Imagine this… you’re planning your wedding. You book the wedding day with the register office, give notice of marriage, you book your wedding venue and you’re ready to find the wedding vendors for your wedding day. You know this will be quite overwhelming and sometimes is quite difficult to know what you really want or how to find what you had in mind. Also, sometimes is hard to ask the right questions and have everything under control, so that’s why today I wanted to write about what my couples ask during the consultations and whether this questions are important or not… and also, what important questions you can’t forget to ask and what important points you have to talk about during a consultation with me or with another similar wedding professional.
AN IN-PERSON CONSULTATION IS NORMALLY A MUST
This will obviously depend on the type of wedding professional. For me, it’s super important. If you’re gonna spend a lot of time in the company of a wedding professional, knowing if you’re both a perfect match is quite important and can make a huge difference on how you feel during your wedding day. As a wedding photographer, I spend a lot of intimate moments with my couples, their family members and friends so having trust between my couples and me is definitely key. That’s why during our first consultations you could hear me asking about how long you have been together, how was your engagement proposal, your kids, what you do for a living etc… these questions help me to know you better as a couple and what you could expect from me. You see, a wedding is a very important and intimate event so having a close relationship with my couples and above all trust is my goal. I need you to be comfortable with my presence, I need to be able to let you know when something is wrong during the day (for example when we’re running late or when something unplanned happens…) and most importantly I need you to forget that I’m a photographer.
Of course, when you come to a consultation with me I know couples really want to know about the wedding photography packages, what’s included and those sort of things… don’t get me wrong, that’s very important too but we can not forget about the main goal when you’re looking for a wedding photographer or a wedding vendor: is this person the right fit for me and for my wedding day?
WHAT CAN I EXPECT FROM A CONSULTATION WITH A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER?
Being completely honest, my consultations are super relaxed and quite casual. You would visit me in my home showroom where you will see a lot of examples of my work, Queensberry wedding album samples, prints, matted prints etc… We will have a drink and chat about yourselves, your plans, what you’re after and I will answer all your questions about my work or about myself. After the consultation, you will have a clear idea of me and what I do so you can make up your mind about if I’m the right wedding photographer for you.
I’m not expecting to book me right away nor should you. Actually, bookings are made on my online booking system. After the consultation, you go home with all the informations and you can think about it with your partner, no pressure at all. I’m not like that at all, I don’t like that when happens to me so I don’t do that to my couples and never will. However, sometimes there’s a rush to make a decision if I have several enquiries for the same wedding day which can happen. This is not under my control as you know and sometimes it is inevitable especially when your wedding date is quite popular. When this happens I always let every couple know of the possibility of their wedding being booked. I don’t lock a wedding date until the wedding contract is signed and the deposit paid, so the first couple to complete the booking process is the one who gets the date.
QUESTIONS YOU MUST ASK AND OTHER NOT THAT IMPORTANT QUESTIONS
Many consultations, many couples and many weddings on my back I think I have a clear idea of what’s relevant and what’s not regarding wedding planning and making up your mind. There are things that are not optional when you're looking for a wedding vendor or wedding photographer. And there are other things that are not important even though you read that in a wedding magazine or blog. Let’s get into it!
If the wedding vendor you’re booking doesn’t give you a contract to sign, run fast. A verbal agreement is not acceptable anymore, at least for me. What if something goes wrong? Are you gonna show up in court and say that they told you this they told you that? You’re gonna have a hard time and it’s not worth it. A wedding contract is essential. If you’re dealing with a wedding professional they will have a contract for you to sign, if they don’t have one they’re not professional, period.
Having a wedding contract is not just important as a signed document you can rely on, it must show all the terms and conditions both parties will agree… things like copyright rights, delivery of the finished product, coverage, pricing, deposit, liabilities, accidents, etc…
Normally, a wedding professional will take a retainer or deposit at the time of booking and the rest of the amount due one month before your wedding date. Of course, this can vary from vendor to vendor but it’s quite standard in the industry. Giving a deposit to the supplier will give you also pice of mind knowing that the vendor has locked that date for you and they will show up on your wedding day.
