The Invitation Blog PSA: What *You* Need To Know About Wedding Blogs

April 5, 2011 § 5 Comments

Another week has flown by already, full of fun meetings with clients, late-night design sessions and lots of amazing inspiration.

So, why am I so crabby? Ok, well maybe not crabby, but there’s something I need to speak up about, and not everyone is going to like it – what’s new, right?

Today we’re not talking invitations specifically, but more the wedding industry as a whole. I’m hoping you’ll forgive me.

When I see something that I think is confusing to couples, I feel the need to speak up about it and try to make things clear. And when something is bothering me, I like to clear the air about that t0o. So, let’s consider this a bit of a two-in-one: partly fact, for your information, and partly opinion, to make me feel better.

If this were a letter, it would start with, “Dear wedding bloggers – I still love you, but it’s tough love, and it’s time to get your ‘stuff’ together”.

Wedding blogs – they are all the rage right now and they are chock full of eye candy and inspiration. Do I have issues with wedding blogs as a whole? No, not really. But I do have issues with the practices of certain blogs out there (and no, I won’t be naming and shaming), and certain trends? You bet I do.

Mainly, my issue is transparency. My opinion is that wedding blogs need to be transparent about every aspect about what they are posting, because in the wedding business ethics need to be of the utmost importance.

***Disclaimer: I am not talking about every single wedding blog here – there are some that are very transparent and are totally doing it right. But there are way more that aren’t.***

So, let me drop some knowledge on you, for those who may not be aware of the following:

FACT: Wedding blogging is a business
I’m talking the big wedding blogs out there, and you know the ones I mean – the ones that post daily (or multiple times daily). Blogging is a business is the wedding world, and there are lots of people making money off of it. While the medium is different, a blog is in essence a digital magazine, making advertising revenue from vendors who are hoping that their content will entice you to visit and see their ads, click their links etc. Next time you visit your favourite blog, notice the sheer number of ads down the sidebar. Seriously.

OPINION: That’s cool, just don’t pretend otherwise
I have no issues with wedding bloggers trying to make money doing it – it’s a tough job, and not everyone is cut out for it. A successful wedding blogger has a certain type of talent that is rare, and deserves to be respected and remunerated accordingly. No issues with that either. I just think it is important to remember that in the world of “big” wedding blogs, there is definitely a business aspect – it’s certainly not someone working hours upon hours *just* because they love weddings.

FACT: Not just the ads are advertising
So, it’s generally pretty obvious where the ads are on a blog, but did you know that it’s not the only place where you’re going to find advertising? Often you’ll see things like sponsored posts – a vendor that has paid the blogger to be featured on their site, but in a way that doesn’t come of as advertising (sort like those “advertorials” in magazines). Or how about those popular “Preferred Vendors” – different blogs may have different names for their lists, but that’s basically what it boils down to. Those are advertising as well – the vendor is paying for their listing. While the listing is likely “curated” (meaning the bloggers pick and choose who is going to be included), it’s not like the blogger in question is just providing you with a list of vendors they like.

OPINION: Be transparent. Be transparent. Be transparent.
This one gets to me a bit, because while there are a number of very well-known blogs that are 100% up-front about identifying sponsored posts clearly or letting people know that they vendors on their “list” are paying them, there are so many more who don’t. Why is this an issue? First, because it’s misleading you into thinking what you’re reading is a true opinion or recommendation, when it fact it’s basically still advertising – someone is getting paid to publicize that vendor. Where’s the harm? Let’s say you’re in the market for, oh, I don’t know…invitations. You keep seeing the same company blogged about everywhere, on every preferred vendor list etc. You are going to assume that vendor is probably pretty awesome, because you are relying on their social credibility. If you found out that the only reason they are getting that exposure is that they are paying for it, do you suddenly feel differently? Probably. Does it mean the vendor isn’t awesome. Of course not. But it probably leaves a bad taste in your mouth, because you didn’t realize. It’s not necessarily an issue of right and wrong, but it *is* an issue of ethics.

FACT: Many “weddings” you see on blogs aren’t real weddings at all
These days, there a large number (and growing) of “weddings” featured on blogs that aren’t real wedding at all – rather they are styled photo shoots, where a number of vendors get together and work on a concept, then shoot all of their work together as a cohesive “look”. It’s a great way for vendors to showcase their work, and because everything has been specifically created to work together, it can be a fantastic source of inspiration. But, you need to keep in mind – it’s not real.

