Who wouldn’t want to get married in Savannah? It’s got charm, character, and characters too. It has beauty, history, historic buildings, massive live oak trees which produce beautiful canopies in our parks and squares. Not many cities in the world have as many trees as we do. Sure many have more history, but not the majestic trees and homes!
Recently I did a wedding about 90 minutes from Savannah. Here’s a photo using my iPhone in the panoramic view.
It’s in the middle of a field, in the middle part of Georgia and it’s beautiful!
Yet, as beautiful as it is, in my opinion it doesn’t compare to the following photo.
Recently a bride was extremely upset with me because five minutes after the ceremony was to start, while the photographer was still taking photos of the couple, and none of the 10 people in the bridal party were lined up, with no professional wedding coordinator, and after finding the couple on the opposite side of the venue, and telling her she looked lovely and that it was nice to finally meet her, I had the audacity to say to her the wedding needed to start.
She didn’t appear to be upset at the time. It was only after I received notice of a review from her that I knew she was upset with me.
Who is accountable for starting the ceremony at the agreed upon start time? That is now a question on my contract which every couple needs to answer with the name and phone number of the person accountable for making sure it starts on time.
My contract is because of bad experiences I’ve had in the past. Everything in my contract is from bad/awkward experiences with couples. I haven’t updated it in a while, in fact the last time was 18 months ago; it states the couple needs to have the ceremony choice, and any changes to it to me at least 7 days prior to the wedding or I get to use the Simple Ceremony from my site.
The reason being is that 10 minutes before the ceremony started in January of 2016 a bride sent me the email with her custom ceremony. It didn’t flow well, I didn’t have time to edit it, or even had time time to properly read it. All because of this one bad experience, I changed my contract again.
Today I’ve changed my contract because of another unpleasant experience. Not only unpleasant, but the couple gave me a 3 out of 5 star review. In her review she even stated I “did a good job on the short ceremony” but that I was rude to her prior to the ceremony. Her review number was based only on my alleged “rudeness” to her.
In the review just prior to this 3 star, the bride raved about my attention to detail and my professionalism.
*Please note what I didn’t add to my response to this bride was the following, because I was limited on character count. But I thought the reader needs to know this:
•The bride was slow to respond to me. She normally took 2-4 days to answer any of my emails, while I responded to her emails the same day;
•Since the couple didn’t hire me for the rehearsal, she wanted to meet me the Monday morning at 9 am prior to her Friday wedding. They lived around the corner from downtown coffee shop. They weren’t there at 9 am. At 9:10ish the groom finally came in. The bride never did show for our meeting. The groom was there for about 15 minutes.
Below was the response to her:
I’m glad that Ms. Chelsee D. wrote this review. It reminds me that what some people call rude other people call it paying attention to details and being professional.
According to the contract Ms. Chelsee D. signed, the ceremony was to start at 5pm using a short ceremony dialogue.
Since the couple chose not to hire a professional wedding coordinator, they had the venue’s Event Planner, whom was also the DJ taking that extra role, so it wasn’t necessarily an issue if the ceremony started on time or not because he was getting paid to be there during the entire event.
At 5:05 pm I asked someone where the bride was and then I walked to the other side of the venue where the photographer was still photographing the couple. A professional photographer should have paid attention to details and made sure that her job didn’t cause the ceremony to start late and for the guests to wait unnecessarily in the heat.
It was a hot and humid day, and the bride needed to touch up her makeup before the ceremony began, which she did after a few more photos by the photographer. The photographer was hired for hours, so it did not matter to her what time the ceremony started.
Unfortunately, as much as I would love to be able to delay the start of a ceremony as needed, it does matter to me that the ceremony start on time, which is why I have in my contract where I clearly state that if the ceremony hasn’t started with “Dearly beloved…” or something similar by the time agreed on the contract, that I can cancel the agreement at 12 minutes past the agreed upon start time. Every couple has to agree to that when they sign my contract, and no one has ever crossed it off.
The reason I can’t delay the start of a ceremony is because it would not be fair to the couple and guests of my next wedding that I am late to their wedding because the wedding prior started late; I am sure Ms. Chelsee D wouldn’t have been happy with me if I had showed up late to her wedding.
In the conversation with the bride, after telling her how beautiful she looked and that it was nice to finally meet her, I believe I said, “Unfortunately, I am the only vendor not hired by the hour. So we will need to start the ceremony.” That is the coordinator’s job, not mine to start to get people lined up and start the processional. It’s not my job to even approach the couple about starting. Would you ask the musicians to line people up? How about the photographer?
There were about 10 people in the wedding party. I didn’t notice anyone lined up and ready to walk down the aisle when I spoke to the bride at 5:05pm.
I find it very unfair and in poor taste that Ms. Chelsee D. chose to use pejorative words to describe my professionalism and work ethics, and giving me a 3 star review.
