What might you expect when you meet your wedding photographer for the first time and before you book them!
Your wedding planning is going well, you have a date set and once that is in the bag, you can start to look at the vendors you’ll need to complete your day.
In other content on my website, I’ve discussed how you might narrow down your photographer choices – see that content here. But what about that first meeting with any number of photographers (I suggest a minimum of meeting three) you might meet before you decide who is ‘the one’.
I can’t help you narrow down the photographers you should choose to meet – you might choose them on price, proximity to the venue or style of work, but before you hand over your hard-earned spends as a deposit/booking fee (or whatever term they use), you need to have some interaction with them beforehand, if for no other reason than to decide if you like them or not.
Another photographer said that meeting her potential clients for the first time is a little like going on a first date – where will we meet (their place/coffee shop/pub), will they recognise me (I have a picture on my website to give you a fighting chance), will they show up, when will we meet, should I buy them coffee or is it OK for me to accept a coffee off them… all these slight nuances can get a meeting off to a good start or a bad one.
So, let’s assume that your selection of photographers are free for your wedding date, (not much point meeting them if they aren’t) you'll be meeting them at your home address, one evening after you’ve finished work... what exactly should you expect off any of your photographers from that first meeting?
After you’ve said your hello’s and got past the pleasantries, they should be confirming your date and venue(s) – typos on dates are possible for all of us, so a verbal confirmation is always a good idea.
They should confirm a mobile number with one of you (or one of the other wedding party) just in case they have to contact you on the morning of your wedding if a problem arises.
They should find out about the possible length of your service – a church wedding with hymns and a reading or two is going to be longer than a civil ceremony. A catholic wedding might be longer again, depending upon if there will also be a Mass during the service.
They should understand your planned timings for the day, such as what time the reception venue is planning on serving welcome drinks for you and your guests – this is something usually subject to confirmation a month or so before your wedding date, but it allows the photographer to understand if pictures at the church are important to you or if the church is somewhere you'll do the legal bit before going onto enjoy yourself at your other venue. (Some older churches are beautiful, whereas sometimes the more modern ones are somewhat lacking in the beauty stakes. It might be that the church doesn't have any outside space to speak of, or if it does, it's just a car park, so sometimes it makes sense to spend less time at the church and more time at the venue).
What time is your Wedding Breakfast and are you having speeches, if you are having speeches, will these be before or after you have eaten? A lot of couples choose to have the speeches before they eat – if you are not a natural speaker and get nervous, waiting until after you’ve eaten just prolongs the agony and might stop you from enjoying your food.
They should ask about where the bride is getting ready (especially important if bridal prep photos are wanted). They should also ask how the bride is getting to the wedding venue and what time the car is arriving so they'll know to look out for a wedding car.
The photographer might ask about how many guests there might be, not because the more guests mean it will cost more, but if you’re going to have a lot of guests, it might be prudent to get a second shooter to assist to ensure that as much of the day can be captured.
Your photographer should ask about any difficult relationships (or just stuff that they need to know). This is a question that I always ask, not because I want to embarrass anybody, but even if I don’t get told very much at all, it helps to know a little, so I don’t put my foot in it.
In general terms, the photographers you meet should want to know about your day, what you have planned, what you are not sure of or be able to suggest things that you haven’t thought about. This might sound like an obvious thing to say but the photographers you meet should be invested in finding out about you, they should indulge you, listen to you about every aspect of your day, even if you think you are talking about things they've heard 100 times before, it is only through doing this that they’ll get to understand a little about how you tick and what aspects of your day are important to you and what aspects you are ‘relaxed’ about.
Meetings can also take place over Skype, Zoom or whatever and that might be the suggested route for some photographers who are short of time or for whatever reason don't want to meet face to face... but for me, there is no substitute for a face to face meeting, but you've got to go with what works for you.