"Honey, do you have a minute?" I spoke innocently. It was 11 a.m. and my now-husband was at work. I needed to be deft with my execution. "I've got this crazy idea. I want to let readers plan our wedding. The dress, the cake, the flowers, everything."
I etched out the details in my mind, half incredulous that I was willing to go through with it.
"O-kay," he hovered.
"It seems totally nuts," I continued. "But I think it will be a fun journey if I've got your support."
I'd finally come to the point in my life where I appreciated the journey more than the end result.
"Let's talk more about this later tonight."
I hung up. Fingers crossed.
Ryan proposed in Santa Barbara on March 23, 2010 -- our one year anniversary. At the time, I was the assistant editor for the Los Angeles Times Magazine, profiling L.A.'s tastemakers and writing about health, beauty, and style. I'd been itching to expand my work onto the Web, so I started running ideas by my editor. We tried a style blog. That didn't pan out. We even launched a blog called "Tall Tales," about my stature (I'm 5'11''). That didn't last, probably for the better. I eventually tired of watching performers on stilts and asking women to doff their wedges so I could give a measure.
My husband popped the question one month later. With that, a sparkly topic primed for the blogosphere flitted from the brainstorming ashes: wedding planning. The prosaic "journalist-turned-bride-to-be blogs all the details" blog wouldn't cut it. How can I make this more uniquely "me" yet engage a broad audience? I pondered. I started by digging up my own trepidations and dreams about the Big Day...
Growing up, I imagined all the purses, makeup, shoes and clothes that would one day fill the bright pink house I shared with my twin sister (it didn't matter what our husbands wanted, obviously). I hosted fashion shows with friends in my bedroom and I wrote love letters to my crushes taken straight from Rod Stewart songs. Not once did I envision my wedding day, what kind of dress I would wear, or how the ceremony and reception would look. The only thing I thought about, often hopelessly (the love letters didn't work), was finding my soul mate. I was clueless otherwise. Planning an event of this magnitude -- and blogging every detail -- felt quasi-nauseating.
I called upon the magazine's Editor-at-Large, Robin Sayers, to bring some perspective. We dissected the Today Show Weddings, an annual installment wherein one lucky couple enters a contest for a chance to score their wedding gratis -- the only caveat being that the world chooses every detail. Sayers encouraged the idea of nuptials by committee with gusto. My wedding planning odyssey would be different, though. This would be a self-willed journey predicated on letting go (and getting the help I desperately needed). Plus, it wouldn't be paid for.
One hour later, Plan My Wedding was born.
Ryan was my first phone call. We'd been engaged for one week. When we finally did talk that evening, he conceded, "At first I wasn't sure, but anything you are a part of is amazing. If this will make you happy, then I'm in." The two of us indulged in the experiment with open minds, staying up many late nights watching results come in until the polls closed, giddy and eager to find out what our readers, were planning for us. Each week or month, hundreds and thousands weighed in on every detail of the event: my bridal gown, our honeymoon destination, the centerpieces, my hairstyle, our wedding destination, our invitations, our wedding month, the color scheme, the wedding cake, the bridesmaids dresses, the first dance song, and more. "Readers choose everything but my fiancé," I'd grown accustomed to saying. Viewers also tuned in to KTLA Morning News once a month to see the cakes, dresses, invites, and other voting subjects live.
Convincing my family and friends to support Plan My Wedding took more courage. I told them I was crowd-sourcing my wedding; they thought I'd downed some spiked bridal stew. "This is the one time in your life you get to do everything your way," or, "It's way too special of a day," they pleaded with me. Up until the last vote, my mom made sure that every decision, from the honeymoon destination to the cake, was mine, not theirs. 'You're going with this option because you love it, and not because they picked it, right?' she'd bite. I was committed, sometimes obstinately, to continuing the blog.
Turns out the process worked brilliantly. It doused drama in consensus. I couldn't have a sister who was cranky about the dress I made her wear, or a mother-in-law who abhorred my choice of flowers, or a husband who lamented going to Tahiti over Cabo (who would do that?), or a mother who chafed at the beginning note of my first dance song. It was ..."the people's" choice. All of it. It was all about ... "them."
I did have one issue with the hairstyle vote: a side ponytail the readers picked. When I tried on my dress in front of family and friends and swept my hair to the side, everyone bristled and shook their heads. They finally coughed up that the side ponytail hid the lines of my gown and looked unflattering. I took to the blog and held a revote, hoping that my anti-bridezilla integrity wasn't lost on my readers. A hairstyle that was down and pulled away from my face won the majority vote the second time around. Was I pleased! This way I could showcase the architectural top of the dress readers voted for; plus, the 'do felt very Duchess of Cambridge.
I have no regrets about letting the blogosphere command my wedding. I married the love of my life. All of the ancillary details, whether chosen by me or by strangers (who I don't see as strangers at all anymore), paled by comparison. We've even decided to continue the journey with newlywed life. Join us at MrsGuided.com to vote on everything from the dog we should own, to the furniture we need for our new place, to how we should split our time with family during the holidays. The adventure has only just begun.