Serena Williams on the cover of Brides

WOOING MILLENNIALS: Brides has revamped its print strategy in an attempt to cater to the contemporary bride, who is more apt to troll Instagram hashtags for inspiration than she is to buy a stack of wedding magazines.

“Our redesign inspiration was really the girl — we wanted to figure out what she was surrounded by, what she wanted, needed,” said Brides creative director Yolanda Edwards. “We wanted to create a community for her, and to do that, we wanted to make a magazine that felt really personal.”

The latest issue features different wedding styles at a range of locations, from classical chateaus in France to hip Airstream trailers in Marfa, Tex. Similarly, the brides also run the gamut, from cover star and recent bride Serena Williams to Instagram influencers — all the better for getting those social media shares. In keeping with the new vibe, the magazine features plenty of quirky illustrations, a first person essay about accidentally getting pregnant while planning a wedding, and plenty of “Millennial pink.” The back-page invites readers to have their wedding featured by #BrideMoment by direct messaging Brides via Instagram.

“On a Sunday morning, I end up down an Instagram rabbit hole when I look at what happened at all these weddings last night,” said Lisa Gooder, executive director of Brides editorial. “It’s so immediate.”

The redesign, which was scheduled to coincide with the busy engagement season that is Christmas and New Year’s, comes following last year’s speculation that Condé Nast was thinking of shuttering the bimonthly print edition entirely — rumors that the company denied at the time.

The new strategy is also being touted as a way to branch out into new advertising opportunities.

“The new Brides is ripe with seamless business opportunities in print, digital, video, social and other brand extensions. The authentic and modern approach is highly relevant to those getting married today, and allows us to better engage our audience, which is really meaningful to our business partners,” boasted Heddy Sams-Pierson, Brides vice president of revenue.

The February/March issue, which is 252 pages, includes 172 ad pages by WWD’s count — compared to the December/January issue, which, also by WWD’s count, had 190 ad pages in a 266 page issue — mostly in traditional categories such as bridal and bridesmaid dresses, registries and honeymoon destination. But according to Sams-Pierson, the goal of the redesign is to “expand on existing and new endemic business, and grow into non-endemic categories that have great pertinence to the brand.” As an example of growth categories, Sams-Pierson pointed to the goal of creating content around wedding occasions, such as bachelorette and engagement parties, showers, and honeymoon style, with the hope of bringing in new advertisers in categories such as ready-to-wear, footwear, and accessories.

To emphasize the new direction, the cover of the February/March issue, which hit stands last week, features Serena Williams, shot at her November wedding to Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian.

“We felt like she was a really good example for our brand because she’s very strong and empowered. We talk a lot about how now people don’t need to get married anymore. All the things that you used to have to get married for, like having kids or financial support or even just living together or having sex, are now completely part of society,” Gooder said. “So why do people get married? We think that it’s sort of more meaningful now that it’s not an expectation. People are doing it in a way where they really want to express themselves and make the event personal and about their relationships.”

As an example of Condé leveraging synergies across titles these days, the first Williams wedding photos ran as an exclusive in both Vogue and Brides in November — immediately after the wedding. Putting the tennis star on the cover of Brides two months later doesn’t seem to faze Gooder.

With digital and social media, and things moving as fast as they are, we can’t hold something for a magazine,” she said. 

Read more:

Self Editor in Chief Reflects on First Year Without Print

S.I. Newhouse Jr. Remembered as Patron of Magazines — and the Arts

W Magazine Positions Itself as a Luxury Collectible

Condé Nast to Cease Teen Vogue in Print, Cut 80 Jobs and Lower Mag Frequencies

Changing of the Guard at Magazines


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