If you’ve been following my blog recently you know that I produce a podcast called Choosing Your Reflection, which is based on my two experiences: choosing my own wedding dress and helping my daughter choose hers.

The goal?

Through discussions with guests we attempt to “unravel the mystique that exists around choosing a wedding outfit.”

During the early stages of production I also created and distributed an online Wedding Outfit Survey to assist with gathering insight on why people make the choices they do. In addition to basic demographic questions like gender, age, and relationship status, the survey also included a key question:

What was the MOST important factor guiding your choice of wedding outfit?

– Cost
– Wedding Theme
– Body Shape
– Comfort
– Perfection
– Other

When I composed the question I thought I had covered the bases pretty well. I also assumed that cost would be the predominant answer. I was close, but I was wrong.

The top ranking answer from 165 respondents? Body shape.

That being said, since cost is such an important attribute of the process I believe it warrants further investigation.


For most people, at least in my demographic, cost is a constraint. So I dug up some stats on what the average bride spends on her wedding dress. No stats on the men yet — sorry guys!

The most expensive region was the Mid-Atlantic (e.g. New York and New Jersey), while the northern Midwestern states (e.g. North and South Dakota) came in at the low end of the scale.


How about looking at how many couples actually got married in each state? Here’s a visual of that information from 2019 published by The Wedding Report.

  • Wyoming couples numbered 4163, the lowest across the nation.
  • California came in at a whopping 214, 562 weddings, putting it in first place.

Finding some data on the cost of a wedding outfit as a percentage of total income would also be interesting, as well as taking state population density into account. Here’s a map that contains median individual income across the country.

And let’s not forget that some states are much less densely populated than others.


As I spent more time with the survey results I made an interesting qualitative discovery — the other category contained 21 responses. Things like:

  • Color
  • Convenience
  • The way it made me feel
  • My husband-to-be’s opinion
  • Mother
  • Pregnancy
  • That I could wear a real bra with my dress

These 21 answers, each taken by themselves, are outliers.

In statistics, an outlier is a data point that differs significantly from other observations (“Outlier,” 2020).

Using the survey statistics, my own experience, and what I’ve learned from the guests we’ve interviewed on the podcast I’m confident I can provide some insight as to what drives people during the wedding outfit process.


“When we reason about quantitative evidence, certain methods for displaying and analyzing data are better than others” (Tufte, 1997, p.27).

In his book Visual explanations: Images and quantities, evidence and narrative American statistician Edward Tufte provides guidance for providing what he calls “truthful, credible, and precise findings” from data (Tufte, 1997).

  1. Place the data in an appropriate context for assessing cause and effect.
  2. Make quantitative comparisons.
  3. Consider alternative explanations and contrary cases.
  4. Assess possible errors in the numbers reported.

By adding addtional data sources to my existing dataset and using Tufte’s method I hope to shed some light on the wedding outfit traditions that exist in the United States.

Stay tuned!

until nxt time …


Average Income by State, Median, Top & Percentiles [2019]. (2019, November 4). DQYDJ.

Browse Markets for Wedding Statistics. (n.d.).

Outlier. (2020). In Wikipedia. Page Version ID: 966353403

Population density in the U.S., by state 2019 | Statista. (n.d.). Retrieved August 9, 2020, from

Shaw, G. (2019, May 23). What the average bride spends on her wedding dress in every state—Insider.

Tufte, E. R. (1997). Visual explanations: Images and quantities, evidence and narrative. Graphics Press.

Tufte, E. R. (2006). Beautiful evidence. Graphics Press.

Header photo by Vladislav Reshetnyak from Pexels


Ever wonder how they make those awesome maps you see in the New York Times?

(Glanz et al., 2020)

Very often the creators use a dataviz software application like Datawrapper.

“Datawrapper is an open source data visualization platform which helps everyone create simple, correct, and embeddable charts in minutes” (Datawrapper in 2020 – Reviews, Features, Pricing, Comparison, 2018).

Datawrapper gives you the ability to create three types of maps:


Since my podcast Choosing Your Reflection is an ongoing passion project of mine, I went in search of some wedding data to create some data maps that might be of interest to our listeners.

Keep reading if you’d like to learn some interesting wedding stats and see the visuals I created using Datawrapper.


Weddings are expensive, and depending on where the couple decides to hold their nuptials, they can be REALLY expensive. To get the breakdown by state I used Chris Moon’s article in ValuePenguin (n.d.). Here’s a snapshot of the data.

This type of data can be visually presented using a choropleth map.

Choropleth maps are popular thematic maps used to represent statistical data through various shading patterns or symbols on predetermined geographic areas (i.e. countries). They are good at utilizing data to easily represent variability of the desired measurement, across a region” (DeLorenzo & Dugger, n.d.).

This choropleth map uses shaded areas of the various intensities of the color green to represent the differences in the data; in this case total cost of a wedding.

Data captured from article by (Moon, n.d.)

In my example the darkest shades show the highest cost, so you can very easily see that California, Alaska, Hawaii, and several states in the New England region top the list.

The image above is a screen shot. I think it’s pretty impressive but you can also make your maps interactive in Datawrapper. You can check out my interactive version here.


Now this may seem like it’s the same data, but it’s not. Since the list is limited to the most expensive places, many states were not included in the data. Take a look.

A symbol map is a better choice for this dataset.

“A proportional symbol map is easy for map readers to understand. Multiple variables can be displayed simultaneously on a proportional symbol map. For example, the symbol’s size, symbols color, and symbols a shape can all represent different variables” (OLD-Cartography Chapter 4 Combined – Types of Maps, n.d.).

You can also check out the interactive version of my symbol map for more details.

The largest (and darkest green) symbol falls in around the New York city range ($66,000 – $96,000 range, yikes!).

But wait, wasn’t Hawaii the most expensive place to get married in the first set of data? Absolutely. Since the first dataset was a state average (rather than region like Manhattan) New York actually fell behind Hawaii, New Jersey, DC, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.

How the data is “sliced” makes a difference.

