Locally-based bridal magazine celebrates its 10th anniversary
by Jennifer Cohron
Feb 13, 2011 | 3382 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Michelle Tubbs, a Walker County resident, is at the helm of “Alabama Weddings.” The state’s only bridal magazine is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. Above is the wedding of former Gov. Bob Riley’s daughter. - Photo courtesy of Alabama Weddings
Michelle Tubbs, a Walker County resident, is at the helm of “Alabama Weddings.” The state’s only bridal magazine is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. Above is the wedding of former Gov. Bob Riley’s daughter. - Photo courtesy of Alabama Weddings
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The state's only bridal magazine is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.

Michelle Tubbs, an Atlanta native who has called Walker County home for 17 years, is the publisher and executive editor of "Alabama Weddings." She is also the concept creator, creative director and senior graphic designer.

Tubbs had years of marketing and publication experience to help her take advantage of a niche that developed when a national wedding magazine stopped including local planners.

Still, Tubbs said getting a magazine off the ground was not an easy task in 2001.

"I was trying to sell into a magazine that didn't exist yet. So I had to keep saying, 'You can trust me. This is going to happen,'" Tubbs said.

In addition, terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 complicated matters for new businesses, and the woman who was supposed to help Tubbs with sales moved before "Alabama Weddings" had even gone to press.

Tubbs said the second year was more difficult than the first.

Determined to make a go of it, she took the inaugural issue of "Alabama Weddings" into mom-and-pop establishments around the state.

Then, in 2004, the magazine was granted exclusive coverage of the wedding of Krisalyn Riley, daughter of Gov. Bob Riley.

"That really stepped us up and helped people become more familiar with our name," Tubbs said.

The magazine devoted seven pages to Riley's big day. Photographers were there for the engagement party, pre-wedding preparations, Riley's walk down the aisle and the reception at the Governor's Mansion.

The 2004 issue also featured another famous bride, Miss Alabama 2001 Kelly Jones.

Miss America 2005 Deidre Downs, a resident of Birmingham, appeared in the 2008 issue. Another Birmingham native, Haleigh Stidham, was included in the publication after she was crowned Miss Alabama USA 2006.

The 10th anniversary edition of the magazine includes a local bride and well-known groom -- Jasper native Anna Donaldson and Matt Pitt of "The Basement."

Donaldson and her husband, Ben Chappell, also participated in a Signature Style Series spread called "Winter Romance" a month before their March 2010 wedding.

Tubbs said staging photo shoots rather than using stock images sets "Alabama Weddings" apart in the bridal magazine market. Mini-weddings have been orchestrated at such venues as the Birmingham Zoo, Birmingham Museum of Art and the U.S.S. Alabama.

Tubbs said that wedding designers who participate in the photo shoots are intent on impressing and inspiring brides with their work.

"That's been very successful because it's not just an ad in a magazine or a mention in an article," Tubbs said.

The advertisers in "Alabama Weddings" specialize in a variety of categories, from photography, catering and cakes to facilities, food and flowers.

Tubbs said the mission of the magazine is to be a sole source of everything brides need as they prepare to say, "I do." She is careful to feature products that can be bought locally.

In its 10th year, "Alabama Weddings" has a readership of between 150,000 and 200,000. Although only 40,000 copies are printed, Tubbs said the magazine is frequently passed on by brides to their bridesmaids, sisters or friends who get engaged.

Tubbs said an annual publication schedule allows "Alabama Weddings" to cover each year's trends, even though she has found that weddings typically change very little.

Sometimes, the magazine influences as well as informs brides.

"One year, we may do a lot of shoots outside. Then our designers will say to us, 'I hope it's not going to be out because all the brides are wanting outdoor weddings,'" Tubbs said.

Tubbs said she is proud that "Alabama Weddings" has grown so much in the past decade. What began as a 130-page publication now has 288 pages, which lean heavily toward editorial content to better serve the needs of brides.

Tubbs' efforts were recognized in 2009 when she won an Apex Award for Publication Excellence.

However, she realizes that she could not have brought the magazine this far alone.

Some of the magazine's advertisers, as well as editor Tracy Jennison Cotter, have been with her from the beginning.

"Each year, our vendors are striving to show something new and outdo themselves from the year before," Tubbs said.

For more information, visit Crazy Beautiful Salon & Spa in Jasper, Gateway Foodland in Curry or go online at www.alabamaweddingsmagazine.com.