Over the years, we’ve photographed hundreds of weddings. And when it comes to planning the wedding, there are two kinds of brides.
Cinderella – the type who takes control over every detail, planning day and night until the big event.
The Queen – She’s busy and relies on others to plan for her. She puts in her requests and lets a planner narrow down the choices. Then she makes final decisions.
Because Cinderella brides don’t rely on a planner, they go into their wedding day with high expectations and little direction. Because they’ve never put on a wedding before, they don’t have any idea how long an event should last, or how to structure the individual pieces of the day to make it run smoothly. In essence, they are lost the entire day, letting people control them as they move along.
With a Cinderella bride, you have to step in immediately, or risk being at the event many hours that day.
The easiest way to control a Cinderella bride is to gently make suggestions. Explain that you have photographed dozens or hundreds of brides, and know how to keep guests happy. Never put it back on her – tell her you know how to keep the party moving and exciting for each of her guests. She’ll quickly rely on you as the planner.
Then make suggestions.
“Do you want formal portraits before or after the ceremony? Portraits typically take 20 to 30 minutes, so if you want more time with your guests, before is probably better.”
“Shall we cut the cake right after dinner? Then your guests can be served while you enjoy your first dance.”
Another key way to keep control is to work with the other vendors. Talk with the caterer – when will they be ready to cut the cake for the guests? Talk with the DJ or band – what order are the songs in for important dances?
If you know the order and can work together with the other vendors, you’ll all have a smoother event, and watch out for each other along the way.
In most cases, the Queen will rely on a wedding planner. The wedding planner does this every day, and has her own agenda planned out.
Because a wedding planner uses vendors she refers, chances are you’ll see the same vendors again and again. It’s important to build a strong relationship from the start. Chat with the planner before the event, and start building the relationship. See if she can email you a schedule so you know her timetables. Always go up to the planner at the beginning, and check in with her about switches and changes. She will be the most important person at the wedding – keep her happy and you’ll ensure a future of referrals.
Okay, from a working standpoint, the planner is the most important person. But in reality, it’s always about the bride. The Queen will be confident in the way she moves and what she does. Queens are used to big parties, nights on the town, and a great event that she can enjoy. She relies on the planner to set the order of things, but she won’t take direction. She does what she wants within the parameters set up by the planner.
While it’s easy to sneak a Cinderella out for photo shoots – she loves being the center of attention, Queens enjoy the party. They don’t want it to be all about them, and they enjoy being with their guests. They acknowledge and respect you – just don’t waste their time.
While catering to both Cinderellas and Queens can be a lucrative business model, you’ll probably be more comfortable working for one or the other. We loved the Queens, and loved photojournalism that came along with this type of clientele. We’ve also known photographers that moved up into the Queen environment, hated it, and went back to working with Cinderellas. Cinderellas need more hand holding, and need more interaction from you. If you like posing, customer contact and hand holding, Cinderellas are perfect for you.
Because photographers are the one vendor that spends the entire day with a client, we automatically fall into the role of wedding planner (if the client doesn’t hire one). Realizing this and taking on the role gracefully will help you become a great photographer – one who is referred again and again.