To meet or not to meet?

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To meet or not to meet?

Wow, that's a large infographic! What does it mean?

Well, in order not to bore you too much, it's a visual I knocked up to help explain why meeting prior to your wedding is fundamental in regard to getting the results I do.

Disclaimer: I have zero idea how the other gazillion out there offering a wedding photography or filming service work and make no comment on that. This info only applies to how I work.

So to get to it, how important is meeting prior to your wedding?

THE SHORT VERSION (a summary, - all the info you may need!)

If we meet on the day of your wedding for the first time, I will be able to achieve 100% results from what is then available.

If we meet prior to your wedding day and preferably utilise the 1/2 day prior coverage option, we can increase that to something more like 125-150% of what would otherwise have been possible.

THE LONG VERSION

Meeting prior to booking? Not important at all and more than 95% of my clients do not, mostly because they/you are having what is essentially a destination wedding, ie, you probably do not live in France whereas I do and your wedding is possibly anything up to 8 hours travel away from where I am based.

Meeting prior to wedding? I consider it fundamental/intrinsic and cannot encourage it enough. I cannot however enforce it and it has to be individual client choice.

Breaking down the infographic then.

All couples begin the process on the same track, 1 & 2. It's at point 3 that to date, an average 90+% become (and remain) 'A's and a small number become (and remain) 'B's all the way through to 5.

1: The booking stage. The point at which you made the decision to choose me for whatever reason, whether recommendation, reviews, quality or work & experience and possibly personality.

2: The post-booking stage. All couples receive detailed info expanding upon that already given (in order to make an informed decision in the first place) with a particular emphasis on the importance of pre-wedding meeting.

3: The point at which clients unfortunately diverge. As stated above, over 90% were already 'A's or were undecided and became 'A's, or the small minority who mostly started out as 'B's and remain steadfastly (for whatever reason) 'B's. This is the critical point that determines the level of results achievable.

3a: Those opting for pre-wedding meeting either at my office in SW France (around 10% of 'A's) or opt for the 1/2 day pre-wedding coverage (which around 90% of 'A's do), ie, 100% of 'A's meet prior to their wedding day and this ensures together that we achieve as close to 100% of what is possible from their wedding to come.

3b: For whatever reason, 'B's choose not to meet prior. I am not going to speculate why, but I have theories!

4a: Wedding day for 'A's! Almost always relaxed & flowing and together we achieve as close to 100% as possible in regard to what was achievable. A joy to be at and part of and it's all good.

4b: Wedding day for 'B's! Almost always a bit disorganised with a lot of last minute decisions, indecision, time-wasted, limited or missed (unrepeatable) potential opportunities. A bit frustrating for this photographer.

5a: Post-wedding scenario for 'A's. We have already done it all and in person, prior to your wedding. Choices in regard to books, albums, parents options, prints, cover materials etc, ie, all the presentation & preservation stuff. You have to do this kind of thing face to face as nothing else works even remotely closely as well.

5b: Post-wedding scenario for 'B's. Frustration. For us both. From my perspective as I'm trying to explain things remotely that I have previously stressed multiple times (at last 3!) have to be done face to face. From the clients perspective because they cannot fully get to grips with choices. The net result for the client is therefore to make the most basic choices possible. The presentation & preservation and therefore memories & legacy of the wedding then become limited and not as special as they might have been. By the end of the process, the 'A's and 'B's' are poles apart in regards to; the results they each achieved, the legacy print product they each received and in regard to their entire experience & satisfaction.

To conclude, the saying is, "you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink". As a professional, I have an obligation to both share and educate all my clients in regard to the process which is so much more than about simply ticking the photographer box on the wedding spreadsheet. But I cannot enforce pre-wedding meeting, only state how important/crucial it is. It used to be an option on all packages, but in a pricing update, I have included it as part of 2 (of 3) packages so the choice still remains with the client.

In a nutshell, it's the meeting that ensures the magic.

Simon

Q&A

Q: We have a wedding planner. Should we skip meeting prior as they are organising our wedding day for us?

A: Absolutely not. I work with a lot of planners and most of them are great and add real value to your day. In fact, I would encourage the use of one and can recommend several, but otherwise it has nothing to do with the photographer/client relationship!

Q: How much does a pre-wedding meeting cost?

A: At the office or very close by, nothing! I can sometimes meet clients for pre-wedding meetings outside of the office if your venue is very local, - up to one hour max, otherwise a cost would need to be negotiated. I sometimes get asked if I can meet in Nice or Paris which would be lovely, but unrealistic as both are a typical 7 hours each way whichever method I chose to travel!

Q: What is involved with the 1/2 day prior coverage option?

A: Well there is some commitment on your part and I'd suggest allowing as a minimum 90 minutes, but around 2 hours is better. There are essentially 4 parts to it, though you only need to be available for 2 of them.

The first part is actually meeting and is perhaps the most valuable part as it ensures we are not strangers on your wedding day. It seems such a small thing, yet is huge. We will take the time to look through various books & albums and therefore weddings in order to kill 2 birds with 1 stone. That is, chatting through your planned wedding day in final detail and using visual examples of how certain aspects can work. The second bird it kills (poor birds, but don't worry, they are only metaphorical ones) is selecting book/album options which is virtually impossible to do virtually or after the fact.

The second part is more 'bird killing', in this case walk & talk recce combined with pre-wedding photo-shoot. From bride/groom prep locations through ceremony through couple only session, we can work through how every aspect will work with some gentle coaching and in regard to the couple session specifically, almost exactly at the same time of day (albeit 24 hours earlier) in order to work out what will work and where according to the light. It's like supercharging your next day actual wedding photography.

The third part you are not involved in but is an extensive background/landscape shoot, whether stills only or photography & filming. There isn't always time on the wedding day and certain locations only work at certain times of day that may be occupied on your wedding day with wedding day specific chapters. Also, on the day of the wedding, there is almost always pre-wedding clutter! Catering trucks, florist vans, people setting up chairs etc etc etc. Cars. Parked everywhere! Later to be cleared quite probably, but often on the wedding day when I have this one chance to capture the landscape or building, every scene is compromised. By doing this the day before, I have the option of 2 attempts over 2 days.

Optional low-key, documentary coverage of pre-wedding evening drinks, BBQ/pig roast/mobile pizza van, etc. This allows me to immerse myself into your wedding as a whole and not just be at it, but be part of it. This is another phenomena of the 'A' wedding vs the 'B' wedding. At a 'B', I always feel I am at it whereas at an 'A' part of it and an 'insider' will always get the more intimate and personal results that the 'outsider' won't for many reasons. This part of the coverage is optional because not all weddings have this kind of thing planned, ie, if it's a meal in an indoor restaurant, it doesn't really work. It's more of an outdoor/terrace type thing.

Overall then, the 1/2 day (or 'Meet, Greet & Eat') coverage option adds more value to your wedding than anything else that i am aware of and adds something like 25-40% more actual pictures in addition to the wedding day itself.

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