The Business of Blogging – Backstage

There has been a lot of engaging around the web lately about a couple different frustrations that some members of the wedding community have over the importance of “details” documented by blogs. One, the focus should be on the vows. Two, blogs are beginning to look all the same because they only focus on the details. I want to make sure we are addressing both issues that are colliding into one here.

Here is an anonymous letter that Hindsight Bride posted last week. And here is a beautifully written piece by Jonas Peterson. One that definitely made me stop and think, as I too have been up all night the last few weeks trying to figure out if there is a disconnect between what blogs are doing and what our audience wants. More specifically, what the wedding community wants.

And yet I haven’t responded or commented on any of the blogs. After all, Style Me Pretty embraces all those details that are becoming the trigger for so many frustrations. Those mason jars, those bales of hale, those picture perfect garden details. And when someone asks me if I ever tire of weddings, the answer is always the same… no, I don’t. Because amidst those details that may seem redundant to certain people, I see something else.

I see that bride, much like myself, who sat with her mom and her sister sifting through every last jar they have collected from garage sales and thrift stores. Tying every last bow on the program that their guests will read. Finding quilts and typewriters, fabric for photo booths, milk glass for flowers.

For so many, the planning part of the wedding, the DIY, the collecting, the crafting, the imagining, the designing… is just as meaningful as the wedding itself. More than 6 years after I got married, I still have not thrown another party. My wedding was my party. It was time that I got to spend with my mom and my soon-to-be-husband, it was time that I spent with my best friends and my grandmother. That year that I spent scouring ebay for a million different champagne saucers gave me such a giddy sense of anticipation and made the day, that will forever be the best day of my life, that much more special. And seeing my husband standing at the altar was far and away the highlight. As it is for so many brides who spend hours and hours filling mason jars with candles and fresh from the garden flowers. The two are not mutually exclusive.

The thing is, we’ve been staring at details for years. But we aren’t the ones getting married. Brides are. Brides read our blogs. Brides who haven’t been poring over mason jars for the last three years. They are new and seeing things for the first time. Sometimes, they look at blogs like mine and get totally overwhelmed. Other times, they look at blogs like mine and get so totally excited. They see girls in dresses and they imagine being that girl in that dress. They see mason jars or mercury glass lining tables and they want to be the one sitting at that table, kissing the boy they love.

I won’t say that it isn’t about the “stuff.” It is in part. When it comes to SMP, we have been writing about the stuff from day one. Not much in terms of content has really changed over the last four years. I think the main difference is that where there were only a couple of wedding blogs four years ago, there are now hundreds so the “stuff” feels that much more overwhelming. But, just like you want to design a home that makes you happy, a wedding should be a beautiful moment where you get to design a day that reflects you and the one you love. Which may or may not include stuff. But let that be up to the bride and as a wedding community, we shouldn’t make her feel guilty for buying mason jars in bulk.

I’ve read all of the words out there and this response is by far the most well written and the most impactful. Jonas, you are a beautiful photographer and you have a talent for capturing the emotion that is rare and special. When you scroll down the pages of Style Me Pretty, you see a lot of detail. But you also see so much emotion. So much love. Just today, I looked at a bride wiping a tear with her napkin, a kiss that would almost make you look away, a boy looking at his new wife, a group of bridesmaids so excited to watch their friend walk down the aisle. And I saw mason jars and peonies and bird cage veils. It’s all there and it all can come together to represent the same thing.

I want to say more on this because I think there are numerous issues going on here. I don’t think it’s simply about showing too many details or seeing too many mason jars. It’s bigger than that and I understand. I just need the time to really think about how I feel and between Halloween costumes for my daughter and my little boy with the croup, I haven’t had enough time to really thoughtfully put my words together… But for SMP, the bottom line is this… we can do better at showing the pure love that should always be the focus of a wedding. We can always do better. We do get caught up in the details because as girls that thrive on design, that is what gets us excited. But on that same note, we should also give brides and grooms permission to go all out with mason jars and hay bales and vintage typewriters if that’s what they want. Whether they create a wedding that is two people and two beautiful vows or they create a wedding that is two people, two beautiful vows and peonies, table linens, candles and every other detail in between… it’s their day. We are there to capture it, to write about it, and to inspire other brides who are planning a wedding of their very own.

71 Responses to “It’s all in the details…or is it?”

  1. very well written Abby :)

  2. Abby – I could not have said it better.

  3. Sally Watts says:

    Abby, you come across as someone who has amazing level-headedness and integrity. I admire the way you’ve responded to all of it.

  4. lisa says:

    lovely piece – so true. Why do true love and cute detailing have to be mutually exclusive? having been bridesmaid at my best friend’s gorgeouslyenglish country wedding this summer, so identified with the lovingly watching the bride moment. So many happy memories and cannot wait to have my own.

  5. Kyle says:

    I will honestly say that your response to all of this has been amazing and has giving me a whole new level of respect for you and SMP.

