To celebrate the changes on APW this week, along with our new submission forms, and our new Ask Team Practical logo, Alyssa decided to write about submissions and why you should write that thing you’ve really been meaning to write for APW, but haven’t quite gotten up the nerve to write or submit yet. On our wedding graduate submissions form, I link to a Feministing post called, She Should Write. It says:
I’ve written a lot about how I don’t think we can close the byline gap in journalism simply by broadly (ha ha!) encouraging women to write and pitch more. If we want more diversity in media, editors have to actively reach out to non-whitedudes in specific ways. But this solution can feel pretty narrow — after all, most of us are not editors. I’m here to tell you that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook.
Ask a woman you know to write something today. Ask her to write a short essay instead of just reblogging some pretty photos on her tumblr. Ask her to spend 20 minutes journaling instead of watching DVR’d episodes of Jersey Shore after work. When she sends you a link to a great article, and it’s something she totally could have written herself, tell her that.
There’s a campaign to fix the gender gap in politics called She Should Run. I like call this personal crusade She Should Write.
I’m here to tell you that writing about your wedding and your marriage is a political act. It’s giving voice to the voiceless brides who we continually see Othered by the lens. It’s giving voice to what it means to be a wife, something we almost never read or even see. So, please write. I’ll let Alyssa tell you how and why in more (sassy) detail.
“I want to send in a submission to APW, but…”
And what follows in those tiny little ellipses is a multitude of reasons that the bride (or groom? Pretty please?) feels insecure about sending it in. They’re afraid that it won’t be good, that it won’t be meaningful, that their pictures are crap, that they just don’t have anything to say.
And to that we say, “Horsesh*t.”
(Okay, fine, I say that. The rest of the APW staff say their local colloquial equivalent.)
Submissions are a huge, massive, important part of APW. They show the breadth of the community, they allow different viewpoints that you may not have considered and they offer up opinions and circumstances that you didn’t know you shared with anyone. They’re enlightening, invigorating, and they are the backbone of what this site is all about. So all that, “I want to, but…” noise? Quit it. That’s an order.
It would be nice if that’s all it took; me virtually semi-scolding you to send in the post you know you have in you. Trust me, if I could cure writer’s block and boost creativity with a minor chiding and a half-a** pep talk, I’d be writing this missive from my villa in the hills of Tuscany. But since I’m sitting on my couch in Texas, drinking a Coke Zero and not a crisp, full-bodied pinot grigio from my personal vines, obviously more needs to be said than, “DO IT!” So let’s discuss.
Since you need your parents’ permission for vintage wedding posts, I’m going to direct this part to them. Feel free to copy and paste into an email if you ask them for permission to do a post and they go, “Oh, nobody wants to see those old pictures or hear our boring story….”
Dear M’am and Sir,
I’m assuming your daughter has already talked to you about APW’s vintage weddings. But maybe you’re still on the fence. And as an editor, can I say:
PLEASE let us run your wedding!!! Please, please, puh-llllleeeeeaaaasssseeeee?
Vintage weddings are more than just pretty. They are where we’re going; they are where you’ve been. One day, we will sit around with a younger version of ourselves and tell the tale of how we felt on our wedding day. We’ll talk about how we fought with our parents over centerpieces, how we prayed that we would not trip down the aisle, how our marriage wasn’t even legal in the state at the time, can you believe it? We’ll point out long lost friends we forgot were there, we’ll talk about how wonderful our partner looked, and how we wouldn’t do a thing different but we’d do it over in a heartbeat. And we hope that those younger versions will want to hear our story as much as we want to hear yours.
Are you divorced? Did you have a tough marriage? That doesn’t mean we don’t want your wedding. We’re smart ladies. We know that life is not wrapped in tulle, tied up in an organza bow. Regardless of how it turned out, we know the joy of the day isn’t erased just because you’re not with your partner any longer. We want to know what you wore, how you handled the process and what you learned from it and from life. We want you to join us around the fire and teach us what you know because we may really need to learn it.
So please, let your daughter write about your wedding (or write about it yourself). It’d be an honor to have you.
Alyssa, A Practical Wedding
*(In this ONE situation, vintage can refer to something from the 70’s or 80’s. BUT ONLY THIS TIME.)
Wedding graduates are pretty much one of the best things about APW. In my humble opinion, they outclass what’s being shown on more mainstream wedding sites because they are real. You can fake lovely decor, gorgeous dresses and moustaches on sticks, but you can’t fake the real happiness that you see on the faces of the couples and their family and friends. You can’t fake that in-the-moment joy that happens when anticipation, apprehension and expectation all collide, and you just hold for the ride.
We love wedding graduates with an unrivaled passion. But! Wedding grads are the posts people are the most intimidated to write. And we get that you’re worried that the story might not be posted. (And it’s true, we can’t run every one, even though we try. We run two wedding grad posts a week, so we do what we can!) But what seems to be the most intimidating part is trying to impart wisdom upon the readers. Some almost-grads want their post to be the one that a reader will invite into their heart and teach them a lesson that they never realized before and thus make their life just a little easier.
But darlin’, if that is your mission, you might fail. Like pretty much anything, the only thing you can do is be honest and hope that someone takes your words to heart. You will never know where someone finds comfort, solace or inspiration so just tell your story and stand back. They have to take it from there. And remember, these posts are archived and we get new readers every day. What may not be the perfect post when it is run, but it might stop someone from sobbing their heart out a year later. All you can do is your best, and let go. (But you do actually have to do your best if you want to make a difference.)
But grad posts don’t have to be deep, seriously introspective or even serious at all. They can take any form, and we encourage you to mix it up! How about an interview with yourself or your partner about the experience? A letter to yourself, right before you walk down the aisle? A post written by a member of your bridal party about the experience? Think about what you’d like to tell a good friend if she got engaged and went, “Okay. Be honest. What was it like?” You can read other grad posts to be inspired, but it’s best to let the prompts and your own thoughts inspire you.
And you know what? It’ll come to you when it comes to you. You might not have something to say yet. And that’s okay too.
These are tough, but if you’ve got a talent, we want it in a big, bad way. There are tons of tutorials all over the internet and if we didn’t love you, we could just link away all day and be smug in our pseudo-helpfulness. However, those tutorials—as lovely as they are—are often super involved. And we know there readers who look at an aspect of their wedding and go, “This would be so much easier/cheaper/better to do it ourselves, but how am I supposed to find the freakin’ time and even if I had the time, how do I do it and OH SWEET BABY [deity of choice] help me!!”
Hence, APW’s Lazy Girl How-To. It’s not about being perfect, but about getting something as close to what you want as you can, without going into debt or the loony bin in order to get that way. And the project can be anything: decor, attire, food… If you don’t have progress pictures from when you actually created it, lazily recreate it! We won’t mind. The only thing it needs to have is not a lot of instructions (lazy) and lots of pictures (pretty).
So, Team Practical, how did you find the inspiration for your post, if you’ve already written one? If you don’t have a post in you just dying to get out, I bet you have an idea for a post that someone else needs to write. What could how-to or dilemma could you have used help with?
And before anyone asks, if your question is, “Would anyone be interested in a post about _______?”, the answer is yes. So SUBMIT, already!
If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Alyssa at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com. If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted. Though we prefer if you make up a totally ridiculous sign-off like conflicted and rageful but deeply in love in Detroit (CARBDILID, duh). We’re not kidding. It brings us joy. What, you don’t want to bring your editors JOY?!?