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Your First Wedding Photography Consultation

February 13, 2015

Wedding Consultation Photographer

You’ve hustled to get to this point. You’ve built a portfolio full of quality images, maybe by second shooting at weddings for local photographers, or convincing your friends to pose for you. Now, its finally here – the day where someone else other than your mom actually believes enough in your abilities to pay you to shoot their wedding!

Only…you have ZERO idea what to do.

Don’t worry, you can do this! And trust me when I say that by the time you wrap up your first wedding photography consultation, you will already feel like you are on your way to being a PRO at it! The first one is always the scariest, which is why today I’m going to share with you some tips on how to nail your first wedding photography consultation with a prospective bride and groom!

1. Have your materials ready for your wedding photography consultation.

Some people prefer to have print collateral for their clients to take home while some like to do everything online. I’ve done both, and I haven’t seen it make a difference either way. Currently, I email my PDF pricing brochure to potential clients ahead of time so that they have an opportunity to review which collection they’d most like to book.

At the meeting itself, I bring an iPad and have the PDF open along with a couple of PASS photo galleries and a contract pulled up in 17Hats (my management software). I also bring my planner to jot down notes as needed.

2. Know your client thoroughly.

Ideally, you will have had them complete a qualifying questionnaire upon their initial inquiry. Make sure you look through this information multiple times and have it with you at the consult.

At risk of sounding like a stalker, see what you can find out about your client online through Facebook and other social media outlets. Not only will you know who you are looking for rather than blindly waiting for them to walk through the front doors of Starbucks, but you also may also be able to gain valuable insight into ways in which you are able to authentically connect with the couple.

3. Be confident in who you are and your abilities.

I know it can be nervewracking – I mean, these are real live people who want to meet with you about photographing the biggest day of their lives! But just think…that little fact alone should made you feel great! They’ve contacted you because they’ve seen your work and they love it. They want YOU because you’re AWESOME, and they feel that you might be the perfect fit for them….so much so, that they want to pay you to photograph their wedding day.

There’s no need to pretend. No need to over-compensate. Doesn’t that make you feel good?

4. Lead the meeting and have a game plan in place.

If there is one thing that I know to be true about most people, it’s that they desire to be led. Do just that with your client – have some open-ended questions ready, and step-by-step, just walk them through each one. You can ask anything from proposal details (this is a favorite!) to information about various vendors.  Avoid sounding scripted, and instead make each point or question an actual conversation. You will find that it will quickly become just that – a friendly conversation between two people!

5. Lean in and take notes.

People also love to be heard. As your client is talking, make sure you are actually listening and hearing each word they are saying. Picture the proposal story in your mind as the bride gushes about it. Dream along with her about how beautiful that floral arrangement is going to be, draped along the arch where the couple will be saying their vows. Then, respond in kind – both verbally and non-verbally. Make sure not to interrupt, but confirming statements (“Yes,” “Absolutely,” “Right,” “I see”) as the bride and groom share their heart with you go a long way.

It is also important that you are exhibiting open and interested body language by leaning toward your client, making strong eye contact, and keeping your hands on the table. (Hands below the table can look shifty!)

6. Connect authentically with the bride and groom.

At this point, you will have given your client ample room to talk about themselves. This is great – and in order to give them a break, feel free to share a little about yourself, but connect it to what they have said.  Do you share an alma mater?  Maybe you both have young children?  It’s very important to establish common ground and interests with your clients to gain their trust in you as a photographer.

Think you have nothing in common with that consultation you have coming up? Believe me, you can find common ground with anyone – and if you’re going to argue with that, I’d suggest you consider whether you should be consulting with them in the first place! ;)

7. Be completely and totally transparent.

I always like to reiterate to my potential clients that on top of genuine connection, transparency is a cornerstone of my business. I believe in hiding nothing, because doing so will only get you into tough spots later on regardless of whether or not something is in your contract. With that being said, go through the contract with the bride and groom in depth – every single paragraph. Their eyes may glaze over, but if you feel you are losing the couple, just rope their attention back in by sharing an interesting story that has to do with each point in your contract.

8. Openly ask about any questions or hesitations.

Go ahead and be the first one to ask, “Do you have any questions or concerns?” By doing this, you show that you are capable of handling any concerns and that you, as a matter of fact, welcome them.  You might find that by asking this question alone, you eliminate any hesitations they may have had in the first place!  Seriously – see what happens when you ask!  You’re likely to hear in response, “Uhhhh…I don’t…think so…”

I think this question is a mark of strength and added assurance to the potential client during the booking process. If they do ask any questions or bring up concerns, listen to each one, repeat it back to them, and then answer. Once answered, be sure to confirm that it is resolved.

Remember: in sales, questions are simply “buying signs” and indicators that they do indeed want to book you! (Side note: there are lots of websites out there that publish things like “20 questions brides MUST ask a potential photographer” or something. Don’t let these questionnaires scare you. They are harmless, and it actually might do you some good to Google these lists and go through them when you have a down moment or two.)

9. Close the sale on the spot.

There are a variety of ways to “close the sale” naturally and without sounding like a used salesperson, but regardless of how you do it, ALWAYS close. They probably won’t sign and book with you right then and right there (this has only happened to me like three times), but it’s important that you are ready. It also once again echoes your confidence level and assures your client that you’ve got this!

10. Follow up with the prospective couple.

I have to admit that it’s my pet peeve when people miss this step, because it’s honestly the easiest to do!  That same evening, or at least as soon as possible, FOLLOW UP via email with the prospective couple thanking them for their time.  Let them know how honored you are that they have contacted you, and how excited you are about photographing their wedding.  Feel free to use this as an opportunity to be assumptive and act like you know they just HAVE to book you!  Be gracious, kind, and over-the-moon for them – by authentically sharing in the couple’s joy, and reminding them of that, you will automatically set yourself apart!

Just by reading this, you are already making a huge impact on how you will handle your first photographer wedding consult!  The most important aspect is that you are uniquely yourself during the consult, because you already are the photographer that the couple wants to hire!  Relax, breathe, and remind yourself that you’ve got this!

If you have any questions or input, feel free to leave it in the comments below – I will do my best to respond as quickly as possible!

Emily Chappell is one of the premiere Dallas wedding photographers specializing in timeless, romantic, and joyful imagery.  From engagement photography in the Dallas area to wedding day photography, she has a passion for couples and their unique love stories.  Contact Emily Chappell Photography for more information on having her capture your big day!

comments +

  1. Great information here! The first consultation can be daunting – great advice!

  2. wani says:

    what a great post Emily and so helpful for newbies just starting out. It’s very kind of you to share. :-)

  3. sarah says:

    great tips! you write with a really great voice – direct and understanding. i bet this will help many new photographers! i really like #8 – such a good thing to be the first one to ask if they have any questions or concerns.

  4. fantastic advice! the consultation sets the tone for the relationship with the client, so it’s of utmost importance…

  5. great post! the first bridal consultation with the couple is my most stressful and least favorite interaction. i’m just a really awkward person in general but these steps make me feel a little more comfortable with the idea of having a step by step structure in place beforehand. thanks for sharing!

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