The Importance of Crafting Your Team

Happy Wednesday! I wanted to share a few thoughts both from a personal (brides perspective) and a professional (photographer's perspective) with you all about the importance of crafting your team on your wedding day. After having some time to process Matt and my wedding day I finally feel like I can debrief and reflect on such a special day of our lives. I'll warn you that this might get a little long, but I'll put some of the photos from our wedding up so it goes faster. All photos are by Chennergy.

For those of you who have worked with us, you probably noticed that I am an external processor, and Matt is an internal processor. I tend to chat a lot while shooting while Matt stays fairly quiet and gets these magical candid moments of our couples. This translates into many parts of our relationship, including the style in which we planned our wedding. While Matt remained a solid support throughout the wedding, I - like most brides - loved creating the ideas and overall experience our guests would share. I'd come up with a few ideas, run them by Matt and then we'd decide together how we wanted to execute any specific detail. I was the creative director. He was the executive director.

I am a very driven person. I have been since the day I was born. If I'm not doing 1000 things my job performance suffers. (I know. I'm working learning to s.l.o.w. down). I won't come right out and say I'm a control freak - because I do trust others to do things right - but I have very high standards. When it came to our wedding, I knew that I would have a very specific vision and I wanted to do as much of the wedding planning myself - which I did. I did not want a wedding planner, I wanted the satisfaction of doing it myself.

Early on, someone gave me the best wedding planning advice I would ever receive: "On  your wedding day, you can be nothing but the Bride. You can't be the florist, you can't be the baker, you can't be the coordinator, you can't be the can only be the Bride." After some contemplation, I jumped on that train, but NOTHING was going to stop me from doing all of the other things myself BEFORE the wedding day. Not only were we saving money by doing everything ourselves, we were also getting the satisfaction of knowing that our wedding would be a 100% unique experience since there was nothing else like it. We didn't want a wedding you could 'pick out' or buy. We wanted a wedding that represented us as a couple. Where we've been - where we are - and where we're going.

And that's exactly what we did. Since our engagement was on the longer side, we did the normal book your 'musts' right away (which was great because we got all of the big picture vendor things as our first pick) and then settled into waiting for other things to come around. Our one year mark hit and things started to pick up. When the six month mark hit, I spent around 10 hours a week organizing details and crafting projects for our wedding. In April that increased to around 15 hours a week. By May and towards the end of may, it was around 20 hours a week. The two weeks before the wedding it was literally a full time job. I'm almost embarrassed to admit that we probably spent 60+ hours a week at that point getting everything organized and set up for the wedding. We were exhausted and as much as we were looking forward to the day, we were very ready for it to be over as to not have the stress of the day hanging over our heads. Luckily our life was able to be put on temporary hold to make time for this, but we were going crazy. It had to end soon.

Our families and closest friends arrive around a week before the wedding day and everyone went into overdrive. Since our families were so insistent on arriving early to help, we were organized enough to hand them different lists of things to get done. They were life savers. We knew that when they arrived, that we had done as much as we could on our own, and our wedding planning phase was over. The only way the wedding was actually going to happen was through their hard work pulling together the final strings. The night before the wedding I was feeling very nervous and overwhelmed. Our friends and family had done so much to get everything in line, but I hadn't let go yet. Since I wasn't going to be there, I was scared to death that something was going to go wrong in the set up of the actual event.

When I woke up on the morning of our wedding, I still had a pit in my stomach, but after a spending a little bit of time by myself with my journal and bible, I was ready to be a bride. Anything that went wrong would have been okay because I realized that the day was only today, and whatever was going to happen was exactly how it was meant to be.  I transitioned into full trust of two people, Emily and Phebe. I have known Emily since I was three years old and have always known she was going to be in my wedding. We know each other so intimately, that when she recently started a Floral and Event Styling Business in Minneapolis, MN, I knew that she had to be my florist and stylist. I knew she would understand my vision for the day and would be the perfect person to hand over all of the hard work I'd done collecting antiques, crafting details and envisioning florals - and make my vision a reality. Phebe is a Wedding Planner and is a newer friend of mine whom I've had the immense pleasure of working professionally with. Through each professional event we worked on together, she was SO organized and upbeat. If something happened that was not according to our original plan she wouldn't bat an eye and would immediately find a solution everyone was happy with. She is bubbly but calm, an extremely hard worker and has an eye for detail. While she also offers Full Wedding Planning and Styling, I had already made the decision to plan the wedding myself, and had already made the decision to have Emily do the styling, so I knew that she would be the perfect Day-Of Coordinator. Let me tell you - while they might seem similar - those three jobs are require an entirely different set of skills!

These two women were absolutely amazing. I was able to be at Emily's side as she put our flowers together (which was an exhausting two days in a small air conditioned room) and after debriefing her on the items she was going to style, she sacrificed her own enjoyment of a relaxing day as a bridesmaid (yes she did both) by getting up before the sun to set up the wedding so I could be a bride, and not a stylist. Phebe joined me in the planning process one month before the wedding and the entire time she was always on call ready to help if I needed it. She provided useful advice (make sure I have bug wipes for a meadow reception!) and a compassionate ear as things fell apart. She even answered my e-mails when she was on her personal vacation the week before our wedding. She brought along an assistant to the wedding who was on headset to coordinate timing of events and even called all of our vendors very early the morning of the wedding to give them a gentle reminder that today was the day.

All of the ideas and hours of time we put into the wedding - all of the sweat and tears we shared with our families and friends the week before the wedding - all of it came together because we had 100% trust in our vendors. None of it would have happened without them. Most couples share that on their wedding day, but I'm convinced that Matt and I enjoyed our day so much and both felt like we were able to be 100% present towards our emotions and the people sharing the day with us because of Phebe and Emily. We were allowed to be the bride and groom and NOT worry about all of the little things. It was truly special.

After that long rendition of my personal side of things as a bride, I also have a few thoughts as a professional. While every couple who's wedding we shot have been absolutely beautiful and happy days - things go much more smoothly (aka the couple is less stressed) when you have a day-of coordinator.

If it's not in your budget to hire a professional, enlist a super organized friend to do it, and make sure they know In my humble opinion, it's better to hire someone who is not there to also enjoy themselves as a guest so that way when something goes wrong after they have had their dinner and start to relax and sign off from their duties as your helper - there is still someone there who people can turn to for problems (and it's not you).

As photographers, we often get roped into the duties of being the schedule drivers of the day of you don't have a DOC. While we have no problem stepping up to help things run more smoothly, this is not our job. It takes away from the time we could be having photographing important details, which compromises our work.

We're working on a full wedding recap to share about our vendors since many of you have asked about them, but for now we'll leave you with this: If you want a wedding that is full of details it's going to take a lot of time. If you don't have the time and you still want that, hire a wedding planner. If you do want to put the work in (it takes a special breed) at the very least hire a DOC.  Phebe will do nicely. ;)


P.S. If you're confused, we had a morning ceremony with a tea party reception during the day, and then a larger barn party later in the night. So yeah, we had to parties in one day. As much fun as it was, we maybe wouldn't recommend doing that since it was like planning two weddings.

Our last piece of advice for now? Hire photographers you love. It's truly all that is left after the day.