Back in Moscow, where I grew up, every year on March 8, the boys in our school brought us girls yellow mimosa flowers, the earliest spring arrivals in the cold Russian climate. March 8 was Women’s Day and everyone, no matter what age, celebrated the special women in their lives – classmates, sisters, mothers, grandmothers, daughters.
When my family and I moved to the U.S. in the 1990s, I discovered that most Americans didn’t know about Women’s Day. There was Mother’s Day, of course, but unless you were a mother, there was no special day celebrating the luck, the beauty, the joy and the burden of simply being a woman.
Today, more than 20 years later, I’m happy to see that America is waking up to the importance of recognizing all women, no matter their age, race, or status in life. Even though this wake-up call for women and their rights was driven by political strife, I see it as a positive outcome. In fact, to me, today is the most special Women’s Day I can remember.
Being able to meet and be surrounded by amazing women is why I consider myself lucky to work in our industry.
Back in 2011, when I was starting I DO PR, I met a woman with an amazing story: she told me how when she was just a sophomore in college, she escaped from a dictator-run state to come to America. Then, she started playing around with a camera and now she is an internationally recognized, award-winning wedding photographer.
Years later, I continue to be inspired by the incredible women I meet. Just last month, in Milan, I met another strong woman who after going through a divorce, moved to Italy by herself without a job. She tried her hand at planning weddings and now runs one of the most successful planning companies in Italy.
In my years working in the wedding industry, I’ve met women who run huge national magazines, who design stunning dresses that thousands of brides wear on one of the most memorable days in their lives, women who raised millions of dollars to fund their companies. I’ve talked to hundreds of women who took their passion and talent and used it to become successful photographers, florists, planners, jewelers, blogger, and tech entrepreneurs.
Some say that takes balls. I say that takes one kick-ass woman. So today, I want to celebrate these women. I want to celebrate you!
Jennifer Stein, who is the Editor in Chief of the popular destination wedding magazine Destination I Do, has long been a colleague of mine. Though we’ve never met in person – she lives in Arizona – for years we have discussed story ideas, projects and different clients that I wanted her to know about. When a couple of months ago, the other prominent destination wedding title Destination Weddings & Honeymoons folded, I reached out to Jennifer to ask her what she thought and how this news will affect her magazine and the wedding industry as a whole. I also wanted to know more about her and she happily agreed to share her thoughts. I hope you enjoy learning from this Q&A as much as I did.
Name: Jennifer Stein
Current job: Editor in Chief / Owner / Publisher of Destination I Do Magazine
Follow her on: @destinationido and https://www.facebook.com/jennifersteindido
Bio: Jennifer Stein is the co-founder of Destination Media, LLC which was established in 2004 and publishes the international title, Destination I Do Magazine. Jennifer has over 17 years of business and publishing experience and was recognized as one of the “Top 35 Entrepreneurs Under 35” by Arizona Republic. As Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, Jennifer has helped drive revenue growth by 135% since 2010 and has elevated the brand by collaborating with some of the best in the wedding and travel industries.
How did you become the publisher of Destination I Do?
The subject of travel was always on my radar, but not necessarily weddings. In college, I was an assistant wedding planner at a local golf course and while there, I realized my desire for something different from the “sea of sameness” I worked with weekend after weekend. I decided when it was my turn to tie the knot, I would do something unique and away from home. Fast-forward to post-college when I was working at a smaller publishing company where I gleaned hands-on experience in the business. After 4 years, I left my corporate job and started Destination I Do. The publishing company was perfect preparation for starting my business and the magazine proved to be perfect preparation for my own destination wedding in 2005.
What has been your favorite project to work on at Destination I Do?
I think my absolute favorite was our “Mad about Malachite” photo shoot in Costa Rica. It was one part FAM trip (Editor’s note: a trip designed to familiarize event vendors with a venue) and one part photo shoot. We started the concept months in advance and watching the final design come together with talented vendors I respect and adore was a total thrill. Everyone worked their tails off to come up with something stellar and the end product was something we all were extremely proud of. It made me truly appreciate what goes in to creating the perfect day for a couple. It was a joy to showcase it in print and on our website. You can see a video of it here:
How do you typically find vendors for the magazine?
