Keeping High Standards | Our Core Values

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Manhattan Bride Cover Fall/Winter 2018Core Values are what a business  — or any organization — stands for. They flow from the founder, are embodied by the staff, and reflected in the products and services delivered. You can see our core values in Manhattan Bride magazine and this website. You also can see our core values reflected in our interactions with brides, advertisers, and suppliers, as we strive to maintain the highest possible standards. — Rick Bard, Editor & Publisher

KEEPING HIGH STANDARDS … For those advertisers presented in our pages.
Based on thousands of interactions with bridal vendors over the years, we’ve gained many insights about selecting the most qualified ones to feature in our pages. As we work with bridal vendors to create their ads, their profiles on our website, and their articles, we get to know them well. Are they  knowledgeable about the industry and their craft? Do they follow through on their commitments? Can they be relied on? Are they professional?

If we can answer yes to all these questions, we are proud to continue featuring them in our pages and on our site. We’ve formalized such insights with Manhattan Bride’s yearly “Best Of” awards, acknowledging these special vendors and even standing behind them with a special guarantee.

But if the answer is no, we do not continue working with them. In one early issue, for example, we worked with a beauty advertiser who did the makeup on one of our models. When we asked her to explain how she did the makeup for the photos we would put in the magazine, she was very unsure about what she had done and could not describe the process.

Although we had already signed a contract for a second ad, we felt she did not exhibit sufficient knowledge of her craft, and so we did not want to put her in the second issue. (If we do not want to feature a bridal vendor in one of our articles — we will not take their money for an ad.) This beauty stylist even sued us to stay in the magazine. But we did not include her in any other issues.
HIGH STANDARDS FOR US … as we create each issue of Manhattan Bride.
From our first issue, we’ve always said that, in this demanding marketplace, “Excellence is Acceptable.” As an example, in our early issues photos were still captured on film and the inks on press were still adjusted by hand, potentially resulting in wider-than-desired variations in colors on a given page. The age of digital film and precisely controlled computer-monitored presses was not yet upon us. As I still do with every issue, I was on press to approve every page before saying, “Match those colors for the print run.” The run itself would take several hours and I would then go to another press to approve the next section of the magazine. In one of those early issues, one ad did not print as well as the version I had approved.

When I returned to the office and saw the final copies, I called the advertiser and said his ad was free. He told me he hadn’t even seen the issue yet. But I told him it did not matter. Since it was not up to our standards, it was free. They've been with us for over 12 years now.
EXTENDING OURSELVES … We encourage our brides and grooms to assist each other, just as we provide the highest level of service for our advertisers.
Based on what we have learned from over 35 years of working with some of the most successful companies, including over a thousand bridal suppliers — we offer assistance to our advertisers and the highest level of service we can.

For example, one of our venues emailed us with an important change he wanted on his web profile. "Could it be done that day?" he asked. I was in the middle of running to locations all over the city to photograph the all-important bridal fashion shows (which last about 10 hours a day for five days straight). I couldn’t get to the office. So I used my cell phone to log onto our site while in a cab on the way to the next show, started working on the update, and then uploaded all his requested changes from my cell while in the photographers’ pit at that next show. He has been with us over 12 years.

Another time, a bride called us after having problems with an advertiser we had worked with for over a decade. We spoke to the bridal vendor about ways to straighten out the situation, even suggesting he offer the bride a discount, which we would cover by cutting payments on one or more of his ads. He called the bride and they worked everything out.
OFFERING INFORMED ASSISTANCE … Through real-world marketing insights and decades of experience.
One of our stationery advertisers, for example, was getting numerous calls from our brides, but not enough were booking. We learned that when our brides would call, the vendor was not sending any samples and was only giving them his prices, which they presumably would write on a piece of paper near the phone.

After reaching his competitors and receiving all their samples and brochures — our brides would have nothing on hand from him except that piece of paper with his prices, if they could still find it. We encouraged him to create a mailing package and to send samples, and soon he was converting a large number of calls into sales.

For other advertisers, we have consulted on web and ad design, promotional pieces, and overall marketing. (Though I do not pretend to have all the answers, I often have interesting insights. After graduating from MIT and Harvard Business School, I was a consultant for a wide variety of companies, ranging from Samuel Goldwyn Studios in Hollywood to the Bureau of Mines in Appalachia to Bankers Trust in New York. Since starting my publishing company, I’ve also won over 50 national and international awards for my photography and design.)

“What’s special about Manhattan Bride is that you don’t offer just the ad alone,” one of our floral advertisers told us. “You also offer a level of service that the others just don’t. The others call me to advertise with them, but they only care about getting the ad. Instead, you want to learn about what we offer, so you can best present us to your brides.”

“Of all my print partners, you really do the best job,” said another one of our advertisers, a venue. “Your product delivers and you step up the most as a partner. I really appreciate the work I see you and your staff do and it’s great working with you.”

