Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Shhh….I’m reading!

I love to read; currently, there are 15 books sitting on my nightstand. In fact, I love to read so much that I’m one of a handful of reviewers of historical fiction in the nation.

What I don’t typically read are magazines. While my friends tear out photos and pour thorough the latest editions of Vogue, Martha Stewart or event This Old House (you know who you are, Ms. BQ), I sit next to them and flip the pages of my novel.

That all changed when I became engaged, however. Once that ring was on my left hand, I snatched up every bridal and wedding magazine on bookstore shelves (it helped that Borders was going out of business at the time). It was fun – extremely fun – to look at all the floral, dress, invitation and décor ideas out there.

Reading bridal magazines is enjoyable. There’s really only a few times in a girl’s life when she can pour through as many as she likes or order subscriptions to Brides and Martha Stewart Weddings (if you ignore most of the ridiculously intricate do-it-yourself ideas, MSW is one of the best bridal magazines out there). But reading bridal magazines is also practical: it helps couples learn what they like and don’t like, and gives them photos to show vendors to explain their tastes.

Many brides act the same way I did – picking up magazines once that “look how shiny!” ring graces their hand. This is not only okay, but almost necessary. In fact, one of the first thing HJ does with any of its new couples is hand them a copy of Washingtonian’s Bride and Groom. We want you to flip through it, want you to tear it up, want you to show us what you select and reject.

There’s no right or wrong time to start reading bridal magazines. Whether before or after you hire a planner, the pages you flip through guide you through the selection process.

One word of warning, though: notice that I used “selection”, not “planning” in the paragraph above. Magazine photos, ads and articles guide you in selecting items, but not in planning your wedding. Why? Most of those pages do not show the two most important things in any wedding: the budget and schedule.

The photos in bridal magazines are wonderful, but do not detail the cost of the item; ads for wedding planners are helpful in providing an introduction into the business, but do not reveal their organization or efficiency; articles discussing real weddings do not showcase all of the work or cost involved in planning a wedding.

And there’s this article’s main point: look at magazines, but don’t attempt to replicate them exactly. Doing so may result in busting your budget or being disappointed in the end result.

In a few days, I’m attending an engagement party where the bride has requested bridal magazines as gifts. I love that idea simply because it’s so practical and fun. There is absolutely no way, in my thinking, that attendees will not start flipping through her gifts soon after she opens them. (Congratulations, Rosalyn and Stratton!).