Can we discuss Wedding Client Meetings?


TPF Noob!
Nov 3, 2005
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I have had a couple already this year and although I felt like I did on ok job of trying to sell myself, I think I can do better. I have a couple more coming up.
I think I'm feeling a bit discouraged because the couple I met with tonight decided not to go with me because they felt that two photographer coverage was needed for their wedding and said that it was standard from all of the photographers they were meeting with.
But that's a whole other thread I think. In the meantime, would anyone care to describe in detail what they do at their client meetings and the typical questions they get asked as well as answers they give?
I'm hoping this can turn into a good discussion.
Thank you!
Oh this one is going to be awesome... Im new to wedding photography and all that surrounds it, so threads like this are awesome!
I'll start:)
I generally meet the client at a coffee shop near them so it's more convenient for them. I have also met with them at their home.
Eventually I would like to have them meet me at my home in a special place where I have a bunch of my work hanging and where slideshow viewing etc... would be ideal.
We greet and I always offer to buy them their drinks/food and while I'm off doing this, I start a slideshow of one wedding which shows all the engagement shots and every shot from one wedding.
I do this because I think a lot of potential clients would like to see an entire wedding instead of just my best.
However, I eventually want to create a slideshow of multiple weddings to showcase my best work with emotion stirring music and show them an entire wedding via album rather than slideshow.
One thing that stinks about meeting in a public place is that they always have their own music playing and I can't use the stuff that goes with my slideshow because it would compete too much. I am debating whether I should include a sample dvd in their folder.
While the slideshow is playing, I start talking with them about the pictures they are seeing and I try to make a little bit of small talk about how they met and what their wedding will be like etc...
I also show them my printed portfolio that has very large prints (at least 8x12 but many are 10x15") of different couples.
This is my first year where I am really going to try and sell albums, but I want to put all new images in the sample albums so I don't have actual albums to bring to my meetings. (I know, a real downfall to my presentation). However, I cheerfully explain to them that I am waiting to put all new 2008 weddings into my sample albums and then show them pictures I have of the three different kinds of albums I offer. I talk a little bit about the differences between each one, but I think once I am able to put the actual albums in their hands they will sell much more easily.
I also go over my packages and how I have them structured and the differences between each.

As we go through all of this we discuss their wedding and logistics and I ask them lots of questions.

Toward the end of the meeting I take the time to go through all of the fine print in the contract and explain what everything means. I really think they appreciate this since I think all of the fine print can be daunting to some.
Toward the end I always ask if they have any more questions for me right there. I also inform them that a 50% retainer is due to hold their date and that the remainder is due two weeks before their wedding.
I always thank them for meeting with me and then we basically part ways.

Any suggestions on what I can do to make my presentation more polished or any sales techniques?
i take wedding photographs as a hobby.

the customer contacts me and then gets invited to my home for a meeting.

on arrival i take them to a small room i have with my pc in ect.

when seated i ask them where and when they are getting married.

this has already been asked before on the phone but sometimes people make mistakes.

i then show them three weddings that i have completed in albums.

while they are loking at them i ask them questions about what sort of style they are looking for ect.

all six weddings i have done or are doing have then said they would like to book me then [ oh after i show them the package prices]

so then i take a few more details phone address ect.

i tell them i take a fifty pound deposit [i used to take nothing] when i meet them a week brfore the wedding and the rest of the money when they collect the proofs.

i will meet them again about a month before the wedding to go over exact photos ect and then again a week before.

my contract is very simple [thanks to the help from the guys on here]

i too shoot the wedding on my own and this reflects in my price and if they want two togs [but none of my six couples have ever even asked]
then they will have to go somewhere else.

i dont offer what i cant deliver so to speak
I used to meet clients in a coffee shop, and that worked fine. Now that my pricing is fairly high though, I make them come to me. That shows me that they feel I am worth the drive. It's shows some "give" on their side.

Another reason I quit traveling to meet people is simply because I have wayyyyyy too many samples to be dragging around. I carry 6 kinds of Albums alone.

So here's how it goes:

They walk into the "showroom" (which is basically my livingroom), and the walls are COVERED with huge framed prints and canvas wraps. Each wall has a different aspect of what I shoot, ie Bridals, Engagements, Weddings. My fireplace area has all the various albums displayed. (I line up candles in the fireplace and always have them going). A bigscreen TV is looping a slideshow of my work. In other words, they are bombarded with constant photography from the moment they walk in.

I offer them a drink, and let them know what the options are there. I offer sodas as well as liquor and wine.

They normally mill around and look at the photos while I am fixing them a drink.

The first thing that I do is to ask them what kind of services they think they will be needing. That gives me a good idea of where to start.
If they want a bridal, I'll pull out some bridal proofbooks, ditto for engagement. While they are looking throught the books, I will be describing how wonderful the couple was, where we shot, and the look that the client wanted to achieve.
Then I do the same with wedding proofbooks. I show them entire weddings. (This means alot, because they know they aren't just looking at the best of my shots, but at every single one delivered to the couple).

Then I show them every single album I carry, whether it's th one in the package they want or not.

Then I grab my client folder (that's a whole thread in itself), and show them how they can upgrade albums. (They ALWAYS upgrade the albums).