As I said in introducing our core values, in this demanding time, we believe that “Excellence is Acceptable” — and we strive to offer just that in all ways.

Our core values also shape how we create our magazine, our website, and the services we provide for our brides, advertisers, and suppliers.

LOVE IS GENEROSITY … Since our very first issue, we’ve been publishing articles unique to bridal magazines.
We’ve been featuring different charities, various wedding traditions, and more. Here’s why.

I began working with special charities while I was still in college. After starting my publishing company, I launched and then ran a charitable foundation for almost 20 years. During that time, I had the pleasure — and the challenge — of hosting over 40 major charity dinner dances and events, benefiting homeless children and breast cancer research, and honoring leading figures in the arts, business, sports, entertainment, civil rights, and philanthropy. In 2000, I launched Manhattan Bride, a magazine about love and commitment.

Given my decades-long background in charity, one challenge was how to present ways our couples could “Extend your love to others and watch it grow.” That became the subtitle for our every-issue column “Projects Together” — where we focus on a specific charity our wedding couples can get involved with. We’ve seen many couples even learn how to care for each other in new and special ways as they work together to help others in need.

In our upfront “Something Old, Something New” articles, we ask you, our bridal vendors, to explain how you generously provide extra service to your couples, just as we do in our “Real Weddings” section, talking with couples about how they and their vendors create a gracious wedding experience for friends and families.

In these special ways, at Manhattan Bride we celebrate our wedding couples, as we do our best to help them create a richer wedding and life together. We also celebrate our advertisers for their generous support in helping their wedding couples start their life together.
LOVE IS MUTUAL SUPPORT … We incorporate this theme of generosity throughout our magazine and website.
With each issue’s “Honeymoon Contest,” for example, we select winners who exemplify the power of mutual support. In one recent issue, our early-20’s winning groom was fighting cancer. While in the hospital, he fell in love with our winning bride, his nurse, and she fell in love with him! After his cancer was in remission, he returned her inspiring kindness when she temporarily questioned her commitment to the stress of the oncology ward, by helping renew her faith in her everyday work. Throughout each issue, we strive to present couples who personify such support.
LOVE IS TRADITION … We present a special “Traditions” article in each issue.
Our Traditions articles explore how our couples can celebrate the multi-cultural nature of our region. They also offer ideas about how to add even more meaning to their weddings by incorporating age-old traditions.
LOVE IS FOR ALL … When we started Manhattan Bride in 2000, it seemed every bridal magazine featured only one type of bride.
Then, those other magazines filled their pages with light-skinned white models. But even then, our sophisticated Manhattan-inspired bride, wherever she lived, knew reality and wanted to see diversity. So right from our first issue, we featured Caucasian, African-American, Latin-American, and Asian-American models. Then we would alternate single-page fashion shots of our different models — so as you turned page after page, the intended diversity of our magazine was very apparent.
LOVE IS EXCITEMENT … Now, having established our celebration of diversity, we’re going back to my real love as a photographer.
We’re creating exciting multi-page features with a vibrant visual story line. It’s what I did before starting Manhattan Bride, in many award-winning shootings. I was lucky enough to go to Tahiti, Paris, Morocco, the Amazon jungles, Jamaica, Mexico, the Bahamas, and more, with top models, dancers, actresses, and even several beauty queens, including Miss USA, Miss France, and Miss Russia.

At Manhattan Bride, we’ve started doing much the same, with themes important to our brides. We choose Special Shooting Locations — wedding venues who advertise with us, from rustic to formal, where we showcase their ballrooms, outdoor gardens, ceremony settings, and eye-catching décor. We also present Expertly Styled Fashions from our advertisers — the newest gowns, glamorous hairdos, and makeup styles both natural and glam. And we include all the Accessories from our advertisers — creative bouquets, dramatic headpieces, and beauty-enhancing jewelry.

We also put each of these new multi-page fashion features on our website, so their rich range of possibilities can be accessed anywhere, anytime — and we’re thrilled they’ve earned rave reviews from both brides and wedding vendors.
LOVE IS LOVE … The Supreme Court legalized gay marriages across the United States.
After that decision, people asked how we were going to write about it in Manhattan Bride. But I did not see a need for us to write anything. I’ve been friends with gay married couples since the early 70’s whom I’ve known from working in the publishing industry and from living on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. I don’t feel our magazine needs to comment on a decision that sanctioned what many of us have recognized for decades and which we’ve been featuring in Manhattan Bride almost since our first issue over 16 years ago.

Before same-sex marriage was even legal in New York, we published Real Wedding stories celebrating gay couples who got married in the area. Manhattan Bride — as both a magazine and as a website — celebrates love and commitment, and the Supreme Court decision, while historically profound, has no direct impact on our magazine that’s been covering gay, straight, inter-racial, inter-cultural, and inter-religious weddings since our first issue.

We always did and always will celebrate weddings. But who is getting married and who they are marrying is of little concern to us. It’s love and commitment that we celebrate.