Making my peace with/getting over A Practical Wedding, Part 2

(Quick note: Sorry I took more than 24 hours to put this up. Also, the other day I looked at my blog when I was not logged in as myself and there was an advert between the post and the comments. Wtf? I didn’t put it there and had no idea it was there. Have you guys been seeing ads on my blog?? I don’t know what’s going on. Since we’re chatting, I want to also apologise and thank everyone for their patience re: my frequent spelling, punctuation, and grammar mistakes. I read my older posts and want to punch myself in the face, as Rogue would say. Thank you for not doing that for me.)

As I mentioned yesterday, over the years, the content at A Practical Wedding has changed drastically as the site has grown from a one-woman hobby to a money making enterprise that requires several people to produce. While the readership has soared, my enjoyment of the blog has waned. The number of posts have gone up; the number of posts I enjoy reading has gone down. What used to be a diary style blog, is now…something else entirely, with lots of new types of content having been added over time, and none of it being as interesting as the original story I got invested in. This is what APW has on offer today: Wedding Grad posts, advertorials, Wordless Weddings, a Q & A advice column, intern diaries, “Lazy girl’s guide” DIY how-to posts, Reclaiming Wife posts, the occasional diary style posts from Meg, and more sporadically, posts about specific weddings that happened in a different era.

I think I’ve already made my feelings about the advertorials clear, and the Grad posts,  already filler-like in their nature from the beginning, have essentially become the backbone of the blog’s content. I suppose it’s a good model – an ever replenishing pool of readers eagerly submit their wedding for its day in the sun before they get bored with APW. And probably that is a very satisfying arrangement for readers who don’t stay on board for too long and who move on after their weddings. Like how pregnancy magazines have a constantly revolving group of readers joining and then leaving.

The Wordless Weddings are some of the most filler-like filler material I have come across. Consisting of nothing but pictures, I’m not sure what we are supposed to get out of them, because if I am online to look at pictures then that is definitely not the place I go to do it. They’re like Grad posts but easier. Maybe to encourage people who are not up for writing a whole story to still send a submission? The occasional vintage wedding post strikes me as a desperate grasping for content too, when an intern gets her parents to write about their wedding.

The Ask Team Practical advice column and the Reclaiming Wife posts are as good at it get’s on APW if you’re looking for something meaty. But as Ariella commented yesterday, I like  them much more in theory than I do in practice. The advice column has a tendency to be overwrought, and like most things on APW, too wordy. The Reclaiming Wife posts also have this way of somehow promising more substance than they contain, and can irritatingly be reliant on using a semantic argument disguised as taking  a controversial position on married relationships. Witness: “My spouse is not my best friend“, and “I keep secrets from my husband“. Some of the Reclaiming Wife posts are not about the spousal relationship itself, but about life things that happened to the couple after they got married. Again, I’ve got better places to look if I want to read one-off stories of people’s lives. Similarly, when they are actually about specifics of relationship dynamics, there’s no reason to believe writers at APW are especially qualified at this part, and I’d rather take advice from someone else.

Then there’s the intern’s planning diaries. I enjoy a good wedding planning story, and that’s what got me into APW in the first place. Unfortunately I don’t find the interns’ efforts that good a read for this. If you want entertaining, check out The Bitchy Bride and The Knotty Bride (the funniest wedding related thing on the internet), or my girls on the sidebar.

So what’s left that’s still good about APW? The message they promote. Updates about Meg’s life. The useful DIY stuff. And maybe for those living in the relevant areas, the directories. I just don’t know that all these things make for good long term blog fodder. Here is what I wish APW was really like:

  • Everything pertaining to promoting vendors to be on a separate page/site where I only see it if I have specifically chosen to see it.
  • A self-governing online community founded on the APW ethos, that is allowed to grow organically into whatever it wants to be. This would be the place for sharing stories with each other, and asking for and giving advice.
  • A personal blog by Meg about her life.

