ask the readers: how to respond to another vendor who puts me down in front of our clients?

I’m throwing this one out to readers to weigh in on. A reader writes:

I’m a wedding photographer, and there is a popular venue in town known for their rigid ways. The owner, Tina, acts as wedding coordinator and has an air of sickly sweet “I know what is correct” but with a side of condescension. In private, this is annoying but fine. But she has increasingly started putting me down in front of the bride and groom.

Examples: she hovers around during family portraits and will make comments and ugly faces if she doesnt like a set up. Another time, I was doing a walk through with my clients and was explaining the portrait timeline to them. She interrupts and starts lecturing me that how I do it is incorrect and that I must do it her way (which logically makes no sense and drastically delays the timeline–I know another photographer who followed her orders and she got very annoyed at him because he was taking too long, ironically enough).

She’s purposely tried to sabotage my timeline and has even told other photographers I need to learn how to do timelines (I follow the industry standard, am actually quicker than most, and have had no complaints from other venues). Despite planning months before the date and confirming with her, come wedding day she always tells me I need to end portraits earlier than scheduled (she does this with others as well). She has made two brides come to near tears because she told them portraits had to end and they wouldn’t have time to get the photos they wanted (of course, making it sound like it was my mistake). We had plenty of time scheduled, but it was very difficult to convince them we were ok and that Tina was “confused” on the timeline.

The worst, however, I witnessed while working for another photographer. The bride and groom had a young child who was sick and not enjoying himself, but we needed to try and get a picture of him with his parents first thing before he really got too cranky. So we’re acting like goofs to get him to smile, and he starts mildly crying. Not 10 secs later, she walks over, tells us to “stop wasting time on fun photos,” takes the child out of the bride’s arms, and walks away. Of course, the child starts screaming hysterically, but we move on.

There are so many more examples. Out of professionalism, we take it and move on so as not to cause a scene in front of the clients and guests. She will do other things on a wedding day that cause issue with the clients, and out of respect for my fellow vendors I always try to feign confusion and try and fix the situation, instead of saying “Yeah, Tina always does this.” But I’m at my wit’s end.

Mind boggingly, the reviews for the venue are fantastic. I have another wedding there next year. Please help me with ways to professionally discount her rude comments while I’m working in front of clients, and best ways to inform my couples before the wedding day that her opinions are just that–opinions–and I’m actually the best person to listen to when it comes to portraits?

(For clarity: the portrait timeline is normally created by the photographer. The venue just needs to know when the reception will begin. Sometimes the venue has a noise ordinance so must end at a specific time, and the clients are informed. We work with the clients to find out what their priorities are, when the ceremony is, and tell them how much time we need to get what they want before the reception starts. I am in no way dictating or forcing them to follow a certain timeline that I want. I merely tell them the minimum time I need for what they are asking, and they make the final decision.)

Readers, what say you?

{ 271 comments… read them below }

  1. R*

    I think this is something you have to address up front with your clients, before the wedding. It might also be worth setting up a meeting outside of wedding season with the venue in the interest of understanding how each other works.

    1. PhotographyGeek*

      I speak as a part-time wedding photographer. This isn’t my full-time, and photography doesn’t put a roof over my head. I have flexibility to lose potential clients that aren’t good fits without my family going hungry.

      I second R’s comment. Following the adage of, “fool me once…” I would head this off at the pass.

      After the couple has picked this venue, I would have a discussion with them about their priorities. I generally ask all my couples to appoint a family member/friend to act as a shepherd during the group photos. I need somebody who knows all the major players and can help round them up so I can concentrate on the photos. I would suggest that this person should be forewarned about the wedding coordinator.

      “She tends to be forgetful and timeline discussions and sometimes needs to be gently reminded about your priorities.”

      I’d also strongly consider the idea of having the couple sign a waiver in effect saying that they allow the timeline to be overruled, we may miss photos they want. I’d never *do* anything with this waiver. My contract already covers that I’m not responsible for individual missed poses. The waiver would be just as valuable if you shred it secretly once you’re out of sight. The value of the waiver is in helping the couple consider their priorities *and* their responsibility in helping make sure somebody with a loud voice doesn’t make them lose sight of their own priorities.

      Are you a member of any of the various wedding photographer guilds? Many have community discussion boards. You might get more nuanced responses posing this question there than on a more generic blog.

      1. AnonyMoose*

        I guess I am confused as to why everybody is kowtowing (sp?) around this ‘planner’. I would be explicit and not use ‘gently remind’. The family member needs to be FIRM with this woman and reminded that she works for them, not the other way around.

        I would also have a meeting with management and share what I have seen (calmly but wanting feedback on how to work with her), if this doesn’t work. She’s obviously terrible at working with other vendors and they’re a big part of referrals to the venue. They need to know that she works against them. I would hate to think how she deals with the caterer (oooh if it’s inhouse, I bet they have stories!).

        1. PhotographyGeek*

          Why? There’s truth to the adage that when you wrestle with a pig, you both get dirty.

          The vast majority of my couples have been first marriages. Most people still only count on one hand the number of times they get married. I’m a relatively unknown to them. Some of their friends may have used my services, but chances are, they haven’t.

          In my opinion, part of the success criteria for any wedding vendor is playing well with others and not creating any additional stress for the couple. They have enough going on. I’ll go out of my way to make sure that because of my involvement, they dealt with less stress than if they had hired another photographer.

          Let’s assume that I go ballistic and yell at another vendor, but I get the perfect photograph that goes in their album or on their wall. I’m not selling paper. I’m selling memories. If I create a scene on the day of the wedding, I’m tarnishing those memories. Shame on me. Even if it wasn’t my fault. Fault doesn’t matter during a wedding. Pulling it off without adding stress and creating perfect memories is what I deliver.

          1. Natalie*

            You’re creating a false dichotomy here, though – there are tons of options between gentle reminder and going ballistic and yelling. It’s perfectly possible and, IMO, preferable to play well with the other vendors while still being firm and direct with this venue owner.

        2. PizzaSquared*

          Venues can, and do, ban certain vendors from doing business on their premises. I’ve seen it happen. If it’s a popular venue, that can put a real kink in your business…

        3. Lindsay (not a temp anymore! yay!)*

          I think the important part here is that the OP is trying to manage expectations while not bad-mouthing another professional in the industry. It wouldn’t reflect well on her as a professional to walk into a planning meeting with her wedding party and their family wrangler and say “You’ll need to take a firm hand with Tina on our proposed timeline. She’s Cracker’s!”

          1. Liz T*

            Plus, you don’t want the couple worried ahead of time that they made a mistake going with a crazy vendor. Do not stress out the couple!

  2. J.B.*

    Talk to the bride and groom in advance about scheduling challenges? Also try to head them off by scheduling photos elsewhere as much as you possibly can? I think that most couples aren’t going to understand the inner workings, but stunts like taking the kid away are clearly on this crazy woman.

    1. Every little helps*

      Happily, ‘bride and groom’ are no longer synonymous with ‘couple getting married’. I liked how the OP used ‘clients’.

      1. Turanga Leela*

        I’m all for inclusive language, but Alison has asked us not to get hung up on other commenters’ word choices.

  3. Clever Name*

    Would it kill your business if you told prospective clients that you don’t work at that particular venue? What percentage of your business comes from events at that venue? Is it worth the income to put up with Tina?

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        Yes that or have the Op and a few of her colleagues write Yelp reviews saying something like the venue is awesome but watch out for Tina she’s a control freak.

        1. Green*

          I think addressing it directly either with your clients or the venue (or just dealing with it) are all better options than anonymous complaints on Yelp.

          1. ScarletInTheLibrary*

            My impression is that most couples book the venue before the photographer, officiant, and so on. I would want to know that the venue manager is crazy and that might limit the options I would have for the other things. At the same time, I may not take the photographer at their word (because I might think that the photographer may be the loon instead). Interestingly, I would be more critical of a venue if I had read about the craziness on Yelp. Especially if multiple photographs, DJs, officiants and so on voice similar concerns. I suspect the venue manager doesn’t care about bitching in front of customers (who are not likely to be repeat customers anyway) so warning couples ahead of time won’t stop this behavior.

            1. nofelix*

              Yeah agree. The difficulty is if Tina sees who made the Yelp comments and is vindictive, which seems likely. Ideally couples would write their own reviews and include the warnings.

              1. John B Public*

                The OP might want to encourage the couple whose baby was yanked form their hands to describe that in a yelp review. There is NO chance that if that happened to me, and I had input on another ceremony, that I wouldn’t bring that up for discussion.

    1. LBK*

      Yep, that was going to be my suggestion if it’s at all feasible financially. Or if you can’t, charge more for your services at that venue – even if Tina manages to ruin the event, at least you’ll have monetary compensation.

    2. Allison*

      Or, as an alternative if OP really can’t drop that venue, maybe they could charge extra for clients getting married there so the money is worth the trouble of putting up with Tina.

      1. Adam V*

        Oooh. On the one hand, I love it – knowing you’re receiving a “Tina Tolerance Fee” makes it easier to put up with her.

        On the other hand, though, are potential clients going to be more upset at Tina for costing them extra, or at you, for essentially saying “either change your venue or pay me more”? You’ll have to do a very good job of explaining exactly the sorts of things you’ve gone through with her, so they understand that you’re not just doing a money grab.

        (I wonder if you would waive the fee if they agree to designate the best man / maid of honor to tell Tina “shove off, we’re not done here yet” every time she makes a fuss? It’s not like she can yell at someone in the wedding party… right?)

          1. lizinthelibrary*

            I was coming here to say that! I was trying to stay chill on my wedding day and wasn’t a mother yet, but anyone who removed my SICK child from my arms, especially a near stranger like a vendor, would have earned far more than a bad yelp review.

            And I don’t even consider myself a “mama bear” normally.

          1. WorkingMom*

            Ooh – along the same idea, maybe you charge more that venue, a Tina-Fee, and with that additional income, you hire an assistant for the day. The assistant’s sole responsibility is to keep Tina busy and run interference. That way Tina bugs the crap out of your assistant, but that’s what they are getting paid for. Maybe this could be a creative solution if all other “normal” solutions fail?

          2. blackcat*

            What’s more useful is Assertive Friend Not in Pictures.

            AFNP can stand guard, keeping Tina away from all posed pictures.

            1. WorkingMom*

              I like that – especially if it’s a couple-appointed individual. Then it would be like Tina would be arguing against the couple’s wishes… well played :)

            2. Sarah*

              I was that friend recently! I got ready with the bridal party (so I’m a close friend and visibly important to vendors), but I was the general point person for everything from “Oh crap, we’re out of water and need more hairspray” to “Can you tell the caterer we’re ready for dinner now?” My whole job was making sure the day went smoothly – even with a well-run venue it was really helpful for my friend to have somebody who knew her taste who could reassure her that yes, the tables were set up on time and looking good, that the flowers would get from the ceremony to the reception, and that nothing was going wrong. I’d totally suggest this just as a general wedding ‘role’ to clients, and the ‘shoo away annoying coordinator’ bit would just be a bonus!

              1. Mpls*

                We call them Reception Lieutenants in my family. Because we have enough family weddings to develop our own lingo.

              2. Freya*

                I’ve been this person for bridal parties – the person with pockets to hold mobile phones and a small sewing kit and a small first aid kit. Also bottled water. Because wedding outfits generally have no decent pockets!

        1. Florida*

          This really depends on the personality of the best man/maid of honor. You do want the couple to say that the best man will keep Tina out of the room, only to find that the best man is a pushover.

          Maybe you could bring an assistant with you (and charge extra for that) who works with the best man. That way, if Tina says, “I’m supposed to be in the room for the photos.” Your assistant can say, “Actually, our contract states…” But the best man will be there as the family rep.

          This is getting pretty complicate, though. Is it possible to refuse this venue?

      2. Beebs*

        The Pain and Suffering Fee. Usually reserved for difficult clients, but it could work here as well, just unfortunate for the client having to pay for a difficult venue manager.

        1. Allison*

          Not necessarily, the client doesn’t have to hire OP specifically; they could say “no thanks” and find a photographer that doesn’t cost as much at that venue. But OP would probably still lose fewer clients than if they refused to work with that venue at all.

      3. neverjaunty*

        This could be phrased in a business-oriented way, too. “It’s been our experience with this venue that they interfere with the photography in a way that causes delays and extra work for us. To compensate for this we charge an extra fee of $X at this venue.”

    3. Traveler*

      This, and if not, is it possible to get other photographers to put political pressure on Tina/Venue in some way?

      1. AnonyMoose*

        + 1 I totally agree with this. There has to be a way to network and rally together. Like I said above, I would get a group of photogs together and then go set a meeting with the owner/GM and discuss Tina.

    4. StillLAH*

      Or charge a premium for the venue, to deal with the hassle, if you don’t want to ban that venue? My husband plays in several wedding bands and they’ll charge a premium for difficult venues, to compensate themselves for a rough load-in or a crazy coordinator.

  4. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon*

    I think that some stock phrases for in the moment might be a good idea – “Thanks for your input, but I think we’ll try…” or “I’m sorry for the confusion, [bride & groom actually wanted…” or “Just a moment please! [big broad smile]”

    I’m guessing that there’s nobody who she reports to that you could speak with?

    1. Creag an Tuire*

      Per OP, Tina owns the venue.

