Wedding Pro Jason Groh breaks down the First Look on “The Zilla Inside” podcast episode “To First Look or Not to First Look.” Have a listen!
Step Four: Watch Demos and Cry
Gina and Tyler’s wedding was a beautiful event. This fun and energetic couple brought their creative senses to their very special day. We are honored to have had the opportunity to film their wedding. Thank you Gina and Tyler for allowing us to be a part of your special day!
Let the “Ugly Crying” Commence
Pati and John had a beautiful day for their wedding. The ceremony was held at the picturesque St. Patrick Catholic Church on Miami Beach; and the reception at the always elegant Villa Woodbine in Coconut Grove. Coordinated by Kara Rose, it was a night to remember! Thank you Pati and John for having us there!
Step Five: Make You First Vow BEFORE Your Wedding to Never Be Like This!
An Open Letter to ‘Zillas Everywhere and the Professionals Who Deal with Them.
by: Jason Groh
About 5 times a year I get the question from a new client, friend, family or acquaintance. “Have you ever had a Bridezilla? What do you do?” Having been in the business for nearly 10 years the answer to that question of course is “yes.” If you work in the wedding industry it is an occupational hazard. However before we go any further into this topic. I do think it is important to define what a bridezilla is or isn’t.
There are a number of breakdowns for what the term “Bridezilla” actually means. (see Urban Dictionary ). BUT it isn’t necessarily directed toward the bride. You can have Groomzillas, Couplezillas and Mother of the Bride-zillas. In this essay, we are just going to go with the gender neutral term ‘Zillas. There should be a clear distinction drawn though between an honest and justified disappointment in what someone expected their day to be (or day of vendors to be) and someone who is flat out rude and impossible to work with.
For us, I think it is a lack of understanding and more geared toward the idea that (unless a bride has a coordinator) couples are trying to do something they have little to no experience doing. Putting together a massive party on an epic scale. The wedding itself is actually the easy part. It’s everything else. It’s the pressure, the magazines, the television shows and a lifetime of dreams of what this day is supposed to look like; which is different for everyone. In other words. It’s a lot of pressure causing a lot of anxiety.
The best vendors understand that. Working in weddings is really unlike any other industry. We are not mearly Photographers, DJs, Bands, Videographers, Florists, and Coordinators. We are the counselors and the mentors. We ask clients to release their anxiety on our shoulders and let us take the wheel. We work in uncontrolled circumstances. Maneuvering between the ebbs and flows of the day. Dealing with the expected and the unexpected; ready for anything that can and will happen. It’s exciting, it’s meaningful and it’s always different. We love it!
The best vendors also understand that not every client is a good client and can spot a ‘Zilla a mile away. Most vendors will ask specific questions to gage whether they have a ‘Zilla in their midst and if they do; they will refuse them. Maybe not directly “Oh I’m sorry we just had someone book your date.”
Now, for some that may seem odd. Why would you turn down a potential client and not take the money. In our opinion, it is because it would be a complete disservice to that potential couple. Think about it. If you know that you won’t be able to make them happy, why waste their time and money. It simply isn’t a good fit. No matter what you do to try to please them; they won’t be pleased and they will probably go online and write nasty things about you. So that X amount of dollars is now a negative because it may have cost you business in the long run.
We still haven’t answered the question though. Who are the Zillas? In our opinion, the ‘Zillas are the impossible and the unreasonable. They want to micromanage their day. They want to micromanage their family. They believe that communication is yelling at those who are trying to help them (no this isn’t just vendors…..we’ve seen them yell at family and friends to). They expect everything to be 110%, 200% of the time and would find fault in a Picasso. Everything has to be on THEIR terms. Because after all it is THEIR day. The day they have dreamed about ALL of their life. AND if it isn’t EXACLY the way that THEY want it; then there is HELL TO PAY!!!!
