It’s such a trip every time I think back on just how much I’ve learned over the past three wedding seasons. How I used to be terrified of even using my on-camera flash, but now I can light a reception with TWO flashes and not think twice about it. How I shot my first three weddings with a single lens, and that single lens was the 24-70 (one of my least favorites these days). Also how I went to my first three weddings without a timeline in hand- there was no schedule of events, we just sort of… went with the flow. These days, with more than 50 weddings under my belt, I’ve learned quite a few things that make for a smooth wedding day, and one of my FAVORITES from that list is working with wedding coordinators!
I’ve said this before, but a great wedding coordinator is worth his or her weight in gold. My first wedding with a coordinator had a few speed bumps thought because I wasn’t accustomed to working with one, and I didn’t realize her questions and emails beforehand weren’t to try and micromanage me, they were to ensure a flawless wedding day. As I’ve grown as a professional, I’ve realized that when my brides hire a coordinator, that coordinator and I become a team on the wedding day- if we’re working together instead of at odds with each other, things will go over much more smoothly. Here are a few tips when it comes to working with planners!
1) Communicate! As soon as I find out my brides are working with a planner/coordinator, I’ll reach out via email to say “hello!” and express how much I’m looking forward to working together. Establishing contact in a friendly tone is the best way to establish an optimistic relationship. I work with all of my brides on a timeline for their wedding day, but if the couple’s hired a coordinator, I’ll typically chat with the planner and the bride to establish time for portraits and such.
2) Recognize that the planner is an expert and respect that. I’ve seen other photographers who tend to view the planner as a “me vs. them” relationship, but recognize that y’all are on the same team: Team Bride & Groom. You’re both there to make the day as amazing as possible for this couple, which means working together instead of at odds is going to be more productive for everyone. If a coordinator tells me we need to budget 30 minutes for the trek from the hotel to the church even though I know it’s only a 10 minute drive, I trust her- she’s the one who’s corralled more bridesmaids and groomsmen than I ever have, so she knows approximately how behind people tend to run.
Whereas a large portion of the photographer’s work comes after the wedding day (editing, blogging, etc), almost all of a wedding planner’s work happens in the months leading up to the big day. Walk throughs, mock-ups, meetings with caterers, floral designers, everything. By the time the wedding day comes around, that coordinator has poured their heart into making the wedding as beautiful of an event as possible, and as a photographer we’re going to want to document all of the little details they’ve worked so hard to bring to life. Anyone who’s been married can tell you your wedding day FLIES by, and sometimes the photographs are the only way they’ll catch the little accents here and there that their planner put into practice, so recognize that when a planner reminds you about this decor over here or that station over there, they’re not trying to pester you; they’re trying to make sure their couple gets to experience everything the coordinator was hired to create.
3) Ask! Don’t hesitate to ask a coordinator on the wedding day if there’s anything that sticks out to her that may not have naturally occurred to you- perhaps they’ve set up a cigar bar outside that you didn’t see on your way in, or maybe there’s a special little tray of sweets on the dessert display that the bride specifically requested. I ask my brides for this information beforehand, but if there’s a coordinator, they may have thrown in a few little surprises you aren’t aware of. Just make sure you ask.
4) Share. I know that not every photographer shares this point of view, but if I’ve worked with a wedding coordinator who’s done an absolute bang-up job on a wedding, I want him or her to be able to share their success. That’s one thing I love using PASS for, sharing with vendors- it’s super easy to create a “Vendors” category to send over to planners, making it simple and quick for them to download and share their work from the wedding day. Creating a relationship where the planner knows he or she can count on you for images afterwards means they’re going to be that much more excited about working with you in the future!
5) If there’s time, grab a few quick shots of the planner in action. As a photographer I really appreciate when I go through my assistant’s images and find a few of me while I’m shooting, so I try to grab a few of the other vendors at work if I can, just in case they have use for them!
Last week I had the pleasure of photographing the sixth annual End Of Summer Soirée, hosted by the ladies of Atrendy Wedding, Simply Chic Events, and Engaging Affairs. It was overflowing with beautiful details, elegant touches of Southern hospitality, and delicious catering. A huge thank you to Pam for asking me to be there!