    And you’re right! 100%. The point is not to make brides feel bad because they love mason jars. The point is to make them stop and think — am I doing this because I love mason jars, because I loved planning this party for/with my husband (like you). Or am I doing this because I feel like the wedding industry is telling me it needs to be done?

  6. Michelle says:

    Goodness, what a beautiful letter, Abby. I can’t tell you how many times a week I’ve been moved to blink back tears by weddings featured on SMP. And I confess…I really do LOVE those unique details that so poignantly reflect the personality and story of the couple! Thank you SO MUCH, SMP brides and grooms, for sharing your beautiful, most important day with our SMP team. And thank you to all the talented vendors who come together to present that day. I’d also like to say what an incredible privilege it is to get to work for Abby Larson, the sweetest most genuine girl you could ever meet, who makes this blog not only possible, but who constantly works toward improving it. Abby, you are A-MA-ZING..

  7. Elaine says:


    Seriously this is why I love my job. Abby, thank you.

  8. ch says:

    I think that you have slightly missed the point that is being made. I don’t believe that anyone is begrudging the bride who wants to include all of those details in their weddings. Instead, they are begrudging an industry that ONLY seems to value weddings that include those details – even if it means featuring poor photography and leaving many brides feeling left out in the cold.

    I believe that what people are asking for is the wedding blog industry to take a step back and start to include some variety. Feature weddings with less detail but that showcase great photography. Feature weddings with less detail but that include a great love story.

    I think that people are just asking to be given a chance to be included, even if they don’t fall into trend of the day.

    Your last sentence pretty much sums it up:

    “Whether they create a wedding that is two people and two beautiful vows or they create a wedding that is two people, two beautiful vows and peonies, table linens, candles and every other detail in between… it’s their day. We are there to capture it, to write about it, and to inspire other brides who are planning a wedding of their very own.”

    But – ask yourself, are you writing about the weddings that are two people and two beautiful vows? Are you inspiring brides who want to go the more simple route? I would say that you are not and that’s what this outcry is really about.

  9. Anouschka says:

    Wow, what an awesome response Abby! Amazingly well written!

  10. Amen Abby. Amen Abby. You’ve hit it here. These are things that our couples WANT on their tables and hanging from their ceilings. I don’t feel like anyone in the industry has the right to say they’ve had “too much of this”. We all know that brides are heartbroken when their big day is over and in part, because they are still craving the planning of that fabulous party. We’ve heard this many times. I personally think that wedding photographers should take a stance of gratitude that they were the one selected to document these moments and details. Bloggers should be grateful for the bride or photog sharing, and brides should have the freedom to plan their hearts out with mason jars if they want to.

  11. Linnea says:

    beautifully written, Abby!!

  12. What a wonderful response. I don’t think it’s any one thing that makes a wedding special. I know when I was a bride I took a lot of time into planning details. As long as they represent the couple and really showcase who they are, why not showcase them? I feel like you can easily get a mix of wonderful detail shots AND amazing moments that show the couple’s true emotion and still be a great wedding photographer. I always tell my brides that every bit of it is important to me and I always treat it as such.

  13. HK says:

    I’m not a wedding industry expert but I’ve been reading SMP for a long time.

    Abby, keep doing what you’re doing because the sincerity and earnestness from you and the SMP team shines through in the SMP brand. I don’t think SMP focuses on the wrong things or only details or targets a specific, unrealistic audience. You have vision, a huge heart and the intellect to make SMP a great source of information and inspiration. You should be really proud of SMP and the journey to make SMP reality.

    I really like posts on Backstage – I think the content here is something that sets SMP apart, too.

  14. Abby Capalbo says:

    I’ll be the first to admit that I love details. There, I said it. But I am also the sappiest person on the planet and I love love even more. You can love both. You can love both A LOT. And I do. When I was a bride I couldn’t wait to pull together a wedding FULL of details that gave all of our guests a look into what makes my now hubby and I tick. Those months leading up to the wedding planning with my mom, my best friends & my MIL are something I will always cherish – but the most memorable moment of the entire process was seeing my now hubby at the end of that aisle. There is NO doubt about that. You can have details and love. You can capture both. I have a good feeling that most brides feel the same way and want that out of their wedding. One of the reasons I love SMP so much is you can see what makes each couple tick through the details THEY choose. If it’s a mason jar – it’s a mason jar. I highly doubt people are getting married just to collect mason jars – then we would have a problem :)

  15. Mallory says:

    Abby, you’ve said it beautifully and spot on. When I was a bride, it was all about the marriage, the vows, the joining of two families. But in order to make that wedding our own, we brought in the details that made people stop and say “Oh, that is SO them.” And now, with my awesome job, I get to spend my days with couples, learning about them through the details they chose to make the big day their own.

    Thank you.

  16. Abby Larson says:

    Hey all. Thanks for the supportive words. And from all of our awesome team members at SMP…you are too good to me.

