Are Wedding Bloggers Shitty Writers?

Postsecret is one of my favourite reads. For those of you that might not have heard of it, it’s a weekly collection of secrets that people have anonymously posted (usually on postcards) to Frank, the website’s founder, through the mail.

Anyway, yesterday I saw this secret crop up…

shittywirterwedding blog postsecret

It took me by surprise to see something I’m so closely associated with up there. Of course my immediate reaction was “OMG I wonder who it was and which blog they write for?”. But then I started to feel quite sad. Is that really what wedding journalism can do to you? Or to any wedding creative for that matter? Is it an uncreative, uninspirational and unfulfilling field to be in?

Now, clearly I couldn’t disagree more. I absolutely love my job and find new challenges and opportunities because of it every day. But I just wanted to lay this out there and ask you – as a creative (writer, photographer, designer – whatever) in the wedding industry, do you ever feel like you’re ‘dumbing down’ your art to satisfy your clients? Not because our clients or readers are dumb of course, but because they expect a certain thing from you… they’re paying for your services after all. Maybe this is not the time to be experimental, creative or to push ourselves artistically?

It’s true, I have read some pretty badly written wedding editorial in my time, just as I’ve seen some pretty shocking wedding photography, stationery or fashion designs. But I think the point of difference comes through passion and a love for the industry and the work that we do… as well as actual talent of course! I’m the first to admit that writing real wedding reports may not be the most intellectually stimulating part of my job, but I am adamant that doing other things, within the genre that I love (workshops, the Green Room, contributions to magazines) is the way to keep my brain ticking over and to avoid ever feeling like that.

Writing about weddings hardly warrants creating Shakespearean prose, but always striving to push yourself and to make the very best of what you do – regardless of what industry you work within – is paramount. Whether you have a job that’s just to tide you over or you’re working towards your dream career, it’s what you make of it that counts. Any job can be shitty if you don’t make the best of the opportunities you’re given.

Am I the best writer out there? Definitely not. But I hope I’ll always be able to say that I work hard, aspire to improve, and that I sure as hell still love what I do.

This post doesn’t really have any great and insightful conclusion I’m afraid. Instead I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter.

52 comments

  1. The fact that wedding blogs are so popular kinda proves that this isn’t the most important thing!

    You could say that as a fantastic writer, you should be able to write something awesome no matter what your subject, and if you have writers block, then the subject isn’t for you and it’s time to move on.

    I don’t think I’ll ever get bored of making wedding dresses, but if my style is not the same as the brides, I just can’t get the vision, and I cant make the dress.

    I can see that there are restrictions by how ‘honest’ you can be as a wedding journalist – you can’t slate somebody’s wedding choices without ruining somebodies life, but you can still be passionate about the things that you love in the world of weddings, and that is what people want! LOVE not hate!!

  2. As a photographer, I don’t think I’ve ever ‘dumbed down’ my work BUT ultimately, you are working for someone else! Now they have booked me because they like my work but they may still want a couple of shots/edits that aren’t my cup of tea – e.g. spot colour photos – it’s they’re day, so you have to do your best to meet their requirements.

    It’s also very had to be creative when doing the group shots and sometimes people just don’t wish to co-operate with the idea you’ve just had – you just have to work through those bits :)

  3. Post author

    its allll about the love charlotte… and thats why i love it so! id never write anything mean about a wedding i didnt like. being mean just for the sake of it does not a good writer make!

  4. I would say the reason it’s turned them into a shitty writer is because they are bored with their job. I think if you are passionate about something then it’s very hard to write shittily (new word!).
    Whenever I am complimented about my writing style or blog posts it is always on something I am deeply passionate about and over the years I have blogged about many things (post photographer days too).
    If I was struggling to write about my chosen topic in my job I would be questioning what exactly I was doing writing it in the first place.
    Sometimes I think I might just be rambling when I compose a post, but it is literally my thoughts spewing onto the page but every time I apologise for getting carried away I am told that is what people like about my writing, the honesty & the passion.
    x

  5. I think it’s more the case that it’s a completely unregulated industry – so lots of people (me included) decide to create a new career for themselves in an industry/direction they haven’t got much experience in. After all, you don’t need any specific qualifications, bits of paper or other pre-requisites to make weddings at the heart of your trade. Many of us (hopefully me included!) have a natural eye for design/writing etc and some it seems don’t have that quite so much. I do find with stationery as well, many Brides are really focused on themes and less discerning on actual design quality, so long as it fits the style they’re going for. I avoid writing very much at all on our blog, I’m a designer and stick to what I do best, making it look pretty and hoping that the messages will come through in the pictures!