“How easy it is to forget, and how revealing to recall, that map authors can experiment freely with features, measurements, area of coverage, and symbols and can pick the map that best presents their case or supports their unconscious bias” (Monmonier, 2018, p.2).

Maps are used to deliver a message to the viewer. As the receiver you should employ a healthy skepticism towards the visual to ensure you are not being sold a bad bill of goods.

“Choropleth maps have the ability to represent a large amount of data over any amount of space in a succinct and visually appealing manner. However, this method is not ideal for representing data realistically. Pre-existing boundaries limit the map’s ability to display the true fluctuation in statistics throughout an area” (DeLorenzo & Dugger, n.d.).


So let’s pretend money is no object and a couple wants to have their wedding in Manhattan. There are a lot of hotels in New York City, so the couple might want to create a locator map to indicate which hotels they recommend for their guests. Fire up Datawrapper and within a few minutes voilà!

Locator maps are great to show where something is located or happened, e.g. events within a city” (Maps, 2019) .


Want to try it yourself? Here’s a quick video overview to get you started.

(Kokkelink, 2016)


until nxt time …


Cairo, A. (2016). The Truthful Art: Data, Charts and Maps for Communication. New Riders.

Datawrapper. (2019, September 24). Maps. Create Charts and Maps with Datawrapper.

Datawrapper in 2020—Reviews, Features, Pricing, Comparison. (2018, July 30). PAT RESEARCH: B2B Reviews, Buying Guides & Best Practices.

DatawrapperIntro. (n.d.).

DeLorenzo, N., & Dugger. (n.d.). Story Map Journal.

Glanz, J., Carey, B., Holder, J., Watkins, D., Valentino-DeVries, J., Rojas, R., & Leatherby, L. (2020, April 2). Where America Didn’t Stay Home Even as the Virus Spread. The New York Times.

How to create a choropleth map—Datawrapper Academy. (n.d.).

How to create a locator map—Datawrapper Academy. (n.d.).

How to create a symbol map—Datawrapper Academy. (n.d.).

Kokkelink, D. (2016, April 8). Create a Datawrapper Map in three minutes—YouTube.

Maps. (2019, September 24). Create Charts and Maps with Datawrapper.

Marchese, C. (n.d.). Maps.

Monmonier, M. (2018). How to Lie with Maps. The University of Chicago Press.

Moon. (n.d.). Average Cost of a Wedding: By Feature and State. ValuePenguin.

OLD-Cartography Chapter 4 Combined—Types of Maps. (n.d.). ArcGIS StoryMaps. Retrieved August 2, 2020, from


“Fewer than one-in-five U.S. adults say being married is essential for a man or a woman to live a fulfilling life, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in summer 2019″ (Barroso, 2020).

In spite of that statistic people still get married, and some spend a significant amount of money doing so. Let’s take a look at some datasets that show just how much the big day can cost as well as whether or not people believe that spending more on their wedding outfit leads to finding what they believe to be their “perfect” attire.


Similar to buying a home, where a couple holds their ceremony and reception has a huge effect on the cost of their nuptials. The data listed in the table below was taken from a survey of more than 14,000 brides and grooms who tied the knot in 2018.

New York, NY—February 14, 2019Today, The Knot releases findings from The Knot 2018 Real Weddings Study, the most comprehensive study of Americans married in 2018. The 12th annual wedding industry report, the most trusted and comprehensive of its kind, surveyed more than 14,000 US brides and grooms married in 2018 between the ages of 18 and 65+ to uncover how couples are planning, personalizing, spending and celebrating weddings in America.

This data serves as the basis of information we could present and filter by:

  • region
  • state
  • amount

Displaying this data on a United States map would provide an excellent overview for the viewer. Adding the 10 Most Affordable Places To Get Married could provide added interest for comparative purposes.

(Couples Spend on Average $33,931—The Knot 2018 Real Weddings Study, 2019)


Many couples are on a budget, so categorizing costs is important. One of the brides we interviewed for the Choosing Your Reflection podcast recommended choosing your top three categories and downsizing the budget of the remaining categories to allow yourself to splurge in the top three (she named outfit and photographs for two of her top three).

This data was pulled from Wedding Wire’s 2020 Wedding Report, based on responses from over 25,000 U.S. couples married in 2019. This could be filtered by:

  • total cost
  • category
  • sub-category

A tree map, pie chart, or bar chart would work well to display this data visually.

(2020 Wedding Report, n.d.)


Does spending more money make it easier to find the perfect wedding outfit? This is a sample from a dataset consisting of 164 responses gathered in my Wedding Outfit Survey.

(Foster, n.d.)

Comparisons could be made based on:

  • age group
  • relationship status
  • type of ceremony (religious or secular)

The original dataset was drawn from a survey that consisted of twenty-five questions. I narrowed it down to those responses that might influence the respondent’s answer to money’s influence (or lack of) on finding the “perfect” outfit. This process is called operationalization.

Operationalization in the context of visualization is the process of identifying tasks to be performed over the dataset that are a reasonable approximation of the high-level question of interest” (Fisher & Meyer, 2018).


“Fake news” is a phrase we hear all too often recently. Although it is often misused and in itself has become misleading, it’s important to ensure that the datasets used to create visualizations are trustworthy.

In Emma Charlton’s blog post from the World Economic Forum, her visualization adeptly shows how Finland is leading the European nations by using education to encourage media literacy in schools.

“Studies show a positive relationship between the level of education and resilience to fake news, the OSI report said, with more knowledge and better critical-thinking skills guarding against fabricated information” (Charlton, n.d.).

Whether or not you trust a visualization is up to you. Make it your habit to check the creator’s source; it should be listed on the chart. If you can’t find it you might want to think twice about the chart’s reliability.

And don’t forget to check and see if the source cited is reputable. In this way you can guard against believing any “fake news” that may have been used to create a “fake visual.”

until nxt time …


2020 Wedding Report. (n.d.). WeddingWire.

Barroso, A. (2020, February 14). More than half of Americans say marriage is important but not essential to leading a fulfilling life. Pew Research Center.

