I planned my wedding myself

I planned my wedding myself. Everything. I designed my gown, I made the table arrangements, I made the wedding favors, I hand-crafted the gifts to the maid and best man, I even wrote the vows. I did it all and I did it on a small budget. I picked an early afternoon time in a park by the sea and a small hall nearby for the reception. We had booked a friend of my husband’s to show up and take the photos: everything was ready. It would be perfect. What could go wrong?

As it turns out, a lot.

The day dawned sunny and bright… right up until the clouds rolled in and rained us out of the park. Plan B was enacted, we wed in the reception hall. Our wedding photographer had her sister as her second and they were busy snapping away all afternoon. We enjoyed ourselves, despite the weather, and had a great honeymoon in Hawaii.

When we returned, we expected to see the wedding photos. There were photos, though of what, we couldn’t be sure. Most of them were blurry blobs of light and not so light. We didn’t get a single picture worth framing. Nothing. I still have that sad pile of 3x5s sitting in an envelope buried in the back of a closet. There wasn’t a single shot to immortalize the day we spent so much time and effort to bring forth.

Here are two examples out of six rolls of film taken from my wedding. These are among the best.

What Went Wrong?

Firstly, we hired a friend because the price was right. I never saw any of her work, I didn’t know enough to ask questions, and I certainly didn’t know what the right questions were. I didn’t vet her against any other potential photographers. She wasn’t a professional; she wasn’t even a hobby photographer. How could I expect amazing photographs from someone without the experience or training? Bad bride.

Back in the day, there were no digital cameras. Both cameras were film and, once the film roll was started, there is no changing it. I had paid for the rolls of film and we were stuck with what she had on hand. Since the ceremony and couple shots were to be taken outdoors, she had picked film best used in bright settings and loaded those rolls into the cameras. When we changed to indoor settings, she was committed and couldn’t change the ISO on the film. All the pictures were blurry and either over exposed or too dark. When those rolls ran out, she had the indoor ISO film in the cameras, but that didn’t help her take good pictures. A few of the reception pictures of guests were okay, but I never did get a picture of my husband and I together. End result: her lack of preparedness presented the wrong equipment for the job and she didn’t have a plan B. Bad photographer.

The final thing I did wrong was to skip blissfully along with the flow. Regardless of the weather, I could have insisted we find some better location outside, yet out of the rain for our couple photos. A good photographer can make their subjects look amazing even in less than perfect conditions. I’ve done photo shoots in the rain and they’ve turned out great! Bad luck.

Today, we’re lucky to live in digital times. With digital cameras, I have the freedom to take hundreds of pictures and find the best ones to present for approval. I’ve been known to take forty pictures of a single flower and end up with one perfect picture. Plus, we have the wonders of photo editing software that can really change the look and feel of the image. I can take a photo in full color, then change it to sepia tone with a softened edge. That makes a huge difference and it’s all done post-production.

Yet all the post photo editing software in the world can’t take the place of a solidly well-executed photo to start. The old adage of garbage in, garbage out applies. There’s only so much Photoshop can do to pretty up an overexposed, shaky image.

The Take-Home Lesson.

If you are planning a special event, hire a professional photographer. Someone you can vet and that has the experience and the personality you want to follow you around and document your day. There is no way to recoup from horrible pictures of your once-in-a-lifetime moment.