Weddings are funny things. It’s a day which revolves around you as a couple – the one perfect day which you’ll remember for the rest of your life. But once you start booking the venue, the caterer and, yes, the photographer, you’re putting your perfect day in the hands of other people and trusting them to make it exactly as you wanted. So how much control do you really have?
Not long ago, I photographed the wedding for a couple whom I’ve known for a while. They used to visit the cafe that I ran, and I bumped into them and their family every so often whilst out and about. I feel like it’s appropriate to say we’re friends, and whilst I was photographing their wedding they treated me like family. Knowing I like (read: obsess over) gin, they kindly gifted me a bottle at the start of the day, and offered a hug instead of a handshake to top it off. Just a note to my readers and (hopefully) future clients: presents aren’t customary. But I never say no to a gin.
Taking full advantage of the calm before the storm, I thought I’d schmooze the wedding coordinator just a little. It usually never hurts, and helps the day run a little smoother. Only, on this occasion, I didn’t have to ask her what she had for breakfast to know that someone had pissed in her cereal. Even though we were both in the same boat, having been hired to help out during this wedding, it was clear that she thought I was low in the hierarchy. As far as I could tell from her attitude, which was far more prima donna than Mother Theresa, this was her venue. Nothing I could say or do, even the fact that I had a rapport with the couple, would take that away from her.
I didn’t think it would be a problem, until I was photographing the reception and the groom asked if I would have a drink to celebrate with him. Usually, I don’t drink at work, so I politely declined and said that I’d grab one later. The groom, being the nice guy that he is, insisted and grabbed me a drink from the bar. I held out my hand and just as I felt my mouth water a little from the thought of a cool glass of Gin Mare, there came a shrill voice from behind me: “every drink is calculated, so the photographer can’t have one.”
I’ll admit, I admired the coordinator’s effortless ability to make ‘photographer’ sound like ‘wedding crasher’. In one swift sentence, I was reduced from friend of the groom to some loser who had wandered in from the street. Of course he can’t have a drink, he’s pond scum. In the past I’ve talked about photographers practically begging caterers for food so that we don’t faint on the job, but this was something else.
The groom had some harsh words to say, which can’t be repeated here, but she wouldn’t budge and in the end we had to back down. I could see that the little altercation had caused some upset, which of course left me miffed. Who wants to look back at their wedding photos and remember the argument they had with their coordinator?
What made it worse was a chat with the bartender who told me that five day guests didn’t show up, so he had to put a load of beers back in the fridge. That being the case, somewhere between the wedding breakfast and the reception, a wad of money went back into the venue’s pocket rather than getting reinvested into the guests that did attend.
As we all know, weddings are expensive. But if you’re spending £18,000 on a venue, you’d want to make sure you got exactly what you wanted, right? Take back your control and get yourself a coordinator who factors in not just a couple of extra drinks, but other elements to make your day perfect. I’ve seen couples who check into their stately manor hotel, only to find cheap coffee sachets and a limescale-ridden kettle in their suites. Gross! You should be served fresh lattes and a continental breakfast, offered champagne and, bloody hell, maybe even a massage for that kind of money. Why the eff not?
Find someone who’ll kiss your arse on your wedding day. Not someone who thinks everyone should kiss theirs.