Charlton, E. (n.d.). Fake news: What it is, and how to spot it. World Economic Forum.

Charlton, E. (n.d.). How Finland is fighting fake news in the classroom. World Economic Forum.

Couples Spend on Average $33,931—The Knot 2018 Real Weddings Study. (2019, February 14). The Knot Worldwide.

Fisher, D., & Meyer, M. (2018). Making Data Visual. O’Reilly Media.

Foster. (n.d.). Wedding Outfit Survey—Google Forms. Retrieved July 26, 2020, from

Fuller, B., & Jacobson. (n.d.). The 10 Most Affordable Places to Get Married in the US. Theknot.Com.

Kilroy. (2018, November 14). 100+ of the Best Free Data Sources For Your Next Project. Column Five.

Header photo by Bùi Huy from Pexels


Information design can be divided into two main categories, exploratory and explanatory (aka declarative), shown as the bottom and top points on the vertical axis in the above chart (Marchese, n.d.). These categories can be broken down further by delineating between content that is conceptual or data-driven, as shown on the horizontal axis.

Scott Berinato, senior editor at the Harvard Business Review and author of the book Good Charts: The HBR Guide to Making Smarter, More Persuasive Data Visualizations describes how choosing the right category can be helpful in planning and creating good visualizations.

Appropriately, he provides a visual to foster our understanding. Starting in the upper left-hand corner and moving counterclockwise, the four quadrants are:

  • Conceptual & Declarative (Idea illustration)
  • Conceptual & Exploratory (Idea generation)
  • Data-driven & Exploratory (Visual discovery)
  • Data-driven & Declarative (Everyday dataviz)

Let’s briefly discuss each of the categories and look at examples of each.

(Berinato, 2016)

Need to explain a process or a concept? Want to show how your organization is structured? Need to show a process flow? Illustrating ideas is the domain of the Conceptual & Declarative category of visualization (Berinato’s 2 x 2 grid is in itself an example).

The flowchart below is one I created to explain the training approval process to my colleagues at work.

NJ Department of the Treasury Training Approval Flowchart

In my Typical Approval Process chart the concept I am sharing is the approval process. My declaration provides an answer a question I hear all too often, which is “What do I need to do to get the training I need?”

Note that both examples provide simple images that help facilitate the user’s understanding of a particular concept or process.

(Berinato, 2016)

Conceptual & Exploratory visuals can be created alone or with a team. Because they are idea-driven they are often written on a whiteboard or similar surface, allowing for the incorporation of ideas of how to “find answers to nondata challenges” (Berinato, 2016).

The example below shows how they’re used to solve problems; in this case what should be done to increase sales.

(Roam, 2013)

This flowchart is from Dan Roam’s book The Back of the Napkin, which provides guidance on how to use visual thinking to generate ideas and solve problems.

“There is no more powerful way to prove that we know something well than to draw a simple picture of it. And there is no more powerful way to see hidden solutions than to pick up a pen and draw out the pieces of our problem” (Roam, 2013).

(Berinato, 2016)

Data-driven & Exploratory visualizations can be used in two ways: for confirmation of information believed to be true or for exploration of answers to specific questions. It’s often used by data scientists and business intelligence analysts (Berinato, 2016).

This type of visual discovery can be a catalyst for positive change that could have been otherwise overlooked.

The University of Illinois Chicago College of Pharmacy hired the Urban Data Visualization Lab (UDVL) to create a series of maps that could be used for their strategic planning.

UDVL took address data for locations of different types of colleges and different types of pharmacies throughout Illinois and geocoded them to create points on a map. Pharmacy and college symbolization was based on attributes supplied by the client. Illinois counties were symbolized based on the RUCA (Rural Urban Commuting Area) codes joined to county boundaries. Interstate highways and major water bodies were added for reference. Work was done primarily in GIS software” (College of Pharmacy Strategic Planning | Urban Data Visualization Lab | University of Illinois at Chicago, n.d.).

This customized data visualization was reported as making the client’s strategic meetings “more productive” (College of Pharmacy Strategic Planning | Urban Data Visualization Lab | University of Illinois at Chicago, n.d.).

“The goal is simple: give people factual information based on data that is, for the most part, not up for debate” (Berinato, 2016).

(Berinato, 2016)

Many Data-driven & Declarative visualizations are created with applications (like Excel) and are used for presentations. You’ve probably created a few line charts, bar charts, and scatterplots yourself; the trick is to keep it simple and focus on the point you are trying to make.

This Incubation Periods chart from data-journalist David McCandless is a great example of on point simplicity .

(McCandless, n.d.)

Based on data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization, this beautiful line chart communicates the differences in incubation periods for various illnesses, highlighting COVID-19 in orange text for emphasis.

The message must be simple and able to be decoded easily by the viewer. Berinato says “A manager should be able to present an everyday dataviz without speaking at all” (2016).


Ready to get started? According to Berinato, you should begin by asking yourself two questions:

  1. Is the information conceptual or data-driven?
  2. Am I declaring something or exploring something?

The answers can help you choose how to display your information in a way that communicates your message effectively.

Four Categories of Data Visualizations

“Visualization is merely a process. What we actually do when we make a good chart is get at some truth and move people to feel it—to see what couldn’t be seen before. To change minds. To cause action. … But good outcomes require a broader understanding and a strategic approach” (Berinato, 2016 June 1).

until nxt time …


Berinato, S. (2016, June 1). Visualizations That Really Work. Harvard Business Review.

Berinato, S. (2016). Good Charts: The HBR Guide to Making Smarter, More Persuasive Data Visualizations. Harvard Business Review Press.

College of Pharmacy Strategic Planning | Urban Data Visualization Lab | University of Illinois at Chicago. (n.d.). Urban Data Visualization Lab.

Marchese, C. (n.d.). Information Design Processes.

McCandless, D. (n.d.). COVID-19 #CoronaVirus Infographic Datapack. Information Is Beautiful.

