http://www.openstreetmap.org/
To create a online Google Map for a Wedding or Locator Map you need to do the following:
1. Log into your Google My Maps with your Google Account at https://www.google.com/maps/mm. If you don't have a Google account you can easily create one for free my creating a Google email account. 2. Next, click the "Maps" button to view any maps you have already made if you have used this before. 3. Next, click the red"Create Map" button to create a new wedding map. If you want to use pictures, links and your own custom icons than use the older version of their map maker. The older map maker is under the red "create Map" button and is called "Or create with classic My Maps" under the red button. You can make your map using their symbols and your text, or link/import to any pictures, symbols, and use their custom base maps to add the look you want. Plus geocode locations from your address databases from your address book. Google Maps has way more freedom in making the kind of map you want. You can add wedding map locations like hotels, reception locations, points of interest, houses, good restaurants, good shopping locations, ATMs, and anything else that needs to be on the map for the wedding. 4. Next save it as a private map in the upper left. Click the link button and copy the link path information in the upper right. Next, open a browser window and paste and test the link. It is a good idea to mail the link to yourself so you have it on hand for copying and mailing to wedding guests.
5. The nice thing about having this on your Google+ account is it won't be shared with the public if you don't want it to be. On other wedding map creation sites people can find your personal map by accident using simple web searches. Why have a data mining company make your map, when you can cut them out of the picture and use Google Maps! Also, using your Google+ account keeps your name from being added to any wedding mailing list. WHY give out personal information if you don’t have to.
6. You can easily add and change information on your map as the wedding gets closer. With the map on your Google+ account, you can totally control your who sees your wedding map by setting the site permissions(public, private).
7. Your free Google My Map wedding map can be embedded or linked on the wedding site if you have one, or emailed to the guests, or posted on a social media site like your Facebook account.
8. The best part about a Google Map is when you are done with the Google wedding map, you can easily delete it. Your personal information on the map is gone and you have not given out your personal information while making the wedding map. Unlike third party sites that may backup and keep your map on the site as reference or as an example.
9. If you don't like the simple Google default makers that Google Maps uses, you can use other sets that have church and other wedding symbols. Simply link to the symbol path when you add the marker on your new map. You have to use the classic map maker to do this. There are a lot of symbols you can link to and use in the wedding map. Here are some sites that have symbols you can link to - GE Map Icons Map icon collections Click on the symbol and open it in a new window to show the symbol and path. You can also just click on the symbol marker and do a copy path and than paste the path.
If you want to get really creative you can make your own custom wedding map icon markers to put on your site and use, here are good instructions on how to do it - Custom Map Symbols in Google Maps
If you have Adobe Illustrator or another vector drawing program you can make your own wedding map to be included with the invitations. Many people still consider it proper to send a nice vellum printed wedding map with instructions and locations on the wedding map. These are handy for someone driving who needs the written information in front of them.
Here are some quick tips for creating a nice looking wedding map without having to draw out at map:
You can download a nice wedding base map to work on using OpenStreetMap.org. Go to the openstreetmap.org map site and zoom to the area you want to cover for the wedding. This usually will cover the wedding site, reception, hotels, airport and other important sites. Next, click on the openstreetmap export tab and select export map image. Select pdf under image and click the export button. This should give you an editable vector pdf map that can be opened and edited in Illustrator or other vector editing programs. The cool thing is it already has the text on the map for streets and points of interest. To get fancy, you can even make insets by zooming into wedding locations on the map and exporting them with more detail street names on them. If you have a page layout program like InDesign, Quark, or others you can layer the insets on top of the main map for a really professional look. You can add wedding map symbols, fonts, markers and text to the maps in either Illustrator or using the page layout program. Other cool tricks would be converting the wedding map to gray scale so it is black and white and matches the invitation. Also, you can edit wedding map features by selecting on fill colors and fill widths. Lets say you only want to show major roads on the main map to make the wedding map easier to read. You would first select one of the minor white streets and do a select same stroke weight. This will select all the minor white streets that width. Hit the delete to remove them. Next, you can do the same thing for the casing lines behind the white minor roads and delete them. What you have let is a wedding map with only major and arterial roads on them. You can also use the same selection process to change colors and line weights. Depending on the detail, text, and symbols you want, it should take 3-5 hours to make. If you order one, you basically will have to do half the work send and typing the text that will be used on both the wedding map and directions to the wedding. Plus, you will have to proof the map and write up corrections. If you know how to use a program like Illustrator, it may be worth it making your own wedding map.
Also, many sites on the web sell full blown city illustrator maps for very expensive prices of 200-600 dollars. Some sites have less expensive editable blank maps for print use which can be customized and thinned down to show just the streets and wedding location with your directions and street text. Here is a site with affordable blank illustrator city maps of most of the U.S. major cities. These maps can be cropped, copied and pasted, or cropped in a page layout program to get the size and insets you want on the final map. A important thing to remember is simple drawn maps with less streets and just a few symbols and text on them are a lot cleaner looking than a map with every street on it. If you draw a wedding map keep it simple. It does not have to be to scale and have every street and landmark on it. The cleaner and simpler the wedding map, the better.
If you have the time, and want to get real detailed with your printed wedding maps, you can actually download copyright free map data from the Census site and go crazy with the map design. It is ALL free! First, you will need a free mapping program to do this. The best one is the open source QGIS which works on all platforms. You can download it at this site. http://www.qgis.org/en/site/forusers/download.html
The Census map data is all public domain map data and can be downloaded from the Census Tiger site. http://www.census.gov/cgi-bin/geo/shapefiles2013/main
The Census data has special names and codes so you well need the starter guides. Once you learn the codes you can turn layers and text on and off. And in QGIS you can output to EPS and PDF formats for easy placement in a page layout program. http://www.census.gov/geo/education/howtos.html