Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Detail Debate

A funny thing happened in the world of wedding blogs today.
Jonas Peterson, talented Brisbane photographer wrote this: The Mason Jar Manifesto.

Of course you should go there an read it. It is beautifully written, with an important message.

In summary (in case you don't follow that link and read it) Jonas is pleading with the wedding industry.. stylists, photographers, bloggers, even brides.. to cut out the details. To strip the wedding back to what it is supposed to be - a celebration of love, of commitment and of family.
Excellent message.. and it's true.  I agree that every bride needs to step back once in awhile and remember what she's doing this for, what it is all about. That will keep every bride sane.. to realise that the perfect invitations and details do not a wedding maketh.

So while agree with the broad message, I'm kind of torn about how I feel about Jonas' manifesto.. or perhaps moreso about the comments that have been made in response to it.

If you've read my blog, you know that I love details.
And while the details might be 'fluff', I believe this 'fluff' is part of what helps a couple turn what is essentially a formal procedure into a celebration.
Details have always existed where parties existed. It used to be balloons. Now it is much cooler stuff... because couples realise that this is their chance to throw a party of a lifetime and put everything they want into it. Make it unique, make it over the top and make it fun for their guests! I guess what Jonas is saying is that the 'balloons' have taken over. And we can't see the couple and the meaning past the 'balloons'. Fair call, I suppose.

But here's where it gets interesting... Jonas specifically refers to the common details that we see these days on blogs: mason jars, vintage typewriters, hay bales, vintage rugs. Exactly the kind of things that I love.. and have written about here on The Rustic Garden Party.

I don't know if it was Jonas Peterson's intention to specifically object to these vintage / rustic type of details (or just wedding clutter in general), but the responses online definitely seem to have latched on to that.. and out has come an onslaught of complaints about people using 'details' that  are too common, popular, trendy, that don't relate to the couple.

So whilst I agree that weddings are about a couple in love... when it comes to this debate about vintage being over-done, I am left wondering...Who cares???
Does it matter if a couple wants a vintage typewriter, even though they don't dress in vintage clothes or have a house filled with antiques? As long as they are surrounding themselves with items they love and that they want at their wedding, does it really matter? Do they have to justify "oh I make jam... that's why I want mason jars" ...or... "my husband likes reading, that's why we have piles of vintage books in our centrepieces"

Nobody was ever asked to explain balloons.. so why do they have to explain this new kind of decoration?
And even when people use these same details... it's not like their weddings become identical! Everyone adds their own touches.

My point is: People follow trends every day. Look at the clothes we wear. The ways we decorate our houses. Weddings are no different.

Some people might make their wedding decor choices based on their backgrounds, or how they met, or where they've travelled, or whatever. This is great and does make the day very special and personal.
But some people will just choose things because they like it. Is there anything wrong with that?

My wedding was filled with details.Some were even the kind mentioned in the manifesto. Our photographer certainly captured those details. And they are probably the things I have blogged most about.. because really, aren't  blogs about providing resources and ideas for decorating weddings? They're not about teaching people to be in love.

Despite the details, there was never any doubt in my mind about what our day was all about.
Me And Him.
And I'd like to think that out-shone all of our details.

(while we're being deep and meaningful, you should also go and read THIS "Open Letter to Bloggers" which also objects to same-same weddings and vintage themes. I read this today as well, so part of my post above  is probably also in response to that)


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. You know I totally agree with you. I love all the details in weddings and completely agree that weddings are about the couple and their love. I do love when details are personalised too, I do think that is important. However why has it become a tread to start picking on the 'cliched' vintage props (again Im with you I love them). I have read another blog post from a US photographer complaining about blogs all beginning to look the same and everyone jumped on board agreeing with him. And whilst I agreed with some of it, I was left torn too. In the area I live, weddings are still very much all generic- white chair covers with organza sashes affairs and no one has ever picked on those brides, they didnt have to justify why those chose this and that. Whats wrong with wanting a decor style or 'tread' just because you like it?? Nothing I say.