Roam, D. (2013). The Back of the Napkin (Expanded Edition): Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures (Expanded edition). Portfolio.


“The greatest value of a picture is when it forces us to notice what we never expected to see.” – John Tukey, American Mathematician

You may have heard the terms information design or infographics, but both share the common ground of using a picture, or visual, to display information.

Information visualization (also referred to as data visualization) is not new. Michael Friendly delivers a brief history in his book Handbook of Data Visualization, offering a chart which depicts “the frequency of events considered milestones” with milestones defined as significant visual depictions created during each time period as shown in the reproduction of his chart below (Friendly, 2008).

(Friendly, 2008)

Time, or each “epoch” is measured on the horizontal axis while density (an estimation based on the visual milestones chosen) is measured on the vertical axis.

Density estimation is estimating the probability density function of the population from the sample” (An Overview of Density Estimation, n.d.).

As you can see there is a slow rise from the 1500s to the early 1700s, transitioning to a much faster increase in the use of visuals as we moved closer to the 20th century, considered the Golden Age by Friendly.

Enhancing visual form

To heighten my understanding of what caused this rise to occur I added icons representing the types of visuals popular during each time period.

Taking it one step further I chose to move the timeline to the top of the diagram. I also moved the descriptions of the popular visuals closer to each icon and used color to indicate the change in centuries.

(Foster, 2020)

Although these additions are helpful they do not tell the entire story, nor do they intend to. It is, however, a reminder of what makes a good visualization. Additional elements are needed to provide full disclosure. The trick is to do it without overwhelming the viewer.

Data-journalist and information designer David McCandless proposes four elements necessary to deliver a good visualization:

  • information (the data itself)
  • visual form (its appearance)
  • goal (its function)
  • story (the concept behind the visual)
(McCandless, 2010)

If you overlay these elements onto Friendly’s graph, the evolution becomes more evident. At the base of the visual below you will see that information is always the foundation. As you move along the timeline note the layering of form, goal, and story as data visuals move toward the 21st century.

(Foster, 2020)

Case in point: Florence Nightingale’s Diagram of the Causes of Mortality, delivered in 1801, stands out as an example of a worthy goal — to convince the British government to expend public funds to improve city sanitation and help control epidemic disease.

(Small, 2010)


As designers we bear an intellectual burden.

Intellect is a term used in studies of the human mind, and refers to the ability of the mind to come to correct conclusions about what is true or false, and about how to solve problems” (Intellect, 2020).

Do you use the elements of data and form responsibly to achieve an honest goal? Are you treating the viewer with the respect they deserve by allowing them to come to an objective conclusion given the visual’s compressed format? Is the format clear and understandable?

“… visualizing information … is a form of knowledge compression. It’s a way of squeezing an enormous amount of information and understanding into a small space.” (McCandless, 2010).

Good information visualization takes time and you must consider the following questions:

  • What data should I use?
  • Is there data that can be safely left out?
  • How much information is too much?
  • Is it possible to stay neutral and reach the widest audience yet still be effective?


In short, what makes a good visual? Consider this visualization of the Coronavirus Riskiest Activities by David McCandless — it is the best example I have seen during these stressful pandemic times. It does not lean left or right, it uses size and color appropriately, and allows the viewer to determine their course of action based on information from over five hundred epidemiologists and health professionals.

These are the facts; you get to decide. Definitely milestone quality in my opinion.

(Information is Beautiful, 2020)

“As visual communicators, we must carefully consider the content of a message, the efficiency of how we deliver that message, technology used for its implementation, and the ultimate impact that it has” (Marchese, n.d.).

What do you think?

Stay safe.

until nxt time …


An Overview of Density Estimation. (n.d.). KDnuggets. Retrieved July 12, 2020, from

Cartogram Maps: Data Visualization with Exaggeration. (2016, September 18). GIS Geography.

Dykes, B. (n.d.). 31 Essential Quotes On Analytics And Data | Web Analytics Action Hero. Analytics Hero.

Foster, H. (2020). Visual Milestones.

Friendly, M. (2008). A Brief History of Data Visualization. In C. Chen, W. Härdle, & A. Unwin, Handbook of Data Visualization (pp. 15–56). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

Information is Beautiful (2020). COVID-19 #CoronaVirus Infographic Datapack. Information Is Beautiful.

Intellect. (2020). In Wikipedia. Page Version ID: 965398954

Marchese, C. (n.d.). History of Data Visualization.

McCandless, D. (2010). The beauty of data visualization.

Small, H. (2010, October 7). Did Nightingale’s ‘Rose Diagram’ save millions of lives? Retrieved from:


The podcast Choosing Your Reflection is live and ready for your enjoyment!

Follow Your Heart – Evelyn LaTorre Choosing Your Reflection

Another episode, another fascinating conversation on Choosing Your Reflection — this week with author Evelyn LaTorre. Originally from small-town Montana, Evelyn got a taste for a larger worldview young and decided to let it grow as fast and vast as possible by joining the Peace Corps where she met her future husband in Peru. Two sons, three decades, and two books later Evelyn takes us through her wedding experience, including an unexpected guest, a handmade dress, and a letter to her parents that took longer in transit than her engagement. Special Guest: Evelyn LaTorre.
  1. Follow Your Heart – Evelyn LaTorre
  2. A Light Nod to the '80s – Anna Keizer and Derek Dehanke
  3. The Essence of Who We Are – Mike Iamele
  4. A Gift to Ourselves – Terry B. McDougall
  5. White Gown, Blue Suit – April Stephens
  6. Looking Back – Michael Fiore – NuView Weddings
  7. The Butterfly Effect – Crystal Wilson
  8. With Love from Mayberry – Joe and Amy Zalescik
  9. What You Wear Matters – Brandi Sea Heft-Kniffin
  10. Top Hats & Converse Shoes – Taylor Stilwell

Seven weeks ago it was an idea; today it is a reality. But the story of the CYR podcast actually began a long time ago when I was a fragile twenty year old bride-to-be.


