How bridal magazines are actually broken records

I arrived home from work this week to find a brown box on my doorstep.

And instead of a Forever 21 brand emblazoned on the front, there was a handwritten ‘To Pippi, with love, Mama x’.

There was no anniversary or birthday or anything I could think of that explained the gesture but, well, who cares.

It was full of childhood relics.

My parents are packing up their house for another at the moment and mum didn’t have it in her to throw these treasures away.

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This box was extraordinary. Every single thing in it I instantly connected to including:

  • A school project about wheat and wool from Year 3, which included my weird drawing of a two-dollar note (eeep! Remember those?)
  • This note (she did shift work out at the airport): IMG_9946
  • My mid-year report from Year 4 that you could actually understand without needing a companion reference book to decipher whether the kid is actually doing well or not.

The thing that struck me about this report was that every comment by the teacher was handwritten – and most of the time there was more than one teacher. Plus a handwritten comment from the headmaster.

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Suddenly, I understood.

End-of-year and mid-year reports were groaned over by teachers, and to see the effort that had to go into every single one blew my mind. I actually remember teachers passing them on to other teachers in elastic-banded bundles so they could add their comments and return them.

I recently saw a list on Facebook being passed around by my teacher friends that listed hundreds of stock standard sentences that could be cut/pasted into a child’s progress report.

I don’t have children, so if this has been going on for a million years, bear with me, this was the first time I had seen something like this and I was kind of heartbroken – I, perhaps naively, thought that comments from ‘teach’ were completely ad-hoc.

However, when I look back at the thousands of bridal magazine covers I’ve seen… I reckon they do the exact same thing.

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Wedding mags are a year-in, year-out, cut-copy versions of themselves that, every month, will have articles and pictorials on the following:

The Dress, The Venue, The Budget, The Stress, The Diet, The Beauty, The ‘Real’ Wedding, The Inspiration, The Etiquette, The Honeymoon, The DIY and The Time Machine.

Yes. The Time Machine. It’s what I call the section of the magazine where a newlywed confesses her wedding day regrets and how she’d do it all over again if she could only find Doc’s DeLorean.

For instance (headlines taken from just one brand of wedding magazine):

 The Dress

  • Found! Your wedding dress
  • The dress you’ll love forever
  • Dresses you’ll want to marry (I quite liked that one)
  • The dress you’ll love forever (yes, it was used twice)

The Venue

  • Original wedding venues!
  • Top spots to tie the knot
  • All sizes, all budgets, all locations

The Budget

  • Big Day, Small Budget
  • 50 brilliant ways to save $$$
  • 7 matrimonial money mistakes
  • Big Dreams, Small Budget

 The Stress

  • A stress-free wedding: your essential guide
  • Solutions for every dilemma
  • Solutions for every family drama
  • Your stress-free wedding plan
  • Planning stress sorted

The ‘Real’ Wedding

  • 24 pages of breathtaking real weddings
  • 68 pages of amazing real weddings
  • 68 pages of ahh-mazing real weddings
  • Real brides reveal all

The Inspiration

  • 1693 unique ideas to make your wedding so you!
  • How to have a wedding that’s so you
  • 579 new ideas

The Experts

  • Bridal experts share their secrets
  • Bridal insiders share their secrets

You get my drift. There is a lot of doubling-up going on, not because bride magazine editors are goldfish, it’s because they have to assume that their target audience will only be engaged with them for maybe a year to 18 months.

The thing is, much like the sample report comments for teachers, do magazines borrow from a similar pool in an effort to seem like it’s the first time it’s been thought up and written up.

One word that wedding ‘zines love to pimp is ‘unique’.

For a product that has to wash, rinse and repeat itself with such regularity, it has to get savvy with tweaking words to come across as though it has uncovered something new. Unless it’s blatantly not new, in which case it would be ‘traditional’. Like the traditional photobooth with the traditional moustache sticks.

Editorial staff for wedding magazines must go berko for celebrity weddings as, at the very least, it’s something new to cover. Or just newer than the last one. I mean, how many articles can you really write on veils?

But that’s just it. An article on veils could easily be dug up from four years ago, a fresh image of Kim Kardashian and her veil from last week could be attached to it and away we go again. Who would really be paying attention? After four years, chances are their audience has done a complete turnaround. Good luck trying to do that in the Women’s Weekly…

Like any niche publication, it must send some minds bananas to come up with an article, pictorial, school report comment that hasn’t already been said and make it sound like it hasn’t.

I just remember what it was like to buy a brand-new bridal mag, reading it from cover to cover, then feeling like I hadn’t seen or read anything new and thinking ‘why the hell did I buy that?’ then, in true FOMO form, doing it all again the next month. No topic in these magazines is new. Kim Kardashian’s name on a marriage certificate isn’t even new.

The only thing new I saw in a bridal magazine was, in an effort to be environmentally conscious, for the bridal party to share one vehicle for the day. That vehicle was a stretch Hummer.

Not many publications have such an intense readership for such a specific period of time (perhaps only pregnancy magazines?) and when those readers get married and end their subscription, new readers with their licence to buy these magazines (The Ring) are lining up to take their place to be entertained by all the ‘new’ articles.

Sunrise, sunset.

If bridal magazine staff don’t have a list like the sample school report comments for their headlines… they must have one helluva thesaurus.

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