    Anyway, to CH…I do see what you mean. I really do. And weddings should never be celebrated unless that love is also apparent. I guess that my perspective is a little different. Much like Lucky Magazine writes about the clothes and the little odds and ends that can help you determine your personal style, SMP has made it’s living on writing about the details.

    But if you ever really read the posts, you’ll get that sense of total love in the bride and groom’s story. Not every story posted is meaningful and romantic but the vast majority are. They talk about how they spent weekends finding vintage hankies with their mom or how they met the love of their life and conceptualized a day that reflect both of them. There is love there and sometimes the way to illustrate that is through a photograph of whatever it is that designed or crafted.

    It is ALL part of the love story. That’s what I guess I am trying to say.

    Jonas’s letter and the Hindsight Bride’s were different and in my opinion, they were two different issues. One was the issue of the stuff. The other recognized that stuff has a place though was a plea to bring back the heart. Jonas has really made me think and try to find ways within our content to do just that.

    How to actually do that thoughtfully will take some time to think through. And I WELCOME any and all suggestions.

    PS…the thought about bad photography vs. good photography is a totally separate issue and I’ll happily write about that in another post if you guys want.

  17. ben says:

    abby, you are running a seriously classy operation over there. keep up the great work. so good to see someone take feedback in stride and without getting defensive. i can see why SMP’s so successful. :)

  18. Kari says:

    Oh Abby!!

    I just love this. As a fan of the blog (and all wedding blogs) first, then a person lucky enough to work for SMP I think you got it. I not only look at the pretty pictures I read the bride’s story below the photos. The part where she talks about emailing her mom, sisters and best woman and shares what she finds so inspiring from the blogs.

    I planned my wedding a thousand miles away from my family so sending pictures from the blog to my mom and sisters was one way I could continue to stay connected to them. Showing them to my future groom was the highlight of my day when I was looking for a new job in a new city and not finding any luck.

    To some, it may just be another piece of milk glass.. the third, forth or fiftieth they’ve seen this year… to me it was my mom squealing (it’s true she does this) about how she found the “big” vases for a buck fifty.

    There is a LOT of love in those detail shots.. sometimes it requires reading the fine print.


  19. Delia says:

    That was a wonderful response. And I totally agree with you and Jonas. The post from Jonas was particularly touching, but I think your response was very composed and articulate. As a photographer, I really do enjoy SMP, and it does overwhelm me but I do love to call in here and see whats going on from time to time. Thanks :-)

  20. Abby Larson says:

    And one last little thought (who am I kidding, this won’t be the last, ha ha)…we’re talking about mason jars and hay bales but those really are simply a symbol for any staged component of a wedding. Pieces of antique furniture used as a dessert table, ribbons decorating back of chair, photo booths and the like. The frustration is over the “staged wedding” and the mason jar referenced in my note above has just become a symbol of sorts.

  21. I have long been an SMP fan. It was the first blog I subscribed to in my Google Reader, and I still routinely link to and re-post the gorgeous pictures I find here.
    I have also been amazed at myriad directions this conversation has taken. I’m holding onto my faith that ultimately, while these are difficult conversations to have, they will lead us all to greater understanding and respect for one another.
    I did not intend to have the original letter taken as a indictment against brides. I believe a decisions a bride makes during planning is hers to make. I’ve written as much in my own comment on Jonas’ post as well as on my own blog.
    I have been careful not to stymie any of the conversations and have worked to be supportive of differing points of view. That was the original intent behind my decision to publish the first letter. I didn’t agree with everything “Meg” had said, but I had heard parts of it echoed by others at industry events and via email. It wasn’t about the details per-se, it was about quality photography and variety of wedding coverage. Personally, I’ve always held that there are plenty of blogs for every type of bride. But I thought it would get a small conversation going with a handful of people I knew and see what happened.
    Although I felt there were plenty of resources, I couldn’t understand why brides were apologizing for their weddings. I couldn’t understand why photographers were frustrated when there are so many bloggers out there publishing high-quality stuff. To me we all just needed to focus on finding the right fit. Finding our tribe (as Seth Goden would say.) I published the letter to see what others thought. I never dreamed it would take on these dimensions.
    Issues I never foresaw are popping up every day. I too have been up some nights trying to figure it all out and piecing together the parts that are most relevant to my values. I think the best thing we can do right now is to listen to one another with an open heart. We are a diverse community and there’s enough room for all of us. This may be the perfect opportunity to find our tribe and cultivate relationships that are in line with our philosophy. We don’t have to love everything everyone has to say, but we owe it to each other to consider it, and maybe respect it.
    Abby, your blog is the ultimate wedding blog for a reason. You have captured the hearts and imaginations of so many people in this industry. Of course you don’t have to give up publishing details, and I of course will not give up re-posting them.
    I didn’t think the original letter encouraged anyone to do so. In hindsight I see I was mistaken, and that the original letter has been interpreted in so many ways I could have never anticipated. I was surprised to receive a recent letter from a bride rethinking her wedding decor because of the post. And I’m sadden to see my peers struggle with the whole “detail question.”
    I feel we all have a place. Truly we do. Mason-jar loving fools like myself, as well as anti-brides, and elegant luxury brides. Like I said, there’s so much variety among bloggers that there’s plenty of inspiration for all types of brides and plenty outlets for all photographers.
    I know we can all support each other in our respective endeavors.

