#008 How to pose for perfect wedding photos With Barbara Cameron

In this episode of the Wedding Insider Podcast, I speak with Barbara Cameron of Barbara Ann Studios. She has won awards from PWPC (Professional Wedding Photographers of Canada) for numerous images, she was named a Top Inspirational Wedding Photographer with Wedding Bells and she ranks in the Top 25 Wedding Photographers in Canada with PWPC plus she’s super awesome.

She services, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and PEI.

In this interview, Barbara answers these questions and more:

  • What you can do to make sure that a photographer is perfect for you
  • How plus-sided brides can pose to look their best
  • The one question that you can ask a photographer to see if they know what they are talking about

Audio only:

You can subscribe to this podcast on itunes: click here.

Transcript highlights:

J: When did you start photography?

B: About 10 years ago. I’ve always been interested in pictures, and most photographers say that, but really getting into wedding photography was about 10 years ago.

J: Why did you get into wedding photography?

B: I fell into it by accident. A bunch of my friends are getting married, couldn’t afford of a photographer, and they were like, Barb do you take pictures and I was like, yeah I do, not weddings but I just fell into it that way and I developed quite quickly.

J: As you know, we are trying to help brides and grooms make their wedding awesome, so do you have any tips to start the process If they are looking for photographer right now? So Barb, you are in Ontario?

B: Yeah and I service Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and PEI.

J: Outside of East Coast of Canada, if you are listening to us, where should they start their search for wedding photographers?

B: In this day and age, you don’t have to be necessarily be constraint to the city that you are in. If you have a wedding photographer who’s staying in Calgary or wherever that you absolutely love, contact them because sometimes, it’s not that much more expensive to have them fly in for your wedding. But if you want it on having everything in your city, like obviously Google, Ontario wedding photographer, Toronto wedding photographers, something like that, and look past the first page of Google, like go to page 2, 3, 4, 5, make a list of all the photographers that catch your eye in terms of style and go from there.

J: Once you are talking to people, what do you think they should be asking of looking for to make sure that the person that they are hiring is going to do a great job?
B: You have to get along with them. You are with the photographer all day, so if you don’t like their personality, do not hire them. You really have to matched the personality in order for that photographer to get the best emotional moments out of you. You definitely have to like them. You have to like their style. Don’t ask someone do something that’s not her style because they won’t do a very good job out of it.

J: You are an expert in taking photos of plus-size brides, what does that mean and why is that important and what can plus-size brides do to look their best in pictures?
B: First of all, obviously, I’m not a size 2, I don’t have a fat filter on my computer right now, and I saw a bunch of photographs by this one particular photographer whom I will remain nameless and he took the fish-eye lens which I hate, I hate fish-eye to begin with for a wedding, but he took the fish-eye and he put it in the bottom of the bride’s dress shooting up, so it put probably 50 pounds on her. And so I looked at it and I’m like, hell no, we just don’t do that to plus-size girl. I felt for that bride, and I thought I can’t imagine what she’s thinking looking at it. So I thought they got to learn how to shoot a plus-size bride or a girl with curves, anyone with sizes 12, 14 , 16 curves.

Little things that girls can do is turtle their necks. If you push your neck, everyone has a natural double-chin so if you push it a bit forward, it gives you more defined jaw line. Guys can also do that too because it gives them chiseled look right on the chin.

When I have my engagement sessions with my couples, they learn all my terms so by the time the wedding comes and I say turtle, they know exactly what turtle means.

The other thing that I told girls to look out for, I can’t stand it when the strapless gowns are sometimes pushed for a plus-size bride and I really think they should have some cover because it’s all these bride’s skin and the bride’s part of the picture is always the one that gets attracted to your eye. So what we have is, when your arm goes together right here by your bra, to use the phrase my friend Haley said, it creates arm-gina and girls hate that about themselves, and you can have a size 2 girl and she’ll still get that because the dress is so tight, it pushes up the skin. So a suggestion is to have your arm off your body, either on your hips, or put it in front and bring it up slightly so that it’s not sticking together because it just pop all our skin here and it makes us look bigger that we are actually are.
Another tip is, when you are posing, or when you are looking at the camera, what you want to do is lean slightly forward and push your hips away from the camera because the largest part of our body, for female, is usually our butt area, so if we push that away from the camera, it becomes smaller, and if we lean forward, it stretches our neck and put our chin up.

And I’m constantly showing my clients the picture behind the camera. I am very confident enough with my abilities to nail it in camera, like for lighting and color, that I can show them the back of the camera. I rely on Photoshop to enhance the picture not to fix it so I’m constantly showing them the imagery because it creates that confidence in them, they were like wow, we just did that. I think that helps. It instills confidence throughout the day.

J: If people are looking for venues at this point, what do you think they should be looking for so that they can look their best and the venue looks great in pictures?

B: Usually a bride will have a certain look in their head, whether or not they want a rustic look or a downtown modern clean-line look. Obviously, as a photographer, I have been in almost every venue in the city. I know what food is horrible in the venues, I know which food is absolutely phenomenal, like yourself, you would know, you know what rocks and what doesn’t. I would definitely ask, if you haven’t hired a photographer yet and you’re sort of chopping around, your question about your vendor doesn’t have to be that vendor. So if you are seeing a venue, hey who do you like to work with for the photographer, who do you like for the core and a lot of times you’ll hear the same names repeated over and over again, and that’s a good thing.

Also, if you have a photographer in mind that you are stalking and you know that you are about to be engage or engaged and you haven’t got a venue, go on her blog because if I really praised the venue, it’s because the venue rocks. If I don’t mention the venue, it’s because it’s horrible or if I mention it and don’t really push it, it’s because the venue’s horrible. Definitely watch and see what other people are saying specially photographers, about the venue.

J: A lot of weddings are a little bit similar, but sometimes I see things that are a little bit unique, and I’m kind of putting you on the spot here and kind of try to get you to think of something. Can you think of anything right now?

B: The couple that I photograph last weekend, he is a wine person, a wine distributor, so they did 3 boxes, they did 1st year, 5 year, 10 year, and the bride make sure that she put the most expensive wine in the 10 year and they did letters for each person to each box, it was really, really cool.

I have another couple, and because the groom wasn’t a very very good “fixer-person”, they sealed it with duct tape, that was his response to fixing everything, it was always with duct tape. That kind of thing I love and I like it when certain things are done like the wedding that I shot on Saturday, the grandmother of the groom, she was a priest, so it was very special to incorporate those things.

I had a couple last year who loved tea, so their favorites were loose tea, and I really like that. I think that if a couple is going to do a favor and not all my couples do favors, I think it’s one of the ways that’s going on in the other side, but if you are going to do favor, do something that means to you instead of box of chocolates, whatever. Do something that you think is meaningful.

And then for some people, for go the physical gifts, they’ll do donations because the father passed away or the grandmother has cancer or something, and that is really meaning to them, and it’s win-win to everyone.

J: Can you share 3 Insider tips that couples can do or work with so that they have an amazing wedding. It doesn’t necessarily need to be photography, just anything that you can think of that is going to help couples have an even better

B: 1st – Get rid of your Pinterest – It has all these amazing ideas but you don’t know that cost that is associated. You see this beautiful centerpiece that really is a thousand dollars centerpiece, and your idea is to have one on every single table. If you have a budget for that, fine go for it but most people don’t have a budget for a thousand dollar centerpiece on a table. Be realistic with Pinterest, and if you really like something, do something in the spirit of it is you can’t afford it, or you don’t like it too much but don’t let Pinterest be your end all, be all.

If you can afford a wedding planner, I highly recommend it, and a good one, not someone who is just going to show up in high heels and be Ms. Perfect. I have seen some pretty, great, awesome wedding planners save the day and make the day so much easier for everyone involved, that is definitely something that I would recommend.

Get a really good make-up artist. Invest the money in a great makeup artist, because not only do you feel beautiful about yourself and you look amazing, you don’t have a line of foundation and real skin color. It just makes my job easier as a photographer, I’m not blending, trying to get rid of that orange line on the neck. If your photographer says something like don’t be the last person to get your makeup done or your hair, listen to them because I’ve seen enough weddings to know what works and what doesn’t work. If your the last person in the line to get makeup, you are going to run late and you are not going to get the bridals that you envisioned. Always go in the middle. Don’t put enough hairspray so it doesn’t move, set your makeup so that you are okay, so just go in the middle, don’t go in the end. No matter what the makeup person say that you are last, don’t listen to her, go in the middle.

A question you can ask your photographer is a, there’s a standard one, but I’d ask them what’s the worst lighting condition they ever where in and how they deal with it and if they say bright one, then run away from them, just run away, because to me, I love bright sun. I can sculpt the face and the body with bright sun and what you can do with shadows and bright light is amazing. One of my worst times I had for light condition was, it was a Christmas wedding and it was red uplighting in sear plants so it has given orangey lights in the room, so that was a hard lighting condition for me to get through skin tones. I would definitely ask that, ask to see a full wedding, not just like the besties and ask what was the worst lighting condition they have to deal with.

J: How can people find a good make up artist if they haven’t hired before.

B: Definitely ask the photographer because they are the ones that are doing editing, like I have a list of recommended vendors I give to my bride as soon as they hire me, I send them a recommended list of all the vendors that I love personally working with, and I don’t receive any money from these people, it’s just that they do an awesome job and it makes my job easier. I have 3 make-up artist on my list because they book up really fast

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#007 How to find an amazing wedding florist, with Christina Droumtsekas of Pink Poppi

In this episode of the Wedding Insider Podcast, I speak with Christina Droumtsekas of Pink Poppi. She’s an amazing florist who takes her design knowledge and uses flowers as her medium. Her arangements are amazing and she shared some super helpful tips.

In this interview, Christina answers these questions and more:

  • Where should you start when looking for a florist for your wedding?
  • What’s the key word that shows you that a florist will be able to understand and provide extra value for your wedding?
  • What do you need to bring to a florist to get the flower process started?

Audio only:

You can subscribe to this podcast on itunes: click here.
In this episode, we mentioned:
Pink Poppi Facebook Page


Justin Jacques: All right, hey there, everyone. It’s Justin here from the Wedding Insider Podcast. Today I have Christina Droumstsekas. Is that right, Christina?

Christina Droumtsekas: Yes, it is.

Justin Jacques: Of Pink Poppi, and she’s going to share with us a whole bunch of information and knowledge that she has about wedding flowers. I personally know nothing about this, so I’m excited to learn. So I’m excited to have you on, thank you so much, Christina, and the first thing we’re going to start off is can you just kind of let me know and let everyone else know how long you’ve been in the wedding industry and how you kind of got into making flowers for people, or I guess you don’t make the flowers, you arrange the flowers, right?

Christina Droumtsekas: Yeah. Well, when I started, this is going into Year 4, and I started working with the flower shop after planning my own wedding and dealing with various vendors and stuff. So I found that there was a lack in doing it. I’m a graphic artist by trade.

Justin Jacques: Oh cool.

Christina Droumtsekas: So yeah, getting into the flowers was just like another extension of being creative. I look at flowers as if they’re colors, the shapes, the textures, and so not necessarily what flower, it’s not like I’m crazy about X amount of flowers or roses or peonies. I love all flowers because each flower has its own unique coloring and shape and texture.

So when I started the business, it was four years ago, I had worked with my designer who’s working with me now. He had designed my centerpieces and stuff, and we worked well together, and it’s something I really enjoyed doing, and a few years later, I decided that there was definitely a niche for it in our area which is Kitchener-Waterloo, and I just decided to start up a shop and then become a florist, and we do everyday flowers as well, but primarily focusing on weddings and events.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Christina Droumtsekas: And I haven’t looked back since. I love it.

Justin Jacques: Cool, yeah. That’s really awesome. I’ve been doing this for about four years now too, so we started around the same time.

Christina Droumtsekas: This is the fourth year.

Justin Jacques: Cool.

Christina Droumtsekas: So I’m flying.

Justin Jacques: So to kind of get into it, what can couples do to find, like obviously you had problems. Maybe you did end up finding a good vendor, but obviously you were looking for a flower vendor, and obviously you noticed that there was some lacking, like how can brides and grooms find good florist for their wedding. Where would you suggest they look?

Christina Droumtsekas: I think when you’re looking online and you’re getting ideas and you meet with the people, the one piece of advice I give to all my couples is book vendors that you like and you have a connection with, because these are the vendors that are going to work for you and not against you. I find that in this industry, some people out there, it’s not important. It’s not that it’s not important to them, but they don’t put their heart and soul into it, and I find the people have a connection.

Weddings are very stressful and especially as you’re getting closer to the day you find that the stresses are running higher. They bring out the best and the worst in people, and if you’re relying on a vendor that you didn’t have a nice connection with, you’re going to find that you’re fighting against that.

So that’s the only piece of recommendation, not necessarily just for a florist, but for everybody. If you sit down and you meet this person and you feel like you’ve got a great connection with them, you should go with them because you know they’re going to work their hardest for you, and so when I tell my couples when I meet them, I would say, “If you feel great, I’m going to put a 120% into my work for you.”

Justin Jacques: Cool, yeah.

Christina Droumtsekas: So finding the vendors and meeting them and having that connection.

Justin Jacques: I totally agree. I think it’s something that’s really important for such a stressful and important and day that you’re spending a lot of time and money organizing and planning, like work with people that you like and that you get along with.

Christina Droumtsekas: Yeah.

Justin Jacques: It’s like the top advice. I’ve had other people say that too, and I totally agree. It think it’s really important. Is there anything? Like where do the bride and groom even start their search to get to those interviews with people, with florist that they might work with?

Christina Droumtsekas: Well, a great place to start too is, I mean, brides and groom, like couples will always book their venues first because they want to make sure that they get the gig that they’re looking for, and a lot of the venues that you work with have a select vendor list, and there’s a reason for it. The venues have been in business for an X amount of years and they work well with these vendors that they’re recommending, and they have a chance to see their work time and time again and different. So if a venue recommends somebody, it’s fantastic. That’s a great place to start, and then usually people know somebody or they have happen to know them when they were at that wedding.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Christina Droumtsekas: So always go by a recommendation, I find, versus just cold calling sometimes, because then at least you know that person has a firsthand experience, and whether you were at a friend’s wedding and you saw the flowers there and you absolutely loved them, then you contact them because you’ve seen their work firsthand.

A lot of times, you go and meet somebody, and it’s hard to say, but some people will take work from the internet and claim it as their own and say, “Well, this is what I’ve done.”