      As such I’m not sure there’s any answer to this situation other than “decide whether to put up with her nonsense or stop working with that venue”.

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        Oh no that’s terrible I was wondering why nobody suggested complaining to her boss

        1. Charlotte Collins*

          This must be a pretty fabulous venue for so many couples to put up with Tina’s behavior. (My observation is that this kind of thing gets around, especially when you’re talking about something as expensive as a wedding.)

          1. nofelix*

            There’s limited scope for a reputation to develop when many couples aren’t repeat customers of a venue, and won’t know anyone who has used it. At least amongst my friends, we’re all approaching marriage at around the same time and are unlikely to use the same venue just out of desire for variety. This is one of those issues where big, close families are an advantage because older people will remember how vendors and venues behaved – but often families are smaller and more spread out these days.

    2. Emmy Rae*

      I would say it less politely. I have a very dense colleague who has terrible communication skills. She tries to butt in on things that are not a problem and/or none of her business and I am at a point now where I use the broken record technique or ignore her.

      If I am working on something and she keeps interrupting, I sometimes don’t even turn around, I just tell her I need to work on my project: “This will be done in plenty of time, I need to keep working now. [her: my problem blah blah] Fine, but I need to keep working.”

      For the LW’s case, I would try: “I understand that, we’ll be done by 3. [her: omg you’re so late you have to finish] We’ll be done by 3, as agreed. [her: but but but] I need to keep working. We’ll be done by 3.”

      “We agreed on a timeline, which I am honoring. It’s too late to change it. [her: my timeline is whatever] No, we agreed on this timeline. It’s too late to change it.”

      I also support making use of a family member bouncer. “I’m busy, please discuss your scheduling issue with the maid of honor [who is holding the schedule we agreed on].”

      1. Children's entertainer*

        I work as a children’s entertainer at events. I know what it’s like when the event coordinator knows how to do your job better than you do. If I am recruiting a volunteer, such as the family bouncer, to help me, I tell the organizer that this volunteer needs to be heartless. That’s the word I use. I don’t need someone who is going to cave and say, “Well Tina, we’ll let you in for one minute, but that’s all.” I need someone who is not going to stand firm no matter how uncomfortable it gets. In my case, the uncomfortable part is crying kids. If you are someone who caves when kids whine, you can’t be my helper (that’s why I say I need a heartless person). What’s important is that you are super clear with the couple as to what you want the bouncer to do, so that they can appoint someone with the right personality.

  5. Bekx*

    Are you my dad? Because this happened to him last month at the reception hall.

    The owner came over and screamed at my dad about taking table photos (where the bride and groom visit the tables and want pictures with every table). The owner said they were getting in the way of the servers.

    My dad said “Bob, you do not talk to me that way. I work for the bride and groom, just like you do. I am very cautious of your servers and do my best to stay out of the way so they can do their job. But I am doing my job. I, LIKE YOU, am hired by the bride and groom. I do not work for you, I work for them. If they want table shots, I will do table shots. I will respect your staff, and I will respect your rules in your venue, but ultimately you are not my boss.”

    The owner screamed back saying he was my dad’s boss (???). But he’s known to be very difficult to work with. His daughter ended up coming over to apologize for him. But the point is….

    You work for the bride and groom. Not the wedding planner. ESPECIALLY in the wedding industry, what the bride and groom want to do, you do. She needs to learn this and YOU need to be assertive and remind her just who your (and her!!) boss is.

    ** You mentioned this above, but I did want to re-iterate it. Obviously, if the venue says “you need to be out of the church at 3” then you do need to be in charge of keeping to that timeline. It doesn’t sound like this is the case though.

      1. Bekx*

        Eh. No. He’s very stuck in his ways. The daughter said “Oh, he’s sick today.” but that venue is pretty much known among the photography community as being difficult.

        He’s actually taken equipment that photographers store in an obscure corner and moved it without telling the photographer. My dad’s done weddings there for 35 years, so he’s used to a lot of the weird things, but this was the first time the owner has actually yelled at him.

        He got a tip from the groom at the end of the night! So while I think the bride and groom didn’t overhear this, the nearby guests did and probably gossiped about it :)

        1. TL -*

          ….he moves their equipment? I do very part-time photography and if somebody touched my camera bag without permission I would freak in a not-small way.

          1. Bekx*

            Yeah, they usually do freak out. One of my dad’s friends thought his equipment was stolen and it took almost calling the police before a server sheepishly informed him they were told to move his stuff.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I was coming here to tell the OP not to “feign confusion”, because that just legitimizes Tina’s crazy rantings. You went one further and gave a template for dealing with crazy. Nicely done. (And I’m sorry your dad had to go through that.)

      OP, you need to cover your [butt] and get the timeline in writing. Tina will probably resist being pinned down, so what we office drones often do in that case is to email all parties involved with a recap, starting with “Thank you for verbally going over the timeline with me earlier today. I wanted to make sure that I remembered our conversation correctly, so please let me know if this is not correct: [timeline]”. And if possible, include the clients on these emails. Once they start seeing that she is the crazy one, they may stop using that venue, no matter how nice it is.

      1. Lynn Whitehat*

        But people only get married once each, or maybe twice, so repeat business isn’t a big thing in this industry anyway.

        1. Kerry (Like the County in Ireland)*

          No, but wedding vendors fail based on reputation. You have a bad experience, your sister/friend/dogwalker doesn’t use that site and tells 10 other people.

          1. Honeybee*

            And there’s Yelp. I relied on online reviews to a great extent when reviewing wedding venues.

            Plus if there’s a wedding coordinator or planner involved, all of that coordinator’s clients don’t use the venue.

        2. RVA Cat*

          Yes, but I’m sure family & friends – and esp. members of the wedding party – are noticing the crazy. Plus I would imagine the local ministers and other vendors aren’t too pleased with her either.

        3. A Bug!*

          Maybe not, but word of mouth is extremely important in the wedding business, and “great photos but unreliable and poorly-organized” would be enough to steer plenty of people away from a photographer.

          1. the_scientist*

            I’m at a stage in my life where most of my friends are getting married and as far as I can tell, people find about 95% of their vendors through word-of-mouth, so reputation is paramount. I would advise the OP to start telling couples honestly and clearly (no hinting!) about the difficulties she’s had working with Tina in the past, and then as others have said, cover her butt by getting things in writing- send the schedule to Tina in advance, cc-ing the couple, and have a printed copy of the schedule handy the day of. That way, when Tina starts fussing, OP can say “actually, as per the schedule we have 40 more minutes here, thanks”, making it clear that Tina is the one causing problems.

            But back to the reputation is paramount thing- if OP starts telling clients why she prefers not to work with Tina and the issues she’s had in the past, those will for sure get around.

            1. SG*

              Yes! This. Clients are totally willing to hear this, by and large, and if I were warned upfront that this would be an issue with the venue owner, then I’d be on the lookout and get my family on the lookout too so that if the owner did try to interrupt the photographer, we’d all shut it down. After all, if the families and the photographer are agreed on the timeline and the venue gives a time to be finished/start the reception, and everyone has that information then the owner has no room to try to interfere. After all, the families are paying the venue owner too.

            2. blackcat*

              This is key.

              My wedding photographer was also the wedding photographer for a full 10% of the guests at my wedding. She got pictures of couples she had photographed before, now + baby, and everyone was happy. I hired her entirely because my friends had. 1 friend found her independently, but most of us just said to our friends, “Hey, you were happy with your photographer, right? She’s nice, does good work, and charges a reasonable amount? Great! What’s her number?”

              1. the_scientist*

                Yeah, I have a friend who’s a talented wedding photographer. He doesn’t do it as a full-time job, but has done the weddings of probably 80% of our mutual college friends. Another photog did 100% of the engagement shoots + weddings of a group of people (like 10 couples?) I went to high school with; the same photog has now done maternity and newborn shoots for several of the couples. I’m uncomfortable in front of a camera at the best of times, so I know that for me, once I find someone I’m comfortable with and I know does good work, I’m going to go back to them every time I want photos done! And I can imagine that in the haze of wedding planning, you’re going to grab for known quantities first, like the photographer you already know from being in your friends’ wedding parties. I think the wedding industry, more than almost anything else, really relies on word of mouth and referrals, so it’s especially important that OP makes it clear that Tina is the problem, not her.

        4. Leah the designer*

          Not true, repeat business is big for photographers. Yes, that couple will probably only have one or two weddings, but they will talk about their experience with others. In my experience, groups of friends tend to all get married within a couple years of each ether. Also that couple may want family, baby, and graduation photographs down the road (I don’t know if OP does these but a lot of photographers do.)

          1. Anna*

            That’s not the same as repeat business, but it is word of mouth and that is important to event photographers. If the photographer does other things (family photos, birthdays, etc) then that would be repeat.

        5. Stranger than fiction*

          No but they ideally refer their friends. Like the wella balsam commercial says – they tell two friends then they tell two friends and so on and so on

      1. Bekx*

        No problem! I think it might be a bit different if this was his first time at the venue. I don’t think he would have been so firm and assertive. He made sure to tell the owner that he had been doing this for 35 years at the owner’s venue…and not everyone would be able to say something like that (especially if this is your first time at the venue, or you’ve only been a photographer for a year or two).

  6. Cambridge Comma*

    Could you send the portrait schedule to the clients in advance and suggest that they confirm the finishing time with the venue from their side, just in case? Then it becomes part of the agreement between the customer and the venue, not just your word against the venue owner. And the clients will then see that you are sticking to the agreement and she is not.
    Perhaps you could suggest they request the venue owner stays away from the portraits? E.g. “Many clients find the photosession more relaxing if they ask the venue to keep all their staff away from where the pictures are being taken”.
    Otherwise ugh, it sounds like an awful situation. Can you afford to turn down jobs that take place there if you think they will have an affect on your reputation?

    1. LBK*

      Oh, I like this – give the couple an expectation that they can then in turn confirm with the venue beforehand. That way it’s not an awkward situation where they don’t know who’s right. If Tina told them before that they had until 3 to do photos, it will be pretty obviously if she tries to hustle them out at 2:30 that she’s the one not sticking to the agreed upon schedule.

      Of course, this presumes Tina wouldn’t just scream at the couple instead, which seems like something she might do if she’s willing to grab a baby out of its parents’ arms (!!!!!).

      1. OP the photographer*

        Hi, I plan these timelines through email with the couple months before their wedding, and my last two weddings there I reminded them several times to make sure Tina is aware of the timeline. They all assured me they did, but as usual, the day of Tina always wants to shorten it dramatically. She admits to agreeing to it, but *excuses, special circumstances,* require her to end it sooner than scheduled. I still stick to our schedule, but it makes the couple noticeably upset.

        1. Transformer*

          Can you put up a sign that says photo session in progress until XX time? Please do not disturb wedding party / photographer? Just bring it out at that site?

          1. BookCocoon*

            Given the examples of this woman’s behavior, I don’t think there’s much reason to believe a sign would stop her.

        2. videogame Princess*

          What makes the couple upset? You sticking to the schedule, or her trying to move them on? Can you ask her on the spot what those “special circumstances” are? Maybe she will get stuck because there aren’t any.

          1. videogame Princess*

            Also, what if you have a list of frequent excuses she frequently present, like “the food is late because so-and-so is irresponsible”? I assume she tends to fingerpoint. If that’s the case, then you can check in with the people she tends to blame for her bad behavior, and say “actually, Katie the cook is very on top of things, and her side of things is going smoothly.”

          2. ElCee*

            Yeah it sounds like the owner just wants to close the open bar because $$$ (see downthread). Would she admit that in front of the couple?

        3. Observer*

          Then, going forward, tell them to make sure they tell her in writing (ie email). Also warn them that in the past she has claimed that she needs to stop the pictures early for some reason or other, although she backs down when push comes to shove, so they may want to have someone there who can run interference.

        4. Mephyle*

          That is why the solution of charging extra, and using it to hire an enforcer who is able to run interference with Tina could be a good solution. It is the only strategy (that I’ve seen so far, halfway through this page) that can tackle such situations directly.

        5. Snuck*

          Why does she shorten the timeline? What is going on that she needs to shorten it? Does she need to serve meals earlier or is it taking too long to get through speeches etc? Where is this extra time in the timeline getting sucked up? Knowing this might help you understand if the venue coordinator is just a control freak or responding to pressure.

        6. Lindsay (not a temp anymore! yay!)*

          Can you plan to lengthen the timeline a bit at this particular venue, knowing that if you get through it sooner than planned, what does she have to complain about, and you look like a rock star for getting done sooner than planned? If anyone bats an eye at your estimate, you can just indicate that the usual schedule tends to take 20-30 minutes longer at this venue, so you like to schedule the extra time just in case, but you’ll do your best to get them through sooner than planned.

    2. Muriel Heslop*

      Former wedding planner and I came to suggest this! Put it on your clients to clear your shoot schedule with Tina so they will know if things don’t go as you have planned.

      Good luck!

