DENISE AND ALAN FIELDS have been dubbed the “wedding watchdogs” for their efforts as consumer advocates for engaged couples. But how do two seemingly normal people end up writing consumer books for a living?
The Fields met while attending the University of Colorado at Boulder. Denise was a history major specializing in Elizabethan England; Alan was in the business school, studying the marketing of products to Albania. We wish there was some fairy-tale story about how the couple met, but it is actually quite boring–they ran into each other in a dormitory during the infamous Bronco Blizzard.
Denise and Alan became writers because they couldn’t find any other gainful employment. After college, Denise realized that the unemployment rate for Elizabethan England scholars was 132%. Alan’s career as a college newspaper columnist and disc jockey fizzled out as well. Since they had a lot of free time, they authored a small book called Austin Weddings, about their travails planning their own wedding in the capital of Texas (where they had moved after graduating from CU).
Then something clicked. The Fields’ consumer advice was a hit with brides and the book became a local best-seller. Realizing they had perhaps found a way to make a living without having to get real jobs, Denise and Alan turned out wedding guides to Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, San Diego and Denver.
By this time, the Fields recognized something most other so-called wedding experts refused to admit. Forget all this fancy etiquette stuff–what brides and grooms really wanted to know was how to get a good deal on the items for their wedding. Following that theme, the Fields wrote their first national book on weddings, Bridal Bargains.
To say the book was unpopular among members of the “wedding industry” was an understatement. The Fields were banned from attending bridal shows; an editor from a major bridal magazine lambasted the Fields in a letter to the Wall Street Journal. Fortunately, the Fields did have one fan in the media–a talk show host by the name of Oprah Winfrey. Oprah told her viewers to buy the book. 400,000 copies later, the book is the Fields best-selling title to date.
After Oprah, the Fields embarked on their next greatest adventure. They built a new home. And like everything they would do in their lives, the experience inspired a book of its own: Your New House, was picked as one of the top 10 real estate books in 1993 by the San Francisco Examiner. “This book is, by far, the best book available on how to buy or build a new home,” raved syndicated columnist Robert Bruss, imploring his readers to buy the book. Your New House was revised for a second edition in 1996, and again in 1999 for a third edition.
Baby Bargains, the Fields’ third book, was inspired by the birth of their son, Benjamin in 1993. The book (which debuted in 1994) was also featured on Oprah, the Today Show and in Child Magazine. The Fields scoured the country for the best deals on cribs, bedding, maternity clothes and more. Next, they interviewed more than 100 first-time parents across the country, who provided insights into which baby products were best buys-and which were wastes of money. Baby Bargains’ editor’s panel of juvenile products retailers provided crucial safety and technical background for the book’s extensive list of recommended brands and products. The birth of the Fields second son (Jack) in November 1996 inspired the release of the 2nd edition of this book in March 1997. The 3rd edition of Baby Bargains was released in March 1999, with updated material, new bargains and more.
The Fields’ latest book is Baby 411, co-authored by Dr. Ari Brown. Baby 411 is the ultimate FAQ for new parents. Written in an easy-to-read question and answer format, Baby 411 explores infant health from a fresh and non-judgemental approach.
If you liked Baby 411, you’ll love Toddler 411—the sequel! All your questions on toddlers, answered!
Pregnant? The new Expecting 411 has all your answers!
The Bridal Bargains Wedding Planner, a companion wedding planner to Bridal Bargains, is the Fields most recent project. The Bridal Passport is the first FINANCIAL wedding planner, helping couples save on their wedding with detailed worksheets, checklists and advice.