APW Pride: Readers, Sponsors, Thank You.

by Meg Keene, CEO & Editor-In-Chief

{Corinne Krogh Photography}

The thing about figuring out what we’re proud of is that it often involves taking a step back from our mundane, day-to-day focus. As I’ve been working on putting together Pride month for APW, I’ve been forcing myself to step back and look at my life. Yes, my bedroom is currently a mess (many motherhood myths are overblown, but babies d0 generate a lot of laundry). But if I stop looking at the piles of tiny clothes, I can see that our bedroom also looks like a tree house with its branch-level windows, that our bed has a headboard David made, and that the room is a pretty shade of blue we picked together last summer. In short, who really cares if it’s a mess? It’s our little space, and I’m proud of that.

This month, I also took a moment to take a step back and look at my business. It’s easy for me to see APW in the task list: essays to write, posts to be edited, submissions to sort through, editorial calendar to organize, staff to be managed. And APW is all those things, blessedly, since I find much of my joy in the day-to-day grind of the work. But APW is also something else. It’s a community of readers. It’s all of you guys gathering every day to share your stories, to support each other, to tell jokes, to simply hang out. It’s also a community of artists. I’ve heard a lot recently about how advertising is changing and disappearing online, but advertising at APW is a different beast. You can’t just buy a banner ad here mindlessly. Our sponsors are awesome and dedicated, they sign our sanity pledge to attempt to change the wedding industry and work their asses off to support this community. And you guys support them back, just as fiercely.

{Christina Richards Weddings}

A few weeks ago, I asked APW advertisers to send me pictures of themselves at work. Since I was in high school all I’ve ever wanted professionally was to work for myself, run a creative business that filled a need, and help artists make a living. And looking at these pictures, I was banged over the head with the realization that is what APW does. What I don’t see in the day-to-day of editing and managing is all of the APW Sponsors who are hard at work shooting your weddings, making your engagement rings, designing your invitations, crafting your albums, and so much more. By shopping APW, you guys support this site, but you also support a flock of artistans making a living. By putting your wedding dollars to work in a way that mirrors your values, you guys literally change the world a little every day. If you’re not proud of that, you should be.

{LeahAndMark & Co.}

Here are some quotes and images from APW advertisers who bust their asses to put a little more beauty in the world. Cheers to them, and to you. If you’ve been meaning to shop for your wedding, but haven’t gotten around to it yet? These guys. With love.

(And if you’re an artist who works on weddings and wants to join us, we’ve got two front page spots currently for the taking. You can see more about that over here.)

APW Sponsors

{Clockwise from the top:  Bario-Neal A Printable PressBlooms By the Boxà la carte albums}

We love working with APW readers because they are always so interested and invested in the materials we work with and our emphasis on ethical sourcing.Bario-Neal

We are always always thrilled to work with APW readers, because they are one and all dedicated to having a celebration that is truly “them,” truly an expression of their own love. And somehow all have a great sense of humor too!Kimi, A Printable Press

APW couples are truly practical! They “do it together” like A Practical Wedding advises, making do-it-yourself flowers a bonding experience, not just a money saving experience.Blooms By the Box

{Clockwise from the top:  e.m. papersOakland Bakes, Lowe House EventsPop The Champagne Events}

Knowing a customer is an APW reader is a kind of shorthand for me which says: “This is a good-hearted person with a down-to earth sensibility about their wedding and will totally get my offer.”e.m. papers

We love working with the APW community because they are fun, sane, communicative, reliable, and creative. In short, they are awesome!Oakland Bakes

Every time I get an email or phone call inquiry from an APW reader I get so excited—excited to work with an awesome couple who has their head on straight about weddings, but also excited because I usually gain a couple of real friends! When I was planning my own wedding, APW was an amazing resource. Now as a wedding coordinator, APW is still a resource but for the best customers I could ever ask for!Allison, Pop The Champagne Events

{Clockwise from the top: Vivian Chen Photography,  Emily Takes Photosbycherry photographyBeck DiefenbachDebi Parker Photography}