  7. Malissa*

    Talk to your clients early. Explain to them that Tina is a bit odd, but you will get them all the photos they want if they go with what you’ve agreed on ahead of time.
    Talk to Tina ahead of the wedding and tell these are your clients and you do not work for her, you work for the bride and groom. You will only take direction from them and if Tina butts in you may not have time to do everything that is planned. Then ask her if she has any input to give.
    When the wedding comes and Tina tries to butt in tell her y’all discussed this before that day and things will go much quicker if she leaves you alone. i.e. “Tina we’ve got a lot to do here, I’ll talk to you later.” Then turn away and ignore her. If you can have an assistant run interference.

    1. MegEB*

      I actually like the idea of giving the couple a quick heads up that Tina might be a bit odd/brusque/off-putting/whatever word you think is best. I don’t like the idea of the OP feigning confusion, because then it might look like she’s disorganized or not sticking to the agreed-upon timeline. I think if the OP used a script like “I’ve worked with this venue in the past, and while it’s a beautiful venue, the owner can be a bit brusque at times. Here’s a copy of the timeline in case it comes up.” That way the couple isn’t being taken by surprise when Tina shows up and tries to rush everyone along.

        1. some1*

          Yeah, my friend and her husband sing in bands that play weddings and they’ve run into difficult wedding coordinators, Bekx’s father upthread had a similar issue; so this isn’t an uncommon problem or waste of time for discussion sake.

    1. UsedToDoSupport*

      Found the movie! It’s close, the part I saw was where the rival bridal shop owner puts her down in front of a client. But of course there is a syrupy Hallmark twist. (Which I missed because I had to watch my football team blow a big lead.) The movie is called “So You Said Yes”. It’s on IMDB.

      1. Anonsie*

        Huh. I thought I found the movie, and it’s called “Perfect Match” and it’s about a wedding planner and an event planner who argue a lot but then fall in love. Could it be that every Hallmark movie released this year is about wedding-themed conflict? Yes, it probably could. (For the record, I don’t think either of these sound close enough to the letter to believe it’s a fake.)

        1. UsedToDoSupport*

          Ha ha! No the Seahawks. I have a get-rich-quick scheme: 12th man blue and green defibrillators. Think I am on to something here.

          1. Anna*

            I figured that’s what team it was. How about a drink called the Seahawk Sigh? One part vodka, two parts ongoing disappointment.

      2. Mephyle*

        So was her name really Tina, or is it a pseudonym to protect the fictional character’s anonymity?

    2. BRR*

      Whether it is or not, I think this is a common enough scenario that it will still be helpful or the advice will be transferable.

    3. OP the photographer*

      Hah, I wish my life was a movie! Where’s my hunky friend who I ignore but then ultimately realize were soul mates and we fall in love?

  8. JMegan*

    She took a child out of his mother’s arms????!!!? A sick child? On a day when both the child and the parents are likely to be stressed and anxious? I’m absolutely boggled at that. Unbelievable.

    I would definitely address this with your clients ahead of time. Not this particular incident, of course, but her behaviour in general. Something like “Tina and I have had some miscommunications about timelines in the past, which can make things stressful in the moment, but I want you to know that I have put a lot of thought into planning this out for you, and I’m confident that we have plenty of time to get all the shots we need.”

    Can you also provide the timeline to both the client and to Tina? I don’t know if I’d go so far as to get her to sign off on it, but you can certainly give everyone a copy beforehand. Then when she starts to go off the rails during the shoot, you can calmly say to her “I’m following the timeline we discussed, and we have plenty of time to get everything done by X.” It’s a polite way of telling her to PFO and let you work, and also allows some transparency for the B&G if they can see that you’re on schedule and the freaking out is unnecessary.

    1. Beezus*

      That boggled me, too. I’m amazed the bride seems to have kept her cool? If you take the stress of a wedding and the stress of a sick child and add the stress of people not getting along who are supposed to be making the day go smoothly, I would have blown a gasket.

    2. Natalie*

      I think calling them miscommunications could backfire – if I was the client in that scenario I would wonder WTF was wrong with a photographer that they couldn’t clearly communicate a timeline. The OP might benefit from wording that more clearly places the blame where it belongs, on this controlling venue owner. (I’m bad at wording – I’m the sort of bride that would appreciate someone telling me “this venue owner is nuts, I know it’s pretty but maybe book somewhere else”.)

    3. Nom d' Pixel*

      I cannot imagine the gall it takes to grab a child from its mother’s arms. Tina is lucky that one of the parents didn’t punch her for that. You don’t touch other people’s kids unless it is to protect them from something.

      1. BRR*

        This is the one part that makes me possibly believe it’s a hallmark movie (posted above). There’s something about “grabbed a child out of someone’s arms” and “work with them again” that don’t seem to line up.

        1. A Wedding Photographer*

          The constant accusations in these comments of “this doesn’t line up” simply because it’s outside a particular commenters area of experience is getting really old really fast.

          I have seen things like this happen at weddings. It’s not as unusual as you might think.

          1. Beebs*

            I worked in the wedding industry for 9 years. A lot of hard to believe things really do happen, and more often than you might expect. I won’t say I’ve seen it all, but I have seen a lot. Bananas I tell you. Weddings bring out a lot in people.

            1. Stranger than fiction*

              I believe it. So many things went wrong at mine I’d never have one again. Just send a check we’ll put it towards a house. :)
              And come to think of it, back in the nineties at my wedding the coordinator was pretty bitchy and physically pushing my mother and her friends out the door when our reception was over so they could get the next party in. They scheduled them back to back not sure if that’s normal but my parents wanted to pay for more time and they’re like nope we have another right after yours

          2. BRR*

            A) I missed that she was the owner. So it’s not like she’d be fired.

            B) I can only imagine the things that have happened at weddings.

            C) This is the one part I mentioned that seemed over the top. I also wrote a long post with my suggestion on how the LW might handle the situation.

          3. OP the photographer*

            I wish I was making it up. We (the clients, the other photographer I was working with) were in shock and so stunned we didn’t say anything. Like I mentioned, she has this air of Grandma being disappointed in and lecturing you. It’s hard to argue with grandma. (She’s not that old though)

          4. BookCocoon*

            I had a bizarre wedding experience that I couldn’t have made up if I tried. Through a combination of multiple factors, our church unintentionally assigned us three separate wedding coordinators, and they ALL showed up to our wedding rehearsal. They were completely uncoordinated and did not talk to each other (!), which meant that one of them was constantly coming up to me and asking me a question that each of the other two had already asked me. It was a nightmare.

            To compound this, I got into an argument with one of them because we said that we were going to do the signing of the marriage license (which was just a fake one anyway; the real one didn’t require anyone’s signature but the officiant’s) in the nursery of the church, which is also where I did my prep and pictures. Schedule-wise, this just made the most sense, and we were fine with it, we told our bridal party and our photographer the plan, everything was great.

            This woman would NOT hear of it. She INSISTED that we do the signing of the marriage license in the sanctuary because it was “a better place for pictures.” I explained to her that we were not doing that, I didn’t care what she thought, it wasn’t her call anyway, and we were going to do the signing in the nursery. Then the day of the ceremony, AS we’re processing out, my maid of honor tells me that the wedding coordinator told her to wait because we had to wait until everyone left and then do the signing of the marriage license in the sanctuary instead of going to the nursery. I was furious! I said, sorry, not her call, and marched everyone down the hall where we did the signing in the nursery while everyone else left the church.

            Now when I see those pictures from our wedding, they make me upset, not because of where they were taken (they look fine) but because it reminds of how this woman tried to hijack our plans the day of the wedding so that we would take these stupid pictures in the place SHE thought we should take them.

        2. Anna*

          Well, it wasn’t the OP’s child so it’s offensive but not in the same way it was to the mother. If anything, that gives it more credibility because it’s not the sort of thing that would happen in a Hallmark movie.

        3. Kvaren*

          The “For clarity” section doesn’t seem like something a fake letter writer would bother to include.

    4. Ad Astra*

      When another vendor does something as crazy as snatching a baby from its mother’s arms, it’s ok for OP to acknowledge the crazy. Something like “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe she did that” shows that yeah, it’s wildly inappropriate. It puts some distance between you and this rogue wedding planner. It’s one thing to take the blame for a miscommunication that isn’t your fault; it’s quite another to take responsibility for someone else’s bizarre behavior.

    5. hjc24*

      I wouldn’t put it in terms of “Tina and I have had some miscommunications” — that makes it sound like the OP is equally culpable for the problem. The best thing to say, IMO, while keeping it professional, is “The owner of the venue you’ve chosen is extremely strict about scheduling and sometimes doesn’t stick to what has been agreed upon. But I work for you, not her, so I’m going to do the best I can to make sure you get the photos you want.” Then do what others have suggested, which is to e-mail the agreed upon photography schedule to everyone involved, so the couple knows when it happens that Tina’s reneging on what was planned.

      1. JMegan*

        Yes, on reflection I don’t love “miscommunication” either. You want to demonstrate that Tina is the one who’s out of line, and not that it’s a simple mixup that could happen to anyone.

    6. Florida*

      I wonder if it would be better for the client to provide the timeline to Tina. So photographer and couple figure out a timeline together. Couple gives it to Tina (with a forewarning about how Tina is) and says, “This is the timeline that photographer and I came up with. We will be finished by 3pm. Thanks.” Tina might be less likely to yell at the client, since it is also her client.

  9. Not me*

    I think Tina is getting something out of creating dramatic emergencies involving other people’s “mistakes” and then rushing in to help. To a couple who only see her in action once, she looks like she’s on top of everything.

    I’m guessing there’s nobody you can talk to about her? Can you stop working with her?

    1. SevenSixOne*

      “I think Tina is getting something out of creating dramatic emergencies involving other people’s “mistakes” and then rushing in to help”

      and a high-stress situation like a wedding, where no one wants to stand up to bad behavior and CAUSE A SCENE, can really let that personality trait shine :(

    2. ElCee*

      The organization I work for had an event planner and this was her MO. She was a nightmare. She would manufacture crises regularly just so she could put others down and appear the hero to event attendees–and succeeded at that, for a time. Eventually she went a bridge too far and was replaced, but before she left made sure to wring her hands about how the horribly the organization would fare without her. (Spoiler alert: wonderfully. Her replacement is more than capable, with 100% less drama.)

      1. Florida*

        I think many companies have at least one fire fighter. If there isn’t a fire to put out, they create one. Those people drive me batty.

        1. ReluctantBizOwner*

          …you just perfectly described a Highly Difficult Colleague. She (metaphorically) lights shit on fire then runs around acting the hero AND crucifies someone else for arson. I just can’t even with people like her.

    3. Jen S. 2.0*

      I have known a few people and coworkers whom I would characterize as being very anxious. These people often want to move timelines and deadlines back, and start acting like doing so is a massive emergency. This is even after discussed and agreed, and often in the middle of the work, and it’s often because they “would just feel better.” No specific reason other than that they just are very very nervous that it won’t be done until it’s done, and the sooner it is done, the sooner they think they will be reassured (…or, more likely, the sooner they move on to worrying about the next thing…).

      Although I do have a psychology degree, I’ll resist diagnosing Tina and lumping her in with the folks I know…but I WILL say that you have my sympathy.

  10. Jubilance*

    Oh this sounds like a disaster. I got married earlier this year, and luckily all of my vendors played nice together. I’m racking my brain for an alternative other than “avoid doing weddings at this venue”. She’s the owner so there’s no one to appeal to. Do any of your bride’s use their own wedding coordinator? Perhaps that person can run interference between you and the venue owner. Is there any way the both of you can have a meeting and you share your concerns, and how you’d like to work together moving forward?

    1. Katie the Fed*

      Although, if OP is considering not working with this venue, there’s not much to lose by saying ‘I’ve had a lot of issues with one of the wedding coordinators at this venue and if we’re going to use this venue I need you to make sure that Tina will support our portrait schedule.”

  11. MK*

    Would getting the timeline in writing help? Say, you address this head on “Often when I work here, there seems to be confusion about the timeline, so I would like to have it signed and in writing”. Get Tina to sign it too and, if she tries to pull something on wedding day, have your copy with you and rub it in her face (eh, figuratively speaking, of course).

    1. Paloma Pigeon*

      Absolutely this. Confirm your timeline IN WRITING with the couple, and cc Tina months in advance with a copy of the signed agreement which illustrates the timeline. Follow up one month in advance and re-send. Print it out and have on a clipboard handy and check off each shot as you go. That way when she starts messing around you can calmly refer to the timeline and say, ‘actually we’re fine, thanks’ and go along your merry way.

      She will look like the crazy one.

    2. blackcat*

      Rather than say “confusion,” I’d suggest being more upfront.

      “When I have worked there in the past, the venue manager has wanted to make last minute changes to the photo timeline. I would like you to give her a copy to sign prior to the wedding.”

  12. BRR*

    Ok wow. One option is you stop accepting gigs at this venue. You can also try talking to her directly about this (I’m guessing that’s going to fail). Something like “I need you to allow me to do my job, this is what I do and I have a lot of experience doing it so I really need you to let me handle the photography aspect of the wedding.”

    You could also try talking to her manager. If you and a couple of vendors can talk to her manager that would probably have the biggest impact. If you are friends with anybody who has used the venue and can complain about her that would likely also go far. I’m guessing you need the job and can’t pass on a venue so in the meantime I would shut it down but in order to not ruin a wedding you have to tread lightly. I love being able to ask questions when having a disagreement with someone.

