Tips + Techniques

Book Wedding Proposals to Get More Wedding Clients

May 21, 2024

By Kári Bjorn

Let’s face it, the last few years have been a rollercoaster ride for wedding photographers. 2020 was the year we all probably want to forget. Then came the feeding frenzy of 2021 and 2022. The engagement gap finally hit many of us in 2023 as fewer relationships were started in 2020 that directly resulted in fewer engagements and weddings in 2023. The engagement gap is likely going to be present throughout 2024 as well. According to The Wedding Report’s 3rd quarter business survey in 2023, 2024 bookings are down by 10% and couples are cutting guest counts and budgets by at least 15%. One solution to gaining more clients is to learn how to book wedding proposals, which can lead to more weddings on your roster.

© Kári Bjorn

How Do We Market Ourselves in this Stormy Climate?

I have been shooting weddings and events for ten years now. For the first six years of my career, I was lucky. I had a pretty solid referral system with past and recurring clients and barely needed to have a website, and my Instagram was filled with street photography and not client work. When I moved from New York City to Fayetteville, Arkansas, in 2021, I lost all of that and instantly regretted not having spent more time on my website, content marketing, and SEO (search engine optimization.)

As I learned more and more about how to optimize my website to be found on Google, I came across the same SEO and content marketing advice. It is basically to write blogs that target search queries made by brides and grooms before they typically hire a wedding photographer. In general, this will be the venues, the wedding planners, and the dress shops. This is done with the intent that you position yourself as an expert and get found ahead of other photographers. The articles should first and foremost help couples navigate wedding planning, which hopefully then leads to a booked wedding for you. Topics to write about include Top 10 Wedding Venues in X City and The Best Bridal Shops in X City.

© Kári Bjorn

I quickly realized that there aren’t that many topics to write about that have a significant search volume in my market. My market in and around Northwest Arkansas is approximately 700,000 people, so niche wedding topics have low search volume. This pressured me to find ways of getting to couples earlier in the wedding planning process, and that’s how I landed on marketing for proposals.

I wrote my 10 Best Places to Propose in Northwest Arkansas article in April 2022 and by December 2023, had booked and shot 26 proposals and currently have a 33% wedding booking rate from clients who ended up planning their wedding in my service area. These figures do not include couples who were both from out of state and moved here for work and were always planning to have the wedding where their families are, as I realistically never had a shot at landing those jobs.

© Kári Bjorn

How to Book Proposals

Google organic search is going to be your best bet to market yourself without advertising. Search something like “where to propose near me,” and see how the top pages are structured as well as what search intents they target besides the location. Think about what those looking to propose are searching for online and write about that. More than likely, they’re looking for locations, restaurants, engagement rings, and jewelry shops in the area. In an effort to cast as wide a net as possible, I have one main long-form article that targets multiple search intents, and a few shorter supporting articles.

The main article includes my ten favorite proposal locations (a mix of nature, urban, and restaurant locations), how to work with a photographer, an outfit guide, and my pricing. The supporting articles are about engagement rings, stones, different cuts, and jewelry stores that all have internal links to the main article. I would only list locations you’ve shot at before and have images from. Portraits from standard engagement sessions will do just fine. You can also visit the locations to show you’ve at least been there and shot there. The reason I like the location guide with package prices included is that it can convert searchers who are just looking for a location and might not know they can get it professionally captured. It also fulfills the intent of those who are looking to book a proposal photographer.

© Kári Bjorn

How Much Should You Charge to Shoot a Proposal?

I charge 30% more for proposals as opposed to my standard one-hour portrait sessions. This is to accommodate for more client communication before, the magnitude of the shoot, early arrival, and the necessary prep and location scouting.

How to Convert Them into Wedding Clients

Use the time immediately after the proposal and while you are doing the ring shots and portraits to get to know the couple more. Ask them open-ended questions just like you would during a consultation call for a wedding. Just being the photographer who captured the proposal should automatically put you in the running to book the wedding, but you need to follow up accordingly. I always deliver 5-6 day-of, sneak-peek images — and I follow my proposal clients on Instagram, post a story, and tag them. This sets me up for a relationship where I can keep a casual conversation going.

The day after delivering the final gallery, I send them my wedding pricing sheet and include a link to schedule a meeting. A week or two after delivering the gallery, I send my final email with a link to my resources page where they can browse wedding planning articles on my website. After that, I stay in touch on Instagram and add them to my general email blast list.

© Kári Bjorn

Why Should You Add Proposals to Your Repertoire?

I think you can expect to book a wedding from somewhere between 20-40% of the proposals you capture. Out of all the weddings I photographed in 2023, 14% of them were couples whose proposal I captured. I am not sure if I would have been hired if I hadn’t been the one to capture the proposal. Wedding proposals make for amazing social media content, especially if you can attach your phone to the hot shoe and capture video for TikTok or Reels as well.

Born in Iceland, Kári Bjorn is a Connecticut-based photographer, who started as a Michelin chef before pursuing his passion of photography full-time. His work has been featured in magazines like Vanity Fair. He also offers mentoring and consultations to other photographers on SEO-optimization.

As a thank you to our readers, we’re pleased to offer you a Rangefinder exclusive discount code to get 25% off The Portrait Masters courses below. Use the code RF25 at check out to redeem. This code cannot be used in combination with other sales.

Photographing Couples In Love by Kristina Wikle
The Location Lighting Series