When I write about wedding professionals and excavate nuggets of wisdom, I have to admit a lot of their insights and advice seems kind of same-y.

That’s no accident and no fault of the interviewees; if their advice seems similar, that’s because they’ve all unsurprisingly found the tried and true works for them.

That’s what made Michelle Kuzmick’s interview so interesting. It wasn’t just that her insights were more unique, but they were very eloquently expressed. She was a joy to interview, a joy to transcribe, and certainly, her evocative photography skills demonstrate her years in the industry.

Kuzmick, who practices in the Richmond, Virginia area, started out as an accountant and has a knack for the entrepreneurial side of things, which she writes about on her blog. Here is what she had to say that you won’t hear from everyone.

Secret #1: The reason you want to hire professionals is that with amateurs and enthusiasts, you’re at the mercy of their regular paycheck.

Certainly, “stick to professionals” is not a rare concepts ‘round these parts. I’m not sure there’s a point driven home more in this series.

But the main reason is not just about avoiding poor-quality service. In fact, there are plenty of talented amateurs in the ranks of all manner of photographers, DJ’s, florists, and so on.

The problem is, they can’t put you first. They have to put their actual employer first. Not only can this seriously disrupt a wedding in grave ways, but it disincentivizes the amateur from making things right – you aren’t giving them the money they need to live on, their day job boss is.

“I think that if you have someone that’s in the industry full time, that’s the biggest clue. This is how I make my living, this is how I pay my bills,” says Kuzmick.  “Of all the horror stories I hear, they’ll say, ‘Oh, I didn’t get my pictures for four months,’ or’ I didn’t get them at all.’ Well, they still have a fulltime job. They’re still getting a paycheck every day. So they don’t have a reason to give you better customer service, or to go above and beyond, or just get the job done.”

“My brides can text me at 5 in the morning, and they’re getting responses. Because I do this all the time, there’s usually not a scenario I haven’t dealt with.”

Secret #2: You can’t assume you already know what you’re getting without asking about it.

For example, lots of newlyweds expect to get pictures back pretty much instantaneously, but that’s usually not feasible. Be patient, and agree on a timeframe for the finished product. Also know not just the when, but the what you are getting with that finished product.

“I think couples need to ask, ‘What exactly am I getting?’ Some couples assume they get all the digital images. That’s not always the case with everybody. The expectation of when they get the pictures is huge. Some couples expect them Monday morning,” says Kuzmick.

Secret #3: It’s never too early to book the right vendor for each job.

While Kuzmick describes booking vendors 9 months to a year out as “safe,” there’s no reason not to book them even earlier if you want to guarantee you’re getting the people you want for the job.

Perhaps the most shocking secret of all is that no one can be in more than one place at a time, and so that’s why you need to lock down that prized professional before someone else has a chance to on your big date.

“As soon as you know that you want the vendor, don’t wait, because someone will snatch ’em up. If you can’t live without the vendor, book them,” advises Kuzmick.

Secret #4: There’s something more important than beautiful vistas and eye-catching colors in good wedding photographs.

This was my favorite part of Kuzmick’s wisdom. She says she likes to capture the tears in the eyes of the groom, and catch the laugh of the bride as she reacts to the groom’s suggestion (prompted by Kuzmick) of the first thing he thinks they should do on their honeymoon.

These things reveal the emotions of the ceremony, and that’s what has staying power over the years.

“My style is capturing the\ose relationships so that when they look back in twenty years, they can feel what they felt that day.”

Amen.


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