Amanda Hedgepeth Photography | Coordinating Success? Series

Before I started my business, I had so many questions. I wanted to know how I could become a helpful wedding coordinator. I wanted to have an idea of the kind of wedding lady I needed to be for my brides. So I went to the pros. Enter Amanda Hedgepeth. Amanda gave me honest, helpful, and encouraging advice about starting a business. Naturally, when I wanted to write this series, Amanda was on my list! I adore her! She is a breath of fresh air and I love, love, LOVE the joyful spirit with which she runs her business.

I hope you enjoy all she has to share!

Hey there! My name is Amanda Hedgepeth and I'm a wedding and couples photographer in the Outer Banks of North Carolina! I specialize in head over heels cheerful couples with incredible hearts and stories. I'm also a wife, mother of two little seastars, an industry encourager, community lover, and believer in breathing in as much salt air from the sea as possible!

As a wedding photographer, why should your couples hire a wedding weekend coordinator?

I think it's best described using the example of one of my earliest weddings. The bride was getting ready and the stress was mounting. By the minute, it seemed to get bigger and bigger and worse and worse. The mother of the bride was feeling it, everyone in the room was feeling it, including me - but I never let that show. Next, I was expected to kind of run the show when it came to the timeline...but how am I to be expected to truly focus on shooting all of the bride getting ready moments?! This commonly falls back on the photographer and it's never something I enjoyably take on! But on that note...the moments that, in my experience, are usually VERY intimate and emotionally evoking, a woman finally climbing into that dress that she dreamt of her whole life...it was just a disappointingly stressed moment for everyone in the room, including her. She never smiled. Can you even take that in? A bride didn't smile getting into her dress, and she LOVED that man! The simple fact that so much had been laid on her that day as far as timeline, details, coordination and responsibility, quite literally sucked the joy from these potentially perfect moments. She didn't deserve that. The investment for peace of mind is PRICELESS and you can't get those moments back! I absolutely feel the biggest sense of relief at weddings that include wedding and event coordinators.

What is the most important thing a wedding coordinator can do for the photographer?

The most important thing that a coordinator can do for a photographer, hands down, is communicate with them ahead of time regarding two main factors. TIMING that directly relates to lighting and designated portrait time. This will vary from professional to professional, but for me, it's KEY to know when the ceremony is slated to begin, when we'll be doing portraits, etc. For instance, if you schedule a sunset ceremony and you hired a natural light photographer, unless you do a First Look, you will completely lose out on the primary reason you invested in that artist.

Comparing the weddings you've shot, what are the main differences between weddings with a coordinator and weddings without?

The main difference is the energy coming from the bride and her family and bridesmaids! I'll be honest, some people are just really crazy talented with their own wedding schedules and they do fine! But for the most part, weddings without coordinators tend to have at least one major or minor meltdown and a lot of uptight energy, especially before all of the moments she should be soaking in and enjoying!

 

Amanda! Thank you!!!!! I hope to never stop learning from you. xoxo!! Everyone, you should pop on over to read Amanda's sunny, happy, and super friendly blog! She talks about EVERYTHING from industry to motherhood! :)

Brides, women who know brides, women who may become brides someday, if you didn't catch the entire series, you can catch up HERE.

 

Daytona May Photography | Coordinating Success? Series | Part Four

In this series, I've been sharing testimonies of former brides (both mine and not mine), but I also wanted to include insight from trusted wedding professionals since their perspective is different from that of the bride. I asked two of my very favorite wedding photographers to lend their advice and share their experience on why having a wedding coordinator is a good idea. Today, you'll get to hear from Daytona Lamade, of Daytona May Photography.

As a wedding photographer, why do you believe your couples should hire a wedding weekend coordinator?

A couple’s wedding is usually the first (and only) wedding where they are involved in the planning process. It’s pretty unrealistic to expect to know what a good timeline looks like, what a good timeline INCLUDES, etc etc. A professional has been to and planned multiple weddings, and is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to what makes a wedding day run smoothly. By investing in a coordinator, you are investing in your own peace of mind on what is supposed to be a joyful, stress-free weekend. You get the most out of all the money you invest in the actual day, more photos, more time to dance with your friends and family at the reception.

What is the most important thing a wedding coordinator can do for the photographer?

Communicate about the timeline (and involve us in the planning process if possible)! The timeline is the single most important piece of information on a wedding day, and we want to be involved in it’s planning, or at least be made aware of what it looks like with enough time to adequately plan around it. Small details like the order of the procession we have no problem finding out on the wedding day, but if we’re being allotted twenty minutes for all of the photos after the ceremony that is something we need to know and plan for BEFORE the wedding day.

Comparing the weddings you've shot, what are the main differences between weddings with a coordinator and weddings without?

