By: Kristen Castillo
Photographs by: Holly Ireland Photography
The old saying, “You get what you pay for” never rings truer than budgeting for a wedding…
We’ve all heard nightmare wedding stories. Recently my assistant shared a story of a friend’s wedding she attended in Northern California. It was a summer wedding on a ranch. The theme of the wedding was supposed to have been “Country Chic.” The reality however, was more like “Backyard Cheesy.” Here’s a brief review of a few small missteps that in the end spelled disaster.
First, with no wedding planner communicating with the caterer, no one thought of supplying water before the ceremony to 150 guests in the 100 degree summer heat. Making matters worse, unforeseen delays made the guests wait for over an hour in the hot sun. No one thought of market umbrellas or any other form of shade, so as the afternoon sun beat down on the guests waiting for the ceremony to begin, a few desperate and resourceful groomsmen found the champagne and beer stash. Soon, 150 dehydrated wedding guests were quenching their thirst with bottles of Chandon and craft beer. Did I mention there was not a wedding planner?
Although the sun finally set, the heat in the tent was unrelenting. The wedding guests, now completely sauced with their wobbly boots on, cooled off the only way possible…. They jumped into the pool adjacent to the band’s stage. Gallons of displaced water flooded the sound board and amplifiers. The electronics shorted causing a small electrical fire. The music came to a halt and the party ceased as the band members fled the stage.
The once romantic vision of an elegant country wedding turned into a frat party gone wrong, simply because a few basic elements were overlooked.
Here are eight reasons why you should hire wedding professionals and not a friend or weekend warrior!
1. Peace of Mind
Underrated, yet so essential. You can not enjoy the wedding day if you have to monitor, oversee and direct your wedding vendors. First and foremost, hire a professional event planner. Not your sister’s friend that planned her own wedding five years ago, but rather a well qualified, professional wedding planner that knows the difference between an elegant, beautifully designed, carefully budgeted event and a mis-handled, poorly timed, over budgeted nightmare that leaves the bride and groom wishing they had eloped, and the guests wondering why the said YES on the invitation response card!
Your wedding is a production that requires all the vendors to work as a team. Unfortunately, amateurs simply don’t grasp this.
A few years ago in an effort to save money, the mother of the bride insisted on planning her daughter’s wedding. I watched as the make up “artist”, a friend of the bride, under estimated the time needed to complete hair and make up on 6 women. The timeline was ignored, and the delay was substantial as the ceremony started almost an hour late. The cocktail hour, rather than being a relaxed, fun filled gathering of friends and family, was instead a frantic 60 minute fire drill as we tried to recoup the lost hour of photography. The mother of the bride was stressed, and it showed in almost every photo.
Much like building a house, your wedding is full of vendors, or “contractors”, each having a specific job to accomplish. You wouldn’t dream of having your 19 year old cousin, with little experience, rewire the electricity in your home. Neither should you hire your inexperienced niece to take over the role of wedding photographer.
It’s the little things that an experienced wedding professional brings with them that will spell the difference between chaos or control. For example;
• The wedding planner that takes into account traffic
delays or the amount of time it takes for 100 guests to
board the shuttle buses.
• The photographer that understands the political dynamics of a divorced set of parents.
• The videographer that knows what it means to be “unobtrusive”.
• A florist that uses a refrigerated truck and a team of assistants to load in and complete the set up on time.
Overlooking just a few little things can turn your wedding day into a comedy of errors.
Qualified, professional wedding vendors communicate on a regular basis. If you have a concern leading up to the wedding, you should not have to wait more than a day for your planner, florist, and photographer etc. to respond. Let’s face it; you’ve never done this before! Your questions, no matter how minor they may be, need to be answered as soon as possible. Open communication with your vendors will help you avoid the 3:30AM panic attack!
Many venues, including most all hotels in Southern California, require that each wedding vendor carry a one million dollar liability insurance policy along with proof of workman’s comp insurance. If your photographer friend thought it was a great idea to have the wedding party jump into the hotel pool, you want to make sure you are not liable if something goes horribly wrong.
In the wedding world, every big city is really a small town. Unlike the amateurs, a real professional cares about their reputation. Your uncle, the high school photography teacher, does not have to worry about a 1 star review on Yelp. Any professional worth their salt understands that they are only as good as their last gig.
7. The Backup Plan
Real professionals plan. Long before the wedding day, all professionals walk through the “what if” scenarios. For example, pro photographers have back up equipment.
Last year while photographing a rehearsal dinner in a remote Mexican resort, I tripped and dropped my camera, shattering the lens and camera body. Thankfully no one noticed, and with plenty of back up equipment I never missed a shot.
8. Customer Service
Demand what you’ve paid for. Hiring a professional insures you can ask for what you have paid for. If your good friend wants to do the video as their “gift”, you’ll find it hard to make any demands of them.
Topping the list of complaints about amateur photographers is “when will we ever see the photos?” The “weekend warrior” photographer simply does not have the means, time or capability to deliver 1000+ before the bride and groom return from their honeymoon. Again, if a friend has shot your wedding, and you’ve paid little to nothing for the service, asking for the photos to be sent to you quickly will most likely result your dissatisfaction, frustration, and the loss of a good friend. Keep your friends and hire a pro!