I love working with APW readers because they’re just like me: straight-forward with a sense of humor.Vivian Chen Photography

I like APW readers because they are instant best friends who appreciate the awesomeness of a Death Star Disco Ball.Emily Takes Photos

love working with APW brides because APW brides are always full of surprises (wedding performed on horseback), fun (want chickens in their formal portraits), and sanity! Basically, APW readers rock!bycherry photography

I love working with APW readers because APW stands for everything I am looking for in a wedding: grounded, loving, progressive and meaningful.Beck Diefenbach, Photojournalist

I love working with APW readers. They are my favorite clients. Their weddings are real. Not fluff. It’s about love, not things, and that’s what life is all about.Debi Parker Photography

{Clockwise from the top: Shop JoielleEmily Alt PhotographyLittle Bat PhotographyTwo Moon PhotographyGabriel Harber PhotographyJC Lemon Photography}

We love working with APW readers because they are down to earth and gracious women who appreciate personal and friendly service!Shop Joielle

APW readers get it. They look at a wedding day as a day of joy and laughter with a healthy dose of reality and fun. Photographing weddings is fun. My clients are fun. It’s a fun job. Probably the funnest (and yes, I know “funnest” is not a word).Emily Alt Photography

I love working with APW couples because they’re wonderfully real, colorful, and I know we’ll share values of staying sane, open, and letting magic happen.Jillian, Little Bat Photography

The couples who we have gotten to know through APW have been unique, sincere, and, well, pretty darn great; we like working with APW readers because they are down-to-earth folks, excited to work together so that we may document their beautiful day, and honor their love.Two Moon Photography


{Michelle Edgemont}

After a recent client call I received an email thanking me for making everything so easy on the call. The client told me I “give good phone.” Love that so much. I only get that from APW clients.Julie, Aper + Pink

We knew we wanted to work with APW from the moment we decided to shoot together and make this thing a full-time job, because I have so much love for the site and the community, and he found out how awesome APW is through me. But we shot our first APW couple last week, and it was pure, f*cking magic. They put the marriage at the forefront of their wedding, and that informed everything about their wedding day and all their interactions with us. Because of that, I think the photos and footage are the best we’ve ever shot.Sarah Hoppes


{Jesse Holland Photography}

I love working with APWers because I know we are coming from a similar place philosophically! APW weddings always focus on what matters (the marriage, yo!) while still being some of the most fun, quirky, creative weddings around!Journey Lost Productions

My APW couples just get it. They get that it’s about building a life together and bringing a whole big family together. They have the greatest perspective on the day! And they’re constantly making me smile, laugh, and cry with the outpouring of love and creativity that they bring to their weddings.Julie Randall Photography

I love working with APW readers because they throw the kind of weddings that I love to attend, and it’s flattering as all get out when they invite Glo to be a small part of that fun-ness.Taryn, Glo

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. She has written two best selling wedding books: A Practical Wedding and A Practical Wedding Planner. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in Oakland, CA with her husband and two children. For more than you ever wanted to know about Meg, you can visit MegKeene.com. #NASTY

Staff Picks

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  • Karen

    I loved reading these comments. This is why I’m an APW reader (among other things). This is an amazing site and community.

  • Wow. This is totally inspiring. I’m planning to go to business school in the fall, and what you (Meg and APW) do is a totally different kind of business than I’ve ever seen before. It’s so unique because you treat both readers (customers) and vendors (advertisers) like real people, and you actually match real needs with real talent, skill and experience.

    This is exactly the kind of approach to business that needs to be replicated. In order for our economy and society to be more whole and satisfying.

    • meg

      True story: I thought about going to business school for years. Instead I worked at an investment bank to balance my artistic stuff with some more solid business skills (it was hell, but ok), and then did this.

      • That’s awesome.

        I’ve heard people suggest starting a business instead of attending business school — you’ll learn everything by experience instead of classrooms.

        I don’t necessarily have a business idea though. And I’m pretty risk-averse. But I love reading your posts on entrepreneurship and think your ideas and experiences have a lot to offer new business owners/students.

