Weddings & Life with Taylor Nicole, a podcast by Denver Wedding Photographer,
Taylor Nicole Photography
Intro: Okay are you ready for my best wedding planning advice? If you want to have the most stress free possible wedding planning experience then you need to hire wedding vendors that you both like and more importantly that you completely trust. If you can hire vendors that you sincerely trust can and will take your vision for your wedding day and use their specific gifting and talents to carry your vision out for you, then you actually won’t have much left to worry about for your wedding day at all. Yes this is a simplistic view but I am excited to dive into why trusting your vendors will actually transform your wedding planning experience. I will also touch on how to effectively communicate your vision with your vendors throughout the planning process too. So thanks for listening.
Welcome back to another episode of my podcast! So let’s start this episode with another behind the scenes story time. So my most recent change is that I have booked out my last wedding dates for myself in 2022. My personal wedding season is completely full. This is a complete blessing and I don’t take a single client and booking for granted. I dreamt of this security in this job when I first started out and am so so thankful for each and every client that chooses to trust me with their big day. If you’ve ever wondered how wedding photographers set this goal let me say it’s different for everyone. I don’t have kids and my husband is actually part time, more than part sometimes, working in my business with me. So I have a lot of time to dedicate to my wedding photography business and a lot of heart to pour out to my wedding clients this year. Personally I like to front load my work year, meaning I take on more weddings in the May-June time frame and book myself sparingly the remainder of the season. My reasoning for this personally I have a lot of creativity and energy going into the Spring season of weddings, and May and June in Colorado happen to be gorgeous and not too hot. So I have some busy multi wedding weekends those months. Then over the years I’ve realized that I need more of a one wedding per week schedule for the July-September schedule to keep myself motivated and away from exhaustion. And then I take more time off in October-December, and then it stays slow through about April. This also allows me to schedule more of my client engagement sessions for late Summer and Fall which is the most popular time of year for those too. And during the slower season of October through April is when I pour myself into things like this podcast too! It is such a fun pattern. So that’s my most recent update at the time of recording is that I have officially booked my last personal weddings for 2022. I do have three associate photographers on my team that also book weddings, and I love my associate clients SO much. Maybe explaining the associate side of my business will come up in another episode.
Okay so trusting your vendors. This is a topic near and dear to my heart, as a creative vendor. This meaning my job and final product is more on the creative side and subject to interpretation when compared to linen rentals so to say.. you know exactly what your linens will look like when you rent them, but your wedding pictures are up to interpretation from your specific wedding day in lighting, posing and editing ect. To me it is absolutely crucial that my clients trust me as their wedding vendor/photographer.
Let me start out by saying that by hiring any wedding vendor you are basically giving them responsibility for a task that you cannot complete yourself. In essence you’re giving up total control. For example, when you hire a seamstress to alter your wedding dress, you are trusting that this seamstress will do this task for you. There isn’t a 50-50 collaboration here, unless you’re a seamstress somehow too, but in general you hire them and expect them to completely take over this task for you because your cannot do that task yourself.
So giving up tasks/jobs is actually what it means when you hire a vendor. When you hire a live band or DJ you are giving them the task of setting the environment for your guests to have a fun time so that you don’t have to, when you hire a caterer you are giving up the task of cooking your own wedding meal. Without vendors you are having the ultimate DIY wedding and doing it all yourself. Now some vendors require more collaboration in this task than others. Usually you don’t hire a wedding planner and completely let go of your wedding, you won’t walk in surprised the day of when the planner chose your location, colors, guest count ect. There will be back and forth because this planner is acting as an extension of you in planning. So vendors that are more collaboration free- your seamstress, caterer, rentals company. Vs vendors that require more collaboration- your planner, DJ, photographer, videographer, hair & makeup artist, florist, your stationery designer… just to name a few.
So moving on in this process hiring vendors can be stressful. There are endless amounts to look through and money to be budgeted too. If you end up hiring a vendor but you don’t trust them with that task it isn’t the best use of your money because you’re saying here I will pay you to do this for me, but let me take over 20% of it. The extreme and unrealistic example- hey caterer, I am so excited for our wedding food. I am worried you won’t cook enough for my guests so I am going to order 10 pizzas too just to make sure. It doesn’t really make sense. But weddings are big events and planning is challenging and I see this happening with couples every now and then. Not the ordering pizza thing, but the not fully giving the task to the vendor out of lack of trust.