  4. I just read a comment over at the original 'manifesto, that i think is another interesting viewpoint:

    OnceandAgain - I actually don’t feel like it’s necessary to post yet another viewpoint shaming and stressing brides into feeling like they’re doing something dreadfully wrong. If I’d read this when I was planning my wedding, I would have been pretty unhappy with it. This advice would hold a lot more weight if it were not attached to photographs from a wedding complete with every single trendy detail in the book these days – mason jars, mismatched china, vintage photos hanging on clothes pins, flowers in old metal garden cans, the couple posed standing in a field, the works. Show me a wedding that *has* been stripped of the details, maybe even a wedding in a boring old hotel ballroom, that still looks so poignant and bursting with love and beauty, and then maybe you can convince brides that their wedding will be worth the price of the photos if they don’t indulge in all these details. In my mind, *that* is the problem – wedding blogs and, yes, wedding photography blogs, that give the impression that the only way to make a wedding beautiful is with all these details. Otherwise I feel like you’re just adding yet another item to the list of requirements a bride must worry about – not only does it have to be gorgeous, it has to be simple too!

  5. And one final word from me. (I really shouldn't comment on my own blog!). Below is the perfect response from Abby at Style Me Pretty:

  6. You have brought up a valid argument.
    In a lot of ways I could side up with you. I would also add a fancy bit about the mantra "let your wedding be simple and loved filled" & how it holds some contradictions. If we were to only fill blogs with breath taking photographs of smiles, love, tears & joy and leave out all details; it would simply create a new problem. Eventually it would escalate and a florist somewhere would post a Million Dollar Photographer Manifesto & the wedd world would be in a flurry all over again. It would include things like... "not every couple can afford to fly there photographer from halfway around the planet ...", "perfect photos are not the only way to have a good wedding" & you get my drift. (*but seriously no issue if you have the budget for this)


    & I may be wrong... but I think it was just written as a YEILD sign.

    "WHOA slow down, look! don't get ploughed over..."
    Its like a coach reminding his team at half time that "we are here to win & we are here to have fun". Sure he may have spent week after week drilling them with fancy footwork & strategies (details*) but for a couple of minutes there is a need to let our minds readjust to why we do all of the details. Why we do any of it: LOVE
    We are here to Win= Marriage
    We are here to have Fun=Love
    this may not be the best metaphor & hopefully I was not too confusing.

    I do think Jonas wrote it for a purpose along those lines

    So go be in love, plan your wedding, be in love, don't stress, love, decorate, love, buy a stash of mason jars,... but remember that it is still love that will make your wedding more special & you cannot put a price on that!

    Mr. Detail-lover-after-a-breather

  7. Hey Jessica!! Great response and it's good that people are talking about this. Blogs aren't responsible for the obsession with details. I've been poring over details since I was a little girl...the perfect perm, the best MC Hammer pant, the kind of birthday parties that I wanted to have. And weddings have always had an element of detail. Always, always, always.

    And as long as blogs have existed, it's been about the details. Photographers themselves post tons of details on their own blogs. Bloggers make a living out of it. Details aren't going ANYWHERE. Mark my words.

    But I don't really think that's what all of this has been about. After really spending time on this, and trying to wrap my head around the many issues that have been tossed around this week, whether overtly or subtly, I've come to the conclusion that it is a lot deeper and more involved than mason jars and bales of hay.

    Photographers want to protect the integrity of their work. They don't always want to have to move salt and pepper shakers to get the perfect centerpiece shot while their bride is having a beautiful moment with their groom ten feet away. They don't want mediocre photography, that just happens to show a lot of detail, to trump the years and years of experience and study that has gone into the photographs that they work so hard to produce. The photographs that they have learned to take through years of commitment and passion, the photographs that can't be staged, that will never be two dimensional.

    So I really believe that the issues that have surfaced have much more to do with the disconnect between the amount of content that bloggers crank out, chosen almost entirely because of the beautiful details that fill the columns, and the fact that there is far less editing of those very details as time goes on. It's an overwhelming amount of content lately and if you aren't a loyal reader, but rather just consuming content on a surface will likely appear all the same.

    We are doing a bit of self reflecting here at SMP. I think that we can do better and I want to do better. I will NEVER say that details aren't important and that they aren't a critical part of our business model. They are, and from the brides that read our blog, those details are why our site is so widely read. BUT. I do think that we can learn to edit ourselves better. Learn to keep our eyes and ears open for that one shot that can tell the entire wedding story in and of itself. That can show the power of a vow or a kiss or a touch in a single photograph.

    So that's where I am today. My thought process seems to be changing daily so who knows where I'll end up. All that I can say is that even if it kind of feels like the value of blogs is not remotely being recognized by photographers who have booked great brides from their work being published...instead of resenting, let's use it as a moment to grow and to improve upon what we are doing. My 2 cents!!

