So, I’m IN a Wedding {Wedding Photographer is a Bridesmaid}

So, I’m IN a wedding next Spring. To be honest, I’ve never been IN a wedding before. I’ve shot about a million but IN one? Nope. Well, being in my line of business and in a fairly close relationship with the bride-to-be, she confides in me about her planning process pretty regularly. In that confidence, there are also questions. These questions, of course got me to thinking…”Are these regular questions?” or in some cases “Are these real assumptions?” Some of them even stop me in my tracks. That being said I thought I might blog about it here to help any of you that may be planning your upcoming nuptials with the hopes that I may be able to save you some headache.

  1. Hiring a friend will save us some cash
    1. Not always. Sorry to burst your bubble but, your wedding vendors are responsible for executing the biggest day of your adult life. You are joining two families to one and claiming your undying love and faithfulness to one person and maybe, just maybe some of those duties should be left ONLY to professionals and not a buddy from high school because it’ll save you $300
    2. Try to think about it this way: Say you hire your friend Joe. Joe was on your high school football team, you guys get along famously  and you are so glad you ran into him. He’s a “professional” wedding DJ now AND he’s cutting you a super great deal! Score! He doesn’t require a contract, never offers to help plan your timeline, give advice about songs to be played or not to be played, what may or may not be appropriate for cocktail hour verses late night but hey, you were buddies and he’s letting you pay the day of the wedding. Yup, until he shows up a half an hour late (You’re friends, maybe he had car trouble it’s cool). Then, maybe he drinks a little too much during your reception and next thing you know he just hit on your mother in law. What?! Here’s the thing about hiring friends: A lot is taken for granted when you mix business with friendship. That isn’t to say it will always happen but it can. It is up to you to decide which wedding vendors you can trust to your pals, if any. Another thing to consider is that say there is a completely innocent mistake made by your buddy. What happens then? Is the buddy your caterer? The DJ? God forbid, the photographer? What happens to your friendship then? Innocent mistake or not, if the mistake is big enough to put a serious dent in your day, how do you handle your friendship after the fact?
  2. Is the wedding photographer requiring a retainer and a contract normal?
    1. Yes. In fact, every single one of your vendors should require a contract. I don’t care if you’ve met, get along great and could never imagine anything going awry. Guess what, it will. A contract is there to protect both parties and that includes YOU. Whether or not they require a retainer is completely up to them but I would be wary of anyone that did not and here is why:
      1. a retainer is a monetary investment from the client to the vendor to reserve time on that vendor’s calendar. You want the vendor to be invested in your big day right? You want them to reserve that time FOR you. Well, believe it or not weddings are a business and while, there might be a million vendors that specialize in weddings those that are worth their weight are sought after by brides and grooms all throughout wedding season. That retainer paid for by you, and that contract signed by you, are how YOU know that vendor is going to show up for you and not the other six brides that called them about the very same date after you signed your contract.
  3. My wedding venue is asking for insurance from my vendor(s). Do I pay for that?
    1. Don’t panic. Your vendors carry insurance. Call them and they should be more than happy to provide that proof of insurance to the venue directly.
  4. Cat, we’re fighting over the photographer. HELP!
    1. Thumbs Up: Photographer A requires a retainer and a contract, has been published and/or won awards by his or her peers, specializes in weddings, has shot both as a second shooter and main photographer on weddings for at least two seasons, has backup equipment, is insured and responds to your inquiries within 24 hours.
    2. Thumbs down: does not specialize in weddings (I’m serious folks, how are you going to feel when you’re in your 70’s, looking back through your wedding album and your photographs are all half-caught moments, or worse, MISSED all together?), not insured, is a “Shoot and burner” (shoots your wedding and hands over a disc of unedited raw files), has no backup equipment (God forbid their camera body malfunction during the ceremony. Where is that first kiss then?), has no contract, calls you back a week after you left them a message about needing proof of insurance for your venue to tell you they don’t have it. Poof! There goes your venue)
  5. This Wedding Photographer’s Recommendation: Both the bride AND the groom need to prepare their expected budget for the wedding and the priority in which they hold for each aspect and vendor. For instance, my budget is $10,000 and I (obviously) highly regard wedding photography so I expect that we will spend upwards of 35% of our budget on wedding photography. Guess what, maybe my husband places a higher priority on the DJ and has placed wedding photography around 15% of our budget. Well, guess what…now we need to have a conversation before we start signing contracts don’t we? You can imagine how crazy the planning process will get if we have each of our vendors placed at a different priority level. Oh, and by the way, this is also your first marriage prep counseling session. It’s called, learning how to compromise as a couple. 🙂 You’re welcome.

Are these some questions you are coming across planning for your big day? If you’re interested in a no obligation consultation to help plan and photograph your big day, I would love to help. Feel free to get in touch with me and we’ll set up a time to meet. We’ll have some coffee and talk about what you’re planning for your wedding day and how Studio 828 Photography can help. 828.275.9932 Cat@Studio-828.com

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