Search Results for: wedding

Why Is the Wedding Industry So Hard to Disrupt?

Longreads Pick

Each year, the U.S. wedding industry generates $72 billion dollars in revenue, yet Zola is the first startup to succeed in the wedding category since 1996.

Source: Vox
Published: Mar 1, 2019
Length: 10 minutes (2,603 words)

I Shouldn’t Have To Lose Weight For My Wedding. So Why Do I Feel Like A Failure?

Longreads Pick

In this searching personal essay, writer Scaachi Koul conflictedly interrogates her inability to ignore societal pressure and stop wishing she were thinner — along with her inability to get thinner in time for her upcoming wedding, for which her dress is too small.

Source: BuzzFeed
Published: Aug 11, 2018
Length: 14 minutes (3,530 words)

Weddings of the 0.01 Percent

Longreads Pick

The big, expensive wedding isn’t just about an ostentatious display of wealth—it’s about service. The weddings of the ultra-rich are about the the creation of an entire experience, from the moment you step off the private jet onto a flower-covered personal island, to the final sip of Dom Perignon on a a Mediterranean balcony. Throw in enough money, you might get social media coverage as well.

Source: Racked
Published: Jun 7, 2017
Length: 26 minutes (6,600 words)

The Story of a Journalist Turned Wedding Photographer

Just the other day, I received an e-mail from a photographer looking for an internship. His short note almost brought me to tears: “I come from Sarajevo, Bosnia, and my life has put me though many challenges. I am saying this because I have had the chance to see the worst in humans and was lucky enough to survive it. Since then, I have made it my goal to help people record their happiest moments, because those moments are rare and precious, and one never has too many of them.”

Matt Mendelsohn, in the Washington Post (2007), on switching careers from photojournalist to wedding photographer. Read more on weddings from the Longreads Archive.

Photo: Dmitri Markine

The Wedding

Longreads Pick

The story of Will and Erwynn, the first gay couple to marry on a military base:

“At church, Will and Erwynn lead me to a windowless back-room chapel that has been converted from a gym. This is the Sojourn service, a more informal worship than the one taking place in the main hall. They worry that other members of the church might not be comfortable with their presence in the regular service. The morning begins with a band playing Christian soft rock. There are no Bibles here, only thin handouts. Pastor Rick Court’s sermon, leavened with jokes and audience interaction, focuses on loving God and loving your neighbor as the most important lessons of Christianity. ‘You can see why we like this place,’ Erwynn whispers to me. ‘This is exactly what we are trying to teach our kids.’ But when I tell them I’d like to interview Pastor Rick, they pause. ‘Well,’ says Will, ‘I guess that means we’ll have to come out to him.’

“The day before the wedding, I meet up with Pastor Rick at the Red Lion Diner in South Jersey. He was ordained by the conservative Evangelical Church Alliance. He has lived in this area all of his life. Will and Erwynn are the first congregants he’s had whom he knew were gay, but he has heard that there are others at Hope. ‘I sensed that they were a gay couple right away,’ he chuckles, ‘although they think that they hide it pretty well.'”

Source: Slate
Published: Jul 17, 2012
Length: 23 minutes (5,784 words)

I’ll Be Loving You Forever

Richard E. Aaron, Jason Kempin / Getty

Rebecca Schuman | Longreads | August 2019 | 15 minutes (4,077 words)


“You are not wearing that shirt right now.”

Even in this establishment’s near-black 4 p.m. lighting, the bartender, a guy about my age dressed in the Portland Gen-Xer uniform (“Henry Rollins, but a dad”), has made out the faded names and visages adorning my bosom: Donnie. Danny. Joe. Jordan. Jon.

“Oh,” I tell him. “Not only am I wearing this shirt, but I’m about to go see these very motherfuckers. With Gretchen, my best friend from middle school. Who I haven’t seen in years. She was on my gymnastics team, and she flew in from Wyoming. Just to do this.”

When I’m excited I tend to overshare, but I do not admit that the pint of Kölsch I’m ordering is for Gretchen and me to split. I am 42 years old, and if I drink more than half a beer I will sleep through the “rock concert,” as we used to call them, which I have paid $162 to attend.

