Vendor Schizophrenia

by admin on November 17, 2009

I’m not sure if this actually counts as a “vendor” as the person in question was actually a teacher and friend of mine and wasn’t charging for his time, but he was performing in a professional fashion, and so I put it in that grouping.

My husband and I were trying to plan a very, very tightly budgeted wedding. I was 19 years old, and he was 21, and neither of us had professional careers, plus the fact that we are an international couple (he is Australian, I am American) and we met over the internet. We had both been in Australia and we were planning to have the wedding in America (my parents couldn’t swallow the price of traveling abroad for our wedding, and his could, plus the fact that we had a large engagement party in Australia for his relatives and friends, and we had a small, legal ceremony in Australia afterwards) and so, given the price of airfare, and our single income, we had to do our wedding on about $5,000 of our own money, plus a couple thousand my parents threw in.

That seems like a very small amount, but my mother, husband and I worked very hard and found really great deals. The wedding went off almost entirely without a hitch, and many commented on how quaint, simple and elegant it was. It was exactly as I would have wanted, despite the tight budget.

Because our budget was so tight, we had to call in a few favors from friends. Our wedding cake was made by a professional baker who was my mother’s friend, and so he cut us an amazing deal on it, and it arrived in perfect condition. The flowers were from a florist that my family had given custom to for years, and they did a brilliant job. The officiant was a very close family friend who stepped in at the last moment when our original officiant got very sick. My veil was borrowed from a good friend of my sister’s and mine (we called her a ‘surrogate sister’), the man who played violin for the ceremony music, graciously at no charge, was my orchestra teacher and went to my parent’s church. We didn’t hire a DJ, but instead plugged in an iPod to the sound system at the location and used that. Our Best Man acted as the MC and did wonderfully for us. My sisters and mother helped to make finger food, mints, pasta- and fruit-salad for the reception to help supplement the catering so that I could keep the cost down. My in-laws bought a few cases of a variety of sodas and sparkling cider so that we didn’t have to pay the extra catering costs for that. A friend of my husband’s family, who traveled from Australia to make it, offered to do all of the videography for free.

And lastly, the photographer was my photography teacher in high school, whom I had spent a lot of time hanging out with and talking to, and whom I considered to be a friend.

Well, hiring him as the photographer was the worst mistake I ever made! I met with him three times regarding the photography, and he agreed to do it without charging me anything for time, just for the development fee of the color photos, photo-paper and the photo disk (he would do all black and whites in the lab at school), and told me he was very honored that I would ask him.

I was very happy, as photography can be such a huge cost and I was worrying about how I was ever going to afford something that was so necessary, but could so often be overpriced. Over the course of our meetings, I saw him write on his calendar and put into his pda and cell phone the time and date of the wedding, and write himself many notes concerning what I wanted, and what types of photos I wanted. He said he would go and scout the area to see what spots there were to take beautiful photos. I explained that my husband and I didn’t want to see each other before the ceremony, and so we wanted him to be there about 45 minutes to an hour before the ceremony to take pictures of each of us separately, and to photograph the ceremony, and then do all of the “together” poses between ceremony and reception, and then hang around and take a few candids at the reception, after and during which he was more than welcome to take part in the festivities and enjoy himself if he wanted, as he was a friend as well as the photographer.

I thought I was getting such a great deal and I was very happy to have such great friends who would so willingly put themselves out for two very money-strapped people in love. I gave him a call three days before the wedding to make sure that everything was still go, and to inquire about the various costs involved with getting the photos done. He gave me no indication of the atrocities to come.

Fast forward to the wedding day. My wedding took place at 2pm, so it was a very relaxed morning. We all got up in the mid-morning, dressed and were very relaxed and happy. Everything was going off without a hitch, and I was starting to think that those “wedding horror stories” were just that: stories.

We got to the location, everything was perfect. Everything arrived in a timely fashion and was exactly as I had planned it.

Except one thing.

My photographer was nowhere to be found.

I figured he might be a little late, and told my maid of honor (who was an absolute saint through the entire ordeal) to give him a call and see what was going on. She couldn’t get ahold of him, but kept trying.

I busied myself with other things because I thought I was going to die of worry if he didn’t get there on time.

10 minutes passes, no call, no photographer.
20 minutes, no call, no photographer.
30 minutes, no call, no photographer.

