Have you wondered how to create a genuine relationship with a planner? What makes a planner want to refer a photographer? What is helpful, and what’s overstepping? How can we be beneficial to the planner before, during, and after the wedding day? How do we negotiate the best timeframe for sunset portraits? Should we expect to collaborate or pay for styled shoots? Yes? Then perfect because I invited elopement planner, Sydney Kuhne from Wildly in Love, to join us for the newest episode of All Angles Photography Podcast. I found that while talking to Sydney, I couldn’t stop thinking of more and more questions I wanted to ask her. We drop some KNOWLEDGE in this episode, you guys. Sydney has a ton of experience (over 8 years) in the wedding industry, so you can expect her to DISH on all of her experience and tips for how planners and photographers work best together.
Sydney started out wedding planning in high school as a day of assistant for a wedding planner. So around the age of 14 she found her passion and chased after it! She went to USC and got a degree in hospitality management. She talks about how all of her professors told her “never go into wedding planning, it’s a dying field”. Little did they know, she was about to take the wedding planning industry by storm and make her own way!! Throughout college she interned for event planners of festivals, concerts, and luxury weddings.
After college, she worked for luxury event planners in DC. She attributes those high pressure, high stress work environments to giving her so many opportunities to learn and grow her wedding planning knowledge at an accelerated rate. Shortly after, she started her own wedding planning business and now specializes in elopements. So even though she now specializes in destination elopements, she has had all the wedding, event, and elopement planning experience. Which is part of the reason I am pumped to have her on this episode! She’s able to give us her POV from all angles and I’m stoked for you to tune in to hear all she has to say!
Sydney suggests to start genuinely interacting with them and their content. When you approach people ingenuously it comes off super icky. She also chats a little about having photographers in her DMs that clearly sent her a canned message and she said it’s kind of like, “Did you even look at my account before sending this?”. We’re both all about connecting, but there is definitely a right way and a wrong way to approach it. I always tell my mentees to create a “relationship without expectation”. Sydney and I actually met at a styled shoot right when I moved to Colorado. I saw she was the planner for this styled shoot and said “I love this planner, I need to be at this shoot!” I had no expectations other than amazing photos. And our friendship flourished from there. So really it’s all just about connection, not promotion.
We bounce off the topic above a little to chat about how to become worthy of the referral. Like all planners, Sydney will recommend vendors to her couples. She doesn’t just recommend anyone who pops in her DMs and says “Hey recommend me please, I love your work.” So again that’s where the connection, without expectation or promotion comes in.
Sydney talks about her full deep dive process into finding the perfect vendors for her couples. You might be surprised to hear that she says it’s not all about your editing style or your vibe. It’s a combination of it all. Of course though, she says the first thing she looks for is editing style. If you don’t fit the editing style the couple is looking for she isn’t going to recommend you. Doesn’t mean your editing style is bad, just different than what the couple is looking for! She goes into FULL detail on her process for looking for photographers and other vendors to her couples in the episode. So what are you waiting for? Go tune in!!
She gives even more knowledge on how she picks destination photographers too. If you don’t listen in for anything else, you’ll want to listen in for this knowledge bomb!
The main thing to remember before, during, and after weddings, according to Sydney, is that you are all on the same team! No matter the vendor you are working with, you are all on team “best wedding possible” for your couples. Planners are a liaison between all the vendors and the couple. So they are working their hardest to make this day perfect! Bonus: the couples will have such a better time if you work together as a team. With that being said, Sydney gave us a few tips for what’s most helpful before, during, and after weddings.
Be open and collaborative! Sydney says that for her process, you’ll usually chat with the photographer a bunch beforehand, but she’ll reach out about a month before and confirm all the final logistics. You’ll talk timeline, photo specific stuff, really anything she couldn’t answer on her own. Really it’s all about being timely and kind in this phase.
According to Sydney, the best thing you can do for the planner on the wedding day is be flexible, positive, and communicative. Also, try to stick to the timeline as much as possible. She says that planners (especially for larger weddings) spend TONS of time on the timelines. So try your best to stick to them, and if something goes wrong… communicate. The planner will be able to fix most things, you just have to communicate with them so they can fix it.
The biggest and best thing you can do after the wedding from Sydney’s POV is two fold. First off, share the sneak peeks with the ENTIRE vendor team. She says that a lot of times she has to ask the couples to send her their sneak peeks because the photographer hasn’t. Secondly, credit the vendors. Any time you make a post on any socials just credit the vendors. She says a lot of planners will include instagram handles and vendor info in their timelines to make it super easy. But if your couple isn’t using a planner, you can get it straight from the source. I send all my couples a questionnaire before their big day to get vendor info to make sure I’m giving credit where it’s due. You know how much it stinks when someone doesn’t credit you for your photos so have the same respect for them.
This is such an important topic! When we got to chatting about it, I wanted to make sure the way I approach timelines was right and respectful. So we chatted about my process for timelines with and without planners. Then Sydney drops some knowledge bombs. Go listen to the episode for the full break down, but here are some high level points she makes. The KEY for timelines and timeline creation is to have a team mindset. You are both there to make the best day for the couple, so keep that in mind. Sometimes things overlap and you may have to get creative to make everything fit for the couple. Again remember, you’re a team working for your couple so try not to take anything personally or get too frustrated. It’s not just the planner being stubborn, sometimes there are things out of their control!
Sydney gives her multiple views on this topic. Depending on where you are in your business, the answer can be totally different. She also shares some advice for working with vendors during styled shoots and how to approach styled shoots to make the most out of them. She has the POV of just starting out in your business and as an established planner, so she can really give thoughts from all angles! Tune in to hear all her thoughts, tips, and advice!
For EVEN more priceless information (I know how could there be even more goodies???), tune into this episode with Sydney! We go over more on styled shoots, expected budgets, communicating with vendors, and all the things on planner + photographer relationships. I cannot believe how much we jam packed into one episode. It was truly an honor to have her on and I CANNOT wait for you guys to hear all she has to offer. If you totally loved Sydney in this episode, all of her links for instagram, her blog, and youtube are all below so give her a follow!