        • meg

          I think I’ve written about how most sucessful business owners are risk-averse, right? There was a GREAT article on this a few years ago that I can’t track down, and it kills me. Anyway, I’m crazy risk adverse. But my business is the safest of the bets we’ve got running: I have zero debt, and have had FAR more steady employment than my lawyer husband ;)

          No particular point other than the fact that a well run small business can be way more secure than a job that can lay you off any day of the week with no warning.

          • I completely agree, Meg! I was laid off from our “safety net” regular-paycheck with benefits job when I was 6 months pregnant. Our photography business kept us afloat. Need more income? Ok, we will hustle and book more work! Being an entrepreneur means we can weather life’s storms a lot more easily than I ever would have thought had I not been “forced” to depend on our business to pay all of our bills. And also, our child has a house over his head and food to eat because APW clients ROCK our socks off!!! Thank you doesn’t even begin to cover it!

          • Thanks you guys — I appreciate this conversation. I will search for the article on successful business people being risk-averse!

            I’m going to business school because that’s the general direction I want to go in, and I don’t have a definite business idea — yet.

            It’s encouraging to hear from some of you that entrepreneurship can lead to greater stability, in certain situations, and with more hustling.

        • Learning by experience is great as long as you have the financial security to fail utterly at least once. Actually, even if you have business classes, because there are things you can only learn by doing.

          After my first studio went boom, I worked for two other photographers as office managers, and that was what was most helpful in making my 2nd try at self-employment work, even when some of what I learned was “what not to do.”

          • meg

            Or starting slowly… I have never had the financial security to fail (though I certainly have the resilience to sweep myself up off the floor more than once…) And I never had any money to put into APW. So I just worked on it for years while doing another job, till I’d gathered enough resources and cash reserves to go for it.

            I mean, you never know for sure. But you NEVER know. Degree (and resulting debt) or not.

            *Not that I’m at ALL against grad school, obviously. Just saying, business is always business. You can do it with less risk or more risk, but life always has risk.

          • Oh, yeah. Working as someone’s studio/production manager taught me WAY more about running a business than I would have learned in a classroom. (I’m a good test taker, essay writer, etc. and often looked like I knew way more than I’d absorbed when I was in a classroom, but really I’m an experiential learner.)

            Working for other people also taught me that there is no job that’s totally without risk. At least when you work for yourself, you are in control of what happens from the top down.

            I worked a job I thought was very stable, only to be fired with no notice over Miley’ Cyrus’ hands while unwittingly and terrifyingly high on my employer’s hash.

            That’s a quick way to learn a harsh lesson that drives you for the rest of your life. It’s also a very funny story that I tell in full to a select group of people. (The world is small, so I’m not public with the details.)

        • My dad used to teach business law at Cal Poly, and he always told his business students that instead of majoring in business, they should learn to do SOMETHING, and then take business classes to support it. He said it always bugged him to see people with real-world experience get passed over for jobs for fresh-out-of-college MBAs who had never worked more than a summer job (at least that’s how he put it). So much of it is just learn-by-doing, but if you can surround yourself with knowledgable people, you’ll do fine!

  • Emmy

    Seriously, Meg, you and your team do amazing work. You have helped us have a sane, true wedding. I recommend your book and blog to every engaged person I know. It has, at times, been overwhelming for us to spend so much money on a single event. But when I think about who we’re giving that money to (so many APW sponsors!), I realize that we’re supporting talented, ethical artists who own their own successful businesses and that makes me feel wonderful. Thank you!

  • Brenda

    I haven’t been able to use any APW vendors since there are very few in London, but I’ve found some great vendors on my own and I’m going to recommend checking out APW to them to help build the international APW vendor community.

    • meg

      Lillian & Leonard in London!

      • Brenda

        I know, I wanted them! But we were on a tight budget and timeline. I think I found a great guy at a great price though, we’ll see how it goes next month!

