Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Secrets Behind- Photography

One of my favorite things about wedding day is the beautiful wedding day photography.  Photographers have become amazing artist and it isn't because of the digital camera.  It is because the wedding industry has been blessed with very talented, artistic, creative and unique people.  It is filling up with them actually.  Thankfully, for my brides, it is easy to know good work from the bad, just look at the pictures.  Compare good photographs to bad and then compare GREAT photographs to good, the difference is tremendous.

With that being said, I am once again, featuring a photographer on my "Secrets Behind" series.  I don't think there will ever come a time when I run out of good photographers for this series.  

Now SECRETS BEHIND- PHOTOGRAPHY by Julie Hahn of Sugarbush Design

We were introduced to Julie through one of our 2010 bridal clients.  Our bride found Julie and fell in love with her work.  We are very excited to work with her and to see the great results from her photography.  The ceremony is being held at Cleveland Botanical Gardens and reception at Signature of Solon, both will make for great backdrops for the wedding photos.

And now for the "secrets"

Q: What is the biggest misconception about your industry?

A: That all photography is the same.  I don’t think people know that people can specialize.  Landscape photography is different from sports photography which is different from architectural photography which is different from street photography, etc.  There are different techniques, skills and equipment that apply.

For wedding photography specifically, I think the biggest misconception is that you can save money by asking a family member or friend to shoot the wedding. There are a few things I would advise wedding couples to consider if they want to go this route:

•    Ask yourself if you want your family and friends to be your guests.  It is very hard for your friend to do both and he/she will still think of themselves as a guest even if they are supposed be taking pictures.  For example, if they want to have a drink or catch up with out-of-town friends, then that's time that they’re not taking pictures.  Also, if they're drinking, the photos will be blurry.
•    If your friend isn’t a professional, you might not save any money.  I spent several months this year fixing wedding photos for a bride who had a family friend cover the event.  The time, expense, frustration and heartache that it took to bring these photos to a place where we were both comfortable with them was substantial.
•    If you have a professional photographer as a friend, consider what you are asking them do. Are you expecting your other friends to give you a $3,000 gift for your wedding? 

Q: What are a few mistakes brides sometimes make when choosing their photographer?
A: Not having an opinion.  The best thing a couple can do is have a well-considered, unified, heartfelt opinion.  I think everyone is so deathly afraid of becoming a ‘zilla of some sort that they think the best position to take is one of “Oh, I’m easy.  I don’t care.”  But if you don’t have a clear vision of what you’d like to see happen, then everyone else will be guessing and will be influenced by their opinions, not yours.

Q: What things should a bride look for, look at, when selecting a photographer?

A: Compatibility – both in terms of style of photography and personality.  I cannot imagine having someone whose company I didn’t enjoy following me around all day with a huge camera.  I’m sure my smile would be less than genuine
Consistency – every one of us is capable of taking a stunning picture…once in awhile.  It’s a different situation to be able to take really good, quality photographs (in addition to the “great” ones) over the course of 10-12 hours straight under a wide variety of conditions.  In checking out photographers, I would ask to see complete wedding galleries of a few different weddings to make sure your photographer can cover the entire event.

Q: What is the one thing a bride should save on when booking with you?
A: Well, I’m an all-inclusive kind of gal.  I book for the full day so that I don’t have to worry about looking at my watch wondering if they are going to start the first dance on time. Wedding couples are really saving on the potential added costs of needing extra time when they book with me.  

Q: What is the one thing a bride should splurge on when booking with you?
A: Ordering prints and albums.  Most wedding couples want their images on disc so that they can print them out themselves which is totally understandable.  However, no photographer can guarantee how the images will look when printed at Costco, Target, Walgreen's, etc.  All of those printers are different machines with different specifications.  Professional photographers calibrate their monitors to match their photo labs’ printers to ensure that what we see on our computer screens will match our prints.  Also, the photo paper will be professional grade which makes for better quality, longer-lasting photographs.

Q: What is the worst mistake a person in your industry can make?

A: For people starting out in the photography business, I believe it is a big no-no to “borrow” images from another photographer, with or without their permission, to build a portfolio or start a website.  That might sound like common sense, but it happens and it’s yucky.

I have a friend who was second shooting (not the primary photographer) at a bar mitzvah and the main photographer was scolded by the rabbi, during the ceremony, for moving around too much and being too intrusive.  Yikes!

