Does my bum look big in this?
So, yeah, we have all heard that one haven't we? But as funny as that old Fast Show sketch was, it does resonate in various forms with wedding suppliers of all sorts. No, not giving opinions on how a bride or groom look (although that IS common! Never ask....talk about awkward!!!), but more about the things that some couples request or ask, demand even, from suppliers that really aren't achievable or well out of their professional remit. We get it all the time....photographers get the classic "can you photoshop me to look 20 years younger" or "can you only shoot me from this side as I don't like that side".....and this is from the guests!!! I get that a lot of it is light hearted banter and we laugh it off, albeit we have heard it a million times! But it's good for the couple to realise that there are limits on what they are hiring us for. What's more, there is a perception of a service, whatever it is, that things can be "got around" both logistically or financially and its not uncommon for couples to want things that are not financially viable. Suppliers have to make a living too!
Of course a couple wants the perfect day. That is not in question and any supplier will do their utmost to give a service that is above and beyond expectation. That's how reputations are built and we all love what we do for that very reason. The look on a brides face when she sees the cake for the first time, or the flowers, or the bridesmaids see the bride made up fully for the first time, or when the videographer or photographer get feedback from them saying how much they love their video/photos. But you hire us as experts and you have to respect that. Yes, we will give advice, guidance, help, whatever we can do to get the best out of your day. No doubt. But even expertise will have a limit and it's when those limits are being stretched that it can lead to awkwardness, sadness, anger and ultimately spoiling the day for the couple.
I asked some well known and high end suppliers to give their thoughts and examples of when they have had requests or have had to go the extra mile, or even simple rules they pass out to couples to make both theirs and the couples day go more smoothly. See what they had to say....
Suzanne Randell is owner and founder of multi-award winning florist Flowers by Suzanne. She spoke of having a number of incidences that were quite interesting to say the least:
"I have had a number of odd requests and some downright cheeky ones! One bride said ‘we have just got back from holiday and we spent quite a lot of money - as the wedding is only in a few weeks’ time – can we cut our flower budget by half?’ We came to a compromise, where we used less expensive flowers, and the flower quote was ‘trimmed’ but not halved!
"Another interesting one was a bride asking me "Will you supply the flowers cheap and then I will get my mum and auntie to arrange them’
or better still ‘Will you supply the flowers cheap and deliver them to my mum, the afternoon before the wedding?’ (it takes normally 2-3 days and approx.. 12-14 hour working days to create the flower designs) In the end, it was all about compromise, pointing out to the couple, we had to make a profit, but also doing all your own flowers would be really stressful for the mums/aunties in such a short time, so we supplied some of the flowers (with mark up included) in buckets and then the rest we made, charging our usual labour and mark up".
"And finally, after sending a bride a quote via email, I received it back the next day with all the pricing ‘amended’ by her – with a message – ‘This is ideally what I would like to pay!’ I just re-sent the original quote and added in some less expensive options, and asked her politely not to amend the quote again, as it takes quite a while to work out accurate costings".
Kerry Curl owns and runs Cambridge Make Up Artist, another award winning supplier in high demand for the high quality work and service she provides in and around the Cambridgeshire area. Kerry spoke of one recent incident that really stood out to her:
"A bride had emailed and asked me to give her a full on glamour makeup look for her wedding, nothing natural. In hindsight I should have replied with no that’s not my style but instead I was hoping to embrace the chance to do something different, put my much desired creative makeup to good use.
She arrived with a make-up already on, not really glamour but I must have used a whole pack of cleansing pads trying to prize it off.
Once I’d seen what she wanted I went to work, she seemed very anxious about not being able to find the right MUA for her wedding and was hoping I could do as she wanted.
When she looked in the mirror her exact words where ‘Oh no I hate it, sorry, just no, I wouldn’t even go to work like this’. I asked her how I could change it what she didn’t like about it and she just said, ‘You know makeup was there to be worn, I want everything on, I want to shine like the moon, over line my lips, much thicker brows’.
So I went ahead with some heavier work, she said I don’t think it’s for me but I’ll ask the bridesmaids.
She text me that same evening telling me ‘No one liked it’
Moral of the story, don’t go out of your comfort zone, know your limits and your own style, not all business is good business. And brides, do your research thoroughly on your suppliers as style will make all the difference".
Vanessa is owner and director of multi-award winning, high end wedding planners Rocks and Frocks. As a planner, she is involved in every aspect of the wedding and are witness to almost everything and anything that can go right and wrong at a wedding. So, with so many stories, Vanessa took a different approach to the age old conundrum of expectations:
"For us as Wedding Planners we see two sides to this. On one hand our couples never really fully understand what we actually do for them until the day. On paper it’s heavily focused on the organisation. However, on the day, it will be us disappearing up the wedding dress to sort out minor dress mishaps, it will also be us running around collecting stray hire items, it may even be us that finds ourselves refilling the generator fuel, powering everything down and securing the site.
On the flip side whilst our couples are amazed at what we end up doing for them, there is something about being a wedding guest that seems to absolve a person of all adult responsibility and we find it's the guests that place the biggest demands on us and our teams, from locating lost mobiles, finding last minute accommodation to unusual drinks and unrealistic dietary requirements. Of course, we go the extra mile and try and do our best, but it wasn't really in the brief for the wedding by the couple and although going the extra mile serves us well in the brownie points stakes, we aren't technically getting paid for this".