But when it comes time to your wedding, you’re like, “Well, it’s not what you showed me.”

So getting a recommendation or a referral from venues, friends and other vendors I think is really important and a great start for a couple.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, that’s pretty sketchy 00:05:30. Oh, not good enough?

Christina Droumtsekas: Sketchy. Yeah, I mean, it’s great that when you work with a venue, that you go in there and those people that work at this venue have seen your work, and they can attest to it firsthand and could say, “Yes, we’ve never had a complaint about this vendor or anything.”

Justin Jacques: Yes, for sure.

Christina Droumtsekas: And so I think that’s really a great starting point for our couple.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, definitely, cool. So also, the other thing I really honestly know nothing about is how much it cost to have flowers at your wedding. Like I know there’s probably such a giant range that that’s such a difficult question to answer, but like if somebody is just starting out and trying to create a budget and trying to start out with how much they should spend, like what’s a good starting range at least for what a wedding would be?

Christina Droumtsekas: Well, if you’re looking at, like there are tons of blogs out there and advice columns that say how to budget for flowers, and they usually 10% of your budget is a great start.

Justin Jacques: Okay.

Christina Droumtsekas: So if you’re planning up to $60,000 wedding, then $3,000 tends to be a nice starting point for a budget. Flowers are many, so I mean, we have your everyday flowers like your carnations, which are beautiful flowers, but they are less expensive flower versus going into a unique orchid or a calla lily that are like three times the amount.

So I think realistically when people walk in, they need to set their expectations realistically. You can’t walk in there and show a picture off a Pinterest that’s a whole bouquet and then tell your florist that, “I want this. I want all the flowers in it,” and say, “Well, I’m only willing to pay $20.”

When you go to a grocery store and you see those little bouquets at $20, well, that’s what you’re getting at a grocery store. At a florist that’s bringing in a higher quality of flowers, they are going to be a bit more pricey than that.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Christina Droumtsekas: So we kind of put the perspective that way.

Justin Jacques: Cool. When somebody comes in and they say they have a budget, do you try to pick, like if somebody is less expensive or like how does that work? Like how does the process work of you trying to work within somebody’s budget? I guess that’s what I’m trying to get out of my mouth.

Christina Droumtsekas: It’s not the first question out of my mouth with the couple. I find that I really want to get to know what they’re looking for in their vision.

Justin Jacques: Okay.

Christina Droumtsekas: And so I’ll spend my time, and that’s the very end of my consultation with somebody is then I’ll say, “Well, what’s your budget?” Then how I approach it when I give them their quote is that I let them know that I am going to quote them for everything that we’ve talked about because with budgets sometimes, again, you don’t know. You don’t know if your budget is realistic or if it’s over budget or whatnot.

With me, because I offer some rentals with candles and such things, there are different things that we incorporate with the quote. So I let them all know that I will do my best to keep within their budget, but I’m going to show them exactly what they wanted and we go back and then we can make adjustments. So we can say yes, the centerpiece, that was this big, and now it will go down to something a bit smaller and that price fits within their budget.

Justin Jacques: Cool.

Christina Droumtsekas: But sometimes, perhaps, if they don’t know, that will be like, “Now, if that’s what you’d asked for, then we’ll see if we can make it work.” And so that’s kind of how I am approaching to my couples.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, that sounds great.

Christina Droumtsekas: Yeah.

Justin Jacques: Because like that’s exactly I kind of came in. I had no idea where or what would even be reasonable to plan.

Christina Droumtsekas: Yeah, it’s sticky. It’s an educational process and stuff.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Christina Droumtsekas: Because you’re right, you don’t go out and buy flowers on a daily basis, and when you’re looking at flowers en masse, you’re ordering 25 centerpieces for some of these weddings, you really don’t have a guideline to where you’re going to start. So that’s where pictures are great like a portfolio, so you want a vendor that’s able to show you their own work, not pictures off the internet and say, “Yes, we can do that.” Because then in their portfolio, they’ll show you, “Yes, this is a $50 centerpiece. This is a $100 centerpiece.” It gives them a good frame of reference to have comparison like that.

Justin Jacques: Cool.

Christina Droumtsekas: And most guys don’t, it’s the brides.

Justin Jacques: Well, yeah. I’m generally going to guess most guys are not the people that are picking out the flowers, but it’s definitely possible.

Christina Droumtsekas: Yeah.

Justin Jacques: And anyways, yeah, I mean, either way they are somewhat involved in all parts of the wedding planning, it seems like.

Christina Droumtsekas: Yeah.

Justin Jacques: So I looked up a few questions that kind of people were asking about wedding flowers, and one of the things that I had noticed was that somebody was asking about silk wedding flowers. Is that something that anyone does, or is that like…

Christina Droumtsekas: Speak now, which flowers?

Justin Jacques: Silk.

Christina Droumtsekas: Silk. Oh, well, I don’t offer it.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Christina Droumtsekas: So with me, I kind of have a little bit of a rule of thumb with my studio. I mean, I don’t spray paint my flowers. I don’t like coloring them. I don’t like working with dye. That it’s the way that the flowers are grown, that’s what I like working with.

Justin Jacques: Cool.

Christina Droumtsekas: If somebody wants silk flowers, there is a lot of great florists out there that do like to work with them, and I may not be the right fit for them so I would suggest somebody else just because for me it’s fresh flowers, because that’s the way I like looking at things. There are silk flowers that are more expensive than a regular flower, than real flower.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, for sure. Okay, cool.

Christina Droumtsekas: So it does look crazy.

Justin Jacques: Yeah. What about 2014 flower trends, do you any of those? Do you try and stay out of it? I mean, I’m sure it’s impossible to stay totally outside of the trends, but like is there any trend that brides should be aware of otherwise? Like what do you suggest?

Christina Droumtsekas: Well, you know what, everyone is unique. So people when they’re planning their day they want a unique day so I find most of the brides that come to me don’t look at the trends. They’ll say like they’ll ask you that. They’ll say, “Oh, I want a great Gatsby thing, but I don’t want it to be that. I want to make it unique to us.”

I’ve had couples that it’s personal. It’s a personalized thing. Like I had a couple who’s groom with a Hunter and so we wanted to incorporate feathers from the birds that he hunted. So that was one of the themes for it. I mean, we can go by Pantone Color of the Year which is radiant orchid, and people love this sort of color more so than a style.

So I think the styles and things on what weddings are, they are really personal to the couple on what reflect them. If the couples are all about travels and they want to incorporate travel into their weddings, so there’s not necessarily a trend with that, it’s just more being more natural.

The more true to who you are in representing your couple versus if I want to make a big circus theme and that kind of a dated theme for them, but if it’s unique, and I’ve had people incorporate scrabble because they like to sit at home and play scrabble. So it’s making it more personal versus following the trend.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, yeah. I think that is huge. I think it’s just because of the internet and you just have so many options, but I mean, every wedding I go to, it’s just seems to be very personalized, at least the ones that I work.
Christina Droumtsekas: Yes.

Justin Jacques: I know that I kind of have a bit of a different clientele myself that isn’t just looking for the standard thing, but there’s always some sort of personalization, so I think that’s cool. That’s a good answer, yeah.

Christina Droumtsekas: Yeah.

Justin Jacques: This is a quick note, I also saw some brides complaining about their bouquets getting mold on them after they’re trying to preserve them. Do you have any suggestions on how if they want to keep their bouquet like what brides can do?

Christina Droumtsekas: No. I’ve never tried preserving a bouquet personally. With flowers, they have a life span. Some flowers do attract more mold than another one.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Christina Droumtsekas: I mean, there’s an old trick where people say spray your flowers with hair spray and put them in a dark closet, hang them upside down. Well, that works for roses, but I’ve never tried it with anything else. So for me, I don’t know. I wouldn’t even know what to suggest on that one.

Justin Jacques: Okay.

Christina Droumtsekas: Just because flowers wilt.

Justin Jacques: No, I think that an honest answer is a good answer.

Christina Droumtsekas: I mean..

Justin Jacques: I think it’s actually…

Christina Droumtsekas: Preserving it, unless you’re dry freezing it or spending a large amount of money on something, a flower is not going to look fantastic when it’s dried.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Christina Droumtsekas: Eventually, it’s going to turn brown. You’re going to lose all that luster out of it, and my suggestion is always make sure your photographer gets a fantastic photo of just your bouquet and that’s way of looking back at it and saying it’s beautiful.

Justin Jacques: Yeah. Now, that’s awesome. I like that answer for sure. Then, I mean, you’ve kind of answered this question, but what are some different like style options. So you’ve kind of have said like the trend is to be very personalized and that you and personalize everything for each couple. Is there some general trends, or not trends, sorry, is there some general styling that maybe that you don’t even do yourself, but that brides can even do we can talk a little bit in wedding?

Christina Droumtsekas: I mean, that kind of goes with the overall look. So if you’re booking a wedding planner as well, wedding planners kind of gets in stuff that is involved in that. With me, I’m more about like how can we make your table look beautiful, so it’s becoming a beautiful tablescape.

One other thing that I like to do is any extra flowers that I have when I bring it in for a wedding and I haven’t used them for their centerpieces, they come on sight with me if I find it. Especially if it’s orchids or whatnot, I’ll place them on the head table in individual plate settings and it just gives it that little bit of extra or we put rose petals somewhere, or we put extra blues around the centerpiece, and that just adds more to what they’re looking for. It may not even be in their budget, but because we have the extra flowers, we use it.

I’ve had couples that personalized, they bring in their own menus and I may use a flower to tie around it or some kind of green grass and we tie that around. So there are things that you can incorporate like a natural element to elements that the bride and groom bring in themselves.

Justin Jacques: Cool. Sorry, I wasn’t…

Christina Droumtsekas: That’s okay.

Justin Jacques: I wasn’t ready for the next questionnaire.

Christina Droumtsekas: Oh.

Justin Jacques: I’m still getting used to this small interviewing thing. Okay, so you had mentioned that you also do some at least candle rentals.

Christina Droumtsekas: [Agrees]

Justin Jacques: Are there any other services that you offer, and are there any other services that if people are watching this in their Kitchener-Waterloo or the GTA area that they can be asking that other florist typically kind of offer as well outside of just doing the centerpieces and other flowers for their wedding?

Christina Droumtsekas: Well, of course, I mean, so there’s kind of school of thought with florists. You have your regular florists that has their everyday flower shop and you have an event florists.

So if you tend to go to like an everyday flower shop and you’re asking them to do your wedding bouquet, your centerpieces, the likelihood of them doing that little bit of extra for the set up or offering the candle rentals are really slim versus if you go to somebody who calls themselves an event florist, they double as a decorator/florist. They may not do your piping and draping, but they will rent pedestals. They can bring in linens for you. They can bring in the chargers, and all that extra details, so they become that one-stop shop.

Two of the venues that I work with on site, the Hacienda Sarria and Langdon Hall, they’re both beautiful venues that you don’t need a lot of décor, like you walk into a space and the first thing you do, people’s eyes pop out, “Wow, it looks like a castle, or it’s an 00:17:44 olden regent inn.” And then at that point, you want to know that if you want rent linens that the venue themselves don’t offer it, that whoever you’re working with, it kind of eliminates the steps.

Like for us, we do weddings up north. We did a wedding a couple of weeks ago in King City, and I helped the bride pick her linens and her chairs and everything like that, and did the centerpieces. We rented candelabras, like I have them and I offered them. So there’s a lot that florists will do, and a lot of them will travel, so even necessarily you have a wedding in Muskoka, don’t be afraid to get a florist that’s out of Niagara on the Lake or out of Kitchener-Waterloo, they will travel.

Justin Jacques: Okay, cool.

Christina Droumtsekas: Because it’s just something that they do.

Justin Jacques: For those of you that are watching in Ontario, that would be about, I don’t know, 300 kilometers away.

Christina Droumtsekas: Yeah. I mean, King City was what? That was a two-hour drive for me from where I am.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Christina Droumtsekas: We took it, we loaded it up, and we did the whole wedding.

Justin Jacques: Cool, awesome. Okay, so I think this has been super good. If I was planning a wedding, which I’m not quite yet, but I at least know where to start related to wedding flowers so this has been awesome. I have one last question that I’ve been asking everyone of my guest except for I forgot during my first interview, but that’s okay. So basically, can you share like three insider tips, so since you’ve been working in the wedding industry for four years, on how to make a couple’s wedding awesome, and it doesn’t necessarily at all need to be about flowers. They can all be about flowers. They can just be not about flowers. You can have a mix. Just like what can a couple do to make their wedding as good as it can be?

Christina Droumtsekas: Well, I’d say the first one is make sure it’s personal to both you and them, to either you and your fiancée or your, you know, so that you’d be true to yourselves.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, that’s cool.

Christina Droumtsekas: Book vendors that you like. I mean, that, I cannot stress that enough, that book them based on the referrals and how you feel when you’ve met them, and a third one with your flowers is be realistic when you meet with your vendors or your florist. Know that you have realistic expectations, and that they’re not going to let you down and you won’t be disappointed on the day of.

Justin Jacques: Cool.

Christina Droumtsekas: I don’t know if there’s any other tips I could give. I mean, just go with your gut.

Justin Jacques: So I’m just noting these down so I have them for later. Okay, cool. Awesome, thank you so much. Are we going to do the rose shower now? I’m just kidding.

Christina Droumtsekas: The rose petals, it is with the dog. He is working on it now. 00:20:39

Justin Jacques: Okay. Yeah, we were just talking before that Christina was maybe going to have some rose petals falling in front of her, but it was kind of a…

Christina Droumtsekas: I can give you a scan of the cooler.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, let’s do it.

Christina Droumtsekas: You can see the flowers in the cooler.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, yeah. Let’s see.

Christina Droumtsekas: Let’s see it. I don’t know, do you have a good shot of that?

Justin Jacques: Yeah, that’s great.

Christina Droumtsekas: One without the glare.

Justin Jacques: Cool.

Christina Droumtsekas: So that’s a full cooler.

Justin Jacques: Ready for the weekend?

Christina Droumtsekas: Ready for the weekend.

Justin Jacques: Cool. Okay, so yeah, just to wrap up, I guess. Is there anywhere or where can people go to find you if they want thank you for giving them this information or check you out and see if maybe you can do their flowers for their wedding?

Christina Droumtsekas: So my website is www.pinkpoppi.ca. They can find me on the website and I have a Facebook page. I’ve got a Twitter account, and I have Instagram.

Justin Jacques: Are those all Pink Poppi?