    For shortening your time allotted to portraits, I would tell your clients ahead of time that she starts to worry about the timeline the day of the wedding because she wants to ensure everything runs smoothly and then something about how they control the time. You could also talk to her directly, “In the past you’ve wanted to end portraits earlier than scheduled, is there something you’re concerned about so we can head it off at the pass this time?”

    For telling you how to take portraits I would say, “Thanks for the help but I have this handled. I’m sure you have a lot of things to check on so don’t worry about us here.”

    Side note, this is so annoying because while couples care about the event the day of, I believe in the thought of, “At the end of the day all you have is the memories (read:pictures).” Almost a year after my wedding, I care far more about great pictures than how the tables weren’t exactly right or something else was off.

    1. BRR*

      After rereading the letter I place emphasis on letting the couple know how much time you need and that she tends to want to rush the day of but you absolutely need that amount of time. That you’ve done this and give an accurate amount of time needed so that the entire schedule can be done directly.

      You also need to let her behavior reflect on her at times and you can’t do anything about it.

  13. Lizabeth*

    Wow…if it had been my kid she had taken, there would have been a big problem and it wouldn’t have been pretty. I’m surprised that there hasn’t been push back from the clients directly to her when this stuff is happening.

    I wouldn’t waste time trying to meet with her outside an event other than if she has a boss, talk to them about it – pointing out particularly the amount of unnecessary stress she’s creating for the clients. She isn’t the client and she’s there to make the client’s day perfect for THEM not perform on her personal drama stage.

    1. SL #2*

      Yeah, if I were the bride whose child got SNATCHED OUT OF MY ARMS, there would have been hell to pay right then and there, awful Yelp reviews on the venue’s page from my wedding party and guests specifically calling Tina out… scorched earth tactics, honestly. Everything else in the post was already irritating me (as in, I feel sympathy for the photographer OP and for the couples that are suddenly having to deal with Tina) but the child situation was the last straw. How is this venue still in business?

  14. Mike C.*

    Put your foot down and inform this person that under no circumstances will you compromise the quality of your product because she is changing the schedule on the fly.

    I know it’s going to feel like you’re the one causing problems or rocking the boat or whatever, but you’re not. She is. You’re simply looking out for the best interests of your clients, like any other professional would do. I get wanting to “go along to get along”, but there are times when you’re dealing with crazy people and someone needs to step in and take care of it.

    To keep with the wedding theme, it’s like having to remove a guest who has gotten drunk and is acting belligerent. Sure, there might be a scene removing them. But it’s ten times worse to do nothing at all, and any reasonable person understand what’s going on.

    1. Betsy*

      Yeah, but…the offending woman owns the venue. I really feel like that changes things.

      Can you enlist the help of a particularly spunky, bossy bride to be the one to put the owner in her place? ;-)

      1. A Wedding Photographer*

        Most venue coordinators are not the owners of the venue. They are employees of the venue who are responsible for being the point of contact and responsible person on the day of the event.

      2. Mike C.*

        Yes, it does become a little more difficult, but the core of the message remains the same here. The wedding photographer isn’t doing anything crazy, unethical, illegal or unsafe so there’s no need for interference.

        Look, it’s be blunt. This venue owner is simply acting like a bully here. That’s unprofessional behavior and can easily result in the clients receiving an inferior product for no good reason. That sort of attitude needs to be challenged in a clear and direct manner.

        1. Mike C.*

          Ultimately, I think we need to stop pretending that the owner is acting in good faith. She’s not, otherwise she would have discussed these scheduling issues before or at the very least have concrete reasons for being so demanding of someone else’s wedding.

          1. JessaB*

            Exactly. Does this woman do this to other vendors (flowers, catering, etc.?) if so maybe they can all organise together and help each other.

  15. A Wedding Photographer*

    I have been a wedding photographer for 15+ years. There are a very small handful of venues in my town where I will not work because of coordinators like this. When a couple contacts me and tells me where their wedding will be, I am very up front that I don’t work at that venue and why.

    Has it lost me a gig now and then? Yes. Has it made some couples move their wedding? Yes to that too.

    I have enough business that it’s not worth it to me to have my clients treated poorly or to risk having the quality of my service or product compromised because of an overly officious or prissy coordinator who thinks she gets to rule the day.

    1. fposte*

      I don’t know how the hierarchies work–does “wedding coordinator” mean that Tina is supposed to be coordinating the photographer as well as the other vendors? If not, is it possible that Tina nonetheless thinks so?

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Yes – she should be coordinating with the photographer, but it should be what the client wants. Photography was really important to me, so I’d rather have the venue’s timeline fall of track than the pictures.

        The other problem is that Tina isn’t a neutral broker – if she works for the venue then their timeline is most important her

      2. A Wedding Photographer*

        A venue coordinator is not the same as a full service wedding coordinator. A good full service wedding coordinator works with all the vendors to coordinate the schedule for the day, including allowing sufficient time for the photography and not interfering with the professionals who are doing their jobs.

        There is a subset of “coordinators” who work for churches (often referred to as “church ladies”) or reception venues. These people are supposed to coordinate the ceremony or reception around the rules of their venue and makes sure the day flows smoothly but many many many times they think that means they are the “queen of the wedding” and seriously overstep their bounds as was described in the OPs letter.

      3. Former Diet Coke Addict*

        There are really two different types of wedding coordinators–the first is a hired wedding coordinator/planner, who tends to handle everything (invitations, venue, photographer, food, etc.) and basically takes the couples input and makes it happen, thereby eliminating all of the nitty-gritty details that bog down a lot of couples (“honey, should we have origami ceiling decorations or lanterns? How are we going to make 1500 origami swans?”). Then there are venue coordinators, who often serve as a point of contact for the venue, who handles stuff like ensuring the caterer arrives at the right place and the cakes are delivered to the right door and cut and served, and the DJ knows where to hook up and stuff like that. Sometimes these are just day-of coordinators (where they tell everyone where to stand and when to walk), sometimes they’re more involved. Sometimes the former type serve as the latter type, sometimes they work together.

        It’s possibly that Tina is a venue coordinator who sees herself as in charge of every wedding that happens at her venue, which is why she’s going on tremendous power trips, but I think it’s more likely that she’s just a jerk with too much power and is used to vendors and couples doing as she says because it’s her place.

        1. A Wedding Photographer*

          Yep. Better explanation than mine.

          Venue coordinators/points of contact are often problematical for photographers and DJs/bands moreso than most other vendors. I tend to see a lot of venue coordinators who want to push photographers to take the photos they think should be taken, in the locations they think you should use, on the timeline they think should make sense. It doesn’t matter that the couple doesn’t want the same “photo by the fountain” that every other couple has, the coordinator will often say “oh but you have to” and so you just do it to humor her and move on. They do the same thing with DJs/Bands in that they will insist that you have to play X song (even if the bride and groom have already requested that the song not be played) or that you have to change the schedule already set by the bride and groom because it will be easier (mostly for her).

          Not all of them are like this and really not even the majority of them. But the ones who are on a power trip are REALLY on the power trip. :)

          1. AVP*

            Wow! Thats a … lot of power trip right there. I think one of the hardest parts is that the other vendors likely don’t want to badmouth the venue or coordinator to the bride and groom, because that feels awkward and couples don’t get married very often…but that means that the venue never feels any blowback because the clients won’t mention this in a review or a referral.

            1. A Wedding Photographer*

              Yup. A lot of times I really do think a lot of the issue is that the coordinators have a certain vision of what a wedding at “their place” should look like and they are determined that every wedding is going to follow that same template. Their mindset is that “I know my venue better than anyone else and I know what works here” which can be true to a degree, but doesn’t give any option for flexibility or creativity or a couple who don’t want to have the exact same wedding as every other couple at that venue.

              And the reason a lot of these venues get good reviews is that whatever conflict there is between vendors is usually NOT noticed by the couple or their families and a true professional isn’t going to go badmouthing another vendor to his/her clients. So if the venue coordinator totally sabotages my timeline, I don’t go complaining to the client, I just do whatever I can to make sure the client gets the photos they want as best I can. All the client sees is that the food got served, their guests danced, champagne flowed, the pictures are pretty, and … hey the venue was great.

      4. Ad Astra*

        Actually, yeah, it’s very possible that Tina thinks her job is to move the photographer along when she thinks things are taking too long. If the client had hired an outside wedding coordinator, that coordinator would be running the show and directly pretty much all of the vendors — hopefully without being as rude as Tina. But since Tina’s affiliated with the venue, I think that gives her a bit less authority.

        I would be more accepting of Tina’s demands if she were trying to move along literally any other vendor. But with photos, let it go. The reception can start without the couple. I’m really not sure what Tina thinks the problem is.

    2. Jamie*

      This is actually something I was going to suggest if you’re in a position to do it. If enough vendors refuse to work with her word will eventually get out and she might be put in a position where she’s forced to seriously re-examine the way she does business. But I know it’s difficult to turn down work.

  16. MA in OH*

    I planned my wedding not that long ago and had a fabulous photographer. We also chose venues that had noise ordinances, etc. like the OP discusses, so I understand there are some legitimate needs of the venue that vendors, like photographers, need to take into account.

    My advice, having been a bride not that long ago, would be this: discuss with the bride and groom ahead of time that you’ve worked at this venue many times and that, unfortunately, sometimes personalities clash under the stress of wedding day activities but to understand that the timeline you have presented to them (and subsequently changed/agreed to, whatever happens to meet the bride and groom’s needs) is perfect and will work. That way, while each of them will be stressed/tired/likely not be actively remembering what you told them, you have addressed the topic up front. I would not necessarily name the venue coordinator, but couch it in terms of any vendor working with another vendor because, hey, that can happen. Sometimes a cake can be delivered late and cause all sorts of other issues.

    On the day of, when the inevitable happens, I would turn to coordinator and politely but firmly remind her of the timeline that is in place and keep doing your job, I would not bend to her requests if they are not what the bride and groom are asking. Something to the effect of “Thank you for your concern, but we have until X o’clock to remain on schedule”.

    I would second the comment of R above that it would be worth scheduling a meeting with the venue out of season (if there is such a time where you’re working) to discuss these issues up front; it’s hard to say whether the coordinator merely has a need to control every detail or perhaps there are other photographers who genuinely don’t keep to schedule, whereas it sounds like you are quite conscientious of sticking to your proposals.

    1. HeyNonnyNonny*

      “perhaps there are other photographers who genuinely don’t keep to schedule, whereas it sounds like you are quite conscientious of sticking to your proposals”

      Ooh, this sounds like a good change to use a genuinely puzzled “Is there a reason that you’re always so concerned about my timeline?”

      1. OP the photographer*

        she always wants to shorten the timeline because of the open bar. This is the reason every single time and I’ve confirmed it with colleagues. “To long for people to drink, the couple didn’t pay for enough appetizers, etc”

        1. Development professional*

          Oh! Then you can actually troubleshoot this in a really specific way! Before the event, match up your timeline with the overall event timeline. 1 hour of photography = 1 hour of open bar. Or even, 1 hour of photography + 1 hour of transition/other stuff = 2 hours of open bar. If YOU know in advance how much open bar time was in the couple’s contract, then you can meet this objection on the spot.

          Tina: “We’re running out of appetizers and people are drinking for too long! We have to move on NOW!!!!”
          You: “The timeline indicates 2 hours of open bar and we’re only 1 hour and 30 minutes in to that. We will continue what we’re doing up to the 2 hour mark as agreed.”

          If they’re “running out of appetizers” she either deliberately shortchanges the prep for what they paid for, or she doesn’t know how to manage her waitstaff to keep those apps spread over the allotted time. Simple.

        2. Honeybee*

          I don’t understand what that has to do with you and the photography? I’m ignorant about the intricacies, but how does hurrying you up have any effect on the open bar? If the couple’s open bar time is up, either the MC or some other designated person needs to announce that independent of the pictures. (but then I’ve never been to a wedding where the open bar ended before the end of the wedding…)

          1. Judy*

            I’m assuming it’s “open bar and appetizers between ceremony and dinner” and she wants to limit the time, rather than a specific open bar length.

            I’ve certainly been to several weddings that were open bar before & during dinner and then wine and beer after dinner.

            1. doreen*

              I’ve been to weddings and other events where there was an open bar for a certain period of time rather than the whole event, but it’s never been presented either on an invitation (for weddings) , a ticket (for retirement parties) or from the venue (when I’m doing the planning) as “open bar between ceremony and dinner”. It is always either specific times – “open bar from 7-8” or “cocktail hour 7-8 , dinner at 8” (and the open bar is only during the cocktail hour) – or a set number of hours such as “open bar for four hours”.

              Which is relevant to my advice for the OP- if Tina is rushing you so that she spends less on the open bar because it’s “open bar between ceremony and dinner, no matter how long or short that is” , she’s pricing it based on her (very possibly unrealistic ) expectation of how long that will be. Perhaps you should suggest she price it by the hour.

          2. Ad Astra*

            If the couple is only paying for a certain amount of open bar (say, a $1,000 tab and then it’s cash only), there could be some concern that having the bride and groom away from the reception for so long is encouraging guests to drink more. I guess. But that really seems like something to consider ahead of time, when they’re planning out the timeline.

            Or she’s just worried in general that the guests have had too much time to drink without sufficient food and might get unruly. But again, if the photographer is following the timeline everyone agreed on, I don’t see how that would be an issue.

