Letter From The Editor: Beginnings


by Meg Keene, Editor-In-Chief

Letter From The Editor: Beginnings | A Practical Wedding

Dear APW,

In 2013, as we move into having APW’s content built around monthly themes (this month: Beginnings!), we decided that each month should kick off with a letter from the editor (that’s me!). You’ll be able to find this letter every month in our handy “Letter From The Editor” button in the right column. This month I had plans to write you a long pithy letter about the nature of beginnings, but then I kept not writing it because I have a new baby and not very much sleep.

Which is really exactly what beginnings are like. In our heads, new starts are a little like New Year’s Eve (or our fantasy about New Years Eve): glittery, boozy, fun, and possibly includes a massive celebratory balloon drop. But the reality is always more complicated than the fantasy. Having a baby has been at times a bit like the glossy advertisements featuring babies (in that I actually managed to give birth to a child who could be a stand-in for the Gerber Baby. Less blond, but he literally came out with those cheeks and that perfectly round face). But of course the newness of parenthood is also nothing at all like that glossy image. It’s harder (screaming Gerber Baby, sleep deprivation, recovery pain), but it’s also more wonderful as I learn to love and be loved by another person in a whole new way.

There Is Power (And Some Tears) In Beginnings

I’ve been spending a lot of time of late thinking about the way we each emotionally process new starts. I started APW a few short weeks after I got engaged, and it seems that in the years since then, new starts have just not stopped coming. We got engaged, we got married, David graduated from law school, I sold a book, I quit my job, I wrote a book, David started his first law job, I became a published author, I did my first book tour, I got pregnant, I became a mom. And I think that’s why running APW is so interesting for me. A reader once commented that APW is really about the process of growing up, in a way that’s often kicked into high gear by deciding to get married. I think there is something about making a conscious choice to spend your life with another person that makes you want to get the rest of your ducks in a row as well. And what I’ve learned over the years is that this process is almost never easy.

Back when I was pregnant, I wrote about why wedding planning was worth it. I talked about how all the things I’d learned during planning (with no small amount of tears) stood me in good stead while going through the process of growing our family by one. But it turns out the real thing I learned was more overarching: I’m terrible at new things… until they actually happen, and then I’m great at them. Long story short: I was an emotional wreck during wedding planning, as I grappled with all the changes happening in my life. Then we got married, and I was on cloud nine. Turns out, that is my pattern. Pregnancy was one of the hardest times in my life, as I processed the way my life might change. And then literally starting the second I went into labor, everything was fine. Great, even. (And to say that about labor is borderline nuts).

Your process of starting new things might be totally different than mine. In fact, it’s probably totally different than mine. I hear that I do things the backwards way, front-loading my worry like that. But wedding planning gave me a chance to really learn how I work, and that turned out to be invaluable.

This Month on APW

All of that is why we’re diving into the idea of beginnings this month. There is power in fresh starts, but that power is not in the glitter of the balloon drop. It’s in the hard work that comes afterwards (or if you’re me, before). This month we’ll be exploring engagements and the beginning stages of wedding planning, to welcome all of you who got engaged over the last few months (congratulations!). We’ll also be talking about learning new ways to love, building lives together, and setting goals. We’ll be chatting about feminism (as always) with discussions of name changing, chores, and partnership. All that, and we’ll finally be sharing some DIY hair and makeup tutorials we shot last spring, teaching simple things like the cat eye (which I got to model, but really have to learn to do myself).

Tiny Changes

While we’re kicking off the new year, we thought we’d introduce some tiny structural changes in APW as well. First off Ask Team Practical, our weekly dose of advice from Liz, will now happen on Thursday afternoon, with regular APW programming on Friday. We figured Thursday afternoon is the dead perfect time to sit around and gossip and give advice. Second, sponsored posts will now happen on Wednesday (not Tuesday) and Friday. And finally, you’ll see shopping roundups as a new semi-regular feature (which the staff is super excited about putting together).

On the social media front: As always you can follow APW on Twitter at @PracticalWed, where we sass a bit about weddings and work, chat about marriage, and share interesting links. But I’ve moved my more personal banter to the brand-new @MegKeene. That’s where you can find my musings on say, politics, motherhood, feminism, and my incessant live blogging of award shows (’tis the season). So find me there, if you want to chat about… the stuff I chat about in real life. The magic (we hope) of APW continues on Facebook with links to interesting articles, and Pinterest, where we try to collect the most down-to-earth wedding inspiration out there.

