Successful wedding collaborations often lead to long-term relationships with vendors and other industry partners. These relationships can help you expand your reach, resulting in wedding referrals that actually book you.
Having had my fair share of styled shoots and wedding collaborations, I wanted to share my tips for the most effective business collaborations.
Have a goal in mind for your wedding collaboration.
Before you reach out to another wedding vendor for a collaboration, have a goal in mind. Do you want to work on a styled shoot together, or are you asking to meet for coffee just to brainstorm ideas? Have a general outline so the other vendor can understand the gist of your vision right away. Starting the conversation with unclear details will likely lead to the vendor ignoring your request or turning you down. Whereas, if you enter the conversation with a clear goal and idea, and suggestions for how you can both benefit, the vendor will catch onto your excitement and your vision!
Be intentional with who you collaborate with.
The best business to business collaborations are those in which both parties complement one another. As a photographer, you should be reaching out to wedding vendors whose style you love, and whose work you would love to photograph. Think of florists, wedding planners, etc. Make sure that your aesthetics match.
In addition, you should work with those who are at about the same level as you are or someone who’d been in the industry longer than you. If you are a brand new photographer, and you ask a corporate floral company to collaborate, they may not be inclined. However, another new wedding vendor may be just as excited about the opportunity as you are. You should both be happy to help and looking forward to the results. This doesn’t mean that you can’t potentially collaborate with influencers or those who have more experience, but for your first collaborations, I recommend starting with those who are on a similar level as you.
Ensure that the collaboration is mutually beneficial.
Along those same lines, make sure that you can both benefit from the collaboration. As a photographer, you may be looking for a model for a styled shoot. What benefits will they get in return? Is a portfolio valuable enough for them at this point in their career? You can make the collaboration more appealing by offering social media shout-outs, linking to their site on a blog (great for SEO I’ve learned by the way) and more! Both parties need to feel valued, and not of the mindset that they’re working for free in any way.
Put a contract in place.
Although the goal from a wedding collaboration is to create a long-term, friendly relationship, this doesn’t mean that you should skip creating a contract. Having a clear contract in place identifies what both parties are required to offer, and it makes sure that the relationship (even if you become best friends) stays at a professional level, especially in terms of the services delivered.
Have room for open communication.
Make it clear how you’re both going to communicate — phone, email, text, Instagram DMs — and how responsive you’ll be. In addition, make sure that you both feel comfortable in being open and providing feedback. One of the major benefits of a collaboration is that you can receive honest feedback after working with someone. Don’t miss out on this benefit by making the communication awkward. From the first conversation, describe the type of communication you’re looking for and how excited you are to receive feedback and learn from each other.
Create a real relationship.
Most importantly, don’t be superficial. Don’t expect business referrals right away and don’t be pushy. Instead, provide value, have that clear and honest communication and simply be the type of vendor you’re looking for yourself in partnerships.
Don’t be afraid to talk about your wedding collaboration.
It’s not a bad thing to have business to business collaborations. In fact, it’s becoming highly effective for wedding professionals to partner together, providing their expertise and a comprehensive experience for their clients. Once you develop solid relationships with wedding planners and florists, your clients will begin to notice how seamlessly you work together. They’ll recognize the communication and hard work that’s taking place, and they’ll be stoked to have an essential ‘team’ working on their behalf.
Plus, if you talk about your collaboration on social media, this may lead to more interest from other vendors.
How to be a successful photography vendor:
Whether you’re planning a styled wedding shoot, trying to create more solid relationships with vendors, or even creating a guide for your own clients with preferred vendors, here are tips you can use to impress vendors.
- Send wedding galleries ASAP to your vendors and give them permission to share the images, with your credit attached. If you’re awaiting publication, inform your vendors so they know to wait until the photos are published.
- Share images on social media and always tag the other vendors.
- Create a blog post highlighting the work of vendors with links to their websites.
- Send thank you cards.
- Ask other vendors to go out to lunch (your treat) and brainstorm ideas together.
- Plan a styled shoot with other wedding professionals & do all of the above.
In light of collaboration, I’d like to thank a few incredible Oregon wedding vendors I’ve had the wonderful pleasure to worked with!
Jamie with Jamie Ta Creative
Jamie is an all-around event planner.
Rebecca with Indigo Event Design
Rebecca is a wedding planner.
Angelica with Anelaevents
Angelica is a wedding planner.
Katherine with BLUE
Ali with ALIBDESIGN
Rithy of RTFaith Photography | Oregon Wedding Photographer