It’s a combination of us discovering something or someone through research or networking at events (my favorite event for networking is Engage! as we’ve found many sources there), having PR people or companies submit to us directly, or through our travels. Our team travels to every place you see in the pages of Destination I Do. There isn’t a place we feature we haven’t been. That’s in part to make sure it’s as great as the website or PR person makes it look and also to ensure it’s a good fit for a honeymooning couple or a destination wedding group. We also vet all the products we feature in the magazine and on our blog to make sure those are worth our readers’ investment as well.
So what would be the best way for a wedding vendor to get your attention?
By knowing our product, learning our submission guidelines and being relevant. We are inundated by pitches that aren’t really a fit for our brand or audience. It’s a waste of the vendor’s time and ours. One easy mismatch to avoid is submitting a wedding that’s not actually a destination wedding. The couple needs to travel at least 2 hours from home for us to consider it. If the vendors take the time to scroll through our site and get to know who does what at our company and what our magazine is all about, they will quickly know if it’s a match. It’s like dating…no reason to continue going out with someone who isn’t a good match.
What one piece of advice would you give to wedding professionals looking to get featured?
This might sound obvious, but by being straightforward, honest and courteous. I cannot tell you how many times we work with someone for the first time and find out that the same wedding the planner or photographer told us was not being used elsewhere shows up in our social media feed because it’s being featured on a well-known blog after we’ve already put it into layout or (and yes this has actually happened) on our cover. We only publish 14 weddings a year in print, so we look for events that will speak to our readers and make it worth their while to read the magazine. If we included images they could see by opening their Pinterest feed, we’re not giving them anything unique and therefore we’re watering down the industry.
We’re lucky to have a great relationship with the majority of the vendors we work with. We wouldn’t be able to create our magazine without the submissions that are sent to us. For this we are abundantly grateful and humbled.
Destination I Do shoot with Beautiful Day Photography, YourBash!, Tropical Occasions
What does the recent closure of Destination Weddings & Honeymoons mean for the future of Destination I Do?
Competition is a good thing. It helps everyone stay sharp. It pushes us to be better and to look forward to what we can achieve with our brand and how to set ourselves apart. With that being said, because I see other titles besides DWH as competition, it really won’t change our trajectory. We are going strong and have found our place in this growing industry. We feel extremely fortunate to have weathered bad economies, increasing prices and an ever-changing media industry.
Does DWH closing mean that print is dead or that the destination wedding industry bubble has burst? No and no. I can’t speak to why DWH shut down, but I can speak to the health of the destination wedding industry and print media. Destination weddings are thriving: 49% of couples are doing a wedding 2+ hours from home.
With print, it seems to depend on where you look. Newspapers and certain print magazines are indeed suffering, but bridal seems to be holding strong. It could be that purchasing wedding magazines is a right of passage when one gets engaged. Our readers long to see pages of beautiful gowns and gorgeous locations and get inspired by real couples who had their own destination weddings. They are reaching for our print product and using it to plan their weddings. That’s good news for us! However, I won’t make it sound like it’s been an easy journey all the way. The 12 years we’ve been in business have been a wild ride and we’ve seen our share of ups and downs. The good news is, we’re on an upswing!
If you’ve never been to Martha Stewart’s Wedding Party in New York, now is the time to check it out! I rarely go to wedding shows for newly engaged brides, but this one is truly my favorite and is a great event not just for couples, but for vendors in the industry.
Produced by Claudia Hanlin, of The Wedding Library fame, Martha Stewart Wedding Party, which is happening at Gotham Hall on Jan. 29, showcases over 100 of the finest wedding vendors. The vendors are carefully selected to be of a certain Martha-approved caliber, so if you’re a wedding blogger or a vendor looking to make connections, this show is a smart way to meet some industry influencers.
Are you itching to network or want to check out if this show would be worthwhile to exhibit your brand? Here is your chance to get in for free:
GIVEAWAY x 2 Tix!
I’m giving away 2 general admissions tickets to MSW Party 2017 (each one $75 value) to the first two people to comment about their favorite event industry blog (besides this one, of course). Thank you and good luck!
