How did you get your start in the wedding industry, and what made you decide to open Lamar Wedding Center?
I got my start as a wedding photographer and frankly I was shocked at how completely disorganized most weddings were. Many vendors were unprofessional and unreliable to say the least. Sometimes the flowers would arrive late or the limo would show up late – or not at all. At one wedding, the church organist got his dates mixed up, so he was a no-show. The poor bride was upset about having to walk down the aisle without any musical accompaniment. Having been a music minister for many years, I handed my camera to my assistant and jumped behind the organ so the bride could walk down the aisle to the Wedding March! One day I sat down and thought, “Weddings do NOT have to be this way. If I can head up a team of talented, responsible wedding service providers, we can take the stress and chaos out of planning a wedding AND do it at a reasonable price.” Lamar Wedding Center now offers photography, videography, limos, flowers, centerpieces, DJs, photo booth’s, officiates, hair/makeup and yes, even ceremony music. Clients can choose one or any combination of services.
As the CEO of a multi-faceted wedding business, what advice can you give to couples who are planning their wedding on a budget?
When a couple goes to several different places for their wedding day services, there is a greater opportunity for miscommunication between vendors and for things to go wrong. It is often less economical than going to a wedding center, as well. A one-stop wedding center enables the owner to control the quality and reliability of each vendor and save couples money. That’s not to say all wedding centers are alike. Some places call themselves wedding centers, but they are actually many separate vendors represented under one roof. When you leave their establishment, you’ll leave with 9 different contracts. These vendors are essentially splitting the rent. A true wedding center is a place where you will get one contract for all wedding services. Make sure you see their work and ask about contingency plans for covering staff. Feel free to shop around and compare. You don’t want to break the bank, but you also don’t want to sacrifice quality service for cost on this important day.
What tips do you have for LGBT couples who want to create a personalized wedding ceremony and memorable vows?
When LGBT couples write their own vows, they are often more heartfelt because they have been denied the rite to marry for so long. The love just shines through for a personalized and memorable wedding. When interviewing officiates to plan their ceremony, couples should look for one who asks questions to find out what is unique and special about them as individuals and their relationship. I really enjoy consulting with couples to find out what is meaningful to them and what drew them to one another in the first place. I also like to include families whenever possible and if there are children, I like to marry all of them together. I also share my ideas of doing a unity candle, a sand ritual or a love lock to bring the ceremony to an intimate and meaningful place.
Can you give any insight on the best ways to go about researching (and selecting) LGBT-friendly wedding vendors and officiants?
If you want a vendor or officiate that is truly gay-friendly, ask to see photos or videos of other gay weddings they’ve done when you interview them. Also, ask friends for recommendations and look up their reviews. Many competent wedding professionals have just begun delving into the LGBT space and some, like Lamar Wedding Center, have been there for a long time. At the end of the day, it’s all about what feels most comfortable to the couple and their celebration of newly wedded bliss!
For more information, please visit www.lamarweddingcenter.com