  • ruth

    I was so grateful for the APW vendor directory when I got married last summer—we found our photographer through APW (Kristy of Moodeous! <3) and her presence on APW made me so confident about hiring her. We didn't bother talking to anyone else, in fact.

  • Meghan

    “By putting your wedding dollars to work in a way that mirrors your values, you guys literally change the world a little every day. If you’re not proud of that, you should be.” I AM proud of that – and so grateful to APW for giving us a place to do it!

  • Copper

    All I can say is, everyone please add more vendors to the directory! I love having a place I can look for vendors that I know will get my views on weddings, and only wish there were more because some categories are empty for my area :(

    • ANDREA

      I think it’s a situation where if it rains, it will pour (APW vendors!), but it’s hard to be in that in between stage. I put a vendor listing up for my band on a whim ( and because I read the site ) but since we were one of the only wedding bands, we booked one gig the whole year from the ad, so we couldn’t afford to renew it. I’m still happy I paid for the listing to support APW, but I don’t think there was enough there for people to really think about looking at finding certain categories of vendors through APW. A good example of how the paradigm of plenty would help here!

      • meg

        Exactly. It’s tough, because you have to get to critical mass in an area to make things really work. We are at critical mass in lots of areas: planning, photographers, stationary, jewelry, whatever… but in other areas (bands or regions of the country/ world) we’re not. The best thing you can do is shop the directory when you can, send other people to it, and recommend it to your vendors if you loved them.

        AKA, we’d *love* to have vendors in every area and every specialty, but it’s not just up to us. We need help.

        • Copper

          Well, ahem, if any potential APW vendors are reading, I’m just saying that if there were people listed for makeup artists in or caterers that aren’t in the $$$$ budget category in LA, I’d be hiring them, and I trust the APW vendor directory a lot more than others out there. Just saying, in case there’s anyone other than the choir out there to preach to…

  • Rosie

    I loved reading this, and it makes me think I should expand my business to work with weddings! Also, I read ‘Death Star Disco Ball’ and thought: yes. That is awesome. :)


    This was fantastic.

    There aren’t any APW vendors in rural northern Michigan that I could find, but I’m suggesting my awesome vendors take a look (the two whole vendors that we’re using)! Even without APW vendors (sad face), planning my wedding was hands-down more sane with APW in my back pocket.

    Someone gave me a subscription to Brides magazine as an engagement gift. If I could give out a subscription to this site I would (have to settle for giving everyone a copy of the book!).

    • Me!! I do tons of work in Northern Michigan–we keep studio space in Leelanau County and would love you to shout us out to other Northern Michigan folks–or I’d just love to meet up. I’ll be based in Empire, MI from late June-early September and would love to grab a coffee or hang out! Rural Northern Michigan is like….the best. :)

    • mimi

      Yay for northern Michigan weddings! It seems like there have to be a ton of vendors up there with all the different wedding destinations, but none of them are on here. (Although I live in Detroit and I didn’t see any APW vendors here either).

      However, I have used APW to find my engagement ring (Turtle Love Co), set up my website/online RSVPs (GloSite), and download my printables (emPapers), and they have all been great!

  • This was really fun to read and is a great post to point to when I try to explain the unique business model of APW to other people in the digital marketing space (my field). Bravo on some proof of concept!

  • XO

    Yes! Throughout the planning process, all I wanted was a database of all the vendors I knew I could feel comfortable with. Lots of vendors in my area (at least the ones with big web presences) focus on the glossy six-figure blowout events… that’s where the money is, after all! They weren’t for us, though. That’s why I was so happy to find the APW vendor directory. We found 2 of our vendors on APW (our photographer & day-of coordinator), as well as our venue and they’ve all been fantastic to work with. That’s just one of the many, many ways that APW has kept me sane during wedding planning… :)

  • Marnie

    This is lovely! It’s a bit over one year on from our wedding, and it makes me happy to see the ladies from Bario Neal and A Printable Press who made the rings my husband and I wear with pride, and the beautiful invitations our friends kept. Happy memories, helped along by these admirable and talented creative professionals.

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