Meet the Press: Lara Burnap of California Wedding Day

August 10, 2017
Meet Lara Burnap, California Wedding Day

Lara Burnap has been the Editor-in-Chief at California Wedding Day for the past 5 years, covering bridal fashion, design, décor and more. She has more than 15 years of editing and publishing experience. She has covered celebrity and red carpet fashion at E! Entertainment and E! Online and tracked down the latest local trends, culture and happenings as the executive editor of Los Angeles Confidential magazine.

Lara Burnap, California Wedding Day

How did you become a wedding journalist?

When I was a little girl, I had a box where I clipped wedding dresses from newspapers and magazines so I’d have them on hand when I got married. Clearly, weddings have always been my passion! In reality, I landed at California Wedding Day when the founder of Red Tricycle, a children’s website where I was freelancing, introduced me to the Editorial Director at Tiger Oak publications during their search for an editor.

Now that you’ve been doing it for 5 years, what do you like most about covering the wedding industry?

The talent and creativity in this industry is so inspiring—and especially in today’s environment where couples are no longer bound by tradition or expectation. In fact, couples look to surprise guests at their weddings with the unexpected, whether it be a high-fashion wedding gown, unique wedding vows, the reception design, a food experience… anything goes.

I recently attended a wedding where the couple, Christopher and Phillip, delivered 3 challenges to each other as part of their wedding vows. The dares included eating a piece of dark chocolate to prove that love can be both bitter and sweet to drinking a mystery cocktail as a promise to keep spontaneity and trust a part of their lives. The guests loved it and the laughter, applause and cheering made their ceremony all that more special and true to their personalities.

I love that! So what has been your favorite project to work on?

Our Summer 2017 issue of California Wedding Day really is one of my favorites. It’s filled with so many creative and beautiful ideas. Some of the highlights include a gorgeous garland-style bouquet created by Mindy Rice Design that is so dreamy.

Mindy Rice garland

Florist: Mindy Rice Designs | Photo by Elizabeth Messina

Plus, the fashion shoots really took my breath away. We found a lovely way to share the latest trend of super sheer gowns, some of which can border on risqué – but that’s what I love about the wedding industry today, there’s no right or wrong—it’s about embracing what (and who!) you love. Case in point, one of the real weddings we shared included this incredible geometric backdrop that was created by the groom–who also designed their invitations. Proof that DIY can go to the next level.

Hayley Paige in California Wedding Day

Photo by Martin Rusch; Dress by Hayley Paige; HMU by Make-up Therapy

How do you usually find sources for your stories?

Research. As I sift through beautiful Instagram posts and images from real wedding submissions, I’ll start to see a trend that is falling into place or a series of images that tell a story.

All of our fashion shoots are created in house and typically if we are looking for a florist for a bouquet or backdrop, we  reach out to them through our network of preferred vendors. Other times, I may reach out to a florist or event designer whose work I’ve seen on Instagram or other social media that inspires me or meshes with our concept.  

What’s the best way for a wedding professional to get your attention?

As a writer, I want to know the full story. So when submitting a real wedding, don’t forget to include how the design and inspiration came to be. Yes, we love hearing about the couple, but their love story and the design are intertwined and those details can make the ordinary become extraordinary. And, understand that we get so many submissions that immediate response isn’t going to happen. Be patient and follow up with kindness!

What advice would you give to wedding professionals looking to get featured?

Key words: creativity, perspective, unique. I’m always looking for the next inspiration. I don’t want to see the same thing over and over, I want details and ideas that take a concept and give it an unexpected twist. Final note? Pare down images! Nothing is more frustrating than a full album with thousands of images. Take the time to hone the submission and create a story through the images you select— highlighting the best details and moments.

You can check out California Wedding Day on www.californiaweddingday.com or follow them on social media @californiaweddingday.

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Learn How to Guest Blog | June 7

June 6, 2017
Guest blogging tips for wedding pros

Guest blogging is one of the most overlooked ways to get publicity for your wedding business. I’ve always been a huge fan of guest blogging because it’s a great way to share your expertise and build your brand. That’s why I often write for other blogs and I make all my clients guest blog for major wedding sites like Inside Weddings, InStyle, Bridal Guide and others.

That’s why I’m excited to give you some tips on how to get guest blogging opportunities. Join me tomorrow, Wednesday, June 7, at 1PM EST on Twitter. I’ll be chatting with Julie Albaugh of Wedding Market News and spilling all the trade secrets.

Even if you don’t have a Twitter account, simply go on Twitter.com and search for #weddingmarket to find the live chat.

Guest blogging tips for wedding pros

You’ll learn:

  • How to find best fitting blogs
  • Best way to pitch your guest post idea
  • Types of articles blogs want
  • Writing tips to guarantee success
  • And much more!

