Giving vendors love should be a win-win part of your business. We should all help each other to give the clients the best experience possible and help each other thrive in their business. This is something I learned through friends like Dakai Perez and Bree & Stephen. They are masters at networking and building others up.
I also hit up my friend and fellow vendor, Courtney Tibbets, of After the Engagement to get her take on what makes an awesome vendor. She is a highly successful wedding planner out of San Diego, specializing in higher-end ($45K - $200K budget) modern weddings in Southern California. Don’t miss her tips below! So what does vendor love look like for photographers? Here’s a breakdown leading up to the wedding, during the day, and post-wedding. Enjoy!
Leading up to the wedding
I love to take the coordindator’s contact list and create a social cheat sheet for all the vendors. I typically will email the coordinator or vendor group back, letting them know I’ll be sharing sneak peeks and photos after the wedding and supply them the cheat sheet of everyone’s social handles. Already, I’ve established myself as a team player and will hopefully be treated nicely when I ask for help with something the day of.
Another thing I just started doing based on a coordinator’s request, share the engagement photos with all the vendors. This gives them something to share leading up to the wedding if they so desire. The more industry professionals you have sharing your photos, the better.
Respond to the coordinator’s request in a timely manner. Supply your COI (certificate of insurance) as quickly as possible. Review the timeline and make comments or ask questions. Tell them any special needs you may have. I like them to help me get all the details and rings together with the bride to make it quicker the day of. Just remember, all these vendors have their own jobs and are trying to balance a million things just like you. When they send out the timeline, stop what you’re doing and review it. Get back to them ASAP so they can make changes for the next version.
Determine the vendor meal situation prior to the wedding day. I prefer fish or veggie options so I kindly ask if that’s available prior. If not, no worries. At least I know so I can bring a sandwich. Don’t show up the day of requesting specific food and complain about the meal or that you don’t have enough time to eat. You eating is not anyone’s priority. A great planner/coordinator will be looking out for you, but don’t be a diva. You can snack and eat later if you have to. This day is not about you!
Make friends with the florist. They can bring you extra flowers, lace, etc. to help with your detail styling. Find out what time they will be there so you can sync up your schedule. Very often I start shooting before the flowers arrive, but if I know that, I will wait to do the details later if possible.
Day of the wedding
On the day of the wedding walk around. Say hi to the vendors. Introduce yourself. Chat for a bit. It takes a few minutes but trust me, it goes a long way. I like to show up at least 30 minutes, usually an hour early. I like to walk the venue scoping out good spots, use the sun seeker app to check where the sun will be at different parts of the day, and just get a feel for the place. I walk around without my cameras so I don’t feel any obligation to shoot. I like that time to calmly chat and start the day at my speed. I can then get ready and get shooting whenever I’d like rather than coming in hot, stressing and bringing my own anxiety on to the couple and vendors. Moral of the story, show up early.
On the day of, I’ll snap some iPhone photos, videos and boomerangs and shoutout all the vendors on social. Typically the photographers are the ones with the largest social media following so trust me, all the other vendors will be grateful for the shoutouts.
I love to try and get some good behind the scenes photos of the vendors working too. Get the DJ doing his thing, grab a photo of the coordinator/planner talking to the couple. Get a posed one of them with the couple. Get a couple of the florist setting up, etc. etc. It takes a few extra minutes and goes such a long way with the vendors. I try and edit those with the sneak peeks the next day if possible so they have some quick BTS shots of the work they just did.
Throughout the day, the timeline WILL change. Things take longer, things go quicker. You will need to adjust. Always have constant and clear communication with the planner/coordinator. Let them know your needs and work in unison. This is so important. It’s so easy for us photographers to think getting the best photos or getting more photos is the most important thing. You need to learn to adapt to situations and clearly communicate if you need more time to shoot something. This is huge.
After the wedding
If you read my prior post I spoke about editing sneak peeks. I love to get 20+ photos edited to send to the couple. I also send these to the vendors. I try and make sure to get a wide range of photos that cover off on most vendors. The invites, the details, the florals, the makeup, etc. Almost always there will be a shot every vendor will enjoy posting in there. When I send the sneak peeks to the vendors, again, I include the social media cheat sheet. Make it as easy as you can for them to give everyone credit.
I also share a story of the sneak peeks on my Instagram story. I tag all the vendors on those photos so they can easily “add to their story”. It helps get your work out there to a bunch of people and stay connected to all the vendors you’ve just build a rapport with.