Q: If you had a client who had endless funds what unique ideas and products/services would you offer them?
Well, I would love to travel and do a destination wedding, but I’m sure everyone says that.  With unlimited funds, I would do a full-on, magazine-style shoot complete with every kind of stylist I could think of.  Scout some crazy locations (and these places would probably charge serious money to shoot there), have some fun wardrobe changes, maybe a few wind machines, I don’t know…it would be great.

One thing I don’t think I’ll ever offer, but would love to see is for the wedding couple to hire really trustworthy and fun babysitters who can care for and entertain kids at the wedding…maybe in an adjoining smaller room.  I think it’s always a difficult thing to exclude kids from weddings and I think the parents would appreciate having their kids invited to the event, but also free to enjoy the evening.

Q: What are a few things that bridal clients should review in contracts with their photographers?

A: Timelines, cancellation policies and what is expected from the wedding couple/bridal party.  A good example is when there is a group photo to be taken and someone wanders off.  The photographer can’t take the time to go find that person, if we even know who it is!

Q: What is something you wish all of your clients knew, or a certain thing you wish all of your clients would do to make working with them easier?
A: My request is not so much for the wedding couple, but for all of the wedding guests and non-photo/video vendors out there.  Please be aware of the photographer and videographer.  We are being paid to capture this unique day and when we need to compete with guests and other vendors for space, placement, and time, it causes delays and missed shots.

I just want to thank Julie from SugarBush Design Photography for really getting into the interview and giving some thoughtful and VERY helpful answers to the questions we have.  I think these interviews can benefit everyone in the wedding industry by allowing us all to see the event from another perspective.  It will make better wedding vendors and better brides, in the long run.

Happy Planning,
All Events Planned


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Secrets Behind- Travel

I've enjoyed this series, probably more than some of my readers have.  I've gotten to know so much "Behind the Scenes" information from vendors that I normally wouldn't know as much about.  I think all in all the series has helped me to become a better and more thorough planner!

I don't spend much time with my clients arranging their honeymoon schedules but I know how much and money they DO spend on it, so I would be missing a big part of planning if I didn't include some details on working with Travel Agents.
I'm very excited to present 
Linda Murfin, CTC
Above The Crowds Travel & Meeting Planning
Telling people where to go for over 37 years!
I have had the honor of knowing Linda throughout a majority of my career so I can certainly vouch for her abilities and knowledge.  She is not only a wonderful business person but also an amazing woman.   Will all of that being said here are

Q: What is the biggest misconception about your industry?
A: The biggest misconception is that a fee is paid for my expertise. In most cases, I receive a commission from my suppliers so you pay the same whether you book your trip yourself or allow me to book it.
In rare cases where I am not able to book a commissionable package, I will advise of my fees upfront.

Q: What are a few mistakes brides sometimes make when making their travel arrangements?
They often listen to other people about where they have gone for their honeymoons and decide to go to a destination because someone else liked it there. When I work with the bride and/or groom, I base recommendations on what THEY like to do, their passions and preferences.

Q: What things should a bride look for, look at, when booking their honeymoon?
A: Personalization of services. Not getting "cookie cutter" packages.

Q: What is the one thing a bride should save on when booking with you?
A: She will definitely save on time. And with my 38 years of experience, she can count on getting the most for her dollar, no matter what the budget

Q: What is the one thing a bride should splurge on when booking with you?
A: Probably the accommodations. So many people say, "we won't be in the room that much" and book an inside cabin or a generic run-of-the-house room then don't have much of a special memory about their trip.

Q: What is the worst story you have heard about a mistake someone in your industry has made, anyone, ever. 
A: There are many potential scenarios for this - booking on the wrong date, misspelling of names, booking to the wrong destination (San Jose, California instead of San Jose, Costa Rica, for example), not letting clients know what documentation is necessary (passport, visas, letter of consent to take a minor out of the country, etc.). Travel is a tricky business with ALL the rules favoring the airlines, hotels, cruise lines and resorts. Accuracy is essential. With 38 years of experience, I know what to look for.

Q: If you had a client who had endless funds what unique ideas and products/services would you offer them?
A: I would offer private charter flights to get them to their destination as quickly as possible and at any time they wish. I would also offer private butler service to pack and unpack their bags, a chauffeur to take them wherever they want and a private chef to prepare whatever they want to eat whenever they want it.

