Today’s question is from Joy who asks:
Question: How To Deal With A Bridezilla in your Business
I have been researching wedding photography for awhile now. I’ve 2nd second shot with friends who said I have the personality for wedding photography.
It would be a dream if i could shoot weddings, even if it’s part time. One thing that is stopping me is the fear of having to deal with a bridezilla.
How do you deal with bridezillas in your business?
We discuss the topics –
What is a bridezilla or groomzilla?
A bride or groom whose behaviour is seen as demanding or unreasonable when planning their wedding.
How to avoid a bridezilla
- Set and meet their expectations, on first contact. If you can’t offer the service or products they are after, let them know.
- Have a contract drawn that covers you from events that are out of your control
- Make sure they fill out a timeline and it’s possbile to achive.
- Offer advice and make sure if you have spoken over the phone, they you follow it up with an email.
Dealing with complaints
- Don’t respond straight away, think the problem over otherwise your tone my come across as aggressive.
- Must respond within 24 hrs and try phone first
- Think of it from her point of view
- talk the issue with a college first before responding
- Have a solution to the problem that will benefit the bride and not you.
How do I deal with bridezillas as my business?
I run, I run the opposite direction.
No seriously, it’s one of those things that sometimes can’t be avoided. When your question came in, I actually had a bit of a chuckle because I was actually in the same position as you a few years back, about five years ago. I had this mindset that every single person I was going to meet was going to be difficult, partly due to the photographers I was speaking to and asking them had they done any wedding photography and what did they think of it?
The first thing that came up was, “Oh yeah, it was really difficult dealing with the bride, they wanted everything.” I guess reality TV doesn’t help either, it makes the regular wedding drama and it’s just full of drama, everything’s going to go wrong and yes, stuff does happen.
I haven’t been in a position where I’ve seen a bride go ballistic at the most smallest thing because I don’t know, the flowers were rearranged or incorrectly or the wrong one or they’re too small or I don’t know. I mean, I just haven’t really come across anybody that full on.
And bridezilla basically is someone, it’s basically someone whose behavior’s seen to be really demanding and unreasonable when they’re planning their wedding.
I think a lot of the times you’re not really going to get to see the stress of what goes into the bride and groom planning their wedding.
Let’s be honest, they are spending a lot of money for one day and I think they should be allowed to have things, well they should have things perfect. If they order for something they should get it.
I think that out of all the vendors, the wedding photographer is one of the most important. I know we always say that about ourselves but our photos, well their photos, are going to be with them for the rest of their lives.
And that’s why it’s important to make albums for them and not just give them digital files or even prints, wall prints.
But that aside, I think, get the negativity out of your head and just do it.
Do what you believe is right for you because wedding photography as a genre is really, really special.
You’re witnessing something that is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for two people and you’ve been asked to photograph and that’s pretty special.
A lot of people that are actually witnessing it along with you, some of them haven’t even been to weddings before so it’s also a first time for them too, believe it or not.
Don’t worry about the negativity of the whole thing and just do what you feel is right for yourself and makes you happy.
Now, you can’t always tell if someone’s going to be difficult but there are some things that you can have in place, that will make your job a little bit easier and if something does come up, you’ll be protecting yourself.
The first thing would be when you’re doing the client meetings and you’ve got to be honest with them. You can’t promise them the world, if you can only promise half of what you can offer them.
For instance, if they’re wanting photos that are highly posed and they want the end results of the photos to be like fine art pieces that are perfectly edited and they’re ready as if they’re going to be placed onto a wall in a beautiful big frame.
Well, if you don’t provide that or if your wedding photography style is very journalistic and it’s not highly posed and it’s completely opposite, you’ve got to be honest with them. Tell them you’re not the right photographer for them and ask them to find someone else or at least a system to find someone else, if you’ve got friends in the industry that meets their criteria.
Now the other thing is having a contract that is very, very sound and it protects you as well as them, and having it done by a professional is paramount, you’ve got to do that, don’t skimp on it.
I know that when you’re starting out you don’t want to be spending money in places like this, but you have to, you’ve got to cover your butt.
There’s clauses in there that you can put, that will help you get the photos that you need but also if you don’t get the photos.