In 1982 there weren’t as many options as there are today. My mom and dad were paying for my gown, so there were certain “requirements” that had to be met:

  • It had to be white.
  • I had to have a veil over my face for the ceremony.
  • It had to fall within a certain budget.

Seems reasonable enough, right? Except that

  • I don’t look good in white (pale skin).
  • I didn’t want to wear a veil AT ALL.
  • Having to wear a headpiece drastically changed my choice of hairstyle for the day.

So the one thing that I felt was my choice, which was the dress, ended up not having the elements I wanted.

In the end it was a beautiful day and the dress was lovely, but it was not the perfect dress for me.

On the way to the church with my dad.


This time around I wanted things to be different for my daughter — who, by the way, is a completely different animal than her mother.

My goal was to be hands-off as much as possible through the process, allowing her the latitude to choose literally anything she wanted. The color, style, length, headwear (or not) … everything should be her choice and hers alone. I was determined to be involved but to stay neutral. Mum’s the word, no pun intended.

My wish was to take what I had learned from my experience and give my daughter the very thing I did not get … freedom of choice.

As we visited the numerous bridal salons (I think there were 525,600 of them … ) I sat quietly as I watched her model every conceivable permutation of gown imaginable. With each and every dress she would say

“Mom, what do you think?”

“It’s beautiful. You look beautiful. You look good in everything.”

I still maintain this is true despite my inherent bias.

“Mom I really want to know what you think.”

In return I would decisively repeat my mantra. As you can imagine this scenario did not play out well. I was failing miserably and I couldn’t understand why. This was her time, not mine. Why was this process so difficult?

It wasn’t until she found her perfect dress that I discovered the answer.

The very thing she wanted I was keeping from her. As I strived to provide her with emotional support by keeping quiet, she longed for my affirmation that her choice was something we both loved.

Go figure.

My intentions were good but the implementation of my plan was faulty. I had chosen my course of action based on seeing the world through my own lens rather than my daughter’s.


I was so moved by the contrast between my two experiences that I decided I would write a book about it. I’ve never written a book, but what the heck, it seems like fertile ground for an interesting one. I even wrote the first chapter. But for now my experience serves as the catalyst for the CYR podcast.

Choosing Your Reflection is a podcast of discussions with everyday people who share the stories of their quest to find the perfect wedding outfit. But more importantly, what they learned along the way.

As my dear friend loves to say, “Everyone has a story.” And they are all interesting. A big shout out to all the interviewees who have graciously shared their experiences and make this podcast possible!

why a podcast?

“One reason podcasts are so popular is that the format is uniquely situated to fit into our busy lives. Any topic you’re interested in? You’ll find a podcast dedicated to it. Only have fifteen minutes to spare? You’ll find a podcast that you can listen to in that time frame. Prefer stories? There are podcasts written to scratch that narrative itch. Prefer news? Nonfiction? Science? Politics? You’ll find a podcast that fits.

It’s information and entertainment, in bite-size chunks, right at our fingertips. Plus, the format of podcasts allows a deeper dive into many subjects — it creates the possibility of long-form investigations in a very accessible medium. While many of us might not take the time to sit down and read a 20k word length article, we can listen to that article in bite-sized chunks during our commute to work, especially if it’s presented in an entertaining, narrative way” (Quora, 2018).


I do hope you’ll visit the Choosing Your Reflection website and give it a test drive. You can also find CYR on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Castbox, Castro, Deezer, Overcast, PocketCast, Podcast Addict, RadioPublic, Spotify, Stitcher, and TuneIn. If you have an Amazon Echo, just say “Alexa, play the podcast Choosing Your Reflection” to stream the most recent episode.

Episodes generally fall in the TED Talk range (around 20 minutes) so they don’t require a big investment of time.

If you’re interested in being interviewed for Choosing Your Reflection just fill out the Wedding Outfit Survey and indicate that you would like to share your story. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!

Why is it important? Because I believe that when we choose our wedding outfit or help others choose theirs, we can gain insight into ourselves and those we love.

We just have to have the eyes and ears to recognize it.

until nxt time …

A summary of my journey to produce CYR can be found here.


Quora. (2018, October 12). Why Are Podcasts Gaining In Popularity? Forbes.



“Podcasting, of course, is a concatenation of the words iPod and broadcasting. And what is podcasting? … you can not only download radio shows and listen to them — you can subscribe to them so that every time there’s a new episode it automatically gets downloaded to your computer. You can listen to it there or it automatically gets synched to your iPod the next time you dock your iPod. It’s very, very exciting.” – Steve Jobs, 2005 Apple World Wide Developers Conference

On June 23, 2020 the first episode of the Choosing Your Reflection (CYR) podcast went live! You can listen to it now on the CYR website or by clicking on the embedded copy below.

Follow Your Heart – Evelyn LaTorre Choosing Your Reflection

Another episode, another fascinating conversation on Choosing Your Reflection — this week with author Evelyn LaTorre. Originally from small-town Montana, Evelyn got a taste for a larger worldview young and decided to let it grow as fast and vast as possible by joining the Peace Corps where she met her future husband in Peru. Two sons, three decades, and two books later Evelyn takes us through her wedding experience, including an unexpected guest, a handmade dress, and a letter to her parents that took longer in transit than her engagement. Special Guest: Evelyn LaTorre.
  1. Follow Your Heart – Evelyn LaTorre
  2. A Light Nod to the '80s – Anna Keizer and Derek Dehanke
  3. The Essence of Who We Are – Mike Iamele
  4. A Gift to Ourselves – Terry B. McDougall
  5. White Gown, Blue Suit – April Stephens

Keep in mind, however, that there are other ways to listen that will enable you to take a deeper dive into the podcast world.

Podcatchers allow you to ‘catch’ all new episodes of a podcast immediately, rather than finding them as they come out and manually downloading them to listen to” (Podcatcher Definition – What Is a Podcatcher?, n.d.)

