Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Photographer Debate

Like I said, Momma3000 suggested that while we were home for break, Groom3000 and I should start booking some vendors. Because we’re moving to Seattle this summer, we’re planning ahead for the wedding so most things are settled before our big, exciting and probably stressful move. Groom3000 and I both believe photos of our wedding are high priority—it’s supposed to be one of the happiest days of your life, right? Little did I know that the photographer would be the biggest bone of contentions yet and take wayyyyy more time to choose than the venue!

Here are the players and their opinions on the matter:

Groom3000 wants “artsy” and “weird” photos. If you ask him what he means by that, he’ll tell you (as he’s told others on several occasions): “Like a picture of your wedding dress handing from a tree.” Huh? I know what you’re thinking—why would I hang my expensive, flawlessly white dress from a tree? What my wonderful fiancĂ© is trying to say is he wants photos in the “photojournalistic” style. For the sake of this blog, photojournalistic means candid, un-posed moments captured on “film.” Unfortunately, this “artsy” style often means paying some major moola.

Mom and Dad 3000 want to stay within budget. Back in 1980 when my parents got married, posed pictures were the bread and butter of wedding photography. They’re traditional. Momma3000 just wants a few posed photos of Bride and Groom on the mantle—and she and Daddy-O don’t want to break the bank for them. If this means forsaking a little “artsy” and “weird,” then so be it.

Bride3000 wants her picture taken on her wedding day, damnit. Whether I’m standing and smiling next to Groom3000 with different combinations of family and friends, or hanging upside down from a tree, I want to have my picture taken by a professional photographer on my most beautiful day. Is that too much to ask?

So what happened? After meeting a popular local wedding photographer, Shaun, at the open house at Venue 1 (see previous post), we found he also did a lot of work at the venue we chose. Honestly, his shooting price can’t be beat—less than $2K for seven hours of photography. Mom and Dad 3000 said the price was right. Looking through his albums on display at both venues, Groom3000 wasn’t convinced. Most of the photos in these albums were “traditional” (can you feel Groom3000 cringe?). The photographers Groom3000 really liked would force us to pay an extra $1400-$1800 (as in less money for the honeymoon). 

Accck! How could I keep all parties happy with a decision when they had very different priorities?

There was yelling. There was crying. And finally we decided to meet with Shaun. The VERY rural drive (and kinda stinky since the farmers had just laid down fresh manure in the fields), was well worth it and is probably the best planning decision we’ve made yet. Not only did Groom3000 get to see all of the gorgeous candid photos Shaun’s taken that aren’t in the albums, we also discovered we felt very comfortable talking to him. This is incredibly important because the photographer is the person who follows you around for your entire wedding day. If you don’t like him/her, how are you going to feel when they’re constantly in your face?

The moral of the story: DO YOUR RESEARCH. I’m a journalist. Journalists don’t just get the real story from Web sites and word-of-mouth. No way! A good journalist always, always gets out of the newsroom to speak directly to the source to get the facts and learn the real story, even if it means smelling a little manure along the way.  

Monday, March 22, 2010

Venue-shopping: Third time's the charm

Just coming off Spring Break and boy, there’s a whole different view from here. To be honest, going into Spring Break, I felt stressed out again. We originally planned to see four different venues, all near Frederick, Md.

Venue 1: a circa 1888 mansion popularly used for weddings (they do over 200 a year!) Although Groom300 and I originally thought this place would be the ideal venue for our wedding, we left with mixed feelings. The ceremony site is gorgeous with a beautiful white pergola (aka greenery-covered pavilion thing) and a small pond that grows lily pads and flowers. But, when it comes down to it, the reception is where the party’s at, right? We really needed an indoor reception site (we don’t like the idea of being out in the rain or our elderly relatives having to stay out in the heat for very long). The reception room was nice, but actually a little cramped (and by that, I mean the DJ gets shoved in a corner). There were fairly large pillars on the corners of the centrally-located dance floor that probably would block some unfortunate guest’s view of everything. Good crab dip, though.

Venue 2: a country club/golf club on a hill off a major highway. I’d driven past this place on my way to and from Groom3000’s house so many times, I had to give it a look. My initial impression: the highway noise is almost deafening. Don’t you need concentration and quiet when golfing? The outdoor ceremony would have to take place in the front lawn of the club, with a splendid view of the traffic! (I can just imagine: “You may kiss the bride” “WHAT?” “YOU MAY KISS THE BRIDE” “OHH!”) Aside from that, the indoor reception hall was… well, in the words of Groom3000, like a funeral parlor—dark and dim, and probably full of old fogies when the club’s open. The event coordinator also let me down—instead of inviting us to sit down and chat; we all stood awkwardly in the lobby for 20 minutes. We knew that place was out as soon as we left.