And finally, a huge thank you to everyone who’s supported the APW book in the past year by buying it, telling your friends about it, coming out to the book tour, giving it as a gift for the holidays, or generally just being kind to me about it. As of today, the book has officially been out for one year and one day, and it has sold more copies already than I hoped for it to sell EVER. The book has held steady as one of the wedding best sellers since it came out (along with some books about over-the-top, million dollar weddings), and I’m so, so grateful. I’m even grateful for the review that says the book was helpful, but they “couldn’t get past the profanity,” Because one: that review cracks David up on the regular. And two: because, you guys, I got to write a wedding planning book with profanity!

And that, for me, is what beginnings feel like. A little bit like toasting during a balloon drop, and a little bit like I need to slam my head against a wall and curse.

Happy New Year y’all. Let’s do this thing!

xo,

Meg

P.S. Next month’s theme is “Not A Rom-Com.” We’ll be discussing all the ways that weddings, marriage, and—well—life are rarely like what you see in romantic comedies. (Trust me, I had one of those shiny creative rom-com jobs in NYC in my mid-twenties, and I was dead broke, with the wardrobe to prove it.) The staff is pretty crazy excited for this one, so if you want to join in the fun, submit your stories, weddings, and more here.

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. Her first book, A Practical Wedding: Creative Solutions for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration, was published in January 2012, and has been a top three bestseller on the wedding bookshelf ever since. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and son.

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  • http://poppiesandicecream.blogspot.nl/ Amanda

    This is so exciting, a fresh new start.
    Meg, I think I might quite be your opposite in terms of dealing with stuff. I am pretty adventurous in the sense that I jump on things without much thinking about the what ifs. I don’t do the research before, at least not for everything. Then I find myself surprised from the challenges of *whatever the situation is*, but by that point I am already in the midst of it and once you are doing something, it’s just a matter of continuing. That’s how I ended up on the other side of the ocean ant 19, without giving it a second thought or considering I might feel lonely at times (all of which I survived though).
    We are still trying to have a baby, that road has been hard on us, but I have never doubted , not for one second, that when it happens I will still be me, we’ll still love to travel, I will read, study, bake, and do all the things. We’ll just have one extra adventurer.
    I wish you and the team all the best for 2013, yay for new starts.

  • http://www.snippetsof.blogspot.com Sarah E

    I’m so excited to see APW change and grow! I think 2013 is going to be a big year for me, so I’m glad not only to have all the 2012 posts about Big Changes, but also to follow along this year to see What’s Next.

    Thanks, and keep on rockin’!

  • Class of 1980

    OF COURSE your book is still selling great, silly. It fills a niche no one else fills.

    And that’s in spite of (or because of) the fact that it may be the only wedding book in existence to drop the F-bomb.

    Also, for a second there, I thought you had signed off with “Yo” instead of “xo”. I’m a little disappointed in that. ;)

  • KB

    YAY!!! APW is back! I was very sad to have to get back to work this morning but so cheered when I saw a new post – hooray for Beginnings and 2013!!!

  • Lauren

    Huzzah for beginnings and more APW! I furtively checked throughout the holiday just in case there was a secret post. There wasn’t. Now I’m happy again!

    • http://lifelessvicarious.wordpress.com/ Elle

      …I also kept checking back for a secret post…

      • http://youlovelucy.tumblr.com youlovelucy

        I didn’t check on the site itself, but not having an APW post in my RSS reader every morning was weird. Felt like I was missing an important part of my day!

  • http://thedilettantista.com/ The Dilettantista

    Going to start being more active around here because I am likely going to be engaged by the end of this year (yaaaaaaay) so I’ll likely need some guidance and support–and yes, I’ve read all of the pre-engaged posts and most of the early engagement posts, several times, ha. This website is a bastion of sanity in a crazy weddings world, and the only thing that comforted me as much was watching the Liz Lemon gets married episode of 30 Rock because that was like watching my brain on tv (I’d totally go to my wedding in a Princess Leia dress that’d be the best–also that episode should be written about here, but not in one of those terrible Liz Lemon is a bad feminist ways, because Liz is just a woman like the rest of us, just doing the best she can). So, thanks for providing this home that confirms that all weddings are valid and love is love is love. Looking forward to the next year–if you could keep up the run of wedding recaps with brides in red (or not white) dresses that would be awesome!

    • Liz

      I’m sorry, I meant to “Exactly” this comment (especially for the parts about a Liz Lemon post and more colored dresses), but hit the Report this Comment link instead. :(

      • Emily

        Don’t sweat it. Happens all the time. No one gets in trouble or anything. :)

        • CJ

          I’m going to skip the whole “wondering whether this is a good spot to suggest this” angst and just jump right in.

          I’d like to humbly and very nervously suggest that swapping the order of “REPLY | REPORT THIS COMMENT”, making it “REPORT THIS COMMENT | REPLY”, might be worth considering (at least for a moment). On the one hand, having report before reply doesn’t seem quite right, but on the other hand, that would put *reply* and “Exactly!” at the same spot, making it much less scary for those of us on tablets or with wildly excitable mousing fingers.

