(Cover photo by Jose Villa)
Is there a bride-to-be on your Christmas list? Consider Style Me Pretty Weddings: Inspiration and Ideas for an Unforgettable Celebration, by local weddings blogger Abby Larson — it’s out today. The bright and inspirational book features 17 never-seen-before real weddings, organized into five unique style categories: classic, modern, rustic, whimsical, and al fresco. There’s also a section on DIY projects (I’m totally making the glitter vases on pages 222-3).
In advance of the book’s release, we chatted with blogger extraordinaire Larson about Style Me Pretty, weddings that give her butterflies, and why she has the best job in the world.
How did Style Me Pretty start?
Abby Larson: I started it in January 2007, which seems like a lifetime ago. My husband [Tait Larson] and I were living in Palo Alto, Cali., and he was getting his masters in computer science at Stanford. I was in the process of selling my wedding invitation business. Websites like The Knot and Brides.com were doing a great job as resources, and magazines were editing this beautiful content, but there really wasn’t a hybrid of the two — where you could see that same curated, thoughtful, edited content in online form.
So that’s what we set out to do. And by “we,” I mean that Tait helped me get set up on my little Typepad account for $9 and helped me hand-patch some HTML code so that I could make it look pretty. It was very, very scrappy in the beginning, but I knew that there was a place for it in the wedding industry so I kept plugging along. People really started to catch on. I got some big features and mentions on larger blogs and within a year, Tait quit his job and started working for Style Me Pretty full time. It’s been quite a journey.
Read on for more tips and insight from Abby Larson…
How has the blog changed and evolved over time? Has it surprised you?
AL: It’s had a circle of life of sorts. I started by doing interviews with stationers and creating inspiration boards specifically for readers based on their venues. I was doing this intimate, really approachable content, because I didn’t have access to the weddings and amazingness I do now thanks to the vendors who work with us. So, I really had to craft it on my own.
Over time, it changed and grew. It’s evolved into a mostly real weddings platform, where we put up between 3 and 4 real weddings every day… We have 12 different blogs now, so we’re pumping out about 75 posts a week across all blogs. It’s grown from really hand-crafted content to being sort of a mecca of weddings in their entirety. We try really hard to reach all budgets and all styles. We pride ourselves on not subscribing to any one aesthetic but always looking for the pretty in a wedding — so that’s our bar. Is it pretty? Is it beautiful? It doesn’t have a definition, it means something different for each one of our editors.
We’re now starting to look at that first bit of content and how intimate it was and bring some of that back. So, with some of the higher-end weddings, we’ll do a “get the look” or “look for less” post that brings the content to a wider audience.
What weddings really wow you?
AL: Does this give me the butterflies? Do I want to look at more photos? Do I want to take the time to click away from the blog post and go to the gallery and really look at each individual image? If it passes these tests, then we generally publish it. Specifically, we’re just looking for beauty — great details that brides can steal or can add their own style stamp to and use for their weddings. We want really fun, spirited celebrations that show true love and prove that weddings are really fun and celebratory.
(“White Wedding Perfection” / Photo by KT Merry)
Have you always wanted to write a book?
AL: I’m not of the camp that started a blog to write a book. I believe that there’s real value in blogging and I’ve always been pretty satisfied with that. But that said, about 600 weddings come across our desk every day. The ones that we take the time to accept and put up on the site hold a special place in our hearts and we don’t want to see them go. We want them to be more archival than they are now. So we thought of doing a magazine, which was something that we put a lot of thought into — we really researched and worked through all the nooks and crannies. And while that’s still on the horizon, the more we thought about it, we thought it would be really great to put them into a hard-cover book. People can display it, pour over it with their coffee in the morning, or tuck it into their bags and take it with them — and it will always be a keepsake.
So we reached out to a bunch of vendors for their most beautiful weddings that had never been published and surprisingly, we got slammed. I wish you could see some of the weddings on the cutting room floor because they are so beautiful. You wouldn’t believe that anyone would say no to them.