  22. nadine says:

    Abby, that is a great response. As a photographer, I value the couple’s love and chemistry over details. But it’s also nice to be able to shoot an outdoor wedding, with DIY details that the brides have happily chosen. I feel that a lot of photographers forget that for the bride, it’s their first time encountering the vintage/diy wedding culture. So if they think mason jars and buntings are cool, let them have it. Just like they get to wear a white dress and toss a bouquet. In the end, the blogs are for the brides, not the photographers.

  23. nadine says:

    ps: give me a mason jar wedding over a convention wedding anytime.

    pss: Also, you cannot judge a couple from their wedding photos. Maybe there isn’t a photo of them crying or emotionally staring at each other’s eyes, doesn’t mean they don’t love each other. Some people just don’t like being publicly dramatic with their affections.

  24. Abby Larson says:

    Christie! I bet your head is spinning. Your open letter really did start a firestorm…all of which has been interpreted in so many different ways. But it’s a really good thing! Because it gets people talking and talk is good if it’s done in a way that is constructive.

    I haven’t responded because initially I felt like it was a lot of “you suck” and mud slinging which to me is the opposite of how points are heard and change is made. Then Jonas wrote the most recent article…one that I think actually has the power to open minds on both sides of the fence.

    The photography question is a tricky one. And one that deserves an entirely separate post in my opinion. Because we are a wedding blog, we aren’t a photography blog, there are going to be times when we see something in a wedding that is special in one way or another and we aren’t going to turn it away because the photography isn’t perfect. I am definitely going to gather my thoughts on this and will post soon here on backstage but the bottom line is this…so many people set out to make a beautiful wedding. The bride, the groom, the planner, the stationer, the florist, the owner of the venue. Photographs are a window into all of that hard work and if if that window is a little foggy, we’re still going to look hard to see into it and celebrate the love AND the details that made that day so special.

    And Nadine…SO true. Brides and grooms often help select the images that they want to be published. Not always but sometimes. And we don’t always have the luxury of posting the super emotive imagery.

  25. You nailed it Abby. My head IS spinning. Truth be told, in hindsight I would have done things differently. How, I’m not sure at this point, like everyone else, I’m still processing through it.

    I’m grateful that you identified the distinction between wedding blogs and photography blogs. The concept has been scratching around my brain but I hadn’t been able to pinpoint exactly why I’m sometimes willing to publish images that aren’t perfect. I posted crappy pictured today in fact. They were the only ones that perfectly illustrated what I was saying. Your comment made me realize that’s OK for me to do.

    And I’m excited that you think Jonas’ letter will open the conversation up. I too am not a fan of the mud-slinging. Though I feel stupid admitting that now. After all I did publish a fairly inflammatory letter on my blog. Like I said, in hindsight…

    Thanks for such thoughtful candor Abby!

  26. The fact that you and Hindsight Bride are publicly addressing these issues is admirable! I have a new respect for SMP. And of course I love Hindsight Bride ;)

    After reading this I am really looking forward to your thoughts on good vs. bad photography. That is something that I struggle with seeing on blogs (poor photography). My problem with it is brides possibly thinking “oh this must be good photography” because they see it on a popular wedding blog. Blogs go head over heals about the photography when it rocks. But when it’s bad photography you won’t see “note: this is mediocre photography with poor exposure and composition.” So, yeah, looking forward to your thoughts!


  27. Kelly says:

    “The fact that you and Hindsight Bride are publicly addressing these issues is admirable!”

    This isn’t really that public, its “backstage.”

    I got wind of this from my florist who I have become friends with. She loves the pretty little details as do I. I think this debate is really between the blog editors and the photographers. If it was public, on the front page of Style Me Pretty and not camping out backstage, you would get more valuable insight from real brides like myself who are your main readers.

  28. I’m so pleased that other blogs have acknowledged this, and your response is extremely admirable. I very much agree with everything you’ve said here and as bloggers we can but only listen to our readers so it’s good that this has opened up our thoughts and the conversation and I for one will be giving it some further thought.

  29. It’s public in that it’s on the internet and not private or merely email correspondance. Anyone can chime in. And Hindsight did post that ‘dear wedding bloggers you suck’ email on her main blog. I agree that this issue is between editors and photogs. But of course a brides opinion could be even more valuable.

  30. Jessica says:

    I responded on my blog, but your response is just perfect!

