Wedding newsletters capture couples personalities, memories

While it was once acceptable to merely savor sweet memories as they faded into the distant past, nowadays no wedding is complete without a comprehensive, written account telling who's who, who's doing what, how it's all done and even how the bride met the groom.

This newfangled document is the wedding newsletter.

"Many people who attend a wedding only know either the bride or the groom," explained Linda Schlesinger, publisher at Lifetime Editions, an East Coast company that produces onetime, personalized newsletters for special occasions.

"The newsletter introduces them to the people in the wedding party and explains the wedding ceremony," she says.

Lifetime Editions' newsletter for weddings, titled either "Simcha News" or "Nuptial News" depending on the families' preference, gives guests something to do during "the waiting times at weddings," says Schlesinger. "They can read [the newsletters] when they are waiting for the wedding to start, during cocktails and appetizers or on the receiving line."

The newsletters, either two or four pages in length, include introductions of the bridal party, sightseeing information for out-of-town guests, messages from the bride and groom, explanations of the wedding ceremony and details about how the couple met. Lifetime Editions produces similar newsletters for bar and bat mitzvahs, births, anniversaries, graduations and birthdays.

Although still a young company, it has drawn incredible response from across the country.

"People are interested in specialized newsletters for their weddings because [newsletters are] different than the standard wedding program," Schlesinger notes. She added that non-Jewish guests attending a Jewish wedding appreciate background on the significance of various customs.

"One of the first newsletters I produced was for a couple whose dog was about to be mated with a friend's dog," Schlesinger recalls. "So I included a `Meet Molly and Hang Time' item, with photos and explanations of the dogs' forthcoming `union.'"

Schlesinger, who lives in Silver Spring, Md., and has previous publishing experience as an editor for B'nai B'rith, says Lifetime Editions sprang from a tip her mother gave her.

"You know how mothers always send their daughters clippings on child care, health issues, social tidbits and the like. My mother sent me something about wedding newsletters, and I though it would be great idea to try to work at home."

New York state resident Robin Meltzer was married in March of 1994 and hired Lifetime Editions to produce her nuptial newsletter. She says the response was "phenomenal." Everyone took a newsletter home, and afterward there were no copies left — a far cry from the standard wedding program, which "people often put in their pocket and never read." Meltzer says the newsletters are a good idea because "today if you are having a traditional wedding, you have guests who aren't able to follow along. The newsletter gives them information about the wedding ceremony so it has a much more participatory feel."

Meltzer adds that since many weddings involve brides and grooms from different states, the newsletter prevents bridal couples "from having to answer the same questions over and over again all night long." My husband is from Miami and I am from Syracuse, so my side didn't know his, and his didn't know mine," she explains. "But the newsletter included information about both of us, how we met and what we did professionally, so it really brought the two sides closer."

The newsletter also inspired good conversation throughout the evening, Meltzer reports.

"People were approaching my parents and his parents all night saying, `Oh, I didn't know this or that about your son or daughter.'"

She still gets comments about the newsletter. "People still approach me and tell me what a great idea [the newsletter] was," and that they still have their copy. "It's definitely a `keeper.'"

Lifetime Editions' wedding newsletters can also include photographs of bride and groom, a poem, prayer or song lyrics the couple especially likes, anecdotes about the courtship and acknowledgments to friends and family who played a part in the wedding. "It is a unique way to bridge the gap between the two sides of the family and friends who meet at the wedding," says Schlesinger.