The Problem with Desination Weddings in Mammoth Lakes

christie o in Mammoth Lakes California

I was tickled to get a text from Brandon of Minaret Photography last night.

“Hey, I’m going to put your pictures on the blog tomorrow. ”

“Sweet,” I replied.

They’re beautifully shot (because Brandon has mad skills like that.)  And they show every last bit of dorkiness in from the deepest parts of my soul. And of course they show my unabashed love for cupcakes, bunting and wine. Yup, I love them all. Though the bunting shots were meant to be ironic. You know, a sort of oh-the-tangled-webs-we-weave-[with-bunting] kind of way.

I think maybe they just further illustrated what a dork I am. Which is fine. I like it. It’s totally me, and that’s all I can ask for.

But Brandon’s post wasn’t just about dorky pictures of me. He made some significant comments about our local wedding community. The gist of it was…

Mammoth Doesn’t Not Suck

[My words not his.] OK, I’m couching this in a bit of double speak because I live here, and I believe in this community’s ability to be great, and I don’t want to take the wind out of anyone’s sails. I’d like to inspire. But I agree with the premise of Brandon’s article: false praise won’t help the situation.

What really struck me about Brandon’s post was his comments about the wedding industry in Mammoth Lakes. Basically, they are not exactly cutting-edge in their respective industries, and it’s not for lack of raw talent. Now don’t get Brandon wrong. No one loves this place more than he does. He’s committed to this community and wants to see it be the best it can be. But he knows that false praise isn’t going to help anyone.

His biggest criticism: We are behind the times.

He writes:

While there are some super-talented wedding vendors in the area, the truth is that there has been a lack of progressive, wedding-based businesses in the Eastern Sierra. This is especially true when compared to similar communities around Tahoe, Napa and Southern California’s periphery. Mammoth is smaller and more remote, but with the amount of artists, creatives and genuinely cool people here, we should keeping pace with the national wedding zeitgeist.

Oh indeed! Most wedding pros I met when I first got here didn’t read industry mags, look at blogs, or follow top-flight leaders in their field. I saw flowers, cakes, and decor that looked like they came from a 1980’s time capsule. It was no surprise that modern destination brides try to import as many vendors as possible.

And then there’s the emails I get and horror stories I hear. Vendors not getting back in touch; a high degree of turnover at key venues; and vendors simply skipping town. Yup, one wedding planner had a florist move to Oregon weeks before a wedding. She left a high school student in charge for her clients.

So yes, Mammoth Lakes can be a mine field of out-dated wedding details and unprofessional behavior. And don’t get me going on the shitty websites most of these wedding pros have. There are a handful of exceptions, but by God – 1997 is calling Mammoth businesses and it wants it’s crappy static websites back!

Hindsight Hand Picks:

But not every wedding pro in this town sucks. I have had the pleasure of working with several local wedding pros that have fresh ideas, stay current in their fields, are professional, and quite talented by anyone’s standards. Here are my personal picks based on personal experience:

  • Wedding Planner: Sandra DiDomizio of Green Fox Events I worked with Sandra personally when she planned an internet and social media workshop I lead. Sandra is professional, responsive and a real go-getter. I was particularly impressed with her extensive knowledge of local culture and individual vendor idiosyncrasies. She can definitely help you get ahold of top vendors. She’s also an idea wiz when it comes to prioritizing budgets.
  • Photography: Brandon Russell of Minaret Photography: I’ve of course worked with Brandon on a recent lifestyle shoot. There are a few things I love about Brandon: 1) He knows the area better than anyone I’ve met. He knows the best scenic areas that aren’t cliched, what time of day is best to shoot, and he’s willing to take artistic and creative risks to get a cool image. 2) He’s so laid back and easy to work with. He gives great direction and his fun-loving nature makes it easy to relax around him. 3) He is passionate about his craft. Photography isn’t just a weekend job for him; it’s his passion. He pays attention to issues and trends in wedding photography, reaches out to colleagues, and strives to improve upon already badsass skills.
  • Caterer + Venue: Convict Lake Resort Locals and visitors alike agree that Convict Lake’s restaurant is one of the very best in town. But aside from the delicious food, the Convict Lake staff is professional and responsive. You can expect a return phone call or email back within a day or so. (Some Mammoth Lakes vendors make you wait weeks, or worse, never answer at all!) Mike Melin, the wedding coordinator, also has contemporary options for tent rentals and he’s super easy to work with. Here’s a guy who has a passion for being the best.

Who are your favorite picks and why?

Mountainside Guide

Mountainside Bride Preferred vendorsMinaret Photography is a distinguished member of the Mountainside Guide, an exclusive vendor directory featuring the best and most reliable mountain wedding vendors in North America. Mountainside Guide members are screened and vetted for quality of work, reliability, and professionalism, both among their peers and on review web sites.

See Minaret Photography’s portfolio HERE.