  31. I have read and re-read all of the posts in defense or against these DIY and vintage style weddings and I have found myself a bit confused. Haven’t weddings always been about detail? Otherwise why would there be intricate beading on dresses, thousands of table linen colors and textures, various flower arrangements (height, size, flower type, vases etc)? And mind you these are not new options! It seems to me that this anon writer is biting the hand that feeds her and just whining that she isn’t being published on the blogs she doesn’t even care about. We are all a part of this industry (and isn’t industry the operative word?) and there are numerous publications and outlets for everyone. I live in the south, and there are still PLENTY of traditional looking detail- free weddings sans mason jars, peonies, typewriters and the like. And plenty of these weddings get published. Like all industries be it fashion, hair, interior design or weddings, trends will come and go and some will find them fitting and some will find them strange. Love is the reason they got married…who gives a sh*t if they want all red roses and a princess dress or hydrangeas and a tea length Monique Lhullier dress? Our job is to make it memorable, support their vision and make sure they have the best times of their lives. Dear “Meg Surly:” quit being so self-righteous and whiney. SMP keeping doing the wonderful job that you do to inspire us all.

  32. I just want to say, I love that you’ve taken the time to address this in between caring for your two children! I have two of my own – a poorly baby (1) and it’s half term school holidays here in the UK right now so I also have an elder child {6} requiring my full attention!

    Big love and respect to you – I totally get the mum/work/addicted to my own wedding blog thing!! ;)

    Love the message here too – we can all of us always do better…

    Annabel xXx

  33. Jessica says:

    Do you know what’s funny? When I read Jonas Peterson’s manifesto, i was like “yeah I totally agree with everything he is saying” – in terms of a wedding being about the couple. But at the same time I totally disagree about the attack on vintage styling.
    I think your response is perfect. You have put into words what i tried to on my blog..
    Well done.

  34. Tait says:

    Derek, I don’t think you’ll see us mentioning when we feel there is mediocre photography on a feature on our site. We recognize that without the photographers contribution there’d be no post at all. It wouldn’t be appropriate to bash their work.

    If you took beautiful photographs of a wedding that just so happened to have a bride wearing a not-so-beautiful dress, would you make note of that on your site? If the bride splurged on a photographer, though skimped on the florist and it showed, would you call that vendor out? I’m guessing you wouldn’t because it would one, hurt the bride that chose that florist and two, it would be hurtful to the vendor whose work you didn’t like.

    We could work on a separate stream of content that focuses solely on great photography.

    Kelly, we felt this was the right forum to discuss this particular issue. Our front page is generally reserved for wedding content. Feel free to publicize it further and spread the word if you like. IMHO, bride feedback regarding this issue is super relevant to us and the photographers. Comments are great for debate but not great a gauging the true sentiment of a collective audience. Surveys are better for this. We’ll follow up with a survey for our readers when we’re ready.

  35. So great to see your response on all this going lately! As a blogger myself, I’ve been really disheartened by all the blog ‘bashing’. I especially took offense to the idea that us wedding bloggers are making brides feel inadequate, that their weddings might not be ‘blog worthy’. This community of bloggers is full of amazing, passionate women who strive to encourage and inspire brides, so this accusation couldn’t be farther from the truth. I think if anything, some of this conversation is making brides feel bad. It is not anyones place to say a bride’s wedding was cliche or overly trendy. As outsiders, looking in, we cannot say that this bride must have chose to use mason jars because that is what they are seeing and they want to be trendy. I don’t think any couple would do something that didn’t love, and who are we to tell them they shouldn’t do something they love? Jonas is right, it is about the marriage, and it is about the couple, so let’s just let them have the wedding THEY want, because it’s about THEM.

    And I really think that there is a blog for anyone and everyone. As editors, we should be able to post whatever is inspiring to us, and we must be authentic to ourselves and our vision. If the wedding industry is wanting more diversity, then they should look to other blogs who are showing that type of wedding they are looking for. You post weddings that fit with SMP’s style, no one should have to compromise themselves.

  36. Amen Abby! I think that many wedding pros get so caught up in what they say each and every day that sometimes they forget. They forget that they’re dealing with brides who most likely haven’t seen the mason jars and bales of hay before. These brides most likely haven’t been to a wedding with those things, and it really resonates and makes sense for them, so that’s what they fall in love with and want to do. I’ve seen it all too much, and it even happened to me when I was working as an event designer. You lose the excitement of each and every wedding. Weddings start to blend together. But bringing it back to the couple and their story and creating something to reflect them, that’s what always “woke” me up. And perhaps that what we all as editors need to do. Wake up to why couples have the weddings they do.

    I also think all of this is indeed a part of a “bigger thing” going on with the wedding industry. With all of the inspiration and resources now, brides have everything at their fingertips. Today’s bride is changing- they’re more educated, more hands on, more open minded. And so blogs have become a place for today’s bride to turn. Perhaps it’s the wedding industry that needs an update? Who knows, but whatever it is, it’s happening. :)

  37. Dustin Finn says:

    All of this is very nice, but I’m more interested and concerned for the little boy wih croup and I hope he feels better sooner than later….