To explain more about why trust is so important from my photographer’s perspective. So each wedding day is different, and not only because of the venue but because of the lighting and weather the day of, as well as the couple, their interactions, their attire, the bridal party and then getting into the timeline and what runs late and what doesn’t.
To explain some of those- wedding day attire- if a bride has a flowing dress or a form fitting dress that affects the posing, as well as if there is a veil or not. For lighting, a cloudy day we will emphasize different locations for prime lighting compared to a sunny day. Also the temperature affects where and how long we can be out for portraits comfortably too. Too hot, too cold ect. There are about a hundred decisions that go into the poses and locations I choose for my clients that can only be made the day of the wedding. So here is where trust comes in. When I arrive to a wedding and I have communicated with the clients well beforehand and there is a strong bond of trust, this also meaning I understand their overall wedding vision. I can arrive, assess the environment both physical environment and emotional environment of the couple and their party, and direct us to the best portrait locations and into posing that I know will flatter and best suit their wedding day vision. On the other side of this story, if I arrive to a wedding day and a client clearly does not trust me, my decisions about lighting and posing become secondary to what they try to direct. That can look like a bride asking ‘can we go over here and take portaits’ even when I know that this second location would be better for the lighting and time of day. First of all it is very clear to sense the lack of trust right away. Then instead of me assessing and making the best call for the day I have to slow the process and fit in their requests before going for what my background and knowledge knows would be best for the environment and settings.
So what is the solution? Maybe you’re here saying that you have no problem delegating and letting your awesome vendors create your wedding day magic for you! Then you’re probably good to go! If you are having trouble letting go a bit of that control here are a few steps on how to trust and build trust in your wedding vendors:
It starts with the hiring process
- Hire vendors that are reputable and exude trust. I actually believe the majority of trusting your vendors starts and continues from the hiring process.
- My favorite way to do this is by word of mouth. Online reviews are helpful too, but if your friend or cousin used a certain vendor that totally saved or made their wedding day so much better, then that will go a long way to helping you understand if it’s a good vendor or not.
- When you’re interviewing vendors ask them about how they feel about your vision for your wedding day. Or how they would work to achieve this vision. Example I had a potential client ask me how I would work with their vision for an editorial ethereal styled wedding, aka my dream vibe for weddings. So I was able to explain my posing and editing techniques as well as why my timeline idea for them would help me achieve their goal. This means having your vision more ironed out, but for example if you’re really into a loose non symmetrical bouquet, ask your potential florist if they have done that style before, maybe see examples.
- Next while you’re choosing who to hire… Ask yourself if you feel like you could be friends with that vendor. That will go along way in my opinion. Not only do vendors need to be experienced and know what they’re doing, but you will need to enjoy being around them. Whether that is your wedding coordinator/planner or your photographer you will see them for a good portion of your wedding day and I feel like trust goes hand in hand with enjoying them as humans and not being annoyed or put off by their demeanor.
- To know this maybe meet for a virtual video call when you’re interviewing vendors to know how you really interact/get along.
- So during the hiring process ask direct questions to your vendors, especially if it’s an area that concerns you. Example, if a potential client wanted a five layer cake with all of this styled frosting, but a cake bakery only does single layer cakes then that’s a clear sign that this isn’t the right cake bakery for that client. Extreme example haha, but okay look at this this way. You are doing more of a DIY decor. When you’re booking your venue make sure to ask them clearly ‘does your staff help me set up my decor? What will I have to set up vs what will you all set up?” Same goes for clean up ect. Vendor client relationships can be damaged or have broken trust when things weren’t clearly articulated from the beginning, or the client somehow feels like they are getting less than what they were promised if it isn’t clearly communicated.
Communicating During Your Planning Process
- Now we are talking about throughout the planning phase of the wedding instead of the hiring. So stay in touch with your vendors as needed. Yes you’ve hired them for your wedding day, and other than the planner you probably don’t need an abundance of communication with them in the in-between months. But try following them on social media so you can continue to see more of your vendors and get to know them better while you wait. If your vendor sends you something to complete like if a DJ asks for song choices or genres, try to complete that as accurately and timely as possible. As your wedding vision continues to form while you plan update any of the necessary vendors about changes. Like a change in ceremony time ect. Communicate your vision and wants clearly with your vendors. It will be much easier to trust them if you feel like they understand where you are coming from and can be an extension of your vision.
- This might look like having a bridal hair and makeup trial well in advance of your wedding day. Or maybe a detailed email thread or quick meeting or phone call 3-6 months before your wedding and talking through the last minute details or confirming the timeline or order. Ect. Once again with the necessary vendors, you probably don’t need to have a phone call with your linen rental rep.. or maybe you do haha!