Here are a couple of photos from a previous MSW Party I attended:
Gotham Hall for Martha Stewart’s Wedding Party. A bit fuzzy, but you get the picture: Full House
Wedding bloggers at Martha Stewart’s Wedding Party in New York
When I first came across stationery masters at Yonder Design at an industry event in San Francisco, I was blown away. Like seriously blown away, which having been in this industry for quite a few years now, doesn’t happen often. But it did with Yonder.
This high-end stationary design house is run by a mega-talented husband-and-wife team Julie & Chris Neubauer who have an eye for design and a passion for traveling, so when they create stationery suites for weddings and other special events, they always keep in mind the natural setting, architecture of the venue, and the personal stories of the couple and event hosts. And to bring all that into an invitation or dinner menu, they like to use unexpected materials like marble, mother of pearl, live botanicals, leathers and rare woods from around the globe.
But enough with the raving. You’re going to see for yourself what makes Yonder Design so unique.
They make Save-the-Dates like this:
Invitations like this modern painting created for a wedding at Foreign Cinema in San Francisco:
And whole wedding suites like these:
photo by Sylvie Gil
Pretty neat, right? I’m very excited to work with Yonder Design. If you’re craving more of their stuff, check out Yonder’s Instagram page.
Meet Jessica Bishop, the Editor and Owner of TheBudgetSavvyBride.com. Jessica founded TheBudgetSavvyBride.com while planning her own wedding in 2008 and it has since become the #1 resource for couples planning a wedding on a budget.
I’ve worked with Jessica for several years and know that she is a multi-passionate creative with a focus on and love for the wedding industry. She has worked in just about every field having in the industry from assisting cake bakers, wedding planners, and photographers to designing wedding invitations and, of course, as a bride herself. In addition to running BSB, Jessica also serves as the resident Weddings Expert for About.com and as the Director of Design and Branding for Aisle Society.
Jessica, what do you like about writing about weddings?
There are such a wide variety of topics that I can write about in relation to weddings! From travel for honeymoons, to wedding day beauty and fashion, to home décor and registry, it never gets boring. My readership is a constant revolving door, which helps keep me on my toes. It would be easy to repeat the same content every year because the average life cycle of a couple planning their wedding is around 12 months, but I like the challenge of finding new trends, technology and ways to spin the subject matter year after year.
What is your favorite part about The Budget Savvy Bride?
One thing that sets The Budget Savvy Bride apart from many other wedding blogs is the fact that our real wedding couples share a breakdown of their wedding expenses. When a bride visits our site, she can browse weddings based on the budget to see how other couples before her allocated their funds, which is incredibly helpful especially for those couples who are working with a tiny budget. I think this is really my favorite aspect of the website and it’s definitely one of our more popular features.
How do you typically find sources for your stories and features?
I love sharing resources that make my couples’ lives simpler and save them money or time, so I’m always on the lookout for the newest offerings in the market. I love how much technology is playing a part in weddings and I tend to cover quite a bit of that especially in my articles for About.com. I tend to get lots of email pitches for different things related (and sometimes not-so-related) to weddings, so if I see a pitch that sparks an idea for an upcoming article I flag it to reference later. Occasionally if I’m in need of a specific source, I’ll go to Twitter or ask my networks for recommendations. It’s really a mix!
Many people are intimidated by bloggers. What do you recommend as the best way to get your attention?
A personal greeting and a tailored pitch is the best way to get my attention. I can’t tell you how many emails I get that are incredibly generic and miss the mark in terms of relevance. I get secondhand embarrassment for the folks who send me an email promoting a super luxury product or service provider that is obviously not a fit for my audience. Especially if they follow up multiple times… yikes!
Yikes indeed. So what’s one piece of advice you could give to wedding professionals looking to get featured?
Do good work, be a good person, and add value to your connections. Don’t always be looking for what you can get out of a networking relationship, but also ask how you can give. And, of course, be intentional about the publications you’re pitching to. A few well-tailored pitches will go much farther than thousands of general emails to every wedding-related publication without taking fit into account.
Want to connect with Jessica? You can find her on TheBudgetSavvyBride.com and on www.twitter.com/savvybride.