A Cautionary Tale of Hosting an ‘Influencer’s Wedding
Sydney Marie Co (sydneymarie.co) is a world-renowned wedding photographer, shooting incredible weddings & photoshoots all over the country. She has amassed quite the following, from past clients to fans, to those in the industry that adores her work (myself included!) We had the pleasure, privilege (and pressure!) of hosting Sydney’s ACTUAL wedding through aVenue Weddings at Mather’s Social Gathering.
It’s fitting that a photographer that has photographed hundreds of weddings would want something a bit outside the box for her own wedding reception, that’s when she found and decided that Mathers Social Gathering fits that unique, non-traditional mold that is suitable for a trendsetter like Sydney. Our company, aVenue Event Group, has managed private events and weddings for Mathers for 3 years, and our wedding division, aVenue Weddings manages weddings at our non-traditional wedding venues. So naturally, we handled the venue requirements for Sydney’s wedding.
We make every effort to ensure all our clients are well taken care of, and we know we fall short of expectations at times, but we always aim for perfection with every event and wedding we host. That being said, Sydney’s wedding is what we call in the biz an “all hands on deck” situation. We go the extra mile for those in the industry, as we know the expectations are even higher, as are ours. Especially with the reach and influence that Sydney has.
Therefore, we feel the need to address Sydney’s vague review of a ‘horrible experience’ with her reception venue that was shared with her substantial following.
We met with Sydney following her wedding to hear her and her husband’s feedback on the reception.
Sydney was upset about the following 3 items-
- The elevator at Mathers was not functioning
- Mathers was decorated with Holiday decor
- Their guests did not eat much of the food or dessert at the reception
For those in the wedding and event industry, you know one of the greatest challenges we face is when things that are outside of our control, which is why we try to control the situation as much as humanly possible. aVenue has built our business around making it easier to host turn-key events at non-traditional venues, minimizing the risk of external factors becoming an issue. As I said, we fall short at times, but we do our best. We do events at unique venues, not ballrooms, and sometimes external factors come into play, even when we do our best to minimize those risks.
We addressed Sydney’s concerns head-on.
Elevator. We have worked with Mathers for over 3 years and we have never once had an issue with the elevator for our events, despite the building being over 130 years old, it has never been a problem. But as fate would have it, the inspector found an issue with the elevator and disabled it the day before the wedding and took the key. The inspector would not be able to come back out to reinspect it until Monday, despite it being fixed, and the wedding was on a Sunday. Although the building is only 3 stories, we knew this was an issue, and therefore our entire team, myself included, came out Sunday afternoon to assist the DJ and Caterer to bring their heavy items up the stairs. Our heart breaks for Sydney’s relatives that could not join due to a disability and inability to go up the stairs. While this is outside of our control, I totally understand Sydney’s frustration regarding the elevator.
Holiday Decor. There was a miscommunication at some point during the planning process, we take full responsibility. Sydney was expecting the typical Mathers setup, and not the holiday season Mathers. Mathers is famous throughout Orlando for its incredible holiday decorations, it’s a fun and immersive experience from Thanksgiving through New Years’, every year. Sydney’s wedding fell the Sunday after Thanksgiving and the decorations were set up, as they are every year. Sydney has an incredible vision and knows what she wants, and a holiday-themed wedding did not align with her vision. We fell short of expectations in the planning process. We knew this was not okay, so we overstaffed the wedding before and after to remove all of the holiday decorations from the venue. For those that don’t know, there is also a large Christmas tree on display, and we moved the tree to the library, which was out of sight and not in use for the event. My team then redecorated the entire venue immediately following the event so as to not interrupt the normal holiday business of Mathers.
The Food. The other 2 items were expected to be issues and we did our best to mitigate the situations, however, this is where the conversation with Sydney took an unexpected turn. Sydney and Nick both expressed extreme displeasure with the fact that their guests didn’t eat much of the food provided by our incredible catering partner that we worked with on this wedding- Arthur’s. We’ve never had a complaint of this nature before and immediately tried to get to the bottom of the issue. Nick explained that he was upset that the food was set up in the bar area, and it was a crowded space so the assumption was that the guests didn’t see the food. This was surprising to us, as we actually had the buffet table set up in a different location during setup, and the caterer provided us with a different layout that was provided directly by Sydney’s wedding planner. I remember specifically asking the caterer and our team why we had 2 different floor plans for the event, and the answer was “this is the latest floor plan from the planner”. We’re not sure how this falls on us, but we apologized again as it didn’t meet expectations.
We’ll end with this, we apologized and made every effort to make things right with Sydney and Nick, but this is where we feel the need to speak up for those in the industry. Sydney threatened to extort aVenue and Mathers for significant monetary compensation utilizing her large audience. We will not be extorted. We have no problem with Sydney sharing her actual experience about the venue or with my company, but to demand money ‘or else’ and then to leave multiple cryptic messages about how ‘horrible her experience was’ is unacceptable and it sets an incredibly bad example to others in the space. We don’t have 100k followers, but I guarantee if we did, we would not use that following to threaten small businesses with monetary demands. We are a small business, we have 16 full-time employees and 15 part-time employees that depend on aVenue for their livelihood, we are real people here. We think it’s past time that we end the insanity of influencer entitlement. I strongly suggest Sydney considers these things before attacking those in [her] industry for her own personal gain, and that you strongly consider the character of the photographer you choose for your special day.
-Sean Hughes, Owner