Have you ever read a wedding-related article and by the time you were done, your blood was boiling, just a little? For example, vendor meals are often a heated, hot-button topic in our field. I feel like every week someone has something to say about vendor meals.
I’m not a very confrontational person, so when I see FB discussions getting too heated, I like to redirect my attention elsewhere (no one’s got time for that). I recently created a styled shoot workbook and then I created a styled shoot board on Pinterest to complement it. While scrolling through Pinterest, looking for articles to add to the board, BAM—I saw this and had to read. I was a little beside myself after reading the words of a stationery vendor in this article “Falling for the Fallacy: the Styled Shoot Tree Can Be Shady AF.”
Styled Shoot Vendors
Why did her words bother me so much? I finally figured it out! Her viewpoint was valid to a certain degree, but her attitude was all wrong when going into a styled shoot. Perhaps her expectations of the shoot weren’t realistic, or maybe those expectations were not managed well by the wedding planners she worked with, but whatever the case, one thing was for sure—it certainly put a sour taste in her mouth.
Let me just take a sec and discuss how we, as planners, must strive to create strong vendor relationships through good communication when it comes to styled shoots.
1. Vendor Partnerships
Styled shoots are a wonderful opportunity to cultivate strong vendor partnerships. A styled shoot is a team affair. When choosing your styled shoot vendors, you want to make sure all of your vendors want to be there, will give 100%, and their goals match your goals. Make sure you understand their intentions from the very beginning. Do they want pictures? Better SEO? Social proof?
2. Managing Expectations
Managing expectations can be hard. And if I had to guess, this is where the stationery vendor might have become a little jaded. It sounded like she was promised more business in return for doing a styled shoot. Never promise a vendor anything for participating in a styled shoot. Bartering is one thing, but promising to provide them with more business is not a rule you should follow. Knowing vendors’ intentions before you add them to your team will help manage all expectations from the beginning.
You don’t want a team member who has the attitude of “What’s in it for me?” Their attitude should be more like “What can I give to make this a kick-butt shoot I’ll be proud of?” You have to set the expectations in the very beginning. Be clear about what the goal is and the type of vendor you’re looking for.
3. Communication is Key
No one likes to be in the dark when committing to a project, so communicate with your vendors frequently. As the planner, you are in charge of the communication. You need to inform them of the plan, discuss their roll, and keep them up to date on the styled shoot process.
4. The Cost of Business
It is my belief that you should not have to pay vendors to participate in your shoot. Bartering is one thing, but actually paying a vendor is very different. It also goes against my “picking the right vendors, with the right attitudes” philosophy. The author of the article mentioned how she wanted to be compensated for her work, but that’s not how styled shoots work. Everyone who does a shoot benefits—with photos, with marketing, with branding.
Every vendor is donating their own time, money, and resources to be a part of the shoot. The only vendor I feel is owed any money is the florist, and that is because flowers are living things. But even with that, there should be an agreement in place for paying the difference and only paying wholesale prices. These agreements are only for styled shoots, though. Don’t try to abuse a vendor’s trust.
5. Spread the Love
Remember to honor your vendors by sharing the credit. Remember, it was a team effort; no one product would work without the other, so make sure you give credit where credit is due. You have power in numbers and with a combined total audience, you can really hit your target market. When you send your final post-shoot email, make sure everyone has each other’s social media handles.
I hope this article was helpful as you master your styled-shoot journey. If you need more assistance, we have a great workbook and a free design worksheet download. Finding vendors can be the hardest part of producing a styled shoot when you’re new, here are my tips you should try.