Wedding season is upon us and one of the many items on a bride and groom’s long to-do/wish list may very well include having their wedding announcement published in the New York Times (or not!). This time last year, when my husband and I were planning a wedding, we figured it was a pretty long shot getting our own announcement published, but we also thought our families — and friends … and future kiddos — would get a kick out of it if we somehow made it happen. Kinda like, “Can you believe the Times actually let those dorks grace its pages?” And you know what? It did! My husband and I are not rich, don’t have particularly impressive pedigrees, didn’t graduate from Ivy League schools, and can’t call ourselves doctors, lawyers or investment bankers (at least, not with a straight face), but the New York Times still published our wedding announcement anyway. And if the Paper of Record can let a couple of average Joes like us into their esteemed wedding section, it’s certainly possible for you to land a coveted slot too. After the jump, check out my tips for getting your wedding announcement published in the New York Times.1. Submit your application as early as possible.
The Times asks that you submit your application at least six weeks before your wedding date, but I say get it out as early as you can (but not more than, say, three or four months early — it might get lost in the shuffle). Besides theoretically having less competition, an early submission ensures you’ll have one less thing to worry about in those crazy hectic final weeks before the big day. The application process is more time-consuming that you might imagine and requires a lot of information you may have to track down, so make sure you give yourself plenty of time to be thorough.
2. Send a cute picture.
The Times has some specific guidelines about photo submissions (“eyebrows on exactly the same level,” “heads fairly close together,” and “printed in a horizontal format”), but there are some other things you should keep in mind too. It should go without saying: a photo of you and your betrothed where you both look cute, happy and like yourselves will go much further than one where the two of you look pissed at the world. Show some teeth! Pose in front of a pretty landscape. Make sure you choose a photo that will look good in color (for the online version) as well as black and white (for print). And, if you happen to have a famous person who will pose with you, throw him or her in. Hey, it worked for this couple!
3. Talk up your accomplishments and make them relevant.
This is the part of the application where you can pretty much copy and paste the highlights from your CV or resume. If you went to an impressive university, have advanced degrees, interned at the White House, won an Olympic medal, or walked down the runway at New York’s Fashion Week, this is the place to brag. But even if your accomplishments are, let’s say, a little more modest, you still want to talk them up. The Times especially likes people who are do-gooders, so if you volunteer and give back to your community, let them know. And if you are doing any work — professionally, privately, or civically — that you can tie-in to something newsy (like, say, doing humanitarian work in Haiti), all the better.
4. Exploit your family.
Is Pops an accomplished jazz musician? Did Mom found a children’s charity or win Miss Tennessee back in the ’70s? Maybe your grandmother was the first woman to run a marathon. Tell it to the Times. Even if your own accomplishments fall a little short (it’s OK — you’re still young. You’ve got time!), that doesn’t mean you can’t make your family’s many accomplishments work for you. Of course, you’re required to include your parents’ occupations, so if your dad happens to be, I don’t know, a big-name real estate/media mogul, you’re probably in luck.
Do you work for someone well-known? Will you have someone famous (even at a local level) in your wedding party? Did you once share an elevator with anybody who ever won or was nominated for an Oscar? Well, tell it to the Times! OK, maybe save that last part for happy hour, but if you have any legitimate connection to an influential person, that can definitely help your chances for coverage in the Times.
6. Have a cute/endearing/unique story.
Everyone loves a great love story, and chances are you probably have one and don’t even know it. Maybe you met in a unique way. Perhaps you were star-crossed lovers for the longest time before finally finding romantic success with each other. Maybe you first met in nursery school and only started dating after reuniting by chance in your 30s. If you can pepper it with a little dialogue — a funny line one of you said that still makes you giggle/blush/burst with joy — that’s even better. Don’t worry if you’re not a fantastic writer. You just have to get the general story down. If you’re picked for the paper, a reporter will interview you and polish up your version before it’s published.
7. Market your wedding.
Are you planning a particularly unique wedding? Maybe “unconventional” is a better word; we all like to think our weddings are special, but is yours one even strangers would get a kick out of reading about? Are you getting married on an airplane? In an igloo? On the stage of a Broadway theater? Will you be wearing Halloween costumes? If you’re planning a wedding to rival those on the (virtual) pages of Offbeat Bride, the Times definitely needs to know. It certainly won’t guarantee you a spot in its pages, but it will definitely help you stand out from the crowd.
8. Try to score a contact.
Here’s my full disclosure: Before submitting our application, my husband and I got the name and email address of a reporter who writes for the Times wedding section. I’m sure having that personal contact definitely helped, but I know it wasn’t entirely responsible for our selection (the woman who gave us the name submitted her announcement to the same person a year earlier and didn’t get picked for publication). Still, it may have been just the thing to push us over. So think about anyone you know who works in media. Is there a chance they’ve got a contact at the Times? Doesn’t hurt to ask! (If you’ve already asked once though, let it drop. Trust me when I say your wedding will be special enough even without the Times stamp of approval!).