SPOTLIGHT 

Spotlight – Wedding Mags

Dee-di-di-dee, Dee-di-di-dee. Yes, that is, of course, Here Comes the Bride heralding the march of wedding titles to a newsstand and mobile device near you. Alan Geere takes you down the aisle.

By Alan Geere

BRIDES

What’s it about: 'The UK's best-selling bridal magazine' – strapline on cover.

Vital statistics: March/April 2016 issue: 338 pages of 285mm x 220mm. Quality gloss paper, heavyweight cover, perfect bound. £4.99 cover price. Combined ABC of 45,483, with 703 from digital. Published by Condé Nast in London.

Cover: One picture (a bride!), seven elements promo-ing what’s inside, totalling 73 crafted words. Still room for some publisher’s messages – “From the publisher of Glamour and Vogue” - furniture and a big, bold masthead.

Content: So much of it, difficult to know where to start, but two pages of contents thankfully early on (pages 11 and 12) shine a light. Receptions, beauty, fashion etc plus some more adventurous features like ‘What kind of wife will you be…’ and ‘Grooms confess’. A page called ‘Brides Everywhere’ showcases all the social media, which shows a long-term engagement with all things digital. Just so much to look at, it is quite difficult to navigate with page numbers a bit thin on the ground. This issue came in an easy-open poly bag containing a 64-page 'Venues Guide' and two advertising products.

Digital: Go to bridesmagazine.co.uk from some editorial page folio lines (mysteriously not all) and obvious click-throughs to Twitter, with 162k followers and Facebook for 2.4 MILLION likes.

What they say: “Last week of dry January and I need all the pretty distraction I can get!” – editor Jade Beer on Twitter, linking to Instagram picture of a bowl of flowers at her desk.

Verdict: Beautifully put together – as you would expect from a Condé Nast publication – helped by the high-end ads for dresses, jewellery and destinations. Weighing in at nearly 900 grams (2lb in old money), it offers value, escapism and aspiration in equal doses even if it is not the most portable of products.

YOU AND YOUR WEDDING

What’s it about: 'Your day, your way' – tagline on spine.

Vital statistics: Feb/Mar 2016 issue: 252 pages of 285mm x 220mm. Quality gloss paper, heavyweight cover, perfect bound. £4.99 cover price. Combined ABC of 31,419, with 441 from digital. Published by Immediate Media in London.

Cover: One bride and lots of flowers. Six well-proportioned coverlines, including the words honeymoons, bridesmaids, cakes, veils and tiaras so no missing what this title is all about.

Content: Nineteen full pages of ads before the contents, which are neatly arranged over two pages divided into three sections: ‘Features & Regulars’, ‘Fashion & Beauty’ and ‘Honeymoons’, which just about tells you all you need to know about the content. Super photography throughout and well-constructed words. This issue came in a poly bag containing a 36-page 'Planning Guide' and a 60-page advertising booklet.

Digital:youandyourwedding.co.uk, well signposted from the folio lines, takes you to a bright and easy to navigate site. Links to most shared, pinned and tweeted shows they are getting it on social media, evidenced by 79k Twitter followers and 28k Facebook likes.

What they say: “I'm looking for stories of hen parties both glorious and grim - short quotes only and names can be changed!” - features editor Hannah Davies with a #journorequest on Twitter.

Verdict: A stylish and comprehensive friend on the coffee table to help in the build-up to the big day. The usual high-end ads are complemented by a similar approach to the editorial content, although it does at times feel a bit squeezed by the commercial considerations.

PERFECT WEDDING

What’s it about: 'The UK's best-selling monthly bridal mag' – strapline on cover.

Vital statistics: 'The Fashion Issue 2016' (no date): 276 pages of 210mm x 148mm (A5). Quality gloss paper, heavyweight cover, perfect bound. £2.99 cover price. Combined ABC of 24,346, with 396 from digital. Published monthly by Immediate Media in Bristol.

Cover: One big bride, two little brides. Six lots of coverlines with four exclamation marks, three ticks, two parentheses, one hashtag and a classy arrow. Wins best use of punctuation on a cover award. Ideas count: 895 ‘fabulous party ideas’.

Content: Thirteen pages of ads before two pages of contents, then another eight advertising pages before editor’s letter. All the regulars you would expect – fashion, receptions, beauty and honeymoons – plus neat extras like ‘Wedding SOS’, where experts help save the day for people who obviously haven’t been reading weddings mags and are not organised enough, and ‘10 things it’s OK not to tell the groom’. This issue came in a poly bag with a free notebook, which looked value-added, but rather obscured the cover.

Digital: Website is a bit of a mouthful at www.planyourperfectwedding.com (perfectwedding.com takes you to an American e-commerce site) but has all the bases covered. 11k Facebook likes and a creditable 79k Twitter followers.