          Any minor change that moves the rarely-desired report link away from the all-the-time Exactly! link would be like Christmas all over again, but I *did* just have Christmas, so I’m not going to be at all sad if I don’t get an extra one. (Okay, so since my Christmas present actually hasn’t arrived yet, if you want to be technical about it, I’m still smack dab in the middle of having Christmas… and it suddenly occurs to me that I’m rambling. Glad to be back reading APW, and Happy New Year!)

      • http://www.thedilettantista.com The Dilettantista

        HOW DARE YOU. I’m gonna cut your face so bad you’ll have a chin. YOU’LL ALL HAVE CHINS.

        No j/k I had no idea this even happened.

    • http://suncentered.com Jen

      I like how Liz mentioned the Wedding Industrial Complex! Does that mean she is an APW reader?

  • http://lifelessvicarious.wordpress.com/ Elle

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I have felt so bereft without APW these past two weeks. So a huge welcome back to Meg, and everyone at APW, and best wishes for a fabulously sassy new year!

    One of my absolute favorite things about APW is the willingness to evolve – the way APW embraces change and growth is just so inspiring, and I can’t wait to see what this year brings!

    • Em

      I ended up reading Jezebel, where they had this awful snarky article about a lovely offbeat wedding (only look it up if you turn on adblock!) and I was so confused. It was like stumbling into the seedy underbelly of the internet, having forgotten that it existed. What is this? Who are these horrible people? Somebody please hold my hand and get me out of here!

      • http://www.kindofamess.com Alyssa

        Go visit the Hairpin. Not a lot of wedding content but them versus Jezebel is like running away from the mean girls and finding the cool kids hiding under the bleachers…

      • meg

        That article was as shameful as that couple was adorable (Seriously, don’t even bother looking. Pageviews on stuff like that just makes Gawker media produce more of it.) Even the snarky Jezabel commenters were irate.

        Alyssa is right, Hairpin all the way.

        • Rebecca

          you and Alyssa read the hairpin too? I think my life is complete now.

  • Jody

    Really looking forward to joining the conversation here this year! I just proposed to my guy on Christmas morning, and even though the first thing we agreed on (after he said yes, of course) was that we didn’t want a traditional wedding, it’s only been a week and already I’m feeling overwhelmed by all the decisions that have to be made. But I think if I avoid the Knot at all costs and come to APW every time I’m feeling lost, I should do ok!

    • http://lifelessvicarious.wordpress.com/ Elle

      The Knot has a lot of lovely (admittedly sometimes over-the-top) wedding porn, so I wouldn’t be too hasty to avoid it entirely. And I love their little budgety tool thingy (Martha Stewart Weddings also has a good one, if you do end up swearing off TK). Though some here may scoff, I have also found that, believe it or not, the Weddingbee Boards have been incredibly helpful, in that I can Google “Weddingbee Blue Shoes” or “Weddingbee Heels Grass” or “Weddingbee Real Brides in Dresses” (you get the idea) and have a wealth of resources and reviews at my disposal.

      Congratulations on your engagement!!

      • meg

        I’m not a huge fan of The Kn*t (though I used to peruse it at temp jobs back when it launched because I am not that young), but there are plenty of blogs with lovely wedding porn if you want it.

        I DO however, want you to submit the story of proposing to your guy. We need more of those…

        • Jody

          I would love to submit my proposal story, it’s actually kinda cute! There were props. And lots of tears. :)

          (and I find Pinterest whets my appetite for wedding porn quite nicely)

  • mimi

    So excited to see this post today! I got engaged over the holidays and I’m so excited for new APW in 2013!!!

    • meg

      Yays!! Congratulations!

  • http://sowhittywhit.blogspot.com Whitney

    Yay! Welcome back! I’m so excited about the new changes and to {finally} put some of the amazing advice to good use since we got engaged over the holidays! :) Happy New Year!

  • http://www.michelleedgemont.com Michelle Edgemont

    sweet glitter graphic.

    • meg

      You know Maddie loves making that stuff :)

  • http://hitchdied.com Robin HitchDied

    So excited for not a rom-com month I spilled my coffee all over my boss and then fell down in a slapsticky fashion! My gay and/or black best friend and I are going to have lots to discuss over margaritaaaaaas!

    • meg

      If Rom-Com month doesn’t have a funny post from you, I’m going to be disappointed! I’ll probably have a montage of sadly walking through central park in the rain, and you don’t want that do you?

    • http://www.thehousealwayswinsblog.com Rachel Wilkerson

      I literally just laughed out loud at my desk at this.