            And, most often, when a tab runs out before the host was expecting it, they just re-up and authorize $X more to keep the party going.

          3. A Wedding Photographer*

            Generally the open bar / appetizer / cocktail period is meant to keep the guests amused and entertained while the family and wedding party photos are taken. It’s after the ceremony, but before the events of the reception (dinner, dancing, toasts) kick off. Usually we allocate about an hour to an hour and a half, depending on the size of the families and the number of people in the wedding party. Also depending on whether or not the couple want some romantic photos of just the two of them during this time.

            It sounds to me like Tina is wanting to minimize the amount of time that the bar is “open” in order to cut down on the venue’s costs, so after a certain amount of time, she starts pushing to accelerate the events and shut down the liquor service.

            That kind of thing is really hard to combat effectively, especially if everyone has already agreed to the timeline and then Tina changes horses midstream.

            1. Collarbone High*

              Ohhhh, I have a story about this. Consider it a “what not to do” for anyone planning a wedding.

              The scene: July. Full Catholic ceremony. No A/C in the church. Lots and lots of candles. Elderly relatives faint. A groomsman faints.

              Ceremony finally, mercifully ends, and the parched guests descend on the open bar, which the couple had thoughtfully provided for the entire ceremony. Less thoughtfully, they were doing their pictures in the mountains — an hour’s drive away — and had instructed the venue to serve NO FOOD until the wedding party returned.

              Dozens of dehydrated guests with empty stomachs + unlimited alcohol + 4-hour wait = utter drunken chaos.

        3. Ellen*

          Folks upthread have made suggestions about what to say to couples before their weddings at this venue, and I think they’re good ones. I’ll add that I think Tina’s bar/appetizer concerns make that conversation a little easier: you can tell the couple that there are frequently cocktail/appetizer issues at this venue, and then you can have them absolutely 100% confirm with Tina that the cocktail hour contained in their contract will be fine with the photography timeline. Maybe this costs them more money, in which case that’s crummy, but it’ll all be on the table and the couple can decide what they want ($1,000 of open bar and they have to cut photos whenever that’s been consumed or 60 minutes of open bar at whatever it costs).

        4. Snuck*

          I have had friends Mary with a three hour photo session between ceremony and reception… It was torture, people are dressed up, antsy waiting for dinner, too much booze not enough to soak it up etc.

          While it was the bride and groom’s ultimate responsibility to think of their guests ( at a semi rural property in high heat, who were captive to their schedule) I still curse the photographer for not talking them around to something more considerate. And then they were over an hour late to the reception on top of that. Argh!

          The OP sounds reasonable, but many vendors are not.

          OP my advice is to say something ahead of time to the clients “this venue has complicated timings of things in the past. Can we lock down what you want and then compare it to your other options and make sure everything can run smoothly on the day?” And then do the follow up email to the venue and the client outlining how long you plan to take photos. If the client wants a lot more than can be fit in the reasonable venue time suggest there is a seperate session, maybe after the reception has started, manage the clients expectations a little too.

          On the day if the venue tries to rush you along you can remind them ” we agreed two hours for photos, I promise we will be done by then so long as we keep it moving” and then if she interrupts again say “yes I really need to keep my attention here so we stick to the agreed schedule, you can help it go a bit quicker if you would like by rounding up the next lot of guests, now I need x and y next” smile smile

          If she demands particular photos cover that ahead of time ” this venue has some set photos they generally pressure us into taking, I will need ten minutes of our time to do those photos but I promise we will get all the ones you want too and these others are no charge to you” and take the minimum shots to get her out of your face on that front. Venues often like to promote some unique feature they have, they want your photos to be I front of it so everyone knows which venue it was… Humour them momentarily for a smoother ride.

          1. Collarbone High*

            Wow. I just posted a story about a *different* wedding that involved a four-hour photo session between ceremony and reception. (I’d think we were at the same one, but this one wasn’t in a semi-rural location.) WHY HAS THIS HAPPENED MORE THAN ONCE? PEOPLE. DO NOT LEAVE YOUR HUNGRY GUESTS WAITING FOR FOUR HOURS.

        5. TL -*

          Is there any way you can work that into the communication beforehand? ie, “Okay, the photos you’ve requested will take about 1 hr, 45 min. I know this venue does an open bar during this time, so you may want to confirm on their end for 2 hrs’ worth of drinks/apps – it’s important that we give a little wiggle room in timing/it’s important that we know our picture plan for that reason/ect…” Or on an email with Tina cc’ed or something.

  17. J*

    Oh this sounds terrible. I am sure someone here can come up with a professional-sounding script for discreetly conveying to the bride and groom that Tina is crazypants in advance of having to deal with her. Something like “on the day of, we will probably have to work around the staff at the venue, some of whom get nervous when they worry that we’re not sticking to the schedule.” Something that trades on YOUR experience as the professional who has done this before, has insider knowledge of the venue, and who can make everything run smoothly. If you have those conversations in advance, you the unflappable person gracefully doing your job will come across as much more credible than the lady making faces, being alarmist about time, and butting in where she’s not wanted. Does that make sense?

  18. NK*

    As someone who recently got married, I would absolutely let the clients know in advance that the wedding coordinator has a tendency to do this. This is something I would want to know, and try to head off in advance, or at least know it was coming so I would be prepared to react. You don’t need to do it in a “Tina is a jerk” kind of way, but just let them know that she can get pretty rigid about her timelines, but that if they want the pictures they want, this is the timeline that is best to stick to and that clients have been happy with in the past.

    I would also try to talk to Tina about this and approach it in a “we all want the clients to be happy” kind of way. If she knows the schedule in advance, there is no way she should be changing it on you unless something else has changed. I don’t know if you’ll get very far though – unfortunately popular wedding vendors can sometimes be jerks like this – which is why I’d recommend giving the clients a heads up.

    1. Betsy*

      +1 for this, or just don’t do photos at that venue. How do other wedding photographers work with her? You could perhaps ask them how they deal with or accommodate Tina’s demands.

      1. Op the photographer*

        I’ve tried asking what other people do, and they all give in to her. They do first looks, or they do the couple’s portraits during dinner time (which I think is wrong, by that time they should be enjoying the evening with guests). First looks would greatly help this situation, but my couples are 50/50 on wanting to do it. Plus, they want that pretty sunset light you cant get in the midafternoon sun.

        1. A Wedding Photographer*

          Yeah that’s usually the way it goes. To a degree, a lot of photographers (and DJs and bakers and caterers if they don’t have their own in-house ones) are dependent on venues for referrals. Most couples book their venues FIRST and then ask the venue for recommendations for other vendors. A lot of venues have preferred provider lists – or even exclusive provider lists that a couple is required to hire from.

          So if the photographer doesn’t give in to the power crazed venue coordinator, she’ll take them off of her referral list (at the mildest) or actively tell the couple that she’s a “problem vendor” who isn’t allowed to work at the facility (at the worst).

          Standing up to a venue coordinator at a popular venue can be somewhat suicidal, especially if you’re a young photographer who is just building a business and a reputation.

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            A lot of venues have preferred provider lists – or even exclusive provider lists that a couple is required to hire from.

            I was wondering if part of The Crazy was coming from a place of “my nephew/son/BIL is a really great photographer and they should be the only one that works at *my* venue.” But then I read that thing about closing down the open bar early to save money. But that could be solved by raising the price or make it a cash bar for the alcohol and free for the pop/water — while I think that a cash bar is kind of tacky, I can see the problems with over serving/driving/people making arses of themselves potentially damaging the venue.

  19. Ad Astra*

    Is it possible to stop accepting gigs at this venue? These issues make it hard for you to do your job and, worse, they seem to be affecting the bride’s and grooms’ satisfaction with their wedding day. That can’t happen.

    If it’s not financially feasible to put this venue on your no-no list, you can at least recommend other vendors to your clients who haven’t yet decided on a venue. Many wedding vendors include lists of other vendors they recommend on their websites.

  20. Katie the Fed*

    Is it targeted against you or do other photographers have this problem? If it’s just you, can you maybe try to sit down with her and figure out how you could work this out going forward?

    Otherwise, I’d probably tell prospective clients that you can’t work with this venue for reasons X, Y and Z but you’d be happy to do portraits the day before the wedding, or after, or whatnot.

  21. Chriama*

    I think you need to separate what personally affects your livelihood and what just upsets you. If the venue has great reviews then the bride and groom are probably not as put off by her behaviour as you are (possibly because they’re seeing everything with rose coloured glasses on their special day). But when it comes to stuff that directly interferes with how competent you appear, practice some deflecting phrases you can use to calmly assert yourself.

    Some examples:

    Interrupts you to suggest a completely wrong portrait timeline — I’ve created timelines for x wedding parties now, so I’ve got a handle on it, but thanks for the suggestion (try to sound gracious instead of snide — don’t want to make the bride and groom uncomfortable)

    Tries to end portraits earlier than scheduled — have a written schedule that the couple approves before the day of the event (include contingencies for things running long and hard deadlines for stuff like noise ordinances), and tell her: it’s really important to stick to the schedule we agreed on beforehand, and we have x minutes left. Why don’t you check on [other activity that is far away from portrait taking but comes next in the schedule] so the evening stays on track.

    She kidnaps a couple’s kid — I think you need to leave that one to the bride and groom. As she walks off, raise a skeptical eyebrow and ask ‘do you want to try and take this photo or should we move off to the others?’

    Also, is she this insane with you, all photographers, or everyone? If the first 2, you might just have to decide if dealing with her is worth it. If the latter, I would try to catch a private word with the bride and groom where you say “[Crazy wedding planner] is really committed to making sure everything runs smoothly on your night, which is why we discuss all the [photography stuff] in advice. If you have any questions or concerns about [photography stuff], I’m the final authority so please let me know and I’ll talk to her if needed.” Maybe someone can suggest more diplomatic phrasing, but the gist of it is you need to get across that the wedding planner is not in charge of photography and they should never take her word over yours.

    1. 2 Cents*

      As a bride, I would have gone berserk if the coordinator had interfered with a child in my arms. Especially if it was such an important photograph. Hell hath no fury like a bride on her wedding day!

  22. GigglyPuff*

    I would also suggest in addition to everything else people are saying, have you talked to other photographers specifically? And are their some photographers who don’t’ seem to have issues, maybe ask them if there were and how they resolved them. They might have the right words needed to get Tina to back down.

  23. Amy*

    I almost wonder if you are talking about a certain wedding coordinator that works in my organization. She’s notoriously difficult and more than one of my friends has confided in me that the only reason they didn’t choose our otherwise lovely venue was because of previous interactions with her. No one here likes working with her, either — we’re all scared of her! She is very old, though, and we’re just hoping she will retire soon. For some reason she is basically immune to being fired, most likely because she must be retiring SOMETIME soon due to her age…

  24. EmmaBlake*

    I had something sort of similar happen at my recent wedding, only it was my MIL/officiant telling my photographer what to do, not the venue coordinator. My MIL performed our wedding and at the final planning meeting with my photographers, my mother, and MIL, she says “I would like it if you (photographer) would not move during the ceremony, it is very distracting.” I looked at my MIL like she’d lost her damn mind. Absolutely not. If my photographers wanted to do backflips to get the shots I wanted, they could have. Thankfully, they completely ignored her and listened to me (and I had my now husband talk to his mother about how crazy her request was).

    Honestly, I know photography is almost always the most important part for a couple (beyond the actual getting married obviously). Talk to them in advance. I would have absolutely headed off any perceived threat to my photographer or her timeline.

    1. StarHopper*

      It’s not THAT crazy a request. As a wedding guest, I hate it when photographers move around during the ceremony. At the last wedding I went to, the doors to the venue were on some kind of motion-detector system, so if the photographer backed up too much, they would automatically open & close. It was incredibly distracting, and it happened at least a dozen times in a half-hour ceremony.

      My wedding was held at my church, which was very up-front about forbidding photography during the ceremony. If a ceremony is at all religious, it just feels disrespectful to me to move around a lot during it.

      (Full disclaimer: I am a curmudgeon. Don’t even get me started on wedding GUESTS who follow the bride up the aisle with their stupid camera phones.)

      1. Laid-Back Stepmom*

        I agree! You are not a curmudgeon alone! I went to a big, splashy wedding a couple of years ago, and the FOUR photographers with all their massive equipment surrounded the couple the entire time. No one who was invited could see or participate because the photography was apparently more important than the loving friends and family.

        Religious significance adds a whole new level. I like your church, StarHopper.

      2. Stan*

        I was working a wedding a few weeks ago in a historic church. They had no fewer than six photographers/videographers and the setup included a camera on a boom to get the aerial shot of the bride coming up the aisle and three stationary video cameras. As one of the photographers swung around into the main aisle to get his shots of the bride coming up the aisle, “Auntie iPad” stepped into the aisle immediately in front of him and started filming. There was nowhere for him to go and no way he was getting a good shot with her standing in the way.

        1. Honeybee*

          I would MURDER that aunt. Her grainy iPad pictures getting in the way of my $$$$ photographer of a critical moment that cannot be reenacted? UGH.

          I don’t understand why people take cameraphone/tablet pictures at wedding ceremonies anyway. Tablet pictures almost always look terrible, and tablets block views! I like the new trend of couples asking guests to put their smartphones in a basket until the end of the ceremony (because then you don’t have a flipbook full of photographs of people looking at their phones instead of the ceremony).