And what I mean by that is, I have a clause in my contract that says that I can’t be held responsible if the owner of the establishment or licensee of the establishment is not allowing me to perform my duties as a photographer.
What I mean by that is, if their lighting is really, really low and dim and I’ve asked them to raise the lights a little bit because my cameras are finding it hard to focus, and they won’t and then I just have to make due. I’ll get the photos that I can and if I’m not held liable for any that I can’t.
There are things like malfunction. We all look after our equipment and we all should be but having a clause like that, that things are out of your control, but once again as a professional you need to have backup equipment. Other things I’ve actually been asked to go to the back of the church because the priest has had experiences where, “During the vows the photographers like to get really, really close and wreck the mood.” as she put it. I agreed with that and that’s fine but I had the necessary equipment, had the experience to be able to take photos within that means.
I let the groom know before we started, that’s what the priests wishes were and he said, “Yup not a problem.” You’ve got to let people know on the day also you have these clauses in your contract to cover your butt as well.
Now make sure that there is a timeline filled out too because timelines are very important. It lets you know where you should be and also if the timeline becomes too compact and to a point where you can’t do your job, you’ve got to let them know. They’ve got to understand that with the limited time, that you can only perform so much.
I’ve had cases generally where you would normally take one hour to do a particular thing and it may be the bridal portraits or it could be the getting ready stage, but of course they want that done in half an hour, even 15 minutes.
You’ve got to make due and you’ve got to prepare yourself for that, knowing the location. Not saying, “Hey I can’t do it.” but giving them choices.
I’ve had experiences where the driving to a location took longer than actual photos. It’s just how it was, it’s what the bride wanted, tried to give it to her but the photos, we only got so much.
But thinking a little bit out of the square what I did do, as we were walking to the location, as we got out of the limousine and we’re taking photos and candid photos of them and stopped them along the way.
By the time we got to the landmark that she wanted to be photographed in and then took photos and then we walked back and took further photos and of course I took the group photos and individual photos but I was given 15, 20 minutes but it took us 35 minutes to get there and back. Anyway, that’s just how it is.
Now the other thing is to offer advice. As a professional and someone that’s experienced because don’t forget, people getting married are the first time the majority of the time, and they will ask you for solutions or something.
And that’s fine, you need to give them the pros and cons so they can make the choice, and it’s very important that if you are saying these things over the phone, make sure it’s an email.
Once again covering your own butt but also giving them a little nudge as, “Hey this is what we spoke about.” but also for you too. You may speak to a lot of people. It’s definitely many, many months in between what’s going on, so having that in writing is not such a bad thing.
Now if things do go wrong and they will, stuff happens in business. I’m not saying the end of the world will happen but there’s small things that some people may find, how should we say, really, really bad for them but for you it could be a regular occurrence or could actually just be something quite small that’s easily fixed.
Now what I recommend is if someone’s writing you an email and they’re saying, “Oh I don’t like any of the photos.” Or, “I don’t like this.” or “I don’t like that.” or whatever reason or something’s gone astray, don’t respond straight away.
Read it several times and then leave that email, walk away from it, think about what’s going on.
Think about it from their point of view and also maybe even talk with a colleague if you have or a friend, somebody that you talk to about your business and see what they think, but most importantly you’ve got to respond within 24 hours and you’ve got to come back to them with some sort of solution and give them choices.
Sometimes you do need to, I guess, lose a little bit of money to make them happy, so if something was damaged in such a way where the print lab is not going to pay for it because they shipped it to you and it was fine. But it was when you were I don’t know, taking it somewhere or shipping it to them, it got damaged. Well then someone’s going to have to eventually pay for it and upfront costs may have to be just you.
It could also be something that you took too long to get something done or you forgot something and you’re giving them something for free. It could be a print or it could be a few extra pages in an album, just to keep them happy because even though we like reviews and people to refer us, I find that people talk negatively more about people than positively.
If you’ve had a bad experience, you’re going to be very, very willing to tell people about that negative experience but most of the time people don’t really want to praise people. I don’t know why, it’s just how it is. If you can make an unhappy customer very, very happy, then definitely you’re winning. You’re also learning something from that experience and who knows, they could be a raving fan and tell all their friends.