Ask Team Practical: The End Of 2011

We have a *couple* more posts for you next week, as we wind our way toward the one vacation from blogging we get all year (squee, excitement, general jubilation from the APW staff). But before we completely wind to a close, obviously there is some time for a little reflecting, and tipsy toasting….

The end of the year. A time for reflection, preparation, introspection… Eh, screw that. Let’s talk about how awesome we are!

I had a minor panic attack when I realized that we’ve been doing this Ask Team Practical column for over a year now, almost 14 months to the day! That’s a long time in blog-land, y’all. Internet time runs like soap opera time; if our first ATP was a newborn on All My Children, it’d be a thrice-divorced doctor/lawyer/black widow by now. So yay for virtual longevity! And let’s hope I didn’t just jinx myself by saying that, because this is a sweet gig.

Let’s talk about some of my favorite parts of 2011, in no particular order…

Weddings and Anniversaries

Okay, so it’s not strictly Ask Team Practical, but it’s still one of my favoritest parts of APW. I love being able to put faces with names, to cheer on almost-married ladies, to see anniversary buddies (What up, September ladies?!?) and to see all the shining happy faces in those anniversary photos. It’s something that other wedding blogs don’t have; the visual representation of the continuation of the journey that is marriage. One reader, who’s been married for three years, asked if she shouldn’t put in her anniversary photo so she could make room for those newer brides. The answer was a resounding “Hell No.” You married ladies are the elders of this group, whether you’ve been married one year or ten. Besides. Y’all are all just so danged pretty.

Grab-bag Ask Team Practical posts

I love that we can cover three questions at a time with what we call (pro-tip: highly technical term coming up) grab-bag ATPs. Reader questions cover the gamut and it’s nice to be able to group them together so more can get answered. It feels like old school Oprah, where she’d have multiple guests on in one hour. You know, before she owned the world and started to give away diamonds and condos. (Kidding, O! We love ya; I’m just waiting on the call for Meg’s show on OWN.)

The Hiring of Kate

The addition of Kate filled me with happy. She’s hysterically funny, taught me how to use an em dash, broke me of my two spaces post-period habit (mostly) and knows what I mean when I bitch about East Texas water and pine trees. Plus, she knows bow ties are cool.

Not being able to answer some questions

This wouldn’t normally sound like a favorite, but hear me out. ATP is answered by me, with occasional help from the editorial stuff and final editing from Meg. We are not professionals, we just have an overabundance of sass and practicality. We’re your sensible bestie, except you don’t have to buy us drinks to get advice. (Wait. Why isn’t that a prerequisite for answering an ATP? Meg! We are doing this all wrong.)

But, occasionally we get some heart-breaking questions, questions that we have absolutely no business attempting to answer. And unfortunately, we have to tell the reader we can’t answer them and encourage them to talk to a professional. It’s painful and I’ve cried over one or two, but it is absolutely necessary.  The reason this is a positive, is that I’m proud to be working with a group of women who truly want to help, but know enough to step back when they can’t or shouldn’t. It breaks our hearts, but it’s best for everyone.

Wordless Weddings

Okay, that’s not ATP either, but go look! So much pretty, with a soundtrack. Consider it your (almost) weekly zen.

The Addition of Emily

Emily not only takes amazing photos, but she’s an amazing lady with a crazy good head on her shoulders. She’s helped Meg breathe a little easier on the business side of things, which in turns lets Meg write more. And we all know Meg writing more means, APW’s influence spreads, which means that the site generates more revenue, and that means that eventually Meg will buy me a pony. Emily = Pony for Alyssa. Can’t argue with that math.

Not being able to answer all questions

One thing that Meg has not been able to beat out of me is the guilt I have when I can’t answer every single question that we get. Don’t get me wrong, I’m much better than I was when I started, but that just means I have a general sense of guilt instead of a paralyzing sense that keeps me up late at night, trying to personally answer every email. (True story.)