  38. Tait, I wouldn’t expect or want anyone to ever bash or put down a photographer in a post. I was just making a point that wedding bloggers (not just SMP) often post photos that are not good. As a full-time wedding photographer who strives for quality, it can be frustrating seeing bad images on blogs, especially since many brides visit these blogs and gather inspiration from them. I realize SMP is not a photographers blog, it’s for brides. Totally get that. I’m just an advocate for good photography and wish there was some way for bloggers to avoid posting sub-mediocre photos.

  39. Tait says:

    Hey Derek, I totally understand your frustration and I appreciate your professionalism and drive to be raise the bar in your industry.

    It gets worse too. Web photography on high traffic sites is hard to ger right. Images when optimized for the web get shrunk and can appear pixelated. ICC color profiles work on some browsers (Safari and FF) but not others (Chrome and IE). JPEGs with CMYK profiles don’t work in older versions of IE. Of course none of this effects the composition of a photograph but there are times when we work hard get a photograph to load quickly and look good and despite our best efforts the photos colors is off.

    Anyway, I just wanted to mention this as an aside. Photos, when the go from your camera to a readers screen can look quite different. Someday I’ll do a post on this.

  40. Kristy R. says:

    Weddings have always been about details. My Mom and Dad, in
    1972 had a sweet little wedding. Styling, no but details yes. Pretty flowers, a detailed and extensive menu…and guess what, really questionable photography. The images though showed every bit of the day and managed to express their love perfectly. I have several of the images hanging in my home, I cherish them.

    Wedding blogs are about telling stories, through real weddings, styled shoots, vintage and not, Avant Garde expression. It’s all out there and every day vendors and brides ARE conceiving new ideas. I still believe in wedding blogs and crafting a beautiful day. Please wedding world don’t loose hope!!!!

  41. Oh Abby! I heart you. You know, I’ve been following this little thread of a discussion for a while and finally decided to weigh in with my two cents. Because as a former detail obsessed bride who seriously asked myself, “Is this Style Me Pretty worthy?” more than once during my planning process and now as an event planner and stylist myself, I can see both sides of the issue (specifically, the ‘details being the focus of wedding blogs instead of the couple and their emotions these days’ issue). Here’s what I think and again, this is just my personal opinion.

    Style Me Pretty is a blog, and surely a very pretty place for inspiration that I and millions of others visit on a daily basis. But I think it’s important to note that it’s also your JOB. It’s your business. It’s how you, and Tate make your living. Your blog, as you mentioned above isn’t a photography blog but instead a wedding blog. And one that’s successful because of the specific and consistent way you have done things for years before anyone else even had anything like SMP. If the content you post, the calibre of the content you post, and the way you post it all is yeilding the numbers they are, then why would you ever question how you’re doing things? I agree it’s important to listen to constructive critism from your audience but if your goal at SMP is to bring wedding inspiration to the masses (emphasis on wedding inspiration and not ground breaking photography or visibilly-in-love couples) then my goodness you are doing just that and so much more.

    Some vendors in the industry think mainstream wedding blogs, or really any wedding blog at all, is simply a place for free marketing/publicity/traffic to their own sites because “everyone deserves a chance” to have their wedding day/their work/their love/etc shared with the Internet. I hear photographers complain that it’s not fair for said bride and groom to have their wedding be turned away because their photographs weren’t good enough or there weren’t enough details. I know had my own wedding be turned away by SMP I wold have been a little bummed out (ok I would have been devastated :) however, I have had other work of mine turned away before by SMP and by other blogs and instead of getting frustrated I strive to get better. Because, while I recognize how wonderful it is to be feature both personally and professionall, I understand every single blog, business and so forth have brands and ways of doing things; each time they or I make an exception to someone, we lose sight of our goals and intetions and really why any of us got started in this creativity-driven and highly competitive industry in the first place.

    Either way, I will 110% support the notion that details at weddings are hands down that secret piece of loveliness to making a day special. This fuels me every single day when I wake up to do what I do. It keeps my happy and inspired, it keeps my clients happy and inspired. I live for sweet little vignettes. And bows. And the ceremony. And clever signature drink names. And tea tins and bouquets! I live for tablescapes and escort cards and first look photos and the cake. And I think that SMP above all else, does the most perfect job of combining those details with only the sweetest emotion and finest photography into one daily updated space.

    Keep up the wonderful work SMP team. There’s a reason you’re as incredible as you are.


  42. Bonnie Marie says:

    What a timely post. I’m in the middle of wedding business burnout, working with a mentor whom I keep telling, ‘I’m the organized one, not the creative one’, as I look around at how ALL of the wedding sites and blogs are jam packed with pretties and I think, ‘how will I ever fit in here?’.
    Then I read Jonas’ post which I totally agreed/disagreed with. Of course it’s the love, Jonas. The fluff is just an expression of that love … to the world. It’s like writing a symphony, or painting an enormous landscape in oils, or waxing your ferrari (there’s empathy for ya ;-).
    And then I remembered my own wedding, perfectly organized by me despite the not so many pretties, except for one: I got out my calligraphy pen and inkwells and hand wrote all of my invitations and included a koo-i-noor pen and watercolor map of our location where all of our guests stayed for a two-day celebration in Tuscany.
    My husband (an accountant) said, ‘wow, I didn’t know you could draw. They’re beautiful.’
    That’s the love.