Christina Droumtsekas: Pink Poppi or Pink Poppi Designs.

Justin Jacques: Okay, cool.

Christina Droumtsekas: They are two that it would go under. So Twitter it’s @poppidesign. Instagram, I believe it’s under @pinkpoppi, and Twitter is the same thing.

Justin Jacques: Cool.

Christina Droumtsekas: And then the Facebook, it’s just Pink Poppi.

Justin Jacques: Awesome.

Christina Droumtsekas: That’s how I can be found.

Justin Jacques: I’m going to put up just some show notes and the transcript and the video and everything at indieweddingdj.com/pinkpoppi, so if anyone wants to check those out, you can find them there. And Christina, thank you so much for sharing all of your knowledge. I really appreciate it.

Christina Droumtsekas: Thanks Justin, it’s been great.

Justin Jacques: Okay. Talk to you later.

Christina Droumtsekas: Okay, bye.

Have Questions about Your Wedding?

Get them answered by by wedding industry experts. Just leave us a comment below.

#005 Capturing Moments with Toronto Wedding Photographer Aron Goss

In this episode of the Wedding Insider Podcast, I speak with Aron Goss. He’s an award winning Toronto based wedding photographer (from ISPWP and Fearless Photographers). He has been shooting weddings for years and has some amazing (not at all obvious) tips on how to get great photos and have an amazing wedding day. You can find him on instagram here: http://instagram.com/arongoss#

In this interview, Aron shares answers to these questions:

  • Why are time buffers (in your wedding day schedule) so important?
  • Do you really need an engagement shoot to look your best or your wedding day (hint: the answer is not what you think)?
  • What is the most important thing to look for in a venue if you want to look your best…natural light is one of the things, but what happens when the sun goes down?

Audio only:

You can subscribe to this podcast on itunes: click here.


Justin Jacques: Hello everyone, Justin Jacques here from the Wedding Insider Podcast. Today I have Aron Goss, formerly of Calculated Style, now it’s just Aron Goss, right?

Aron Goss: Just Aron now, yeah.

Justin Jacques: Okay, cool. He’s an award-winning photographer from the International Society of Wedding Photographers and Fearless Photographers. Is that right?

Aron Goss: [Agrees]

Justin Jacques: And my favorite award that you’ve won is you’re voted the best photographer in the world by your own mom.

Aron Goss: Yeah, I had to work harder for that. Thanks for having me, I appreciate it.

Justin Jacques: Yeah. Thanks for being here. So let’s get started and just give everyone kind of a background on where you got started in photography and how you ended up being a wedding photographer.

Aron Goss: Yeah, absolutely. I’ve been shooting professionally since 2009, early 2009. It’s when I first started actually taking money for gigs. I’ve been shooting forever. I think you get from a lot of people we grew up taking pictures. It’s something we always did. We had film growing up. My dad almost became a photographer. He shot growing up our entire lives, but it wasn’t something he had ever decided to take on as a career. So I’m lucky I was able to do this for a living, I still am.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, yeah.

Aron Goss: Yeah.

Justin Jacques: Cool. So yeah, like how did you end up moving into weddings? Like basically it seems like for a lot of photographers, you do a few friends and then you end up realizing that you can do it on the side, or is that kind of where you moved into when you started to decide that that’s what you wanted to take on as your profession?

Aron Goss: I’ve only really ever been interested in taking pictures of people.

Justin Jacques: Okay, cool.

Aron Goss: I don’t take a lot of pictures of mountains and water and still life. It’s always been people, and just trying to tell [cut audio 00:01:52]. Weddings just kind of made sense. Weddings allowed me to tell a story, to shoot people which I’ve always been drawn to, but also to be able to take pictures that mean so much to people, and then pictures that people are going to treasure forever.

I was interested in weddings right from the start. So that’s always been my goal. I really only shoot weddings still. That’s definitely where my passion is, so yeah, I don’t shoot a lot of models and I don’t shoot a lot of babies and families. Well, I have shot some of them, it’s primarily just been for previous clients. Other than that, weddings is probably 95% of my business.

Justin Jacques: Cool. All right, so we’re back. We had some technical issues. We’re just trying to make sure we got the best audio possible, and Aron went and grabbed a different computer, and now we’re going to continue the interview. So we left, yeah, and hopefully, everything comes through what we’re saying.

So we left off just with how can a couple find like an awesome photographer. What should they be looking for when they’re looking for a photographer?

Aron Goss: The big thing for me when I meet a client, I don’t want them coming to me hoping to see more pictures. I’m going to assume that you’ve already gone through a ton of my work online. It’s all up there. I’m happy to share galleries as well if people request it.

When I meet with clients for my meeting, I’m hoping that we’re just feeling each other out personality wise. I want to make sure that I’m the kind of person you want to have around on your wedding day. I know I’m not the perfect photographer for everybody, but I hope that I’m the perfect photographer for the clients that do hire me.

So I want to spend a lot of time with them. I want to get an idea of the personality, of their sense of humor, to see if there’s that comfort level there. That’s really what I would push clients to spend a lot of time doing.

We spend so much time with them on their wedding day in a lot of really intimate moments. I want to make sure you feel completely comfortable and completely trusting when I’m there shooting on your wedding day. It’s funny, I usually spend more time with the bride on her wedding day than the groom will.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Aron Goss: You’ve got to love your photographer, and you have to feel completely comfortable that they’re going to be able to handle you, your friends and family the way you want your friends and family to be handled.

Essentially, we’re the only guest at a wedding that isn’t truly invited. We’re just there as a vendor, an important vendor, but just a vendor. So I would want all my clients to know that they feel completely comfortable. If they’re not around and I’m there moving their family around or just interacting with their guests, that they feel comfortable knowing that I’m going to treat them like they are my family as well.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, yeah, it’s crazy, I mean, just having photographer friends and talking to photographers, how many intimate moments you’re there for where you’re there when the bride is putting on her dress. You’re there when her mom sees her for the first time or her dad sees her for the first time, and when the groom sees her for the first time, and all these like really important moments, and you’re sometimes the only other person there for some of those moments.

Yeah, it is. I think having that personality match is super important, especially with somebody that you’re going to be with all day long and working in such an intimate, I guess, way.

Aron Goss: Really, absolutely.

Justin Jacques: So where do you think that if brides and grooms are just kind of starting their search, do you have a place that you would suggest for them to go if they’re looking for a photographer? Like where do they search? Like there are so options it seems, and do you have something there?

Aron Goss: There is a ton of options. Referrals are huge. I would definitely speak to your friends, speak to your family, find out who worked for them. It’s definitely a great place to start.

If you don’t want to be so pigeonholed with regards to wedding vendors your friends and family might have contact with, then definitely the next best spot would probably be a wedding planner. Wedding planners know how to match a client’s budget to the talent level that’s available.

So if they’re feeling like they’re not finding the quality of photography that they’re looking for with a simple, basic Google search, then definitely I would consider bringing in a planner.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Aron Goss: Talking to a planner. Let the planner know what your vision is, what your budget is, and that’s the planner’s job to match those and make sure that you don’t just get lucky finding a photographer that ranked very high on Google, but you actually find the right photographer that will work best for your personality, for your vision, and for your budget.

Justin Jacques: Cool, yeah. So I think planners are awesome, and I think they have a huge amount of knowledge around vendors especially, and just to navigate that, it doesn’t seem like it would be overwhelming, I’m thinking, so people get out a little bit into it, but then…

Aron Goss: It’s completely overwhelming.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Aron Goss: It’s completely overwhelming, and I’m going to say, hopefully, but its everyone is going through this for the first time.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Aron Goss: So there are so many questions that come up that I find most of my clients don’t have an answer, and when I got married, I didn’t have any answer to those questions either. People would ask me, “What’s your budget?” You don’t even know where to start sometimes. You don’t even know how you can interact with vendors. What vendors are you able to haggle on price perhaps? How many hours are really required for photography coverage? What’s a good price to be spending for specific vendors? So weddings are worth their weight in gold, both for coordination on the day of, but especially for planning.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, for sure.

Aron Goss: Yeah.

Justin Jacques: So you had mentioned that, just before we started the interview, you started now shooting both film and some digital?

Aron Goss: [Agrees]

Justin Jacques: Like what difference does that bring to images? And like also can you kind of describe like your style and what are some options if people are looking at a different wedding photographer styles.

Aron Goss: I have such a hard time describing my style or anybody else’s really. I started shooting the kind of pictures that I really enjoy with the hopes that I find clients that like what I like. So to try to say that I shoot specific things, I’m definitely not a photojournalist. A photojournalist is more of someone who doesn’t interact that much with the clients, and doesn’t really touch things.

I like to massage the day of a little bit. So I don’t want to change the day too much, but I want to make sure that we get everything we need as required for that day. So if a groom goes in and hugs his bride, I’ll be like, “Let’s do it again, but let’s do it over here.” I just like making sure we get what we need where a photojournalist would stand back, just take pictures and hope they sort of got what they needed.

So I like knowing that I’m getting what’s expected of me, but with regards to my style, it changes every year. I also just take pictures that I like taking, because if I don’t, I find I get burnt out really, really quick.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Aron Goss: I’m starting incorporating a lot more film lately, but partially, that’s just for me, and it sounds horrible, but I need to love the job that I’m doing. I need to be excited to shoot those weddings. So by incorporating film, by incorporating things that get me excited, it relates essentially back on to the clients when they get their work back.

Justin Jacques: Cool. I mean, we kind of talked about now obviously getting to know your photographer before you even hire them is a a huge thing because they need to feel comfortable in front of their camera.

Aron Goss: Yeah.

Justin Jacques: Are there other things that couples can do? They’ve hired the photographer. They know that they’re going to be getting married. What can they do to get the best…

Aron Goss: This is happening.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, this is going to happen. What can they do to get like the best photos possible? Are there other tips that you can share with them?

Aron Goss: Yeah, absolutely. A big one is to just trust your photographer.

Justin Jacques: Oh yeah.

Aron Goss: Trust what they’re doing. They spend a lot of time and work really, really hard ensuring that you’re getting the photographer that you want, but once you’ve done that and your wedding day comes, the best thing that you can really, really do is let them work the way they work best. So when you start limiting them, you’re really limiting your own pictures.

So that would definitely number one. Trust is huge. There are times where I had clients say, almost second guess, how I’m posing them or how I’m setting them up. So trust goes a long, long way.

Work hard. Work hard for your pictures. Your photographer is going to work really, really hard with you, but if you meet them halfway, you get so much more out of your images. So be willing to work hard, be willing to spend an extra 15 minutes getting some extra pictures if you can. Be willing to go out for a night picture later in the night if you’re up for it. The harder you work, the more pictures generally you’ll receive.

I would also limit the alcohol early in the day. It sounds horrible because it’s such a big party, and I don’t want to take anything away from that party, but if you can have the party happen during party time, and especially for your bridal party, if they can be more involved and excited and interested rather than already in party mode and kind of passed all of that, limiting the alcohol until the reception will go so far. So that’s something that I try to suggest to all my couples. Obviously, the ultimate decision is up to them, but it goes a long way.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, that’s a super good tip.

Aron Goss: Yeah.

Justin Jacques: I don’t think it’s something that people even really think about because they just want a party a lot of the time, and you can definitely tell when people are, you know. One drink or two drinks, I don’t think is going to be end of the world, but a few drinks or beyond, you can definitely tell in photos. They just don’t look their best.

Aron Goss: Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely, and so that’s definitely a big thing. I would also make sure that clients invest, and I’d like to say invest in your photographer, but most clients can’t have the best of everything.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Aron Goss: I would figure out what’s really, really important to you and invest in those couple of things rather than trying to have the best of everything, or budget everywhere. So figuring out what’s important to you and then spend maybe a little extra money on what’s really, really important to you, and then know that you’ve invested as much as possible towards those products.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, I know. That’s another thing I wholeheartedly agree with. I mean, I’m a bit of a premium DJ service, and I don’t think I’m at all worth it for a lot of people, but for people that really care about music, then yeah, like this is it. Spend your money on something you care about for sure.

Aron Goss: Absolutely.

Justin Jacques: And I think the same thing for people that really are going to care about their images.

Aron Goss: Yeah.

Justin Jacques: You do get what you pay for a lot of the times. So okay, I mean, I’ve seen some of your award-winning photos, they look awesome.

Aron Goss: Thank you.

Justin Jacques: Obviously, you’ve picked those out to submit into contests and stuff like that, and like what defines an awesome wedding photo for you, I guess?

Aron Goss: Three things. Lighting is number one.

Justin Jacques: Oh cool, yeah.

Aron Goss: Lighting is photography. If you don’t have good lighting, you don’t have a good shot. The moment could be the best moment in the world, but without good light, it’s really half of what the picture could be. So lighting is always number one.

Composition is number two, it needs to be interesting. Layers in the frame are completely interesting to me, but also directing the viewer on where they should be looking at an image is huge. So when I’m talking about composition, I might see something in specific way, and now it’s my goal to catch that in a way that I see it and know when someone looks at my image, that they’re looking exactly where I want them to look. So composition is huge.

Justin Jacques: Is there anything a couple can do to help you with that?

Aron Goss: Trust.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, the same thing, okay.

Aron Goss: Yeah. Just trust. I mean, you’re hiring an artist to create a specific look. So take them for their word, just work with the photographer and know, I mean, also that we have the same goal. I want them to look as good as possible, and they want to look as good as possible, so I’m never going to do something or I’m never going to suggest something that is going to make them look any other way than awesome.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, yeah.

Aron Goss: At least, 00:15:23 as you guys are hopefully there. So yeah, just trust is huge. Then another element that makes for a great photograph for me is truth. I think that’s been the biggest thing I’ve been working on for the past couple of years where I loved my compositions and I enjoyed my lighting, but I found that couples sometimes were posed in a way that it didn’t reflect them.

So over the past three or four years I’ve worked really, really hard on setting up an image the way I want and then telling a really, really bad joke that I know will still make them laugh. So now I have this great image that also shows who they are, and then being comfortable in being themselves, so truth goes a long, long way, especially in just a documentary-type image or a candid image, just being able to show people when they’re at ease and showing people when their guard is down.

Thus what’s so great about weddings is people will say a lot of things that they wouldn’t normally say. People who don’t normally say I love you might take that chance on a wedding day because it’s a wedding day. So to be able to capture that means so much to my clients and to myself.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, cool.

Aron Goss: To me that’s what makes a good picture. I’m sure it’s different for a lot of people, but those three things are what I’m looking for in most of my frames.

