Vizcaya weddings are without a doubt one of the most sought after wedding venues for any bride here in South Florida. For that matter, I’ll say that Vizcaya Weddings are likely one of the favorite choices among many Miami Wedding Photographers too! I have personally been to, and shot literally hundreds of shoots, events, etc.. here at Vizcaya over the years. While I often think to myself “Oh, we are going to Vizcaya again?” nothing is more exciting then shooting a —wedding— here 😉
What I love the most about Vizcaya Weddings is the simple fact that once the front entrance closes at 4:30pm, and the security rounds up all the straggling visitors.. the grounds become private for the wedding! The fact that I have been to Vizcaya SO many times for shoots, I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to be there after hours for a wedding, and not have to deal with people everywhere taking pictures with their “iPhone”. LOL, it’s so nice when you have the entire property open and free to do as you want.
Here is where I am going to take a detour from where most photographers throw up images on a blog, and pretend that everything is perfect and all smiles all day long.
The reality is that —every— wedding has “something” to overcome. This can be as simple as someone being late, or as crazy as someone loosing the rings (don’t laugh I have seen it!) I look at my blog as a tool to not just display my work, but to also truly communicate and educate people on the very things that I experience in the field. My thought is that, if I can save ONE CLIENT from the same issue, mistake, or situation then it all becomes worth it. I goto great lengths to try and educate and advise my clients on the best practices as it relates to the operational side of the wedding day, and have some very detailed blog posts on this topic including “Wedding Planning Advice” where I have written and produced a free video on this topic.. as well as another helpful insightful article and video on “Client Expectations” (please excuse the sunglasses in that video LOL). So, to say that I try and make an honest effort to ensure everyones day is as sound as possible is an understatement 🙂
I am not that guy that will just smile and say “oh, don’t worry everything is alright”.
If things are not going smoothly, or something needs to be fixed.. I am going to speak up and say something. Period.
This perhaps is the one greatest thing about my personality.. is that I am honest with all of my clients, and we are ALWAYS on the same page 100% of the time. From the moment we meet in person, to the pre wedding planning that I do, to the day of when things actually unfold.. I am there every step of the way to ensure expectations are in line with reality and that I am in a position where I know I can deliver to my fullest abilities.
Okay, let’s jump into the day and talk about some of the challenges that were present and I am sure are present at all Vizcaya Weddings, because I will tell you even IF everything is “perfect” Vizcaya Weddings are NOT easy to shoot!
Before I go any further.. I just want to thank my amazing clients. They are the sweetest people ever, and were referred to me from other amazing clients (who I need to get their wedding on my blog soon too, and then will link them together!) My clients were so much fun, loved to party.. and seemingly did not let any of the “issues” (or as I say the “something” ) on the wedding day bother them (at least not visibly) and because of that I know they had a wonderful time (especially at the reception), hell they even chased me down to take some shots with them! 😉 Trust me.. it was a great day and a wonderful event overall and I am sure are very very happy with all the outcome we captured!
When you get shoes from Christian Louboutin then they need their own dedicated picture on the wedding day. 🙂 Not only sexy, but incredibly “sporty” too. Really like! Some of the final images (above) with mom “doing up” the back of the dress. Beautiful! The missing opportunity here is the fact that this is about all we got. We had to depart the getting ready hotel and head over to Vizcaya, and had a specific timeline (like any wedding) to follow. As I said, myself and my client were all on the same page.. the problem here, is that the other vendors were not. To spite them knowing full well when my bride needed to be ready, they choose to take their time and do things the way they wanted.. and were frankly “a DIVIA”. This resulted in her being over an hour late, and this directly sacrificed many of the creative shots I would have taken with her, and her bridesmaids at the hotel before having to depart. Unfortunately this is not all that un-common (and honestly why many weddings don’t get blogged in fact as there maybe “missing” parts) You can also read this story from this couple from Atlanta who had a bad experience too! and it’s sad that it has to be that way.
There is no reason in the world why ANY other vendor needs to act like the wedding day revolves around them
, and for some reason this is especially prominent with some hair and makeup “professionals”. Perhaps it’s this type of experience that has motivated me to start my “wedding insider” series on my YouTube channel where I go and sit down to interview some of my favorite wedding vendors, and talk about why they are great. You can see the one I did for this popular hair and makeup artist here. Anyway.. the effect of hiring a vendor that does not understand the bigger, “global” picture of the day is out right disrespectful to the client, and a liability that effects everyone involved. Now on the other hand we did have time to get the groom prep, and “guys” all together. Which was great. This was because this happened earlier in the day (guys don’t take long to get ready thankfully) LOL.. so we were able to have some fun with them while the girls (now delayed) finished getting ready. This brings up another “challenge” and frustration that we experienced on the wedding day.. The hotel. Yes, the hotel!