  43. Dear Abby,

    Thank you for this. This is the reason you and your team remain on top.

    I wrote my own response to this before the recent outpourings even came about, because I was sad to see so many bloggers putting down these trends we speak of. Because you’re right – there’s a difference here that we need to clarify the brides vs. the bloggers. Brides and their families are pulling this event together and are not necessarily seeing the ribbon backdrops or masons as “overused trends”. Bloggers are, because so many are following on the very same path you started to pave 4 years ago.

    Great post and response, and I love all of the comments as well.

    thank you!

  44. I read SMP every day, especially the NY section to be inspired by local Brides. I adore the pretty & the details. However, I read A Practical Wedding every day too where they discuss real issues surrounding wedding & marriage, as well as feature sweet weddings. I’m a wedding planner & a newlywed & I love both blogs. I don’t think it’s fair to say wedding bloggers suck because they focus on the details, not the love. Whatever you like or appreciate or want to see on wedding blogs, you can find one or more that suits your fancy.

  45. I think you got your words perfectly put together Abby, this is really well written and I’m so happy to have read it! Great job!!!

  46. I love details and design that is where my passion lies and as a wedding planner and designer I have thrived in that area. But there is one thing missing from all these pretty details that happens on the wedding day and that is the execution. A table can look beautiful but where the guests tended to? Was the caterer seamless with the wine pouring and serving of courses? Was there thought and skillful planning put in to the logistics to make sure everyone was comfortable and things ran on a smooth timeline (from the ceremony to the toasts to the first dance) for the wedding day and wedding weekend? This is why people should hire a skilled planner and this is how guests will remember the wedding by the love in the air, the gorgeous details and the well planned once in a lifetime affair.

  47. It’s been a frustrating week in many ways. What I wrote was more than anything meant as a positive piece. Celebrate love, don’t worry about what others think and don’t get sidetracked by the blogs and magazines. It doesn’t matter if you have mason jars, spaceships or no decorations at all, at the end of the night you will still have married your best friend. Go all out – or don’t go out at all – but don’t worry it will all be fine.

    Of course I didn’t write it exactly like that. I wrote it in one go at 5am in the morning, posted it and had to leave for another wedding the same day. I couldn’t clarify my initial intention behind writing it. And when I got back four days later it seemed silly explaining everything in detail.

    I do think the excessive focus on details in wedding media is creating something unhealthy. I have clients who worry their wedding isn’t cool enough for me to shoot. Some get details they don’t care about “so that I will have enough things to shoot”.

    I think that’s screwed up.

    I understand that the planning process is a beautiful one for many couples. I love details and will most likely go detail crazy when I get married. But there are also a lot of people who feel overwhelmed and I was simply trying to tell them not too worry.

  48. So well said Abby. And I really want to echo what Rhi said above too.

    I think part of what is frustrating also is that the bride readers aren’t looking to blogs for emotional inspiration – that comes from within and is personal to each bride. They already have that or will have that on their wedding day. What they are looking to blogs for (mostly) is detail oriented inspiration. And you are 100% right – although mason jars are old to most of the wedding industry, they are new to the newly engaged and if that bride-to-be loves wooden signs or jam jar favors or mason jars or barn weddings, then they should have that type of wedding.

    Also, if brides are more focused on details then the love on their actual wedding day, I would say there is a bigger problem. While I definitely wanted my wedding to be featured on SMP (and it was a very exciting day when it was!) on my wedding day I didn’t give that a second thought (no offense). I was thinking about how I was about to marry my best friend, how wonderful it was to have all of our friends and family in one place celebrating with us, and how much I wanted to eat, drink, and dance with my husband. And I was (and still am) as wedding blog obsessed as any bride. The blogs can’t be blamed for the occasional bride that isn’t remembering what is important on her wedding day. But that’s just my opinion.

  49. Emily says:

    Abby, I just wanted to say thank you for writing a response to this debate that is thoughtful and eloquent, while still validating what wedding inspiration blogs are all about. What I think is so great about the abundance of wedding blogs is that readers can find inspiration at different blogs based on what interests them. If a couple is not identifying with certain trends or overly detailed weddings, there are still blogs to read that will inspire in different ways.

