1) Make sure he/she is a full time professional wedding photographer. This may seem obvious, but many people choose photographers who photograph houses and bowls of fruit during the week – or are even plumbers or bricklayers! It takes a special set of skills to photograph weddings. Not just the ability to use a camera but also the ability to ‘get on’ with large groups of people who are strangers and be able to organise them without intruding. Would you want the pilot of a aeroplane you were flying in to be a plumber during the week and only fly planes at the weekend? No. If the job is important then you should should always choose a full time professional.
2) Book early. Most top professionals are popular and get booked up 18 months – 2 years in advance. If you are getting married on a popular date (Saturdays during the summer or a bank-holiday Monday) then you are unlikely to get the photographer you want for a last minute wedding.
3) Don’t trust a photographers website. A great website can be written for just a few hundred pounds and can show off just a few dozen great pictures. But is this a fair representation of what you will get? Always ask to see ALL the pictures from a recent wedding (preferrably taken at the wedding you will be using) and ask to contact 3 clients of the photographer from the past couple of months to make sure that the photographers quality is consistent.
4) Dont be misled into believing that letters after a photographers name means they are good. There are no formal qualifications to become a wedding photographer. Letters (such as SWPP, BPPA, MRPS etc) can all be purchased for just £100 without a photographer ever having to prove competence. The same goes for ‘award winning’ photographers. It is best to judge for yourself by looking at actual pictures taken from recent weddings.
5) Make sure a backup photographer is available. What happens if your photographer is ill on the day of your wedding? Will he/she just not turn up? ‘One man band’ wedding photographers pose a risk that they might not be able to attend your wedding, so it is always best to use a company that has a back-up strategy to cover this (and ideally a company that has several photographers who can cover in case of illness)
As a successful wedding professional, I get the unique chance to become associated with top-notch providers in every event category. This allows me to reach out to a one vendor each month and ask them the tough questions you are wanting the answers to.
This week I feature Kathlee Akers, CEO of Beau Tied Events in a candid discussion of how creativity and experience plays a major role in producing a success event. We tap into the importance of inspiration and love for your job. Also, expanding into how trends influence both brides and planners, as sites like Pinterest and Etsy have allowed brides to express themselves more openly.
Thomas McGregor: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer my questions today!
Kathlee Akers: Thanks for asking!
TM: So I know you love what you do, it shows. So tell me, where did the inspiration come from to start planning weddings and events?
KA: I planned my own wedding, which I think is a common theme I hear a lot. I guess because you don’t really get a chance to plan weddings until you do your own, it never even really occurred to me I could do it, though I had always been interested. When I did my own, I became compulsive about learning as much as I could, and about the design behind it all. I was definitely interested in doing it long term, from the beginning, and started taking classes right after I got engaged.
TM: Was there something specific that sparked your interested, after doing your own wedding?
KA: The design aspect, first and foremost, and then the rigid organization and planning. I’m very detail-oriented, so that fit me to a ‘T’.
TM: Have you always been detailed-oriented?
KA: It was something I had to reign in as I got older. I was always a really creative kid, always putting on plays and writing stories, and I would lose myself in my projects and my imagination, often to the chagrin of my parents. When I went to college and was able to focus intently on things that I felt passionate about– design, literature, etc., I saw that side really come out. I really wanted to be successful, so I became very focused on any and all details that would add to that.
TM: And would you deem that hyper-focusness a requirement for success in the category of event planning?
KA: Absolutely. And I don’t think you can fake it. You have to be 100% focused and in love with this job to make it work, because you have to care as much about the details as your bride would.
TM: And as a result, would you agree there is a personal reward to the results you produce?
KA: Yes. I get very close to my brides over the course of a year, I often become their confidantes and friends and therapists, even. So when their wedding day comes, and they give me a hug and tell me how thankful they are I was there for them, it’s hugely rewarding. It’s sometimes hard to part with them after the fact and maybe sometimes… I don’t… haha we remain pen pals.