I’ve had flowers not show up in time for photos before the ceremony, and I’ve had ceremonies start two hours later than planned.  The DIY spirit that is taking the industry by storm is a great thing when it comes to things like décor, but there are some roles on a wedding day that need to be filled by a professional. When a couple hires a coordinator, it shows because there is room for error on a wedding day. A hairstylist that gets stuck in traffic won’t upset the entire flow of the wedding day because a coordinator knows to allow for those sorts of set backs, and work the day to get everything on track by the ceremony. Extra time is MUCH more ideal than not enough. And your coordinator knows that. ;)

Also, know that the guests get VERY hungry and irritated when there isn't a coordinator to make sure cocktail hour doesn't turn into cocktail hours.

 

Thank you SO MUCH, Daytona! I so appreciate you being able to tell others why having a wedding coordinator should be a priority. Just like any other vendor, you shouldn't do your wedding day without one! :)

Check back tomorrow for a post from Amanda of Amanda Hedgepeth Photography!!!

 


Coordinating Success? Series | Part Three

James Gang Productions

James Gang Productions

When I put the call out to the recently married ladies, most of the responses came from people I know very well. I could relate to every girl's story in some way, but none quite like Sarah's. Her budget was $5000, mine was $6000. She had 350 people attend. We had just over 300 attend our wedding. I can really sympathize with her guest to budget ratio...it's tough doing that size event, even with $10k, 20, or 30k. 

Sarah + Johnathan
Sarah and Johnathan were married on June 14, 2008 at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Xenia, OH.

Did you hire a professional planner to help in all elements of planning? Partial planning? Or did you handle most/all of the planning yourself?
Sarah: "My mom actually did most of the planning for us, as I was still in school. I gave her a few guidelines for what I wanted and did NOT want, and left the rest up to her. The pastor's wife was the coordinator for the day. She was fantastic! Everyone was able to enjoy themselves because we knew that she had it handled."

Looking back, do you have anything you would change about your wedding day/weekend?
"More pictures of my bridal party and us. We have the standard ones, but nothing outside of that. Thankfully, Johnathan and I got some wonderful ones outside. His aunt and uncle did our photography."

What would you tell a bride who is thinking of going without a weekend coordinator?
"DON'T! Even if you don't have a planner, the coordinator is essential! You will lose you mind or make your parents/in-laws lose theirs trying to keep track of it all."

Even with Sarah's $5000 budget, she was still able to use REAL flowers. (They CAN BE affordable!) She hunted for deals and negotiated pricing to fit within her limits.

If you have a small budget, that's okay. Perhaps you'll have to do without a few modern wedding luxuries, such as a limo, a sit down dinner, or a live band; but don't short yourself by going without a day of coordinator. Even if she's not doing the planning, she can give you suggestions for when you need to cut corners. She will enhance your wedding day experience by being your advocate and making the day a success.

Thank you, Sarah for allowing me to share your story.

Next week, you'll get to hear from the PHOTOGRAPHERS!!!

 

Coordinating Success? Series | Part Two

Just recently, a bride asked "Do I need a wedding coordinator?" I immediately responded with, "YES, ANYONE, SOMEONE!" Okay, so I didn't say it exactly like that, but that's what I was thinking. If you are on the fence about hiring a professional wedding coordinator, let me help sway your decision. This next installment of the Coordinating Success? Series features Gemma and Susie. While they have very different weddings and experiences, they both have good takeaways when it comes to using a coordinator.

Gemma + Kenny
Gemma, my former college roommate, married Kenny in the heart of Richmond at Art Works. I remember seeing all kinds of art hanging throughout the building. Since Kenny is an artist, and Gemma an actor, I thought it was a very fitting scene for the two of them. :)

Did you hire a professional planner to help in all elements of planning? Partial planning? Or did you handle most/all of the planning yourself?
Gemma: "A fellow teacher & friend, volunteered her services as wedding planner/coordinator because she was in the start up phase of her own event planning company. It was so helpful to have her expertise as she already had established some vendor contacts and is a type-A, organized person! Kenny and I still did a lot of planning ourselves because we enjoyed it."


"[Having a coordinator took] the stress off of our shoulders for the big day was huge. Apparently our officiant was running late and I'm so glad I didn't have to even worry about any of that. It also felt really great having people on our team to make this day a celebration for our families and friends."

Did anything go wrong on your wedding day?
"We were one table short because we didn't have seating chart and people spread out and we ended up not having enough seats for people who came together. A table was quickly added, but didn't match. Oh well!
"

What would you tell a bride who is thinking of going without a weekend coordinator?
"I think it is truly helpful to have someone actually run the wedding and reception. I actually wouldn't feel comfortable not doing that. Then it rests on the couple's shoulders and you don't want to be worrying about anything other than enjoying this beautiful day and celebrating your marriage.
"

Susie + Jon
I remember when Susie asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding, I was touched. She had just recently moved to VA and was planning a wedding while started a new life in a foreign state. Talk about a full plate! Susie and Jon were married in May of 2013 at Liberty Baptist Church in Hampton, VA.

