How to Get the Lead Story in The NY Times Weddings Section
Getting into the weddings section of The New York Times is something so coveted that my husband and I didn't even try because I wouldn't have been able to take the rejection. It would have been like when David Feldman chose Beth Zigelberg over me at the "End of the Summer" dance at Camp Birchwood in '88– my ego never recovered. I've had a couple of friends who have made it however and there are a few things that always stick out as common denominators. Media couples, Ivy League colleges, parents who reign over their own small countries, etc. The most coveted spot in the weddings section however, is the lead vows story. I always figured that was a spot reserved solely for the offspring of Donald Trump or Bill & Hillary Clinton. So when two friends of mine, Jenny Shalant and Luke Groskin found out they had hit the weddings section jackpot, I decided to talk to them, break down their wedding credentials and understand why they had been chosen. Turns out, you don't need to be a scientist— it's pretty obvious. Here's a guideline if you want to try to pull it off yourself:
1. Come from a media background, have an Ivy League Education or both
Remember what I said before about media couples? Check. Jenny studied journalism at Columbia and Luke studied film at SUNY Purchase. Luke is the staff videographer for the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Jenny is the web editor for the WCS as well as all five zoo sites. Notice how I slipped that Ivy thing in there? They say Columbia is the #1 school featured in the weddings section in general. I'm pretty sure the non-profit aspect of the WCS doesn't hurt either.
2. Have a made for TV "how we met" story
Both Luke and Jenny have offices in adjacent buildings tucked behind the Birds of Prey at the Bronx Zoo. They met when they collaborated on a few web projects. Before they started dating, they began lunching together by the guanacos, taking creative excursions to see the new otter pups, and eventually jogging together through the zoo after work. In lieu of flirting, Luke would regularly email Jenny videos he'd made of new animals as they arrived at the park. After they'd explored everything they could together within the zoo, Luke finally asked Jenny to venture outside of it with him on a date.
3. Have a central theme that can weave a story from "how we met" to "where we got married"
In addition to Luke & Jenny working and meeting at the Bronx Zoo, Luke's father is a veterinarian and Jenny's mother wrote a popular children's book about a turtle named Bartleby. Notice how the animal theme is beginning to write itself. Cap that off with them being the first couple to get married at The Prospect Park Zoo and you see where this is going. Which brings me to my next point...
4. Get married at a quintessential yet out of the box New York City locale
Did I mention that Luke and Jenny were the first couple to get married at the Prospect Park Zoo? Apparently, the PPZ does not usually do weddings, but since they were on staff and well-liked, the events department was happy to oblige them. They dressed up the park with white floral arrangements and coordinated with zookeepers and what not. Why did they have to coordinate with zookeepers? Because...
5. Have a unique wedding detail that would make for a great photo opportunity
The wedding was held in the Prospect Park Zoo's main courtyard, which has the sea lion pool as its centerpiece– so after the ceremony the happy couple led a celebratory sea lion feeding and training demonstration. *CLICK* Other fun details included the chuppah which was set up at the foot of the main staircase that leads down from Flatbush Avenue, just in front of a statue of a lioness with her cubs. After the sea lion feeding/training demonstration, there was a special "wedding enrichment" session for the monkeys and Pallas cats, where they each received wedding-themed gift-wrapped boxes and bags with treats inside. The reception took place in a tent set up adjacent to the sea lion pool, and featured a BBQ menu by Blue Smoke and a DJ who they know from their local neighborhood bar in Astoria.