Over time you will start to see who the best vendors are. The ones who are the nicest to the couples, who run solid businesses, who are reliable, who are epic at their jobs. Start to create a list of your preferred vendors. I refer people all the time. Those vendors will greatly appreciate the referral and often will reciprocate. Win-win.
Tips from Courtney
“I want to preface this by saying that I am mostly a Partial and Full Planning Wedding Planner vs a Wedding Coordinator - meaning I am quite involved with my client's weddings- working with "just" a DOC (day of coordinator) might be way different.
If you have particular timeline needs (i.e. sunset photos, extended family shots, details, etc.), please touch base with Planners/Coordinators a couple months out so that they can build it in. A simple "Hey, I am going to need them for about 10 minutes at 6pm- is that doable?" will do and help wonders in the pre-timeline phase. If you want a hand in the timeline, I would touch base 1-2 months out, and ask for a working version to make comments/notes on. Even if it's a Planner you work with often and know they are good with timelines, it's nice to put eyes on it.
Same goes for food/vendor meal requests - please touch base at least 3+ weeks out with any special requests (special requests can be defined as anything other than a "regular" meal, you get what you get, most likely meat meal). Please do not request one on the day of the wedding, or even the day before or week before- all arrangements have been made by that point, and all final totals turned into catering. On this subject as well, please let the Planner/Coordinator know if you are bringing extra shooters. I've had 2-4 extra people show up on the wedding day with Photographers and Videographers and expect to be fed, and it's just not a solid possibility, and it's a really huge ask of catering- food costs money, and the client has to pay for it ahead of the wedding.
I am so grateful when a Photographer sends me photos! Making it easy to choose my own and download blog sized images is my favorite, and what keeps me coming back to a certain Photographer. Begging for photos is NOT my favorite, and it will definitely weigh on my decision to recommend a vendor in the future. I want to show off my work AND your work!
Tagging us - Tony is just amazing at this so take his advice ;) I love being tagged in all the wedding photos, and it makes me really sad when a Photographer posts a pic of something we have contributed to (whether that be helping the client choose a table scape, helping the florist style it, or styling the day ourselves completely), and doesn't tag us. Our work is really all over the day as Wedding Planners, and I personally work with our clients for 6-18 months on average. Probably the one that annoys me the most is if I have recommended the vendor and then don't get tagged or credit in wedding photos- the recommendation probably won't happen again after that. As a general rule for Photographers, just as much as you want, deserve, and are owed credit for the images you create, the person's work who is depicted in the images deserves the same respect. I don't expect to be tagged in every single insta story (duh, who has the time for that?), but in static posts and stories that clearly depict my work, I really appreciate it.
How you tag a Wedding Planner - if you have the time, it's so nice to ask how the person would like to be tagged (thanks Tony!). A Wedding Coordinator is not necessarily a Wedding Planner, and not necessarily a Wedding Designer. Each wedding might even differ based on the client's chosen package.
Communication is really just key. One of the reasons Tony has earned a top spot on my vendor list is his communication with me - from timeline asks, to checking how I wanted to be credited (and even how I want my Assistants credited!), to getting photos to us quickly and without drama and without even having to ask or follow up, he does it all right. On the day of, he and his 2nd shooter always come dressed well (do we need to talk about the fact that I have worked with many photographers who come in literal faded jeans, a polo (if we are lucky) and sandals), timeline in hand, and ready to rock. One of my favorite florists (Zeineb at The Lavender Rose), told me recently that her mentor told her to always be self sufficient and don't rely on the wedding planner or venue to get you every little thing. Bring a timeline, bring your own water and step stool, bring your own snacks if needed - we all have a job to do :) This seems like kind of a no-brainer, but it's crazy the amount of times vendors ask me for something they could have prepared for themselves, and it always comes at the toughest times. “ - Courtney Tibbets, After the Engagement
If you want to learn more about Courtney Tibbets and her epic wedding planning business, click the buttons below:
I guess all in all, it’s just about being a good human. Show love to one another. Be humble. Be respectful. Be appreciative. Be helpful. Work hard. Do it for your couple. Do it for being a team player. Do it for your business.
If you need help with your business or have more questions, feel free to DM me on Instagram, leave a comment below or look into my mentor sessions through the link below. Thanks for reading!