TM: Well then that would be a bitter-sweet reward of your job, which is arguably the best kind.
TM: Now, as many of the readers may not know; there is a constant shifting in trends in the wedding industry. Can you elaborate as to how you have need to adjust to the changing trends throughout the years? What has changed in style, tastes and the way you have approached each event?
KA: I really try to stay away from anything too topical or too trendy, because I feel like it dates weddings within 5 years. Obviously, there’s a huge DIY shift that’s happened in the wedding industry since, and undoubtedly due to the recession, which I found has creatively really inspired brides to see something they love and do it themselves instead of hiring someone. It also has given me a bit more creative freedom with design. Also with Pinterest that DIY wedding aspect has exploded.
TM: So, the shift has taken place mainly via the online collaboration through sites like Pinterest and Etsy?
KA: I think it’s been two-fold. I think that sites like Pinterest and Etsy saw an opportunity with the explosion of DIY culture, and that culture then has propelled Pinterest and Etsy into simple crafting and inspiration sites to wedding planning staples. All my brides use them for either planning or decor purposes.
TM: Very interesting! And would you say that has enabled your brides to be more hands through the designing process?
KA: I think that brides, since forever, have secretly or quietly done DIY projects themselves because it’s more affordable–not everybody has the money to buy the most expensive invitations, for example, but you can certainly fake it–but it’s now become “cool” to DIY your own wedding. I think with the recession, a lot of brides knew that they were going to have to do a lot themselves, and did so proudly. That’s why I love DIY brides, it’s a very can-do tough attitude, with a whole lot of love, and they’re a joy to work with. I was–and am– a DIY bride so I get it.
TM: So this shift in trends to more of a DIY approach as allowed brides to feel more empowered to do what they have always done, due to economic reasons?
KA: Yeah, I think so.
TM: As a result, what has been some of the strangest requests you have been asked by brides, mothers or second cousins?
KA: Haha! This will be tough, I certainly don’t want to offend anyone.
TM: We are all friends here.
KA: Oh! I have a good one– and this bride is totally lovely and it ended up being one of my favorite (albeit strangest) requests. I had a bride who wanted to do her wedding backwards! She had cocktail hour, and greeted guests in her dress as they came in, and then they ate dinner, did toasts, and then got married at sunset, around 8:15 PM. Then they had their first dance. It was so cool; casual, and relaxed. There was no pressure, no jitters… it was fun!
TM: Considering the way you just described it, maybe you’ll set a trend of weddings performed backwards.
KA: I hope so, I’d love to do it again!
TM: So we are reaching the end of our time, but I want to ask you one final question regarding your experience thus far with event planning. In hindsight, what would you have loved to know as a planner setting out on her first wedding?
KA: Bring more safety pins? Haha. No, true, but I’m kidding. I think I would want to relax a bit more. I think I was so stiff the first wedding I did, I was so laser-focused on making sure everything was perfect, that when things did go wrong, I let it bother me more than it should have. Now, I expect the unexpected as part of the job. I’ve realized it’s not my fault, but that it’s my opportunity to make things right. Knowing that things are going to go wrong that are out of your control is a huge part of this industry, but I’ve learned to trust my instincts and ability to fix problems that come up, so I don’t fear it anymore. Oh, and to LAUGH and enjoy yourself in the midst of it!
TM: So you have developed a sense of fearlessness founded on the knowledge that anything can happen and it’s up to you to turn the debacle into a opportunity for success?
KA: More or less. I take a lot of pride in solving problems, and have solved a LOT of problems, but I also know that some things may be completely out of my control. Essentially, it’s taking pride in knowing that I do my best every wedding, and I try to make the best out of every situation. If I can save the day, I will!
TM: That perspective is refreshing, as many might disintegrate under stress.
TM: As a bonus, tell us your plans for the future!
KA: I’m taking a more one-on-one creative approach with brides in the next year. I no longer plan on doing month-ofs, I really feel a huge benefit from working with a bride over the course of the entire engagement, both for creative and technical purposes.
