(Photo by Tim Jaynes, Staff)
SIKESTON -- Once the excitement of her engagement settled down, Megan Nelson had no clue where to start with the wedding planning.
So, like so many other twenty-somethings, Nelson turned to the Internet for help.
There, Nelson found The Knot (www.theknot.com), which is one of the world's leading online wedding planning resources. In addition to wedding planning ideas and information, Nelson found a place where she could create a Web site all about her and her fiance and their upcoming June wedding.
"There are a lot of people who know me and don't know him and vice versa so that really offered me a great way to say who he is and who I am," Nelson said about the Web site.
Over the years more and more engaged couples are including a Web site address with their "save the date" cards, newspaper engagement announcements and wedding invitations.
Visitors to personal wedding Web sites like Nelson's can find out when and how a couple met, how they got engaged and biographical information. There's a place for the couple's registry and room to post photos and messages.
"There have been different people who've gotten on and written words of encouragement," Nelson said. "My mom and his mom posted messages, and I read them and cried."
The Knot even offers a guest list database for future brides to fill in addresses -- a feature Nelson loves.
"I gave my password to my future mother-in-law and cousins in Florida so they can edit addresses and I also gave my password to my mom and aunt," Nelson said.
Plus, the Web page was "super easy" to create and is easy to update -- and it's free, Nelson said.
Erin Carmack of Sikeston created a Web site when she was planning her September 2006 wedding. It, too, was through The Knot.
"You can set it up how you want to," Carmack said. "... Basically, it gave you a format, and you typed your answers to the questions."
The Knot is only one of several other online wedding resources that offer free personal wedding pages. Many also offer Web page upgrades for certain fees.
Tony Nickens, owner of Advanced Computer Systems in Sikeston, said reputable Web sites like The Knot appear to be safe for users. However, he doesn't recommend using social networking Web sites like MySpace or Facebook to share personal information due to lack of security.
Couples who choose to create a personal Web page do need to have some electronic knowledge, especially if they want to upload photos to the site.
"Obviously, you do need to be a little bit computer savvy to do it. Someone with basic computer knowledge skills shouldn't have a bit of trouble," he said.
A Web site's usefulness also depends on how Internet-friendly an engaged couple's guests are.
"Most of the people that came to my wedding were family and a lot of family members are older and don't really get on the Internet," Carmack said. "But my friends and I had Facebook and MySpace, and I put the Web site address on that, and they'd go and look at it."
The extent of information offered on a wedding Web site also depends on how personal a couple wants to get.
"I'm more reserved about who I give information about myself to," Carmack said. "I don't want to put too much information out there."
However, Carmack said she could see where people would put their personal wedding Web site address on their save the date cards or for friends who live in different states.
As for Nelson, the Web site has been nothing but helpful.
"I don't know anything about getting married," Nelson said. "I need someone that's gonna help me."