What ever could the hotel have to do with issues on the wedding day you ask? Well.. let me tell you…
So, its 100% common knowledge that when any bride / groom get ready in the hotel on the wedding day that IMAGES WILL BE TAKEN IN THE HOTEL! I mean.. hello?? So….. After I get the guys together, and all setup (as seen above) in the main lobby.. the hotel staff came over to us and said..
“I’m sorry sir.. you are not allowed to take images in any of the common areas”.
I looked at him (while standing in front of my client) and said.. “You must be joking right?” Nope.. he was serious. He said that the hotel just “does not allow it”. Ah.. what about the fact that this is a WEDDING, and we are just taking a few images here of the guys.. we will be done in 5min! Nope, sorry.. did not matter. The representative of the hotel stood there as stiff, and as un-flexible as anyone could be.. and almost seemed to enjoy just saying “no”. I’ll tell ya.. I don’t ever get mad easily.. but, this was extremely frustrating for me to bite down on my tongue and try to keep the ball rolling. I guess you can call me a “professional” alright.. because if I were alone with him.. I would have let loose on what I thought 😉
Now.. let’s take a second here.. and assume a few things. What do you think was the #1 reason for my client to book this hotel? I am willing to bet anything.. it’s because of the LOOKS and the decor, and the overall expectation of how the images would come out! If not.. then they could have just gotten ready in a Days Inn! Right?? Photographically it would have made no difference. So, when you book your nice hotel.. do yourself a favor.. and be SURE to ask about photo taking on the property.. because apparently they are not all okay with it.
Oh.. that hotel by the way.. was the Ritz Carelton in Coconut grove. So, if you fall in love with the decor of this hotel.. and think you are going to get that in your wedding images.. you might need to re-think that, or at the very least may need to pay more money to make this happen. 😉 They got no tip when they brought my car around.. I can tell you that!
Finally, at Vizcaya at last! The sun was starting to get low.. and made for some nice light for the “first look”! Can’t beat this place. So beautiful.. no question about it 🙂 I truly did love the back of this dress, and the way that the light came into the camera lens really made for a nice soft / romantic image. Guests were starting to arrive at this time.. and they did not want to be seen by them. SO.. this meant that the options for where we could –actually– take images started to narrow drastically, and were stuck in the far back of the property (which is not bad at all.. just saying.. it was not something we had in mind).. and remember when I said that Vizcaya Weddings were not easy? LOL.. this is a side effect of that, and how ironic was it that now I had the whole place closed down.. and yet, still was rectricted! See.. “it’s always something”. Loved this one (above) Why? Because it’s this kinda picture that is very functional. This can be printed and displayed in the house as art.. vs. some of the other images that only really look great in an album etc. Now is where things get “technically challenging”. It’s one thing to shoot Vizcaya Weddings during the daytime.. but…. at night, its another ball game and as a photographer you really need to be ready to deal with the lighting (lack there of) challenges in the field! In this case there was almost ZERO light that I could really use, and 100% of the action needed to be lit by my flashes, which were setup all around the ceremony location to provide some dynamic lighting vs. that “on camera” flash look. Absolutely beautiful reception decor! One of the nice things about Vizcaya Weddings, is that they use this frame / tent setup out back so that if rain comes.. your still covered! Very nice, and very important in South Florida! My two fav. parts of the wedding day… #1 Styled shots of the bride and groom (where I have control, and get the impressive shots that I do) and #2.. RAW emotions like this. 😉 It may not be clear from the picture (above) but, this is the brides sister and friend playing and singing a song to them! It was very nice! It was a crazy party for sure! Loved every second of it!
So to summarize and to wrap up this blog post.. I wanted to take the opportunity and try to educate others on the reality that goes on behind the scenes at many, many weddings. This Vizcaya Wedding was not unique in the sense that most weddings don’t have challenges (thats not the case, MOST weddings DO have some type of challenge it’s just that people never like to talk about it). I am also not saying my client was at any fault either.. she hired people that she thought would be great, and to that end I am sure the end result of what they provided was in fact inline with her expectation (the hair, the makeup, the video, etc..) but… because of their (vendors) lack of self-awareness and global perspective of how their actions impact the wedding day.. the client is then left suffering, and I for one am forced to sit down on the sidelines and watch creative opportunity pass by and nothing is more frustrating for me then that.
Choosing vendors for the wedding day has much, much more to do with the people then it does with what their “end results” are.. something I have also spoken about and interviewed others on here. If you need help choosing vendors.. people like hair, makeup, video, flowers, etc.. then please ask me 🙂 I know them all, and I know who is really a team player and who are not. I keep track of this stuff, because I want every wedding to be the best that it can be and more to the point I want my clients to be able to get the most from what I can offer… and I feel it’s my responsibility as a “creative professional” to educate on all this stuff .
I think that when photographers just post up pictures from their weddings.. and say things like “oh, love how this came out” it’s very misleading, especially on social media platforms. When money is being exchanged for a service there is expectation. Managing, and educating based on that expectation is the most important thing any vendor can do for their client, because when things are all said and done thats all that matters. 🙂