    2. jhhj*

      I’ve been to weddings where the photographers blocked everyone’s view of the ceremony, and it’s pretty obnoxious honestly. I didn’t go in order to watch the backs of some photographers, I went to see my good friend get married. (Better wedding photographers don’t do this.)

    3. Observer*

      I’m going to chime in with the others and say that the request is actually not all that outrageous. There is the issue of blocking guests, for one thing. For another, when the ceremony is in a tight space, the photographer can actually interfere if he’s not being VERY careful.

      Orthodox Jewish wedding ceremonies are performed under a canopy (the vernacular term used for the ceremony is actually the word for the canopy), and it tends to be a bit on the small side. What’s more it’s traditional (although not universal) for the canopy to be held up friends / family of the couple. At one wedding the photographer managed jostle one of the guys holding up the canopy. Things could have gotten pretty ugly very quickly if the guy had been forced to move out of place.

      1. EmmaBlake*

        I had two photographers (a husband and wife team) and I’d paid them almost $3000. They were professionals. They did not block anyone’s view, nor would they have. My MIL wanted them to SIT in the pews during the ceremony. That is completely unreasonable. I wouldn’t have a shot of my husband and his groomsmen coming in from the side. I wouldn’t have the shot of my father and I coming up the aisle. I wouldn’t have the shot of my readers across the room at the podium. I wouldn’t have the shot of our unity ceremony that was not on the main alter.

        Yes, some inexperienced photographers get in the way, but I researched and spent good money making sure I got fantastic photographers. I was paying them to do their job, which they did brilliantly. I didn’t notice them one time, but I know they were moving because of the shots I got.

        Obviously, a motion-detection system is going to be distracting, but that is not the norm. I think the point is, and the point the OP is making, is that we need to trust the professionals to know how to do their jobs. My MIL is not a professional photographer. “Tina” is not a professional photographer. How would we like it if someone came into our office and told us how to do our jobs? We wouldn’t. So why when its the wedding industry, do people suddenly find this urge to do just that?

        1. Observer*

          The photographer in question was also a well paid professional. He just had the attitude that HIS thing is THE most important thing. It’s not.

          There is also a difference between asking them to sit in the pews and asking them not to move, which is what I was responding to.

          1. Snuck*

            Sadly not a lot of time is available to get a good read on people before a wedding, thus people like this still have jobs.

  25. Dr. Pepper Addict*

    OP, how much a part of your income comes from Tina and her weddings? If it’s not a huge chunk of it, you could just refuse to do shoot that involve her. If you and the other wedding photogs all agreed to do the same thing, she may have to change her tune because people wouldn’t want to get married there if they can’t get a photographer there.

    You may find that if you stop doing weddings there it would greatly increase your peace of mind and may open you up to do weddings elsewhere.

  26. TotesMaGoats*

    If you can do it financially, I would stop accepting jobs at the venue. And if a client was thinking of going there, inform that you couldn’t photograph their wedding if they used that venue. I would then talk to all my photographer friends and go for a boycott if possible.

    I definitely would start standing up to her. No need to excuse her horrible behavior.

  27. AshleyH*

    Ugh. On my wedding day the ONLY bad thing/memory was our videographer coming up to my new husband and I and telling us that the DJ wouldn’t play the slow song he wanted so that he (the videographer) could get video of my husband and I slow dancing while the sun set behind us and “if you want a good video you’re going to need to talk to him about it”. It made us 1) super uncomfortable 2) instantly side with our DJ 3) not fans of our videographer who does great work but obviously lacks professionalism.

    So…I recommend not talking bad about this woman with your clients, but definitely saying something to the venue owner in advance – maybe a cup of coffee and a conversation? Who knows – she’s probably very well meaning but just doesn’t understand your needs and by discussing them without clients and/or pressure it might improve your working relationship.

    1. Natalie*

      IMO your videographers mistake was telling you something during the reception and choosing somewhat petulant wording. If the LW is factual and polite, I don’t think it’s a problem for them to give the clients a head’s up on Tina’s tendency to micromanage the photos.

  28. KR*

    I think it’s time you stood up for yourself and your clients. Even if this isn’t likely to garner results, I would take the coordinator aside before a wedding (during the planning phase) and state, “Often when we agree on timelines, on the day of you rush me through shoots and the clients don’t end up getting all of the pictures they’re paying for. This isn’t fair to the client, so when we agree on this timeline I need you to respect my business and stick to it the day of.” Tell her that clearly, every time. Also, I would deflect her when she tries to rush through the photoshoot by saying, “We’re not quite done with the photos, so I need you to wait another 10 minutes per our schedule.” Also, when talking with the clients I would alert them, “When I work with the venue in the past, I’ve found the schedule can get kind of rushed. Don’t worry, I’ll make a timeline around your ceremony and we’ll have plenty of time to take pictures.”

  29. Elysian*

    OP, does anyone who uses that venue use a separate wedding coordinator? Could clients going in there use a separate coordinator, and then have that person be in charge of managing Tina? That might be an alternative to putting up with Tina or not working there – “I’ll only work at Venue if you hire a coordinator/don’t use Tina – here are some suggestions.”

    1. Elysian*

      To add to my own comment, I feel like when I was planning my wedding there were a couple vendors who were upfront about not playing nice together – I think one venue we visited had a list of wedding coordinators they just wouldn’t work with, and let us know when we were looking. I don’t know if that happens in OP’s neck of the woods, but it doesn’t seem too uncommon in my experience.

  30. I'm Not Phyllis*

    Knowing things like this would discourage me from booking that venue … never underestimate the power of anonymous online reviews!
    If she owns the venue, it gives you fewer options (because she doesn’t have anyone above her you can speak to) but you can head this off by a) talking to her ahead of time and going out of your way to make sure she’s comfortable with the schedule, and b) letting the couple know that you’ll make sure they get the photos they want. But either way, on wedding day you have to be firm. You work for the couple, not the venue, and your number one priority is to make sure they’re happy and get what they paid for. A bad review from a couple can do you far more damage than being a bit terse with the venue staff. Please don’t let her be rude to you – there’s no call for that, and it’s already causing you stress ahead of time. Be polite but firm and let her know that this is what your clients (and her clients!) want.
    The only other option is to refuse jobs at this venue but I know that may not always be an option.

    1. LawLady*

      I know I’m going to get criticized for this, but… maybe leave an anonymous online review? I’m planning a wedding right now and pretty extensively read reviews of vendors.. If you left a review from “a person who was a bridesmaid in a recent wedding” or some other not-easily-identifiable source, you could explain exactly what you’ve explained here. That way clients might be on the alert that this is a problem. (And also maybe the owner would see and feel like her pushiness was hurting her business?)

      “I was a bridesmaid in a wedding here this summer. It’s beautiful, but the venue owner got really pushy during the photos and we didn’t get all the photos we wanted!”

  31. BadPlanning*

    For the hovering and making faces and general presence during photos…is there work you ask of her? Not photography work, of course, but a faux important task? Of course, the risk is that she thinks you are incompetent (asking the venue for things) or has an underling that she sends and then continues to hover. But perhaps it would give her something to do and train her out of bothering you.

    I’m thinking things like:
    “Hey, the wedding party requested copies of this Wedding Thing, can you run those for me, please?”
    “I think the Bride’s grandma needs a chair with arms — she’s look unsteady on the benches and stairs.”
    “Could we get a snack for Flower Girl, she looks like she’s about to meltdown.” (assuming she wouldn’t then run off with the child”
    “I ran out of gaffers tape for this extension cord, could I use some of the venue’s?”

    In the line of “discuss with the clietn” — if the Bride has a personal attendant or a someone has a very chatty uncle, assign them to run interference with the coordinator.

    Otherwise, there’s the “be firm and ignore” path which may or may not work in this scenario. I’m thinking of when I was recently “managed” as a bridesmaid. We were trying on dresses with the bride. The bride had picked out a couple dresses and we tried on a style that happened to be in navy (but a style that comes in several colors). I asked the employee helping us if it came in other blues (knowing the bride really wanted a mid tone blue) and the employee said crisply, “This is the color the bride picked out” and walked away to do something else. At first I was thought it was rude– but then I realized, she was just wrangling potential rogue bridesmaids.

    1. BadPlanning*

      Another thought — do you have a tone and/or phrase and/or actions to deal with family/friends that try to jump in and grab photos with their phones/personal cameras (interrupting your flow and timeline)? Can you re-purpose that towards Tina?

  32. Ultraviolet*

    Best ways to let the couple know in advance that they should listen to you rather than Tina: as others have said, you can probably just say “I want to let you know that when I–or most other photographers–shoot at Venue, Tina suggests modifying the portrait timeline on the spot and cutting short the portrait session, even when everything is going according to the schedule we all agree on ahead of time. So please don’t panic if Tina tells us we’re running out of time! I’m very good at making and keeping the portrait schedule, and I’m happy to give you references who can attest to that.” I realize that the timeline issue was not the only problem Tina was causing, but I have the impression that it’s the one where clients are most likely to be unsure who’s right (and upset if they believe her).

    As far as what to say to Tina in the moment, maybe “Don’t worry, we’re right on the schedule we all agreed to!” or “These are the portraits we planned in advance!” and “Everything’s going as we planned.”

    Also, if it’s the case that a couple has a full wedding coordinator and Tina is just an overstepping venue coordinator, maybe you can tell couples that their wedding coordinator will need to prevent Tina from interfering with their photos?

    1. Emmie*

      I 2nd this. I like how the phrasing references most other photographers too, so it’s clearly not an issue with the photographer. I might ask client’s input as for how they’d like you to handle this – more aggressively or diplomaticly. I would also build in extra time to every proposal at this venue. If Tina cuts every shoot short by 15 minutes, add 15 minutes to every one of your proposals at the venue.

  33. Nom d' Pixel*

    I would give the couple getting married a heads up about Tina. If she is that difficult to work with, they may even think it is worthwhile to move the venue. Part of the heads up would be to suggest that they have someone who they trust to be firm and not too involved with the pictures stand guard and run interference to keep Tina out of the photography area. I have an aunt who is a cop, so she would be my choice, but it could be an usher or date of someone in the wedding party. Most people are happy to help in a small way.

  34. Sunflower*

    You need to start standing up for yourself and your clients. Your clients are who you work for, who you are there to make happy. I can’t imagine they are happy if they aren’t getting the pictures they are paying you to do.

    You have several options:

    1. Is she like this with all photographers? If so, I say you guys all band together and have a chat with Tina
    2. Talk to your clients beforehand. Let them know that this Tina is difficult to work with and this is their special day. Make sure you know you work for THEM and you won’t be bullied into changing the plans you guys made together because of her
    3. Talk to Tina yourself. Whatever you say, make it all about the client. I would say something like ‘Tina, it’s become apparent you don’t like the way I do certain things. I ask you respect the work I do and in turn, I will respect yours. We don’t have to agree with each other on everything but we are both working to make the day as great for the clients as possible. When you become upset with me in front of clients, it upsets the clients in turn.’
    4. Adjust your timeline when you are shooting at her venue if all else fails?

    1. Sunflower*

      I also want to add that wedding days end up being some of the most stressful days of a person’s life. People hire these vendors because the vendors are the professionals and these people aren’t sure what the norm is. So I can kind of see how couples aren’t sure if you or Tina is right.

      I would also suggest when you encounter a couple who is using Tina’s venue to come up with a timeline and have the couple plus Tina sign off of it. Explain to the couple ”Tina has some very strict timelines that she likes to follow at this venue. Because of this, I find it necessary to discuss and write out a timeline for events at this venue that works for all of us.’ That way you’re covering everyone’s butt and everyone knows what to expect going into it

      1. Jo*

        “People hire these vendors because the vendors are the professionals and these people aren’t sure what the norm is. So I can kind of see how couples aren’t sure if you or Tina is right.”

        This is a great point. OP, it might help, when you discuss timelines and expectations with your clients, to tell them what you told us: not only are you known for efficiency, experienced in making judgment calls, flexible to their needs, AND invested in getting them the shots they want, you are doing things *according to industry standard.* That way when Tina comes around to make faces and “suggestions” and disruptions, you’ll have already planted the seed in their minds that you are a pro and someone to trust on How Things Are Done, and Tina’s word isn’t gospel in this particular area – it’s YOUR area.

  35. Jady*

    Whatever you decide to do – I just want to ask that you please let the couple know this person can be invasive and difficult.

    If I were the bride in that situation where the child was removed by this woman, I would be absolutely shocked and have no idea how to proceed. Being forewarned is incredibly important to me, because if I expect it then I’m prepared to deal with it. I can deal with difficult people (especially if I’m paying them!), but if something completely over the top and out of line like that happens, it would just dumbfound me.

    1. Newlywed*

      I agree, but I would add the caveat that you not make the woman sound like a crazy person. I just got married a month ago, and while everything went PERFECTLY, I was so stressed with planning the wedding in the months leading up to the actual event, that if someone told me “hey Tina’s batshit crazy FYI” when I had already picked the date, booked vendors, paid thousands of dollars to book the venue and etc, I would have felt stressed and out of control. I’d definitely say you should give the bride and groom a heads up to a minor degree (and even take aside a Maid of Honor/family friend/assistant who can step in and help out) just because knowing that info but being powerless to do anything about it creates so much more stress for the couple anticipating what might go wrong.

