Not everyone wants to have their wedding announced in The New York Times. It just seems like they do when you write for the wedding section.
On a good day, it's a dream job. Giddy brides greet me with shrieks of joy when I tell them why I'm calling. It's like being the announcer on "The Price is Right" but with a better Klout score.
On a bad day, I receive angry calls from a bride honeymooning in Tuscany demanding to know why her wedding announcement didn't say she graduated Phi Beta Kappa.
Don't be that bride.
Of course, some of you may be grumbling "Well, at least she got in the paper." You may conclude that she knew someone at the Times. Or she slept with someone at the Times. Or her last name must be Trump.
I can assure you none of the above are true. Though that doesn't stop people from making such accusations. Don't be that bride either.
Contrary to the claims of certain gossip sites, there are no pre-determined requirements for getting into the section. But there are space limitations, which means it's competitive. I'm not an official representative of the Times, and I no longer work full-time at the Renzo Piano-designed headquarters in midtown Manhattan. But after writing more than a thousand wedding articles, I think I can offer up some useful dos and don'ts:
1. Get married in the winter. When people ask me how to get their wedding into the paper, my quick response is get married in February. From May to October, my editor sits bleary-eyed at his desk to all hours of the night. (In June and September getting lunch is a luxury.)
2. Submit an application. This may seem a no-brainer. But a large percentage of people who complain about not getting selected, never actually applied. If it seems like there are a lot of Wall Street lawyers with three degrees, it's because there are a LOT of those people sending in submissions. If there were more tailors from Tuscaloosa in the application pool, you'd be seeing more of them in the pages.
3. Don't drop names (unless they're yours). Many couples fixate on making claims to fame or, more often, quasi-fame. It's great if your second cousin once removed owns the oldest dairy farm in Minnesota, but it's not particularly relevant unless you spend your days milking cows.
4. Don't be vague about your job. The only way for the Times to know what you do is for you to inform them. "Multi-national consultant" is right up there with "man of mystery" when it comes to specificity. And while titles are great (especially on nameplates and business cards), no one spends their days "vice presidenting."
5. Have a legal wedding ceremony. To be considered for a wedding article you have to actually be getting married. If that seems obvious, you may be surprised to learn that probably 25 percent of the "wedding" submissions to the Times are from people who aren't getting legally married. And I'm not talking about gay couples. I'm talking about couples who already eloped, or couples who haven't committed to signing a marriage certificate but want to have a party.
In my experience, Times editors are looking for the same thing readers are looking for, stories that make them feel something. That requires digging beneath the easy platitudes and sharing something more meaningful, and here's three more suggestions to help you do that:
1. Include what's most unique about your story. Of course, something out of the ordinary is bound to get attention. If you met your fiancé while climbing Kilimanjaro or taking a class in motorcycle maintenance, don't forget to point that out.
2. Most important, share what convinced you to make a lifelong commitment to each other. Just about every bride was proposed to. And one can assume every bride said yes. But what's interesting is why you said yes. It wasn't because of the shoes you plan on wearing down the aisle. Or because he was president of his high school debating club.
3. Fill out the online application together. You can use the application as an opportunity to momentarily forget about the wedding-day pressures and focus on each other. It's a great time to reminisce about the details of your courtship -- and what you felt along the way.
I get tears in my eyes when I read about the simple act of two people falling for each other. Sometimes it's easy. More often it's messy. But every time it's a small miracle. That's what you should be focused on, not getting into the Times.
Be that bride. But I'll be rooting for you to get a story in the paper, all the same.