When you think of the word success, what does success look like for you as a wedding photographer? A satisfied client? A perfect wedding capture? These are both absolutely measures of success for wedding photographers. And you might be able to turn these successes into future bookings. But if you are looking to scale up your business, there are other strategies you can use to book more weddings, and one of those is getting featured on a wedding venue’s preferred vendor list. Popular venues in your area are likely to hold a wedding every weekend, and if you can establish a personal and a professional relationship with them, then your wedding bookings could grow.
So how do you make space for yourself to get on a wedding venue’s preferred vendor list as a wedding photographer? Here’s what we suggest.
Top Ways to Get Featured on a Wedding Venue’s Preferred Vendor List
1. Connect to the Venue Coordinator While You’re Photographing a Wedding
While you may not always find the opportunity, the best time to connect with a venue coordinator is when you are actually working at their venue. Present yourself with a level of professionalism, show off your mad photography skills, and let them see you working hard for your couple. The venue staff work with many wedding vendors throughout the year and if you show your best self, they will remember your name. Also try to find a moment to introduce yourself to the coordinator as soon as you arrive at the venue, before the day really gets into full swing. Even hand them a business card. Honestly compliment the venue, the decor, and the staff if appropriate. Kind words also go a long way in being remembered well.
Related Read: Wedding Pros Reveal Their Tips to Turn Vendors Into Referral Sources
2. Strengthen Existing Bonds
Shooting multiple weddings at a single venue also increases your chances of making it to their preferred vendor list. As the event coordinator, sales manager, and other venue staff will already be familiar with your workflow; they might refer you to couples organically. Make a list of venues where you have photographed multiple weddings. Then reach out through emails or personal visits, and remind them about your wedding photography business. When you do get in touch with them, try to communicate your intentions as clearly as you can; let them know that you’d love to be on their list of preferred wedding vendors.
3. Constant Communication
Being featured on a wedding venue’s preferred vendor list may take some time – and constant communication. Think of ways to stay in touch during the offseason by adding them to your email list if you do a newsletter, or reaching out around certain holidays to just say thanks for being a partner in the local wedding space. When you photograph a wedding at the venue, send a mailed “thank you” after. And if you’ve made it to the preferred vendor list and start receiving referrals, also send a thank you note after every referral. Saying thank you is never overrated.
4. Free Venue Photographs
You have excellent photography skills, so why not use that as a gift for a wedding venue? Taking and sharing pictures of venues where you’ve covered weddings is another great way to build a relationship. Edit the photographs and send them to the venue coordinator or marketing department. This step could not only help to improve your relationship, but also increase your chances of getting featured on the wedding venue’s preferred wedding photographers list.
In the era of Facebook and Instagram, who wouldn’t love receiving free visuals they could use for their digital marketing? Also, consider designing a wedding album or printing a large canvas or metal print from a wedding you photographed at that venue and gifting it to the venue for them to display or share with prospective couples.
5. Build a Personal Relationship
Try building a personal connection before attempting to build a business connection. Be genuine with this relationship. Some venues are happy to book appointments with photographers to tour the venue so they also can show off what they offer, and hope you might refer them as well. This is a great way to get one on one time with the coordinator and get to know him or her, and the venue. Whether you book a wedding through them or not, make time to express your gratitude for their time and consideration after you connect.
6. Explain How Your Service Adds Value
Venues want to link with quality wedding service providers. Before you approach a venue, figure out if you are “on brand” with the venue. If your style of wedding photography and the venue complement each other, then make that one of your strengths when you request to be added to the preferred wedding vendor list. If you have relationships with other venues that have been successful, mention those and how you have helped those venues. You can even highlight that you love to tag and mention venues on your social media. The aim is to prove how collaborating with you would add value to their business.
7. Keep Upgrading & Updating
Your wedding photography business survives due to your skills. Whether it’s about learning new photography skills or working on your communication and marketing, constantly improving your business strategies is one of the ways you stay relevant in the ever-changing world of wedding photography. And this is also something that might get you on some preferred wedding photographers’ lists. Think about how you might stretch your skillset to appeal to a venue. If you usually shoot digital, you could perhaps try shifting to film or learn the ways of drone photography to expand your portfolio in ways that would appeal to the venue. Also, consider hosting a styled shoot at their venue as a way to showcase them in a way they can be involved with.
8. Become a Genuine Venue Advocate
Referrals can go both ways. Support the venue on social media and in person. Being on a venue’s preferred vendor list effectively makes you an extension of their sales and marketing team. Venues will also value you more if you help bring in more business for them. Tag the venue in the images you share on your social media handles. Send the venue coordinator an email after you blog or tweet about them when you feature a wedding at their venue on your wedding photography blog.
9. Remain Patient
Remember, it’s not always easy to get featured on a wedding venue’s preferred vendor list. Venues develop their lists of preferred vendors over many years of long-term relationships. Other vendors are approaching them, just like you. You are taking these steps to expand your business, but a venue might not appreciate you putting your interests first. Since this is a two-way relationship, you have to think about their business as well. Find the right time to approach venue managers, and once you do get to talk with them, give them some time to get back to you. It would help if you established a rapport and trust. When the venue’s referral list goes out to their clients, they want to be sure you will meet their expectations. You can’t rush this process, so do your part, show the true professional in you, keep in touch, but try not to make it seem like it’s all business.
Further Read: Top 18 Ways To Book Weddings In The Covid-19 Pandemic
At ShootDotEdit, we understand how challenging it can be to expand your wedding photography business or get featured on a wedding venue’s preferred vendor list, and therefore, we help you with blogs like this one. We also help you focus on your business and skills by editing your images just how you like them. To learn more about how we can help your wedding photography business, check out our price plans.
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