    I know when I review material to publish, I look for a story. A story told with both details and expressions. Just as an interior designer does not force their tastes on their clients, wedding vendors should not either. A photographer is there to document the couple’s day, including the couple’s choices in design and decor. And as long as we (the wedding industry) and the couples remember why we incorporate details at a wedding, we should all celebrate the hard work that goes into it, regardless of design decisions made by the couple; after all, everyone is different. We incorporate details for more reasons than to make something look pretty, or because we think we should, we do it because it helps to tell the story of the couple. It helps to elevate the significance of the event, knowing that a wedding day happens once in a lifetime (or at least we all hope so). It helps to show our guests that we have thoughtfully put together an event that we so appreciate them being a part of. The reasons are different for each couple. The best way any of us can help move this discussion forward is to be a partner with the couples we work with to help them tell their story, whatever it may be, in whatever way they choose.

    And personally, I hope couples will continue to use mason jars and hay bales, since they are staples of a farm wedding, which is what my blog is all about! :)

  50. Sarah says:

    I think what you’re seeing is a bit of a backlash, fundamentally, against the idea that a wedding is a party that needs to be aggressively “styled.”

    This is a wedding industry concept given to us by people such as yourself who make their living by promising to help we brides plan our parties and “style” them so that they will be “pretty.” And so we get to see pictures of extremely self-consciously styled weddings with mason jars and antique typewriters. It’s easy to ridicule because, well, a lot of it’s ridiculous if you yank it out of its “Wedding Style” context. At a certain point in my planning (I married Oct 15th) I deleted SMP from my blogroll, in part because it was painful to read; so many of the photographs showed brides trying way too hard.

    And for what? Of course, even today, most weddings that take place on planet earth are not styled in the least. Often they are not even photographed.

    They are not “designed.” They are lived.

    I would argue that’s what we need to get back to. I don’t know how SMP and other blogs can contribute to this as many built their brand around really heavy design, but I am sure you can find a way. I hope you can understand why many brides want to see weddings that are lightly styled – it’s just more attractive in many ways. You know the difference between light natural makeup and three layers of cakey stuff? That’s the difference I”m talking about.

  51. Tait says:

    Hey Sarah! Great points.

    That’s exactly why the internet is so great. If design and wedding design inpsires and excites you, there are resources. If you need help with the planning process, there are resources. If you want to see weddings that resonate with the simplicity and beauty of ceremony, there are resources.

    Style Me Pretty has been about styled weddings from day one. Based on the number of emails from excited brides we get who love wedding design and have so much fun crafting a wedding, we know we’re doing something right. In fact, we just got an email from a groom telling us that SMP made his bride so happy and giddy through the planning process and he just wanted to see if we would publish their wedding.

    Some people love SMP, some people don’t. That’s the glory of the internet. We all have choice.

  52. Beautiful response to what’s going on right now. I truly admire the tone in which you presented your opinion with. I recently launched my very own wedding inspiration blog a little over a month ago and it was a little scary coming into all this! But you know, I’m going to do my thing and cater the my readers. Again, thank you so much for posting this!

  53. Sharon says:

    I have to agree with you that many of the brides out there are seeing the “stuff” for the very first time. Brides that I have worked with haven’t followed the wedding blogs until they were planning their own weddings.

    I think the “stuff” is the inspiration for brides. Wedding blogs are similar to other design blogs. Take interior design blog…most people are looking for inspiration in these blogs…ways of beautifying their own space. Certainly there are blogs that are focusing on the “home” aspect…the family, the love instead of the “stuff”. These type of blogs may have a different readership…and maybe there is some overlap. I think it all depends on the blog’s focus.

    I truly don’t think Style Me Pretty would be where it is today without focusing on the pretty…on the stuff. If other blogs want to focus more on the “love” and the ceremony etc. I say let them! Will they be as popular? Will they share readership? I don’t know the answers, but I think SMP is the ultimate wedding blog for good reason.

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  56. An impressive share! I have just forwarded this onto a coworker who had been doing a little research on this. And he in fact ordered me dinner simply because I found it for him… lol. So let me reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending time to discuss this issue here on your web page.

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  58. Melinda Bailes says:

    :::But for SMP, the bottom line is this… we can do better at showing the pure love that should always be the focus of a wedding.:::

    And yet here we are almost two years later and you still continue to accept only detail rich blog photos. And this thread’s gotten spam comments among its cobwebs.

    Seriously now, just be honest. Picturing details is exactly your intended purpose and business model to draw readership.

    You’re stuck in your own success.

  59. Abby Larson says:

    With all do respect, I totally disagree Melinda. Yes, there are AMAZING details. That was always a strong focus of this blog and always will be. It has been that way from the beginning and will be for the life of the site. That said, the call for more love centric, emotional images 100% changed the way that we view and format our posts.

    How about these from this week’s line-up…2 minutes of rounding up the images that we called out on the front page. There were dozens of other love driven images, joy driven images, emotional, gorgeous, in the moment images that were featured but these are the ones that jumped out at me…

    Personally, I want this site to be about everything. About the photography, the planning, the design, the dress, the color palette, the ideas. I want to support vendors, to support creative wedding businesses in their myriad of forms and functions…and I want to support the brides by giving them real, tangible ideas that she can take home if she so pleases and make her own.

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