Justin Jacques: Cool.

Aron Goss: Yeah.

Justin Jacques: Also, I’m sure we have some couples that are listening that started or just got engaged and they’re like, “Oh cool, a podcast, let’s start there.” So they might not even at a point where they have a venue, so from a photographer’s perspective, what should they be looking for in a venue so that they look best in their wedding photos and so that their surroundings look great too?

Aron Goss: It’s such a great question, and what generally seems to happen is they figured out a date, and then they booked the venue and they book their photographer. I would love to see that swapped around. I would love to see people book a photographer, and then figure out a date that that photographer hopefully was available and then use that photographer to help narrow down your venue options. Because who better to help a couple show what their venue is going to look like than their photographer?

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Aron Goss: So I love when clients let me come with them on their venue visits, or show them what those specific venues look like in pictures and then let them decide afterwards rather than hoping and guessing that things will look really, really good in pictures, and there are a lot of gowns that look great for venues and there are a lot of gowns that look horrendous. While they look good during the day, when things get dark, how is it going to look? So I would love to see more couples hire a photographer first, and then incorporate us into the venue planning.

Justin Jacques: Cool. Obviously, having a photographer’s eye with you and somebody who’s worked in the space before is going to be a huge advantage. If somebody doesn’t have that opportunity, is there anything that like you particularly look for?

Aron Goss: Natural light.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, okay.

Aron Goss: Yeah. I prefer a venue that doesn’t have a lot of wood, especially when things get dark and we have to use a flash later on, a flash in wood just don’t seem to get along too well, so that would be a huge thing. There are a couple of venues in Toronto as well that have black ceilings. I would definitely recommend not using those venues. Black sucks light, so those would be the big things that I would point out first.

Justin Jacques: Cool, yeah. That is not something that hardly I think anyone would think about but a photographer.

Aron Goss: Yeah, that’s right.

Justin Jacques: The color of the ceiling.

Aron Goss: Well, that light is going to reflect back onto your skins.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Aron Goss: So that, and also your skin color takes on the color of that wood. So yeah, hire a photographer first.

Justin Jacques: Cool.

Aron Goss: 00:19:19 If you can, hire him first.

Justin Jacques: Okay, yeah. So there’s actually a question I’ve been asking everyone but Andrew who is your officemate.

Aron Goss: Yes.

Justin Jacques: Because he was my first interview, and I meant to ask him, but I forgot, but I’m trying to get three insider tips that wedding photographers know that most people don’t, and it can be about photography or wedding photography, but it can be just generally about a wedding but just how to make their wedding amazing kind of thing.

Aron Goss: Awesome question. Number one, your makeup is going to run late. No matter what your makeup is going to run late, I don’t know how many weddings I’ve shot, I’ve never seen makeup be there on time. I’m sure they’re trying. I’m sure they care. It’s never on time. The biggest issue for a photographer is when the makeup runs late. That extra time now comes out of my time.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Aron Goss: Dinner is not going to be held any later. Your guests aren’t going to arrive any later. The rest of your time is not going to get pushed back any further. That time is going to be taken out of your portrait time. So I guess I’m talking more to makeup artists. You need more time you think you need. As long as a couple builds in more buffer time into their day, it can only make them relax more. You need more time for absolutely everything on a wedding day than you think you need.

If traffic should probably take ten minutes, give yourself twenty. If makeup is going to take an hour, which it won’t, you probably need two. The more time the better. The more time even just helps you relax. If you thought you had an hour and a half for pictures and now you have half an hour or 45 minutes, not only had you cut your time in half, but now the stress is going to show on your face.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, for sure.

Aron Goss: So not only do you have less time, but you won’t look as comfortable on your pictures, so buffer time goes a long, long way.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, that’s huge. That’s an awesome point. I love that.

Aron Goss: What else? Every time I meet with clients, it seems like they’ve all read the same tips online which is totally cool, and I love that they’re doing research, but the one thing that I will push back on is that an engagement session won’t make you more comfortable on your wedding day.

A good photographer will make you more comfortable on your wedding day. So you can shoot six times, but if you don’t feel comfortable with the person you’re working with, that’s the biggest thing. That will make you look normal and look natural and feel like you can be goofy or just be yourselves if you have a photographer who just happens to be somebody you would consider a friend around.

So that’s the big thing I’ve always sort of pushed back on. I love to shoot engagements. Do I think you need an engagement to make you more comfortable on your wedding day? Not necessarily.

Another thing I would point out would be that you’re not going to love every picture of yourself. I don’t want couples to feel like if they have a picture, and they don’t enjoy the way they look in their pictures, that it’s a failure on either parties’ behalf.

We’re going to give you a lot of diversity. We’re going to shoot you in a lot of different ways, and some of that you’re going to absolutely love, and there are going to be other pictures that you don’t love yourself and that’s totally cool.

Everybody sees themselves in a specific way, and everybody has features in themselves that they don’t truly love, and seeing some of the pictures, those are going to be highlighted. It’s okay to not love all of your pictures. It’s up to you on which pictures you want to include in your album. It’s up to you on which pictures you want to share online, so don’t feel like you need to love absolutely every picture. Diversity is awesome.

Justin Jacques: Amazing, sweet.

Aron Goss: Cool.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, so far, everyone is giving me a different thoughts, and I think they’re all really great like things that don’t…

Aron Goss: Thank you so much.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, that’s great. Thank you so much.

Aron Goss: My pleasure.

Justin Jacques: Okay, so if anyone wants to get in touch, check out your photos or say hello…

Aron Goss: Yeah.

Justin Jacques: How can they do that?

Aron Goss: My website is arongoss.com. There’s only one A in my name. Blame my parents, not me. My email address is aron@arongoss.com. My phone number is 905-699-6049, but you can find me on Twitter. You can find me on Instagram. You can find me on Facebook. Just find me and say hello. I love meeting new people, and hopefully we get a chance.

Justin Jacques: Yeah. That’s great.

Aron Goss: Yes.

Justin Jacques: I am going to put together some show notes. Those can be found at indieweddingdj.com/podcast/aron, and also if you’re a subscriber on iTunes, if you could just go and give me a rating, preferably 5 stars if you like us, but any rating helps. I just wanted to be able to spread the word to more couples and the more ratings we get the more… You don’t have to leave a review, you can just mark off the stars, it would be greatly appreciated.

So Aron, that’s it. Thank you so much for joining us. I think the information you shared is going to be super helpful. I really, really liked it. It’s great.

Aron Goss: Cool. No, the pleasure is all mine. It was awesome on me too. I appreciate the opportunity.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, my pleasure. Talk to you later.

Aron Goss: Thanks buddy.

Have Questions about Your Wedding?

Get them answered by by wedding industry experts. Just leave us a comment below.

#004 How To Have Stunning Photos of Your Wedding With Michelle Yee

In this episode of the Wedding Insider Podcast, I speak with Michelle Yee. She is a Couple’s Choice Award winning Toronto based wedding photographer. She takes amazing photos (which you can see on her site and blog: http://michelleyeephotos.wordpress.com/). And she shared some awesome tips that I know will help you with your wedding. Enjoy!

In this interview, Michelle shares these tips:

  • how to find (and hire) amazing photographers
  • how to find tell if a venue will look good in photos
  • what you can do to make sure that your photographer gets the best possible photos of your wedding
  • what you can do to look your best in your wedding photos (and lots more)

Audio only:

You can subscribe to this podcast on itunes: click here.

In this episode, we mentioned the following resources:
WedLuxe blog
Wedding Bells
The Wedding Co. – The List (she forgot to mention this in the interview but thought that it would be a great resource for you)


Justin Jacques: Hey there, it’s Justin Jacques with the Wedding Insider Podcast. Today I have Michelle Yee, my friend and photographer from Toronto.

Michelle Yee: Hi.

Justin Jacques: She’s awesome, and looking forward today we’re going to talk about how you can find an awesome wedding photographer and other things just to consider to make sure that you have amazing wedding photos.

So to get started, Michelle, what do you… no, no, we’re not going to start like that. We’re going to start with….

Michelle Yee: Okay.

Justin Jacques: How do you start being a photographer?

Michelle Yee: Oh, how did I start being a photographer? Well, photography has been in my life for a really long time. My mother was a pretty avid hobbyist.

Justin Jacques: Cool, cool.

Michelle Yee: So she was always taking photos of us, and I think I was probably around like 12 or 13 when she first taught me how to use her camera, which was the Canon AE-1 Program for 00:00:58 any live phone or…

Justin Jacques: Yeah, we got one of that too.

Michelle Yee: Oh nice.

Justin Jacques: It’s cool.

Michelle Yee: Yeah. I love it.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Michelle Yee: I was really sad when she left it in the Philippines.

Justin Jacques: Oh no.

Michelle Yee: Yeah, that’s fine. At least you could still buy them on eBay, but yeah, so she made sure that photography was always around. She was the first person to sort of teach me how to use it, use the camera, and I had pretty much been taking a lot of photos ever since then, but I didn’t really know I could pursue photography as a career until I was in my early 20s, which is a little bit late, I think. Yeah, but I went on a trip to New York, and I know this sounds really clichéd, but it was this transformative experience, and that was where I really saw, “Well, people are actually like making a living doing whatever it is that they dream about doing.” So yeah, so I went on that trip when I was like 23 years or 24, and that’s really when I started.

Justin Jacques: Cool, and then did you move into trying to shoot weddings? Is that kind of how, how was that transition?

Michelle Yee: Yeah, well, I was living in Edmonton at the time, and basically, if you want to be a photographer, you’re shooting weddings there.

Justin Jacques: Oh.

Michelle Yee: So right away when I came back, I met like as many photographers that I could possibly could and I started working with photographers shooting weddings. So that was in 2000, and I kind of grew reading like Bold Magazine and Harper’s Bazaar, and a whole dream of moving to New York initially was to be a fashion photographer, but weddings is what I had available so I just started shooting that right away.

Then I guess it came a little bit later where I had already sort of established myself as like this new commercial and advertising photographer here in Toronto that I really started to focus on weddings, and it was basically when the recession came, the industry changed and people were just desperate to do any kind of work. I had – well, for me it would have been like – a pretty big client like I finally got hired by one of the Canada’s like big banks to shoot like a campaign for them, and they just probably paid me like $500 for an ad that was going to be in China.

Justin Jacques: Whoa!

Michelle Yee: Yeah, and I just thought, when I talked to my other friends, and one of them basically just said, “Look, if you don’t do it, somebody else will.”

And I just thought, “You know, this is not worth it for me.”

Justin Jacques: Yeah. That’s crazy.

Michelle Yee: Yeah. So at the time, like when I first moved to Toronto after photography school, and even when I was in school I was shooting weddings, like weddings, that was like when you’re an actor like you wait tables. For me I was like a budding commercial photographer, you shoot weddings.

Like it was just something that I had always done and I had did, so when the recession came and it was realizing that this path I was pursuing totally brought me no joy or satisfaction whatsoever, it ended up being weddings that sort of saved me. Like I had friends who had asked me to shoot their weddings, and before I would have passed them off because I was like a hired gun for like a larger wedding photography company, so I would have just referred them to that company, but I was like, “You know what, I’m not really doing much work, yeah, I’ll do it.”

I was really surprised at how much like I really loved the work, like it felt like second nature to me, and not having that person in between like me and my clients, like before it’s hired gun like I never met the people, I just like would show up on the day of their weddings and start taking pictures. But now it was like, well, I had like met these people. We were sort of acquaintances before, but now this time we’re really friends because we had worked together throughout the planning, and even in the act of actually shooting their wedding, I realized that I was only accountable to them and to myself.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Michelle Yee: Like I did pause that I had to justify any sort of creative decisions, and that just made me feel like free to just do what I wanted.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Michelle Yee: And yeah, so that was like that first wedding under my own banner was in 2009, and I haven’t looked back since.

Justin Jacques: Cool. Yeah, I mean, I think it’s a much more intimate connection. Like that’s a huge difference between hiring somebody like you or I or a much smaller company where you actually get to work with a person, and really, it’s like you’re there for every single, especially a photographer, like I’m only there for the party basically.

Michelle Yee: Yeah.

Justin Jacques: You’re there for like the whole day and the most intimate parts of the day.

Michelle Yee: Oh, for sure. It’s mindboggling to me to think that. Usually, for a wedding photographer, it starts with like getting ready. So in these people’s lives, if you were ever to tell them, “You’re going to take your clothes off and probably be naked for a moment and put your clothes back on,” and some stranger is maybe there taking photos, like most people would not be open to that at all.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Michelle Yee: But on a wedding day, it’s accepted. So I think it’s really funny that people sort of don’t realize like this responsibility basically that they’re bestowing upon this person. Like there is all sorts of that. I know that planning a wedding is really difficult, but this is somebody that you’re going to put a lot of trust in.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, for sure.

Michelle Yee: It’s really important to know who’s going to show up that day. Like I mean, of course, that company that I worked for was like really reputable and all of the photographers that they had working for them were super talented, but just that one thing alone of really not knowing who was going to be there on the day of, like that has a real act of trust that when you work with like a small business where you know who you’re working with.

Some people are okay with delegating that and just putting their trust in that company to take care of their interest, but for me I think it’s something that’s a real source of comfort of just knowing you are building a relationship with that person who’s going to be there on the day of and be there to take care of you afterwards as well.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, it’s a crazy connection that you can form with someone over working with them, essentially for one day.

Michelle Yee: Yeah.

Justin Jacques: But it’s a part of the job that I really enjoy is like meeting my clients beforehand and really getting to know them as opposed to just showing up on the day of and having someone taking pictures or playing music.

Michelle Yee: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, it wasn’t really something that I had planned, but I love that we have so many new friends because of the work that we do, you know?

Justin Jacques: Yeah, for sure.

Michelle Yee: It’s really rewarding.

Justin Jacques: Okay, so let’s get going on some tips to help couples finding a photographer. So like where should people start when they’re looking for a photographer for their wedding?

Michelle Yee: Oh, well, there are so many places that you can look now, like blogs are a huge way for people to find photos. Personally, because blogs are like they’re global, you could be going on something pretty and looking at these amazing photos, but they’re a photographer in Georgia, you know?

Justin Jacques: [Agrees]

Michelle Yee: Unless you’re getting married there, it’s going to be hard to replicated that. So I think people’s best bets are Google, and to like google your city or venue, places that you’re thinking of getting married at, doing the image search and seeing what come up and seeing what photos you gravitate towards.