  36. Amy Farrah Fowler*

    I got married about 2 1/2 years ago and though my vendors appeared to play nice with each other, I got saddled with the “intern” coordinator at the venue because the coordinator I’d been working with for the year before my wedding ended up going out of town the weekend of my wedding (but that’s a story for another day). As an involved bride, I created my own timeline running things by the DJ, the photographer, and the venue to make sure everyone was on the same page. Before the wedding, I sent out this incredibly detailed schedule of when everyone was supposed to arrive from bridesmaids to the people delivering the cake and the chair cover people and what we were doing every step of the way. If a rogue wedding planner had tried to hustle me on pictures, I would have told her in no uncertain terms that this is picture time and that she could shove it.

    As for the OP, I think it depends on what stage you come into the process of the wedding plan. I knew what photographer I wanted to use before I even had a fiance. (He did a friend of mine’s wedding and I knew I wanted to hire him when I got married), but we couldn’t finalize things until we had a date and a venue to make sure I worked with his calendar. If people are coming to you first, they may ask for recommendations of venues and you could definitely tell them which venues have been easy to work with on your end (and ones that you’ve heard couples compliment) and tell them that there have been difficulties at this particular venue.

    I’m a somewhat ballsy person, so I might also be tempted to tell “Tina” that I’ll be steering clients away from her venue in the future because she’s been so challenging to work with. Reputation is everything and it sounds like she has an undeservedly good one. But I don’t think it’s necessary to tell her that… I’d just be tempted.

  37. 2 Cents*

    Before my wedding, I met with the photographer on a couple of occasions (initial booking, signing the contract, engagement photos), and if he had any known issues with the venue personnel, I’d have wanted a heads-up beforehand to know what to expect. If he had told me in a neutral voice: “I’ve worked at XYZ venue before, and I’ve found that Tina often works on her own timeline, despite what the couples have arranged with me ahead of time. She also likes to add her two cents on photos and set up. If you want to spend more time on photos or any part of the reception, you can feel free to tell her–it’s your wedding and you’re paying for it. I’ll do my best, but I know she responds more to the couples than to me.” I’d probably ask a few followup questions, and then decide on my own with my dealings with Tina if I noticed overly controlling tendencies.

    (I actually had to do this for my own wedding. One of the church ladies tried telling me that I “wasn’t doing the procession order correctly” and acted like I was an idiot. I just repeated “This is how we’re doing it for this event” and didn’t back down.)

    1. AVP*

      My friends had a somewhat untraditional wedding and I’m sure they got some flack about it from older family members and other “interested” parties, so they made up a motto and just stuck to it – “Yeah, we’re not doing that.”

      No flowers? “Yeah we’re not doing that.”
      But that woman in a tux can’t be your best man! “Yeah we’re not doing that.”
      You don’t have what we think of as a “real” wedding dress? “Yeah we’re not doing that.”

      It works really well for other things in life too.

    2. Ad Astra*

      Our church lady tried to recruit my bridesmaids’ dates into serving as additional ushers because the two ushers we’d designated were somehow insufficient. It’s was a traditional Catholic church with pews on either side of the aisle (none of that multiple sections/aisle stuff you see at newer venues) — nobody needed help figuring out where to sit. You just pick a pew and park it.

      I wish more people in the wedding business would phrase things like “Here’s what I think…” and “A lot of couples prefer…” instead of “This is the right way to do it.”

  38. Katy*

    Speaking as a project manager (and also as someone who eloped), I don’t get the problem here. There’s a schedule for photographs? Print it, hand it out, and that’s it. When it’s 6:30, this particular set of photos are shot; at 7, this other set starts. Why are there even any questions?

    1. A Wedding Photographer*

      It becomes a problem when the photographer is working according to the printed timeline and the venue coordinator shows up and starts moving people around, making impatient faces, and generally disrupting things while implying that the couple and/or the photographer are “doing it wrong”.

      And while you may be a kick-ass project manager who doesn’t take crap from anyone and can stand your ground, a lot of couples get overwhelmed by all the demands and emotions of their wedding day and often wind up being swept along with the flow. It’s great for you to come along and say “I’ve never done this but I don’t see why there’s an issue” … but it’s nowhere near based in reality.

    2. Ultraviolet*

      In addition to what Natalie and A Wedding Photographer said, note that the OP’s direct questions are more about reassuring her clients when the venue coordinator is confusing things. The OP doesn’t seem to have problems sticking to schedule.

  39. AnonAcademic*

    I was a bride in a similar situation! We had our wedding at a historic venue run by preservationists who are not event planners nor do they have any on staff. Their #1 priority is preserving the venue, not necessarily facilitating anyone’s “dream wedding” and we knew they were going to be prickly about the most minor changes to their usual protocol. What I did was hire a veteran event promoter friend to run interference at the wedding between venue staff and the rest of the vendors. He put out these kinds of fires so I could enjoy my day. I gave him a binder with copies of the contract in case they tried to deny us any of the things we were entitled to, and they did try to shut us down an hour early but relented when we pulled out the contract, so it worked. The contract spelled out everything from the timeline to the number of garbage cans we needed so they had basically no room to screw us.

    (For anyone wondering, the venue was GORGEOUS and priced undermarket which is why we put up with the staff’s nonsense).

  40. RMRIC0*

    Give your clients a heads-up when you do your final consult before the wedding (something diplomatic because you’re the bigger person) that Tina can be controlling and that you’ll do your best to make sure they get the best photos from the day. Hopefully through this whole process (and when we work with clients often we’ll have the first meeting, an engagement shoot and maybe boudoir or bridal ahead of the wedding) you’ve established yourself as the trusted expert.

    Clients are usually smart enough to see when someone is being a buttinski (after all, they just finished planning a wedding – everyone wanted to get their two cents in about every detail), and some gentle pushback can go a long way “Well, we still have a couple more minutes according to the timeline. What will they cut the cake without the bride?” if it’s actually hurting your ability to get your job done. If she’s just being a busybody, you have to weigh whether business at this place is worth it to ignore her.

  41. Kimberly*

    I think you and the other photographers should tell potential clients “Sorry, I don’t take jobs at venue because their staff is so unprofessional and abusive towards both photographer and clients.

  42. Laid-Back Stepmom*

    Oh my gosh, this thread is making me feel considerably less laid-back about my stepdaughter’s upcoming wedding! Yikes! …but, I have nothing to do with the arrangements unless she asks me for something, so I guess I will continue not to worry about it.

    Is it just me or do weddings seem over-rated, given the amount of expense and stress they cause?

    Sorry, no advice for the OP…

    1. Ad Astra*

      When I was planning my wedding, people kept trying to tell me weddings are overrated and I should just elope, but they’re not me. I never had graduation parties or Sweet 16 parties or any of that, and I had moved several hours from all my friends after college, so I wanted a damn party. I might change a few of the decisions I made if I had it to do over again, but overall it was exactly the experience I wanted. I got to see friends I never get to see, I got some decent pictures with my husband for once, and I got to get drunk in a gorgeous dress with professional hair and makeup.

      But I do see how people who aren’t into the party aspect can feel like traditional weddings take way more money and stress than they’re worth. There’s no right way to do it!

    2. Newlywed*

      I think people create some of that stress for themselves unnecessarily. The first couple of weeks that I was planning my wedding, I realized that 1) we were on a tight budget, 2) there was no way I was going to get the “pinterest board” wedding that I had been dreaming about because it would cost at least $100,000, 3) I learned to BE FLEXIBLE and just go with things as they fell into place. We planned–and executed–a perfect wedding for about 90 people on a beautiful island off the coast of GA (my hometown) in about 3 weeks (although we had a 3.5 month engagement, I just hate planning so I got it all out of the way at the beginning!), because we were flexible and we focused on the big things that were important to us and let the other stuff fall to the wayside. People had so much fun at our wedding and danced until they started breaking down the dance floor! And most importantly, the final result really reflected who we are as a couple, and it was a testament to the people in our lives who had supported us leading up to this moment that we were privileged to share with them. I also had a pretty kickass maid of honor who would run interference when facilitators/coordinators tried to make alternative suggestions that weren’t the way I had planned things. I wish I could go back and relive the day again because it was so much fun! :) Although it wasn’t what I originally envisioned for myself, I wouldn’t have done it any other way.

  43. Minister of Snark*

    I would explain to the couple weeks before the wedding that the coordinator sometimes gets “confused” and “agitated” about the photo timelines and wants to rush you through the shots to move on to the reception. So with that in mind, you’re going to come up with a precise timeline and the number of shots the couple wants. Then print it out and have the couple sign it and then present it to the coordinator and have HER sign and date it. And when she tries to rush you on the day, present her with the signed timeline and say, “Thanks, but we’re going to stick with the timeline. That you signed.”

    Become a broken record. When she badgers you, smile and say, “Thanks, but we’re going to stick with the timeline. That you signed.”

    She says that you’re doing the photos wrong, “Thanks, but this is how (happy couple) wants things arranged.”

    She says, “Stop wasting time on things the couple wants!.” You say, “Thanks, but this is how (happy couple) wants things arranged.”

    She generally makes a nuisance of herself, “Thanks, but this is how (happy couple) wants things arranged.”

  44. Mackenzie S*

    Even if it isn’t possible to stop accepting (or even charging an extra fee) to clients who are using this venue, be clear with them from the start what your experiences have been with the coordinator.

    Had someone mentioned to me that I was going with a difficult venue/coordinator based off of their experiences, then I would rather risk losing a couple hundred dollar deposit, and going with a different location than dealing with a headache on my wedding day. And even if I did decide to move forward with it, at least I would have a heads up about possible issues.

    There doesn’t seem like much you can do about the coordinator other than having a separate conversation with her, which she would probably freak out during anyways.

  45. Turtle Candle*

    Unfortunately, when you have someone whose boundaries and sense of propriety are so bad that they will actually remove the bride’s crying child from her arms, no amount of direct and assertive language is going to fix this. I mean, normally all the things people have suggested (getting the timeline in writing, discussing it tactfully with your clients beforehand, being polite but firm on the day of) would be my suggestions, too, but someone who is willing to go that far, I just have trouble seeing her going, “Oh, yes, I did agree to that timeline didn’t I?” I think she’d sign off on whatever and then still do whatever she wanted the day of the wedding.

    It sucks, but I think at this point your choices are to go in knowing this is going to be how it will be (and raise rates as necessary to be “worth it”), or skip this venue.

  46. Kristen*

    Coming from the bride’s side, when I got married I created my own timeline that started with the day before rehersal and setup and continue through the entire wedding day to include when vendors needed to be where and set up, who was handling moving stuff from the church to the reception hall, who was needed for pics when and where. This timeline was handed to every member of the wedding party, close family and all vendors.

    The woman at the venue is insane and as much as the wedding industry is word of mouth recommendations it will get around how difficult she is to deal with.

    1. fposte*

      But people might not care, too. There are towns with a limited number of venues, and there are some venues that are sought after regardless of the coordinator.

  47. Bostonian*

    OP, do you have a sense of how you’re perceived by your clients? If one of the vendors at my wedding told me that another one was difficult to work with, I’d evaluate that in part based on my experiences of both vendors so far. I’d know there was a problem or personality conflict, but if one of the vendors had already shown hints of being hard to deal with, I would assume that person was the difficult one, even if they were the one who brought it up. The same way that people who claim to hate drama are the ones who seem to create it wherever they go, people who go out of their way to announce their personality clashes to clients or customers or strangers tend to be the more difficult people to work with.

    I like what someone upthread suggested about telling clients that Tina has a tendency to suggest alterations to timelines in the moment on the day of the wedding. The more specific and factual you can be about what you tell clients, the more weight they will probably give it, the less it will seem like you’re violating professional courtesy, and the less risk you run of seeming hard to work with yourself. “I’ve found that Tina sometimes tries to get involved with arranging particular shots or telling people where to stand. I may need to ask her to let me handle that, but if she insists then she may be more likely to listen to you as the client” for example.

  48. TootsNYC*

    You could try simply being a little bit “bossy” back. Firm.

    When you’re walking through, take charge of the first convo w/ her and outline all the “venue rules,” and noise ordinances, and outside timelines. Then say, “OK, now that we understand your limitations, we’ll walk through on our own.” If she insists on coming along, just stop where you are and look at her, and say, “Would you excuse us to converse in private, without you?” and wait for an answer. Just stand there and look at her. And wait.

    The fact that she’s the owner makes it trickier, of course. And she could end up black-listing you back, and badmouthing you.

    As for interrupting you while you’re working–it might be worth having an assistant that day whose job is to take her away from you while you’re shooting. And to say to her before you start: During the photo shoot, it is necessary for you to not interrupt us. The clients are the ones who set the shot list and approve the photo timeline.

    But being firm could make a difference; the classic “standing up to a bully” tactic, only less “on the offensive.”

    Otherwise, if you can fill your weeks with other venues, I would.

  49. Mena*

    It is very surprising to me that these brides (and grooms) tolerate this person ‘coordinating’ their day. I didn’t allow any venue employee to control what happened and when (um, no, don’t try to bully me with your version of ‘right’). We determined the timeline and it was clearly communicated as a target and not a scheduled series of one-off events. The day flowed from activity to activity.

