Wedding Planning #2: One Big Fight

“What’s wrong with her? Why is she acting like this? Is this photographer thing really going to be our biggest argument?”

I didn’t dare consider that we would break up over it. But I almost did.

It was one of the first decisions that we made in planning the wedding. Basically, our wedding coordinator (Teena Barretto) knowing our budget and our preferences, set up a meeting with a successful wedding photographer. We paid him a visit and we were impressed with what we saw. We got to see videos and albums of weddings he’d done in the past. Then he explained what his package included.

But what impressed me the most was the price. He was giving it to us at a steal! Being on a very tight budget, I was excited and even more happy when I saw Carla open to the idea. Verbally, we all agreed that we would like to work with him. So while Carla and Teena were looking at a wedding album, an assistant of his approached me with a contract and I hurriedly signed.

*cue ominous music*

Fast forward around two months later and we’re having our first shoot with this photographer team. I was as awkward as I usually am in such things, but Carla was less than happy. She finished the shoot like the pro that she is, but as soon as we got in the car she said, “I don’t want him doing our wedding.”

To be fair, it wasn’t anything against his skill. But Carla just didn’t click with him. And she wasn’t comfortable with the idea of this team documenting the day when she would marry the man of her dreams. *ahem*

I was stuck. “But I signed,” I insisted. “Are you really asking me to break my word?” “Oh, so you’d rather we have a terrible wedding just so you can say you kept your word?” she responded. Looking back now, that wasn’t what either party was saying, but once the arguing had started we weren’t listening anymore. (That whole argument was explained at length in ANOTHER BLOG.)

It’s the blog that will save you tons of time and money.

After two weeks of awkwardness between us, I (belatedly) got advice from Pastor Paolo Punzalan. His counsel helped clear things up for me. “I know you want to stand by your word. But right now, you also need to stand by your girl. She needs to know that you’re there for her. That’s why she’s bothered. Whichever way you go from here, show her that you’re with her. Maybe you can talk to the photographer, explain your situation, and maybe he won’t make a big deal and release you.”

I quickly relayed our conversation to Carla and the relief was so evident on her face that someone had finally talked some sense into her fiance. So we made plans together.

The Objective: Get out of this contract so we can look for photogs that worked for us.

The Stipulations: We would talk to the current photog with respect, meaning we’d ask him politely. We would offer to buy out the contract if necessary, especially if this guy already declined on other gigs because of us.

Then we prayed together.

I set up the meeting and met the guy alone. I took the responsibility and explained that we wanted out of our agreement. Then we offered to pay for any damages that this would set him back. My mind felt like a Wheel of Fortune game, hoping it wouldn’t land on disaster. To his credit, he immediately understood, released us, and asked for no recompense. We parted on friendly terms. And just like that we were free! I ran upstairs, told Carla the good news and we celebrated by sharing an inexpensive dessert.

Lessons for wedding planning (that can actually be applied in lots of things):

1. Listen to your partner. This is especially for the guys. It’s easy during the course of the planning to make the wedding the objective. But this isn’t about the event. Someone once told us, and we always tell young couples who ask, “Regardless of what happens during the event, if you leave there with married to your best friend, then you’ll know the wedding was a success.” So listen, listen, listen…

2. Treat your vendors and suppliers with respect. Yes, it’s your special day, but they’re people too. One of the best ways to treat them with respect is to treat them professionally. Besides, if you treat them respectfully, there’s a bigger chance that they’ll do the same. I’m not saying you have to be a doormat though because…

3. Demand professionalism because you’ve been giving it. Weddings are touchy stuff because they’re so personal. There’s also a lot of favors from well-meaning people thrown in. Don’t let this limit your demand for excellence. My wife and I have been on both sides of this – receiving wedding freebies and giving them. It can be awkward for some people to modify or even turn down freebies, because they’re usually offered from such a good heart.

But that would be a mistake. It’s important to not feel beholden to others because this could lead to potential tension. No one wants to give just because they have to and no one wants to receive for the same reason. I’m not saying be ungrateful. By all means thank people and appreciate them, but in the right place and setting. Don’t be afraid to clarify expectations, follow up on promises or even ask for deadlines. You can say these things in a gracious way: “When would be a good time for me to get back to you regarding this?” This way you’re not disappointed and the person has the joy of knowing they helped you along your journey.

Hope that was helpful! It really helped us learning this from others. And it helped us when we finally found the man who’d be our wedding photographer. But Carla will blog about that. Like I said earlier, after reading this, I realize that these don’t apply to just weddings. Next wedding planning blog we’ll be talking about money and I’ll be sharing some of the best tips we got on how to save significantly!

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