TM: Would you consider that a unique approach in the planning space?
KA: I’m not sure, there are a lot of planning companies that do
design, but the main focus of their business is to do many weddings over the course of a year, and work out logistics, make sure everything’s on track, etc. I’ve never really had that approach– I really enjoy working one-on-one with fewer clients over the course of a year, with more of a design focus. I, of course, would work out details and logistics too, but I really enjoy helping brides find vendors, choose florals, pick out invites, I just feel the event is more cohesive and flows more smoothly.
TM: Well, I can speak freely when I say just like your approach to stress is refreshing, so is your approach to client service. It seems that you are services oriented, detailed and creative-focused, with an open mind to requests(even if it means doing a wedding in reverse) of each bride per their individually unique styles?
KA: Yes, that’s right.
TM: I want to thank you for taking time to speak with me today!
Learning this song by the great pop-rock group, Coldplay was so much fun! The connection for me was that the song already has strings in it. This allow for there to be a solid string platform to step off from and then carry the vocal line into the piece.
I look forward to learning more Coldplay in the future!
A student of mine recently spoke of his distaste for practicing. I asked him why he had such a bad taste towards this timeless art. The problem was just that, he didn’t view it as a timeless art, but a chore. This is something that concerned me immediately by asking him how it could be made better. His answer astonished me, and made sense: He bluntly stated that the whole idea of practicing would change for him if it was fun. Fun, I thought, why didn’t I think of that?
Children, young-adults, and grown-ups all want to have fun. “Fun”, as defined by Dictionary.com as the following:
Enjoyment, amusement, or lighthearted pleasure: “anyone who turns up can join in the fun”.
Amusing, entertaining, or enjoyable: “it was a fun evening”.
Joke or tease: “no need to get sore—I was only funning”; “they are just funning you”.
amusement – joke – sport – jest – lark – entertainment
joke – jest – banter – jape – lark
If you notice, the word “amuse” comes up the most (3) out of all of the descriptive words used to define Fun.
When you define “amuse”, via Dictionary.com, you receive the following:
Cause (someone) to find something funny; entertain.
Provide interesting and enjoyable occupation for (someone).
entertain – divert – recreate – tickle
If you notice, the word “entertain” comes up the most (2) out of all of the descriptive words used to define Amuse.
When you define “entertain”, via Dictionary.com, you receive the following:
Provide (someone) with amusement or enjoyment.
Receive (someone) as a guest and provide food and drink.
amuse – divert
After looking this over, you will now see that we have made a circle, coming back to the word “amuse” as the primary word used in the descriptive definition of entertain.
This is interesting, could it simply mean that in order for one to have “fun” they need the following two components?:
Arguing as truth, what does it take to give someone this sense of “fun” as you are trying to impart valuable information to them? The key word is, ENGAGEMENT. Look, I’ll give you the formula – step-by-step:
Step ONE: Understanding your core message. You should be able to narrow this down to 2-6 words, and 1-2 phrases.
Step TWO: Understand the way(vehicle)you are going to deliver the message. I.e. A game, questions, quizes, trivia, stories, etc. The question here is, “How am I going to disguise my message?” Think of it as when you were a child. Your mother didn’t give you straight medication, she disguised it via jelly or applesauce.
Step THREE: The vehicle must engage in order for longevity. Does your vehicle leave a lasting taste that will enable the listener the access to the information over a long period of time. This is why stories and games are really important.
If you are able to fill in these three steps for your next presentation, you will have a lasting impression on the ones that hear your instruction. When this is done correctly, the information you are imparting will go beyond you as an individual. This is the goal. When someone is able to say ten years from now, “Hey, remember that game we played in order to learn cell production and turn over rates? Yeah, that was a great game!” You see, they remember the game, but your information is tightly and securely wrapped right there with their solid memory that was fastened via an activity that required their engagement.
