Hey, it's me, your friendly neighborhood photographer and bride to be.
This is something I have been wanting to chat about for a while, and now even more so because I am in the unique position of being a professional in the wedding business and I am a bride reaching out to said wedding professionals.
As a wedding photographer, we have to put ourselves out there in a lot of ways. We have our website published out on the inter-webs. We have our "storefronts" listed on numerous wedding websites. We have our social medias visible, and all of those are little parts of us. We put ourselves out there to be judged by those who are looking for our services. And don't get me wrong, we know we are putting ourselves out there, but in this digitally run world, I think people forget that those websites, those storefronts and social media pages are run by, oh yes, hoomans. We take our precious time and put ourselves into your hands, make ourselves visible and it can feel like we are easily cast away and our efforts taken for granted.
So let's break this down in a few different ways. Because I am now not just a professional, but someone who is consciously reaching out to other vendors for their services. I feel like it is the perfect time to unpack the simple action of responding back to those who have been contacted.
The back and forth communication
The engagement has happened and so begins the process of planning a wedding! Because there are so many moving parts to weddings, that means there are multiple vendors out there that are eagerly waiting to hear from that newly engaged bride or couple. Let me take on my professional persona for a moment. Stay with me, because I will switch back and forth to make my point 😜
When a message comes through such as, "Hello! I came across your page while searching for a photographer for my wedding next year..." I am instantly intrigued and ready to make a connection with this person who is reaching out. Sometimes we go back and forth, they ask questions that I answer, we click and I become their wedding photographer. Sometimes, that one message is the only communication between the two of us. In that case, as it is customary, I will reach out to see how I can help, if there are questions they still need answered, or at the end of it all, are they are still interested? Unfortunately, it seems to have become common practice to never hear back. As a professional, who makes their living on those reach-outs and made connections, it is very discouraging when someone basically ghosts us.
Now let me put on my "bride to be" cap on and walk through a reach out and what happens after. Because, until now, I didn't really get it. Don't get me wrong, I still don't really get it, but here is my perspective.
"Hello! I came across your page while searching for a photographer for my wedding next year..." I write out some other details regarding our wants and needs out of photographer and patiently wait for a response. When they start coming in, I dig into their response. Most congratulate me on my engagement, thumbs up to all vendors who recognize this first before anything else salesy comes up, and then they explain or answer questions I may have had in my initial reach out. Now, depending on when their message comes in, I do one of two things.
I respond back right away because I am free as a bride. Bride?! Nope. Bird.
I read it and then am bombarded with other wedding planning things, life, job, etc and I seemingly forget about it because it becomes "read" and the notification leaves.
Or, I am immediately shocked by the price I am being quoted, and consider it not a possibility.
Typically, if I haven't responded, and the vendor is genuinely interested in my business, I will hear back from them a couple of days later for a follow up. When this happens I either continue our conversation, or inevitably leave them hanging again. And I have realized why the latter happens too often.
Wedding planning is stressful 🙈
I have yet to hear of a completely stress free wedding planning situation in my 27 years of existing and my 5 years of wedding photography. Now as a bride, I am right there with every other stressed out bride. So I want to make a blanket apology for all vendors, including myself. For those of us who get stuck with the stop and go planning, the whiplash of discussion making and the inevitable breakdowns, our reach outs and conversations to vendors fall to the wayside all too easily. Especially in the beginning when everything seems like a simple yes or no decision before all the logistics come into play.
As a bride, I know that the majority of the vendors I contact will respond to follow up, however, I know I need to make the conscious choice to respond back to those vendors who quoted out of my budget. Just because I know I can't afford it, doesn't mean I can leave them hanging, and wasting their time following up with someone who wont ever pick them for that wedding service.
So, now with my bride understanding, let's shift back to the professional persona. When it comes down to it, the couples who reach out and who are serious, will almost always, book. What I ask of all the other couples, brides, mothers and fathers, friends and families who reach out on behalf of someone, please don't leave your vendors hanging. We all get that wedding planning is stressful and that life in general can get on top of things. But, I think it comes down to respect and kindness. We are people behind these "storefronts", these social media accounts and emails. If we are out of budget, let us know! Some can adjust their pricing and others will just appreciate the fact that you have told them that it's not them that is being chosen.
Now, as a bride, I need to take my own advice and send off some emails and messages to vendors that I realistically wont be working with for one reason or another.