Date: July 1, 2033
To: All Staff
From: Wendy Zimmerman
President and CEO
Big Day Magazine
Subject: Our New Manifesto
We can't say we didn't see it coming, the day the harsh fact would catch up to our visions and dreams, a fact so heinous on the surface that it seems to fully undermine the goals we've set for the future prosperity of this wonderful magazine.
I was not happy to see the statistic garishly smeared across the covers of Time, Newsweek, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and every other cynical publication with which our hope-filled tome must share rack space. But we've never been in the business of cynicism, have we? First, the facts: the divorce rate is officially 100 percent. There's no getting around it this time. Even our revered president and her husband are forced to cope publicly with what most married people — now all handled privately.
For the past fifteen years, Big Day struggled while this figure floated between seventy-five and ninety percent. We aimed to reach that ever-diminishing segment of women who embarked on their first matrimonial journey with at least a semblance of hope that this would be their only Big Day. But we now face our fiercest challenge: how to sell a wedding magazine in a time when the institution of marriage has been declared officially dead.
Well, I have good news. Our dynamo sales and marketing department has returned from our emergency conference in Sonoma with a brand new mantra, one that goes a long way towards reinvigorating not only Big Day's brand, but our editorial aspirations as well. Here it is, and I want all of you to print it out and post it over your screens: "A perfect wedding has never created an imperfect marriage." In fact, when did a wedding ever have anything to do with marriage?
So our first and most important order of business is a subtle masthead change. Our publisher has decided that from here on Big Day will be known as Big Days, emphasis on the plural. Just because all marriages end in divorce does not mean people stop getting married. Eventually a marriage will last, whether it's the second, third, fourth or fifth one. Fact is, people still die.
Now, I realize it will be a challenge to convince women to have that first wedding. But what are we if not an imaginative bunch?
Carolyn, I'd like you to organize the front of the book so "Accessories" reflects the idea of — well, for lack of a more elegant
Our tone: the first wedding is an event, for sure, but if it's not forever, why does it have to be perfect?
word — "recycling." For instance, find jewelers who melt down old rings and refashion them into new bands. Can silk flower centerpieces be stored and reused for another wedding? Cultivate a list of banquet halls that can be booked in five- or ten-year intervals by the same bride, especially when the location has sentimental value. Might these places offer a discount for multiple bookings? We can only ask.
Murielle, the "Dress" section will be called "Dressing," not unlike the topping on a salad, which is not necessarily the main ingredient, unless it's a Caesar, but I digress. Next issue must feature a fresh staff of canny seamstresses who can alter the first dress into a stunning cocktail number for a more somber second occasion, ripping off the sleeves for a carefree third. I would love to see a full fashion spread featuring these artful concoctions; our own Project Runway XXXIII, perhaps. Don't be afraid of dyes, feathers, ribbons and beading. Think the wedding dress as something that's constantly evolving and changing to suit the occasion — like a scrapbook, but you wear it. Perhaps there are savvy designers already making multi-purpose dresses using Velcro tear-a-ways and interchangeable jackets. Put in a call to the late Vera Wang's house. If they're not doing it, tell them they should be! Big Days must set the agenda if we are to stay alive.
The editorial possibilities for a magazine about weddings in the time of 100 percent divorce are truly endless.
Vivika, I think "Protocol" will be a particular challenge, one I know you're up to. We avoid discussion of the wording for second, third, and fourth wedding invitations to our peril. But we must not fall victim to self-effacement: there will be no Look who's getting married again! cute talk. Nor shall we cultivate a You probably think we're insane to ask you to participate in an elaborate and expensive farce which will blow up in our faces in a few months or years, all the while trying to keep a straight face approach either. Each wedding is an individual experience, completely unique to the one(s) that came before. Invitations must reflect that. Why should the third wedding involve E-vites to a backyard barbeque following a furtive city-hall ceremony, simply because the first was an unrepentant religion-fueled extravaganza, paid for by the beleaguered father of the bride? Perhaps "Protocol" can lead the charge in changing that tradition.
First, weddings need not bleed the bride's lifetime wedding budget dry. In fact, it remains true that earning power increases with age. Perhaps "Protocol" hints that new brides save the engraved invitations, ice sculptures and orchestras for the third, maybe fourth wedding, and the beer-in-buckets-and-a-dude-with-a-guitar for the first? Thoughts only. But this was the kind of fresh thinking that emerged from several of the Sonoma conference's innovative sub-committee groups, whose detailed memoranda are forthcoming. Remember, it is the first Big Days that will be the trickiest; your advice must fall between cute and cynical. We like the word celebratory. It's got us this far, hasn't it? Our tone: the first wedding is an event, for sure, but if it's not forever, why does it have to be perfect? This will elicit a collective sigh of relief from our readers, a feeling that will bring them back to this magazine every time they take yet another trip down that well-worn aisle.
The editorial possibilities for a magazine about weddings in the time of 100 percent divorce are truly endless, as are the number of times a bride will believe that this time it will be different. We must never make this bride feel ridiculous or naïve, however misguided and asinine her thinking. No, she is the beloved woman for whom we write, the one who says, This guy's different, this time we're the perfect match, this time we won't go to bed mad. This time we'll cultivate better communication skills, this time we'll both control our drinking, this time I'll get everything in writing, this time no threesomes — not even to save the marriage.
So let us be inspired by these bright-eyed brides, the ones who still hold on to the fiery notion that they, perhaps only they, will be the exception to this sorry statistic. And, I say, God bless her stupid, stupid heart. n°