    I personally think all the wedding blogs I read (mainly Rock n Roll Bride, Love My Dress and Rock My Wedding) are really well written – though I must confess I am usually just browsing through the pictures anyway and if a feature takes my eye for a particular reason, I might have a read! x

  6. I think that goes for the wedding industry in general Kat as i dont think there’s any other industry that brainwashes its clientele quite like weddings! (cue copious articles on ‘how to get the vintage look’ for example, which as a result we’ve seen more dusky pink, birdcages and teacups than I think I can take!) Unless you’re really lucky, brides tend to be creatures of habit and seldom stray too far into the unknown or the avant garde. It’d be great if the world was filled with brides who would be happy to give free reign to the designers but I think we all sometimes feel that what we’d like to write/create/design etc doesn’t always fit into the ‘wedding’ pigeonhole. That said, there’s always people out there bored senseless by tradition and ‘normal’ who welcome a different take on things. I guess you just have to be true to yourself and if people don’t like it then they can always go/read elsewhere :) x

  7. I have been faced with a similar dilemma in the last week or so. You are torn between being true to your style and standard, or watering it down to appeal to the masses and put food on your table. I found myself not wanting to take on a job because it was not “my cup of tea” but the bottom line was that they were willing to pay, I had what they wanted, and wether they wanted to use my products in a totally different way to what I would do, that was, quite frankly none my damn business. So here’s your invoice madam, thank you very much!!

    But at the same time, people like me and my service because I am a particular way, and a perfectionistic pain in the ass. And so this week..I have asked myself do I dilute and spread, or do I remain that bit rigid, have a smaller cliental but get to do exactly what I want. I haven’t quite figured it out yet.

  8. Post author

    Abbie – i think im super lucky that the majority of my readers are SUPER creative and have really unique ideas for their weddings!

  9. It’s a little fishy don’t you think? It implies that someone has taken on the job of writing for a wedding blog and that it is somehow beneath them but as far as I’m aware most wedding blogs are individuals, a collaboration of creatives or maybe partnerships and very few would be in a position to employ a number of writers? If it had said ‘writing for a wedding publication’ I might have understood, I can imagine there are a fair few journalism graduates who dreamt they’d be writing about the Arab Spring for The Times rather than Spring wedding trends for My Top Wedding magazine.

    I suppose it depends on what you define as shitty writing, if you are looking for high brow, thought provoking and mind blowing articles then maybe ones written about weddings would not tick the box but if you just seek ones for creativity, wit and occasionally a little controversy then they most certainly fit the bill!

  10. For me, it was one thing when I was a one-woman-band, and I did occasionally turn down work I didn’t feel I was the right designer for – Now that I’m an employer, I have responsibilities to make sure I can pay my staff – so it’s not about selling out as we would still never send anything out that isn’t well designed, but perhaps it’s not all our cup of tea, but it pays the wages! I also try and recognise that while not every wedding theme is my favourite, if the Bride loves it, then I will try and be excited about it too… I am pretty sure the styling I’m planning for my own wedding in March won’t be to everyone’s taste, but we love it!

  11. Kat, you certainly are! I wish all our brides were like yours. And I don’t think I’ve ever read a ‘shitty’ blog post from you cos you’re just too honest to dumb down!

  12. Post author

    haha why thank you Abbie! I honestly dont think ive felt i had to ‘dumb down’ or conform with what other people expect/want from me EVER… and i honestly believe this is totally the reason for my success.. because i AM different and i WILL say it as it is (whilst still being nice of course!) and people love my blog for that.

  13. Hi Kat, I have a rather different view. Ok Here comes.. In my opinion just reading blogs, I would have to say on the contrary! I actually believe writing blogs inspires creative writing, and actually make one’s writing much better.

    For example I bet when you started you’re blog you had to work very hard to find the material, and thought long and hard about the topics you had researched and had to write and then re-write you’re material. I bet now with lots of practice, a fuller use of language, and inspiration I think what you actually have is a much more skilful way of writing and approaching each post.

