on being an advocate for the bride

First, you look at my website. Then, you send me an email. We set up a time to meet, I buy a few drinks and the fun begins. We talk about your story, how you met, how you (undoubtedly and unknowingly) sabotaged his proposal. We might even talk about a first look, why pocket squares are sometimes a better option than boutonnieres and the pros and cons of DJs and bands. You show me the timeline that you’ve started and we joke about how we’re going to turn that thing inside out a few times before the big day rolls around.

Then, we meet for engagement photos. We start with a drink because we all know that he needs one—and then we go explore and do photos. We laugh. We get awkward. We talk about how your mom is giving you a hard time about this and that, and we may even come up with a strategy for what to do when your cousin insists on bringing her three kids.

We meet again a few weeks before the wedding. We talk about what the day will look like—from the timeline to the weather to when the sun will set. We’ll talk about your uncle with the DSLR and how we’ll handle that during family photos. And we will most definitely solidify the plan to make sure I get a piece of cake.

My point is THIS: by the time I show up to your wedding, we are friends.

I’m invested in your day. I’m excited about the heirloom jewelry that your grandmother gave you at the rehearsal dinner. I can’t wait to get my hands on your fab shoes. And I send my second shooter to be with the guys, because no matter how hard I try, I can’t tie a bow-tie.

So, when your venue starts throwing up road blocks that are going to hinder the awesomeness of your day… it really pisses me off.

My job is to make sure you have amazing photos. Period. My other job is to be professional and fabulous, but if I need to get a little snarky to get your wedding photos to be just the way you’ve dreamt of them, I will.

This weekend, I had a fantastic bride, an awesome groom and a rockstar second shooter. And the venue was committed to messing with all of us. I will spare you all of the details (as that letter is being drafted next), and hit you with a few highlights:

We tried to photograph the dress at the gazebo. “No, it’s not your scheduled time.” We went somewhere else.

We tried to photograph the dress in the portico. “Sorry about the other people, you’ll have to deal with it.” We worked through it.

We tried to photography the flowers with the dress, shoes and jewelry. “No, you can’t have the flowers yet.” We took them anyway.

We tried to pin the boutonnieres. “No, we do that.” We repined them anyway… I prefer the pin not be sticking out. Sigh.

We tried to photograph the bride and groom at the gazebo. “No, you can do it at 7:50.” Um, it’s dark at 7:50. We went to the golf course. “You can’t go to the golf course.” We went anyway.

We tried to photograph the marriage license indoors. “We do that on the rocks outside, don’t you have flash?” They used a flashlight. We didn’t take photos outside.

In the end, we made this wedding look damn good. The couple was beautiful and the weather was gorgeous. There’s no way a Vvenue (not a typo) should work so hard against the objective of the couple.

A few things to think about:

Put someone in charge. Not you. Not me. Hire a day-of wedding planner. Need some names? Ask me. I bet you’ll be shocked as to how affordable they are. The notion of neither you nor I wasting time getting answers or troubleshooting is priceless. A planner not in your budget? Find someone to run point on your day. Many venues, such as the Conrad, have wedding teams that are advocates for you. Just find someone to be your eyes and ears.

Share your timeline with your vendors. All of them. The more in sync your vendors are, the better. (The schedule that the Vvenue gave me this weekend was what we built ours off of. It turns out they changed it, throwing us totally out of wack. I’m an excellent adapt and conquer gal, but it was beyond ridiculous.)

Understand the limitations of YOUR day. If the sun sets at 7:15 and your ceremony is at 7:30, doing photos afterwards just won’t work. Plan accordingly.

Decide your priorities beforehand. Bride and groom photos, photos of the bridal party, off-site photos, family portraits, detail shots, etc. We WILL get them all, but it’s important that we’re all on the same page and that you communicate the order of importance.

Commit to having fun. Bottom line. This weekend’s couple excelled at this. Love them.

I promise you that I will be your advocate and cheerleader. I promise to do all that I can to make everything that we’ve planned happen.

And, I promise to never step foot on that property again.

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Next, I’m writing the venue a letter. Not to complain or whine, just to explain to them how their logistics hindered the deliverables for the bride. Stay tuned.

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