And guess what? These weddings are the ones that are a complete disaster. Because the truth is when the clock strikes midnight and your wedding day begins; the operation of your wedding is no longer in your hands. It now belongs to your vendors. They are going to bring years of experience to something the you have only done once (ok maybe twice…or three times). They have systems in place and know how to operate under any circumstance. The vendors that you have is a direct reflection on you. If you feel like you have to micromanage your vendor, then you probably shouldn’t have hired them. If you do start to micromanage or start yelling at your vendor; it won’t cause them to work harder; it will probably cause them not to care. In weddings it is, as it is in life, you treat people how you want to be treated.
In dealing with ‘Zillas there has been a trend as of late. This would be Firing the client before the wedding. In business it is a recommended practice in extreme circumstances. We are mixed on this. We believe that vendors should vet the client ahead of time before they take them on. If the client needs to be released, even if it is a mutual agreement, we believe it is important that ample time is given for the client to find a replacement. With that said, yes on a couple of very rare occasions, and under extreme circumstances, we have had to fire ‘Zillas before and let them out of their contract, which our blood pressure greatly appreciated; and in a way they appreciated it as well.
What if the ‘Zilla comes out after the wedding? This can happen after a couple reviews their items (photos, videos, etc) or just didn’t like their day (Band, Caterer, Coordinator) and now decides to unleash holy hell on the vendor. As with anything there is justified and unjustified responses. A criticism doesn’t mean that someone is a ‘Zilla. BUT if the criticism is mean spirited i.e. “I can’t believe you would even think that this photo is good.” Or ridiculous “I can’t believe you photographed this side of me! This isn’t even my good side! (when it wasn’t specified ahead of time)” Then a ‘Zilla has been born. We always recommend doing what you were contracted for, be kind and get things wrapped up as quickly as possible. Look at it as an opportunity to problem solve. Your couple may be like “They really took the time to make things right. Which we appreciated.” In some cases though, you simply have to cut the cord. Yes it is true. You can show the same work to two different couples and get a completely different response.
In our case, we work in wedding films. So for us we don’t have to deal with the photographer issues, but we hear about it all the time from colleagues (and yes they talk about the ‘Zillas they work with). Lately the trend for us is to receive an email that states “we love this video and would like to have something like this (insert other company’s link here).” This occurs AFTER they book and usually a few weeks to a few days before the wedding. The answer is always “No that isn’t our style (most of the time not even our price point). But you will have an amazing film that you will love that looks like what we demo’d (which is why you went with us in the first place).” Photographers get this too because couples see shots they like on Pinterest, etc. This does not constitute a ‘Zilla per say, and this question most likely is from a lack of understanding of the industry itself. But it is the first step to a level playing field of expectation. Let your client know that they are in good hands; and you will take care of them because you are going to do what YOU do and do it well. Even if “no” isn’t what they want to hear.
Finally, if you are bride and you feel stressed; everyone in this industry sympathizes with you. Great vendors are here to walk you through the process and answer questions. Yes there are bad vendors out there, but there are also really good ones who care about you, are going to do their best and have your best interests in mind. If you are a micromanager, or feel you have to manage every aspect of your day and you just can’t come off of it; then be upfront about that to your vendors BEFORE you book. We are all control freaks in some parts of our lives. However at some point you need to realize that you are not a photographer, videographer, dj, coordinator, caterer and really don’t know the ins and outs of what needs to get done. So you will need to give up some control.
If you are a vendor, come up with a process of dealing with the ‘Zillas of the world. How not to attract them, how to vet them out in a consultation and how to deal with them if one has been hatched after they book with you. Do not get cynical or jaded. Do not let these few ‘Zillas take up all of your time. Remember why you are in this industry. Remember your value and don’t let a ‘Zilla get you down. In this crazy industry no one should get your blood pressure boiling. It isn’t good for you, your clients, your family or anyone around you. Brush them off your shoulders and move on to the client that appreciates you, the work you have done, the time and sacrifice you have put into them and are ready to shout your name from the rooftops to any future brides who will listen.