    You have become very adaptable, and have the creative confidence to write about the things which inspire and motivate you more often. Please let’s not forget it’s a real talent to be able to write and capture people’s attention in this day and age, especially with endless websites and blogs. You are able to think on you’re feet about what will work within the post and what doesn’t. Therefor the skills that you have harvested, are now being reaped so to speak. I think the more people enjoy reading and writing, the better it is for everyone. Carry on bloggers! xx

  14. As a photographer I feel it is important to get a balance between shooting for yourself and for your clients. When I first started I would shoot for my couples 99% of the time and maybe sneak a wee shot in for my portfolio at the end. After time I built up a portfolio of “my shots” and now clients book me because they like this style and as a result I get to shoot a lot more the creative stuff I really enjoy doing. With that said, even the shots for me are tailored in a way to suit the couple and vibe of the wedding.

  15. Kat- ah that surprises me, I still get the feeling that wedding blogs are very much more personal than publications, I can see the increase in contributors but would not have thought writers.

  16. “Any job can be shitty if you don’t make the best of the opportunities you’re given.”

    I couldn’t put it better myself, Kat.

  17. This is a thought provoking post Kat! I have found that it is harder to express creativity when writing about other people’s photos than it is when I’m doing an advice post. Creative writing requires a free flow of ideas but these ideas can sound choppy when interspersed between photos. My advice for other wedding bloggers is to be aware of cliches (e.g., calling something “swoon worthy”) and avoid them like the plague. Write from the heart, and not what you think you’re supposed to say. (And if you can’t say anything nice, don’t accept the wedding for publication).

  18. My honest opinion is that there are words which are so overused in the wedding industry ie literally drooling over this (the image is quite gross really), swooning, amazing, ….introducing the lovely so and so …

    These seem to be used by most wedding blogs.

    There is a certain wedding lingo or perhaps its bloggers lingo??

    I find myself using this lingo sometimes too.

    Kat I love reading all of your articles and the rate that you put them out is quite astounding! You are constantly coming up with new ideas which is fabulous. Your articles are definitely not what I would consider “dumb” …. They are insightful and honest.

    Love Rockn’Roll bride

  19. Post author

    Vicky – yep its true, off the top of my head i can think of at least 3 of the big US wedding blogs that have paid staff writers

  20. I agree with both Hannah and Charlotte.
    First, I may or may not be a “shitty writer”, actually I have no idea — English isn’t even my mother tongue. But, I (personally) am not here to expose my writing, but to show cool weddings and nice pictures. And I like to think I’m not bad at it.
    Second, I don’t think you don’t have to write shittily (loved the new word) to attract readers of the wedding industry; if this person thinks she became a shitty writer, it must have more to do with her not feeling ok at this place.

  21. Also wanted to add, I don’t think it’s a case of dumbing down just more about how profound or thought provoking you can be on a wedding blog, or even say a fashion blog for that matter? I’ve not yet read a wedding blog post which has completely changed my opinions or blown my mind but have read newspaper articles which have left me shocked/ amazed/ saddened. Does that necessarily equate to better writing though or is it the subject matter?!

    It’s different of course if you have a sub section like here, the green room, where you can open up the subject matter beyond flowers and accessories and dig a little deeper in to your vocabulary and knowledge!
    Xx

  22. I think if you’re writing something you’re not happy with, then there’s something wrong. It’s a symptom. I think what you do right, Kat, is know when to say no. You say no to things that don’t inspire you, because if it doesn’t work for you then it doesn’t work for your blog.

    I’d actually feel a bit concerned for the blogger in question… more that they do something about it, rather than let things stagnate and end up resenting what they do, as I think that can have a negative longer term impact on them personally. People shouldn’t feel ashamed to say a job etc isn’t working for them any more, and be able to change and do the thing that makes them feel happy.

  23. Alison

    This reminds me of a French & Saunders sketch where they play 2 writers on a women’s magazine. Jennifer is so bored of doing the same old diet and recipe features she starts saying ‘oh what’s the point of it all?’ and Dawn says ‘Bride of the Year! Remember! Bride of the Year!’…it is literally the highlight of their year!

