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How to book more brides (without spending a fortune on advertising)

Would you like to have a calendar full of bridal bookings?  How would it feel to know that all your brides were your dream brides, who were booking you because they loved your work and had heard great things about you, and weren’t just shopping on price?  This is the power of referral marketing.  When it comes to being a bridal makeup artist or hairstylist, the best way to have brides referred to you (other than from past brides) is to develop a relationship with other wedding vendors.  Read on for my top tips on networking with wedding photographers.

I’ve developed some amazing working relationships with photographers I have met at the wedding day preparations, which has led to them referring me to their brides.  Generally, the first suppliers that brides book will be their venue, (both ceremony and reception) and then their photographer.  Having a good referral relationship with a photographer is a great step for increasing your enquiry rate, and hopefully your bookings.  The best way to do this is to make the photographer’s job easier.

Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, have your bridal parties ready on time for the photographer.  I remember when I was first starting out, and a very highly regarded photographer with a full trophy cabinet of awards called me to give me instructions on having the bridal party ready and I distinctly remember her saying “I don’t want anyone still with hot rollers in their hair or half their makeup done when I arrive”. I could have taken offence at someone trying to tell me how to do my job, but instead, I took it as a learning opportunity and made sure I did what she requested.  This eventually lead to her referring a lot of work to me.

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Bridal Beauty 101 – Scheduling:  When you’re working out the wedding day schedule with the bride, firstly find out what time the photographer needs her ready, and work BACKWARDS from then to establish your start time.  This way you will make sure you are finishing up in plenty of time for the photographer.  I always allow an extra half an hour “buffer” too, as there will often be distractions during the morning (like when the flowers arrive, its nice for all the girls to look at them together, say “oooh” and “ahhhh” and practice holding them.  Its good to be able to say to the girl in your chair “Get up and go look at the flowers with the other girls”  A small thing, and it probably only costs 5-10 minutes.  The last thing I want is for my bride and her bridal party to feel rushed.  I always try to create a relaxed, stress free environment for them.

When the photographer arrives, introduce yourself.  I always speak to the photographer and let them know where I’m up to as often the photographer will arrive 30-60 minutes before he wants the bridal party ready, to take some shots of the flowers/dresses, jewellery and shoes etc. So I might say “This is the last bridesmaid in the chair, and then I will have everyone come back for touch-ups, so I’ll be done in 30 minutes.”  The photographer will usually want to get a photo of the bride having her makeup done and it’s nicer for the bride if it’s a “staged shot”, so she isn’t having a photo taken with just half her makeup on.   I will ask the photographer if they would like to do that, and let him or her know when the bride is coming back to the chair for touch ups.  For hairstylists, the big moment is when the veil is going in.  Some brides and photographers like to have the hairstylist fitting the veil; others like to stage a shot with the bride’s mother or one of the bridesmaids fitting it.

At an appropriate moment (usually when I’ve finished and while the girls are getting dressed, so the photographer is standing around for a moment too, I will ask for his or her card, and offer them one of mine.   After the wedding I will send them an email saying it was nice to meet them, ask how the hair and makeup lasted throughout the day (because, you know, we learn through feedback!) and tell them I’d love to work with them again.  You’d be surprised how few artists bother to follow up like this, and what amazing results you’ll have if you do.

This is the time to ask for copies of photos from the wedding (not on the wedding day!!).  In my experience, I’ve found some photographers are more than happy to give you photos, others are not.  Back when I started, in the days before digital cameras and social media, I would often pay for photos from the photographer, especially if they were a great photographer and I thought the bride would add to my portfolio.  These days its easy to follow (stalk) the photographer on social media, and get your photos from there, however, I still believe you should always ask permission before sharing photos or copying them from the photographers social media profiles

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I’ve seen a lot of makeup artists complaining in the forums about struggling to get images from the photographer.  Remember the photographer is under no obligation to provide photos to you, and if they do it is a huge favour.  He may have taken over 1000 images on the wedding day, and you are asking him to go back through those photos to select a couple that best show off your work.  Your portfolio is your resume, and investing in your portfolio is a smart move.  I believe it was Sir Richard Branson who said “You’ve got to spend money to make money”. Offering to pay for images is sometimes good business…  if you’ve got a stunning bride and a good photographer, you may book tens or hundreds of brides if their images raise the level of your portfolio.

Lastly, always credit the photographer.  Always. In your social media, and on your website.  Often wedding photographers will watermark their images, which, while frowned upon in the commercial/editorial world, is very acceptable in the wedding industry. Don’t crop out their watermark… So long as its not right across the bride’s face, its no harm to you, and remember, if you look after the photographer, they just might refer their future brides to you!

Now, I’m sure many of you have met photographers you would love to work with but when you’ve approached them they’ve told you they already have an artist they have a referral relationship with.  I actually find I have better luck by NOT asking them to refer me.  Rather I just make an effort to add value to their day by making their job easier, and follow up with them, and work on creating a good working relationship.  Become someone they WANT to work with, someone who when they walk into the wedding prep, they breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that you’ve done a great job and everything is running on time.

I hope you got value from these tips, feel free to share this post, and comment below with any questions you might have.

 

Photo Credits:

Alan Hughes Photography
Tom Hall Photography
Highlights Photography

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