This isn’t necessarily a positive for me, but it definitely is for APW. It’s a testament to the popularity of the site that Ask Team Practical currently has in its queue enough unanswered questions for us to run a weekly column continuously for the next six years or so. So yay for APW! But boo for me and my conscience. (I’m sorry. Please still love me.)

Vintage Weddings

Alright, fine. This isn’t ATP-related either, but I adoooore Vintage Weddings. There is just something so magical about seeing old wedding photos and noticing how the joy doesn’t change from 1957 to 2011. Please keep sending these in; even if a story doesn’t end in happily ever after, that doesn’t mean the pictures of the day are any less wonderful. APW readers are reality junkies—we know life isn’t always hearts and flowers, which makes them even more lovely when you do get them.

The Introduction of Maddie (AKA the poo-flinging SEO monkey)

Oh, Maddie. Maddie is privy to every hare-brained “Hey Meg! Wouldn’t it be cool if we…” emails that I send Meg, to all the ATP’s that I write and then immediately need reassurance on (“Am making sense? Did I say what I mean?!?”) and to every apologetic missive that I send directly after I blow past a deadline and turn in a post late. (Like with this one. *ahem*) She’s wicked funny, loves dogs and is super cute. You have to love Maddie.


There is a reason that Ask Team Practical works, and it’s not me or the staff. It’s y’all. It’s the comments that flesh out my answer way more than I ever could. It’s the empathy that comes pouring out when you read a question and realize you could have asked it yourself. It’s the thought and care that comes out in the comments on every post, that makes me want to gather you all up into a giant hug and then pass out cupcakes and scotch. When I let a reader know their question is being answered, I usually tell them to make sure and read the comments and comment back if they like, because the comments are where the real answers are. All the sass in the world can’t make up for real life experience, and that’s what y’all provide.

So, essentially, y’all help me do my job and then I get credit for it. Told you I had a sweet gig.


So that’s it. 2011 rocked our faces off, and I can guarantee that 2012 is going to be better. (Book tour! Additions to the site! More new readers! Super secret stuff that we can’t talk about on pain of death, or at least dirty looks and scolding!) Tell us in the comments what your favorite parts of Ask Team Practical were. Be safe over the holidays, enjoy your time off if you get it, be grateful for your job if you don’t (What? You should be…), stay amazing, don’t ever change, LYLAS and stay gold, Pony Boy. See ya in 2012!

Photo by Emily Takes Photos from the APW Flickr Pool.

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  • I <3 you, Alyssa. You always make me smile big and bust out laughing. Plus, you just ended this post with a quotation from The Outsiders on the same morning that B said the exact same thing to me as he left for work.

    2011 has been awesome. But I know that 2012 holds even more awesome in store.

  • Alicia

    Awesome. Alyssa, you always know how to start my Fridays off right.

    I hope the APW staff enjoys some well-deserved rest. My copy of the book arrives today, so even when you are on vacation the APW wisdom will keep on flowing.

    Happy holidays and a happy new year!

    • Julia W

      Mine comes today too!!! Is it wrong to buy a book for someone and read it first? I don’t know if I’ll be able to help myself!

      • Paige

        My boyfriend only gifts books he has read first. He has a very small collection of books on his shelf because every book he buys, he reads and then gives away to someone who he knows will enjoy it. He then encourages them to pass it on after they’re done. It becomes a “personhood” of the traveling book, and then you know you have someone to talk about the book with (you know, for when you have those OMG holy @!#$* moments)

      • The one I ordered on the day of the book buy I shipped as a gift is showing received today. However! The one I pre-ordered for myself back in June doesn’t arrive until next Wednesday. Sad face.

  • Jo


  • Alyssa, I am going to miss your special brand of funny over the holiday break.

    Have a great one! xo

  • Kate

    Bowties are so cool.

  • sarah.

    I love you all and think you deserve to have totally socks-rocking vacations and everything, but WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITHOUT YOU OVER THE HOLIDAYS?!? I can’t just order the book to cure my ills, since Amazon won’t ship it to me for less than, like, $20, nor in fewer than 28 days (because I live in the Czech Republic).
    le sigh.
    Oh, well. So it goes.
    Have splendiferous holidays!

