I‘m not sure what to say about 2020, except that looking at it through the rearview mirror, everything divides into before and after. And I’ve spent about a decade publishing these “Best of APW” review posts, and I’ve never had a year like this. Normally this process is a nice walk down memory lane. A review of what we’ve done and how it went. There were years I was prouder of our content, and years I was less proud. (Fun fact: the quality and dynamics of your team makes ALL the difference in the work you produce.) But I’ve truly never had a year like this one. A year divided into before and after. A year where nothing published before seems to make any sense at all with my current eyes.
But it’s the end of the year, so let’s review it as the people we are now… and what a walk down memory lane it is.
Early this year we published the first wedding dress campaign that put a gender nonconforming man in a dress. We shot this in late 2019, and it ended up being our last full shoot before the shutdown. I actually forgot we published this in 2020 (because what was January even?), but I’m still so proud of it.
Speaking of: this amazing drag photo shoot where the bride and groom are the same person seems perfect for 2020. First up: no contagion. Second: I think we all had to learn how to love and marry ourselves this year. Again, I’m so proud and honored that we got to publish this one.
This is one of the posts we published in 2020, and not to make light of it but DOESN’T THE PROBLEM OF EXTRA GUESTS SOUND GOOD, NOW? Old me is here to tell you how to make sure extra kids don’t come to your no kid wedding. New me is like OMG KIDS AT A WEDDING? HUMANS AT A WEDDING? I don’t care, bring someone you met on the street… man that would be dreamy. Dreamy but not happening.
I would like to dive into this huge, glittery, gay New York theatre kid wedding headfirst, and never come back.
Another absolutely stunning wedding, with lots of humans at it. This time on a budget at Smog Shoppe.
Wedding headpieces. FINALLY, some ‘before’ content that we can use in our brave new world. Because you know what you can see above a mask? Your head.
In before times we threw a party to celebrate the new APW book. Sometimes I still look back and think it’s wild that this party happened in 2020, complete with it’s super silly cardboard cutout of me. Little did we know that a few weeks later, everything would change.
I had literally forgotten that we’d published this article on five budget-friendly ways to get married at San Francisco City Hall, but it seems prophetic (and highly useful).
We published a post asking if it’s ok to have unvaccinated kids at a wedding, and GUYS this is going to be a huge 2021 problem, but not just the kids this time.
This article on how to celebrate a wedding while grieving is going to be newly important to a lot of folks this year, and that fills me with both deep sadness and rage.
Sometimes when I look back, I’m shocked at JUST how fast every single thing changed in our lives. I had been tracking what was going on in Wuhan really closely on Twitter in January and February, and I was convinced that something horrible was coming. (Though pretty much nobody listened to me, even my husband.) So when I packed up to go to Palm Springs for Alt Summit during the first week of March, I made sure that we bought supplies in bulk before I left, and I figured it was my last big trip. What I didn’t realize is QUITE how fast everything would change. A few days after I got back our office started working from home out of an abundance of caution. And a few days after that the Bay Area was the first in the U.S. to go into Shelter In Place, and literally everything changed.
Those first few weeks I spent endless time on APW’s Instagram stories, trying to give people a sense of what was coming for weddings. At the time, I was accused of being an unrealistic pessimist when I said that you should move big weddings in April, May, and June. (Some of the comments we got during that period truly did not age well). But deep down, I was increasingly convinced that we wouldn’t see a return to normal till there was a widespread vaccine.
Our team flipped on a dime and started producing content that would help people plan weddings during a pandemic. And then when June rolled around, we worked to produce content that helped our readers meet and respond to the enormous civil rights issues finally (finally) coming front and center in our cultural conversation. And as the year moved on, we tried to meet what felt like endless moments of dread with whatever small help we could offer.
I’m proud of the work our team (our much smaller team, after the economy collapsed) produced to meet these moments. While some of that work is no longer super relevant (like the best practices in March to postpone your big wedding till… the fall) Here is some of the work I’m the most proud of.
Wedding Advice (That’s Still Actually Relevant)
I had really hoped that by December 2020 change the date announcements would be old news. But given just how bad it’s gotten, and just how long most of us are going to have to wait for a vaccine, I fear they’re still going to be relevant in early 2021. Here is a great collection of change the date cards that I hope you won’t need. But it’s possible you’re not changing the date… just keeping it small. In that case, these wedding announcement cards are a great way to let your whole community know you got hitched.
How To Have A Virtual Wedding. Do we want this guide to still be needed? Nope. Is it something that may still help you out? Yup.