- Also if and when you’re communicating these vision ideas or even potential concerns do your best to word these emails kindly. It sounds silly but a simple line such as ‘we are SO excited to see your work on our wedding day and we trust your process completely’ line in an email goes far. Even if you have to follow that up with something like ‘ I did want to make sure we would cover some of these key pictures in the getting ready time frame…’ And then asking supporting questions such as ‘have we left you enough time in the timeline to accomplish these?’ Is there any additional information you need to hear from us before the wedding. Usually the answer will be no but just offering and being an open communicator can help ease your worries and help us continue to do our jobs.
- Even ‘would it be alright if I shared a couple inspiration pictures with you?’ First of all asking to share images also goes a longggg way instead of just sending us your entire unorganized Pinterest board where we have to guess what you liked about each pin specifically. When it comes to sending inspiration pictures please please know that each vendor is doing their best for you, and what you see in pictures of hair styles or florals or portraits from someone else’s wedding day on Pinterest is going to look different on your wedding day. Your venue, your hair, the weather and lighting is all going to be different than the one pin you’ve seen online. So when sharing images make a point to share what you like about the image, such as I love the whimsical look of this hairstyle ect.
- Photography specific tip here- sending inspiration pictures to a photographer is a very very difficult task. Because that leaves us comparing our work to someone else’s final product on yet a completely different wedding day and by a completely different artist. So for photographers specifically it is best to acknowledge that you trust and love our editing and posing style before sending any images over. I’ve had to address this when clients have sent very yellow toned muted photographs to me as inspiration before in just clarifying that I do in fact deliver true to color edits on images but that I will work toward the posing and emotions of these images. Honestly with photographers I think it might be better off sending more verbal inspiration than specific images. I know personally I can take 10 great portraits in the time I will need to compare and set up an exact pose from a Pinterest picture. Or as long as I know you like the interaction and emotion of the images then I take that into consideration and don’t have to spend time setting up a copy of a certain pose and can continue to do my best with you in the present moment on your wedding day. So another reason why it is very important to trust your photographer and appreciate and acknowledge their style beforehand.
- If you are set on sending your photographer inspiration pictures maybe challenge yourself to go through their blog or portfolio and send their own images, it not only compliments us and assures us you like the quality of our work, but it also gives us very achievable goals in those example images as we have literally already taken them ourselves.
On the Wedding Day
- The on to the last tips, when it comes to your wedding day let your vendors do their job.
- Obviously if there is a little swap to make like you wanted the welcome table here instead of there then yes you can mention that. But also trust us, we have worked hard from the hiring point through now to communicate with you to learn your vision. Also communicating and coordinating with the other vendors to work with the timeline and vision all while getting you the service and products you’ve planned for and dreamt of. We have also seen a lot of weddings, and we have a few ideas of how to make things run smoothly all while making the day more enjoyable for you.
After The Wedding Day
- Now after the wedding day. For any vendors you will expect products or services to be received after the wedding itself make sure you clearly understand the due dates/deadlines with these vendors. I have seen vendors break their client’s trust by being late with these deadlines and that does happen from time to time. But one way I try to clearly communicate with my clients about this is that the day after the wedding I thank them and also remind them when they will receive their wedding preview, and then when I share their preview I remind them of the latest possible date they will receive their final gallery. I also always try to deliver their gallery earlier than the deadline. That isn’t always possible, but even if its just early by a few days I feel like that has gone a long way before too.
- So before you send your photographer or videographer a text the next day asking ‘when do I get my pics/video’ try referring back to the contract you’ve signed with them too. And if you really can’t find that information then go enjoy your honeymoon and ask them about deadlines when you get back. Once again kindly worded emails about deadlines are best. Something along the lines of “not to rush you at all, but I can’t remember from our contract when we receive our final images/video ect? Can you remind me of that delivery date?”
- So trust your vendors on the wedding day and in the after process too. Speaking from a photographer’s perspective I don’t like anyone’s wedding images sitting on my hard drives unedited for longer than they need to be. There is a weight of unfinished work, so I promise that we aren’t just putting it off as long as we possibly can, but we are taking our time in our artistic process to edit each image from your wedding consistently and to the standard of quality that you deserve.
So I hope this episode was insightful and inspires you to get to know your vendors as friends and to trust their process. Or if you’re in the hiring vendor stage then it should be a big help too! Thanks for listening to another episode and thanks from all of us wedding vendors for trusting us with your wedding days.