    • “le sigh”

      I think this got me more than the actual post. Love you, Alyssa but come on… this is awesome.

  • Oh gosh Alyssa you make me laugh so much!! Thanks for all your work this yr in keeping my spirits high whilst I did my best to have an awesome wedding. You deserve your pony!

    And yes, bow ties are cool :) Fezes are cool too ;)

  • Ha, LYLAS, I don’t think I’ve seen that since 8th grade. Awesome.

  • 2011 was the year I a) got married and b) found APW. This is possibly the best online community about contemporary relationships. It goes so far beyond weddings–which is fantastic considering I don’t have a wedding to plan anymore. Looking forward to all sorts of awesome in 2012. Congrats on a fantastic year APW team!!

    • meg

      I feel like you’ve been here FOREVER!!!

      • I hear you Annie! Me too!

  • carrie

    THANK YOU SO MUCH for Ask Team Practical and the Weddings and Anniversaries. It’s also one of my favorite things on this site, as it gets a smile out of me every single time!

    And as always, thank you to all the staff, as you make this place amazing and we love your faces off!

  • Chantelle

    Umm am I allowed to say that I loved how practical it all was? It was so incredibly helpful when my best friend got married this October. She’d have a moment of panic or a last minute question where she had no idea what the protocol was and I’d look it up on APW and send her a link to the Team Practical post offering much needed sanity. It was such a lifesaver.
    Great job Alyssa and APW, it’s been an awesome feature :)

  • mimi

    Thanks for a great year APW! I discovered you earlier this year (I think from a post about self-wedding-catering on thekitchn) and have been a daily reader ever since. From APW, I’ve learned that I’m pre-engaged and filed away tons of helpful advice for whenever that becomes engaged/married/wife. So looking forward to reading Meg’s book whenever it arrives (Amazon tells me it’s shipping “sooner than expected” but is still dodgy on the details). LYLAS, hahaha!

    • Christa

      mine got here yesterday!

  • Dude, my puppy looked at me like I was nuts this morning when I burst out laughing because of this:

    Emily = Pony for Alyssa. Can’t argue with that math.

    HA! Love you!!!

  • Sarah P

    HOLD THE PHONE! Why am I not supposed to use two spaces after a period???

    • meg


      • Class of 1980

        When I lived in Texas, we had a Fight To The Death at my job about whether to use two spaces between sentences. We ended up having an official meeting about it.

        (And they wonder why some of us hate the corporate world.)

        I am on the wrong side of this. I refuse to do one space because I think it makes text more difficult to read. My office manager told me she couldn’t wait for the day (it was the 90’s) that newer technology would wipe out my two spaces and make them one space.

        But even if your stinkin technology wipes out my second space, I’m gonna keep on doing it. I think this is why I work for myself. I hate authority … unless it’s mine. Probably a character flaw. ;)

        • Class of 1980

          Uh oh. I read further. See my new response below. ;)

        • I have had a Fight To The Death at each of my last three places of business about this! I come down solidly on the side of one space on account of my graphic design/typography education, but I work with the military where they still cling to two spaces. It’s definitely a problem, as my main job is to write. In two of the three places I have been successful in converting the offices and I count that as a major achievement!

          • Class of 1980

            What irked me during our Fight To The Death in the 90’s, was that the office manager merely read somewhere that two spaces were no longer necessary.

            But she never would consider how it looked with OUR specific word processing program. Our letters were proportional, but if you typed one space between sentences, it just looked like one space. It was very hard to read.

            I tried to show her the difference in readability side-by-side, but her mind was closed on the issue. Now if we had had the modern programs of today that actually made one space look decent, I would have complied. Ah, I’m not known for following rules that don’t make sense to me. ;)

            On another note, I am gobsmacked that other offices had these same fights!

