Saturday, January 23, 2010

Notes From a Newlywed: The Don'ts

We let the suspense build for a week, but I'm here to fill you in on the DON'Ts from our winter wedding. I went into the day with the mindset that things would go wrong but I wouldn't let them get to me... have you seen those vintage WWII "Keep Calm and Carry On" signs that are blowing up the internet?

Yup, that was pretty much my wedding day mantra. Surprisingly, I can't think of anything that went specifically "wrong" that day. But there are a few things I would do differently. Without further ado...


1. Book any vendors you aren't totally comfortable with. One of the first contracts we signed was our photographer. We got engaged at the end of February and quickly decided on a wedding date that was 10 months away (January 2nd). The first six weeks was a flurry of appointments and my type-A self wanted to get that ish signed on the dotted line. I came across a decent photographer at a bridal show and we met with him in person. We weren't totally thrilled with his work, and we didn't necessarily "click" in terms of personality. I looked for about another two weeks for an alternate photographer but all of the ones whose work I really liked were WAY (3x) out of our budget. Since we weren't able or willing to budge on the dollars, we settled on the original photographer.

That was the biggest and only regret in the planning process.

Without going into a ton of detail, the husband and wife team showed up at the bridal suite at 2pm, right on schedule with plenty of time before our 4:30 ceremony. Instead of a friendly greeting, they both looked completely uninterested in being there, and were borderline rude. I was so surprised when I opened the door I asked them "Is everything okay?" That set the tone for the day and it is reflected in most of the pictures. They were unable to get any of us to loosen up in front of the camera because the mood was so uncomfortable, and many of the pictures are stiff and posed. When we met long before the wedding we specifically talked about getting a lot of photojournalistic style shots to capture the day more candidly, but almost 80% of the photos are the traditional "posed" shots. The few candid pictures don't reflect anything special and are remarkably amateurish. They completely failed to capture the glowy vibe during the candlelit ceremony by using bright and invasive flashes. Not only did this wash out the pictures, it was incredibly distracting during the service. We did talk in detail that our ceremony would be dimly lit and I even sent him some examples of stunning candlelight photography. I remember thinking at our initial meeting that he didn't really "get" what I was trying to describe, but I pushed my doubt aside and went forward with what I thought was the best option we could afford.

The lesson learned for me was about halfway into the wedding planning process when we decided to look for someone to take engagement photos, which weren't included with our original photographers' package. We were able to find another husband and wife team, new to the business, who took the most incredible photos. If I would have stuck to my guns and just kept looking a little longer, we could have had a truly amazing photographer at an affordable (for us) price.

2. Be afraid to speak your mind! Putting together a spectacular wedding takes a ton of help - caterers, florists, entertainment, photographers, etc, etc, etc. Remember - you are their client. You are PAYING them for a specific service provided. Confession: I didn't totally love my wedding day 'do. It was pretty, but not exactly what I wanted, and I didn't feel it was special or different enough from the way I typically wear my hair. But, the hairstylist was so excited about the look and I (this is embarrasing) didn't want to hurt her feelings by saying "I don't like it." So I just smiled, said thank you, and handed her a hefty tip for her services. Jigga-what?? Future brides, remember this is your day. Within reason, you have hired people to surround you and create what you have envisioned since the day he proposed (and probably much longer than that). If you are unhappy with something, let it be known - politely, of course!

3. But, don' a bridezilla. The word makes me shudder - too many bad, bad WE reruns - but it's a slippery slope between asking your sister to help carry your train and demanding your four bridesmaids repeatedly pull on the under-layer of your dress to help it lay properly. ("Pull harder!!") My comments in the previous category apply only to those who you have hired to provide a service - this does not include your bridesmaids, your mom, or any of your guests. Repeat after me, "I still want to have friends and family who acknowledge me after the wedding." One of my bridesmaids wore an ivory coat with her dress - so for outdoor photos I asked my mom to lend said bridesmaid her black coat. Um, yeah, it was 18 degrees out that day, and I asked my own mother to forego outerwear. I have already apologized to her and when we are back on speaking terms, I'll let you know.

Those are the big no-no's I tucked into my back pocket to share with you. Basically trust your instincts, speak your mind, but for goodness sake, keep yourself in check with friends and family, especially those closest to you.

Coming soon is the previously alluded to he said/she said recap complete with photos. I can't promise next week because we are waiting on digital images. If our photographer reads this blog we may never see them....

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