What can a resort learn from a wedding photographer? My team has shot weddings all over the world at luxury resorts and hotels. We’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly in regards to venues and their service.
I’ve personally shot hundreds of weddings and on the wedding day no one is closer to the bride and groom than the wedding photographer. If we are doing our jobs well, couples forget we are around so in addition to knowing more than I ever need to know about women’s hygiene I also hear all their complaints.
Don’t worry, I respect my client’s privacy and I’m not naming names. This article is good-natured and is only meant to help us all improve. We all want to create the best possible day for our clients on the most memorable day of their lives so before you role your eyes listen to what I have to say. Whether you’re a global hotel chain or a boutique resort, you can improve your wedding service and here’s how.
Problem- I know many of you don’t think your staff wouldn’t ever do such a thing but it happens all the time especially in Asia. It’s commonplace even if it’s against your company policy. Your events manager or event contact person might be recommending photographers and planners that give them kickbacks. In addition to violating your company’s policy, this is also a problem because they don’t always recommend the best vendors for your couples. You want the best of the best if you are putting your reputation on the line, not the best bribe.
Solution- This is easy to police, pick 3 official recommended photographers/planners/DJ’s based on merit, pricing, and client feedback. Check on your staff by sending secret shopper emails to your staff to make sure your they are recommending your preferred list.
Problem- I’ve heard brides complain about the hotel’s service when it was something the wedding planner’s should’ve handled.
Solution- Only recommend the best and survey your clients afterwards to see if they were happy. Even when the couple has a wedding planner, that doesn’t mean you’re staff is off the hook. Oversee the whole day and help out when things go wrong. Most importantly, before the wedding, set clear roles and communicate with them and the couple. Get everything in writing, not just a phone call.
REMOVE YOUR IN-HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHER (IF THEY WEREN’T HIRED BY THE COUPLE)
Problem- This is something I hear all the time from couples. “Who are those people taking photos of us and our guests?” Weddings are private events and your clients hired a photographer they carefully selected and they trust with their most special day. I’ve even seen an in-house photographer taking shots of the bride getting ready and they thought he was with our team. Later on when they found out he wasn’t with us and it was a huge issue, one that could’ve been easily avoided.
In addition to the privacy issue no matter how far back or how good they think they are they end up in the way of the hired photographers and that should NEVER happen.
Solution- I understand the temptation to get a bunch of shots for your social media outlets and I don’t blame you. When you work with your preferred photographers ask them to help you cross promote and share their detail shots with you so you have both benefit from each other. If you want to use shots of the couple, talk to the photographer and the couple first and get permission.
This isn’t to say you can’t have your in-house photographer take some shots of the set-up but only when no guests are present. There is absolutely no reason your in-house photographer (again if he/she wasn’t hired by the couple) should be photographing when guests are present.
STAY ON SCHEDULE
Problem- (If your team is handling the day of planning). Lets say the bride scheduled the perfect time for sunset pictures after the ceremony (which is very common) and the schedule is an hour behind. No sun, no sunset pictures and their vision of the beautiful beach wedding sunset pictures is ruined.
Solution- Drive the schedule, be gentle about it but remind the couple, make-up artists, aunty Susie, etc. the importance of being on time and stay on top of the make-up artist, and remind the guests about being on time. Find that balance of being gentle but reminding the couple the consequences of no sunset pictures when things are running behind schedule.
TAKE CARE OF YOUR VENDORS
Problem– Vendors are dialed into the whole wedding community and yes they need you but you need them too. Social media and word of mouth are powerful tools so make sure your staff is helpful and accommodating to them. My team works 10-16 hour days on their feet and at some point we need to eat. Our contract with our clients is for 2 meals over the course of the day. We’ve had venues argue with us about being fed or feed us 4 hours late. If possible we need to eat at the same time as the couple to insure we don’t miss any big moments and typically that’s the best time for the photographers to break as photos of people food in their mouth aren’t typically sexy.
Solution- Talk to the couple ahead of time and ask them what the situation is with them in their vendors. If for example they agreed with their photographers to pay for two meals make it easy for them to schedule. Ask your vendors when they want to eat and have them sign it to the couple’s bill; it’s as easy at that.
See, we give back too. Our List Of Best Wedding Vendors in Hoi An, Vietnam.
BUGGY TRAFFIC JAM
Problem- We see a lot of weddings run late because the guests didn’t arrive on time and they didn’t arrive on time because the resort didn’t have enough buggies to accommodate all the guests.
Solution- Of course you can’t have enough buggies to accommodate 100 guests all at once but you can communicate with the guests ahead of time and send out a notice to plan for slow response time during the hour before the ceremony.
DON’T BE LAZY, TELL A STORY
Problem- For destination weddings people are coming from all over the world and often it’s the first time they are in that country. At the end of the night you create an experience releasing lanterns into the sky or light paper lanterns and push them into the water. The problem I often see is no one ever explains any backstory.
Solution- Gather everyone and have the planner, MC, or events personnel you’re your property briefly explain the meaning or backstory of the lanterns, this will create a more memorable experience.
Assign One Dedicated Staff(If they haven’t hired a wedding planner)
Problem-So many things come up the day of the wedding for the bride and groom. They should be enjoying their day, not stressing out. I see the person in charge of the wedding day focusing on the vendors and the set-up and not the couple.
Solution-Whether you charge for it or not, it’s a great service to provide to your clients. Assign a day of personal assistant/butler that understands weddings and a bride’s needs. They should be at her side the entire day, catering to their every need.
I hope this was helpful, thanks for reading and if you have any questions for me please add them in the comments section.
By Justin Mott
Justin Mott is the owner and founder of Mott Visuals Weddings. Mott Visuals specializes in destination wedding photography and films covering Asia and Beyond. Visit our website at http://www.mottvisualsweddings.com