Of course, there are always like magazines and they have blogs as well that you can access. There are some good Canadian publications that feature a lot of Canadian photographers like Wedding Bells is one of them. Wedlock is another if you’re going to have a very styled wedding. But yeah, there are so many ways now that people can come across finding a wedding photographer. WeddingWire is another one where they have a lot of really good people on there.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Michelle Yee: So yeah, a lot of different ways.

Justin Jacques: Cool, yeah. Yeah, I think it can be a bit overwhelming too for people. I don’t know, but when I talk to some brides, they feel overwhelmed that all the decisions are possible out there.

Michelle Yee: Yeah, yeah.

Justin Jacques: But those are two good sites for sure, and I mean, obviously, you can go anywhere to get the inspiration, but if you’re looking specifically for vendors, it makes sense to kind of stick within you country. Even if you’re willing, even if you have the money to pay someone, it can be tough to travel and to take photos. I’ve had lots of people ask me to come to the States to deejay.

Michelle Yee: Yeah.

Justin Jacques: And like I can’t. I am not going to take the effort to put in and get a visa and everything. It’s just…

Michelle Yee: Yeah.

Justin Jacques: It’s a lot of work, and I think it’s the same thing, and even if I know some people who might be willing to do it outside of a visa, but to try and find someone who’s going to be able to actually work where you’re having your wedding makes the most amount of sense.

Michelle Yee: Yeah, yeah.

Justin Jacques: So let’s start with those couple of Canadian blogs, that’s a good suggestion for sure.

Michelle Yee: Yeah, yeah. I mean, when you talk about like wedding, like wedding photography, like I think, obviously, I would love to travel with wedding photography, but even just for me like the logistics of like being able to do your job really well under those circumstances are especially trying.

Like even in Toronto, something that I do with all of my clients is, because I tend to work mostly with natural light and because I’m more of a documentary photographer, that means that I need to come armed with as much information as possible. So I like to go to the venues at the time in which I’m going to be shooting like beforehand so I’m just like to go like what can I expect with the lights.

Because I’ve been in lots of situations where when I was doing more editorial photos, they’re like, “You have five minutes with this CEO.” And you’re shooting downtown like in the financial district where you’re really not even supposed to be shooting unless you have a permit in advance. But what you’re doing is kind of guerilla, and I showed up and I was there an hour early, and when you’re in like the financial district, like the light changes there so quickly because you’re basically in these canyons.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Michelle Yee: Actually, you’ll have this light that fits that one spot, but it won’t be there five minutes later, and he was late for our shoot and it was a total disaster. By the time he showed up, like all the light, all of the places where I had planned on shooting him looked totally flat and boring.

So when you’re in a wedding like that where you don’t have a chance for a reshoot, not that you wanted to reshoot editorial jobs either, but there are so much more on the line. Or when you’re traveling, like that ability to really plan ahead and to know what you’re getting into is definitely challenging.

Justin Jacques: For sure. Yeah, I mean, it’s the same thing a little bit. Not as important for me, but somebody could say that you could rent equipment or whatever and get around it, but I just like to that I have equipment that works, that everything is going to be set up, that I just seem familiar with the area. It’s just that traveling far outside just seems difficult.

Michelle Yee: I know.

Justin Jacques: I know people who do it.

Michelle Yee: Yeah.

Justin Jacques: But that’s not me.

Michelle Yee: It’s not really a holiday.

Justin Jacques: No.

Michelle Yee: Like if anything, like I just try to think of it as like I’m just getting to work and it’s somewhere different, but it is work.

Justin Jacques: That’s right.

Michelle Yee: Especially with travel weddings like you are working basically from the moment you arrive until you leave.

Justin Jacques: So if people have found a couple of people that they might be interested, do you have any questions that they should be asking that they might not already know, like they might not already think about of themselves?

Michelle Yee: Yeah, I mean, I was trying to think about you would sort of like ask me about what could help people decide on who’s going to be a good wedding photographer…

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Michelle Yee: And I feel like there’s a lot of wedding resources where they have all these different questions that you can ask photographers, “Are you insured? Are you going to be the person there on the day of? Do you have like a list or questionnaire or something that you can send me?” And all those things are definitely important. I think you need to based on those how the photographer answers, you can assess if this is a person that you’d trust or not.

But it’s also like things that you can’t literally ask them. Like whenever you email your photographer, how soon do they get back to you?

Justin Jacques: That’s a good one. On that, I agree with that.

Michelle Yee: Because you’re under a lot of stress planning a wedding. Not only is you’re like busy with your work, your family obligations or whatever, throwing a wedding in there is a whole other animal, and when you have a vendor that you don’t hear from for weeks, like that’s not a comfortable feeling.

So for somebody like myself, I only take on a certain number of weddings because I know that I have to be on for the people that have booked me, so whenever they email me, I want to make sure that I am like the last person in our thread to reply even if it’s just like, “Okay, got it, everything is great.” Because my whole goal is just to make the process as easy as possible, so it’s not only just helping them with doing all of the photography side of things, but we’ve been at so many weddings that we have a pretty good sense of like what is realistic and what’s not realistic in terms of timing.

So if see something that I think isn’t going to work, I think maybe some vendors would probably choose a path of least resistance and just think, “Well, I don’t want to bother them with that, so I’ll just let somebody else deal with that.” Or if they have a planner like let that all to somebody else’s shoulders, but I really want to be proactive, and if I think that something is not going to work, I’m not going to wait until the day of to like. “Oh, doing this is going to be a disaster, but I have decided not to say something.” Like I’ll say something right away.

So these are things that it’s more in at the relationship building with your vendors that you really get a sense of like, “Do I have a good sense of dialogue with this person? Like can I communicate easily with them, not just like in the initial meeting, we’re going to have a really good canned responses to like good questions.”

Justin Jacques: For sure.

Michelle Yee: Yeah.

Justin Jacques: I think being, even in just how quickly somebody responds, that doesn’t necessarily show you how it’s going to be, but I feel like the people are going to be most on top of checking in with you and making sure that everything is lined up is they’re going to respond to you relatively quickly. Like myself, I always try to be within 24 hours. I don’t necessarily respond within an hour.

Michelle Yee: Yeah.

Justin Jacques: I sometimes do, but within 24 hours to me is a really reasonable timeframe.

Michelle Yee: Sure.

Justin Jacques: But I’ve heard out from my clients that other vendors like they haven’t heard from them, or friends have gotten married too, like they’re trying to contact their vendors and like they will not hear from them for like six days and it’s like two days before their wedding and they’re wondering if the person is going to show up at the wedding or not, and it can add a lot of stress for sure.

Michelle Yee: Totally, right?

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Michelle Yee: I mean, I guess this is that sort of the argument towards like going towards a bigger company because we’re working basically in an unregulated industry, so you’re putting a lot of trust in these individual people that really aren’t accountable to anybody else but to you, so you want to, you know. Like I guess you could ask them how proactive are they.

Justin Jacques: Seriously, yeah.

Michelle Yee: But yeah.

Justin Jacques: I think that’s actually not bad. Honestly, it sounds ridiculous, but it sounds like also a reasonable request, and just see what their response is.

Michelle Yee: Yeah, actually, yeah, that would be a good question, just to see like, “Are you like the type of person who is going to anticipate needs?”

Justin Jacques: Because my answer to that would probably be, “I guarantee you a response within 72 hours, but I almost always respond within 24 or faster.”

Michelle Yee: Yeah.

Justin Jacques: Like that would be my response. Sometimes on a weekend when I have a couple of weddings, it can be tough to respond to emails and that’s generally the times I’m not responding super quick, but I still feel like it depends on the situation. If your wedding is five months away and you’re sending me an email, I feel like you probably don’t feel a need for a response, whereas if your wedding was tomorrow and I saw an email come through, then I’d probably try to respond as quickly as possible.

Michelle Yee: Yeah, yeah. I mean, of course, I’m not saying that like I’m tied to my email, but you know?

Justin Jacques: Right, but you would probably have a similar response, whereas some people might not even have that response ready where it seems like they’re going to care about that type of thing.

Michelle Yee: Yeah, I mean, I think being proactive in anticipating needs is actually a part of my business.

Justin Jacques: For sure.

Michelle Yee: So yeah. So I guess that would be something that would be really worthwhile in asking your vendors in advance.

Justin Jacques: Cool.

Michelle Yee: Yeah.

Justin Jacques: So like you know photography more than anyone, I’m sure, other than other photographers, but generally you know more than people that are going to be hiring a wedding photographer, I would say. Obviously, people can just look at pictures and just get an idea of what kind of appeals to them, but what are the different styles that people can be looking from just from a descriptive standpoint? Like what’s the difference between you, like I know there is a difference, but can you kind of describe that difference of what people can find in different photographers?

Michelle Yee: Yeah, I mean, it’s funny because I went to a wedding show yesterday just because a friend of mine was there, and we were just meeting other vendors, and my husband who’s a wedding DJ as well, like he was talking to a photographer and he was giving his card. He told him, “Maybe you know my wife because she’s a photographer.”

He’s like, “Oh yeah, I know.”

Like I don’t have that perspective at all because really like there are so many different styles of photography out there. Even when you say the sort of like blanket things like “I’m more of a photojournalist, or I’m more of like a portrait photographer.” Even people who is sort of associate themselves with that sort of style could have like huge variations in how that’s translated.

But I think in general, there are people who really focus a lot on like very styled wedding shoots, you know?

Justin Jacques: Okay.

Michelle Yee: Where they bring a lot of like elements in like props and whatnot. These are people who would need a lot more time for the photos, and there are people who say that their strengths are in candid photography or they say they’re more documentary or more photojournalistic. I mean, maybe it’s not like buying or like this or that, but I guess those tend to be the extremes, or like the more pause more controlled versus like the not controlled and more sort of responsive types of photography.

Justin Jacques: Okay, yeah.

Michelle Yee: Yeah, but wedding photography in general, like there are so many just different aspect of wedding photography that you kind of need to be like the jack of all trades in a sense. You need to have at least some skills in portraiture, some skills in photojournalism. Now that people are really getting into like finding all the little details, like you also need to be like an accomplished still light photographer. So you wear a lot of different hats like I know a lot of really talented photographers who have like amazing, amazing like bodies of work who say they could never shoot weddings because it’s just too stressful.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Michelle Yee: And those are people who are doing like campaigns that cost like hundreds of thousands of dollars to produce. So you definitely need to be very skilled on a lot of different areas as a photographer regardless of like what you say you specialize in.

Justin Jacques: Okay, cool.

Michelle Yee: Yeah.

Justin Jacques: What can people expect? Like obviously, in anything you buy, there are different price ranges for everything even by, I don’t know. What’s the cheapest car you could probably get? I’m not sure.

Michelle Yee: Oh, you could probably a car for a thousand bucks on Craigslist.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, exactly.

Michelle Yee: Like a million dollar, I don’t know, the McLaren I guess. Is that like the new supercar?

Justin Jacques: I have no idea. I’m not a car guy.

Michelle Yee: Likewise. Don’t worry, I’m really good one.

Justin Jacques: I knew that. I should find a better analogy for future times I’m asking this question. But anyway, I’m sure everyone gets the idea. What’s like the standard? Obviously, probably people are going to find a $500 wedding photographer on Kijiji.

Michelle Yee: Yeah.

Justin Jacques: For a professional wedding photographer, where would the price range generally be? And people can also probably pay a $100,000 for wedding photographers.

Michelle Yee: Yeah, yeah. It’s like that whole idea that you get what you pay for definitely holds true in photography. I mean, I think that there are instances where you can get really lucky and you can find someone who’s talented but early in their career, and maybe that will only set you back $2,000 or $3,000.

But I’ve heard so many horror stories, even with people who have hired more expensive photographers where, I mean, I guess this was in the days of film, but like I have a client of mine who said, “Yeah, like we hired our photographer and I was finally ready to make prints like have enlargements made, and he lost my negatives and it had only been like five years.”

So there’s a huge range. You can probably be paid something like $5,000 or $6,000 for your photography too. But yeah, so it could really range, like you can find somebody for the $2,000 to $3,000 mark. You can find like really super talented people for around $5,000.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Michelle Yee: And then seeing like what else you want from them, whether you want like albums or you want them to capture more than your day, but maybe your dress fitting too. It can just go upwards from there.

Justin Jacques: Okay, cool.

Michelle Yee: Yeah.

Justin Jacques: Okay, so this is actually a good question. When you have a couple, what can they do to make sure that you are able to capture like the best photos? Like is there anything? I’m sure there are things that they can do, and what are they?

Michelle Yee: Yeah, communication is key. Do not keep secrets from your photographer. I think that is like the number one thing. Because you can have couples where like they want to surprise their partner on the day with something, and I think that that’s amazing, but just don’t keep that from your photographer even if you have to send them just a sort of email in secret, do that.

I was at a wedding a couple of years ago where the groom in the middle of the reception decided, or not, he didn’t decide on impulse, but he had planned on serenading his bride, and for me, like at receptions, it’s generally people sitting down at their tables.

After you get like the sort of like wide angle and some of the more standard shots, like generally you’re just kind of you’ve got your long lens and you’re just trying to get people’s reactions.

Justin Jacques: Yeah. People eating, it’s not really worth taking pictures of either, right?

Michelle Yee: Yeah, people eating. Like by that time, I’ve been carrying around all of my lenses and all of my gear all day so now I’m just paring it down to just the one lens because I think generally this is the lens that I may be able to use to get people’s reactions. So all of a sudden, he’s singing and I’m like, “Oh my God, I don’t have like the right…” I was just limited in what I had available to me because I had only had that one lens on me, whereas all of my other stuff was off across the room.

So had he told me that he was going to be serenading her, I would just had all of my tools at my disposal. Like I still obviously managed to get photos of it, but I would have loved to have done it in so much more if I had known that this is going to come.

So that would probably be the biggest thing, like just communicate everything to your photographer. Like whatever you think is maybe even not relevant to me, I would totally think is relevant.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Michelle Yee: Every itinerary that anyone does for them, like the DJs for example. Like itineraries are so detailed at the reception. It’s like everything is broken down in like two-minute increments because it’s like this song comes on in this speech, whatever. Like even though that may not be directly relevant to me, I’d still want to know what’s going to happen so I can anticipate the evening and just be…

Justin Jacques: Yeah, I’ve had lots of it. I make itinerary for every wedding, and I know not everyone does, but I know that some other DJs too or a planner does that, or somebody. There’s usually some sort of itinerary around.

