You know you have worked with wedding vendors that you love – and maybe some that you don’t – time and again. They work hard to help the wedding day run smoothly and can be your best asset on the wedding day.
When two people fall in love and decide to tie the knot, often they don’t realize how much work takes place behind the scenes on the big day. You have wedding planners, wedding coordinators, wedding photographers, caterers, videographers — the list goes on and on.
After all, this can be one of the biggest days in a couple’s life! And the professionals that work behind the scenes to make it all possible must execute their jobs with absolute precision.
These professionals are the wedding vendors. Each vendor has a role of their own and once a couple hires them, they immediately get to work. Everything they do plays a part in creating a smooth wedding day for the couple as well as their guests.
Who are wedding vendors?
A wedding vendor is anyone that the brides and grooms pay for products or services for their wedding. So which product or service providers actually qualify to be wedding vendors?
Wedding Vendors: Product
- Wedding Dress, Bridesmaids Dresses, Tuxes, Custom Suit Sellers
- Printers for wedding invitations and more
Wedding Vendors: Service
- Wedding planners
- Cake bakers
- Ceremony musicians/Live bands
- Hair and Make-up artists
- Transportation (for guests and a getaway luxury car for the newly-weds)
- Reception DJs
- Decorators (lighting included)
- Photo booth rentals
- YOU — the wedding photographer.
Being a wedding photographer, you are most likely to meet service providing vendors. The couple, of course, buys products beforehand but needs services on the final day. But, this doesn’t mean collaborating with product vendors won’t be useful for you.
Why is it Important For Photographers To Establish A Relationship With Wedding Vendors?
Collaborating with other vendors is all about adding value to each brand’s bottom line. That value could be monetary, but it can also be in the form of reduced costs, business growth, or expanded reach. The best collaborations provide exposure and build serious buzz for both your businesses.
How to Add Value to a Wedding Vendor’s Business
- Provide them with high-quality photography.
- Advertise their services on your social media.
- Refer your clients to their services.
How You Receive Value From Other Wedding Vendors
- You can get free or discounted products such as merchandise, services for you or your clients.
- You have access to products, models, or locations for shoots.
- You get free or discounted advertising.
- Cross-listing on different social media channels.
- You learn from their expertise in a related field.
- Above all — Referrals!
How To Establish a Relationship With Wedding Vendors
With some honest efforts, you can establish a great relationship with wedding vendors. Here are 10 tips to get you started:
1. Make a Contact List
When wedding photographers book a wedding, they usually send questionnaires to their clients. These have a section where they can fill in details about the vendors they booked for the wedding. Make a list of these vendors and their contact information. Add to this list every time you book a wedding. This will help you know which vendors are servicing in your area. Don’t know where to start? Check out the National Association of Wedding Professionals and see who is in your local area!
2. Arrange Personal Meetings
Once the list is ready, research these vendors. Send them an email telling them how excited you are to work with them’. You can always fix a coffee meeting or lunch with them to discuss the upcoming wedding. This way both of you will mean much more to each other than a name on a list.
3. Be Nice to Them
Be polite and courteous before and during the wedding. The vendors will remember you for this and will want to work alongside you at future weddings.
4. Send Them Images
Vendors will love this! They will be happy to receive images of their hard work from an expert. They can use these for their website and social media. So send them a few nicely edited photographs of themselves and their work. This is one of the easiest ways to establish great relationships.
5. Blog About Them
You can talk about some challenges faced at the wedding and how this particular vendor fixed it. They will worship you for this. Also, you can always tag them in the images you share on your website, social media, and blog.
6. Send Thank You Cards
Everybody loves a sweet thank you. You can tell a wedding planner how his/her swiftness helped you. How you could manage everything within the timeline because of them. You can tell the caterer how the tasty food and drinks helped you stay upbeat throughout the event.
7. Host Vendor Appreciation Events
You can host a nice lunch or a luxurious dinner for your vendors after the wedding. Such events are a great way to connect and get to know each other on a personal and professional level. You can lure them into joining your list of ‘most favored’ vendors. These appreciation events have the power to make you a prominent name in the industry.
8. Have Them Sign a Contract
Aim for creating long-term, friendly relationships with vendors. But never skip creating contracts — especially if there’s money involved. Having a contract will make it clear what both parties need to offer on a professional level.
9. Have Room for Communication
Make it clear how you’re both going to communicate — phone, email, text, Instagram, and how responsive you’ll be. Make sure that you both feel comfortable in being open and providing feedback.
10. Have an Idea About Their Personal Life
You can send them a small gift or handwritten card when they get happy news or face difficult times in life. This is a simple way to build a strong bond. It shows you notice and support them in the good times and the bad.
How to Build Your Network?
We have some easy tips for you to become known in the vendors’ community and expand your business. Read below!
1. Attend Events
Check out local industry events. Here you can meet and connect with other wedding and event vendors in your area.
2. Check Out Online Reviews
Look through vendors’ websites to learn more about their business. Email or call them next, to set up a time to meet and get to know the owner and what they offer.
3. Read Blogs From Other Photographers
Follow blogs of some wedding photographers in your area. If you find them using the same florist or caterer each time, you know that these are the best in your area. Reach out to that florist or caterer and schedule a time to meet and get to know them.
4. Join a Local Facebook Group
Many cities have a local Facebook group for wedding and event professionals. This can be a good place to get to know vendors in your market.
5. Connect on Social Media
Search wedding professionals and event venues in your area on Facebook and Instagram. Follow them, and leave comments on their posts and images.
Should I Collaborate With all the Wedding Vendors I Meet?
The short answer is NO. Don’t keep trying to bond with vendors whose style and personality doesn’t match yours. If you really feel this business collaboration won’t bring you ideal clients or help you in any other way, then then the effort might not be worth your time.
Don’t be afraid to reevaluate when and how you collaborate with vendors! This should be a mutually beneficial partnership. Negotiate and renegotiate the terms of your agreement until feels right.
Photographers often get approached by vendors wanting free photos in exchange for “exposure.” In a way, they want you to provide photos and in exchange give you a photo credit or shoutout on their social media.
You’ll need to decide if the “exposure” is worth all the work. You shoot and edit for hours before sharing that session. If that vendor is a leader in your community and can circulate your name among your ideal clients, you can say yes.
Yet, you have to know that exposure doesn’t pay the bills. You can ask for extra compensation, offer something that means less work for you, or say no. It’s your business and you get to decide what’s right for you.
Wedding Vendors: Relationships Lead to Business Growth
We hope our tips will help you to build and create better vendor relationships. And, in return, help your business grow.
Building relationships with preferred vendors can work wonders for your wedding photography business. So keep networking and building your list and find out how these relationships benefit you!
At ShootDotEdit, our goal is to take the “heavy lifting” of photo editing off your plate — giving you more time to run your business, spend time with your family, or even just have a life again!
Click here to learn more about what ShootDotEdit can do for you!