Friday, February 10, 2012

The apple falls...

Early last summer we went to a local orchard to inspect it as a possible wedding venue. They had just remodeled the inside of this huge barn and it was honestly gorgeous - totally the sort of place I would want to have our wedding.

But then we met the wedding planner. 

The event organizer, the wedding representative, the person with the keys to the rooms you want to get in. Whatever the title, this person is the gatekeeper for your wedding venue, and they can make or break your experience. 

We were there a few minutes early, and she was busy with another couple - which is entirely understandable. It's a Saturday in the summer, of course you're busy. So, at her instruction, we had a look around. We looked, and looked. And 15 minutes later, when our appointment time had come and gone, we had a seat and just waited for her to finish. (And honestly, it's a barn. There's not too much to look at. Oh my, look at that wooden wall - simply stunning.)

When she finally finished with the other couple, she came over and greeted my fiancée with a warm hug, "Oh GOODNESS! Congratulations! Thanks so much for coming!" and then turned to me with a sour smile and muttered "Hi." in the manner you would greet someone who used to give you wedgies when you were in elementary school together, but it's years later and you can't be bothered to confront them about it, and you don't want to be impolite.

But, if my memory serves me, I had never given her a wedgie previously. BUT I SURE AS HELL WANTED TO NOW! She continued to gush at my fiancée and ignore me, to the point where my fiancée became uncomfortable and was shooting me nervous glances and trying to deflect questions to me, to show that she wanted me involved in the conversation. 

We left shortly after, and the wedding planner went to crawl back under her bridge. To this day, I don't know why some wedding vendors treat grooms as if they're puppy-kickers. If you're not willing to be polite to someone who wants to give you money, then perhaps you should rethink your choice of career in customer service.

And really, I love puppies.

We just made the last payment for our wedding venue. It's way better than this place was, an order of magnitude cheaper, and the wedding coordinators are at least unoffensive. Keep looking. You'll find the place that fits you.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Bed, Bath, and Bitterness

Even after I filled out all of my information on their stupid clipboard - not because I wanted to, mind you, but because I have some sort of aversion to saying no to these people - and the woman called me to verify she had the right email address. My email address, I should add. 


I didn't want to register for your high-thread-count sheets and Margaritaville blenders anyway! 

Sorry. I had to get that out of my system.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Offbeat Grooms

There's a great guest post on Offbeat Bride today: Grooms and the Wedding Industrial Complex
Here's an excerpt:
...the "Wedding Specialist" introduced herself to me and shook my hand. She then turned around and started walking us back to the conference room without even acknowledging Alex. During the consultation, she addressed all the questions to me, without asking Alex his opinion on anything. 
That's been my experience in most things. At one venue, my fiancée even thanked the event coordinator afterwards for acknowledging me, since she had been the first to actually do so.

I'll leave you with a bit of advice. Don't shoot your fiancée in the eye with a Nerf gun.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

What if I don't have a good side to photograph?

There are few areas of wedding planning that I have any authority to talk about, which is odd seeing that I started a blog to do just that. Most of the time, I'm spouting off whatever random gibberish shakes out of my head, but I can at least pretend to know a few things about photography.

It's easy to pick out a good photographer if you know what you're looking for. You don't need Ansel Adams to photograph your wedding (and it's a good thing, because he's dead - and he mostly shot landscapes) but you still want someone who will make you look good on film. Or in pixels. Or whatever you kids are making photos out of these days. Fucking holograms, I don't know.

Rather than bore you with technical details (which I can do, just ask my fiancée) I'll give you a few things that burn my cupcakes when I look at wedding photography. Put these on a wedding bingo card and go to a bridal show. See who wins.

(I'm using photos that I have taken at weddings. Or of my cats. Or of my cats at weddings.)

Black & White Photos with Color Accents

Sorry Valerie.
You'll see this one a lot. 90% of the time it will be the flowers. Or something else that's red. It's not the mark of a bad photographer, but it's overdone to the point of nausea. It can be done tastefully, but just because something worked stylistically in Schindler's List, doesn't mean it will work for your wedding. Actually, that's pretty good advice for the rest of your wedding too.

Bad White Balancing

This one actually does make you a bad photographer. Or at least a bad editor. White balance can make you look like a zombie if done badly. Or people might wonder if your entire wedding party had jaundice on the day of the wedding. Different lights have different temperatures. Photographers need to adjust for those. Bottom line, if you see a wedding album where everything is a little too yellow, just keep walking. You can see the subtle differences in the cat pictures below.

This is one of my cats. His name is Voltron.

Overly Vintaged Photos

Also known as too much Photoshop. Or the Instagram addiction. Or... submit another clever name in the comments if you think of it. This is another style thing. A little goes a long way. 

You may want your wedding to look like it's being shot on film - but in that case, you should just find a photographer who still shoots on film. Or uses film as an adjunct. A wedding that I went to earlier this year had a second photographer who shot on a Holga for part of the time, and it pumped out some great shots!


