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.
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!