The Wedding Assistant {St Augustine and Jacksonville Wedding Photographer. Mady Joe Photography}

A little background for you. I met Tabbatha of  The Wedding Assistant last year shortly after we moved to the St Augustine area. I love her. I really do. It is not often that you meet someone so helpful, hardworking {seriously, I don’t think that she EVER sleeps!}, fun….I could go on and on. She’s introduced me to great people, great vendors, and is quickly bringing together so many wedding vendors in the Jacksonville/St Augustine area by creating a great community for  networking, advice, questions, and get togethers. I mean, who doesn’t love a chance to get together after work for a little fun?
Why did you become a wedding planner?

Hhhmmmm…. Well I can’t say that I have ALWAYS wanted to be a planner. I have had moments that happened in my life that have taken me to this point. And looking back it is funny to “connect the dots” on how my life was supposed to be.  I have always loved decorating as far back as me playing with my Barbies in the garage at 4 years old. I would not really role play as much as I would set up and rearrange for events and display. Growing up I had a natural talent for organizing paperwork, parties and events and just wanting to make people happy. (Yes I am a natural people pleaser) But it was not until March 2009 when I had my “Ah-Ha Light bulb moment”. I was helping a Bride on her wedding at RCBC (River City Brewing Company) when the ideas just flooded out of me to her. She loved everything I had to say…enough so that she told me to “do whatever I wanted to do”. I was thrilled for the opportunity and after that wedding I just knew that I wanted to pursue this as a career and I jumped in with both feet and have never looked back.

 I know you’re a BIG advocate that brides and grooms hire real businesses that are licensed and insured. Why do you think that is so important? 

Yes, I am a HUGE advocate on that…lol, just ask any of the vendors around me!! I understand that EVERYONE starts somewhere but if you decide you want to “operate as a business” then you should do just that.

Let me give you some background on me before I get called out on it:

After advertising on Craigslist from June 2009 on, I had my first “REAL (paying) BRIDE” and her wedding was in August, so yes I operated un-licensed. I created The Wedding Assistant into and LLC and was licensed by the city the following week all by my second wedding in October of 2009. My insurance is a different story. Since I did not have any weddings until from October 2009 until March 2010 I did not purchase my insurance until February 2010…hey it was $45.00 a month and I was not racking in the dough, so I decided it wait until the last minute. I have maintained my license and insurance since starting it though.

So back to you question… I would ask these “unlicensed vendors” why? Why would you choose to operate illegally? Why would you risk your so-called business name for a “situation” that is guaranteed to happen at some point in your business life. Why would you risk your financial situation and your family’s livelihood all to save a little extra money by not paying taxes, not having to renew a llc every year, a business license every year or pay liability insurance every month. This is not only to protect the you and your family as the “business” but this protects the Bride by knowing that the business owner is compliant in every way to insure her that the day will be flawless and if it is not then there are steps that can be taken to remedy the situation.

Have you ever had a couple not listen to you about the importance of licensed and insured businesses? Were there any negative things that happened?

I stress this a lot to Brides but I have never had someone openly say they were choosing someone knowing they were not licensed and insured, I think Brides think just because they found them at a Bridal Show makes them a legit business or just because they have a business card makes them real. Just because the vendor has you sign a contract with a business name on it does not make it a “legal business” or a binding contract in my opinion. If you are signing a contract with a “fake name or a non-existent business name” than how can the vendor hold the Bride to that contract and also how can the Bride hold the “non-existent business” to its obligations. I am not lawyer but to me this is entering a contract under false pretenses…I would love to see what a lawyer would say about this.

For you, what is the best part of a wedding?
For me it is the thought of making an almost perfect memory for a Bride that will pass on from generation to generation. (I won’t say perfect because there is no such thing as a perfect wedding day!) To be able to control the situation to allow the Bride to enjoy herself and bask in the moment that will fly by so fast. I treasure these moments of happiness on the Brides and Grooms faces. It is kind of crazy but it fulfills me and satisfies my “people pleasing needs”.

Why is it important to have someone else taking care of all the things going on during a wedding day?

More than likely everyone that you know, like and love is in the wedding or supposed to be there to witness and share the excitement of this magical moment in history. Why would you expect someone to “work your wedding” instead of helping you celebrate it? My next statement is said in my stern business voice. Your friends and family are not trained to foresee possible situations or to work around, fix or alter the rush of the moment. You may say “nothing will go wrong and everything will be perfect”….but what if it is not. Don’t be that Bride after her BIG Day and say I could-a, would-a and should-a hired a professional.

You offer two different packages, the “organize it for me’ and ‘coordinate it for me’ what is the difference and benefits?

Yes, I do have some new packages coming out in January 2012. The “Organize it for me” is for the Bride how needs an outline, budget suggestions, vendor suggestions and to be able to ask all the whos, what and whys of her BIG Day but without an actual coordinator on-site for their wedding, It does include a 30 day walk-though and a suggested Timeline. I hate to say I don’t want someone to choose this package but I do hope that they would include a Coordinator on their BIG Day when the stress is higher or when things could need altering. (Again this is Your one moment, please don’t ruin it over budget). So that starts touching on the “Coordinate it for me” package which includes the organizing part of the details as well as making sure you have someone onsite for 10 hours on Your Biggest Moment! We are also coming out with a “Plan it for me” package which is kind of self explanatory. It is for Bride’s who need more “hand holding” or guidance in selecting EVERYTHING for her BIG Day.