You might know them as podcast apps. Whatever you call them, they perform the same basic function by accessing the podcasts’ web feed and periodically checking it for updates. When a new episode is found the file is downloaded and made available on the app, eliminating the need for the app user to visit different websites to gather each different podcast.

Another term that describes it well is podcast aggregator.

Whether you call them apps, podcatchers, or aggregators, they all do the same thing — help you keep track of all the different podcasts you listen to.

You get the picture. You choose, they automatically capture the newest episodes for you.

There are plenty of podcatchers to choose from, and deciding what works for you as a listener can be overwhelming. In his recent article The Only Podcast App List You’ll Ever Need in 2020, Wenbin Fang lists 37 of them. As a new podcaster, I chose eight, seven of which are listed below. iHeartRadio is also on my list and should be coming soon.


If you’re an iPhone person, the Apple Podcasts  app is already loaded on your phone when you purchase it.
Launched in June of 2018 Google Podcasts  allows you to synch episodes across your Androiod phone and smart speaker (Fang, n.d.).
The cross-platform music streaming app Spotify  is becoming a major player in the podcasting business.
“If you’re on TuneIn, then anyone can play your podcast, just by asking Alexa” (Gray, 2020).
Don’t want to create an account or login? Hate banner ads? The cross-platform Radio Pubic  may be right for you.
Not as popular as it used to be but still a solid choice, Stitcher’s  free version meets most people’s basic needs.
Castbox  is for Android users, and also offers over 60,000 radio stations, both online and FM.


According to Chartable, Apple Podcasts and Spotify are the most popular listening apps.

(Zohrob, 2020)

If a podcaster wants to reach a younger audience, Spotify should be their target. According to an article in Marketing Land, “among monthly podcast listeners age 12-24, fifty-three percent were Spotify listeners, up from just 32 percent a year ago” (Marvin, 2019).


The Podcast Host partnered with Samson Technologies and Podchaser to conduct a survey to find out how podcast listeners discover new content. As you can see in the chart below, 40% search from within a podcatcher to find a new podcast.

(McClean, 2020)

“A common question among podcasters is ‘Is there a downside to listing my podcast on every possible directory?’ Our answer: no!” (Dennis, 2020)

It does take time to establish the connections with each app, but the time spent is worthwhile. Now that Choosing Your Reflection is connected to these popular apps, new episodes will be automatically added, creating an easy way for listeners to connect with CYR without going to the website.

The screenshot below shows the seven buttons CYR visitors can use to follow the podcast in their preferred app, along with the standard RSS feed button.

Which one should you choose? PC Magazine’s The 10 Best Podcast Player Apps for 2020 article explores what they consider to be the 10 best podcast apps; three of my choices made their list. Check it out if you’re in the market for a podcast app.

Happy listening!

until nxt time …

Watch this video to learn a little bit of history about podcasts and how they became so popular. Enjoy!


Dennis. (2020, June 25). How To Publish A Podcast To 30 Different Podcast Directories. Castos.

Duffy, J. (2019, October 16). The 10 Best Podcast Player Apps for 2020 | PCMag.

Fang, W. (n.d.). The Only Podcast App List You’ll Ever Need in 2020. Listen Notes.

Gray. (2020, February 13). The Top Podcast Directories to Widen Your Podcast Distribution. The Podcast Host.

List of podcatchers. (2020). In Wikipedia. Page Version ID: 958888347

McClean, M. (2020, March 27). Podcast Discovery Stats in 2020 | How Listeners Discover New Shows. The Podcast Host.

Mitchell, K., & Plaut, M. (2019, March 11). Take a look around the all-new RadioPublic app. RadioPublic.

Podcast. (2020). In Wikipedia. Page Version ID: 963899018

Podcatcher Definition—What is a Podcatcher? (n.d.). Backtracks.Fm.

Quah, N. (2019, October 3). Picking the Best Podcast App (and a Guide to the Rest). Vulture.

SteveJobsArchive. (2017, September 21). Steve Jobs announces switch to Intel & Podcasting WWDC 2005—YouTube.

Zohrob, D. (2020, January 21). Apple Podcasts vs. Spotify—Which is more popular? Chartable.Com.


During the time leading up to a wedding ceremony, the “to-bes,” be they bride or groom, are faced with a superabundance of choices. From the most expensive choice (usually venue) to the least (shoes perhaps?) their choices create a bricolage of what they hope to be a one time only affair.

According to Wedding Wire’s 2020 Newlywed Report and based on data from over 25,000 U.S. couples married in 2019, the overall average cost for a first marriage hovers around the $30,000 mark.

(Goodson & Francis, n.d.)

Carved from that $30,000 budget is a wedding outfit. For females the average costs comes in at $1600, a tad over five percent of the overall budget (Goodson & Francis, n.d.).

(Goodson & Francis, n.d.)

If you want to go the designer route, your price tag increases significantly.

“Even a very simple dress can cost a pretty penny if it carries the label of a famous designer, like Vera Wang, Reem Acra or Hayley Paige. Their wares can run into the multiple thousands of dollars—$2,000, $3,000, $5,000, $8,000 or more” (Price, n.d.).

This Hayley Paige dress is an ivory-colored embroidered A-line gown with a deep sweetheart neckline, scalloped cap sleeve, and cashmere lining. Price wise it’s on the lower side of the designer scale, dropping in at the cool price of $3355. That’s before alterations, of course.

(Cap Sleeve Embroidered A-Line Wedding Dress, n.d.)

Grooms can also drop a significant piece of change for their outfit. According to a 2015 article from CNBC, mens custom suits can range from $800 to about $1,800 (Federico-O’Murchu, 2015).

Photo by Снежана from Pexels

As a recent interviewee for my current project on wedding outfits shared, why spend $350 on a rental when you can spend a little more and keep it. It just makes sense.

Choosing a wedding day outfit is an emotional experience that I find fascinating and it is the driving force behind my passion project — the Choosing Your Reflection podcast.

