Sometimes, a client will book you as their photographer and still be in need of a great wedding planner. They might ask who you recommend. Would you know who to recommend? 🤔
I’ve definitely been in this situation before, and after 15 years of photographing weddings, I’ve learned a thing or two about how to pick a strong wedding planner out of the crowd! If you’re early in your career, it can be hard to know what’s typical or atypical for a wedding planner to do. When deciding who we should recommend, these are typical things we look for in great wedding planners.
Disclaimer: Whether or not there’s a wedding planner, we always take personal responsibility for our clients, and I encourage you to do the same! Not every wedding planner will do these things.
The biggest takeaway from this blog? We as photographers need to take initiative to get the information we need… so we can show up and do an amazing job for the client! 💫
They Provide Contact Information
We like to see a great wedding planner include contact information in the timeline. However, if the planner does not provide that, you as the photographer should send out a questionnaire so you can get this information. Check out my questionnaire and timeline template on our education shop here! It has everything you need to ensure nothing slips through the cracks when you’re planning that big day.
We try not to contact the client if at all possible. The wedding planner won’t always be able to answer the phone, so we want to make sure we have other points of contact (like the parents, best friend, or siblings).
They Include Venue Addresses on the Timeline
We don’t just want to see the name of the venue; we want to see addresses on the timeline as well.
You never know what could happen! Sometimes there are multiple streets with the same name in a city, or multiple venues with the same name. For every venue that we photograph (prep, ceremony, reception, and anything in between), we want to see the physical address included on the timeline.
They’ll Have a Printed Timeline
Not only will the planner provide us with a digital schedule 1-2 weeks prior to the ceremony; they’ll also include a printed copy.
This is really handy during the formal photos. I LOVE when the wedding planner is able to assist us by scratching through the photos as we go! A digital copy is great, but there’s something nice about putting pen to paper to cross photos off the list as they happen. ✒️
They Stay to Answer Questions
Another sign of a great wedding planner is someone who is there to assist the client, wedding party, and families with any questions they have throughout the day.
If we as photographers spend the entire day with the client and families without a wedding planner, that puts a lot of pressure on us to handle logistics. We love when we can focus on photography. It’s what we want to do! 📸
They Help Organize Photos
It’s so nice when we have help with the pictures. In some cases – like when there’s no wedding planner, or the wedding planner is busy – the organization of the photos is the sole responsibility of the photographer. But it’s wonderful when a wedding planner is able to be present for the formal pictures.
When the wedding planner is there to help organize large groups and double check to make sure we’re not missing any pictures, it’s a HUGE help. Recently, we photographed a wedding that had 15-17 people in each wedding party. 😲 Yes, really! We were so grateful for the great wedding planner who streamlined the photo process and made it more efficient!
They Have an Amazing Team
Truly, a sign of an amazing planner is… well, an amazing team! We love to work with a great lead planner, their team, and their vendor partners. 💪
When the vendor partners are strong, all of that reflects on who we’re working with and how the wedding unfolds. That is a crucial part of what we observe to get an idea of who we will recommend in the future.
They Check in at These 5 Times of the Day
There are five times of the day where I feel like it’s especially important for a great wedding planner to be present to help us transition.
When we as the photographers arrive, it’s very nice to have a planner present to:
- Lay the groundwork for what’s happened so far
- Touch base with hair and makeup
- Show us where the details are
- Give us any other information we need to know
That way, we’re not wandering around trying to figure it out on our own. 🤷🏼♀️
If we’re taking a bus or trolley sometime during the day, we really appreciate it when the planner ensures everyone is there and ready to load up and go when it’s time.
When this responsibility falls on us, it becomes very difficult to do this and photograph. We don’t know who’s supposed to be on the transportation or who to contact, and it can get messy quickly. Having the planner there is truly essential.
I’ve already mentioned this, but it’s THAT important! It’s so, so nice to have a great wedding planner present to help guide, organize, and check off formal family portraits as they happen. 📸
The Beginning of the Reception
When the reception is just starting, it’s a relief to have a wedding planner present to ensure lighting, photography, musicians, and more are all ready to go. It takes the stress off of us so we can focus on taking strong photos!
Formal Reception Events
Finally, a great wedding planner will be present during any formal events that take place during the reception. This could be the bouquet toss, the first dance, or anything else… A great wedding planner will be there!
They’ll Communicate Major Events (and Surprises!)
A great wedding planner will communicate to us in writing all major events on the timeline well in advance. And if it’s a surprise to the client and it CAN’T be on the timeline… they’ll at least tell us over the phone!
As the photographer, you never want to be caught off guard. If there’s no wedding planner present at a wedding you’re photographing, it’s your job to ask the client if there are any surprises or anything you should know about before the wedding day so you’re ready with the right lighting.
For instance, if there are fireworks, we’ll know to bring lights outside to shine on the client and to bring a speedlight outside to prepare for the show. Knowing this in advance will be imperative to getting the perfect image. 🎆
They Make Sure Key Players Are Present
A great wedding planner will ensure all key players are where they need to be… so WE can photograph them!
For example, if there’s a cake cutting or second line (which is common here in New Orleans!), the planner will be present to make sure all the key players of the wedding party and family are there so the photographer can document their genuine reactions in the moment. 🎺🥁
Honestly, a great wedding planner is present and ready to help! They’re there throughout the day, for check ins and phone calls, and to answer questions.
We LOVE our planners. We’re so thankful to be in a place in our business where a large majority of our clients are hiring wedding planners. We’ve seen a big improvement in how our clients, vendor partners, and we feel about the weddings.
And the feeling of having help from someone who has a great understanding of how to run the day? Irreplaceable.
Your Next Steps
If your next wedding doesn’t have a planner, much of the logistical planning might fall to you. If this is the case, one thing you will want planned out WAY in advance is your poses!
Do you ever feel stuck or nervous trying to come up with poses on the spot? Or maybe you use the same poses over and over and need something new.
I’ve been there… and now I’m sharing what I’ve learned to help you! My Posing Guide below will allow you to:
- Build confidence so your clients know EXACTLY what to do
- Have “go-to” poses to create consistent, strong images
- Never feel stuck or on-the-spot – you’ll have a posing flow!
Check out the Posing Guide below. ⤵️