OPINION: Styled shoots are great, but be upfront
I personally think styled shoots are fantastic – great exposure for the vendors involved, and likely the opportunity to be a bit more creative and out-there than with most weddings, and a great way to show brides what kind of looks are possible and providing inspiration when it comes to their choice of style, colours etc. But, it’s imperative that it’s clear what you’re seeing is a styled shoot and not a real wedding. Where’s the harm? First, judging vendors based on their work on styled shoots is questionable – remember that it’s not a real wedding situation, so there is no demanding bride, argumentative groom, lighting issues, last-minute surprises etc. Styled shoots are a controlled, planned situation with perfect conditions – completely unlike an actual wedding. So seeing the work that a photographer has done on a styled shoot is great – but don’t ignore the work they’ve done on actual weddings, because they are two completely different situations. You want to know that your photographer can’t just shoot great pictures of models in a studio, but can shoot great pictures of real couples in real situations. Second, and probably more importantly, it seems like styled shoots are causing couples to aspire to have weddings that just aren’t realistic – whether it’s budget, style, theme, whatever. Styled shoots have their place – but probably sparingly, and always presented as such.

FACT: The real weddings you see are hand-picked
Blogs, like magazines, are intended to be aspirational – to show you the best of the best, the newest and most trendy ideas etc. They aren’t going to show you weddings like most of the ones you’ve been to, and probably not even like the wedding you’re planning. The weddings you will see often have a beautiful bride, an amazing location, great details, some quirky touches here and there (and usually a pretty big budget as well) – they aren’t necessarily attainable for the average bride.

OPINION: Reader beware
I completely understand why bloggers choose the weddings they do, and I love wedding eye-candy as much as the next person. But be aware of what you’re looking at – an above-average wedding in one way or another. It seems that some couples these days are feeling like “everyone” is doing this or that, or that they “must” have a specific style, or a specific vendor, or whatever, based on what they see on wedding blogs. It’s great to read blogs for inspiration, but they aren’t a roadmap for *your* wedding, and in fact many of them start to look very much alike after a while. If you want a wedding that is personal and unique – do what’s in your heart, not what everyone else is doing.

Do I have some kind of hate on for wedding blogs? Not at all – I think they can be a great resource, but as a reader, I think it’s important that you are aware of exactly what you’re consuming.

Oh, but I do have one last pet peeve:

Hey wedding bloggers, can you throw us stationers/invitation designers a bone please. I see tons of gorgeous photos of invitations, menus, programs, placecards etc. and then no mention in the vendor list of who the stationer is. Kinda irritating, if I’m being honest. Who seriously needs to know that the bride wore Jimmy Choos (when the label is obvious in the ubiquitous shoe shot anyway), but doesn’t need to know who creating the stunning wedding stationery? Get that stuff sorted, will ya? Thanks.

So, am I alone? What are wedding blogs doing wrong? What are they doing right? I’d love to hear your comments.

And yes wedding bloggers, I get that right now I’m swimming in crocodile-infested waters with prime rib underpants on – but I welcome your comments too😉




§ 5 Responses to The Invitation Blog PSA: What *You* Need To Know About Wedding Blogs

  • I too LOVE all the wedding blogs out there and would love to see one of my designs featured……that being said I would want it there because someone saw something unique about it not because I paid them to put it there……I guess I’m a little old fashion but if I am going to be acknowledged for my work I want it to be genuine……great post Sarah!

  • A says:

    Oh Sarah, once again, you’ve hit the nail on the head. One thing that I would like wedding bloggers to do? 2 words: something. different. I unsubscribed to every single wedding blog in my reader because of 1 reason: no matter the blog, the blogger, whatever, the “content” was the exact same. Inspiration boards, wedding shoots, etc etc. It got to be so boring and monotonous because there is never original thought-provoking-able-to-cause-a-discussion-textual content. {Content, to me, is so much more than a’s actual text, thought out, contemplated, and blogged.} I have a brain in my head, and I want something that is going to make me think and ponder and not just give me the hazy-glassed-over-watery-eyes effect I get from looking at *another* vintage wedding shoot.

  • Ladylynne says:

    I can only say WOW and GREAT post!! You have hit the nail on the head. Too bad most brides out there are looking at the “major wedding blogs” when they could really find a few gems by searching out blogs done by local folks in the business that don’t have the budget to produce style shoots.

  • Yes! You are right on all counts. We do hand pick weddings (I have a certain editorial goal to be sure); we do publish “styled-shoot that aren’t only NOT real, they are often not achievable on a large scale (I love me some good eye candy and inspiration) ; and yes, we do consider advertising dollars when making editorial decisions. (Though in my own special pathology, I seem to completely chuck any sense of propriety and any vision of lucrative advertising dollars with some of my more honest and balls-out posts.I trust that by being honest I will attract the right sponsors and the right readers rather than any dork with eyeballs and a spending account.)

    I wish I had seen post this sooner; it’s spot on. Nonetheless, I’m glad to have found you now!

    • Hip Ink says:

      Christie, thanks for your comment – I appreciate that you “get” this post isn’t trying to bash bloggers, but rather just trying to educate couples out there who may not be aware of the ins and outs. I absolutely respect the fact that you are willing to put your views out there, and you’re right, it will attract the “right” advertisers and readers, I wholeheartedly believe that!

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