At this point, everything that is valuable about what APW promotes is distilled in the book, and a blog based on constantly rehashing the same ideas for years is always uninteresting. And of course the foundational ideas of APW are at odds with the need to have copious adverts and sponsored posts featuring services that tend to be flagrantly unaffordable. The “F*ck ‘em if they don’t like chairs” catchphrase used to promote the book is cute until until APW gets sponsored by a furniture rental company (it happens).

So, ultimately, I would like APW not to be a blog. I would like it to be a community around a facebook page, or some other forum platform. I would like readers to be able to initiate conversations with each other with out relying on comments to posts. The community around APW has already shown promising hints of its potential to be great (the dress giveaways, the book club meet-ups), but the thing is, online communities don’t work when an institution is trying to maintain control of them*, and I think the way APW is run has kind stifled most the growth.

So those are my thoughts. Now, the making peace part (beware, mushiness ahead): becoming a fan of something and then watching it evolve into something you don’t like, creates a sense of resentment and yes, betrayal. The whole reason I couldn’t let this go, and wrote this, is that I was quite a big fan in the first place. I genuinely wish Meg well, and will continue to be interested in her life adventures, but I want to let APW  go now. I want to stop caring when APW does something that bothers me, and I want to stop being disappointed when I check it every day and find nothing stimulating. It is what it is. A gazillion readers love it. But it’s not for me any more. I want it out of my head space.

I still haven’t read the book, so I do plan on writing a book review on that. But in the mean time, I’m saying good bye to APW, and issuing myself a challenge to go a week without checking it.

*Dammit I had a really good link for that and now I can’t find it. I’ll keep on looking and update when I do, ok?

7 responses to “Making my peace with/getting over A Practical Wedding, Part 2

  1. Well if you have to apologize for your writing mistakes, I’m going to have to beg for forgiveness! (Can I use “English is not my first language” as an excuse?)
    Anyway. I really like what you wrote. And it’s always good to read critiques and other people’s thoughts. My favorite APW posts are always the Reclaiming Wife posts, but like you said, I’m more into following someone’s planning journey – for example, I started reading Popcorn on the Stove when Kristen was planning her October 2011 wedding, but now that the wedding is over, I still love reading her posts about her life because I really like her writing style and I got invested in her story, like you said.
    And yeah, the DIY tutorials are nice, but honestly, if I want DIY tutorials, I usually check Martha Stewart.

    Oh and on the subject of small wedding budgets, we found a professional photographer who was willing to shoot our wedding for a lot less than I expected (700€), and that even includes an engagement shoot. We’ve had to stretch our budget a bit, but I still expect to come below the money we had saved up! (Even though we’re saving up more now just in case)

  2. thebitchybride

    Thank you for the recommendation and link – I’m honoured! I will do my very best to keep my blog personal, ad-free and organic, even if I reach the heady heights of internet stardom :)

    • No worries, Your Bitchiness.

      I’m not against all monetisation. If you reach heady heights (I’m hoping you do), you’d probably have to make it sustainable. I’ve totally seen it done in ways that don’t piss me off, believe it or not :)

  3. First of all, wordpress.com puts ads on all blogs, but you don’t see them if you’re logged into a wordpress account.

    Secondly, great post! I have a somewhat similar relationship with Offbeat Bride. I actually started writing a post about getting over OBB a little while ago; I should go back and finish it. I understand the need for sponsored posts, but I hate having them shoved in my face constantly, especially when they’re at odds with what the blog is trying to promote whether that be practical, affordable weddings or offbeat weddings.

    • So I’ve been clueless all this time about the ads? Wow. That’s kind of embarrassing.

      I’d love to read what you have to say about OBB. As a person who has spent so much time reading blogs, I really enjoy this whole meta-blogging thing! I’ve never gotten really attached to OBB, but where I stand now, I pretty much like it. Having said that, I don’t go there that often and I don’t really look at the wedding stuff any more, now that I think about it. I’m interested in the Offbeat Empire stuff (meta-blogging!), and the some of the Mama stuff, because I’m crazy clucky.

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