    I didn’t buy a single wedding magazine when I was planning my wedding, as in my mind wedding magazines were run by people like the women in that sketch – bored of what they were doing, so the content itself becomes boring. Blogs were a breath of fresh air compared to that…I guess it’s just a case of continuing to keep it fresh & interesting for yourself as well as for the readers.

    I must admit the one thing blogs could learn a teeny bit from traditional media is the spelling and grammar, though…some old world traditions are worth keeping….either that or the blogosphere is going to be at the forefront of the next stage of linguistic development….

  24. Alison- totally agree on the vocabulary and grammar point, I think if you are going to call yourself a writer then you should pay attention to traditional writing attributes when you put your name to a piece!
    X

  25. Post author

    omg i make spelling mistakes all the time {blush}. thank god i have gareth to spell check everything for me!

  26. Brandy

    I had a friend write for a company that represented a business and she had to write a certain amount of content each week, but it was a subject that did not interest her, and down right abhorred. She learned a lot about unnecessary surgical procedures and bogus hormonal diets that she could find no good legitimate source that would back up the said bogus diet (and have to find ways to promote it!).

    My conclusion is through my friends story is that any good writer could go sour through severe disinterest and I’m sure if you weren’t interested in this but needed a job, this would surely make you feel like a bad writer after a while. May not be the case, but just a thought!

  27. I think it may just be a matter that it’s not what they should be writing about. As any creative to make money you have to have a client or employer. I know when I worked for a high school I had no pride in my work and felt like it was killing my soul. Obviously in this situation this writer should find a new field. It’s just not the job for them. Just like working at a high school wasn’t the job for me. I know other photographers out there who would feel if they shot weddings they were getting worse as photographers just like if I shot sports photography I would feel like it was doing nothing for me. Hopefully this writer finds the write job in writing for them just as I have found the right job in photography for me.

  28. Any photographer (or creative or even business) who is working for a client, whether that’s a wedding client or on a commercial basis, has to adapt what they’re doing to suit the needs of the client. I don’t think that means completely negating your own values, beliefe system or style – for example if a client ever asked me for spot colour or HDR the answer would be a firm no because that’s not my aesthetic.

    I attended Fer Juaristi’s photography workshop recently and he says he shoots 20% for the client and 80% for himself. He’s an exceptionally creative photographer but he still know that his clients are paying him and that they might want the odd group shot or a simple portrait to sit along side his more creative work.

    The same goes for shooting for commercial clients. If they book you to deliver something to promote their brand, you need to adapt your approach to meet their brand values.

    When you are in paid employment, sometimes there has to be a compromise. I love photographing architecture and urban landscapes but my clients are paying me to photograph their wedding not a million and one architectural details at the expense of the actual wedding itself.

    I still get to shoot what I love though by using architecture and urban landcapes a lot in my wedding photography and if I have an idea for something that won’t work with a wedding client I can always go and shoot it in my spare time, as a personal project.

    As for the writer, as blogs do not have traditional structures like print media (i.e editors and sub editors) to keep a check on style/content and lots of bloggers aren’t trained writers, perhaps standards of published writing aren’t technically what they once were but they are obviously engaging or blogs wouldn’t have such high readership.

  29. Funnily enough, I find that the requirement to turn over new, original content and do it twice every day makes me a BETTER writer when it comes to penning a longer feature.

    Or perhaps, like you, I care more because the blog is my own creation rather than being a “paid staffer”.

    I do love that French & Saunders sketch though…!

    Much love x

  30. Post author

    thats an excellent point Julia. i think having to some up with new ways to say ‘stunning’ and ‘vintage-inspired’ is quite the challenge actually haha!

  31. Interesting article, as (wannabe) writer, blogger and professional marketer, I spend most of my life writing for different audiences. All three things are totally different disciplines; audience is the key! When you write for a blog, especially in the lifestyle genre, the tone is generally quite chatty, as you need to be accessible. It doesn’t compare to writing a novel or poetry, which for me is much more about art and evoking emotion.

    That said great writers exist in all these fields, but it’s hard to excel at all three!

  32. Very thought provoking! Laura Babb, you’ve hit the nail on the head. Kat you are a very talented writer, well “Cosmo” thinks so too!

