One Topic, Three Takes: Weddings
Did you ever consider addressing a popular topic in your blog, but held yourself back, thinking there’s nothing left to say? Think again: a topic can never be exhausted as long you are passionate about it. In this series, we show how even the most well-trodden subjects feel fresh when bloggers use a creative approach.
Now that the summer wedding season is over, nobody could blame you if you felt a bit blasé about wedding blogs, to say nothing of the events themselves. Just because many wedding celebrations share the same elements (cake? bouquet? tipsy uncles?) doesn’t mean, though, that your account of the event should follow an established form. Like the posts we highlight here, you can craft your own personal angle. After all, what makes a wedding unique is not an exotic menu or a multitiered cake; it’s the singularity of the people involved.
Wordplay: Define your own terms
When the blogger at Stretchmarklandia named a recent post “My dream wedding is not to have a wedding,” she was playing very consciously with her readers’ expectations. We think, seeing this title, that we’re about to hear a tirade by an anti-bouquet rebel. As we continue reading, however, we soon discover that a wedding did, in fact, take place; it just wasn’t a ‘wedding’ in the sense of a traditional, tulle-heavy affair.
As we follow the narrative of this non-wedding wedding, we learn about the details that made the day special — a Victorian inn on the Jersey Shore, the bride’s brother who brought “his djembe and acoustic guitar, because what could be better than some impromptu folk music on the beach?”
We also read, however, about the couple’s relationship and how it led, unexpectedly, to this almost-elopement. We hear about the specific reasons, personal and political, for the newlyweds’ wish to eschew “all the traditional princessy trappings:”
The introvert in me shudders at all that attention. The cheapskate in me doesn’t want to dump all that money into a few hours of celebration. [...] And the queer girl in me hates the heteronormativity of it all.
The wedding stops being a faded stock photo, and comes to life as an event: a coming together of specific people with a story to tell.
Zoom in: Pick the parts that matter
The details most likely to engage your readers are those that you yourself find the most compelling and moving. If that means you focus on one, seemingly peripheral aspect of the topic you’re addressing, so be it. In her post, “For my sister, on her wedding day,” the blogger at Azinser includes only the tiniest sliver of the wedding referred to in the title. The entire post, replicating the author’s speech at her sister’s wedding, focuses on the author’s struggles to choose a reading to deliver in honor of the couple. Not sure how to select the right passage, she confesses: “I did what any good scholar today would do: I Googled ‘wedding readings.’”
We leave this post knowing close to nothing about centerpieces, bridesmaid dresses, or drunken toasts. We gain, in exchange, a very nuanced understanding of the author’s concept of love — not only between the newlyweds, but also her own, for her sister:
Ultimately, though, I realized that I couldn’t choose one prewritten reading. It just felt wrong to choose a reading for [my sister and her fiance’s] wedding that has been used at countless other weddings. [My sister] and [her fiance] are originals! They deserve an original reading.
The post concludes with one final advice for the newlyweds: “Make it loving. Make it wild. Make it last.” We’re left with a snapshot that’s as vivid and sharp as any wedding photo we’ve seen, but whose subject matter is usually very hard to capture: the friendship and humility that brings people closer, whether they are spouses or siblings.
Expose: honesty, a powerful hook
In this age of constant sharing, we tend to keep private most experiences that don’t fit our friends’ definition of ‘awesome.’ When someone opens up about a painful event, and does so in an honest, engaging manner, we immediately tune in. This might be the reason we feel immediate sympathy for the author of “Post-Wedding Blues,” at Psychobabble. The author gives us a fairly standard recap of her wedding, with one major twist: it didn’t live up to her expectations. As she puts it, “I’m pretty devastated. I feel like I have postpartum, but for weddings.”
Sometimes we don’t need stylistic fireworks (though clean, engaging prose, like in this post, is always a plus). Instead, showing our audience a moment of weakness, of anger, of frustration — of any emotion that breaks through the usual sheen we work so hard to maintain — can make our readers care enough to follow our story.
it’s the most pedestrian annoyances that expose us at our most human, and at our most interesting.
It doesn’t have to be a horrifying tragedy; it’s the most pedestrian annoyances — a bartender showing up late, a DJ not doing his homework — that expose us at our most human, and at our most interesting.
Frame: images speak, too
Just like with the written word, images, too, always benefit from a unique point of view or an unexpected composition. The photos accompanying this post, from a wedding documented by photographer Katy Weaver, make the point clearly: while weddings might be hard to reinvent, the people in them, who come together for one brief moment, inject each event with a dose of singularity. Even if you’re a word-centric author, a well-chosen image (or two) will go a long way in setting your story apart.
Have you written or encountered an unusual post about a wedding? How do you transform a generic topic and make it your own? We’d love hear your tips.
You might also enjoy:
- Try a New Point of View: One Topic, Three Takes
- Weekly Writing Challenge: Dialgoue
- Photography 101: Establishing a Point of View
- Weekly Writing Challenge: Leave ‘Em Wanting More
- Longform Layout: Keep Readers Hooked ’til the End
- You (Almost) Never Have Nothing to Write About: 4.5 Steps to Busting Bloggers’ Block