Hundreds of guests watched at San Francisco’s City Hall last November as Ivy Getty, of the billionaire Getty Oil family, dressed in a custom John Galliano gown and flanked by maid of honor Anya Taylor-Joy, married her husband Tobias Alexander Engel in a ceremony officiated by Representative of the House Nancy Pelosi.
Millions more took in the spectacle online, where every detail of the Gettys’ lavish wedding weekend, from the “British Invasion”-themed welcome party to the all-night reception at the home of Ann Getty, the bride’s grandmother, who was covered in roses for the occasion, was shared on Vogue.com. In all, the site posted 100 photos of the festivities.
The wedding quickly went viral after that, and received coverage in Page Six, the Daily mail and Human beings magazine, among other things. On Voguethe story received over 1.2 million visitors, and to this day is the second most viewed wedding on the site.
But for the publication, it was more than just an online traffic victory.
“It was definitely a turning point, because obviously she has a recognizable last name, but she’s not a celebrity by any means,” said Chioma Nnadi, editor of Vogue.com. “The response was so great that we realized this is something that our readers and the world at large are interested in.”
Over the past year, Condé Nast has been rolling out its strategy for moving Vogue and other publications definitely out of the print era, weddings have emerged as a dark horse in the battle for online relevance. Vogue has become the go-to place for a couple seeking press attention for their big day, in no small part because the weddings it covers are often picked up by other outlets, or dissected on platforms like TikTok.
In July, visits to wedding-centric content accounted for 25 percent of Vogue’s total online traffic, up 56 percent from year to year. On average, wedding content drives 1.7 million monthly visitors to the site, with readers spending a combined 3.3 million minutes engaging with it.
Before, weddings were primarily referred to bride-specific publications such as Brides or Martha Stewart wedding. City and country has long covered weddings in society, but it was usually only the world’s biggest weddings – such as Kate and William or Meghan and Harry – that were given full treatment by the fashion magazine.
Now, publications are realizing the power of weddings as a conversation starter and potentially a revenue generator. Together with Vogueother non-bridal publications, such as Harper’s Bazaar, also embraces weddings. Plus new outlets like Over the Moon, a wedding-focused website founded by Vogue contributor Alexandra Macon, bridges the gap between fashion and weddings. What unites them: a combination of voyeuristic fascination, excess that cannot be ignored and celebrity with a concept that everyone understands and experiences in one form or another in their own lives.
“The one thing that everybody can usually relate to is a wedding,” said Savannah Engel, founder of Savannah Engel Public Relations, which handled PR for Ivy Getty’s wedding and has begun accepting couples seeking media coverage of their nuptials as clients. “To some extent it is an equaliser. Everyone knows someone who got married.”
As the number of brides looking to cover their weddings has increased, more top-tier publicists, photographers and stylists are hiring to land one of these coveted spots. Celebrity stylist Micaela Erlanger — a Vogue the bride herself – said the majority of her bridal clients come to her with the goal in mind of getting their wedding featured in the media.
“It’s really about having an editorial approach and really thinking about almost art direction, set design, styling, hair, makeup, the whole thing,” she said. “It’s not unlike hitting a shot in many ways.”
A wedding mentioned in Vogue can get a long write-up – Getty has clocked in at well over 2,000 words. But dozens of photos, each with a caption, usually tell the story. Many Vogue weddings includes a large number of photos – anywhere from 30 to 100 – each with a caption, as well as a 500-word-plus introduction on top of that. Nnadi admits that there aren’t many stories on the other side that are as “robust,” and attributes the approach to Macon’s vision. (In addition to running Over the Moon, Macon, the former managing editor of Vogue.com, still writes many of Vogue’s most popular wedding stories, including the Gettys.)
“She knew and understood that when you’re telling such a personal story, don’t skimp on the details,” Nnadi said. “[When you] involve the bride and have that personal insight, you get that sense of warmth and personality.”
A celebrity bride or groom (or both) is an instant draw. But a spectacular location or a unique meeting between two photogenic strangers can attract just as much attention.
“I always say my favorite type Vogue wedding is someone I’ve never heard of,” said Shannon McNulty, who has amassed over 50,000 followers on TikTok for her videos breaking down Vogue’s wedding coverage. “It’s a mystery of ‘How did you get in? Who did you know to be featured in Vogue?’ You see a celebrity in the crowd and think “Who are these people?”
What’s next for wedding content
Nnadi said Vogue is focused on becoming “a true global wedding hub”, bringing in couples from around the world to showcase a range of backgrounds, traditions and cultures.
Over the Moon, which started in 2015 as a wedding storytelling blog, has expanded to include a registry feature, a product store and a bridal styling service. It has used weddings as a springboard for partnerships that extend beyond the traditional bridal sphere, including a dress collection with Brock Collection, swimwear with Marysia and a luggage set with Steamline Luggage. Macon said that while these collaborations usually have some sort of tangential link to weddings — swimwear and luggage for a bachelor party or honeymoon, for example — it’s not a firm requirement.
“People come to the site who aren’t even necessarily getting married and just want to buy a beautiful dress for an occasion,” she said. “But then of course we also have the user who has a register and is perhaps a styling client. It is only strategic and smart to serve both.”
For traditional publishers, monetizing weddings has the same challenges as other types of content, namely unpredictable digital ad revenue. A lot of eyeballs on a slideshow of wedding photos doesn’t always translate into dollars.
“It’s very hard to make money,” Amy Odell, the former editor of Cosmopolitan.com who recently wrote about the virality of Vogue Weddings in her email newsletter, Back Row. “A wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime event, a bridal customer should theoretically only shop with you once in a lifetime.”
Publications are finding ways to put weddings front and center for both advertisers and readers. Vogue incorporates several related posts with outfit suggestions and expertise on planning a wedding, whether you’re a guest or a bride. City and country dedicates two printed issues a year to weddings, and works with advertisers who can speak to more niche elements in weddings. Travel companies, for example, are gravitating toward destination wedding coverage, while jewelry brands are also interested in wedding content because of the link to the products they sell, said Stellene Volandes, editor-in-chief of City and country.
The trend extends beyond the US and traditional fashion media: for the past half decade, Condé Nast Traveler India has published a destination wedding-focused supplement, covering destination weddings throughout the year.
“Internationally, we are now seeing huge interest in Indian weddings because of the scale,” said Divia Thani, the global editorial director of Condé Nast Traveler.
Wedding coverage is only just beginning—both Erlanger and Engel predict that attention will continue to grow as more brands launch bridal collections (this year alone, Intermix, LK Bennett and Loeffler Randall all introduced bridal) and try to capitalize on other aspects of a wedding, for example a bachelor party.
“Media brands are trying to get people on their page for a long period of time,” Macon said. “This is content that has high engagement, people look at the images.”