Kelly In Catty

This blog is Kell's attempt to keep in touch with friends far away who complain that I don't e-mail nearly enough.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

What's Success?

I used to do live television - and I always marvelled at how chaotic it could get in the production truck or studio - when the viewers at home never noticed anything wrong... I remember working a football game where the color commentator had a flight to catch immediately following the game. (He coached a high school football team that was playing in the state championships that evening.... Unfortunately, it was not the state we were in...) - The game we were televising involved the most played rivalry in college football... Regardless of how the teams fared in regular season play, they fought their hardest at this game.... Naturally, this meant double overtime. Color commentator was flummoxed, upset, nervous, and tense. Every three seconds, he had me call the airport to attempt (like it was possible - this was before the days of near-guaranteed flight delays) - to hold the flight.

Meanwhile, the director had arranged for police escorts, complicated only by the fact that the football game was in a different jurisdiction as the airport... It would be like a Minneapolis cop escorting a high-speed getaway to an airport in St. Paul... The cops kind of shrugged, and said they'd see how it went...

The scene backstage was chaotic. To viewers at home, however, the only chaos anyone noticed was on the field. The broadcast proceeded exactly as planned. The color commentator never issued as much as a rushed thought, expletive, dangling participle, or unfortunate stammer in his delivery. No one had any idea his heart wasn't in a Division I game, but in an itty bitty high school championship he had no intention of missing.

(I'm told, btw, that he made it to the game)

There is a fine line between chaos and order... And if you're really good, no one will notice the line, where it occurred, or even if it ever got fixed. ( It makes one wonder what the mark of true success - running a flawless event from the audience/client/viewer perspective, or running a tight show backstage... )

Maybe I aim low, but I tend to believe that what matters is the end product, but you decide.

I photograhed a wedding last night... Now, I never understood why anyone (excluding the availability of the hall, caterer, church, and staff) would plan a July wedding. Even the best tuxes aren't lightweight enough to withstand the soaring temperatures -and say what you will about not wearing pantyhose, bridesmades and wedding dresses are made for neither comfort nor ventilation. In July, a wedding party is nothing but a sweat-trap.

So already, this bride was off to a rough start. To boot, there was some confusion about certain elements. The bride's family was responsible for decorating the room where the ceremony took place; the family thought they ordered extra flowers, but didn't... The bride thought she ordered gold chairs (not the black ones that were in the room). The caterer swears by his copious notes that she didn't pay extra for them...

Then, the crazy July Thunderstorms we've been having around here changed the location of the buffet stations. Originally planned to be outside, but the food had to be moved to an indoor location down a long hallway...

Of course, when the wedding ended, and the guests wandered the hallways looking for the receiving line (the bride escaped to a bathroom to bussel a complicated gown), they immediately found dinner, and started eating, therefore completely bypassing the butlered hor's Deuvres they were SUPPOSED to be enjoying. The caterer just shrugged - and buttlered dumplings and bruschetta throughout dinner.

The bride was kind of upset. I mentioned to her that her guests were having the time of their lives. She acknowledged that and just shrugged it off...

Later, during formal introductions, the DJ introduced the bride and groom to a song no one had chosen, nor had I ever heard used to introduce any bride and groom - EVER. In walks the bride with a "What the....?!!" look on her face as the DJ played, "I believe in miracles... You sexy thing..." Then, a few minutes later, when it was time for the bride to dance with her father, the DJ played John Denver when he should have been playing Ray Charles.

I noticed the bride, trying to laugh it off - yet wiping an escaped tear from her eye.

I'm hoping the bride found some comfort during the toasts - a stream of heartfelt confessions:

The best man/brother of the groom acknowledged that he thought he'd never be more proud of his brother than when he won the state football championships 15 years ago (what is it with high school football?!!) - but professed his beaming pride and love for every moment he could spend with his brother...

The maid of honor/sister of the bride winged one of the lovliest speeches I'd ever heard: "We were so competitive growing up, and it took me years to realize how much fun you are - and how you are my very best friend..."

The father began with his long-awaited confession, "I'm giving this speech because I'm told I'm not demonstrative enough with my feelings, particularly around Christmas. I just need you all to know I'm grateful for the gifts - especially when the polo shirt has the proper three buttons... I liked it really, but I don't give a damn about material things - What I care about is in this room right now... I'd do anything for anyone here - and I can't tell you how much it means to me that you're sharing this day with us."

Maybe it's age, or wisdom - but the dad was right. When nothing goes according to plan, the chairs aren't gold, there are less flowers than you would have liked, and the entire family is letting off steam by yelling at the caterer - yet you still have those you love close by - laughing, dancing, and enjoying themselves - it's hard to say the event was nothing but a smashing success...

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  • At 1:07 PM, Blogger Sarabeth said…

    I say elope and then have a big party afterwards.

    Yes, you are right--it is the end result.

    At my wedding, the flowers were the wrong color (yellow instead of pink), the florist was late, the caterer was early and got in the way of the florist, and the cake was made incorrectly. I just pointed to someone and told him or her to deal with it as best they could.

  • At 3:39 PM, Anonymous DF said…

    Great post. You have such a keen eye for the telling detail, both with words and images.

    I'd like to know if the color commentator made it to his game or not!

  • At 6:03 PM, Blogger Issa said…

    One of the best pieces of advice I got (and now give) regarding weddings is, "no matter what happens, at the end of the day, you'll still be married!" One must have perspective in all things....and in the long run, it won't matter what plans go awry, who doesn't do what they said they would. A wedding is about starting a marriage, and that's all you need anyway.

    And speaking of wedding mishaps, I was a bridesmaid a week ago and they didn't even announce my name as I came into the reception hall! (my coordinated groomsman had backed out two weeks prior to the wedding, so I had to walk by myself) El lame-o!

    I really like the way you tell a story. :) and what college did you go to in Grand Rapids?

  • At 6:36 PM, Blogger Dakota Knight said…

    Hey, Kell, great story...How do you survive the stress of photographing weddings? One of my best friends used to do it until late last year and she had to give it up. She said it was too stressful for her. It sounds like you're going through it pretty well though.


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