Enclothed Cognition

According to psychologists Hago Adam and Adam Galinsky, clothes have an influence on the wearer’s psychological processes. In 2012 they conducted a study on the symbolic meaning of clothes and the physical experience of wearing them. In their Journal of Experimental Social Psychology article, the term enclothed cognition is introduced.

Enclothed cognition is the term used to describe the systematic influence that clothes have on the wearer’s psychological processes” (Adam & Galinsky, 2012).

Basically, wearing different types of clothing causes a person to embody the clothing along with its symbolic meaning. As I was reading the study I remembered one of the early Choosing Your Reflection interviewees who said the following about the moment she found her perfect wedding dress:

“It gave me confidence. I wanted to show everybody ‘Look at me in this dress! I look like I could be a bride!’ It was definitely a moment. Special moment.”

– Lindsey, Rebel Bride episode from the Choosing Your Reflection podcast

“Science says that the clothes we wear affect our behavior, attitudes, personality, mood, confidence, and even the way we interact with others.” (Sarda-Joshi, 2016).

Making a Statement

Although a wedding is a traditional act, many couples seek to individualize the ceremony — often through what they wear. As the expectation of a white wedding continues to fade, freedom of choice expands. Brides and grooms alike are free to express their personalities by choosing an outfit that makes a personal or joint statement.

Outfits don’t have to be dull. Something as simple as the footwear you choose can display your personality in a big way! Almost all the people interviewed for the podcast had something to say about their choice of shoes for their big day, and very often it includes sneakers!

Looking for comfort? Why not order a pair of Converse All Star sneakers personalized with the word Bride on the back?

(Converse All Star Classic Canvas Sneakers Bride Wedding Personalized Shoes – White, n.d.)

Not quite your style? No worries. Here’s a very recent list of 32 styles of wedding sneakers that was recently published in Brides magazine which includes a pair of diamond crystal-embellished suede trainers from Jimmy Choo. Just $3,995. Free delivery and returns, of course.

(Diamond Crystal-Embellished Suede Trainers | Jimmy Choo | MATCHESFASHION US, n.d.)

“The right shoe can make everything different.” – Jimmy Choo

Why It’s Important

“Certain clothes make us very happy.” – Why Clothes Matter

Choosing Your Reflection is a collection of true stories from real people. Join us as we delve into the psychology and sociology behind the choices people make as they embark on the next chapter of their life as a married person.

until nxt time …

CYR Tip: If you want to keep within your budget, here’s a tip from one of the podcast interviewees. When visiting a bridal shop check the price tag of any dress your bridal attendant suggests you try on. If it’s outside of your budget don’t try it on. That way you won’t fall in love with something you can’t afford. If you just can’t resist, the popular website The Budget Savvy Bride offers tips on where to save to offset the cost of an expensive wedding dress. Check out the article Saying ‘I do’ on a budget: Why it’s okay to splurge on a dress and save in other ways.


Adam, H., & Galinsky, A. D. (2012). Enclothed cognition. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 48(4), 918–925.

Bricolage | Definition of Bricolage by Oxford Dictionary on also meaning of Bricolage. (n.d.). Lexico Dictionaries | English.

Carter, J., & Duncan, S. (2017). Wedding paradoxes: individualized conformity and the ‘perfect day.’ The Sociological Review65(1), 3–20.

Cap Sleeve Embroidered A-line Wedding Dress. (n.d.). Kleinfeld Bridal.

Converse All Star Classic Canvas Sneakers Bride Wedding Personalized Shoes—White. (n.d.). Glitter Shoe Co.

Diamond crystal-embellished suede trainers | Jimmy Choo | MATCHESFASHION US. (n.d.).

Federico-O’Murchu, L. (2015, February 16). How far do men go for a custom suit? Around the world. CNBC.

Goodson, L., & Francis, K. (n.d.). 2020 Wedding Report. WeddingWire.

Moore, S. (n.d.). 32 Wedding Sneakers to Take You from the Aisle to the Afterparty and Beyond. Brides.

Price, S. (n.d.). Average Cost of a Wedding Dress. ValuePenguin.

Sarda-Joshi, G. (2016, February 29). 7 ways your clothes change the way you think. Brain Fodder.

Shoes Sayings and Shoes Quotes | Wise Old Sayings. (n.d.). Wise Old Sayings.

The School of Life. (2017, March 29). Why Clothes Matter—YouTube.

Why it’s okay to splurge on your wedding dress. (2016, July 23). The Budget Savvy Bride.


If you’re tuning in for the first time, let me catch you up.

Over the past four weeks I have been developing a new podcast called Choosing Your Reflection, based on the mystique that is wrapped around choosing a wedding outfit. Each podcast will feature an interview during which we ask our guest to TELL ME YOUR STORY — including the joys, sorrows, and/or frustrations they encountered while shopping/renting/wearing their wedding outfit.

To date eleven interviews have been conducted, with three additional sessions scheduled this month.

Guests indicate their wish to be interviewed by taking the Wedding Outfit Survey. The response to the survey has been excellent (see SURVEY SAYS … for more details) and responses continue to drop in.

By the way, if you indicated you are interested in being interviewed and I haven’t gotten back to you yet, please be patient as I pull all the pieces together.

Here’s the skinny on how the process works.

The Interview

Each interview so far can be summed up in a few words — a lot of fun! My daughter Lauren serves as the host while I moderate. Some of the questions are based on the Wedding Outfit Survey, but most of them are composed on the fly as we listen to each guest’s story.

A ZOOM session is used to capture the audio and I use the chat function to feed Lauren any questions that come to mind during the session. They usually last about an hour but can run longer. Each guest is given as much time as they need to tell their story.

Each session is unique, and many times we end up sharing our own thoughts and experiences as well. There’s also a lot of laughter and occasionally a few tears. A few people even said the interview felt like a great therapy session!

Creating a Transcript

Once the recording is in place, I find it useful to generate a transcript of the session. Depending on the type of license you have, ZOOM may be able to do the work for you. If not you may have to use an outside service. This step helps in the next two stages of the process — crafting the content and editing.