As the Disney princess themes take hold in the hearts and minds of little girls all over the world, just when you think it couldn’t go any further, the craze has received attention by brides-to-be looking for a unique, yet elegant Disney touch.
Disney wedding dresses have taken the wedding industry by storm as a new ‘norm’ amongst newly engaged brides. Many traditionalist might scoff at the idea of showcasing a Disney themed dress on their special day. However, these dresses aren’t as you might think. They aren’t littered with patterns of assorted Disney princesses on them. They aren’t colored in bright pink and yellow like the toys in the stores. Each dress has been expertly crafted to look like actual princess dresses. As pictured above, you see that these dresses are legitimately made dresses. Therefore, maybe having a Disney dress for your wedding wouldn’t be such a bad thing. If you have a children that you plan to have involved in your wedding, this might add a fun little component for them, knowing it’s a ‘princess’ dress. Remember your special day is a magical time, fit to your detailed specifications. And if you are looking for an added little secret, beautiful, and unique aspect to your wedding consider looking into the Disney princess wedding dress.
Whether you are a wedding planner or a bride looking to select a wedding planner. Make sure you have these three core essentials for a smooth and fun wedding. Brides: Be sure to ask the wedding planner you call if they have these three in their skill set. This will safe you time and money. Planners: Make sure you invite some of these ideas into your regular wedding procedures. Tell your brides that you have them available. They will feel more at ease with going with you as their wedding day guide.
One of the most valuable traits of a good wedding planner is organization. Organization is the one aspect that keeps each wedding running smoothly. Successful wedding planners use large three-ring binders for each individual wedding to keep everything in check and organized.
Don’t always assume that the guests know how to get to the wedding location. Be sure to include a map to the ceremony/reception site(s) for every guest that is presumed coming. You can do this by sending a nice email to everyone or by including it with each invitation. This will also give he bride one less thing to worry about.
A wedding is also a party. A celebration of the love of two people that are special in our lives. When you get a big group of people together there is always an issue of safety. Select a direct emergency plan that will offer a a safe plan for your guest to rely on in the event of an emergency. Make sure you have a emergency kit with all of the essentials; needle and thread, scissors, safety pins, tissues, medicine(pain killers), etc.
Many times I get asked how recording can benefit an artist, outside the usual monetary and recognitional properties that stem from producing a recorded work. In this blog posting I want to address the many subtle benefit that come from recording on regular basis.
As artists sometimes we become accustomed how we sound, how things feel, and how we expect things to come out. Through this, we develop a sense of how we think things should come out. In other words, we become conditioned by our own technical success. Ultimately, there is nothing inherently wrong with this. However, if we plan to progress in our art form we should consider techniques that will keep us unbiasly accountable. Recording ourselves offers this technique. By recording ourselves, we are able to hear ourselves void of conditioned hearing. We are not judging our sound, combined with the filters from out preconceived notions of what we should sound like. Therefore, our progression is dependent on us thereafter. How we view this recording is completely dependent on us. Ultimately, we should strive for constructive judgment. We should look at the recording as a light on our blemishes, an opening eye to things we may have not heard when initially recording.
The key to this viewing is by disconnecting yourself from the recording, taking a subjective look at your recording. Then, you will want to focus on how you can improve on the things you hear that you want to fix. At this point you should consider yourself a sculpter. This juncture is critical due to the displaced nature of the situation. You are able to hear what you did and literally sculpt your sounds. Be honest, easy on yourself, and detailed oriented. Keep in mind that the recording is such as a guru giving your a vast opportunity to change the course of your musical life.