A flash is an essential part of a modern wedding photographers kit, but it's also the most dangerous. Dark reception halls and big, white dresses can make for a BAD TIME.  You probably won't have a horrible shot like the one on the top-right, but you should look out for subjects that are a lot brighter than the backgrounds, with shadows directly behind people and objects. Also look out for shiny skin or fabric that looks unnatural. If they don't bounce the flash or diffuse it, you'll get some weird results like this.

In the end, you're going to want a photographer that doesn't suck, fits your style, and doesn't require you to mortgage your kidneys to pay for their photos. I personally look for photographers who have people who look like REAL PEOPLE in their display books. I'm a fat guy, so I look for photographers who can make fat guys look good. You might be ugly. Look for a photographer who can make the inner beauty show in an uggo.

Don't want a photographer? Don't get one! Buy a bunch of disposable cameras and put them on the tables. Get a photobooth. Have all your aunts and second cousins mail you their photos or upload them to a photo sharing site. There's no rule that says you need to have professional photos at your wedding - but if you want them, I hope this helps you out. Feel free to leave any questions in the comments.

Monday, January 30, 2012

There's no business like show business.

In a whirlwind weekend, we had three bridal shows booked for this weekend, though we only made it to two. Bridal shows, by name, tell grooms to stay away. There's certainly no reason you'd want to peruse a gaggle of wedding vendors and watch a runway show of wedding gowns with an endless sea of future brides, is there?


the cake is NOT a lie.
First, and I'm still a little bitter that no one clued me in to this secret earlier - Free Cake! FREE CAKE! There's normally at least one bakery exhibiting and trying to give you samples of their delicious cakey goodness. One of the shows I went to this weekend had 5 bakeries trying to make my diabetes worse. The well-seasoned-veteran bakeries might even have a to-go container for you to take home and "share" with your "mother-in-law." They know that you're going to keep the cake for yourself and scarf it down in the middle of the night, but they don't care. They're just happy that you're eating their cake. And you're happy to be eating their cake.

Second, even though the show might be crappy, you're almost guaranteed to get an idea for your wedding. It might be something you want to do, but more likely it's something that you don't want to do. There's generally always a DJ who plays their music so loud that you can't actually talk to some of the vendors - they're guaranteed to play the music too loud during your reception dinner. There will be photographers there with actual photo books. You can glance through their photos and ask them questions instead of having to deal with their horrible Flash-based website. (My next post will give you a couple pointers on how to pick out photographers.) It's also really easy to weed out vendors who won't give the time-of-day to a groom. Next! 

Also, most of these shows give out door prizes. You might just get an orange peeler donated by the Tupperware booth, but you might win a free engagement session with a photographer or a gift certificate to a jeweler. YOU ARE A WINNER! 

Many bridal shows will charge you to get in, but you can always ask around with vendors that you are thinking of booking with and see if they have any free or discounted tickets. Many do! If there's a show you really want to go to, check out their website and see who the vendors are - then stop by a florist or baker who is showing there and see if they have any tickets. Sneaky, but worth it! 

Bring a bag to carry all the brochures and fliers. Bring an appetite for the cake. Bring your bride - she'll be able to talk you down when you have an anxiety attack because there are way too many people trying to push past you and get to the cake.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


The very first time I tried to do any wedding planning, beyond idle thoughts, I stopped in a bakery and asked to look at the books they had clearly laid out with photographs of cakes. I was alone, as it was Saturday morning, and my fiancee doesn't like to get out of bed until million o'clock (a designation of time that we actually use around the house for this very purpose) and so I was denied my request.

The baker asked when our wedding was (a few years away, at this time), what our colors were (pink and orange in the winter?!), and a few other things that danced around the issue - but in the end, she told me she would rather I come back with The Bride.

I just wanted to look at the photo books. She didn't even need to stick around.

This was my first occurrence of groom prejudice. I was cock-blocked. By my own cock.

The entire wedding world today is a bride-centric marketing tool that leaves the other half of the wedding party out in the cold. But I feel that modern grooms need to take back the wedding. This is your first and best chance at collaborating on something huge with your partner. If you can't agree on something as trivial as table linens, how are you going to live together for the rest of your lives? Is one person going to always be in charge of certain things and the other  will always go along? I'm sure that works for some people, but wouldn't you rather find something you both like? Wouldn't you rather have a wedding that you both enjoy?

Well, maybe you wouldn't - but I do.

Roll initiative.

There are very few responsibilities pegged onto the groom of a modern wedding. Show up in a tux. Pay for things. Smile for the camera. Meanwhile, stay blissfully unaware of any of that silly planning business that the bride is fussing about. Every so often, you may be asked to choose a color or comment on a candle, but that will either be after the bride has discovered that all of her bridesmaids are dodging her phone calls or to make you feel important and lull you back into your testosterone-induced stupor. But you're not important; this is the bride's special day and you're just supplying the contrast so that her white gown looks even more radiant in the photos.

But is that what you want?

You. Guy in the tux. The groom. 

What if you want to be involved in your own wedding? What if you want to have a say in what goes on? What if you - you might want to sit down for this one - have an opinion of your own? 

That's the position I found myself in when we started planning for our wedding. It's scary, but I'm going to take you through the journey with me. Buckle your seat belts.