I can attempt to explain, using human language, the extent to which Gretchen and I were fans of New Kids on the Block. I can explain that my room was a four-walled decoupage of Tiger Beat pin-ups. I can explain how I had the bed sheets and comforter. The trading cards. The marbles (why?). The comic books. The bubblegum (a bit too on the nose). How I had, God help me, the dolls, which my little brother took great pleasure in arranging in flagrante and placing on my bed. I can explain all of this in words, but it’s the kind of thing best expressed in scream — specifically, the scream of a 13-year-old’s terrifying nascent sexuality, sublimated in real time into something safe in its simultaneous unattainability and ubiquity.

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When Friendship Fades But the Images Linger

Photos by Cody Doherty & Barron Roth, Illustration by Homestead Studio

Eryn Loeb | Longreads | August 2019 | 14 minutes (3,579 words)

It started with pictures of Alice. She didn’t mind being put in awkward situations or uncomfortable positions for the sake of a photo. That made her a good friend. I put a tangled Rapunzel wig on her head, a plastic gun in her hands. I had her stand in the middle of the road, wearing a plaid bathrobe. Straddle a highway median in a tulle skirt and sneakers. Swan around the woods in a feather boa. She had a classically pretty face that could suggest everyone or no one. I blazed through rolls of black and white film, which I developed in my high school darkroom with clumsy chemistry and a pounding heart.

On the strength of those pictures, I was accepted to a summer photography workshop in Rockport, Maine. A small group of us — mostly but not entirely college students and recent grads — paid reduced tuition in exchange for doing odd jobs: hosing down vans, painting picnic tables, moving furniture. When we were lucky, we got to pay our dues in the darkroom, turning around contact sheets and prints for students who attended the pricey weeklong workshops, many of them taught by famous photographers like Mary Ellen Mark, Eugene Richards, and Joyce Tennyson. For those more typical students, relationships and revelations were fast-tracked. We watched their tentative arrival and swift blossoming, the compressed intensity between introductions and teary-eyed goodbyes. Our own seven week stretch wasn’t all that long, really, but measured in units of other people’s personal growth, it felt almost permanent.

It was summer and I was 19, living with a bunch of other young people who had stepped away from their fledgling lives to devote time to some version of art. Maine was dreamy, with quiet stretches of woods full of swimming holes and rope swings, lobster traps stacked in pleasing geometries. There was a glass-blowing studio in the ground floor of the house where we lived, and an old cemetery just down the road. I liked to walk around and take pictures of elaborately carved headstones memorializing wives and mothers, running my fingers over their names and honorifics. I was never without my camera. I spent hours in the darkroom but still found time to get sunburned.

When I wasn’t out shooting or cooped up printing, one of my favorite places was the library. It was a hot, lofted area in the small campus’ main building. A sign posted at the base of the stairs gave me solemn shivers. “Enter with respect for the knowledge that resides herein and with honor for those who are about to share with you their secrets and wisdom,” it read. “Maintain a serene presence.” I sat on the floor and pored over monographs: Francesca Woodman’s pictures of herself crouching in corners, hanging from window frames, a wild blur in an abandoned house. Nan Goldin’s pictures of herself and her friends all tangled up in each other, the color shots suffused with adulation and danger. Justine Kurland’s Girl Pictures, feral despite their polish. Judy Dater organized her images by gender; portfolios of men, of women.
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Losing My Religion at Christian Camp

Illustration by Homestead

Katy Hershberger | Longreads | August 2019 | 25 minutes (6,207 words)

“Will you pray with us?” It was my fifth day as a camp counselor; I was 17 and the three girls who asked me were probably 12. The five years between us was a teenage lifetime, though now as adults, we could be classmates, colleagues, barflies on adjacent stools. Then, we were children. I pushed myself up from the cool summer ground. “Um, yeah. Do you — ” my voice cracked, “ — want to be saved?”

It was July 2001 in rural Virginia, the last night of Christian summer camp. A hundred girls sat in a circle around the campfire, the smell of embers and bug spray permeating our clothes. We sang praise songs, lifting our hands toward the Virginia stars, toward God. The camp director led us in prayer. Then she implored the campers: If you want to accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior, ask a counselor to pray with you.

A week earlier, I had graduated from CILT, a three-year counselor prep program. The acronym stood for Camper in Leadership Training, though Caring Imaginative Loving Teachers was printed on our t-shirts. I collected songs and games in a “resource file,” I taught a daily drama class during the week-long camp sessions, and I stockpiled readings and Bible verses for daily devotionals. I did not learn how someone becomes a Christian.