You’ll also get to ask questions about your own experience with guest blogging and I’ll try to answer everyone I can. I hope to see you at 1PM EST on Twitter as I reveal my tips and tricks for landing great guest blogging opportunities.

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Meet the Press: Dobrina Zhekova of InStyle.com

May 24, 2017
Meet the Press Dobrina Zhekova InStyle

Dobrina Zhekova is a freelance writing/editor who covers all things weddings for InStyle.com. Originally from Bulgaria, Dobrina moved to New York City seven years ago to get a masters in journalism, and then started working at ELLE.com as a digital producer. After two years, she got exposed to the bridal world during a stint at Brides.com, but then moved to Washington DC where she currently covers weddings, travel, and style for several lifestyle publications, including InStyle.com where she pens weekly stories for its Weddings sections.

Dobrina Zhekova writer

How did you become a wedding journalist?

I consider myself more of a lifestyle journalist. I certainly write about weddings a lot, mainly for InStyle.com, but I also do a lot of fashion market stories, travel, style, and even home décor. I started about a year ago, when I helped launch the Weddings section on InStyle.com. At the time I covered a lot of pop culture and beauty for them. I’ve just been so lucky to be able to continue to contribute to the site daily.

What do you like about covering the wedding industry?

I love the fact that it’s changing. It’s no longer bound by traditions and etiquette rules. Couples are looking for alternative ways to celebrate their love and it’s so exciting to be a part of this process by writing about it. Brides no longer have to wear white down the aisle, you can have donuts instead of a heavily adorned multi-layered cake, you can hire a food truck, get married in a gallery a week after you’ve gotten engaged (check out pop-up weddings). Some of these things were unthinkable a decade or two ago. Now, it’s all about having fun. And I firmly believe weddings should be about fun and celebrating love, and not stressing out about the right shade of cocktail napkins.

Amen to that! What has been your favorite recent story?

Last year, I wrote about travel blogger Sonja Lishchynski’s engagement in Prague and it was the most amazing story ever. First of all, she waited for 18 months for a retired Hungarian jeweler to hand craft the ring that she proposed with. How cool is that?! She got engaged in Prague so you can imagine what their photos looked like—it’s just magical, and she was one of the most positive and funny people I’ve ever spoken to.

travel blogger Sonja Lishchynski Prague engagement

How do you usually find sources for your stories?

I do a lot of research—Instagram for photographers, venues, food, and anything visual you could think of. I also look at previous press coverage if there’s any but the main thing is the person or vendor’s website and social media so I can get an idea of their work and aesthetic. Of course, I also have good PR contacts so I reach out to them whenever I need a source for a story.

What’s the best way for a wedding pro to get your attention?

A polite email would be nice 🙂 That way you can (briefly) tell me about your business and what makes you different from everyone else. Also, include at least 3 photos so I can get an idea of what your work looks like (if relevant).

What one piece of advice would you give to wedding professionals looking to get featured?

Tell me what makes your work unique. It’s so refreshing when you see something different out there. Not every single wedding has to be Instagram-perfect. Be different. We’re always looking for that special element, and it really could be just a small detail that makes a wedding, a cake, a dress unique.

You can follow and connect with Dobrina on Twitter and Instagram @dobrinazhekova. 

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Matchology to Streamline Blog Submissions

May 11, 2017
matchology social graphics4

Submitting your work to blogs can be notoriously time-consuming. That’s why I was so excited when I heard about Matchology! Launching in June, Matchology is a fast new way of submitting your work to more than 30 of the world’s top wedding blogs from the Aisle Society consortium. The platform features built-in matching technology to help connect your event to the publications that are the best fit. Matchology’s goal is to help wedding pros save time and get published more often. Sounds cool, right?matchology logo

Today, I sat down with Ami Price, CEO of Aisle Society and founder of Elizabeth Anne Designs, to learn more about Matchology.

Ami Price Aisle Society

What inspired you to create Matchology?

As editors, we’ve seen what a huge benefit publication is to a small wedding business, but we’ve also seen how frustrating the whole submission process can be. It takes so much time and energy: researching which blog would be a good fit for a particular wedding or event, finding each blog’s specific submission requirements, using different submission methods and software for each publication. That’s time and energy that could be spent connecting with couples. We challenged ourselves to come up with a better solution that would streamline the process for both wedding pros and editors, and Matchology is the result!matchology real wedding blog submission

What feature are you most excited about?

Matchology uses a unique matching technology – a little like a dating app for wedding submissions! Wedding pros provide a few key details such as category, style and setting, and Matchology suggests the most appropriate publications based on our custom-built algorithm. Since our 30 blogs cover a diverse set of styles, niches, and locations across the US and internationally, it’s important to find the best match for each event. Matchology saves so much time and guesswork – and it’s fun!Matchology screenshot

How is Matchology different from Two Bright Lights?