Did you have a coordinator for your wedding weekend? And how was having a coordinator beneficial to your overall wedding experience?
Susie: "Jon's aunt was our coordinator for the weekend and she did a wonderful job. She was very organized and helpful. She helped set up the day before and the day of. My mind was everywhere and she was the one that made sure things happened when they were supposed to."

"Don't stress!...You just need to relax and have fun for your special day because you only get that day once!"

Susie and Jon's wedding cake arrived just in the nick of time and it started leaning as soon as the reception started. With a reception crew of helpful volunteers, the photographer was able to snap some quick shots before it was disassembled. I don't remember the guests even being aware of the situation, which is what having a good coordinator is all about!

I truly believe every wedding, no matter the size, location, time of year, etc. needs a coordinator. Things can and will go wrong. Having someone take charge and remedy the situation can be what preserves the positive wedding day memories!


Coordinating Success? Series | Part One

Early last month, I put out a call for help from all the married ladies out there. I wanted to hear about different wedding experiences, some with a coordinator and some without. My goal is to help you understand how vital a wedding weekend coordinator is to the success of your big day. I also wanted to include real bloopers and celebrations, as each wedding story was sure to be different. Parts 1-3 are from real brides. Part 4 will be advice from real wedding photographers.

Christabel + Andrew
Christabel and Andrew were married in October 2013. I was privileged to be their day of coordinator. My point in sharing their story is to remind you that, even with a coordinator, some things may go wrong. You want to ensure you'll have a coordinator that will be able to handle the potential hiccups in the day.

"With the assistance of my groom and mom, I planned the wedding without a professional. I had about 10 months to plan our wedding. I had a budget and I wanted to have as much of our dream wedding as possible, so that meant forgoing a professional, hunting for deals, and being a DIYer. Most of the time, I wanted to pull my hair out and I wish I had the finances to hire a professional."

"[Sterling] was a lifesaver when it came to advocating for our wishes and making sure everything ran smoothly. The day before our wedding, she was one of the major people helping us decorate and she spoke to anyone who started to upset me and kept me calm. On the day of the wedding, Sterling jumped right into action as soon as she arrived and made sure everything was on schedule and that I got every moment and photo I wanted. She had set up Andrew in a spot where he couldn't see me and rushed me down the hall so we could have our prayer together. Without her, I wouldn't have gotten my favorite moment from our wedding day."

Christabel's dummy cake arrived to the church, but the sheet cake did not. After learning this, she handled the situation gracefully, and allowed me to share the news with her guests.

Do you have anything you would change about your wedding day/weekend?
Christabel: "Well for starters, I would have gone with a different cake company. Other than that, I would probably try to find a different location for the reception. We let family members talk us into having a small reception and to have it all in one building, like they did years ago. If you can afford a different option, don't let people talk you out of your dream."

"Find someone you trust to be the weekend coordinator. I'm sure more things would have gone wrong and I would have been even more stressed if I didn't have Sterling to handle the details of the day."

Ha! Had to include this one of me on dress duty!

Ha! Had to include this one of me on dress duty!

Jenna + Clint
Jenna and Clint were married in September 2007 by a Justice of the Peace and had their wedding celebration on June 7, 2008. Their wedding story is the most unique in the bunch. Growing up in a Hindu household, Jenna had two weddings, fulfilling traditions of both of their families.

Jenna: "We didn't hire a professional [planner], although my mom did the ENTIRE planning for our wedding and we kinda just showed up. I definitely wished I did have a more hands on approach because looking back there is a lot I would do differently. We did not have a wedding rehearsal- it is done little different in our culture. Typically a wedding can last up to ONE WEEK!!! Our wedding got condensed into 4 very hectic days."

Jenna explained that her Hindu ceremony was long and tiring. After an already full day, she changed into a white wedding gown for their reception. "Our reception didn't start on time because my mom was adamant that we wait for EVERYONE to show up - we were starving!!! Finally after an HOUR later the reception began and the small hiccup seemed far away."

Looking back, do you have anything you would change about your wedding day/weekend?
Clint: "A huge regret I have is putting the importance on others people's experience of the wedding rather than ours. Also, worrying about guests that were absent was trivial since much of my family was absent."
Jenna: "Although my mom was my "planner" I saw the stress taking a toll on her. It would have been nice to have someone to push all of our anxieties on and keep the day flowing more cohesively together. Also, I feel that it would be easier to talk with a coordinator - you won't hurt their feelings by telling them you don't like something, like you would a family member."

"Looking back at the big day and hearing how much my parents paid for our wedding I kinda think it's a lot of money. I think that weddings should be beautiful, but to the bride and groom's tastes - not what "should" be done because it's been that way for years in your family."

Nuvo Photography

Nuvo Photography

Nuvo Photography

Nuvo Photography

Ladies, thank you both for sharing such wonderful, candid insight on your wedding days!

Check back next Monday for the next part in the Coordinating Success? Series! You'll get to hear from Susie and Gemma!