We’re super excited to introduce a brand new segment of the Ayres Photography blog: Vendor Spotlights! After being in the wedding industry for over 10 years, we’ve worked with tons and tons of amazing wedding professionals. Florists, bakeries, DJs, you name it! So often we get asked by our couples, “Hey, who’s your favorite so-and-so??” that we even have a Preferred Vendor List. We send it out to all of our couples for easy at-your-fingertips access to a handful of our favorites in each of the planning categories. Well, we’ve finally decided to take it a step further and really take the time to introduce you all to some of our absolute favorite local wedding people! These people are not only the best at what they do, but they’re also just amazing individuals. It’s time we let the cat out of the bag and share them with our other favorite people… you!
So without further ado, we are over the moon to introduce all of you our very first ever featured vendor: Michelle Snyder, officiant and founder of YellowBird Wedding. Our relationship with Michelle goes way back, (we even photographed her own wedding a couple years ago)! She’s been officiating weddings since 2008 and in 2012 she decided that it was time she officially start her own company. We LOVE Michelle and are always so excited when her name comes up in conversation with our couples. She’s a genuinely kind human with a beautiful soul and an extra large heart; the best kind of person to be officiating the union of two people who are madly in love! What more could you want?!
Being the sweet and generous person that she is, Michelle took the time to answer a plethora of questions all about herself, her profession and her love of weddings! Read on to get to know all sorts of great stuff about this amazing woman and her craft! We know you’ll love her just as much as we do!
How would you describe yourself in three words or less?
Funny, generous, curious
What got you interested in becoming an officiant?
Friends of mine were getting married and were having a hard time finding an officiant. They felt like they were able to choose every aspect of their wedding, but didn’t have much of a say in the most important part, the person who married them. They felt that since I had a theater background and was a librarian surrounded by books and words, I would create a ceremony that really reflected them. I was honored to be asked so I got ordained and never looked back! The day before their wedding I was on an airplane coming home from a trip and ended up sitting next to a minister. He gave me tips and told me I was doing this for the right reasons and I’ve always held onto his words.
Tell us a little bit about YellowBird Wedding!
Our motto is “because simple is beautiful,” and we stick to that. You don’t need an overblown, long ceremony, filled with this and that. It can be clean and precise and exactly what matches the couple. The business is small as well. It’s just my sister and me, and another officiant who sort of retired after she had kids, but is around as an emergency backup. While I could expand the business, it worries me that I could lose some of the intimacy, so it doesn’t seem worth it. Forever keeping it simple.
What is it about Buffalo that makes you love living and working here?
I’ve lived in Los Angeles, so I love that it takes me no time at all to drive places in Buffalo. I can have friends that might not live super close to me, but it’s no big deal to reach them. I would meet cool people in LA and once I realized they lived 10 miles away, I knew we were never gonna hang. Also I’ve lived in Tokyo, Japan, so I appreciate the space Buffalo has. I can have a house with a yard and can bike for a few miles and find a space that’s just for me. It’s the perfect mix of city and small town. I can know my neighbors as I garden, but can meet all new people at a Canalside event.
Summer or Winter??
Summer. Always and forever.
What is your favorite thing to do in Buffalo?
I’m a big fan of riding my bike to a park and reading in it. Buffalo is amazing in the summer because we have so much cold weather, that when it’s nice out there’s a party everyday. From art fairs to festivals, I try to take in as much as I can in the summer and fall, and then I get to eat myself silly and binge on my shows and books in the winter as I hibernate in front of a fireplace. Can’t beat that.
What sets you apart from other wedding officiants in the Buffalo area?
I don’t know too many other officiants, but I know that YellowBird is open to anyone getting married. I’ve married many same sex couples, people of different ethnicity, different religions, even a couple of vampires! I’ve had couples tell me that they didn’t necessarily trust some of the officiants they met, that they wouldn’t be true to their vision, but I know it’s a big day for a couple and want it to be exactly as they envisioned it. I’m an open-minded person and that’s how YellowBird is run.
What is your favorite part of a wedding ceremony?
I’m lucky because I get to check in with the bride and groom before the ceremony so I can see their nerves and emotions all over the place, which is great. But my absolute favorite part is something that only I get to share with the couple. When we’re on the altar there are things that happen quickly and quietly that no one else sees. Little jokes that are made, small touches, words of love that are whispered or mouthed. And I get to see it all! I have emotions of steel at this point because I’ve trained myself to not cry no matter what. But it’s not easy!
