Big things are happening in bridesmaid blog land. First, Ultimate Bridesmaid turned 1 and next up my Twitter friend and fellow Brooklyn bridesmaid blogger (seriously, how many can this borough support?) is debuting a major redesign of her fab site Bridesmaiding. I virtually sat down with Rachel to talk bridesmaid to bridesmaid and get some advice on blogging (and where to get a good cup of joe in South Slope).
Ultimate Bridesmaid: Hi Rachel, my fellow bridesmaid blogger extraordinaire! Thanks for sitting down with me to “talk shop”.
Of course! Happy to be here.
So, tell me about how Bridesmaiding began. When did you start the blog and where did the idea come from?
Bridesmaiding officially went live in July 2010. At that time, I had maybe been in nine weddings or so…and was currently going through a crazy-busy wedding season. My friends all started saying “you should start a website! You should write about this!” I am a web developer by day and a comedian by night, so it just made sense. After returning from a Miami wedding that May and hearing interest from other bridesmaids, I finally got motivated. I sat down and started building the site.
Has your vision for the blog changed at all since you first started? How has it evolved?
It’s definitely evolved. First of all, when I started Bridesmaiding there were no other bridesmaid sites out there. There were sites for brides of course…but no one was tapped into the bridesmaid industry except for one or two purple and pink flashing ad sites selling bachelorette crowns and sashes (no, thank you!). The few references I could find were just so cheesy—and “un-me” and my laid-back girlfriends. I decided I needed to be the voice for laid-back independent-minded women. I needed to be the voice for girls who would rather go to a beer festival in flip-flops than a trendy New York City club in heels. I just kept hearing myself say “Real women are bridesmaids too!”
At first, I thought the site would be a straight-up resource center: how-to’s, tips for planning. When I was a bridesmaid for the first time, I had to do a lot of “figuring it out” on my own. It seemed crazy that there was no guidance available out there. Whenever I attended a wedding, another situation would pop up that I wasn’t really prepared for. I started figuring out how to handle it and writing those situations down. For example, after one crazy wedding weekend, I wrote about whether you need to get your hair and makeup professionally done. Is that a thing we’re required to do? If you’ve never been in one of these situations, you couldn’t even fathom that that was a question you’d need to ask.
So the how-to’s and resources were my initial idea. What i didn’t think about was how much people would resonate with the blog aspect—the true and fictional pieces, and wedding-related stories that people would want to contribute! It’s just been such a fun add-on to the site.
Is there an article or topic you’re most proud of? What articles or posts seem to really resonate with your readers?
I am proud of so many articles—this is a tough one! (It’s a good problem to have, I guess!) Well, according to my stats and Pinterest, the most popular posts seem to be the Bridesmaids Scrapbook and make your own wedding planning binder posts. People really gravitate towards those easy DIY projects. Also, of course, people are always looking for bachelorette games. But for me, I really enjoy the true stories that people share. I wrote this one piece about my girlfriends and I getting dressed and beautified together for a wedding and it just makes me laugh! Also, a good friend wrote this story about her White Trash Wedding experience and it’s just unreal—a must-read. Because I work with so many comedians, I have a lot of great writers built into my network! That is definitely something that makes Bridesmaiding different from any other bridal site. And it’s something I like about us. I like that we’re different.
You asked me a really great question about how to handle the negative aspects of being a bridesmaid in your writing. I’d love to get your take on it as well. How are you open and honest with your readers without potentially hurting feelings? And what’s your take on all the “bridesmaid hate” out there?
Well, similiar to you, I definitely don’t ever want my site to be a place where I vent about my friends. By any means. It is a hard balance though, because my advice comes from experience. Also, once a girl is engaged and planning a wedding, even a super laid-back girl can sometimes turn into a slightly different person! None of my friends have been bridezillas by any means. But they have cried about some silly things and made some insane requests they never would’ve normally asked for if they weren’t planning a wedding. The problem now is that I want to write about it but I can’t! My friends will say “I know this is annoying but can you please (whatever) and I know I’m being a crazy bride but please don’t write about it on your website!” Anyway, when I am writing, I try to remove anything personal from the bride’s side and just focus on what has helped me out—what are the questions I needed to ask that other people will need help answering as well. And I go from there.
I think the best way to handle any “bridesmaid hate” is by doing good work and by showing “the haters” that real women are bridesmaids too. The reasons we do what we do is because we are good friends and we love our brides.
Do you find any truth in the old idea that weddings are a great place to meet men (especially if you’re a bridesmaid)?
Okay fine. I guess that’s not totally true. One of my friends met her husband at a wedding. So I guess that’s a thing. And I did once have a bet going with another bridesmaid that one of us would pick up the “hot waiter” who worked with the catering company. (I won.) But overall it seems people bring significant others to weddings and I am usually the single person sitting at the rando table with the weirdo second cousins.
But I have more fun.
I hear there’s a big redesign of Bridesmaiding in the works! Can you tell me about how you’re changing the site? What’s the new look and what new features are you adding? What has been your process for tackling the design?
Yes! The redesign is by far the biggest and most exciting undertaking since the launch three years ago. The main difference between the current site and the new site is…well, everything. When I first started Bridesmaiding, I had no idea what it would become, so I didn’t know what I needed from the site’s functionality and design to make it work best. Now that I’ve run the site for a few years, I know exactly what it needs. I’m working with an extremely talented designer/developer (Kevin McShane: Hire him! He is incredible!) who has skillfully taken the personality of Bridesmaiding and made it into a beautiful website. It will be much easier to find content. It will be much easier for me to have partnerships with other sites and advertisers. The wide layout will much better for featuring beautiful photography, as I love to do. It will just be great.
How do you balance your busy life outside of blogging?
I don’t? Not very well? HA. In all seriousness, I am having trouble balancing it all. It’s tough. I have a full-time day job and full-time “after-work job” performing comedy when 5pm rolls around. How I fit this website and blog into the midst of it is really an act of magic. It might explain why I’m single though. Apparently, you need to make time to, ya know…go on dates.
We actually first met through Twitter. How have you used social media to promote your blog? Has Twitter helped you meet other awesome collaborators?
Twitter and Facebook (and lately Pinterest) have been invaluable. I definitely get a lot of hits from social media and have met wonderful collaborators (such as yourself) who have written wonderful pieces for me! The speed and reach of social media compares to nothing else. During Hurricane Sandy actually (which, as you know, hit New York really hard) someone contacted us and asked for help. A bridesmaid was without her dress due to the storm and had one day to basically find a matching (or similar) bridesmaid dress, get it fitted and tailored and the whole shebang. I posted a call for help on Facebook and Twitter and got dozens of emails from strangers all over the East coast willing to help. It was seriously so moving. Because of social media and the kindness of strangers, in less than three hours the bridesmaid was at a boutique in Boston, grabbing a dress from a very kind store owner and heading to a tailor. It was just incredible.
So I just moved to Brooklyn, which makes us both Brooklyn bridesmaid bloggers now (what are the odds?). Can you share a few of your favorite spots or some secrets of the hood?
Yes! Welcome to BK. I am sure you already love it, who wouldn’t? If you like good strong coffee (I do!), some friends of mine opened an amaaazing coffee shop in South Slope called De Luxe. For drinks, one of my favorite bars is in Carroll Gardens and it’s called the Zombie Hut. It has the craziest drinks you can imagine, an awesome backyard/patio and tons of board games! Now that I’m thinking about it, we should probably meet there for a Bridesmaid Blog Meeting ASAP.