  33. As a photographer, I think there’s a general consensus that wedding photography is slightly looked down upon. Kind of in the same thread as the saying “those who can’t do, teach”. Those who can’t do photography (ie fashion, music, travel) do wedding photography. I follow all manner of photographers, not just wedding ones, and you see this kind of attitude crop up from photographers not involved in the wedding industry all the time. For me, it’s always been wedding photography that I’ve wanted to do. As an above commenter mentioned, okay sometimes you have to do certain things that you might not really want to (spot colouring!! Although luckily I’ve only ever had two brides request that) I LOVE wedding photography, I absolutely love getting to document one of the happiest days in peoples lives and I find it to be both challenging and rewarding.

  34. I think the thing is, there’s not too much to actually *write* with a wedding blog. Most wedding blogs are featuring weddings, and the feature is and should be on the images. I myself write a few informational posts every week, but I am in no way a writer. I never have been, and never will be. I write my posts in a conversational manner, and I’ve never even thought of writing as a “writer”. That just seems boring to me. So with that said, going off of my own experience, most people who run wedding blogs aren’t necessarily writers by trade. Some are, and you can certainly tell when they are, but most are not.

    Now when it comes to someone “writing” for a wedding blog, sure, the top 10ish wedding blogs in the US do have staff and such. And I’ve even heard of some wedding websites (not only the top wedding blogs) hiring people to write content for them. But there is only *so* much that you can write about when it comes to weddings. So yeah, I can definitely see where that person is coming from, saying that they’re becoming a horrible writer- because if they’re just doing real wedding posts and writing filler content, that is definitely not stimulating or creative at all!

  35. I’ve been reluctant to say anything for fear that I might be one of those shitty writers running a shitty American wedding blog. Looking back on my posts, I routinely find spelling mistakes and awkward phrasing.

    Nonetheless, I’ve personally found that writing a wedding blog has been creatively cathartic precisely because it’s not heady and overly-intellectual.

    If any of you are interested, I wrote a longer response on my blog: http://mountainsidebride.com/2013/01/08/a-mountainside-manifesto-if-this-is-shitty-i-dont-want-to-be-clean/

  36. Post author

    Christine – is ‘get out’ like ‘get out of here!’ haha funny.
    my husband Gareth proof reads everything for me, although sometimes he doesnt get to it until AFTER it’s been published – whoops!

  37. How is having paid staff so different than having a husband like you have who has not only the skills and talent to take care of the technical end of your site but also to proofread everything for you? Maybe some of those big American blogs don’t have husbands with the same skill set or time to do that for them, so it falls to them to see to it and they have to hire out for things like copy writing or editing and tend to matters like making sure everything looks good and works themselves. Maybe I misread something somewhere in this series of comments but I don’t see why founding and growing and becoming being such a successful business that you find yourself needing to hire help is a bad thing.

  38. Post author

    Sara – having staff is not a bad thing at all! & actually not what this post is about at all… it mainly about passion… having passion for your work or not. Are we in agreement?

  39. Oh no I totally get the post! And passion is exactly what it’s about -otherwise smaller blogs like myself still wouldn’t be putting forth the kind of effort blogging takes if we weren’t passionate about it. But some of the comments I felt were “against” bigger American blogs, and I don’t see why they are to be maligned like that. I visit loads of big blogs on an almost daily basis – including yours and I’ve never found the writing shitty (and hell, I’m a former English teacher so I know shit writing when I see it). I actually think it takes a certain amount of talent to know your audience and know how to speak to them and if bigger blogs are having staff write their posts I don’t think it’s because they’ve lost their passion – I think they’re still passionate about it but finding different avenues to explore.

  40. Post author

    Sara – no way! I don’t think anyone was saying or thinking that at all… the conversation was about the individual writer, who probably writes for a big blog, who seems to have lost her passion. Its nothing to do with the integrity or passion of the blog as a whole.

  41. Antonia Bell

    Kat – i hope i don’t sound like a sycophant -but I think one of the things that makes YOUR blog such a success is your ability to write. I’ve often marvelled at your style and ability to sustain my interest / create excitement with a first sentence! In my line of work (literature) I read a lot of crap. And I have a low threshold for uninteresting copy. I think if a good writer finds a topic they’re passionate about, they’ll fly. There are a lot of bad writers out there writing. and perhapd the person who posted to that website is a good writer in the wrong game. This doesn’t quite respond to your post, but its the perfect opportunity for me to say what I often think about your style!

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