Crafting the Content

Next comes the storycrafting. I have an hour of story to tell in a 15 to 20 minute podcast, so I get to the essence of the interview by listening/reading/watching the recording. I use the transcript generated previously to highlight important items and make notes about any technical issues that need to be addressed.


Once my storytelling plan is in place I can begin to editing. I use two applications: Adobe Audition and Audacity, a free, open source, cross-platform audio software.  Both are great tools, but I tend to use Audacity more frequently just because I’m used to it.

If you’re new to Audacity, you might find CyberDog Studios’ video Audacity Editing for Beginners: 16 Tips in 9 Minutes helpful.

Editing is demanding and requires a lot of patience, and it’s a whole lot easier if you have a good recording. Better to capture a clean audio track from the get go than to have to “fix” things that could have easily been avoided.

Free Advice

Here’s some common sense tips for capturing a good audio file on ZOOM during an interview session, based on my recent experience.

Test your microphone ahead of time. If you’re using ZOOM you can do a test recording ahead of the session to make sure you’re going to capture good sound quality.

Provide guidance. Give your interviewee a quick overview of what the session entails, how long it takes (generally), and things they can do to ensure the recording you capture is good.

  • Try to avoid making any extraneous noise.
  • If possible, secure any pets/kids/spouses to avoid distraction.
  • Avoid any unnecessary movement if possible.

Be patient. Let your interviewee talk until they’re “empty.” Some of the most interesting aspects of your story will come at the end of the interview, so allow them adequate time to relax and get comfortable talking with you.

Most importantly, have fun. If you are relaxed and having a good time, you’ll send that vibe to your guest.

For some professional advice, check out Derek Pando’s article on how to run your podcast on ZOOM.

until nxt time …


CyberdogStudios. (n.d.). Audacity Editing for Beginners: 16 Tips in 9 Minutes.

Pando, D. (2017, December 18). We Asked the Pros: How to Run Your Podcast on Zoom. Zoom Blog.

Header photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash


“Everything I need to keep my life running is stored online. Somewhere. I just can’t find it. ” (Pierce, 2018).

Enter Notion, a very cool collaborative tool that I have been using to maneuver my way through the large number of tasks required to produce the new podcast I’m working on.

After performing a bit of research I decided to use Notion as my project planning software. Although I am more familiar with Trello, I was intrigued by Notion’s database capabilities. It also had some stellar reviews.

Notion was touted as “The Only App You Need for Work-Life Productivity” by David Pierce in a recent Wall Street Journal online article (2018).

That’s a significant endorsement for an app that has only been around since 2016, and Pierce uses a great analogy to describe the tool.

Notion combines the features of a note-taking app, a task-management app and a spreadsheet tool the way that Steve Jobs combined an iPod, a cellphone and a web browser into the iPhone: All these tools work together to create something more than its parts” (Pierce, 2018).

After a bit of design trial and error I began feeling more comfortable with the navigation. Data entry is never fun, but it is the necessary evil that helps the average Joe get organized and achieve their project goals.

To begin I set up three main areas using three different templates:

  • Daily Production Journal
  • Project Management System
  • Interviewee Tracker

Let me walk you through each one.

Daily Production Journal

For my daily tasks, Notion’s Journal template was easy to set up. Since it’s also easy to use, and since I spend most of my time on a digital device, it’s very convenient and helps me stay on track on a daily basis.

It’s easy to change the title when you use a template. I added the word Production by simply clicking on the title inside the template.

Clicking on a specific date opens a web-based page that you can populate with date-specific to-do lists. Here’s my to-do list for tomorrow.

Checking a box causes the app to highlight the box in blue and cross out the entry off the list.

Managing the Project

For a bird’s eye view of the project, Notion’s Roadmap template works well. Information is broken down into separate groups:

  • Epics are overarching initiatives.
  • Tasks are actions that make up Epics.
  • Bugs are any issues or tasks that need to be fixed.

There’s also a group called Sprints, described as time-bound pushes to complete a set of tasks. I’ve opted not to use this category at the moment, but it may come in handy if I run into delivery-based time challenges going forward.

Once again I changed the template title; this time to Choosing Your Reflection, the new working title for the podcast.

The sorting function comes in handy to isolate groups you are interested in viewing at any particular moment.

Interviewee Tracker

Notion’s Applicant Tracker template worked well for setting up each of my potential podcast interviewees. Note that I changed the names and blocked out the PII to protect my podcast guests’ privacy.

Each record holds information gathered from my online survey, which is easily accessed by clicking on the potential guest’s name. I can also sort by status to ensure I am responding to incoming inquiries in a timely fashion.

Easy to Learn, Hard to Master

Pierce’s WSJ article recommends thinking of it as a “super-simple website builder.” I agree. I got up and running really quickly and I’m learning more about the product every day. He also adds that it’s “easy to learn, hard to master” (2018).  

The good news is that Notion has an active user community, so you can dive deep if you have the time.

It’s definitely more time-consuming on the front end than Trello, but ultimately offers more depth should you wish to take advantage of it over the long haul.

Wrap Up

When I looked up the word notion I found an interesting array of definitions. This one was particularly intriguing.

“A notion is lighter than a theory and embraces a whimsy that a simple idea never could” (Notion – Dictionary Definition, n.d.). 

My podcast Choosing Your Reflection began as a notion. Why not ask people to share stories about how they chose their wedding outfit? Most people call it one of the most important days of their life.

It might sound whimsical, but the choice you make matters.

So I guess using Notion for what began as a notion is apropos — because both notions are deeper than they appear at first glance.

until nxt time …


Notion (app). (2020). In Wikipedia. Page Version ID: 959034836

notion—Dictionary Definition. (n.d.).

Pierce, D. (2018, March 21). The Only App You Need for Work-Life Productivity. Wall Street Journal (Online).

Poulin, M. (2019, November 8). Create a Weekly Agenda template from scratch in Notion.

Header image by Dmitry Demidov