Michelle Yee: Yeah.

Justin Jacques: For those of you that are brides or grooms, like share those itineraries with all of your vendors, even if they don’t seem like they matter because sometimes I have photographers coming up to me and it’s not their fault, they just weren’t told about what’s going on, and like they’re asking me what’s going, and then I have to either give them my itinerary or sit there and explain to them, “There, you should have that stuff.” So that make sure, that’s a super good tip because it is really important for us to know what’s going on.

Even the small things, even for me when I’m just playing background music during dinner, I like to know if you’re planning on having people singing or whatever it is, and I’m sure Michelle would want to know and every other photographer would want to know that’s just happening too.

Michelle Yee: Yeah, exactly. I can’t like stress that enough. Just giving as much information as possible.

Justin Jacques: Cool.

Michelle Yee: So yeah, that is like the number one thing that people could do, and second to that, I guess, is just choose a venue that has a great light.

Justin Jacques: Okay, cool. Actually, that’s the next question. So you’re a photographer, and obviously very visual based.

Michelle Yee: Yeah.

Justin Jacques: For those of us that don’t think like you do, what should we be looking for when we’re looking at a venue to make sure that our pictures are like really awesome?

Michelle Yee: Yeah. Well, like I think it’s really important for people to pay attention to their first impression like when they walk into a space, like does it feel really grand? Does it make you feel good being there? You know?

Justin Jacques: [Agrees]

Michelle Yee: If you right away start thinking like, “Okay, well, I’ll make sure I have to do that. I have to do that, and do that,” then at its very basic nature, it may not be the best place because I feel like lighting is something that people just notice or they get a sense of instinctually, you know?

Justin Jacques: Yeah, we might not notice it on our own.

Michelle Yee: Yeah. So I think you should just pay attention to what your instinct say as to how good the space is.

Justin Jacques: Cool.

Michelle Yee: Yeah.

Justin Jacques: Is there anything that like styling-wise, makeup-wise, is there anything that you know of that helps brides especially I guess looking at pictures?

Michelle Yee: I think the most important thing for me is that they feel comfortable.

Justin Jacques: Okay, cool.

Michelle Yee: Is it comfortable with how you look? You’re not going to feel as confident. When you’re choosing like a makeup artist, for example, like I definitely recommend you do the tests because you think that there is not too many ways that makeup can go wrong, but there are a million ways that make it wrong.

There is like a wedding show that my husband and I went to like a long time ago because we obviously been a wedding photographer, and he was like, “Oh, look, they’re offering free makeovers. You should go and have a makeover.”

And I went over, and I was like, “Okay, I’ll make a makeover,” and this woman literally sat me down and did not say a word to me for an hour. Like she didn’t talk to me at all. I was the type of person I rarely wear makeup so I had no idea what she was doing to me at all.

Justin Jacques: Oh my God.

Michelle Yee: And like an hour later, somebody was like, “Oh yeah, that looks really good.”

She’s like, “Yeah, you see I told you that you would look great with this.”

And I was like, “You didn’t actually say anything to me.”

Then after when I got to see what I looked like, I was like shocked. The first thing that came to my mind was like I looked like a Chinese opera singer, which was like totally not my flattering at all. But for men trying to be portrayed as women, and I felt like that.

Justin Jacques: Oh my God.

Michelle Yee: I was like, “I am a woman trying to look like a man trying to look a woman.” And yeah, it was really horrible. It was really, really embarrassing.

Justin Jacques: It was horrible.

Michelle Yee: Yeah, it was a good thing that she wasn’t the makeup artist at my wedding.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, for sure.

Michelle Yee: Seeing that, yeah, I would have been mortified. So yeah, I mean, I feel like the most beautiful thing about a person is like when they are smiling and they’re happy.

Justin Jacques: Yeah. Okay, cool.

Michelle Yee: So as long as you feel comfortable in what you’re wearing and how you look and you just feel like you’ve never looked better, then that is like all I need.

Justin Jacques: Okay. That’s awesome.

Michelle Yee: Yes.

Justin Jacques: One last question.

Michelle Yee: Okay.

Justin Jacques: And really, I’m trying to ask like this same question with everyone. I forgot on the first interview. I didn’t write it down unfortunately, and you’re number 3, so you get the second try at this question.

Michelle Yee: All right, cool.

Justin Jacques: Can you share three like insider tips that you as a wedding photographer know and most people don’t? And it doesn’t even necessarily need to be about photography, but about a wedding, like you get to see a lot of the day and actually pretty much all of the day, so anything that you can think of that is going to make somebody’s wedding better, then let us know.

Michelle Yee: Oh okay.

Justin Jacques: It can be about photography too.

Michelle Yee: Okay, okay. Well, I guess to reiterate, communication.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Michelle Yee: Share as much information as you have, even if you feel like you’re bombarding your photographer if they’re not replying, which they shouldn’t be mad at you.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Michelle Yee: But even if they’re not, just send them like ten different itineraries of the same day whatever. So for me, just give me as much information as possible, and so that’s number one. I guess number two is, it’s really hard because weddings for a lot of people, it’s something that they’ve thought about for a really long time.

Even for somebody like me, like my husband and I were like we’re in the wedding business, but even when we got married, it was a lot of stress just trying to plan it because there are all these expectations. I didn’t think at that time that it was necessary for my parents to invite like 15 of their friends whom I didn’t know, but now that my friends are starting to have kids and I’m developing relationships with them, I think, “Yeah, I want to be there when they get married.”

So I think that knowing that it’s a lot of work and knowing that there are a lot of like expectations and preconceived notions about weddings, adopting the attitude that at its most, at its sort of when it’s distilled down, it’s really a celebration of you making a commitment to somebody who is really important to you and sharing that with your friends and family.

You can just repeat that in mind, like everything else can just fall to pieces, but as long as that one thing happens, then everything is going to be good. So all of your vendors are prepared because you’ve bombarded them with itineraries, and then when shit hits the fan, oops I’m sorry, I probably wasn’t supposed to swear.

Justin Jacques: Okay.

Michelle Yee: But if stuff doesn’t go the way you expected it, like just keep in mind like what it’s really about, and then I guess the third thing would just be on the day itself, it really does fly by, you know?

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Michelle Yee: That whole idea of like time flies when you’re having fun, it is like exponentially fast on the day where it’s like, “Oh my God, I’m surrounded by people I love. I can’t believe I’m seeing all these people in one room all together.” So just make sure that on the day of, you just take a moment to really just absorb all of that.

Justin Jacques: I’m trying to tell that to everyone of my clients, just that. It’s just it goes by so fast like try your best to realize it.

Michelle Yee: Oh, it’s just like one time during the day, and I think I’m going to adopt the practice of like to like even just instigating and be like, “Okay, I just want you to take a moment, take a deep breath, look around you and just savor this.”

Justin Jacques: Cool. Yeah, it’s a good practice.

Michelle Yee: Yeah, I think so. I think so because even for me, it’s easy to get swept up and it’s like 00:34:56 hold the sun at like 11 o’clock at night.

Justin Jacques: For sure.

Michelle Yee: And the day is almost done.

Justin Jacques: Cool.

Michelle Yee: Yeah, yeah.

Justin Jacques: Thank you so much for sharing that info. I’m sure our listeners/viewers will find a ton of value in that. That was really good.

Michelle Yee: Okay, I hope so. Thank you so much for having me.

Justin Jacques: Yeah. What can people do if they want to get in contact with you?

Michelle Yee: Oh.

Justin Jacques: Where can they find you?

Michelle Yee: They can go to my website which is michelleyee.com, and I used to hate this that this is how you could spell my name, but it also fits really well with the Mickey Mouse song so it’s like M-I-C-H-E-L-L-E-Y-E-E.com. So it’s really funny. So you can go to my website. You can…

Justin Jacques: Our transcriber will appreciate it that’s your song.

Michelle Yee: I hope that they can write a little musical note, and you can also stalk me on Instagram, which is @michelleyee, but it’s mostly photos of my dog.

Justin Jacques: Who is super cute, so I’m sure you’ll love them.

Michelle Yee: Yeah, I know, and yeah, and then my Twitter handle is the same as the Instagram, @michelleyee, and also, I have a Facebook page, and new and exciting things are going to be happening there as well.

Justin Jacques: Okay, cool, and then I’m going to put together some show notes with just links to kind of the sites that you’ve mentioned, links to your site.

Michelle Yee: Great.

Justin Jacques: And whatever, I’ll send it. It will be in the weddingdj.com/podcast/michelle.

Michelle Yee: Sweet.

Justin Jacques: And then yeah, and then one other note is that if your subscribed on iTunes and listening to this here, it would be amazing if you could give me a review if you like what you’ve heard. I just want to be able to spread the words to more brides and grooms, so just the more reviews I have, the more likely they are to show my podcast to other people, so that will be amazing.

Thank you so much, Michelle. I really appreciate your time, and I’m sure everyone else listening does too, and well, I really appreciate you being here.

Michelle Yee: Awesome, thank you for having me.

Justin Jacques: Cool, thanks.

Michelle Yee: Thanks.

Justin Jacques: We’ll talk soon.

Michelle Yee: Okay, bye.

Have Questions about Your Wedding?

Get them answered by by wedding industry experts. Just leave us a comment below.

#003 Planning an Amazing Wedding with Crystal Adair-Benning of Distinct Occasions

In this episode of the Wedding Insider Podcast, I speak with Crystal Adair-Benning of Distinct Occasions. She is a Toronto based “Wedding Dream Translator and Planner-of-Once-In-A-Lifetime Awesomeness.” Her blog at http://www.distinctoccasions.ca/blogged is full of tips and thoughts that only a wedding planner of her caliber could write. She is awesome and this interview is packed with useful information. Enjoy!

In this interview Crystal shares these tips:

  • how to find amazing vendors (even if you don’t hire a wedding planner)
  • how to find the perfect wedding planner for you
  • 2014 wedding trends (and her absolute favourite trend)
  • lots of other amazing things that will help you make your wedding planning less stressful and more fun

Audio only:

You can subscribe to this podcast on itunes: click here.

In this episode, we mentioned the following resources:
Southern Bride Magazine
Wedding Cake Pinatas
Emotionally Engaged: A Bride’s Guide to Surviving the “Happiest” Time of Her Life by Allison Moir-Smith


How to Plan an Amazing Wedding
with Crystal Adair-Benning of Distinct Occasions

Justin Jacques: Hey there, everyone. Justin Jacques here from the Wedding Insider Podcast. Today I have Crystal Adair-Benning from Distinct Occasions. She’s a wedding planner. She’s awesome. We worked together before, and I thought she would be a fantastic person to kind of give you a good idea of where to start your wedding planning and just some general fantastic tips on how to make your wedding awesome because she does an amazing job planning. So to get started, Crystal, how did you get started in wedding planning?

Crystal Adair-Benning: Oh gosh.

Justin Jacques: It’s such a weird thing to get started in, I think, and like most people have an interesting story, so let’s hear yours.

Crystal Adair-Benning: Wow! Well, I guess most people I know kind of started in wedding because they got married, and I’m kind of the opposite. I jokingly, but in all seriousness, fell into it because I needed money.

Justin Jacques: Nice.

Crystal Adair-Benning: Yeah. I was a university student at the University of Stirling in Scotland, and I very quickly found myself as you do when you’re a student, out of money very, very quickly, and I’m not very good at living on haggis. So I very quickly realized that there were people all around me in the university that were getting married and getting engaged, and one of my friends at the time said, “Hey, I know you plan events. Any chance you want to plan my wedding?”

Of course, I was like, “Oh my gosh, a way to get rid of haggis from my life. Yeah, okay, book me 00:01:38.”

So my very first wedding was, by fluke, it was just I was working in events and somebody asked me and I really didn’t want to eat haggis anymore.

Justin Jacques: Cool.

Crystal Adair-Benning: I was like, “Absolutely. Well, I can afford French fries now. It would be awesome.”

Justin Jacques: Nice.

Crystal Adair-Benning: So that was how I fell into it, and then I moved back to Toronto, and I was like, “Oh my gosh, what do I do? I have this business in Scotland.” I ended up keeping both and opened our Toronto office about a year and a half after the Scottish office I guess technically started, and here we go, and then it just kind of seemed to snowball, so now we have three. So now, we’re in Scotland, Toronto and at Perth, Western Australia, so it keeps us…

Justin Jacques: Wow! Yeah, that’s super cool.

Crystal Adair-Benning: Yeah.

Justin Jacques: And how many weddings have you done?

Crystal Adair-Benning: Oh my gosh. I do about 30 weddings a year.

Justin Jacques: Wow!

Crystal Adair-Benning: When I first started, I did like 40 weddings a year, which was absolutely mad. It’s complete insanity, why anybody would want to do that, I have no idea. So now I really try and keep my numbers to about 20 to 25. That’s kind of the magic number for me. But I have a team of staff that also take on their wedding so all of us together we probably do about 50 weddings a year.

Justin Jacques: Nice. That’s super cool.

Crystal Adair-Benning: Yeah.

Justin Jacques: And we were talking just before we started this, and you’re doing weddings pretty much all over the world, right?

Crystal Adair-Benning: Yeah. I’ve been really, really blessed. Wedding planning has afforded me the opportunity to travel the world, so I’ve been to Bali.

Justin Jacques: Cool.

Crystal Adair-Benning: And I’ve gotten to Borneo and Thailand and Australia and New Zealand, and you name it and I’ve kind of tried to do it. I think the only place left is Africa really. I think I need to go there. So if anybody is getting married in Africa, totally I’m on it for you, no problem, but I think it’s all I’ve got left in terms of places I’ve undiscovered.

Justin Jacques: I see a safari wedding trend coming in the near future.

Crystal Adair-Benning: Lamping in the safari with lions and tigers and bears, oh my. You can ride in an elephant. I will make that happen.

Justin Jacques: You will. I know that you will.

Crystal Adair-Benning: I’ll make the giraffe…

Justin Jacques: I would not doubt it.

Crystal Adair-Benning: It will be great honestly. If somebody should do this totally, and I will plan it for you with no problem.

Justin Jacques: Okay. So let’s say, I know you have offices all over, and that you do weddings all over. But let’s say somebody is looking for a wedding planner right now, and for some reason, they can’t contact you.

Crystal Adair-Benning: Yeah.

Justin Jacques: Or they can’t work with you specifically, how do they find an awesome planner? Like what should somebody be looking for in an amazing wedding planner?

