My Personal Wedding Fail
If I was going to share wedding fails and other cautionary tales then I knew that I had to start with my own back in 2015. When I was 21 and my husband was 22 we decided to do a micro wedding/ elopement before they were popular. So basically we are trend setters. We planned our wedding in 30 days because we were young and in love and just wanted to start our life together. And this will be shocking coming from a wedding photographer but I personally wasn't much for the whole wedding thing. Not because I dislike weddings I just hate being the center of attention. I don't enjoy being fussed over and then the "public speaking" aspect of reading your vows in front of a hundred plus people is nightmare fuel for me. I was barely able to do it in front of the 20 people that were there. So small and intimate was the ideal wedding for us with a reception to follow with additional friends and family.
We didn't have much money, I was working as a Clinique consultant and my husband worked an e-commerce position at a pawn shop. As you might have guessed, we had a very tight budget which was fine since we were keeping it small. We were able to save money in some areas (I will cover that in another post), but we also saved money in the wrong area. I hired a friend as my photographer who was in school for graphic design and photography. She all but ruined my wedding and now there are precious moments from that day I will never get back.
I don't remember what I had paid now but I do remember it was something to the tune of $150 to $300 since I was a "friend". Let's call the red flag number one. On the day of my wedding she showed up to my apartment to shoot a few getting ready shots. My best friend was the one helping me into my dress and helping with my hair. She is a gem among gems. Then we drove over to the ceremony location. Unfortunately a heat wave was coming through, So instead of being a hot 90 degrees on the beach of Charleston it was a face melting 110 degrees with the heat index. Brutal.
When we got to the beach our photographer walked the whole way to where we were getting married (Morris Island Inlet for those who are curious) and realized she had filled her memory card and didn't have another on her person. Red Flag number two. She walked back to her car and held up the ceremony for 45 minutes before coming back to say she didn't have an additional memory card. Red flag number three. Thankfully my grandpa saved the day because he had a useable memory card in the point and shoot camera he had brought. He loaned that to her and thank God he did. That will come up again.
By the time we started the ceremony we had all been in the sun for about two hours longer than expected and no one brought enough water. My grandma fainted on the beach and thank God she is okay, that woman is a trooper. We did the song and dance: family, wedding party, bride and groom pictures and then made our way over to the small reception. Ultimately the rest of the evening went off relatively uneventful.
The next day the photographer met us to give my grandpa's memory card back. This card held everything from ceremony to reception. Since I had the unedited photos on the card I went ahead and uploaded them to my computer just to look through. A few days later the photog sent an edited three photo preview and honestly for what wedding photography was back then, I was happy with what I was seeing. I was excited to see the rest. We were promised a 30 day turn around for photos but July passed, August came and went as well as September. When I reached out for the final time in October I was fed a story about how her apartment was just robbed and all they took was her computer. Was it true? Maybe. I have my doubts that it was though. Even if it was true, she hadn't been robbed three months earlier when they were supposed to have been delivered.
I never saw the getting ready photos and few bridal shots she got and I never will since those were on a different memory card. I was heartbroken, until I remembered I in fact had uploaded the jpegs of everything else onto my grandpa's card. I had something. Not the highest resolution but still it was something. And that's where my wedding business began. I learned to edit on my own wedding photos. After the experience I had, I knew I could offer better service and quality than what I had received and a year and a half later I opened GAB Photography.
To entirely blame that photographer though would be unfair. Honestly I didn't do my research and you get what you pay for. Know better do better. Don't hire a friend just because they're a friend. Hire a competent photographer who demonstrates skill and knowledge. If that happens to be a friend, amazing! However, "friend" cannot be the only criteria. I also learned the hard way to always research your photog and don't go with the lowest price because chances are that will also bring you the lowest quality photos and overall service. I was 21 and didn't understand the wedding market at all then. Honestly I was naive and If I had known what I did now I'd have beautiful wedding photos and an album displayed in my home. Instead I never printed a single one.
If you walk through my home today what you will see is countless photos from other things though. A trip to the Florida Keys, my oldest sons adoption day, newborn and maternity photos all done by some of my very talented colleagues turned friends. Spring and other random photos I took of the boys and my family too. I cherish all of these and I am fortunate to have all of these printed memories despite the mishap of our wedding. The experience is for sure a wedding fail but a fail upward in a way that lead me to my now career. A fail that taught me that you pay what someones work is valued. A fail that reminds me to create systems and backups so that this never happens to a bride and groom I am working with. I always have a backup camera, 10 blank memory cards at the ready, and I always always ALWAYS back up your photos as soon as possible in case life happens. Don't learn a hard lesson like I did.