    • Marina
    • Anne

      That practice was introduced when people were typing on typewriters, which leave exactly the same amount of space between letters, to help people read better (so they could distinguish between sentences). Modern computer word processing programs make the practice unnecessary — it’s often unnoticeable, but programs like MS Word actually do leave slightly more space between sentences, and letters are appropriately sized, which all make using two spaces between sentences basically unnecessary.

      • Class of 1980

        That makes me feel better.

        • Class of 1980

          See, the office fight I referenced above was a different matter. Our Word programs in the nineties didn’t make one space look like two spaces.

          So I got up in arms about keeping two spaces because the one space was so damn hard to read.

          I feel much better knowing that the newer programs fixed that problem.

          • While I know this is true, I am cranky enough to use two spaces anyway. Except for on my crackberry, where typing two spaces automatically gives you a period and a space and the next letter is capitalized. I can’t be bothered to fight it. But everything else? My inner cranky Luddite shows through.

          • This also came up in the aforementioned fights, and word processing programs don’t technically make one space look like two spaces. As Liz wrote below, now that letters aren’t monospace, one space at the end of a sentence is sufficient for legibility. In most things printed with two spaces now, it’s far too much space and it makes it easy for your eye to drop out of the line of text, slowing you down. Ok, type nerd out!

    • Liz

      I know I know!! It’s a holdover from the days of typewriters. Each letter on a typewriter is equally wide, whether it is a lower-case-L, or a capital W (this is called being monospaced). People put two spaces at the end of a sentence to improve readability. Now that we have fancy computers that make skinnier letters take up less space, so the ends of sentences are easy to see with only the single required space.

      Aside: I used to teach computer skills to elderly people, and the best/worst clients were the people who used to work on typewriters. They were speedy, but couldn’t understand that a zero was not an appropriate stand in for a capital-O.

      • Sarah P

        Gosh, when I came to work this morning I wasn’t expecting my whole word-processing world to be flipped upside down. How do I un-train my fingers? I mean look at me. I just did it three times! There it is again! Oh God.

        • meg

          You should see how heavily we have to edit y’alls submissions for this. Some people put in three or four spaces (no idea why, that was never correct). But it happens!!

          • Sara

            I know we don’t need 2 spaces after a period anymore (not to mention it speaks to how %$#&ing old I am. Thanks APW *grumble*) but it’s SO HARD to break!

            Alyssa do tell how you broke the habit. Was there an intervention? Did you get sent away somewhere?

            In 2011 I found APW AND got engaged (in that order) so I simply cannot tell you how important you have been to my sanity this year. Actually Meg, I got engaged mere days before the great APW book buy and although I was totals going to get one anyway, it made my newly engaged ass like 1000 times more pumped to be bathed in your sensibility/practicality/awesomeness. Also, as we embarked into holy wedding planning madness hell, on day 4 I was crying and my partner was yelling at his mother. And I knew as this was unfolding that you’d get me through it all.

            xoxox to the moon and back,
            S to the K

          • meg

            Alyssa hasn’t totally broken the habit (I’m still correcting her). I also have always done it this way (I’m not SO young) but I did break it this year. How? Writing a book.

          • Carla

            I dunno about everyone else, but every single time I’ve caught my fingers adding random extra spaces it’s because they’re just still in motion while my brain is still deciding on the next word or sentence. Victim of my own fast typing!

        • Jennifer

          I still really, really want to cling to my two spaces after the period. (I was so very well-trained to use two spaces in my typing class back in 1985 or whenever it was! And I was the star student in large part because I was the only one who always used the proper number of spaces!) I understand the reasoning, but I think I mostly just have to be glad I don’t work in a field where anyone notices such things.

          Weirdly, I think my iPhone is reinforcing my old habits. You’d think with new-fangled technology it would be the other way around, but in most iOS applications, typing two spaces automatically turns into a period plus one space. So it’s making the output correct, but I feel like it’s reinforcing “two spaces at the end of a sentence” in my brain even though I’m not typing a period plus two spaces.

