Sunday, June 28, 2009

Why I Said No To Martha

I have a confession to make. Our wedding was almost featured in Martha Stewart Weddings. When I say "almost," I actually have no clue how near or far we were from gracing their glossy pages. All I know is that I decided I didn't want to move forward with the process. Let me explain.

First, yes, there is an application process for being featured as a Real Wedding in MSW. I wish I could tell you how to get the application but I can't. I simply don't know. I happened to be connected to an editor there through work (publishing is a small world) and decided to e-mail her after seeing one particular wedding featured in their magazine. It was Lily and John's wedding in Santa Barbara, California--I've sprinkled pictures of it throughout the post so you can see what sparked my interest (as if wanting to be in MSW really requires explanation).

When I saw their wedding, I craved the richness of the photography, the clean and thoughtful details, the gorgeous styling of everyone in the wedding, the bride's designer gown, and the way the magazine's pages framed it all so beautifully. Seeing it in print made me think the wedding was somehow more meaningful than a wedding without inked documentation. If mine couldn't be styled by professionals with a name like Martha Stewart behind them, I'd never be able to have the wedding I dreamed of.

So I began. I filled out the lines on the application: Bride's Name. Groom's Name. Wedding Date. Ceremony and reception site. That's all I had.

Photographer? Nope. Florist? Not that either. Caterer? Dress designer? Wedding planner? No, no, no. Then it got even more specific: color palette, unique-factor, theme or design concept.

This was early on in my planning process and I hadn't nailed down any of the above. I looked at it like this--if I could get MSW behind me, I could have the best of the best vendors in the wedding industry. I mean, how else do all of those "MSW Real Weddings" grow into such glamorous affairs? They must use the power behind The Name to nab the most avant-garde florist in town or barter with a top dress designer. I didn't want to admit that some couples simply have an unfathomable amount of money or many uber-crafty bones in their bodies or a little bit of both to create gorgeous and unique affairs. I happen to have neither loads of money nor craftiness on my side.

So, I quickly entered my dream vendors, said a prayer to the wedding gods, and sent the application in with the required photograph of me and Mr. CB and the many inspiration pictures I'd printed out.

The application said it would take three or four months to get a response once it was received. Within one week, I had an e-mail in my Inbox:

"Ms. CB, We looked over your packet yesterday and we'd love to get updates as details develop and get confirmed. You have a lot of good ideas and inspiration and we'd love to be kept in the loop as it all comes together. Best, anonymous MSW editor."

This got me all fired up. I started nailing down details just to push them out the, well, Outbox. I focused on things I thought MSW would like. I sent them our save-the-date and explained how Mr. CB drew the horse. I sent a selection of bridesmaid dresses to find out which ones they liked.

"Favors?" the editor wrote me in an e-mail. I had never planned on including these but wrote back anyway, "Absolutely! We're thinking of naming the tables types of herbs (since we're foodies) and giving each table seeds so our guests can plant their respective herbs. It's eco-friendly!"

I became obsessed, trying to send one new update each day, inching my way closer to their approval.

Finally, I asked, "How much of the wedding needs to be nailed down before you decide to cover it or not?"

I should've known the answer to this question since I work in magazines. Magazine ideas don't pass the Pearly Gates of Approval until they're completely hashed out, deeply researched, and full of quirky, interesting details. This goes for any type of story whether it be a profile of an in-the-moment person or the atmospheric story of a wedding.

Anonymous MSW editor wrote me back, "There's no concrete answer to this one." Shocker, I thought. She continued, "We'll need some details nailed down on your end before we can commit to covering. That way we don't sign up for a wedding and then find out 80% of what we loved has changed." Duh, I was practically hitting myself over the head with my keyboard at this point.

A few months went on, we exchanged e-mails and they kept liking what I had to say.

That's when I applied for Weddingbee. With a yes to my Bee application (yipppeeee!), I went back to MSW and asked if I could blog and still be considered for their magazine. I realize I didn't need to ask their permission but I was pretty sure they might reconsider covering us if all of my details were dispelled across the World Wide Web.

I was right. They told me I had the choice: keep filling them in on our details with the hopes--not the confirmation--that they'd cover us or blog for Weddingbee. I thought about it for a few days and started to realize what was happening. I was sending them details I thought they'd like as opposed to what I really wanted. I didn't even know what I wanted yet--I hadn't given my vision enough time to breath. And, I knew, even then, that writing for Weddingbee was going to be a much more meaningful experience. This turned out to be true.

Mr. CB was never a fan of being in MSW but he was willing to bend for my happiness. Making the decision to become a Bee was like letting my perfectly-coiffed self drive away in a convertible, top down, hair blowin' in the wind. I was able to let go of all expectations, pressures, and prefabricated ideas of what my wedding should look like and just Let. It. Be.

Sure, I wouldn't end up with my wedding in print. Nor would I have the best vendors...Or would I?

Now that each detail and vendor is based purely on our opinions, on what we really want our day to feel like, I wouldn't have it any other way. It's real and more us than it ever was before. I'd pick that over delusions of grandeur any day.

How did you make your wedding your own?

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