How to Get Work With the Wedding Planner of Your Dreams

May 9, 2016

By Laura Murray

When I first started my wedding photography business, I dreamt of working with the biggest wedding planners in my state [Colorado]. Now, almost every wedding client I work with hires one. I attribute much of the success and growth of my wedding photography business to the relationships I’ve built and continue to foster with wedding planners.

One of my favorite planners, and someone who I love working with again and again, is Kara Delay of Love This Day Events. She is located in Denver and has been recognized as a top wedding planner by Martha Stewart Weddings and Vogue. She took some time recently to talk with me about the wedding planner and photographer relationship.

Laura Murray: What is your role both leading up to the wedding and on the actual day?

Kara Delay: Leading up to the wedding day, I am a project manager of sorts and it is my job to help identify and guide the vision, create and manage the budget, and educate the brides and grooms of their options and choices. It is my job to clarify what is important to the clients and show them the options, but it is up to the clients to make the decisions that feel the best to them! And it is my job to make sure all of the moving parts on a wedding day work in unison and not against each other. On the wedding day itself, I am somewhat of an air traffic controller. I simply try to land all of the planes safely without any of them crashing into each other.

LM: I love that analogy. You enable me to create beautiful imagery by setting me up with lovely clients, creating a smooth timeline, and executing the couple’s style in an exquisite manner. Much of my success on the wedding day can often be credited to working with a skilled and knowledgeable wedding planner. Tell me, what do you look for when referring photographers to your brides?

KD: When we start out selecting photographers, I look at three major factors: photography and editing style, budget and personality. Every photographer and couple works differently. I do not think anyone is right or wrong—it is simply how he or she operates. Looking at a bride’s initial 20 inspiration photos shows me exactly the type of photography she is drawn to (light and happy, posed, candid, grainy, etc.). Rarely do these images show me the actual type of centerpiece or bouquet she likes; they show me her style preference of type of photographer.

LM: Something that I love is how you pre-qualify clients for me. I have an excellent booking ratio with your clients because when I walk into a meeting with them, I know that we are already a fit in so many ways (including style, budget and personality). The remaining piece is simply having a conversation with them to make sure the connection that you anticipated is there. How can a photographer you have never met get to work with you and fill their calendar with clients who are their perfect fit?

KD: Networking events are key, as is social media. A photographer’s work and voice in social media speaks volumes. Reaching out via email is great as well. When a photographer reaches out and is specific about where they want to work and the kind of couple or event they want to be involved in, it resonates with me. For example, I once had a lovely photographer reach out from Brooklyn and say he wanted to shoot in the mountains with me (and that his travel was taken care of because he had family in the state). His style was really specific and unlike anything anyone was doing in Colorado at the time. Two months later, a bride for a Telluride wedding started showing me images that reminded me of his work. He ended up shooting the wedding in Telluride and to this day, it was one of my favorite events ever!

LM: It’s good to know that all that time we spend thinking about our posts on Instagram actually does pay off! I found another great way to work with wedding planners is that I refer them clients. Usually photographers want the planners to send over referrals. Whenever I find out my clients don’t have a planner yet, I am always quick to send over some suggestions if they are interested.

Switching gears slightly, tell me the things that photographers often do poorly when working alongside wedding planners.

KD: The biggest challenge is when any vendor looks only at their job for the day and not the responsibilities of the entire team. Every decision regarding timing affects every other aspect of the day. Going rogue on the timeline without proper communication leads to stressful moments (and no one likes that!).

LM: Great point! What are things that photographers often do well?

KD: Keeping everyone calm and giving clear direction. Helping out when they see something they can do, being flexible with weather and reassuring the couple that everything is going well. Working with you, Laura, is an absolute dream and this is something that you do well. I always create the initial wedding day timeline for all vendors in Google Drive and then I pass it off to the photographer with editing capabilities. I really like how you go into the timeline and add all of the details that you need to shoot and the nuances of the day from a photography point of view. Having this information in one place allows you to communicate to not only with myself and the venue but also the florist and the hair and makeup team why we are asking for X, Y and Z to be completed by certain   times. It allows the entire team to work so well together!

LM: Thank you, Kara! I always love adding detailed information to the timeline so that we are all on the same page from a photography perspective. At one of my first weddings, hair and makeup finished after I was supposed to start photos. And the flowers were delivered to the church instead of the getting ready room because there was no communication with the florist regarding the portraits that were supposed to happen before the ceremony.

That is why it is key to explain in a timeline exactly what I will be photographing and exactly when the bride, groom, wedding party and family members should be ready. Each photographer has different preferences and I am glad that this type of communication makes working with me a little bit easier.

Can you share with me the funniest thing that has happened to you at a wedding involving the photographer?

KD: One sweet photographer I worked with made the mistake of wearing a pencil skirt and tried to jump onto a fence for a photo. Good thing I had a cardigan she was able to tie around her waist until we could sew her skirt back together (and yes, the emergency kits that wedding planners carry often end up helping the vendors more than the brides). I have also seen photographers get charged by bulls (we were trying to create a stampede of horses for a photo and we didn’t notice the bull in the meadow—whoopsie!). We have such fun and crazy jobs—at least we can’t say it’s ever boring!

LM: It is absolutely not boring! And finally, what will help ensure that a photographer will be on your referral list in the future?

KD: Be kind, treat everyone the way you want to be treated and take gorgeous images.

5 Tips to Working with the Wedding Planner of your Dreams

1. Referrals are a two-way street. Send wedding planners to your clients.

2. Post eye-catching content on social media channels. Wedding planners will take notice of a consistently beautiful social media feed.

3. Persistence, flexibility and kindness go a long way in this industry. These are some traits that wedding planners especially love.

4. Always display a willingness to go above and beyond. Photographers get noticed when they continue to exceed the expectations of their clients and the team of wedding vendors they work with.

5. Stay consistent in your style and branding to ensure being matched with the right planner and client every time.

Laura Murray runs a boutique photo studio out of Denver, Colorado, and was named one of Daily Meal’s 25 best wedding photographers. Kara Delay is the owner of Love This Day Events in Denver and loves making pretty days for happy people.