Mark Asplin is a one man band for high-end wedding videography company, White in Motion. With videography becoming more and more popular, there are a whole new set of demands and requests put on them as a particular supplier. I'll let Mark explain:
"I get repeated statements and requests from couples who don't really understand the ins and outs of what we do. There is a picture in their mind that doesn't always fit the reality of the work we do. I could quote hundreds of similar things, but here is a breakdown of the most popular ones that come to mind.
Quote 1: Video is obtrusive….
“Video has evolved hugely in the last 10 years, I still sit down with couples today who think I will be shooting on a huge camera a VHS tape with 8 hours worth of coverage on it. With the increase of technology and the reduction in size of cameras, videographers can now blend into the background and almost in some cases be mistaken for a guest, a lot of couples comment on how invisible I was on the day even standing at 6,5” tall!
The type of films that are produced now are what we in the industry like to call ‘cinematic’, shorter form videos that show the best parts of your day and the important moments, some couples may argue that every moment is important thats why a lot of videographers also offer a documentary edit… but in reality you will sit down and watch the shorter cinematic films 100x more than the longer old style documentary edit.”
Quote 2: Why is video so expensive for such a short film?
“On a wedding day we actually capture hours worth of footage to create a short cinematic piece, to put into context Hollywood films or Documentary films spend months if not years collating the footage and then cutting it down to a 90 minute film or a 1 hour tv episode… the same principle applies to your wedding day, we get the coverage we need then spend hours labouring through the footage to pick the absolute best parts to show of your wedding in film format of how it should be. Some couples begrudge paying thousands for a short highlight film but in reality the general rule of thumb to edit and produce 10 seconds worth of clip professional usually takes about an hours time, so for a minute of films you are look at 6 hours worth of editing alone.”
Quote 3: Can we get all the RAW footage?
“This is often a hard one for videographers because the raw footage is actually their intellectual property and if they don’t want to give it up thats their prerogative, however some of us more compassionate videographers understand the importance of just seeing a bit more of Uncle Frank on the dance floor, so are happy to give up the raw footage. However again in reality, would you ask your photographer for all the raw unused images, your make up artist for the leftover make up or the cake maker for the left over ingredients? You can be rest assured generally what the videographer produces for your wedding films is what they consider the best and most important parts of your day, in short trust them”
(As a photographer, this also is standard practice for us too. RAW images are technically our intellectual property and you are hiring a photographer (and videographer) for the style of the images they create. If you don't like it, don't hire them).
Quote 4: We spent all our money on our photographer and don’t have much of a budget for you?
“To put it bluntly this is one of the biggest insults you can deal a videographer in an initial email or conversation, videographers value their work at the same as photographers, photographers have captured the hearts of many brides but a great videographer can let your memories live on for generations to come, this is not to say a videographer is more important than a photographer but merely they work hand in hand and both serve a different purpose, don’t clump them together as one and the same.”
Quote 5: Can you just?
“The level an expertise of a videographer and the years they have spent learning their craft means that each project they work on is very detailed and meticulously planned out, some couples can think, taking a friend out of the video whom you have fallen out with that the videographer has already produced and delivered can be done in just a matter of moment but in truth a simple request like this can throw the whole film off, within films there are subtle intricacies thats may not be visible to the viewer but are strategically placed to take a viewer on a journey both with sight and sound, so just taking my friend Jenny out turns into another labour intensive process, so don’t be put out if the videographer asks to be paid for his time”
Finally, as another point of view from someone in the same field as myself, I asked award winning, high-end destination wedding photographers Lina and Tom ("what are you doing"? I hear you cry...."Photographers? But you're one"! Don't worry, they are friends!) if they had advice to couples regarding expectations on the day. Being relaxed and documentary style photographers (a bit like myself), there is always the one part of the day that is never really considered properly and its one that some photographers really dread. The classic "formal shots". Lina explains:
"One of the areas we find couples need a little more guidance in their expectations is with the group photos. Yes you want to capture your family together, that group from Uni you were so close to, but the organising and taking of groups takes a lot longer than many couples realise. We recommend keeping the list to under ten for a standard hour and a half drinks reception. With confetti, post-ceremony cuddles and drinks, as well as time for your couples portraits, you won't really have much more than half an hour for groups. Each group will take 2-3 minutes, longer if uncle Joe is getting a pint or your sister is away changing the baby. So give yourself time and the photographer time: if your mum insists on that photo of your auntie Margaret and her kids ask yourself will it really make your album? Or could your photographer be shooting those lovely candid moments you likely booked them for instead? Manage her expectations too and you'll have the time for it all".
All of the above from these masters of their craft barely scratches the surface of what we as a supplier deal with doing the job we love. And its BECAUSE we love our jobs that, generally and on the whole, most suppliers will go that extra mile to help out a client in need. If its doable and doesn't take the supplier out of their remit or space to do their job, then there is no reason a supplier won't give a service that is beyond the call of duty. But unreasonable expectations, odd requests, lack of research and understanding of who or what a couple are hiring and intolerance of a supplier who isn't able to carry out the demands, it can really ruin a day or seriously damage the relationship with the supplier or damage their reputation through no fault of their own. There have been stories in the media of suppliers being put out of business due to couples shaming them on social media when that supplier did nothing really wrong and was just protecting their business in the face of unrealistic demands or expectations or not being able to do something that wasn't originally agreed. It is hugely important that both supplier and couple are on the same wavelength and that expectations on both sides are fully understood and accepted. No doubt a good supplier will go above and beyond, but know the basics of their job first. It makes yours and the suppliers life a heck of a lot easier! And you will have a lot more fun along the way! It's fun for us too!