Can you explain what a “Day-Of” really is and why it costs so much?

The term “Day-Of” for Wedding Planners/Coordinators is quite misleading. A Professional Wedding Assistant does not, and cannot, come in the morning of your wedding after all your months of planning to only coordinate the “Day-of” the wedding.  

As with any good executed plan, there must be strategic design, organization, communication, and execution.  Wedding consultants who are hired at the end of the wedding planning process must do a tremendous amount of catch up, no matter what the size of the wedding, to get up to speed on their clients’ wedding planning.  The average wedding is planned somewhere between nine and fifteen months.  That means wedding consultants coming in after such a lengthy time period must work harder, longer and faster to conceptualize the wedding vision…. Your Wedding Vision!!

It is important for every bride to really understand the pricing for this service when considering company to perform any wedding planning service. She is hiring that company primarily in the capacity of consulting/planning for the execution of her wedding plan, up to and including the wedding day.  Wedding consulting/planning is labor.  Labor equals time. Time is the main mechanism by which wedding planners and consultants get paid.  

Just like with every “service/labor” company  (i.e.:  attorneys, electricians, etc.), there is an hourly labor rate that said earns.

 

So, you really don’t just show up the day of and make everything perfect. How much time do you typically put in prior to wedding day?
Well, every wedding is different but the average time I spend on one single Bride for just the “Day-Of” consists of about 36+ hours of work on my part.

A breakdown of  just ONE of our Wedding Assistant’s time for “Day-of” service can look something like this:

10 Hours: Inquiry emails, Consultations, Proposals, Data Entry , Research and Timelines

 10+ Hours: Wedding Planning hours to get caught up with YOUR vision

6 Hours: Driving Time from Consultation, Walk-Through, Ceremony to Reception and back

10 Hours: Wedding and Reception Management (from set up till the last guest leaves)

?+ Hours: Countless emails, phone calls and texts of random thoughts, concerns and questions that we are there to answer

(Should we even talk about the supplies, gas, maintaining licenses, insurance,
paying Uncle Sam 20% off the top… and what it takes to run a legal business!)

 

 I laugh when I hear the “Why do you cost so much for only one day”. Please do not EVER hire someone to show up on your wedding say and expect them to “run the show” with no prior knowledge about anything that your wedding entails. That is asking for trouble!

 

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Married! St Augustine White Room Wedding Photographer Part 3


Married! The White Room: St Augustine Wedding Photographer {Part 1}

 

 

I shot this wedding with Yuliya Callahan Photography at The White Room in Historic St Augustine in May! Enjoy part 1!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


After the Wedding Session – Disney Boardwalk {Orlando Couple Photographer}

I love when couples choose to have an After the Wedding Session as one of their menu items. I think it’s so fun and takes some pressure off their shoulders for timing everything on the actual wedding day. Plus, you spend a good amount of time, energy, and money picking out the prefect dress, you should get to wear it as much as you want 🙂

I especially love getting to check in with the couple after they’ve had some time to relax, absorb all the things that happened in a short period of time, and we get to shoot at such a fun location! Loved spending some time with my husband Disney Boardwalk before meeting with Natalie and Thomas!


Zack and Stefanie are married! Part 2 {St Augustine Wedding Photographer}

After their ceremony at Cap’s on the Water, we headed to lunch at the The Columbia Restaurant in the historic part of St Augustine– fantastic! It has a really fun feel, lots of conversation, and laughter! The perfect spot for a celebration. The best part about this kind of intimate setting is that I was able to not only photograph the lunch, but to take part in it, as well as learning more and more about the couple through their family and friends. Leaving after hugging the bride and groom as well as her parents kind of gives you a nice feeling too. Thanks for letting me be a part of your day! Looking forward to November for your big celebration.

 


Zack and Stefanie are married! Part 1 {St Augustine Wedding Photographer}

 

Stefanie and Zack had an intimate wedding at Cap’s on the Water in St Augustine and it was beautiful! I have never been to Cap’s on the Water prior, but it is on my list of places for date night. The huge outdoor seating area right on the water and a beach area would be the perfect spot for relaxing!

The ceremony was under the trees right on the beach.  Since Stefanie’s favorite spot in St Augustine is going over the Vilano Beach Bridge and looking into Vilano, Cap’s was a perfect spot for this ceremony!

Enjoy part one of your wedding pictures!

 

 


Stefanie & Zack are engaged! {St Augustine Engagement Photographer}

Spending the afternoon with a great couple walking around Flagler CollegeHistoric St Augustine, and along the water by the Bridge of Lions {where the Lions were just returned to the bridge!} is not a bad way to spend an afternoon! It was such a fun afternoon and we got some great pictures along the way! Enjoy your sneak peak!