What is it that keeps you coming back to this job day after day?
Well I do work a day job, but it can’t compare to marrying people. Like most people I think, you go to work and the days are long and people can feel negative and grumble. Weddings are a magical moment. It’s a special time when everyone you’re surrounded with is happy and loving and it creates an energy you can’t find anywhere else. I keep coming back for the sheer beauty of it.
How would you describe your business style and relationship with your couples?
A bunch of my couples have become my real life friends, which is amazing. We find after we meet that we have so much in common and end up talking afterwards. The biggest compliment I get after the wedding, is that guests thought I was a close, personal friend to the couple, not someone who only met them one or two times. I think that comes with being judgment free and accepting that all people are different and fascinating in their own way.
What type of client do you typically find yourself working with?
I work with everyone. For real. Couples who only want the two of them in their living room, couples who want to get married at 6am with the sunrise, or want to hike into the woods and get married in a creek! I’ve had couples who have huge blow outs or wanna get soaked on the Maid of the Mist. I feel like creative and open-minded couples end up finding me and those are my favorite people in general.
What do you love most about working in the wedding industry?
I like the positive energy that surrounds everyone. Because we all work with people who are sharing a moment of love, everyone I meet is joyful and kind. I love seeing the same vendors over and over and creating a relationship with them as well. Also, since I stand around places in a black suit and binder, I love how many people I’ve helped by pointing out where the bathroom is. It’s the first thing I learn about every venue I visit because inevitably, someone will ask me.
When meeting with brides and grooms, what is the biggest piece of advice that you find yourself giving out over and over again?
I tell them not to sweat the small stuff. Nothing can actually go wrong at a wedding. Everything that happens is special and unique. Forget what you see in the movies. If you wanna change it up, go ahead! All it can do is make the moment more memorable. And I tell them not to skimp on photos. You won’t care about the money in a few months, but you’ll have the photos forever. It’s not because this is a photography site, it’s just that I’ve seen a lot of pictures over the years, and the bad ones break your heart. Get your moments captured. It’s worth it.
What’s the best compliment that you’ve ever received from one of your couples?
I’ve had some incredibly kind things said about me. It’s always interesting reading about yourself because it might not be how you see yourself. So it’s surprising and refreshing and embarrassing in a good way. Some of my favorites that I’ll take right from my testimonials page have been that I have a wonderful sense of humor and infectious smile, an openness to the world, that I’m intuitive and insightful and my words are heartfelt and genuine. One couple told me they felt like they were having an intimate conversation with me, even though there were 100 people watching. I’ve been called down to earth and easy to talk to, and the one I love the most is when guests ask the couple how long we’ve been personal friends for, even though I only spoke with them a few times. And that must be the longest humble-brag I’ve ever written!
What’s your favorite color?
I don’t like to pick favorite anythings.
Any real life officiating stories you’d like to share with us? Your most favorite ceremony ever? The most heartwarming vows you’ve ever heard?
I have heard the most amazing engagement stories. Take the time to think of a special way to ask someone to marry you. You might only get to do it one time in your life! I can’t say I have a favorite ceremony, but the ones I tend to love the most are the ones where the couples are more relaxed. They don’t ask if they should hold hands or worry about if someone is standing in the wrong spot. They are just there, in the moment, in love, and it makes not having a weekend off for the last six years completely worth it. It’s scary to write your own vows, but I’ve heard some of the most amazing words ever spoken at weddings. Make yourself vulnerable and tell your person how you feel. And if you happen to have saved a note they gave you years ago and you read it, you’ll probably make me cry. Oh, and don’t lock your knees, or you just might faint ;)
And lastly, share some fun facts about yourself! Anything that will amp up how awesome we already know that you are!
Well I don’t know that I have many fun facts about myself, but I am a big traveler. I’ve been to Thailand, Cambodia, Morocco, Amsterdam, Nicaragua and many other countries. I’m a voracious reader. There isn’t a moment in my life that I’m not reading two books at a time, but try to make time to go to movies as often as possible. I love tea and hate coffee, have been to over 130 concerts, and have green eyes (which only 2% of the worlds population does). Oh yeah, my mind is full of useless trivia knowledge like that. And also like, did you know that your eyes see your nose all the time, but your brain chooses to block it out? Yeah. I’m full of that.