I Do! (Not Know Where to Begin) Month 3: Photographer & Videographer

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Welcome back friends! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday. It’s crazy to me that we’re already in a new year. 2018 was quite the whirlwind for me, and I’m so thankful to be able to be planning a wedding with the best guy around. Today we’re going to be talking about one of my favorite pieces of the puzzle: the photographer and videographer! I’m breaking my usual mystique with this one, because I am so obsessed with these vendors that I have to give them crazy shoutouts. If you are in need of a photographer or videographer -- these guys are seriously the best! Honestly, I knew before we were engaged exactly who would be hired for these jobs.

Image Source: Melanie Zacek/Photo by Ashley Largesse

Image Source: Melanie Zacek/Photo by Ashley Largesse

Picking your photographer (and videographer if you’re planning to have one) is one of the most important choices, if you ask me. This person is responsible for capturing the essence of the day and making your memories last for years to come in the most beautiful way. I knew that we needed to have someone that we were comfortable with and trusted. That being said, there was no way anyone other than the extremely gifted Melanie Zacek would be shooting our wedding! I’ve had the honor of working with Melanie on multiple of our photoshoots here at Parsimony and guys, seriously, she’s amazing. The details she captures, her whole attitude and demeanor, I knew that I needed her at my big day.

In terms of videographer, I had been told by multiple people going into this planning that one of their biggest regrets was not having a videographer. It was something that I wanted to get into the budget if at all possible, and I’m so happy we’re able to make it work. Dmitry Gordievsky and his team over at Embark Films are crazy talented and once again, there was no contest in my mind. Dmitry shot the most epic movie trailer for our Love Lost at Sea photoshoot last year and I immediately became obsessed. I’m seriously like a kid in a candy store knowing that we have both of these incredible artists on our team.

Image Source: Embark Films

Image Source: Embark Films

I think one of the biggest things that most people don’t realize going into planning is how expensive it’s going to be to have a quality photographer and videographer at your wedding. I can’t emphasize this statement enough: you need to know that you’re paying for the quality in this situation! This is NOT an area that you want to skimp in. It WILL show in your end results! That being said, just because they are more expensive, doesn’t mean that they’re the right option for you. Really study their work and make sure that their style is something that meshes with yours and is something you really appreciate! These photos and videos are something that you’re going to look back on for years to come. When your memories have faded and you don’t remember those details on your own, you’re going to want to have these momentos to flood you with those feelings and help you relive the big day. These pieces are investments and you really want to take them seriously. I’ve yet to hear of someone who regretted hiring a great photographer or videographer, but I have heard plenty of stories from people who decided to go with cheaper options and quickly came to regret it.

Image Source: The Southern California Bride

Image Source: The Southern California Bride

Along the same subject line, Jaren and I have decided to have an “unplugged” ceremony. Meaning we don’t want any of our guests to have their phones, iPads, cameras, etc. out during the ceremony. I have seen many a ruined photo or video from someone stepping out into the aisle to try and get a great shot. While I appreciate that people want their own photos to remember the day by, that’s why we’re hiring professionals! We’ll be sharing all the photos and videos with everyone after the fact, but don’t want Uncle Bob’s iPhone blocking my face while we’re saying our vows (don’t worry, there is no actual Uncle Bob). As soon as cocktail hour hits, you can snap away, but until then, phones are away. I know lots of people have started trying this out and haven’t necessarily been successful, so my advice to other couples is to be extremely diligent about it. Not only will we have a nice sign reminding people, but we will also have the officiant make a reminder announcement before we walk down the aisle. Oh, and our vendors have all been given permission to tell anyone that they need to put their devices away should any be seen. Some may think that makes me a bridezilla, but if I’m going to be investing my time into creating a beautiful day and having it professionally photographed and videographed, you can put your phone away for a half hour.

I Do! (Not Know Where to Begin) Month 2: Contracts

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Okay guys, one thing I didn’t fully prepare myself for coming into this wedding planning thing? Contracts. There’s a contract for everything. Which makes sense, it protects both parties and makes sure that everyone is getting what they are promised and providing what’s promised. But when I first started, it was a lot. I didn’t really know what I should be looking out for. What red flags would look like, if I could negotiate… I knew nothing! So today I wanted to help anyone else going through, or preparing to go through this process and share the list of things that Melissa showed me to look for in a contract, using our venue contract as an example. Obviously, each contract will be different in some way, but there are a lot of general things to look for regardless of what it’s for.

