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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Stop with the perfection!

Weddings are about the couple not the industry! There shouldn't be a right or wrong. There shouldn't be this imaginary bar you have to measure up to.

Yes I know what you're going to say - you're a photographer. Happy beautiful people at beautifully staged events are your lifeblood.

Agreed. As a photographer I enjoy getting to shoot visually exciting images. When I connect with the people I'm photographing and their style clicks with mine (something I try to insure by being picky in who I chose as a client), the end result can be magical. This is probably why "wedding porn" highlights perfectly coordinated/executed DIY weddings or photo shoots. I've certainly contributed to it with my photos of All American couples in love, laughing and dancing the night away. The people I shoot/highlight are those who "look" like they're in love - I create an illusion. Also, I typically only submit photos where I've clicked with my clients and where the backgrounds aren't busy, the colors don't clash, etc.

Now... from the perspective of a bride, this perfection is nauseating. And depending on which blogs you read or communities you belong to, you can get the impression that each post is trying to outdo what was done before. Every stylist/production artist - whether a bride or professional - wants their event to be "unique" and "memorable (in a good way that is)." This perfection sets us (brides) up for disappointment if details aren't as we envisioned.

The other downside to this photographic perfection is that - at least for me - a bride doesn't want to admit she can't do it all herself. She doesn't want to include anyone more than she has to because if the result isn't perfection as the industry sees it, she doesn't want any of her friends tainted by it. Today for me, being a bride brings guilt. I want to try out every idea I have so that if I decide to scrap an idea or if an approach doesn't work, I won't have wasted my friends' time.

Years ago I had a blog "Not Trying to be Perfect." I bristle when people say your day will be "perfect." I want an unscripted day - I'm planning for emergencies/contingencies but I don't want our day to be so planned/scripted that we lack energy/spontaneity. Now, I'm not expecting perfection. (If you don't know me, let me tell you that I'm a klutz. The first night I met my best friend's now husband my beautiful brand new cocktail dress got drenched in Cosmopolitan by a coworker. At a friend's wedding a few years ago, someone else got a tray of soup dropped on them - they were sitting in my assigned seat. So I'm bringing not 1 but 2 backup reception dresses with me to my wedding reception. That way I can still be dressed to the nines and not worried about a cranberry juice stain.) I don't care that appetizers won't be on silver platters and served by butlers in white gloves. I do care that we have amazing food that will calm the beast while guests wait for our hall to transform from ceremony seating to dinner seating. I hate that I need to say catering for a family event and avoid the "W" word. One caterer with sustainably farmed, local, in season ingredients that's typically in our budget is WAAYYY outside our budget when the event is a wedding. The cost of the same food goes up. We now no longer have compostable platters or biodegradable servingware and we can't pick up the food ourselves - it has to be delivered. Additionally the catering now requires the rental of serving dishes, serving spoons, plates, and silverware. Why? Because the industry and therefore most brides demand perfection. Vendors are so afraid of getting sued or challenged on their products/services that they increase the cost to cover their "pain and suffering."

I sometimes feel like I have to apologize for choices I make. I obsess about seemingly trivial decisions. But with a wedding those trivial decisions can sometimes end up costing thousands of dollars and impacting something cubes and I really care about. So I research, and then second guess, and third guess my final decision.

Want to know my biggest fear? Why I'm hesitant to bring friends in on DIY projects? My biggest fear is that I'll be labeled a bridezilla. So... I end up withdrawing and battening down and tackling DIY projects with cubes. Maybe it's just me, but it's hard to know what's a reasonable request and what's not. It's hard to know when you're excluding friends who want to help. For this I blame the industry (and yes me when I'm in my role as events photographer). We perpetuate the illusion of perfection. And by doing so, we create bridezillas who believe it's their right to have their day as they want it - regardless of the human cost. Then the cruelest twist of fate.... we become brides and find ourselves trying to figure out how not be labeled bridezillas and lose friends.

So as an industry can we stop with the perfection? I personally follow DIY and Offbeat websites/blogs and belong to those types of communities. Not because I don't want a "traditional" wedding (we are having a very traditional Jewish wedding). But because they highlight the truth - their envisioned DIY projects - what went right and what went wrong.

To all my friends, I'm not trying to exclude you. I don't want to impose so I created DIY projects that I can do myself. I've had multiple inquiries into our first craft day. Thank you for that. I'll be sharing details soon and we'll have a crafting party (or two).

Have you found a balance between doing it all yourself and including friends? Have you found it hard to ask for help?


  1. Aw! Yes, the set-up-for-perfection thing is terrible, even if you imagine yourself years away from marriage.

  2. @artmonstergirl I have to keep reminding myself that it's just like with Architectural Digest, House Beautiful, and Elle Decor - no one really lives like those photos. There was a great The Rachel Zoe Project episode where her house was being photographed and she went out and bought new furniture for a room they never use because it would look better than what they had.

  3. hello! we are getting married on the same day. exciting!

    i have totally felt weird about asking my friends, even though they have offered! i feel like i'm doing that horrible thing where i open my mouth and it's like "wedding, wedding wedding? wedding!" and they're going to smack me soon. but i need to get over it because i want them involved very very much!

    i like the idea of having a "craft day" and having people over to just get everything done -- a wedding barn raising! i made our save the dates this weekend and it took forever, as i'd wander away and go read a book or stare dreamily out the window -- having a group of people and a list of tasks would help!

  4. @Verhext Congratulations! A wedding barn raising sounds fun! I found that by letting people know what's planned, people volunteered and offered suggestions. Our invitations will be the first "craft day" project, we also have table runners, programs, and our wedding favors. What projects are you thinking of doing?


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