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Wedding Planning Tips from When I Was a Bride

In honor of our 4 year wedding anniversary yesterday, I pulled an old post out of the archives from when we were planning our wedding. All of these tips still ring very true and thought they might be helpful for vendors and current brides planning their weddings!

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From 5/21/2010:

Wedding Planning… oh the joys of it, but also it’s the reason I feel so behind in blogging & everything else. I desperately apologize for that. I hit the one year mark yesterday. It was an exciting thing. Now it feels like the wedding is actually coming, now that I only have 364 days left. The first few weeks of planning are definitely the hardest. I have gotten a lot accomplished but I will talk more about that later! Before you can get anything accomplished you must contact a vendor. This process has made me learn a lot as both a bride & a photographer. So this post is for both!

Vendor Myth #1
I always heard as a photographer, to encourage the brides to meet you & get on the phone with you immediately before you discuss pricing. Maybe, I am a strange bride. I will give anyone benefit of the doubt, but I really don’t think I am any different than any other. (brides feel free to chime in!) I did not like being told I can’t know the pricing over an email. I ruled everyone out that did that to me (and not just photographers, every vendor!) Sure, I LOVE to meet my brides before they book, and I LOVE to meet my vendors before I book them, however if they are well over my budget, why would I waste my time going? If every other bride was like me, I was overwhelmed with people I was talking to. I was probably talking to around 30-40 different vendors. If I spent 30-40 minutes on the phone or at a meeting with every one of them, I would have spend 15-25 HOURS just meeting with vendors to book 2-3 of them. I am not saying you have to change your practices as a business, nor that you shouldn’t ask a bride to meet with you. Just some food for thought from a current bride. It’s annoying to have to put your phone on silent because vendors are calling you like crazy or having to be told NO you can’t have my pricing until I meet you. Us brides have to narrow down our list somehow & quality narrowed mine down first, and then I needed my budget to take it down even further. Some brides will turn you down for prices, but at least be considerate to their time & email the price list out. It helps a lot!

Vendor Myth #2
This plays off the first one & is short. DON’T AUTOMATICALLY CALL YOUR BRIDE (and really don’t keep calling when they won’t pick up). This really could have just been me, but I am a professional photographer & I use my phone for business. I don’t like having vendors call over & over when I am waiting for business calls! Common sense would say… if a bride emails you email them back, however if they call you call them back. What is the point of having an email if all you are going to do is call? Vendors don’t realize (I know I didn’t!!) how many other vendors brides are dealing with. No joke, I was getting 10-12 calls every day. It was frustrating, because I had to keep my line open for my clients!

Vendor Myth #3
Brides are overwhelmed so be patient with them & BE RESPONSIVE. I had NO clue how much I was taking on & I work in the industry and have been to sooo many weddings. Check back up with them in follow up emails, it lets them know you care! Plus they might have gotten busy with something that came up & need a reminder. Also, I can not stress this one enough BE RESPONSIVE & PERSONAL!! This was my biggest pet peeve in vendor searching. I turned down a LOT of great vendors, because it took over a week for them to respond. In a world of iPhones & laptops, there is no reason to keep a bride waiting that long. Nor is there any reason to send out a form email! If I got sent a form email, I crossed them off the list. I contacted some of the TOP of the TOP in many of the vendors & I got personal and fast emails. So why can’t the vendors who aren’t as busy show the same courtesy? A bride wants to get to know you, not the same email you send to every bride. Also a bride should be contacted within 24-48 hours. It’s frustrating to wait that long, especially when you are on a timeline. I had the biggest problem with venues on responsiveness. I had a couple times I was trying to get in touch with the venue for over a week, and then find out it got booked (and probably in the time I was trying to contact!) Brides are on timelines & have to book certain things before they can book others, so don’t keep them waiting! (i.e. Venue before Caterer, etc.)

Bride Myth #1
Brides, PLEASE respond back to your vendors when you don’t want to book them. It’s common courtesy! Just keep a list of who you contacted & make sure to respond back. I know I forgot to respond to some people & I feel terrible, because I didn’t keep a list in the beginning. On the flip side, it’s really nice just to hear back “no, sorry I found some one else”. No one is going to yell at you or hate you (and if they do, that is completely unprofessional!!) Just be nice to them, and tell them no thanks. There is also nothing wrong with saying why either, as long as you are nice about it. Vendors would love to know how to improve & it’s nice to hear “You were great, I just found someone more in my budget.” If anyone is like me, when someone doesn’t respond you think the worst & it’s nice to hear it wasn’t that you are terrible, just out of the budget!

Bride Myth #2
BE FLEXIBLE IN YOUR DATE AS LONG AS POSSIBLE. This is a pet peeve with me about brides. A lot of brides settle on a date just because they love it & settle for vendors they don’t like because they refuse to change. Prioritize your list & book the most important thing for you and the others ASAP before nailing down a date. My wedding started as June 9th, 2011. It has changed 3-4 times since. I knew my photographer was my most important so I nailed down my date as May 21, 2011 when I booked them. A date really isn’t important, as cool as you think it is. July 19th, 2004 was any normal day in 2004 but it’s special to me because Walter & I started dating that day. Any day becomes just like that just because it’s YOURS. I know maybe times I have had 5-10 people interested in one day & if they would be willing to change ONE weekend, I wouldn’t be booked. So make sure you get your priorities right, I promise your date isn’t as important as your vendors!

That’s it for today. I hope I helped some, to give the bride & the photographers perspective from both sides! I would have never known any of this until you get put on the other side of the issue. Let me know if you want anything addressed about how I felt as either the bride or photographer on any matter & if I have dealt with it I would be more than happy to post it!

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