Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Howard Beale Moment

I am not going to bad-mouth our caterers in public. Seriously. They are almost certainly the best caterers in this area, and they are going to do a great job. They make damn good food; they understand and play along with our crazy ideas (e.g., heritage pigs); and, they know how to get the details just right in achieving a beautiful event.

But, as you may know, we were having some problems. It was like pulling teeth to get the clear, detailed answers we needed to keep our budget under control. We felt nickled-and-dimed by unexplained surcharges and exorbitant bartending fees, among other things. We were losing trust, not to mention our savings. To be frank, we contemplated postponing or canceling the wedding for fear of going too deeply into debt.

Finally, yesterday, we channeled our frustration into action. In a very firm but very clear way, we delineated exactly what expenses we refused to pay. We requested the discounts to which we felt entitled because of reserving the date so early. We insisted on a complete, clear, detailed spreadsheet of charges. We insisted that the catering staff coordinate more closely with the farm staff to find cost savings, such as eliminating unnecessary rentals.

You know what?

It worked. Just by doing the bold, grown-up thing, we have shaved at least 10% off the cost of this wedding, all in a matter of minutes.

On the one hand, it feels great to have "beaten" the system that takes advantage of every couple's desire for a perfect, magical day. But more importantly, it feels good to have taken responsibility for getting what we needed, putting our concerns first and communicating clearly.

Now, maybe for the rest of the week, I want to take on the world, with the voice of Peter Finch ringing in my ears: "You've got to say, 'I'm a HUMAN BEING, Goddammit! My life has VALUE!'"

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