Crystal Adair-Benning: Well, I think it’s varies depending on the client. I think really, first and foremost, when you’re looking for a planner, you’re looking for somebody who’s personality matches with yours. My title, the credit that myself and my team have is that we are planners of once in a lifetime awesomeness, and our goal is always to give our client something random and creative, but they’ve never seen or experienced before at another wedding. That’s kind of how we built our business and our brand.

It’s who we are. If we’re not having fun with your wedding, chances are your guests aren’t so we really, really want to have fun with your wedding. So for us, the right client is always that client that they may want something traditional, but they want something with a little bit of edge. They want something a little fun, something different. That’s kind of our clientele and that’s who we attract.

But there are other planners out there that are very fashion focused or very focused in on do-it-yourself products. They’re focused in on being budget friendly or cost conscious. There are all kinds of planners out there.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Crystal Adair-Benning: There is literally for every single bride. So really what you want to do is start with their website and you can see what they’ve been doing. Take a look at it. Do you like their style? Because at the end of the day, everything you see has a little bit of us in it. Do you like our style? And then read. I know, it’s a hard thing to do. People like it spontaneous, but read their websites. Honestly, it will give you tons of insight into who we are.

I mean, I talk about the fact that I have a puppy and a hedgehog, and that we travel all the time. So if you’re somebody that’s like minded, you’re a dog person, you’ve been all over the world, we might be a really good fit. We might work well together, and really for a wedding planner, that’s what you’re looking for. You’re looking for somebody who’s an amazing planner, but also somebody that you’re going to like because of all of your wedding vendors, they’re the one you’re going to deal with in the entire planning process.

You need to know that you can get in touch with me, that you feel confident telling me things. Because at the end of the day, I see everything that goes on. I see the stress and the frustration you have with the bridesmaid. I see those happy tears over dad seeing you in your wedding dress for the first time. I get to see all the confusion over picking a menu and choosing wine. I see all of it, and if you’re not comfortable sharing that with us, it’s going to really impede the process and make it not nearly as much fun for you.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, that’s cool. I think it’s important with every vendor, but I think it’s especially important with a planner is to have that matching personality because it’s a really important day, and for a planner, you’re working very intimately with that person. If you don’t match personality wise, then it just isn’t going to work.

Crystal Adair-Benning: Yeah.

Justin Jacques: Where do you think people should start their search like I know you said? How do they initially find that website to check out and to read?

Crystal Adair-Benning: Okay, so I think the first thing that happens when you get engaged is you get wedding magazines. You start looking at blogs. You start looking at website, all that kind of stuff. I think really, like I said, there’s a feeling. If somebody has branded themselves well, they are their brand. So again, I don’t pull punches. Like I travel all the time. I have a hedgehog. I have a dog. I have a boy. Like we travel all the time. We like doing things. I have an obsession with glittering Kate Spade. You’ll find that all of this information very clearly on my website.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, I saw it.

Crystal Adair-Benning: I don’t hide it, it’s there. The same thing in any of our promotional materials. Like we put out a magazine that we actually give to some of our vendors and it showcases like different weddings we’ve done and all that sort of stuff. As you start to see that, you’ll start to know whether you can envision yourself in that wedding, and if you can, that’s a really good start for kind of knowing where you’re at. So you sort of have to do your research and then talk to people.

Maybe you didn’t start at looking for a wedding planner. Maybe you’ve got really excited and went straight for a dress which happens a lot, right?

Justin Jacques: [Agrees]

Crystal Adair-Benning: Or when you’re in trying on your dress, maybe you’re talking to the person who’s having you trying dresses, they know wedding planners. We’re in there all the time. So ask them and oftentimes they can point you to somebody they think might be a good fit for you.

So if you don’t have the luxury of having checked out a website, trust referrals from other vendors you trust. We’re not always the first person hired. Oftentimes the client will choose a venue and a date before they choose us, or they’ll choose their dress before they choose us. So a lot of times they come from other resources, and that’s totally okay too. You just need to do your research and find out what’s the right fit, and then don’t be afraid to kind of quality control it, so don’t be afraid to meet with two or three planners.

My advice for any vendor is three. It’s the rule of three. If you don’t want to be overwhelmed and crazy, three is your number, write it down, memorize it, stick it to your forehead, three is your number because when you meet with three, you’ve got a really good comparison of what’s right, what’s okay, and what’s definitely not right for you, and you’ll figure it very quickly because again personality comes into play here.

It’s not always about price point. A lot of times it’s about who connects and who gets you and you’ll figure that out very, very quickly if you only meet the vendors. If it’s more than that, you start to get confused and go, “What vendor was that we saw? Where were they? How much was that?” It gets confusing so three is your magic number for happy, I promise you.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, that’s a great tip because I think it is easy no matter what you’re doing, especially when you’re getting excited about something just to keep going and going and finding lots of people to talk to, but if you do talk to three people, I think you’ll be able to find somebody that’s going to work well, and not overwhelm you, so for sure.

Yeah, I guess I know there is an obviously huge range, and it’s the same for me in deejaying, but what’s like the typical cost of a wedding planner? I’m not even actually sure what somebody should be paying and what they shouldn’t be paying, and obviously, there’s a huge range and quality and everything like that, but what do people typically pay?

Crystal Adair-Benning: So there are basically two ways that planners work, and I’m just talking more specifically across Canada than anywhere else.

Justin Jacques: [Agrees]

Crystal Adair-Benning: But in Canada, there are two ways. There’s either a set-floppy, excuse me, which means that you pay one price upfront. That’s our full fee, and there’s no additional charges. Or secondly, you can pay a percentage-based rate.

I don’t like percentage-based rate because it means that it’s in my best interest to send you the person who’s most expensive if I’m making commission, right?

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Crystal Adair-Benning: So for example, and you’ll appreciate this, Justin, if I was looking at DJs and I was working on a percentage-based, and you’re quoting me 800 and somebody else is quoting me 2,000, I’m better off pushing the person who’s quoting 2,000 because I’m going to make a better commission cut there.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, for sure.

Crystal Adair-Benning: So I don’t like that really. I much prefer to do everything on flat rate fees for full planning. Generally, you’re looking at somewhere between 3,000 and 8,000 so it’s a huge garnish point.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Crystal Adair-Benning: But it depends on the average wedding, so the way that we price for example as our base rate is about 5,500, and that would be for your average wedding, banquet hall under 200 people, pretty standard. If you are having an at home or private wedding or an estate wedding or something like that where we have to bring in tons and caterers and florals and linens and chairs and washrooms and valet and all this staff, then the fee goes up accordingly depending on that.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Crystal Adair-Benning: So that’s how full planning works. Then there is the service called partial planning. Partial planning is like having a full planner, except you’ve done a lot of the work on your own, you just need to finish off with a few items here and there, and you need some referrals, but you don’t necessarily need us to negotiate your contracts for you, things like that, and it ranges depending on where the client is in their planning. But as a general rule, it’s kind of $2,000 to $4,000 is kind of what you’re looking at that. So you’re looking at about half or so of what full planning is.

Then you have day/month day of coordination 00:12:55, which even if you’re a bride who doesn’t want a wedding planner, please, please heed my advice and hire a day of coordinator, not only for Justin’s sake, but for your sake. Day of coordinators are amazing because they really kind of come in at the last, like six weeks prior to your wedding, and help you organize the itinerary, review your contracts, make sure you haven’t forgotten anything, make sure that the floor plan is correct and all the information you’re giving to your vendors is correct, and then they’re there to oversee the wedding and make sure that it all runs smoothly.

Those people generally start kind of 800 to 2,500, again, base range. My staff, for example, are about 1,500, whereas I charge 2,500 just because I’ve been doing it longer. It’s a little more time consuming for me. So there’s a vast difference in what you’re getting, but it’s everything from the person who’s new and just started out in the industry to the person like me who I feel like I’m an old wartime vet. I got my multi-hats going on and my stripes are on my sleeve, I’m good. So it depends on where you are in the industry as to what you’re charging, but I would estimate if you’re looking at partial, full or day of, there’s a wide range, but you do get what you pay for in the industry.

Justin Jacques: Okay.

Crystal Adair-Benning: So if you have a really complicated wedding, expect to pay a little bit more money versus somebody that’s just having a simple 20-person or less event or small restaurant wedding or something like that.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, that’s a great overview. I mean, obviously, there’s a huge range, and it’s hard to do it in a couple of minutes, but I think that just gives me actually a better idea of what people are paying with. I agree with the date of coordinator especially if you’re not going to go with the wedding planner for the rest of your wedding, like it’s just so nice to not to have to…

Crystal Adair-Benning: It saves you more.

Justin Jacques: Like at the end of the night, I am seeing like families pack up, and it’s just so nice not to have to worry about that stuff. It can be such a – I don’t know. I’m sure people are happy to do it, but it’s just so nice not to have to think about asking your mom at the end of the night to clean up your decorations…

Crystal Adair-Benning: Mom should have a drink in their hand and a smile on their face.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, exactly.

Crystal Adair-Benning: They should not be worrying about where your guestbook ended up. That’s my job.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, I know. I totally agree. So I’ve got a couple of questions, so if a couple hires a planner, like what can they help you guys do to make sure that you guys can do your best job? Does that make sense?

Crystal Adair-Benning: Yes, and it’s the most complicated answer I’m going to give you. It’s trust.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, that’s a great answer.

Crystal Adair-Benning: That’s the very base of what I do, it’s trust, and that’s why I push really, really hard on the “you need to seriously like my personality, you need to like me” because at the end of the day, you have to entrust me with everything that we’ve planned, and then I’m going to do the best I can to make sure that it goes according to plan, and I can tell you from experience of doing over 500 weddings now, that nothing ever goes completely according to plan.

When it does, I’m usually in the background going, “All right, what’s going on that I don’t know about?” Because it never runs as smooth, and it’s not that we planned poorly, it’s just that you can’t take into account human nature or Mother Nature, road accidents, traffic, all those sorts of stuff. There are too many details to account for. There are things that come up and things happen, and that truly is the essence of why you have a planner. My job is literally to manage incidents.

I know that brides really don’t see it that way. You’re thinking that I’m going to hire people for you and make it all good, and that is a big portion of my job, but the portion of my job that’s most essential to you is actually what happens [00:16:53 audio cut]. It’s literally problem solving. It’s my job to plan everything, figure it out, coordinate it, and then problem solve it literally to tee without you noticing. Because I can guarantee you that there is something in the background going wrong that I’m wracking my brain going, “Okay, how do I fix it? How do I fix it?” And I fix it, and if I’ve done that successfully and you don’t notice, I’ve done it amazing, and that’s what you hired me for.

If you noticed, that’s when I’m like, “Oh, sorry, sorry, sorry, it’s our fault.” And a good planner will admit it when things are their fault and they’ve done something incorrect.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Crystal Adair-Benning: But that’s really what you’re hiring us for. So as long as you trust us, that certainly goes a long way, and then it’s sort of an after the fact situation, but if you are grateful and thankful for the work that we do, let us know. It sounds funny, but like there are so many couples out there, and I’m sure you see this too, Justin, that they get married and then we never see them again, they disappear. I hate the disappearing act. I spend so much of my life talking to you, that you are part of my days.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Crystal Adair-Benning: And so when they disappear, I feel bad because I’m like, “Oh my gosh, what happened to them? Do they not like the wedding? What? Like was there something wrong?”

So definitely contact us and let us know what happened, and if you were happy or not much, we’ll always try and fix things for you. That’s our job. We’re fixers by nature. But it’s really great to hear feedback as well, positive or negative, to change it for the next person.

Justin Jacques: For sure.

Crystal Adair-Benning: So…

Justin Jacques: Yeah, it means a lot.

Crystal Adair-Benning: Yeah.

Justin Jacques: I mean, I have thank you cards on my desk…

Crystal Adair-Benning: That you just go…

Justin Jacques: That I like to look at, and I haven’t been doing too many weddings over the winter, so it’s from a while ago, and it’s just I greatly appreciate it when people are grateful for sure, because I put a lot of effort into everything I do and I know you do, too, for sure, and you think a lot about people’s weddings and you just try your absolute best to make it awesome so it’s great when people are really appreciative. It really does make it worthwhile.

Crystal Adair-Benning: And you just wonder about what happened to them afterwards.

Justin Jacques: Oh yeah, that too.

Crystal Adair-Benning: Sure, they went on a honeymoon, but like we’re curious because we’re people-people. We’re more people-people. Wow, we are people-people by nature.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, for sure.

Crystal Adair-Benning: Like my job is to know the intricate details of what’s going on with you, so I want to know that everything is okay and that you guys are so good, and nothing, I kid you not, makes me so happy that when a client adds me on Facebook and keeps me on Facebook and tells me when they’re happy.

How crazy it is when we got invites to their baby showers? That’s pretty awesome. I like that, and it’s not that I can always go or whatever, although we do plan them occasionally, but it’s to be kept in the loop. Like the first email I send as soon as a client books us is, “Welcome to the Distinct Occasions family because you are part of our family now.”

Like once you are a client, you’re not a client, you’re part of the family. Welcome then, don’t be surprised if I invite you over to my house sometime and you’ve eaten my cooking and play with my dog, and we’re probably going to have puppy days if you have another puppy. Like you are part of the family and that’s really what I want for my clients, so staying in contact and being able to talk and trust us, all of that is super, super important for us.

Justin Jacques: Cool. That’s a great answer. So I think I let you know, but I hope you have something that you can come up with if I didn’t. What are some wedding trends for 2014? Did I ask you that already, or were you ready for this?

Crystal Adair-Benning: You didn’t, but I’ll come up with an viewpoint.

Justin Jacques: Okay, cool.

Crystal Adair-Benning: Okay, so the color of my lipstick is supposedly the big trends.

Justin Jacques: Nice.

Crystal Adair-Benning: It’s cool and radiant orchid for the man in the room. It’s essentially a purple. It’s like a bright orchidy colored purple. It’s an amazing color. It does not go with everything, fair warning to brides who think that they can just throw it into their wedding and they will be trendy. Not quite. But it is a great color.

Something that I’m finding really trending, and sorry, Justin, for this one. My husband doesn’t like me anymore than you do for it, but bands. Bands are totally the wedding trend of 2014.

Justin Jacques: I saw that on your blog.

Crystal Adair-Benning: You can tell. I don’t mean to break your heart, but it’s true. The good news is that oftentimes, and it’s very smart and wise to do this, that the brides are hiring band and DJs, because realistically, a band has to take a break, whereas the DJ, well, as much as we love them, we don’t give them breaks.