PUBLIC LIABILITY AND PROFESSIONAL INSURANCE
The first, public liability insurance is basic. Actually, some important venues won’t let a wedding professional work at the venue unless the vendor shows a valid public liability cover. This is to make sure that if something happens during the day such as a fall, an accident or damage to the property the wedding professional is covered by an insurance policy. This is quite common in venues that are listed for example.
The second, professional insurance, I should say it’s not essential but if you’re dealing with a professional they should have it. In this case, the supplier will be covered if something goes wrong with the finished product. For example, in my case, if there’s a problem with the images, equipment of something else the supplier will be covered in the case the couple claims. This will give you peace of mind knowing that even something goes wrong you will be able to claim compensation in court and the supplier will be covered by the insurer in order to pay out the claim. This is important for example if after you claim in court the supplier goes bankrupt or something in that line. If the supplier doesn’t have a professional insurance cover you can win in court but then, if the vendor can’t pay if goes bankrupt you might have a hard time getting that money.
BACKUP EQUIPMENT AND BACKUP STORAGE METHODS
This is more focused on professional photographers and videographers. In order to avoid losing images or video and also avoiding the last point made about professional insurance, a proper photographer and videographer will have backup systems in place so every single image or video taken during your wedding will be secure even if a computer or other equipment fails. This is also essential for this type of wedding professionals and you should ask about it during a consultation to be sure.
In my case, I have a second copy of every single image during the very same wedding day and after the wedding is finished I have three copies more of every single image in three different locations. So, even if somebody brakes in my house and steals equipment or if my house burns or image the worst scenario, I will still have copies of your images secured. Sweet!
HAVE YOU PHOTOGRAPHED A WEDDING AT MY VENUE BEFORE?
I don’t consider this question important at all even though you can see it popping up in some wedding magazines and blogs. If you’re sure your photographer has photographed a lot of weddings the venue or location won’t matter much. Keep in mind that every single venue is completely different and has different lighting conditions. If your photographer is an experienced one, they will be able to do their job no matter the location. In my case, sometimes I go with the couple to have a look at the venue if I have never been there before but this is not totally necessary. Actually, I find more interesting and creative to photograph in a place where I have never been at before! If you’re still unsure, the photographer will be able to send you online galleries from past weddings at venues similar to yours so you can have an idea of how it will look.
I AM NOT PHOTOGENIC OR I DON’T FEEL COMFORTABLE IN FRONT OF A CAMERA
This is without a doubt the sentence that I hear the most during consultations. Couples are worried about how they will look and it’s totally understandable. If you feel that way this is something that you need to discuss with your photographer and also the deal breaker that might or might not make you choose that wedding photographer in particular. If you don’t feel comfortable in front of a camera you can’t go for a photographer that does posed pictures as their signature style, period. If that’s your case try to find someone more natural, with a photo-journalistic and candid style. This way you won’t have to worry about posing or about the camera.
In my case, I don’t do posed pictures except for the group photos. The rest is natural, candid moments and not posed photos. I don’t believe posed pictures are the way to go on a wedding day because it does disrupt the flow of the day and often looks fake. It’s simply not my style.
ABOVE ALL… ARE WE A MATCH?
In the end, I think this is the most important factor… do you have similar personalities? Will the vendor make you feel comfortable and less stressed during your wedding day? Friendliness, empathy and understanding are three things that I consider fundamental for every relationship and in this case, keeping in mind that weddings are such an intimate and important event I think they are a must. Therefore, try to think if you and the vendor are a match because you’re gonna spend quite a long time during the day with the vendors, especially with the wedding photographer. Think that not only you will be spending a lot of time with them but also your parents and grandparents… your closest family members and friends.
Recapitulating, I believe these are the most important factors and questions you should ask and keep in mind before booking any vendor for your wedding day. I might have forgotten something… if so, please feel free to let me know! Anyway, I will be updating this blog post if I come up with new ideas or if I receive some feedback from my couples. I’ll keep you posted! If you have any questions or you need any help planning your wedding day don’t hesitate to give me a shout. Looking forward to hearing from you.