Our matching technology is the main feature which makes us unique, but the other key difference is that Matchology was created by blog editors who receive submissions every single day. We’re in the trenches! That’s why we also built in features that integrate easily into the workflow, like autofill vendor crediting, a universal questionnaire, status updates via email, and one step resubmission. And we’ll keep listening to our users and improving our software in line with their needs.

Tell us more about the upcoming “Submit with Success” event on May 17.

I’m so excited about this, especially because I’m so passionate about sharing knowledge with this community! Aisle Society is hosting an online educational event on May 17th that is free for Matchology subscribers. I and several of the other Aisle Society editors will be sharing all our top tips and insider secrets – and answering all the submissions questions wedding pros have. Everything from what makes a great submission to how to optimize publication, and track your success. It’s going to be an afternoon jam-packed with information!

How will pricing work for Matchology?

Full access to Matchology for a year costs $69.99, and in anticipation of our launch, wedding pros can also purchase a lifetime subscription for $399. To pre-order Matchology and get access to the FREE Submit with Success event, visit http://www.aislesociety.com/matchology.

matchology submit with success

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Success Stories: Candice Coppola of Jubilee Events

April 29, 2017
Wedding PR Success Stories Candice Coppola

Name: Candice Coppola

Website: http://www.eventjubilee.com, http://www.eventjubileecaribbean.com, http://www.candicecoppola.com

Press page: http://eventjubilee.com/press/

Bio: Candice Coppola is the owner and creative director of Jubilee Events and Jubilee Events: Caribbean, an event design and planning studio with offices in Cheshire, Connecticut and Barbados. After launching in 2007, she quickly became a sought after event designer, working with clients all over the world. Her signature feminine style is a mixture of the things she loves: bold colors, unexpected details, feminine touches and anything and everything gold! Candice mentors event planners as an instructor at the QC Event Planning School and through her coaching company CandiceCoppola.com. In 2013, she co-authored her first book, The White Dress in Color. In 2014, Candice eloped with her husband, Jason, in a small church overlooking the Caribbean sea. She now lives on the beautiful island of Barbados, planning destination weddings for clients around the globe.

Candice Coppola Jubilee Events

Candice Coppola. Photo by Carla Ten Eyck Photography

Where have you been featured?

We’ve been fortunate enough to receive a wide variety of publicity from local publications to national, online features, TV and radio. When I started Jubilee Events in 2007, I dreamed of having my work featured in a glossy magazine. Our first feature came from the regional BRIDES in 2009 when they featured a photoshoot we created on a whim! That shoot led to further opportunities producing content for magazines— where our team was sought out to produce magazine covers and fashion stories.

After several years, we got a book deal with a publisher and wrote the inspirational coffee table book, The White Dress in Color — Inspirations for the Modern Bride. That was definitely a highlight in my career! Another highlight was being featured in several magazines that were not wedding related— like InStyle, Elle, and Glamour. The biggest highlight was Elle Decor, which I have a pile of issues dating back to…. a long time ago! It is my favorite magazine.

Was getting featured a deliberate part of your marketing strategy?

I made a conscience effort to engage with editors and bloggers as I built my business— offering content and advice whenever they needed it. It’s important as a business owner to constantly network and reach out to people with your story and style. Trust me— the world wants to know what you have to say!

Candice Coppola press

How did you go about getting featured?

All the press we’ve acquired over the years has been from our own efforts and networking; whether it was networking with press directly or being introduced to them by colleagues. There is a lot of power in having a publicist — especially if you just don’t have the time or finesse to put into your PR strategy. I’m a firm believer, however, that a business owner should understand every facet of their company FIRST before they hire or delegate tasks out. This ensures that you understand what goes into the position, and you’ll seek out someone who is qualified to do the work.

How has getting media attention impacted your business?

Aside from retaining clients who saw our work featured somewhere, it has given our business credibility. We are fortunate to sit at the table with some of the best in our industry— all because of the press we’ve received and the credibility it has lent our business (especially in the early days where we were just starting out).

Over the years, the media attention we have received has also helped me to define and develop my personal brand— which leads to further opportunities for me, personally, as an expert.candice coppola modern luxury bride

What would you advise wedding pros who want to get publicity?

Get back on Twitter. I know you’re probably reading this and saying… huh? But it’s true! Many freelance writers (who most magazines hire for their content) are on Twitter, as well as the magazines themselves and all their editors. Twitter has become a place for experts and journalists— and you should be on there! It’s a great place to engage directly with people and make connections.

I completely agree! I always encourage my clients to use Twitter to interact with journalists. Any tips for using it well?

Yes. ENGAGE others. Don’t just push content from other social media platforms and think that someone will see it. You must ENGAGE with those you follow and those whom you want to follow you back— by striking up conversations, sharing their content, and most importantly— sharing content your audience is interested in.

Candice’s Twitter handle is @candice_coppola. You can also find her on Instagram and Pinterest @eventjubilee.

The White Dress in Color

The White Dress in Color

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