    • http://www.sarahhoppes.com SarahHoppes

      I’m really pumped for “not a rom com” month. My husband told me a week ago he wanted to write a wedding graduate post, AND he happens to be writing a rom-com of his own right now.

  • http://www.kindofamess.com Alyssa

    This is exciting! I’m diggin’ the themes plan (who doesn’t love a good cohesive theme…) and I’m PUMPED for the shopping roundups…

    And considering that wedding planning contains profanity, I think it incredibly appropriate that a wedding planning book should include it also. Personally, my favorite review is the one that says the book is worth it even if you keep it by the toilet. I like her style…

    • meg

      I love you. I missed that review, since I only get the highlights David reads me. I mean, it’s written now, not much I can fix.

      And AS IF I’d take out the profanity.

    • Maddie

      ALYSSA!!

  • http://highdivingboard.wordpress.com Morgan

    Word to front-loading your anxieties. Not helpful in any way, but I’m so, so there. (What, daycare in two months? But my bay-bee….) Sigh.

    • meg

      I think you’re hitting day care at the same time I am. Think about THAT for a minute…

      • http://highdivingboard.wordpress.com Morgan

        God, I love my country.

        (Um. I’m Canadian, and that sounded suspiciously patriotic. Is that even allowed??)

        • meg

          I would like to use this as an instructional moment to discuss the US’s terrible family leave policies. But really, I’m just self employed. I’m already needing to be back at work moments my hands are free (but I can’t get full time day care till his shots go into effect, so right now we juggle). That’s the same in every country, I think, the self employment plus/ minus.

          • http://unexpected-moments.blogspot.ca/ Sheryl

            Technically, even the self employed can get a whole year of maternity leave in Canada as long as they’ve set themselves up to be paying into employment insurance (at least as of the last time I checked, probably about a year ago). Granted it doesn’t take care of the whole bit where someone needs to run your business so you have something to get back to, but still.

            If families matter than there has to be a cohesive system in place for parental leave.

      • Jamie

        Daycare sucks. A lot. Even when you want to send your kid, even when it’s a great daycare, even when your kid loves going. At least that’s how I’m still feeling six months (exactly) into daycare. Ugggggghhhhh.

        The idea of reading your parenting quips in a few words or less almost makes me want to get into the mess that is Twitter, though. Almost.

  • Laura

    So. APW. You have been so crucial in helping me turn the mental corner from cynicism and fear to accepting (and maybe being even a bit excited) that my relationship has reached that point where the next step (according to society) is matrimony. You have provided me with a vocabulary with which to express my feelings and a framework with which to organize my varied and often contradictory thoughts on the issue. You are just the absolute best. That is all.

    • http://lifelessvicarious.wordpress.com/ Elle

      I wish I could “exactly!” this a thousand times. Word, sista!

  • http://www.thehousealwayswinsblog.com Rachel Wilkerson

    Welcome back! I’ve missed APW but I hope everyone on staff had a great holiday!!

  • kathleenicanrah

    welcome back APW. (happily) on the other (married) side– I’m still so happy to hang with you all and missed you so much over the holidays.

    • meg

      Wedding graddddddd!!!!!

  • http://www.twitter.com/babyinabar Shotgun Shirley

    Not a Rom-Com! Geniuuuuuss! And so perfect for Valentine’s Day month (month, ugh). You ladies are some smart cookies over there.

    • Liz

      Sorry, accidentally hit ‘report.’ All I have to report is that this is all awesome. Take that to your Internet monkeys!

  • ItsyBitsy

    Themes (really good ones!!)… Other people who front-load worry… Shopping round-ups… The “profanity” review… the Gerber baby…

    I want to hug this whole post.

  • http://abasketcase.blogspot.com Basketcase

    Welcome back Meg and the team :) I’ve missed you all too, have been having to make do with OffBeatFamilies, but its not quite the same.
    Loving next months theme already. Totally. Dont know that I’ll have much to offer thats this-site suitable, but I can totally see me using these themes for my own personal writing…

    • meg

      Love this. Happy to provide writing promps for all of our personal writing!!

  • http://writemeg.com Meg

    How refreshing to find an honest-to-goodness acknowledgment that change can really be scary. As a woman who is freshly engaged to a guy she loves dearly, I’m very excited about the future — but I rarely handle change well. I’m scared, too. It’s hard to admit that to anyone — everyone expects me to be shouting from the rooftops . . . and, well, I am. But not all the time. Sometimes I’m worried. Beginnings bring tears — the happy kind and the sad kind.

    So happy a friend shared a link to APW with me — I’m having such a good time going through older posts, and so thankful I found the site early in my wedding planning! I have a feeling it will be a sanity-saver in a variety of ways.