Everyone dreams of a perfect wedding day, but for most brides and grooms, the reality is that something will most likely go wrong at some point in the day.
Kiersten Hall of Austin, a former wedding videographer, detailed many of her observations and experiences with those types of problems in her book "'I Do' 15 Years of True Stories from a Wedding Videographer."
On Thursday, Feb. 11, and Saturday, Feb. 20, Hall will be sharing several of those stories at the Preston and Harmony public libraries.
At first, Hall planned to be an architect, but this goal changed after viewing her own wedding video and seeing how badly the video turned out. “I figured I could do a much better job than what was currently being offered in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s," she explained.
She didn't have any previous experience in the field, but still embarked on a journey that gave her many entertaining memories.
"This whole adventure had been 'hands-on learning' the entire way, and with the importance of each event, the learning curve was fast and the bar was set high, immediately; I didn't have the option of messing up a wedding video," Hall said.
For 15 years, she was busy shooting one to eight weddings per weekend, averaging more than 90 weddings per year, dragging nearly $75,000 worth of equipment along the way, and knowing she only had one shot at doing it well.
Being so heavily invested in the profession added to her determination to produce the best results in order to pay off the debt she had accrued.
With all the work shooting the video and then every possible hour in post-production, it became difficult to spend time with her kids.
"I have four kids. My first two experienced the nature of the wedding industry as the business was in operation when they were young, and my last two get to experience it now through the publicizing of 'I Do' and all the bridal related events in which they get to accompany me," she said.
With all the weekends and days spent shooting wedding videos, Hall came home with oodles of memories to share. One day she looked at her 12-year-old, nearly six-foot-tall daughter and couldn't believe how quickly time had flown. She felt it was time to move on and begin focusing more on her family than weddings.
"That's when I realized I had four kids raising their own selves with absentee parents,” Hall said. “I pulled the plug there and then, finished out my contracts, personally, and decided to get on with hanging out with my kids.”
But she still wanted to keep those memories fresh. And she wanted to help her kids understand what she had been doing all those years.
"I felt I had a lot of explaining to do to my kids, so, I thought I would write them stories. Over the course of writing, I had others read my stories and at their urging, I formatted my memories into a book for all to enjoy," Hall noted.
Though those memories may not have been entertaining at the time, in hindsight and in book form, they are funny and enlightening. Her stories range from a version of Alfred Hitchcock's 'The Birds' on the church steps, to rings disappearing, fire engine escorts and people standing on salad plates on their dinner tables.
"As a videographer, it was certainly never a dull moment. I enjoyed the action and the variety — constant variety on all levels. The people, the locals, the memories, the food, the experiences, the travel... I enjoyed it all," Hall stated.
During her time as a videographer, she ran across a "professional storyteller" and was impressed by how she could spin a story, capturing the audience with her words. Hall had so many stories she loved to pass on to people and hoped to get the same reaction from her audience in the future.
She began to compile some of her stories into a book in August 2005, to ensure she did not forget all those experiences herself. She worked at selling the book in hard cover and ebook format, but again found herself overloaded with things to do.
As a result, Hall set the book aside for a few years. Eventually, she retyped her manuscript and reformatted it for Kindle during a period of time from November 2013 to January 2014. Finally, in April 2015, she learned self-publishing is much easier now than when she started her book. By June, her book started selling worldwide on Amazon and other online retailers, with a tremendous response.
On Thursday, Feb. 11, at 7 p.m. Hall will be at the Preston Public Library to visit with people and talk about the stories she included in her book.
"Once people have arrived, I think I will have them call out a page number and I will expand on whatever story happens to be on that page," she stated.
Her next appearance will be on Saturday, Feb. 20, at 11 a.m. in Harmony.
Be sure to show up on time to catch all the fun stories she tells. She is certainly looking forward to sharing her experiences with others. But regardless of relationship status, her stories and the book itself are entertaining to read.
"'I Do' is actually for everyone, not just engaged couples. Of the people I know who have read the book, the age spans between 11 years through 80 years old, both men and women, and I get my best reviews by men," Hall commented.
"Married couples will laugh through the book and reminisce over their own wedding memories. Engaged couples will be reminded of the various things that can happen at weddings and know how to avoid those situations, personally. And people who are never planning on getting married will laugh all the way through the book."
But in the event that a couple is looking to be married, here are a few tips from an experienced wedding videographer. First, Hall recommends, don't depend on a family member or friend to shoot your wedding. For a great quality video, the equipment used to shoot a wedding is truly important. Even the way one holds a camera and how it is held is important. Little technical glitches like not having enough battery power or one's attention span can affect the video. And if the appointed "video person" makes a mistake, the next meeting could be somewhat awkward.
"I had hundreds of phone calls over the years I was in business that sounded something like this, 'We didn't bother to spend the money on a video person and had a family friend do it instead. It didn't turn out very well and we were wondering if you could fix it?'" Hall explained. "The answer was and always will be, 'No. Once something is recorded, that's it.'"
Second, make sure you interview every vendor and view or sample their work if they will be the person on the contract of your wedding. Hall said, if something isn't sitting well, step back and reassess the vendor.
Third, always use a contract with every vendor and pass on a timeline of the wedding day so everyone knows what is going on and when and where they need to be.
"Once your wedding day arrives, you're done planning. As a matter of fact, what doesn't get done by the eve of your wedding day, by you, is not going to happen. Give yourselves a cutoff time. When 12 noon the day before rolls around, it's time to relax and enjoy the fruits of your labor from the past countless months of planning. Or appoint a 'Personal Attendant' or two," Hall said.
For those interested in purchasing this book of laughs, Hall will bring copies along for sale at $14.95 to the libraries. Otherwise, one could buy it online at www.idovideostories.com for $19.95.