          • Blackberrry does it too! It’s just making sure I never break the habit, I think…

        • Class of 1980

          Me too. You learn something new everyday whether you want to or not! Ha.

          • Sarah P

            I know! I never would’ve guessed APW would teach me this kind of lesson though! HOORAY!

            Note: I had to go back through that comment and delete my second spaces! Also, apparently I’m all about exclamation points today.

    • Liz

      Actually, there are some style manuals that do require 2 spaces after a period to aid readability (APA formatting for one). APW’s sentences always look great though!

      • meg

        Not Chicago. Not publishing.

      • A large number of them used to but have since changed their recommendation. I would check the most recent versions.

  • KW

    Happy holidays! Thanks for giving me a great start to my Friday mornings.

    In other news, our administrative assistant just brought me my books. It’s going to be hard to focus at work today, knowing they are just over my shoulder…

  • Marina

    Yaaaaaaaaaay ATP!!!

    I think what I love most about ATP Fridays is the crowdsourcing. Alyssa (and Meg) always has spot-on fantastic practical advice, but the conversation in the comments is always a whole different level of “That happened to me and here’s what happened” and “Here’s a completely different way of looking at it” and “Actually I think y’all are totally wrong but I’m saying that in a polite and reasonable way even though we’re all anonymous on the internet.” I like how Alyssa (and Meg) keeps the focus on what was actually asked, rather than any conclusions we jump to about what’s between the lines.

    And I like the acronyms people come up with.

    • Seriously, acronyms FTW.

  • Liz

    Thank you for a great year, APW! You’ve made my wedding planning so so so much more pleasant and sane.

  • Having cupcakes and scotch sounds so much better than my company lunch right now!

  • April

    I do loves me some Alyssa! Thank you for your laugh-out-loud comments and spot-on wisdom.

    Happy Holidays and can’t wait to see what you have in store for 2012! XOXO

  • OHMYGOD-The Outsiders and Dr. Who referenced ALL IN ONE POST?? I knew there was a reason I loved you guys.

  • Steph

    bow ties do rock!

  • Sara

    also alyssa … ‘don’t change’ … most awesome sign off ever!


  • Nicole

    Alyssa, I love you.

    And I just got my book copies delivered at work today…they kept me from killing anyone in the accounts payable department. Yet ANOTHER thing to be thankful for!

    • Class of 1980

      Oh wow. I just tracked my package and it will be delivered today.

      Weekend reading! Who am I kidding? I’ll probably devour the whole thing tonight. Curiosity killed the cat.

  • Rachel Mc

    How could you complain about pine trees?! I’m a native East Texan living in LA and I would kill for some piney woods right about now… (I love your Texas references!!!)

  • T. Rose

    Happy holidays! Enjoy your well-deserved break!

    I just have to let you know how grateful I am for ATP! 2011 has brought me engagement and wedding planning. The discovery of APW and, certainly Alyssa and ATP, has kept me sane. I can’t tell you how many issues/worries I’ve found addressed here and how many hopeful and inspiring stories have checked my perspective. I think that APW – the posts, the conversations they prompted, the community in which I largely lurked – made me a better person and a better partner (oh, yikes, am I allowed to say that?! That’s so cheesy!!) so, uh, thanks for that. And congratulations!

  • Annika

    Got my copy of the book in the mail yesterday – so exciting!!! I just can’t wait to say I read half overnight and love it!

  • Ariel

    Thanks for everything. I’ll totally buy you a drink if you’re ever in CO ;-)

  • Noemi

    Dear Team Practical,

    I love this site and the sanity it has brought to my life before and after the wedding. I just received the book in the mail, and I am so overjoyed! I can’t wait to start giving this book as a gift to my friends. It is absolutely the perfect gift for an engaged person! Meg, Alyssa, et al and all the readers– you guys rock. Thank you for existing!!

  • Niko Brothers

    “Say, you have a nice article post.Really thank you! Excellent.”