After over 6000 weddings I have successfully performed throughout the years, I have learned that it is of ultimate importance for weddings to start on time, for many reasons, otherwise why have a contract?
I have married over 12,000 people and they have agreed to the 12 minute clause. If a couple cannot agree to it, then it would be best if they have a different officiant as I don’t want the next couple waiting on me and then give me a bad review because I showed up late. I’m sure Ms. Chelsee D. wouldn’t have wanted me to show up late to her ceremony because the previous bride was still taking pictures with her photographer.
I’ve worked with hundreds of photographers over the years and most of them have a timeline to which they stick. Many are down to the minute. However with this photographer I never saw a timeline.
It would be easy to blame the unprofessional photographer for not being a detailed person. But I won’t. I stand by my contract and reasons behind it.
If given me a 3 star review is because of the photographer’s lack of professionalism, I can handle that.
Lastly, the bride is a nurse. I would hope she pays attention to details when given patients medications and treatments.
Why is it when I pay attention to details I’m called rude, but when she pays attention to details she isn’t rude as she is helping keep a patient alive?
Not to be flippant but why hire a professional photographer when a friend has a phone, maybe even a camera?
Why hire a caterer when a friend has a kitchen?
Why hire a florist when you can get flowers at the store?
Why hire a professional when a friend can do it?
Recently a very popular and beautiful wedding venue in Savannah told me about a “horrible” (their words not mine) experience with a guy who went online and “got” ordained just to officiate the ceremony of people he didn’t know but hired him for their ceremony.
At the ceremony he went on and on for 10+ minutes about another couple from another state. He’s a great story teller and the story was interesting but it didn’t fit with this couple’s wedding day! And the ceremony was over 30 minutes in length, nearly a 1/3rd was a story that didn’t even fit the wedding.
Simply because someone goes online and gets ordained for a minimal cost, doesn’t make them qualified to preside at a wedding. It makes them legally able to officiate a ceremony, that’s different!
Here are things which 99% of officiants don’t know and are important for a great ceremony!
Have a good quality handkerchief for either the grooms perspiration or the bride’s tears, or both! I’ve given away hundreds of them over the years, maybe even 500.
I know the best way to have exchange of rings go absolutely smoothly! I should patten it!
Listen for the pauses when the couple repeat their vows. It’s important to listen for their emotions when they speak, listen don’t rush.
How loudly should I speak during the ceremony if they don’t want a microphone for me?
No stories off the cuff! The ceremony dialogue is known ahead of time by the couple.
Who stands first when the bride walks in?
Is an aisle runner a good idea?
What to do during awkward moments?
The wedding ceremony is not from the bible. “Jesus was a guest at a wedding the Cana of Galilee” is about the best one can do other than the readings often read at weddings.
Let me know what questions you have about hiring the right officiant for your ceremony. You don’t even have to hire me to officiate your ceremony. I don’t mind helping!
It’s great to have all of your friends and family at a wedding. But is it great to have someone from your own town (or not local to Savannah) be the professional wedding coordinator for your special day?
Here is the list of cons:
They don’t know the area.
They don’t know the how long it takes to get from your lodging to your ceremony, etc.
They don’t know the details of how to keep people out of uninvited guests out of your ceremony (that, BTW, is not the security/police’s job at your reserved park/square wedding).
They normally aren’t worried about time lines, since they may be doing your ceremony at a reduced rate in order to have it on their resume.
They don’t have the connection to local vendors to get you the best ones. Some coordinators bring all their vendors from out of the area.
Rarely do weddings start on time (one wedding started 45 minutes late – imagine your guests sitting for 45 minutes waiting for you).
Here is the pros:
You may know the coordinator personally – may have more fun.
They may give you a huge discount to get the out of town/state business.
They may be a friend, so you would only have to pay for their lodging.
Nothing against out of state/town professional wedding coordinators but I find that for the most part, local Professional Wedding Coordinators are steps above out of town ones.
I can give you a lot of examples of why the don’ts don’t work!
Don’t have a traditional style aisle runner – Do consider using some flower petals. I’ve seen bride’s heels get stuck.
Don’t have flower petals on the beach. Sea gulls think it is food and will attack.
Don’t wear heals if your gonna stand in grass, unless you put those high heel protectors on them – to keep you from sinking into the grass.
Don’t laugh during your vows – do let tears and emotions happen. If you are a laugher, then you may get laugher in the wrong time: “I _____ take you ____ to be my ________. To love and to cherish “laughter.” I’ve seen the laughter at “and I promise to be faithful to you.” Awkward.
Don’t wear makeup which will give you streaks if you shed tears. Do wear make up which will not leave streaks. This is different than mascara.
Don’t wear red lipstick – Do wear lip sealant. Otherwise your spouse will have red lips, too! Awkward for pictures.
Don’t let the groom arrive to ceremony without a real handkerchief. Do get the groom one so that he can dab your tears or his perspiration.