The Specifics

First thing’s first. Make sure to double check the spelling of all names and that contact information is correct! This may sounds like a no-brainer, but I totally missed that Jaren’s name was spelled incorrectly when I initially read our venue contract and that my phone number was missing. It wasn’t until my second pass that I noticed. Details people! If you aren’t detail oriented, it would be a really good idea to have another set of eyes on your contracts, at least while you’re getting the lay of the land. I have Melissa read through all our contracts before we sign off on anything.

Also in this category is the location information. Make sure the address, date and time frame are all correct. If you’re using multiple spaces within one venue, make sure that is all listed our properly as well.

Deposits and Minimums

Image Source: Real Simple

Image Source: Real Simple

If there are any minimums with your venue, you should already be aware of them. However, make sure that they’re listed correctly on your contract. For instance, our venue has a per plate minimum for catering, so we double checked that the figure quoted aligned with what what reflected in the contract. There should also be a clear statement of what your initial deposit is. Make sure that this is something you can pay TODAY! You can’t sign a contract if you’re unable to fulfill the financial obligation, especially because a credit card declined or a bounced check usually results in an additional fee. Always fully understand what your deposit goes towards (it should be going towards your balance of the event). They’re usually non-refundable to definitely be committed before signing anything!

Most contracts will lay out your payment schedule for the remaining balance after your initial down payment. Really review this, understand it, and make sure that you can meet the outlined plan. If you have any questions, ask! There was an error on our original contract, charging us $1,000 more than we were quoted. That was fixed in the next revision but our payment schedule was not, so it looked like we were going to pay more than our wedding was supposed to cost. (See what I mean when I say it’s all in the details?)

We had to give our credit card information for them to keep on file. Know what they are and are not allowed to use this information for. On our authorization form we had options for what could be charged to the card, so we know that the remainder of our payments will automatically be charged on the agreed upon dates.

Food & Beverage

Our venue has catering included, so this part may differ if that’s not the case for other locations. Regardless, know what is and isn’t allowed. Health laws will most likely prohibit any outside food from coming onto the property. This includes alcohol. Some venues will make exceptions for things like wrapped candy if you’re planning on having a candy bar. Know what the penalties are if you want to change your guest count, date, or time of the event as this will also affect your food and beverage charges.

Allowance and Limitations

Once again, it’s important to know what is and is not allowed with your rental. Can you bring in outside decor? Can you hang lights from the ceiling or walls? Know your limits! Also know what you’re liable for in terms of damages, replacements, clean up fees, etc.

Another point to note is what is done in-house and what is done by third-party vendors. For example, our venue contract outlines that they do not have in-house audio-visual equipment, but can provide it from a third-party vendor with proper notice, charging us for the usage.

Image Source: Wedding Sparrow

Image Source: Wedding Sparrow

Any quiet hours should also be listed on the contract. If nothing is listed, I would inquire -- maybe they don’t have any, but it’s pretty unlikely. Know what these are and make sure it’s something that you’re comfortable with. If you’re night owls and quiet hours start at 9 pm, this might not be the best fit for you.

Planning Deadlines

There should be a clear deadline listed for when you need to have your guaranteed guest count reported. Add this to your planning timeline (along with your payment schedule) so that you don’t forget! It would be a shame to pay for 70 plates if you only have 60 RSVPs yes. Wasted food and wasted money. No one wants that!

“Force Majeure”

This will appear in probably every contract. Standard legal language removing liability should anything crazy or Earth-shattering occur. If this is something that freaks you out, you should definitely look into wedding insurance (more on that another day).

Final Notes

Keep a copy of everything! Every email, every draft and revision, and your signed copies. Know the dates that they were all exchanged and when deposits were made. Heaven forbid anything come to pass, you’ll need to have all of this information at the ready. Being the crazy organizational freak that I am, I have a two part system. I have a hard-copy of everything stored in our wedding binder (complete with color-coded tabs) and I also store a copy of everything in our shared “Wedding Planning” Google Drive folder. This is my favorite because I have it with me everywhere I go and can easily check on details even if I don’t have my binder with me. It’s honestly a control freak’s dream come true.

Not the most exciting installment this week, but I hope it can help some other couples making their way through the process! I promise that next week will be way better… we’re diving into one of the topics I’m most excited about: photographers and videographers!