I don’t remember what the girls wanted to ask God that night, but it was, blessedly, not to be saved. We huddled away from the crowd, holding hands, and I stood above them, just barely the tallest. I prayed, my voice husky with uncertainty, and stared at the grass, glancing at the girls’ faces to see if I was doing this right. I asked God to help and guide them, and I silently asked the same for myself.
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Here’s What Put Thousands of Californians in the Path of a Blaze

AP Photo/Noah Berger

If titles are the true first line of any story, then Mark Arax‘s new California Sunday piece starts with scorched earth: “Gone.” What first strikes as dramatic is a simple statement of fact. Four months after the Paradise fire extinguished, when Arax visited to start reporting what turned into an 11,000-word story, the communities that once filled the hills around Paradise, California were no longer there. California’s deadliest fire destroyed 19,000 structures, ended 85 lives, and left PG&E to pay $1 billion in damages. So many people lost the deeply personal, irreplaceable items that compose our identities and sense of family history, including one of Arax’s guides, a local named Joan Degischer:

Her mother had stored their history in the master bedroom closet and the garage rafters. Not a thing of it was left. Not the high school yearbooks or wedding albums or the knickknacks handed down the generations. Degischer had to call an old friend to recover a wallet-sized version of her high school graduation photo. As a kid, she had fears of such a fire, and her father would tell her not to worry. “ ‘We’re in the middle of town,’ he’d say.  ‘All these structures surround us. For a fire to get to Camellia Drive, it would have to be Armageddon.’ ”

With the reportorial skill and knack for narrative that Arax is known for, and the deep knowledge of a native, he looks beyond the tragic panorama of Paradise lost to identify the forces that put thousands of people at risk, and he finds a constellation of factors that other journalists have so far failed to connect: the history of fire suppression and forest mismanagement in the Sierra foothills; political corruption; governmental negligence and rampant urban growth; a flawed relationship with the land beneath our feet; and PG&E’s corrupt “culture of arrogance.” The clues to how this happened lay in past tragedy:

“When you connect the dots, you see a culture of arrogance in which the most important thing is the bottom line,” Frank Pitre, an attorney representing dozens of victims, told me. “Time and again, PG&E delays the necessary fixes, callously disregards the safety of California communities, and finds creative ways to not comply with the law. Billions of dollars that should have been invested in infrastructure instead went to pay an 8 per­cent return to its investors. That is their gold standard.” It was fiction that the California Public Utilities Commission exercised any watchdog role over PG&E, he said. “They don’t have the resources, they don’t have the trained personnel or mindset, to monitor and audit PG&E’s compliance with safety regulations. PG&E can literally get away with murder.”

If I wanted to fully understand the culture at PG&E, he told me, I needed to go back a decade to the tragedy that struck not the forests of California but a suburban neighborhood on a hillside overlooking the San Francisco Bay. “That’s where you’ll find the fingerprints,” he said. “That’s where you’ll find the DNA.”

On the evening of September 9, 2010, where Earl Avenue intersected with Glenview Drive in the community of San Bruno, a PG&E pipeline ferrying natural gas exploded. The blast knocked houses off foundations and instantly killed several residents. A giant fireball leaped out of the crater and began chasing other residents as they ran from their houses to a safe spot up the hill. The fireball split into two towering columns that hovered above them, roaring and vibrating. The broiler effect stole oxygen from their lungs and movement from their feet. They staggered up the hill and watched the rest of their houses go up in flames. Many did not realize until hours later that heat alone could singe their hair and cook their skin. Eight residents of the Crestmoor subdivision perished, dozens more suffered burns, and 38 houses were destroyed.

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In the Country of Women

Susan Straight | In the Country of Women | Catapult | August 2019 | 38 minutes (7,573 words)


To my daughters:

They never tell us about the odysseys of women. They never say about a woman: “Her passage was worthy of Homer . . . her voyage a mythic quest for new lands.” Women don’t get the Heroine’s Journey.

Men are accorded the road and the sea and the asphalt. The monsters and battles and the murders. Men get The Iliad and The Odyssey. They get Joseph Campbell. They get The Thousand Faces of the Hero. They get “the epic novel,” “the great American story,” and Ken Burns documentaries.

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