I go over the contract with them, and TELL THEM WHAT I REQUIRE.
I then shut the folder, and ask them if they have any more questions. If they don't, I ASK THEM IF THEY WOULD LIKE ME TO GO AHEAD AND BOOK THEIR DATE. (This is where most people screw up....they never ask for the money). After you ask, shut up......they will have to answer you. They never just say no, they say, "Not yet, because.........". This opens the conversation back up. Maybe Dad is paying and he's not there. Nothing you can do about that. Maybe it's no because they are still unclear about something. Or they say yes. It's a win/win.
Most of my clients book during the meeting. I also book 9 out of 10 of the couples I meet with.....not because I'm cheaper, or better, but because I have them "in the ether", and I've asked point blank for the money.

The normal meeting takes 1.5-2 hours. Naturally, the above is a shorthand version.
Hope that helps!
A coupla things you could do to help sales, IMO.

First, use proofbooks instead of slideshows. In a slideshow, they are "forced" to look at a photo for the duration of that slide. In a proofbook, they "linger" on the photos they love, and skip by the ones that they aren't so blown away by. This leaves them with the killer shots in their mind, and the not so killer, forgotten.

Secondly, you HAVE to have a sample of what you are selling. You can not sell what you do not have. They have to be able to hold it in their hands.

And lastly, a 50 percent deposit is steep. I have no idea what your packages cost, but remember, that they will be shopping for their overall budget. Make it easy for them to book. I require a third. It's more managable. Remember, you want them to book right then....

The rest of what you are doing sounds good though. I think if you change the three things mentioned above, you will see a much higher sign rate.
Also April, I can't believe I missed it in the first go around.......

You didn't ask for the money......
Another thing that helps is to create "immediacy".

This is what I use, and it's a true story, but you can see how by explaining this to the bride and groom, I'm lighting a big fire under their behinds. There is a way to create urgency in many different ways.

This is again, true, and what I use...verbatum.

"Please let me know right away if you want to book the date, even if you haven't yet been able to send the paperwork....
The reason I say that is because I met with a bride, her mother and grandmother who drove in from San Antonio to meet with me. (San Antonio is a 5 hour drive from me). We had a great meeting, and all that needed to be done was for the bride to get the ok from the groom, who was paying, but she was 99.5 percent positive.
After they left, I went to my mailbox, in which contained the retainer and paperwork from a couple I had met with a month before, and had no contact with since the meeting.
When the bride got home, and got the ok from the groom, I had to inform her about the unfortunate situation, and needless to say she was very pissed off. And I can't blame her. (I later did this bride's sister's wedding though).
So, please, if you decide you want to book, let me know the moment you decide".

They then always ask, "Have you spoken to anyone about our date?"

My answer, "Yes, but it's been a week or so ago. Just let me know as soon as possible, because ethically, I have to take the first one to book".
Then I grab my client folder (that's a whole thread in itself), and show them how they can upgrade albums. (They ALWAYS upgrade the albums).

Would you be willing to start a thread with this information. I'm curious to say the least.
Hi Nic, it's a LOOONG thread that I've repeated a few times before, so what I'll try to do is find it for you instead, ok?
That would be awesome. Any ideas on what I would use for search keywords? Or are you just going to throw up a link? Thanks for doing this.
Another selling strategy that I focus on, is that YOU need to be interested in THEM. (This was mentioned earlier, but I thought it needed more emphasis.)
Start your meeting by finding out how they met; how long they've been together; what they're excited about for their wedding, etc.
Remember that they aren't having a wedding so that YOU can take pictures. Your taking pictures because THEY're are having a wedding. (I hope that made sense.)

I was told in a seminar to specifically ask what their biggest fear is, (when it comes to the wedding.) The more emotions that you draw out of them, the more vulnerable they are and the more of an impact you can make on them. Then, let them know what you & your services can do to make that fear dissapear, (or shrink!).

Personally, I get very turned off by pushy sales. I hate being asked, "Can I help you?" at retail stores, and I usually end up leaving.
So I never ask for the deposit at the meeting. After all of the question asking, I encourage them to review the information, and let them know that I'll call them a couple of days to see what additional questions they have.

Right now, my meeting/booking ratio isn't bad, but maybe if I try Elsaspet's "money now" strategy things would be outstanding.
Just wanted to say a lovely thread and a huge thank you to everyone who has commented. I have 3 weddings definitely booked for the summer (and perhaps a December one) and 2 phone messages I have to get back to (I am not taking anymore. I think 3-4 in a season will have me working my butt off well enough) and from those meetings I can guarantee you the most 'drawing in' aspect I noted was asking the personal questions (as Rachlynn mentioned), chit chat about wedding planning (I have been reading up on it so I have a better grasp of all it entails).

Another note just with my last meeting was pushing how you are really into customer service. Earlier this week I talked on the phone to my cousin's bride in Italy for 1.5 hours about her album, tweeking the layout, asking specifications such as language (we did a partial English/German album). Mind you she is a delightful individual to talk to and in most circumstances I would consider more then 45 minutes on the phone regarding the album excessive, but I could explain to this couple that together we designed an album that was going to showcase the best of the wedding throughout the entire day and both of us are greatly anticipating the final result.
Hi Rachlynn,
You are exactly right. I have a whole questionairre that we go over that discusses where they met, how long they have been together, themes, important friends and relatives at the event.
I too think it's really important. :)

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