Venue 3: a fairly new banquet hall at a golf club with a gorgeous view of the Catoctin Mountains. (Can you guess which one we picked?) It’s everything we wanted. A beautiful outdoor ceremony space: a stone patio with a backdrop of the green golf course, the Catoctin Mountains and valley (no highways!), and the sunset. The reception hall is very open with beautiful high ceilings, cream colored walls and dark candelabra light fixtures and exposed wooden beams, built-in dance floor, and LOTS of big windows so everyone can see the great view. Groom3000 and I loved it almost immediately—so much so that we cancelled our fourth venue visit!

Reception Hall! Photo courtesy of weddingwire.com

Now that the date is set (June 26, 2011), the contract signed, and the deposit paid (thanks to Mom and Dad 3000), I do feel a huge relief knowing the wedding will happen, even if it means I’m wearing a white sheet down the aisle.

“It’s all downhill from here,” said DaddyO3000, but as of last week, that wasn’t quite right. Mom3000 said while I was home for break, we might as well book some vendors. Who knew choosing a photographer would be so stressful? Don’t you just stand, smile, and then click? NOPE. That’s a whole ‘nother story for next time. 

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The wedding is on--off--on--off--ON!

Last week, I told Groom3000: “We’re eloping.”

Saturday—Bride3000 looses it: I’d been searching for wedding venues on the Internet for what seemed like the millionth time and came to the conclusion that planning a wedding would be the death of me. The most desirable locations were waaaay outside my budget and I found that the stress of simply searching for venues haunted my dreams and caused my skin to break out. The whole thing looked hopeless.

“I can’t do this, I just can’t do this,” I cried to Groom3000 every night last week. By Saturday, I’d already looked into the process of marriage via courthouse and Googled “best places to elope.” I made Groom3000 promise we wouldn’t have a wedding. He reluctantly agreed as long as I’d stop crying all the time.

I can be such a drama queen.

Sunday –Bride3000 gets a grip: Lunch with my family for my dad’s birthday. Of course, wedding plans came up in conversation, making Groom3000 cringe with the image of my bawling and yelling the night before.

Yes, there were some tears, but sitting down with my parents and seriously talking about our wedding budget gave me the reality check I needed. I’d been searching for the wrong venues, and I completely ignored Groom3000’s desire to have a real wedding with all of our friends and family—sorry, babe.

After lunch, I had renewed determination to make a realistic list of venues. Hello—there are plenty of beautiful wedding venues to fit my budget if I search within my price range. Duh! I dug out all my local wedding magazines with directories of wedding venues labeled by dollar sign. I highlighted all the venues labeled “$$” out of “$$$$$” and started sending email requests.

Today—Bride3000 takes a break: Spring break is next week and Groom3000 and I are seeing four venues in suburban Maryland. (I’ll post the possible candidates after we make our final selection.) It’s exciting to think that we’ll most likely know where we’re getting married by the end of the month! Groom3000 is just relieved I finally turned off the waterworks.

Now I’m wondering: How should I prepare for these visits? Are there any questions I absolutely can’t forget to ask these wedding coordinators?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Hello blog world!

Call me Bride3000. Groom3000 and I got engaged over Valentine's Day (story to come later, I promise) and I couldn't be more thrilled. (There's been more than a couple occasions when I catch myself staring at my gorgeous ring instead of listening to a professor's lecture. But really, can you blame me?) After reading a slew of wedding blogs, I decided to try exercising my writing skills outside of a newspaper and start my own blog. Groom3000 said I talk his ear off enough about our wedding plans, I can surely find enough to talk about for a blog. I think he's right--I'll give it a try.

 Introducing Bride and Groom 3000.

After we graduate in May, Groom3000 and I are moving from our Maryland homes to Seattle where Groom will start his new job and (fingers-crossed), I'll start mine. On top of finding our first apartment, starting new jobs, living in a new city where we know hardly anyone and being independent from our parents for the first time---we're planning a wedding!

Planning a wedding=stressful. Planning a wedding from across the country=gotta be more stressful, right?

We aim to get married in June 2011 in suburban Maryland. To be honest, we know more details about our honeymoon (southern Italy!) than our wedding. Maybe it's because I DON'T KNOW WHAT I'M DOING. Even though I've a)attended a wedding expo, b)read more than 5 wedding magazines and c)spent countless hours sucked into various wedding blogs, I find myself seriously overwhelmed! Maybe it's because I'm not the girl who's been dreaming about her wedding since she walked down the "aisle" with Teddy Bear at age 5. Nope, I'm starting from scratch--I'll keep you posted!