Q: What are a few things that bridal clients should review in travel contracts?
A: Cancellation penalties and travel insurance. Even though you say "This is our honeymoon, we're not going to cancel.", there may be circumstances beyond your control. You don't want to lose money on top of it all.

Q: What is something you wish all of your clients knew, or a certain thing you wish all of your clients would do to make working with them easier?
A: Probably the biggest thing is having a budgeted amount or at least a range. People seem to be afraid to commit to an amount sometimes. If you tell me you have $3000 to spend and the resort which best suits your needs and preferences is $2000, I'm not going to charge you $3000 just because you told me you could spend that much! I'll recommend what is the best fit on all levels - price, location, amenities, activities, ambiance, etc.

Well, there is some information that I certainly didn't know enough about.  I can't thank Linda enough for giving me some "Behind the Scenes" details on travel.  If you are interested in learning more about Above the Crowds, please visit their site at  

I'd love to know what you think as well, so feel free to email me or comment on the blog!

Happy Planning,

Sunday, January 10, 2010

You Don't Want to Hire Me?!?

This post is strictly for the Brides that read my blog, although it can really be applied to any situation where you have meetings with several vendors before deciding on the right one.

Here is the scenario-
We've met, had our initial consultation (which is free) and we reviewed my experience, my skills, my pricing and most importantly, the details of your wedding.  I enjoyed our time together and as I leave, you agree that you enjoyed our meeting and will get back to me as soon as possible to let me know about your decision.  
Then a few days go by so I email you to check in and see how things are coming along.  Nothing.
Then about a week or so goes by and I email/call you to check in and see how things are coming along.
Then a few weeks, and of course, the sales person in me, won't let me just give up so I email/call again and..well, ya, you know

Of course by this time, I should "take a hint" but at the same time, I'm going to want to follow up, just in case you got busy.  I also don't want my lack of follow up to be interpreted as a sign of laziness or bad follow through.  (I'm super critical of myself in business situations, so I worry about everything) 
What happened? 

Well, truthfully, I know what happened, but I would rather hear it from you.  I know that you met with another planner and that you two just "clicked" right off the bat.  I know that because I've been the planner who meets with someone and gets a contract on the spot, when we "click."  

The biggest favor I have, and I'm really begging all of you, is to let me know that.  Tell me what you liked and didn't like about our appointment and why you decided to go with someone else.  You won't hurt my feelings and nothing is better than some constructive critisism from someone who you DIDN'T "click" with.  
You don't have to do it over the phone if you aren't comfortable, just send me an email.  Just say something, even if you don't want to spend the time detailing it out.  Most of the time, when I walk out of our meeting, I know if you are going to book with me or not, so I won't be too surprised about not getting the deal.  However, I will be happy, after spending an hour or so with you, to get some feedback on our meeting.  If you are willing to sit down and share intimate details about your wedding plans, family and friends shouldn't you at least be willing to share some feedback with me on our meeting?  

That's my favor to all you brides out there and I am certain that any planner you meet with will agree that they would love to know why you chose someone else.  How else will we all get any better if we never know what we are doing wrong?  

Thanks in advance, I'm going to go ahead and email you now to follow up.  This time, email me back!  

Happy Planning!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Northeast Ohio Bridal Soiree

This will be a one of a kind event, for any bride who is planning her wedding and is still in search of a few vendors and more wedding information.  While, I will not personally be working at the Soiree, I know that you will rest in good hands with the amazing vendors who are.  Hope to see a few of my clients there!


Tricia Dever from Always Eventful and Genevieve Nisly Photography are proud to announce the first ever Northeast Ohio Bridal Soiree! This is an opportunity for savvy brides to meet and talk with some of the areas top wedding professionals in a relaxed setting while being inspired by the lavish displays of local talent.
Come experience a one of a kind event at Brookside Country Club on Wednesday January 27th from 7 to 9pm. Limited tickets available at $15 for 2, since we know you won’t want to come alone.
The evening will begin with different wedding displays of local talent. Food and drinks are available while you mingle, relax and gather inspiration from the different flower arrangements, linens, cakes, lighting and music available. Discuss ideas with the weddings professionals who are also mingling or attend one of our four mini workshops.

Check out their site for more information-