By Mariah Ashley
When my daughter was two and having a bad day because she was asked to eat her vegetables, told it was time to go to bed or scolded for coloring on the kitchen wall, she didn't get sad and cry. Instead she got mad. She'd clench her fists and grit her little Chiclet teeth. Looking up at from me from behind her bowl cut she'd snarl, "You're the one what did it! You're the one what made me sad!" It was hilarious and disturbing all at the same time. She's twelve now. We're still working on it. But that's another story.
The story I want to tell today is a cautionary tale of how NOT to be The One What Did It, The One What Made Your Clients Sad, because it's always a good day when you aren't ruining your clients wedding. I've had cause to ponder this question lately as I've helplessly watched a few fellow wedding vendors wreaking havoc on my clients.
Take the case of the overly dramatic/distracted justice of the peace. I've been working with Fred the JP for years and without fail, I hear him before I see him. Fred shouts my name when he sees me regardless of the distance between us, the setting we are in, or the inappropriateness of shouting at a wedding. Fred also stands right behind me and breathes what's left of his lunch at the back of my neck. He likes to make small talk during the ceremony processional, which is of course a causal moment where we both have free time and no job to do. I awkwardly bob my head to avoid being rude to Fred while trying to nail my shot of the bride and her father coming down the aisle toward their bobble-headed photographer.
A few weeks ago I worked with Fred again. It was status quo; shouting across the lawn, small talk and bobble-heading. But wait, this day had a twist! Moments before the ceremony, Fred beckoned me to photograph the signing of the marriage license. The mother of the groom was about to sign as the first witness. Fred as chatty as ever, hurriedly explained to her to "sign here" and "print here" and then waived his finger over the area for her signature. He turned to me and continued his blah-blah-ing, leaving her to her own devices. You can see where this is going. Yes, she signed in the wrong spot.
"Oh no! Oh my! I've signed in the wrong spot!" she gasped, squinting at the document.
"What?!" he shouted, jerking his attention from me back to her.
"What do we do now?" she asked.
"Nothing, now! It's not like I have another copy!"
That's when the groom walked over.
"What's wrong?" he asked.
"Well your mother has just ruined this legal document by signing on the wrong line. It's invalid and you can't be legally married without it."
The groom's face drained of all color. The groom's mother started ringing her hands and apologizing.
"I love you mom but I can't look at you or talk to you right now." said the dismayed groom.
The wedding planner was the next on the scene of the disaster.
"What's going on?" she asked. "I heard raised voices."
"I'll tell you what's going on, this is all garbage," announced Fred brandishing the ruined document and waiving his hand over the lawn indicating that the $100K wedding was now trash.
"Don't say that!" said the horrified wedding planner coming to the defense of the stricken groom. "You cannot tell my clients that their beautiful wedding is garbage!"
"Can you believe these people Mariah?!" asked Fred a few moments later behind the backs of the wedding planner and the nauseous groom. I just bobbled my head and walked away but what I wanted to do was clench my fists and grit my Chiclets and snarl. "Fred! You're the one what did it! You're the one what made them sad!"