    There isn’t right or wrong. In your (handicapped) situation, I suggest sticking with “I recommend…” “Typically this works ….” and of course, “We already agreed to …”
    Hopefully social media catches up with this bully.

  50. nicolefromqueens*

    Tell the clients beforehand that they need to tell her “who’s paying who?”, and if that doesn’t work, buzz off.

  51. Op the photographer*

    Thanks everyone for the advice! It seems like I need to be more firm with Tina, even if it means having a disagreement/argument with her in front of the clients. Of course, I will stay as professional as possible and not fulfill any fantasies of cursing her out ;) This is a small state, and unfortunately all my fellow photographers are afraid of her. I seem to be the only one pushing back on her unrealistic demands.

    I also will be even more forthcoming with my clients during our planning emails. To make it clear, my couples all know their timelines 4+ months in advance, and the last 2 times, I told them repeatedly to make sure Tina is aware of the portrait schedule. They assured me Tina knew and agreed to it. But Tina has this thing with the open bar during the portraits, and on the day of, always tells me I need to shorten the timeline because the bar can’t be open for so long.

    I thought I would come off as an overly-dramatic gossiping photographer if I explicitly warned couples about Tina. But I see here that many people would appreciate an honest heads up.

    Unfortunately, it’s typical for couples to book the venue first and photographer second, and this place is so popular that I can’t be turning couples away. Adding fees, while temporarily nice, it doesnt fix the damage she is doing by making me look bad (even if the couple knows about her, there are the other vendors she can gossip with, other family witnessing it, etc).

    Since she acts as venue coordinator, it would be hard to convince a couple to spend more money on an additional coordinator. I have a suspicion that she sells the couple on the venue by these features (open bar during cocktail hour! venue coordination!).

    1. blackcat*

      But Tina has this thing with the open bar during the portraits, and on the day of, always tells me I need to shorten the timeline because the bar can’t be open for so long.

      Then specifically address this with the couple. Tell them that they need to make sure to schedule the same amount of “open bar” time as photo-time, and get that in writing with Tina. You can be really upfront with couples in saying that “It’s been my experience that Tina tries to rush the pictures, because she feels that 1 hr (2? however long you need) is too long for the open bar. Because of this, everything will go much more smoothly if you have the duration of the open bar set in writing with her signature on it. Please give me, and a friend, a copy of that before the day of.”

      It does sound to me like she’s trying to reduce alcohol costs if she offers “open bar during cocktail hour” for a flat fee. It’s cheaper if cocktail “hour” is 45 minutes!

      1. SL #2*

        Yes, definitely sounds like she’s trying to short-change the couple as much as possible by closing the open bar as early as she can, and putting the blame on whoever’s closest and most convenient.

    2. ChelseaNH*

      Since there’s a specific circumstance, it would be nice to mention it: “The venue owner can get anxious about how the open bar is going and might push to shorten the timeline for photography.” The couple might not be able to do anything with the information, but there’s a certain sense of security in understanding what’s going on.

    3. Ultraviolet*

      I think the best way to prevent looking bad when she starts messing with your portrait timeline etc is to keep saying (maybe loudly) that everything is going according to the plans that she, you, and the couple agreed on ahead of time. You can politely say, “But you agreed that this timeline would work for the portrait session, so how can there be a problem with the open bar now?” It sucks that sometimes clients still worry they’re not going to get their portraits done despite having these agreements hashed out previously, but I think anyone listening in is likely to see that you’ve got things under control.

      Do you think she has a lot of credibility with other vendors? I would have guessed that they’ve mostly all got her number, especially in a small state.

      I’ve never planned a wedding, but it seems to me like it would be totally reasonable for the couple’s contract with Tina to specify the amount of time the bar will be open. When you warn couples about her, you can tell them that Tina has often found there’s a schedule conflict between the bar hours and the portrait session, so you recommend that they specify both those times in their contract. Do you think that would work? Like so many other people, I do think a professional, fact-based warning about Tina would be a good idea and wouldn’t make you look bad at all.

      1. Ultraviolet*

        Also, what do you think would happen if you approached Tina some other time (not during a wedding) and asked how you can resolve this recurring open bar vs portrait session conflict? Before you mentioned this I didn’t think there’d be much benefit in talking to Tina, but now I think there’s more of a chance she’d say something illuminating. Plus, it could help if you’re able to say to clients, “I’ve asked Tina how we can avoid this time conflict, and she said X, but so far….[whatever’s applicable, I guess]”

    4. Krystal*

      I would report her to her management, unless she’s the owner. She’s stealing from her clients when she rushes photos to close the bar down.

      I would just make sure to advise clients that she is known for this.

  52. Kateedoo*

    So my boyfriend is a photographer and for weddings/events he meets with the clients to determine a shot list of the must-have pictures for the day. For weddings in particular, he happens to be shooting the people most invested in the outcome of the photos. If (or should I say when) Tina tries to interfere again, OP should say to her directly and calmly and loud enough for clients to hear, “Tina, right now we well within [the time frame agreed upon previously] but distractions like this can slow us down. My goal is to provide the happy couple and their family with the photos they requested so please let us finish and I will let you know if we need anything. Thanks so much!”

    Couples are unlikely to change their wedding venue due to a hardheaded coordinator. A venue has the right size/price/aesthetic/location and is hard to replace. Many clients will see a difficult or whiny sounding photographer easily replaceable. While OP sounds perfectly justified in his complaints it’s too risky to say something and get written off in initial meetings.

    On another note – love having the friend to help coral the problem person – isn’t it pretty normal for brides to have personal attendants these days? A person not needed for photos but close to the couple. I did this for a friend and I was master of bringing curling irons, bobby pins and making sure things were in order at the reception venue while photos were being taken.

  53. LucyVP*

    My two cents as a former wedding coordinator and former wedding vendor. :)

    1) Is someone (Tina?) putting together a timeline for the entire day that includes all vendor’s timelines? If that is not happening it needs to start. If Tina wont do that you need to have your client do it.

    ALL vendors should receive a timeline for the entire event. As a wedding vendor if I don’t receive an inclusive timeline in advance from a coordinator or client I know immediately that this will be a disaster. I dont take jobs with coordinators who can’t create an accurate and realistic timeline. It isnt worth the stress, no matter how good the money is.

    2) Email Tina ahead of the event (ideally at least a week in advance) to clarify your photography timeline needs and confirm the time that your clients need to be ready for dinner. Once you have her agreement in writing you need to print out that email and have it ready to shove in her face. Never assume your clients will do this communication for you. I feel that vendors need to communicate among themselves not with the client as the middle man.

    3) You need to be very careful that this is not affecting YOUR reputation. If you are getting a reputation for charging for A,B & C, but only delivering A & B, it doesnt matter whose fault it is. You need to get a handle on this ASAP. You might also want to chat with other vendors who work at this venue (florist, rental companies, officiant, caterer, baker, etc.). Is anyone else having these type of problems with Tina, and how do they handle them. Does she have a problem with photographers specifically?

    4) When Tina comes up to you and claims some sort of emergency that is effecting the timeline you need to A- show her your agreed timeline email, and then take control of the situation. Let her know that you are working of the agreed timeline and interruptions and distractions will only make you go overtime. If she wont back down then. Have her explain the EMERGENCY to you so you can ask your clients what they prefer to do. Make sure you make this ask, not her. If photos are a priority for them, their guests can start dinner without them – or whatever the problem is. If photos are less important to them, then THEY need to make that choice not Tina. If the emergency situation is that she never shared the revised timeline with you, that your client needs to know that and can still make their decision based on their priorities.

    Finally, I heartily agree that it might be a better choice in the long run to stop taking work at this venue.

  54. Blurgle*

    If she were just crazy or controlling I’d see the benefit of talking to her personally. But she’s actually trying to cheat the wedding couple out of open bar time they paid for! I would take one of the scripts above and mention this to your clients, but be sure to mention why: they need to know that their money might not be buying what they expect it to.

  55. Patty*

    Meet with her in advance. Give her the timeline for photos. Ask her to initial it, and leave her a copy, and keep that copy handy.

    Go into the meeting with the attitude that you want to be clear about what’s going to happen, and let her know you’re going to adhere to the plan.

    The day before the event, call her to confirm the schedule. Let her know who your family guest wrangler is, and that everyone involved is in agreement concerning the timeline. When she tries to change stuff on the fly hand her the timeline she initialed and don’t change. Get your client’s photos done..

    IF she isn’t the owner, discuss the problem with them. OR, if she is the owner, call her the Monday after the wedding to ask what the problem seemed to be over the weekend.. and let her know that any problems with the timeline should come to you and not the clients.

    One other way to deal with her is to have a company policy that her venue needs an assistant, because of the lighting, how big it is or whatever. The assistant’s real job is to deal with Tina…. Charge the clients an extra $200 for the assistant, pay a photo student or relatively new photographer $200 for the day and take them out for drinks afterward..

  56. Court*

    I’m just skimming the comments, so I may have missed this, but has anyone talked about the fact that someone NOT in the bride and groom’s family (Tina) TOOK their child from them in order to stop pictures?? Am I interpreting that correctly? Because if I were the bride, I would not be okay with a stranger grabbing my son from me.

    OP, if you have details on what happened after that, I would love to read them. That’s just insane. I can’t imagine the bride reacting well to that at all.

    1. Kyrielle*

      Yes, this. If I were that bride, the whole remaining photography timeline would be in jeopardy, because I would no longer be focused on the photos, I would be busy dealing with the person who *took my child*. Nor would my child be the only loud one in the room – I’d be yelling my head off.

  57. Marya*

    I don’t really have an answer, except please stand up to her. Because I’m still sad about a bunch of photos we wanted to take at our wedding, and never did, thanks to a cantankerous coordinator who shut us down abruptly. The photographer meekly agreed, and we twiddled our thumbs in a back room for nearly a full hour before the ceremony.

  58. specialist*

    Interesting situation. Tina does have a boss. It is the bridal couples. She has to keep them coming in to keep her business. This is my first comment on this blog, and I’m not an HR person. I can pull some things off that others can’t. My suggestions don’t work for everyone. end disclaimer.

    May I suggest, as you seem to be the photographer least cowed by her behavior, that you meet with Tina sometime and tell her that you’ve heard a couple of comments that are concerning. You have overheard at other events that Tina is starting to get a bad reputation. (So what you heard it from photographers–she doesn’t need to know that.) You are worried that this is going to cost her business in the future and you wanted to give her a head’s up because you’re a great person and would hate to see that happen. Hopefully, Tina is now concerned. Then you can “helpfully” discuss ways to fix the problem. Tell her flat out that the open bar has been specifically discussed. Personally, I would bet she’s trying to scrimp on the food she puts out at the open bar.

    You can work on your side as well. Have as many clients as possible do most of their photography prior to the wedding. Makeup will be fresher and it will remove some of the stress. This will then leave mostly your big family shots for after the wedding. Tell them that with this venue this schedule works best. Don’t shorten your after ceremony time completely. You have an extra 15 minutes in there so that you can either take a few extra shots or make it seem to Tina that you are shortening your photos somewhat to help her out. You may want to tell the couples to put out one type of food at a particular time but to hold X trays of a particular food to be placed out 30 minutes prior to the arrival of the bridal couple.

    Designating a family or friend to handle this on the part of the couple is a great idea, but not all couples will do this and not all of the designees will be capable.

  59. Milla*

    1) Get everything confirmed and in writing to all involved parties beforehand.
    2) Give couple a heads up. Not about Tina per se, but that they need to confirm that, if they have 2 hours of photos, they have a guaranteed 2 hours worth of cocktail time and food with the vendor. Warn them that the vendor may try to move up the start time and eat into the photo time if the guests get through the food/drinks too fast and give a small anecdote of this happening. Joke that it’s to prevent the guests from cannibalizing each other, and offer some suggestions for handling the situations make you seem helpful. Hopefully they’ll take things to heart. Then, if Tina attempts to cut their time short, they’ll know they had worked this issue out with her and it should have been handled, so it’s on her, not you.
    3) Get a big sandwich board sign. Put “Photos in progress until [time]. Thank you for maintaining a respectful distance.” (or “Do not disturb/Do not approach/Please wait here”) on one side, then tape the confirmed schedule on the other so everyone can see it. Set the sign up a ways back from where you’re shooting.
    4) Have a discussion with Tina. Maybe blame yourself for having some sort of anxiety/distraction thing and ask if she would do you a big favor of not watching while you take photos since being watched makes you take longer, which you know upsets her. Come to think of it, being interrupted also makes you take longer, so if she needs something, could she send a note via a server/tell ___helper person instead of you/wait over by the sign? Maybe mention that the bride/groom noticed her making inappropriate faces behind your back, which made them uncomfortable and was unprofessional. Do what you have to do to get her to commit to staying away from your shoot.
    5) If she shows up and looms anyways, repeat firm “I’m on the couple’s time right now,” “I posted the schedule we all agreed upon over there (far away from the pictures),” “I will come see you as soon as we have a moment if you wait over by the schedule (far away from the pictures),” “Please discuss all matters with ___ family member, who is over there (far away from the pictures).” Maintain total decorum, and she’ll look like the awful one if she doesn’t comply.

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