  8. PS...I had no idea my response was going to be that long!!

  9. reub-envision and Abby - Thanks for stopping by!!

    reub -envision - I think you're probably right about what Jonas wrote being more of a 'yield' sign.
    I think my response was swayed by (A) the 'open letter to bloggers' that i linked at the bottom of the page; and (B) the responses from commenters that have seen Jonas' original post as an invite to slag off vintage details.
    I've re-read 'the manifesto' and it was far more fair and far less controversial than the discussion that has surrounded it.

    Abby - i'm so interested to hear your thoughts about this.
    Perhaps it becomes a situation where you separate the details from the photography... whereby you tag your weddings according to whether you have blogged them for (a) great details (b) great photography or (c) great demonstration of emotion.
    Seems silly - but to be honest, I'm sure different readers would want to see all of the above for different reasons!

  10. Hi there Jessica
    I followed your comment from the JP page to this blog. Thanks for offering a few other ideas. You know, I had my own wedding with lots of these 'details'. Incidentally, it was photographed by someone pretty prominant in this recent blogging event. I've sort of ignored it but cannot deny the thought that elements of our wedding could have (in part) inspired the post. It made me a little sad but I'm sure it wasn't specifically about our wedding, but rather a trend I know has been all over the place for a long time. I was aware our wedding style was following a trend, but it wasn't styled professionally in anyway. For us, those 'details' were about us. We collected jars and teapots from secondhand markets, my mum hand sewed the bunting, my dad and fiance made lanterns that hung from the trees. Almost all of it was recycled from somewhere else - a detail we didn't shout but was at the core of our celebration, and our everyday lives and our friends knew it. I did my own flowers, and created headpieces for my sister and I. Lace tablecloths and wooden boxes came from my grandmother. Everything had meaning, the venue itself was an organic farm, without airs and graces - I planted hundreds of bulbs there six months ago that I only told a few people about. So yeah, for us, the 'details' were private demonstrations of emotion. Perhaps I'm wrong, and instead our wedding is one of those about a boy and a girl ... at least that's how I felt on the day, and exactly what our friends and family have told us. Thanks, I'm definitely a reader who appreciates seeing 'all of the above'.

  11. Erin, I would love to see the pics of your wedding, coz it sounds just gorgeous! I can't think for a second that your wedding wasn't about a boy and a girl and all of that emotion.

    It's sad that we all get lumped together in these blogs and articles that keep popping up everywhere!
    If it helps, I dont think JP was being negative about any wedding he has shot.
    And I think my reaction (as well as many others) was not just to JP, but to all of the articles and bloggers that seem to want to make an example of vintage themes at the moment.

  12. Wow, what an interesting read. I can see both sides of the coin and think the argument is an interesting one.

    I got married two weeks ago and it was definitely what you would consider a DIY wedding. Actually this blog was one of the first I stumbled upon when looking for a wedding venue in the Adelaide Hills last year, and I fell in love with some of the ideas you had.

    Me and my husband had a good idea of what we wanted the wedding to be like but it was less in the actual details and more about the act of us creating a day together that reflected us and what we like doing together.

    We had a big deep south garden party under a giant fig tree in sydney. I sewed patchwork blankets for everyone to sit on, some of our friends made bunting for us, we went to the flower markets the day before and made our own floral arrangements, we made a giant jar of cookies together and we also make a 2-tier wedding cake because we both love to cook. The invitations were handmade because we are both hobby artists. Vintage books were scattered on the tables because its a love of reading that brought us together in the first place (husband is an Editor and an ex-music writer). I sewed tablecloths and made paper cranes out of old sheet music and french road maps (I work in music and lived in France for 6 years). We crafted together twice a week for a year to make it all happen.... it was a long labour of love and the best day of our lives.

    We probably ticked all the boxes in the how-to-make-your-wedding-an-indie-DIY-rustic-vintage extravaganza. But the thing is - we weren't trying to please anyone else other than ourselves. According to JP it seems contrived and maybe he's right in some cases but then again, maybe he's not.

    I think sometimes wedding stylists can get a bit excited and things can seem overdone, out of place and unconvincing. The most important thing to remember is that the day is about the bride and groom and that it reflects them and not a passing trend. I think there's nothing wrong with a stylised wedding as long as it is true to the individual couple and indicative of them.

    Regardless, our mason jar wedding was the perfect day and I wouldn't have had it any other way.