Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Wedding album hell

The wedding was lovely. The photographer was one of the sweetest and most talented people I ever met. Her images were so beautiful they hurt my eyes. I mean, gorgeous. Unexpectedly breath-taking.

So when I got the album proof today from an outside company - NOT my photographer, I must emphasize - I was expecting all kinds of loveliness. I couldn't wait to flip through Kate's images, beautifully-organized on well-designed pages... and - what fresh hell is this???!!??! The album proof was cluttered, disorganized, and out-of-order. Though I was pretty much the most chill bride ever - told my florist to work with any seasonal local flowers in the red-orange-yellow color-family, gave our baker carte blanche to create a tasty cake - I flipped through the proof pages saying no, No, NO!

I hadn't realized just how important Kate's aesthetic sensibility had been in creating a beautiful depiction of our wedding day - and how easily a sloppy layout could mar the beauty she depicted. I'm not saying that the wedding day has to be all about prettiness. It was about so many things: fun, family, love, natural beauty, peaceful moments, laughter, heartfelt words, us. But none of that showed through in the cluttered layout, with images overlapping others, and crowded six or more on a page. And I'm embarrassed to reveal how much the album would have cost, had we purchased it: more than the cake, which made 100 sweet-tooths very happy, and provided us with an entire layer to freeze for our first anniversary.

In this alterna-wedding-blogosphere, we examine and question wedding traditions, and poke holes in those that can no longer stand up to 21st-century scrutiny. But this wedding album proof threw me right into the midst of all the not-suited-for-us traditions we thought we had escaped.

The largest photos were a close-up of the two of us kissing - it honestly looked kind of creepy and overly-intimate - and of me hugging my dad. It's a lovely photo, but undercuts the story of the day, which is that I walked down the beach with both parents. The father gives away the bride, so that's what matters. That's what we enlarge, according to our WIC-approved formulas.

Because I know an online photo album company can't read my mind, I carefully put the photos in order to tell the story of the day, before submitting my order. They disregarded the order completely, showing dinner toasts at the after-dinner cake cutting, and people departing from the ceremony on the same page as people arriving at the ceremony. Argh!

Wedding album lessons learned:

1) Don't pay for the full album before you see a proof or a plan (fortunately we paid only a "design fee," for what appears to be an algorithm-controlled design process: Father - enlarge. Bride - enlarge. Groom - shrink. People giving toasts - all on one page, even if there are 8 of them and they're so small you can't see them.)

2) Give *explicit* instructions. (I wrote back with a full page of design revisions. Let's see how they do.)

3) Compare offers. This faceless company offered 25% off, bringing the cost to way less than what our photographer would charge - but I'm surely her layouts are much better.

4) Consider doing it yourself (or together... or pawning off on your partner!). Petite Chablis and Accordians and Lace both did nice reviews of online wedding album software. I should have listened to them, before the WIC dug in its claws and started convincing me that I need a leather-bound, "professionally-produced", heavy-leafed photo album. How did this happen now, just when I was congratulating myself on having avoided the WIC throughout the wedding process?? (I might have to credit Mr. Barefoot here. In trying to guard my precious new-faculty-member time, he thought we should farm it out. Right motive, but little did he know that it would feed directly into the evil WIC.)

I suspect we'll head toward #4. It will be worth a few hours' time to have control over how the album turns out, and we can spend our savings on a weekend of skiing.

Any suggestions for high-quality online wedding album services?


Eco Yogini said...

this is important and I'm so glad you posted about this Barefoot! I would have been like you and just assumed that with my specific descriptions they would have complied!! blegh. Thank you so very much for the warning.

I'm going right over to Accordians and Lace and Petite Chablis to check out their reviews of software... i agree, #4 will probably be our method of choice as well.

Good luck! keep us posted!

A Los Angeles Love said...

Oh no, those gender and WIC assumptions would infuriate me, but not nearly as much as specifically disregarding your instructions. I didn't even know about third-party wedding album options, but I think we'll stick with a debate between our photographer and the DIY route. Thanks for the warning, and I'm sure you'll figure out a solution that works shortly.

Jes (A Mountain Bride) said...

yikes!! so sorry to hear about the drama of it all!

we can't even afford to have an album created (the photog is all we can afford - ha!) so we will just scrapbook our own images. I think.

sera said...

Ehem, and which place was this so that we can steer clear of it? You don't have to bash them, I will. Lucky for us, our photographer is building us an album, that is if I ever send her which photos we want in it...

elizabeth said...

Update: Pictage - the third-party, photo-hosting site that my photographer uses - has come back, within two days, with a revised design that incorporates most all of my requests. A few photos are still out-of-order, and they seem committed to stuffing 94 photos into just 30 pages -- resulting in a lot of busy layouts. Perhaps that's industry standard these days, but if that's the case, I think we'll either DIY, so we can control the layout, or have the photog do it, for more money, and presumably a better product.

Thanks for all the empathy about the WIC/ gender assumptions. They so get my goat!

Ms. Bunny said...

If you've got a Mac (or have access to one), iPhoto actually has a great and easy program in it that allows you to layout photos and order very nice hard and soft cover books. They come out much like a coffee table book. And the print quality is great.

elizabeth said...

@ Ms. Bunny: Thanks for the suggestion. We have a Mac, so we'll give iPhoto a shot.

Even after Pictage followed all my instructions and reorganized the photos per my request, the design was cluttered and sloppy. It seems that 100 photos have to fit into 30 pages - which doesn't do any of them justice!