In modern improvisation we find the alterations of key signatures, time signatures, and harmonic displacement. I will address more on these in Part IV. But for now, I would like to talk about the philosophical implications of these changes. When an improviser takes it upon himself to change, not just the notes but the feel of a composition, he implies that a great knowledge base is in place of that composition. Compositional knowledge is paramount before one can attempt to manipulate in any capacity. This vast understanding of a piece of music may take months, years, or decades. In some circles, it is believed that not one person can know all there is about one particular song. The only exception would be that the composer himself is the only one that knows his composition the very best. First, one must take the initiative with an explorative mind. You must set out to analyse and mentally notate everything that you come in contact with, while working on the piece. When you are doing this, keep in mind that even though you are participating in the producing of the sounds that make up the piece, that you are only that for which makes that sounds. Sound manipulation is at the very essence of what you are participating in when improvising. You are changing the vibrational qualities from what was originally placed by the original composer.
The message that you will transmit to your listener from this change in vibration will be dictated by how dense and dimensionally loaded your tone quality is. This, stimulates the implications of validity of practice and tone cultivation. One must spend time to closely analyse your tone quality. The musician should consider using a form of meditation in order to quiet their minds and inner vibrations. Experiment: Notice the next time that your inner mind is racing, and your biological vibrational energy is fluctuating how this effects your musical expression. All musicians and artists perform better[in quality]when they are quiet inside and focused.
As a composer I understand the importance of multidimensional music expression. By the addition of the different aspects of sounds and tonal manipulation tools one can create something that has a dense significance to the whole of musical expression. Through history, we have seen such expressions change through the interpretations of music that is passed down from generation to generation. The interesting part is that the musical dimensions such as dynamics, bowing styles, phrasing, and note accents don’t solidly transfer from person to person. This has two implications: 1)Musicians have their own ingrained musical personalities that they superimpose on music they learn. We even find children placing their own musical ideals on music they are learning. 2)These dimensions aren’t directly taught when the transfers of music happen. What this implies is that that our focus is on the notes themselves when we first setting out to learn from a teacher. From a teacher’s standpoint this can present issues in teaching musical expression in future lessons. We find that through the cultivation of musical expression during the act of learning a new tonal sequence is optimal. If musical expression transference does happen when a teacher is teaching, the results are a perfect basis for a student to future develop their own musical expression. I find it interesting that music educators tend to teach musical expression separate from melody. I believe this divide comes from the misunderstanding that musical expression can only lend itself to those of higher caliber artistry. I would challenge this by saying that when you find a child playing on pots and pans in the kitchen, their technique isn’t perfect. They aren’t concerned with how they are holding the spoons. Their main concern is how it feels to hit something and produce a sound. At this juncture we find ourselves at a dilema to how we approach the idea of adding musical expression development in young artists during the learning of the original music. Simply, we would subscribe to becoming conscience of the fact that each song taught to our students would also include multidimensional aspects. This, in turn will contribute to the all-around interest in music by the students. For I believe we have drifted from thinking as music as more than just melody, harmony, and rhythm. For I see teachers teaching their students singly the melody and moving on to the next tune. This is an abomination to the art of music, directly. Clarifying, I am not insinuating that one should spend a year teaching a single song. However, we should not neglect the options of the many dimensions that are possible with musical expression. When teaching we should understand that the musical expressional tools we install in our students are those for which will be primers of their musical future. Through the cultivation of musical expression in learners of the artform they are opened up to the dimensions of music. In this, we set the standard of musical development and progression.
In the 1959 release by Miles Davis titled “Kind of Blue” we find such dimentional aspects demonstrated during the listening of the track Freddie Freeloader. When listening through the first time you might not catch the simple additions of dynamic influxes, rhythmic subtleties, and note placement. However, as you listen you will find more and more slight modifications to each phrase as if the song is morphing under your ears. Through the listening of such masters at work, we find that one can literally take a previously composed melody and make slight alterations to the melody without touching the actual notes composed. This kind of musical manipulation is in the forefront of a seasoned and experience musician. Therefore, as communicators and educators we should continue that focus through our instruction. For we can learn from this recording that there are multiple dimensions possible in a single song. But, we can’t instruct students that there are many aspects to a song during the teaching of the song? I believe this to be a faulty belief by instructors. For we should always be perusing the best in our pupils, guaranteeing the highest in music excellence and expression by presenting to our students every aspect we are aware of.