What they say: “No one day is the same. I’m also at meetings and shoots, out of the office quite a bit (plus the New York and Barcelona bridal shows are important dates in my diary), so being back with the team is just so lovely,” - group editor Michelle Royle talking to blogger thewhitediaries.com.

Verdict: Packs quite a punch in the A5 format and a complementary stablemate to You and Your Wedding. Manages to retain a classy approach despite the space limitations, although the type does feel small at times.

WEDDING

What’s it about: 'The UK's best-selling glossy bridal magazine' – strapline on cover.

Vital statistics: February 2016 issue: 132 pages of 300mm x 230mm. Gloss paper, heavier cover, stitched. £2.99 cover price. Combined ABC of 18,319, with 198 from digital. Published by Hubert Burda Media in Colchester.

Cover: One big bride, one little bride, a couple and a fireplace. Six promo lines for inside including ‘I looked more Steptoe than supermodel!’ Ideas count: 986 ‘genius ideas’.

Content: Page of contents refreshingly early on page 5 signposting fashion, receptions, honeymoons etc along with a topical debate on banning social media at your wedding and how to look like a supermodel. Top tip? Take up ballet.

Digital: Follow the folio line come-on to weddingmagazine.co.uk and you are pitched into weddingandweddingflowers.co.uk. Strangely clunky feeling site that has the social media links nestling beneath some ads leading to a decent 137k Twitter followers and 380k Facebook likes.

What they say: “Although it’s always sad to retire a print title, the massive surge in active digital brides-to-be is irresistible. We get more online visitors in one day than the magazine sells in one month,” - HBM CEO, Luke Patten, announcing the end of the print mag.

Verdict: All change at Wedding Towers with the announcement that April’s issue will be the last in print and they are “going digital”. Initially, that appears to be with the existing website, although Burda promise “some very exciting and innovative developments to be rolled out later this year”. Given their last place position in the ABCs, not a surprising move to pull the plug on print, but still a bold move to go digital-only in a crowded marketplace still looking for that monetising Mr Right.

WEDDING IDEAS

What’s it about: 'The UK's biggest bridal brand!' – strapline on cover.

Vital statistics: February 2016 issue: 260 pages of 210mm x 148mm (A5). Quality gloss paper, heavyweight cover, perfect bound. £2.99 cover price. No longer in ABC but editor says: “We are selling between 15,000 and 25,000 copies on the newsstand every four weeks, depending on the season.” Published by Giraffe Media in Taunton.

Cover: A bride and half a groom; eight coverlines including two competitions. Even manage to get the cover image onto the spine. Ideas count: 837 ‘amazing party ideas’.

Content: A spread of contents on pages 14-15 clearly sets out what’s in store: Planning, Travel, Competitions and no less than 13 ‘Real Weddings’, including Sarah and Jorge who had a Mexican fiesta wedding in Cumbria. This issue came in over-sized poly bag containing 'Exclusive' discount card.

Digital: Folio line plug to weddingideasmag.com where ‘Trending Now’ and a carousel of pictures give a newsy feel. A creditable 284k Facebook likes and 90k Twitter followers.

What they say: “…If you are a writer, editor or blogger with published work, an interest in fashion and real-life stories and no fear of deadlines, turning copy round quickly and thinking commercially, please send your CV…” - job ad for ‘creative types’ on Facebook.

Verdict: Another packed production, using every available space. Plenty of pictures, and lots of words but many of them in such small type, it’s difficult to find the appetite to read them. Sometimes comes over all a bit Readers Digest by trying too hard to find room for everything.

ULTIMATE WEDDING

What’s it about: ‘The UK's only fully interactive digital-only wedding magazine’ – blurb on website.

Vital statistics: Claims 25,000 readers each issue. Free to download to Apple and Android devices. Published by Ultimate Wedding Magazine Ltd in Buckinghamshire.

Cover: One bride, one bridesmaid, two coverlines, a string of content along the foot of the page and a big ‘4th birthday’ headline – a bit tight on the iPhone, less so on a tablet.

Content: Comes with a handy ‘How to use’ on page 2, if you’re not au fait with tap and swipe. A wide range of content including real weddings, luxury hen weekends, updating traditions for the modern day, the perfect dress for your body shape, venues and honeymoons.

Digital: The website at ultimateweddingmagazine.co.uk has lots of content, but not the magazine, which is available for download. With 13.6k Twitter followers, and just 2k Facebook likes, the social media offering can only grow.

What they say: "We had a digital version of UWM but to be honest, it was boring, so boring," from Tina Reading’s editor’s letter.

Verdict: You can buy an engagement ring or book a venue at the tap of the screen so the attractions of a click-through straight to the advertiser are an obvious plus for the ‘interactive’ product. The content is well sourced and neatly put together. UW has just celebrated its fourth birthday and two years as interactive only so they are getting something right. But, and it is a big but, it is such a different way of consuming media that they must continue to work hard at attracting the savvy customer who will enjoy and interact with the product.