Getting Published : Destination I Do Magazine


A few years ago, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Jennifer Stein, editor of Destination I Do Magazine. Erma and Max’s Santa Monica wedding was featured in DID’s glossy pages and while I was honored, the best part of the process was making a friend. Jennifer and I have remained close through the years and she’s a trusted confidant.

Many brides are booking destination photographers (largely in part to sharing images on the web, and brides understanding the value of investing in a photographer they trust), so Jennifer has kindly joined me today to share what she looks for when featuring a destination wedding in her magazine.

How To Get Your Destination Wedding Featured in a Magazine : A Q+A with Jennifer Stein

What makes publishing a destination wedding magazine different than a traditional wedding magazine?
A destination couple has different needs than a traditional couple, so the content is a bit of a departure (hee hee, pun intended) from what you’d see in a mass market bridal title. Sure, there are still flowers, a minister and that whole ball of wax, but couples need to know other specifics such as how do they travel with a group of people or how do they make sure it’s legal? Some destinations (especially domestically speaking) are much more straight-forward, but if a couple is considering a wedding in Bali, Belize or another exotic locale, they will need a magazine like ours to help them navigate (these puns are coming way too easy for me!) their way through the process. Our magazine covers these specifics. We write our publication with the following question always in the back of our minds, “if I were getting married in (fill in the blank), then what would I need to know to pull it off?” Everything from finding specific fashion which fits with different destinations and welcome bags to group travel tips and destination wedding etiquette can be found in our magazine and on our website.

When choosing a destination wedding for publication, what are you looking for?
First and foremost, we are seeking real weddings which have a “sense of place.” We love to be able to glance at a series of images and immediately establish the couple was married in Italy, Greece or the Caribbean, for example. We look at each wedding and think, “would these images inspire *me *to get married there, or select that bouquet, color-scheme, vendor etc.?” Our entire goal as a magazine is to inspire and assist couples getting married away and one way we do this effectively is by using gorgeous images to tell the story. We consider weddings from all over the world, not just tropical destinations. We’ve featured weddings in Wyoming, China, New Zealand, Georgia and Thailand to name a few. So no destination is out of the question. It also doesn’t have to be a million dollar wedding. So long as the couple has a great sense of style, the wedding happened away from home and hasn’t been published before – send it our way. We rely heavily on photographers and are forever grateful for the amazing submissions we are sent. Great photographers and photography help us make our magazine and industry better.

What details/factors make a destination wedding stand out from the rest?
Couples who really put their personalities into the details can separate their wedding from the pack. When we look at the images we’re going to consider for print – we consider *all* of it. How does the ceremony read? Is the alter plain, or do they have one built of drift wood with orchids and sea glass cascading down it? Is the reception overflowing with interesting tablescapes, unique lighting and a strong personality? Are there photos of the couple snuggling in a hammock or on a ski-lift sharing an intimate moment? If all aspects of the wedding are strong, we will put it at the top of the list. However, if the couple has a few weaker areas, we may pass on the wedding or choose the stronger images to run in another type of story aside from a real-life wedding profile.

What advice do you have for destination brides planning their wedding?
This is like opening Pandora’s Box! I have so many pieces of advice, but I’ll hit the big ones.
– Consider where your guests are traveling from before you select your destination. For example, if you are wanting to go to Hawaii, but 50% of your guest list is traveling from NYC, perhaps the Caribbean would be a better choice.
– Hire a wedding planner who knows the area you’ve selected well. That person will be able to scout things out for you and will know what vendors can be trusted.
– Before you hire that aforementioned planner, make sure you get good references on their services and do a little snooping on Google.
– Know the legalities in the area you’re interested in before you officially select it. There are laws in certain countries that could prohibit you from having a legal marriage. Know what those are ahead of time.
– Never, ever, ever ship your dress. Physically keep it with you at all times. There are four things you cannot get married without – your minister, your groom, the rings and your dress!
– Get insurance on your engagement and wedding rings immediately. It’s astonishing how many people lose their rings in the ocean while on their honeymoon! Your homeowners insurance doesn’t always cover the entire amount, so getting a rider may be necessary.
– Don’t try to please everyone, but beware of becoming “Bridezilla.” It’s true, it is your day but it’s also your spouse’s day. Your loved ones are also traveling miles to be with you – so be courteous of their needs, not demanding their time and attention. At the same time, realize you will not please everyone. Find a happy medium between “door mat” and “bridezilla,” let things roll of your back and you’ll be good to go!

What advice do you have for wedding photographers shooting a destination wedding?
Take a step back from time-to-time to get a shot. For example, the details are great, but if you can get an image of the entire scene so we can really see the overall look, that can prove helpful. There are times when we have so many close-up details, it’s like a bad case of tunnel vision. By taking a step back, it gives us a broader view. Plus, I would think the couple would love a shot like that too!

Another piece of advice: Take a step UP. When we are looking at tablescapes for example, we see a lot of images taken straight on which doesn’t always give a great perspective of the overall look of the reception table. By simply grabbing a chair and positioning yourself above the table, you can get a nicer angle and we can really see what’s going on.

Lastly, if you’re a photographer who shoots with a digital camera, don’t send black and white images to magazines. We can take color and turn it to black and white no problem, but we can’t go the other way.

What makes a wedding a “destination wedding”? For example, if a bride lives in Los Angeles and marries in San Diego, is that a destination? What is the general rule of thumb?
Our rule of thumb is it needs to be approximately 120 miles or 2 hours away from where the couple lives and a majority of the guests need to travel to attend. So if a couple who lives in LA is doing a wedding in Santa Barbara – that would be considered a destination wedding.

What images do you wish appeared in submissions but hardly ever appear?
Photos of dogs at weddings. We’re all dog-lovers around here, so we go nuts when we see an event where the couple included their dog – or any animal for that matter. We recently published a Vegas wedding and there was a bunny and pot-belly pig in the couple’s portraits.

We get so many gorgeous images, it’s hard to say what we want more of, but I can tell you what we could see less of:
– trash the dress (heads up people, the average person does not look good wet)
– getting ready photos (we seldom select these since they’re almost always in a hotel room or bathroom, so not very “destination” looking)
– photos of granny doing the Macarena during the reception. It may be a fun, funny photo to the couple, but we’re not going to use it.
– overly posed photos of the couple

What’s the best piece of advice you can offer when submitting a wedding
for publication?

Know the submission guidelines for the publication your submitting to and be honest if it’s been featured elsewhere or is scheduled to run elsewhere. We have an exclusivity policy. It’s not because we want to be difficult or feel entitled to being the only ones to show the images, but we spend a lot of time, energy and money to feature only 14 weddings a year in print. If a wedding is all over the blog world, that means it’s all over Pinterest. If it’s all over Pinterest then it’s not unique content for us or for the people who read the magazine. We want to make sure that everyone who buys the magazine is getting something exclusive to them.

It can hurt your relationship with editors if you’re not upfront about where the images will run or if you’ve submitted them to several outlets. The down side is that editors *will *find out (it’s just a matter of when) and then the trust is ruined thus hurting the chances of being published again.