COVID safety precautions have clearly become a new form of wedding etiquette. Let’s discuss. And when weddings don’t practice COVID safety and become super spreader events, there is even more to unpack.
Wedding Separates are having a moment. Something you can mix and match and wear again? Perfect for these times (not to mention the multiple celebrations you might end up having.) But also, if you’re looking for something killer for your smaller than dreamed of wedding, we’ve got you covered there too.
This pandemic wedding at the Bob Baker Marionette Theatre wins my award for favorite of the year.
If you want a small wedding for… any kind of reason: family drama, being an introvert, you name it… this might actually be the best time to get married. No excuses need to be provided other than, “It’s a pandemic.”
Advice on riding the emotional rollercoaster of the pandemic wedding.
Our very own Alyssa got engaged in a double proposal, and it was truly a highlight of 2020.
In a normal year, shopping roundups rarely make my personal list of favorite content. But this year they did. In part, it had to do with me wanting to support small businesses whenever I could. It also had to do with me trying to make my life in 2020 comfortable (because nothing in my world was set up for the life we’re living now). But beyond that, bringing beautiful or helpful things into my home gave me some small feeling of joy in a world that felt totally out of control. So, because I’m STILL shopping from a lot of these roundups, a few favs.
The work from home survival guide. Y’all. I’m still shopping this roundup. I just bought the accordion file folder from here, and I need to fill it up.
Stay The F*ck Home: Small Biz Edition. Looking to support your community while bringing some delight into your house? I was in March and I still am now. These picks stand the test of time. (And it’s been ten years since March, right?)
Stay The F*ck Home: Self Care Edition. If anything, all these months into this thing, this roundup is even more important now. There are SEVERAL items here that I thought I was too good for back in April (I can track my own hydration, duh), that I now think I probably need.
In June we put together this roundup of Black Womxn owned businesses. I bought several items off it then. I’ll probably buy several more. 10/10, would recommend.
This roundup of items to improve your quarantine was good then, and is good now. I still SWEAR by my Dyson Airwrap, though I’d now add my Peloton app way at the top of the list too.
I wrote this roundup of items I’d register for if I had to do it all over again back in 2017. I updated it this summer, and it was wild how much things on that list stood the test of time. I still haven’t purchased a lot of them though, and I’d really like to get cracking on that. Nesting has made 2020 survivable, and it’s pretty clear it’s going to be vital in 2021 as well.
And speaking of, we rounded up our best nesting items for Pandemic fall. And… does comfy underwear count as nesting? I think so, and I made it a project to test all the underwear I could, and came up with some serious recs.
Our small business gift guide is full of things I want to buy… myself? It’s the pandemic, so I’ve decided that’s just fine. And then our very 2020 gift guide… gonna be shopping this one for the rest of the winter.
Conversations We (Still) Need To Have
There are some questions that we keep coming back to as the Pandemic rages on. How are you? How are your relationships? How are you taking care of yourself? In a way, none of the questions are super profound. In another way, they’re the only questions that matter. But it’s been our honor to get to discuss them in community, both here and on our Instagram, all year long.
How are you coping right now? This is the question we asked over and over this year and remains the most important question to ask. It’s funny because when I look back at what my answers were in the first weeks, they were exactly right. And I’ve only gone deeper into most of them (like exercise) as the struggle to keep it all together has become tougher.
What is quarantine doing to your relationships? This is another question that we need to de-stigmatize. People are struggling in quarantine, and at the very least we shouldn’t have to struggle in silence.
Let’s talk financial anxiety, and how millennials are on track to be set back… yet again.
Ways to heal post-election (YAY THE ELECTION) or any other time.
If you haven’t gotten your wills and end of life affairs in order, a global pandemic is for sure the time to do it. It’s not fun. But it is important. This article outlines how.
Y’all. It has really been a year. I’ve lived through some serious trauma in my lifetime (I survived 9/11 a few blocks away, for goodness sake), but I’ve never experienced anything like this level of trauma… with more trauma to come.
And beyond that, it’s been a nearly impossible year to run a small business. We survived (with a whole lot of y’alls help), we made changes, we grew. But it was so impossibly hard so much of the time. Over and over this year, we’d say “What will our best of 2020 post even look like?” And now we know. And even looking at it all in one place, it’s hard to take in the scope of this year, what we went through, what we published, what problems we tried to solve. But the important part is that we did it. And we’re still standing.
And for that, I am so grateful.