I am freaking out. My MOH diligently keeps calling over and over, leaving messages and trying to get ahold of him, while my dad, grandmother, mother-in-law and sister-in-law jump in and begin taking posed shots of me and my maids, and split up and start taking a few poses of my husband and his men.

45 minutes passes when my MOH finally gets a call from the photographer.

His first words: “Is that today?”

I am totally speechless. She gave him what-for, telling him of COURSE it was today, what did he think?! He needed to get here IMMEDIATELY and fulfil his obligation! Unfortunately, he informs her, HE IS 2 HOURS AWAY visiting his family. My MOH tells him that he better get on the road, and hangs up.

She tells me and I am livid. My wedding starts in 15 minutes! I push it from my mind, and told her to tell him to just get here as soon as he can. She does.

Throughout the wedding, everyone not involved in the actual ceremony and who is aware of the situation is snapping away, as many pictures as they can do, and the four people I mentioned before did as many poses as they could in the short time we had. Unfortunately, this meant that there were almost no formal shots of me, my husband and the wedding party, and only about 4 formal shots of my husband and his men.

After the wedding, one of the guests, a friend of mine and a photography student who knew that I had asked our teacher to be my photographer, asked where he was. I told her, and she was aghast. She asked if I wanted her to run home quickly and grab her camera and tripod. I was so grateful and she did right away, and spent the rest of the reception taking pictures. She did so many absolutely gorgeous pictures of my husband and I, and literally saved the day when it came to pictures.

Finally, the kicker is this: he did finally show up. Oh, yes. Halfway into the reception, this jerk shows up with a little gift bag in hand. I, pretty coldly, ask if he wouldn’t take a few shots now, if he had the time. And he responds with, GET THIS: HE DIDN’T EVEN BRING A CAMERA. He shows up 3 HOURS LATE, and doesn’t even bring a camera. Later on, I looked in his bag, and it was full of stuff made from honey, including honey-mead, which is traditionally drunk by a newlywed couple on their honeymoon. It seems like a nice gesture, unless you know what I know, which is that his parents (the ones he was visiting when he should have been doing his damn job) own a honey farm and organic store which sells products made from honey. He had just grabbed stuff on his way out the door, thrown it into a bag, and given it to me.

It would have been better to have just not come at all, in my opinion. The moral? When it comes to your wedding, try and get a real professional to do something as important as photography!! While most of my friends came through, I took a real gamble, and almost wound up with absolutely no memories of my wedding day!    0927-09

“….told me he was very honored that I would ask him.” Well, there’s the glitch in all this. You initiated the process by asking him to give you something for free. It isn’t really a sincere gift if the recipient has to go fishing for it. The proof is in the pudding…he just didn’t have his heart invested in executing his “job”.

“…at the reception, after and during which he was more than welcome to take part in the festivities and enjoy himself if he wanted, as he was a friend as well as the photographer.” And this is the second glitch which forecast this vendor debacle. One cannot expect quality, professional photography, or any professional service for that matter, from someone who is also being encouraged to be a guest. Either they are at your wedding to work or they are there to celebrate with you. One role serves the wedding couple, the other is entertained and served by the newlyweds. When I am offered volunteer labor at weddings, I make it very clear that these people are there to work, not socialize or entertain themselves. I’ve been in too many situations where a “volunteer” cannot distinguish between their roles as vendor/employee and guest and what suffers is their work.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Cat October 22, 2011 at 7:47 pm

Call me old fashioned, but, in my book, if you give your word on something, you follow through on what you promised.

The Mormons have a great saying, “Return with honor.” I don’t know what meaning they attach to it, but, to me, it means that, at the end of my life, I return to God with honor, having lived my life to the best of my ability to be honest, kind, compassionate, and with whatever values I believed to be important in my life.


Angel August 28, 2013 at 11:05 am

It seems as though the OP was expecting a lot from her guests. I know she had a tight budget and I’m not excusing her photographer friend for not fulfilling what he was expected to do, but she took a real gamble relying on friends and family to come through for her wedding. I think that for something as important as photography, leave friends out of it! It’s better to get a more basic package at a professional photographer (she said herself that all she wanted was photos right before and right after the ceremony–not all through the reception–significantly less expensive than having a photographer all day) than try to rely on a friend who is doing it for a low cost. He doesn’t have any real incentive for showing up. When someone relies on photography as their business a lot more is at stake.

I don’t necessarily blame the OP for her reaction, but what I want to know is, why is she even surprised??


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