Do you think that brides get overwhelmed when they see a real wedding that’s gorgeous and handcrafted?
AL: There has never been a time in the history of wedding planning where there was as much inspiration, which can be a curse and a blessing. It’s so overwhelming for brides — they want to do everything and they want to DIY everything and they want to spend and spend and spend and spend. If you show brides how to use real weddings and how to piece them apart and see those individual moments and then illustrate how they can put it all together into a cohesive whole, it’s not as overwhelming.
It’s so refreshing and neat when brides use printouts, Pinterest, and Style Me Pretty, but they really work hand-in-hand with vendors to create something totally new and innovative. And there’s that element of surprise at your wedding — you don’t know exactly what will happen when it all comes together.
Tell me about the DIY section of the book.
AL: We actually built and photographed all of the projects in one day, in about 9 hours. We had an idea of what we wanted to do that day but we weren’t entirely sure, so we let the day unfold. It was really fun, because we felt the same way that brides do when they get together with their bridesmaids and come up with ideas. One leads to another leads to another and they are all iterated on using that one piece of paper from Papersource.
Thinking back on your wedding now, would you done anything differently?
AL: I was 25-years-old and I wore the biggest ball gown I could find and I got married in the prettiest ballroom that I could find. I did everything with crystal and glitter and sparkles. There’s still that sparkly girl inside of me — I think I’d still roll everything in glitter if I could — and I totally subscribe to this totally traditional Emily Post wedding. Now, I’m in my thirties, and I’ve been seeing the most personal weddings. I would do everything differently now. Everything would be more intimate, everything would be more meaningful and thoughtful, and it wouldn’t just be about getting married, it would be about creating this really beautiful celebration for my husband and for my closest friends and family.
I still think of my wedding as the best day of my whole life — it was the happiest. Someone said this to me once: Your wedding is the best day of your whole life and the day you have a baby is the most romantic. And that’s really how my life has unfolded… but there are these little details I see every day, where I think, ‘Oh man, I could have done that. That would have been so good in my own wedding.’
Most important words of wisdom for a newly engaged bride-to-be?
AL: Hire a wedding planner. I swear to you, it’s the most invaluable piece of advice that I would ever give a bride. A wedding planner will save you thousands upon thousands of dollars in very expensive mistakes that brides just make. I made them. Wedding planners allow you to enjoy the journey. And if you can’t afford to have a wedding planner the whole time, make sure you hire someone for the day-of, so you can really kick back and enjoy the day.
Secondly, it’s so easy to get stressed and caught up in the chaos of a wedding, but the planning part is actually a big part of your wedding story… Those moments with your bridesmaids or going shopping with your mom or having lunch with your best friend, those are all part of your wedding celebration. And, if you let that all be clouded over by the stress and the nitty gritty, then the whole memory of your wedding will be a little cloudy. Be cognizant of that and you’ll be a happier bride for sure.
Are there still days when you wake up and pinch yourself and can’t believe that you get to look at pretty weddings all day?
AL: Oh, every day. Sometimes I hear myself complain, and in my head I’m laughing at myself because it’s so silly to complain about what I do every single day. It’s amazing. Today, for example, I did crafts at my son’s school and picked my daughter up from school and I put in a good solid workday. I get to do really fun, beautiful things. Next week I’m going to Palm Beach to speak at a weddings conference. You really can’t complain when that’s part of your job description.
What other blogs do you follow?
AL: I am a creature of habit. I check the same three blogs every single day — Young House Love, Peppermint Bliss, and Camille Styles — and then touch base with Once Wed and some of the other curated wedding blogs out there.
What do you do in your free time?
AL: Work isn’t work when it’s fun. I’m with my kids a lot during the day, but when I’m by myself in the evenings, I watch “Real Housewives” and work on Style Me Pretty Home, which we are hoping to launch before the new year.
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