Justin Jacques: Oh yeah.

Crystal Adair-Benning: But we love you. So hiring a band and a DJ at the same time is definitely a part of the trend, but bands for sure are coming back in a really big way for weddings in 2014, and then there’s a really big switch in weddings, which I’m kind of appreciating and enjoying right now. It’s just that weddings are getting a little bit smaller and more intimate, and the word “romantic” is coming up a lot more often now for weddings. So rather than have a big showy event, and even the people that do have the big showy event, they’re still trying to find ways to add that romantic element into it, whether it’s personalizing their vows, getting a dress that’s really detailed or adding something, a piece of jewelry that their grandma wore, things like that. But brides are really trying to up that romance factor and really make their day something memorable to them as well as to their guests, and I think that’s a really cool trend that we’re starting to see.

Justin Jacques: Cool, yeah. Yeah, I mean, that’s kind of the space I play in, but I don’t see as wide a variety of weddings as I’m sure wedding planners do. I have a pretty specific…

Crystal Adair-Benning: We run the gamut.

Justin Jacques: What’s that?

Crystal Adair-Benning: We run the gamut…

Justin Jacques: Yeah, yeah, exactly. So my trends are always like I’m seeing a lot of the same thing, but I don’t think it’s a general trend for me, where you can probably see those a lot more than I can because you’re working on a lot of different types of weddings.

Crystal Adair-Benning: If it’s any consolation, that lovely beautiful cake piñata you saw that we used for Amanda and Ross, the cake piñata is going to be a thing. I’m telling you.

Justin Jacques: That’s awesome.

Crystal Adair-Benning: Cake piñata is going to be a thing. I’m doing at least two more of them in 2014. I’m super excited.

Justin Jacques: Sweet.

Crystal Adair-Benning: I love eating some cakes, don’t get me wrong, but nothing is cooler than watching a bride and groom like totally smacked the hell of that thing. It’s awesome.

Justin Jacques: Yeah. You can tell everyone what that was.

Crystal Adair-Benning: So essentially, the bride and groom lived in Scotland. They didn’t want a wedding cake. They were adamant that they did not want a wedding cake, but I was adamant that they had to have some kind of a cake, so we compromised, and we came up with a piñata cake. So literally a cake or a piñata shaped like a cake that we hung from the ceiling and filled full of sweets, and when it was time to cut the cake, the bride first tried to tried to break it, and when she couldn’t, the groom whacked the heck out of it, and candy fell everywhere, it was amazing. Guests loved it. It created a little bit of a mess, but what’s a good party without a little mess?

Justin Jacques: Yeah, and who needs a candy table when you have a piñata cake.

Crystal Adair-Benning: Seriously, although it has four candy tables for the banquet. We had a lot of candy going.

Justin Jacques: Cool. So I guess I’m assuming that most of the time you’re probably recommending vendors to your clients, but outside of that, is there a way that you recommend that couples find other vendors? I know, I mean, we talked already about how to find a wedding planner, but just in general, on other vendors too.

Crystal Adair-Benning: Well, I think, honestly, it sounds funny, but trust your family and friends, read blogs, check out magazines, especially if there’s one that you know kind of fits the needs of you. So for example, my obsession right now is this lovely magazine called Southern Weddings, which I’m sorry you can’t buy it in Chapters People. You actually have to go online and order from the US. It’s from the US, but I’m really digging the whole Southern Weddings thing because they’ve got a thing for like very laidback, cowboysy weddings with pies and making sweet tea on the patio, and I kind of dig that vibe right now. I think it’s kind of a neat way to celebrate. The whole Southern thing is very romantic so it fits into that kind of aspect of romance that we’re seeing with long sunset photos and beautiful things like that.

So that’s one that inspires me so I always pick it up and read it, so if I’m looking for a new vendor and I can’t find anything that’s really working for me, sometimes I’ll go through the magazine and see what other vendors are listed and I’ll sometimes reach out to them or check out their website, so that’s a really great way to do it too, and the read people’s blogs. If like somebody, chances are they write a blog because most people write a blog now, and you start going in and checking out vendors that they’re suggesting, sometimes that will just strike something with you and so maybe you can’t necessarily afford that planner, but maybe that planner wrote a blog about this trusted vendor 00:26:13 that you really like that you can afford.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Crystal Adair-Benning: So maybe that’s a good way to start. But I think sadly or not so sadly, you have to do your research. Try not to get wedding brain a little too much and put your blinders on, but I think that the best planners for you are going to naturally kind of show themselves if you start asking people for what it is that you want.

Justin Jacques: Yeah. I mean, I definitely think that’s true. I mean, somehow I end up working with the same vendors a lot of the time just because the people that hire me also hire those other vendors, and it just kind of works out that way. We all kind of play in the same space. I mean, it doesn’t happen all the time. So yeah.

Crystal Adair-Benning: Your chances just stand out.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Crystal Adair-Benning: You’ll start to find vendors that connect really, really well, and for a bride, especially if you’re not going to hire a planner, one of the tips that I have is trying to find teams that are strong already. People that already connected are really amazing because they already know how each other works. I don’t have to go into a situation and go, “Oh Justin, what’s your rig look like, and how long are going to need to set up, and when is your sound check? Blah, blah, blah.”

If I’ve already worked with you before, I can just say, “Hey Justin, so here’s the itinerary for this week. Let me know if there’s any concerns.” And chances are there’s none because we’ve already done it before.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Crystal Adair-Benning: And vice versa, and so especially if you’re a bride who does not have a planner, it’s really nice to work with a team that already knows each other and knows what to expect, so the florist already knows, the cake person knows that they come in a little bit later, and knows that they’re going to want flowers on the cake. That’s a nice little feature rather than having everybody kind of working separately and not really knowing each other and they show up in there and everybody goes, “Oh, now what?” And tries to do their own thing.

So if you’re not going to hire a planner, try and go for a connection with vendors that seem to know and worked with each other really well. Probably the best advice I can give to a bride is to hire a solid team that you know works all together.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, that’s awesome. I love your tips. That’s why you’re a planner. You think of all these things.

Crystal Adair-Benning: Oh, that’s sound advice.

Justin Jacques: So yeah, I think I’ve got one last question, and it’s just like what three tips can you kind of share that a wedding planner knows. I know you’ve probably already covered some of them, but try and come up with three more. If you want to use some of the ones we already use, then that’s fine.

Crystal Adair-Benning: Okay.

Justin Jacques: But three tips that a wedding planner knows on like how to plan a wedding that other people aren’t thinking about.

Crystal Adair-Benning: Please you’re asking me easy questions.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Crystal Adair-Benning: All right, no problems. So first of all, get it in writing. It is like my number one, especially if you’re not using a planner, even if you are using a planner. Nothing in this world is done, set or agreed to by voice anymore. Forget it, it just doesn’t happen. Put it on paper. It doesn’t have to be a contract, but get it in an email. Get it in something written that if, knock on wood, this vendor forgets or you forget or the plague happens or whatever, somebody has got some written piece of information that says, “This is what was agreed upon. Done.” So that needs to happen number one, first and foremost. That is probably the biggest concern that I had, even with my clients every once in a while who agreed on something and not get a contract, and I tell them what’s on my mind.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Crystal Adair-Benning: So that’s my number one.

Justin Jacques: That’s awesome.

Crystal Adair-Benning: My number two, and this is a fun one, put as much time into planning your marriage just planning your wedding. This is the big old softy, lovey-dovey romantic quote coming out, but there are so many people these days that are getting married because they want to get married and not because they want to have a marriage, and I’m here to tell you that there is a giant difference between the two. A giant difference between the two.

Sadly, marriage does not come with wedding cake every day. I know, it’s a shocker, mindblower. It just rips the lid off Pandora’s box there for you, but your marriage is very different from your wedding, and I think people need to put as much time in preparing for a positive and long term marriage as they do for their wedding, and then I think we’d have a lot stronger marriages.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Crystal Adair-Benning: A lot of [00:30:37 audio garbled] which is pretty great and awesome because the goal of you getting married, hopefully, is to stay married.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, for sure.

Crystal Adair-Benning: And not to want to destroy your cake toppers in a couple of weeks. So that’s my advice, and whether that’s doing things like taking marriage counseling, I know, I know, or that person or whatever, or just simply making sure that you take time out for dates and talk to one another about stuff that’s not related to the wedding, I think all of that stuff goes a really long way to building a strong and healthy marriage and not just a wedding.

Justin Jacques: Cool. Do you have anything that you help your clients? Like do you have any books or anything like that that you can suggest related to that?

Crystal Adair-Benning: Yeah. The one that I think helps most often, and it’s not just about couples, it’s about your relationship while planning your wedding, is a book called Emotionally Engaged.

Justin Jacques: Okay, cool.

Crystal Adair-Benning: But I can’t think off the top of my head who the author is.

Justin Jacques: I’ll look it up and I’ll put it on the show notes.

Crystal Adair-Benning: You got it, but it’s an absolutely wonderful book, and it basically talks about how as you’re planning your wedding, the reactions that people have and what they say and do is because of their relationships to you and what’s happening with them and not always what’s happening with you, and I think that adds a little perspective to getting married, and why your mother suddenly went nuts and your sister is not talking to you and you made all your friends MIA. So I think that that’s a great book that we keep it on our office shelf, and I often loan it out to my brides if they’re having issues with family and friends, because I think it just puts stuff back into perspective.

But I think just in terms of seriously kind of getting back into your marriage, surprisingly I don’t have a book that I necessarily suggest. It think that for everybody it’s a different kind of feeling and it’s different kind of emotional setup. So some of my couples have gone through counseling and it’s been amazing for them and they loved it. Other couples hated it. I have some couples that kind of go straight for the Bible and they find power and strength through that to get through whatever is bothering them, and then I have other couples that are just, “No, forget it. This is about us.” And they make that time to sit down and discuss whether it’s taking a vacation or planning an hour every day to just have a discussion and reconnect.

So I think your marriage kind of comes down to whatever you sort of feel best doing, but it’s something that you have to make a priority. It’s not just going to happen, and unfortunately for you, as much as I’m your wedding planner, I’m not your marriage planner.

If you think I could be, I totally could do that, but I am here to give you guidance and advice so when my clients do come to me with concerns which happens, I get to put on my little therapist hat and offer you some guidance and suggestions and advice, and coming from somebody who’s been married and divorced, and now back together again with somebody else, I think I have some perspective in that too, because I think the first time I got married, I got married to get married, or sorry, rather to have a wedding than to have a marriage because I was young and it’s just what happened. So I think I have a little more perspective as well coming from the other side of it, which a lot of the planners don’t necessarily have.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, that’s great.

Crystal Adair-Benning: I think for me the marriage aspect comes back to it, and one of the things I love to throw at my clients is, “This decision that you’re having a hard time making, at the end of the day, is it going to make or break your wedding? Yea or nay? Is it going to make or break your marriage though?”

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Crystal Adair-Benning: Yeah. If somebody is adamant that they don’t want something to happen and it’s going to affect your marriage, is it worth the decision?

Justin Jacques: No, yeah.

Crystal Adair-Benning: Yeah. Absolutely not. So that’s my second piece of advice. And my third piece of advice is kind of chicky and cheesy, but hire a . Do yourself a favor, just hire us. It doesn’t have to be us specifically, but hire a planner. Just make your life easy. I think that oftentimes we’re the thing that people can’t put into perspective. They don’t see the value in a planner, and I tell my clients this all the time, “That you may not necessarily see the value in me in June. You might not see the value in me in July, but probably when your wedding happens in August, you’re totally going to see the value in having a planner.” Or when “the shit hits the fan” and everything blows up and you can’t handle it anymore, you’re going to see the value in having a planner.

So while everything is going right and smooth, we don’t always get the credit that we’re due, but when things blow up and we can fix that for you, we certainly do. So put some money aside and have a planner, even if it’s just for the day of, and kind of remedy yourself of that. When you put into perspective, photographers, they’re making between 5,000 and 7,000, DJs, you’re talking into $1,000 to $2,500 range, florists can be, oh my god, sky is the limit. You have all these people that you’re paying for your wedding, but the one person that is there to problem solve and be on your side no matter what 150,000% is your wedding planner. So wouldn’t you rather pay $1,500 and have somebody in your back corner who’s got to represent you on your wedding day?

So it’s a bit selfish, but that’s certainly I would suggest, and if I can toss in one more to the first bride that can figure out how to make my adorable but slightly obnoxious puppy dog a ring puppy, I love you forever, because I’m dying to see him as a ring puppy. I think he would be so cute.

Justin Jacques: Awesome.

Crystal Adair-Benning: Just throwing it out there.

Justin Jacques: This was so good. I think like I’m really excited about this interview. I think the listeners/viewers are going to find so much value in it, and then it’s awesome. Thank you so much. Crystal. I really appreciate it.

Crystal Adair-Benning: You’re very welcome, Justin.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, thanks, everyone. But wait, actually, no. I need to tell everyone where to go to find your website.

Crystal Adair-Benning: Oh, that’s cool.

Justin Jacques: And I put up show notes so we need to tell everyone where that is after that. So if they want to find you, where do they go?

Crystal Adair-Benning: So if they want to find me, well, you can come by my house, but that would be weird. So just totally check out my website first because it’s a less socially awkward.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Crystal Adair-Benning: It’s www.distinctoccasions.ca or www.distinctoccasions.com. Don’t worry, you’ll find that at either direction. Or just give me a phone call because I know it’s kind of old school and people don’t really do that anymore, but seriously, I do, so 416-562-6995, or you can text if you’re that cool. I like it.

Justin Jacques: Yeah. Yeah, I’m glad you love to text these days for sure.

Crystal Adair-Benning: You know what, I love to text. I’m not going to lie. I text. If you text me, just leave something who you are in the first text, otherwise it’s weird.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, exactly. That’s a good point as well, and also just a reminder that Crystal is Toronto based, but she does travel all over the world.

Crystal Adair-Benning: I do.

Justin Jacques: So you don’t necessarily need to be here to work with her, and then I’m going to put up some show notes on my site, so it will be indieweddingdj.com/podcast/distinct. So if you want to find the show notes, you can go there, and now, we’ll wrap up. Thank you so much, Crystal, again. It was awesome. You provided so much info and I hope some people contact you even if they just have a question or two, that would be great.

Crystal Adair-Benning: I love it, it sounds good.

Justin Jacques: Thanks, Crystal.

Crystal Adair-Benning: Thanks, Justin.

End of Audio

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