I recently posted this status to our Facebook page, “If you want to hire a vendor that isn’t based in the town you are getting married in, they can still provide great service! Why? Because a true professional can make any place that is foreign to them personal by knowing YOU! So make sure you click with the person you are hiring!”.
I have been thinking about this hiring local thing a lot and I wanted to expound on it. I am obviously partial to one side of this argument because we travel. A lot. So much that we don’t even charge for travel within Washington State. It’s just a part of our m.o. We went to Alaska, Oregon, Idaho, Colorado and all over Washington this year alone for weddings. There is a big push these days to build within the community that you live in and I am all for that! We are blessed to live within a farming community and buy lots of local produce when it’s in season. We go to the coffee shop instead of Starbucks. We are members of The Chamber of Commerce to be a part of the local network of businesses. We will do our best to shop for anything here first and sometimes spend a little more money just to support those close to us. But it is a farming community and we have actually never shot a wedding in our town of 7,000. Not because no one is getting married, but because people who live here know there isn’t a great venue to get married at!
So we shop locally as much as possible but there are things that will make us turn to Amazon or Google. It’s usually when we can’t find what we are looking for. I know that’s a “duh” statement, but it’s a much bigger statement when you think about it. What I look for in any product is: 1.Great customer service 2. Quality of product 3. Price. Notice price wasn’t first. Being small business owners we are very sensitive to customer service. If I email you and you wait 5 days to reply-I have already moved on. If I am not worth 3 minutes of your time- even an email to say I will get back to you soon, then my money doesn’t need to be spent there. If you sell the cheapest product and it’s obvious that it’s poor quality, it’s not worth my money. I don’t want to have to be buying the same thing again in 6 months.
So how does this all relate to wedding photography? Well, don’t feel the need to find someone locally if you don’t want to! Local is relative, anyway. Most brides don’t get married in the town they are currently living in whether it be that they are at college, got a job away from their hometown, or it’s a destination wedding. Is local where you are living now or in the town where you will be getting married? Good question! Do you want to work with people who are close to you so you can meet face to face easily or do you want people close to the venue? Another good question. What’s a good deciding factor? 1.Great customer service 2. Quality of product 3. Price. (Again price isn’t first). You may find a photographer who has worked the same venue for years, but if you don’t like how they treat you, it’s going to be an irritating experience at best. Not just on your wedding day, but the weeks after as you go over photos. Your wedding experience will always be tainted with stories of the photographer/videographer/wedding planner/officiant/caterer who___________(fill in whatever all the things your friends have shared with you in the past). Hiring some things locally make sense. Chairs, tents, cakes, things that don’t require much contact and are difficult to transport. Those vendors are “here is what I want” and you are done emails. Where as photographer, videographer, wedding planner, officiant, caterer, dress and seamstress, dj and others I have forgotten to mention are people you will be making multiple decisions with that will last the entire wedding day. You need to like these people and trust them. Obviously you need to like anyone you decide to give your money to, but I hope you see the point I am trying to make.
Alyeska Resort, Alaska
So what if they are neither local to you or the venue? Then that means you couldn’t find the quality, customer service, or price that you were looking for. Thankfully Google allow us to get anything that we will ever need and get it to the exact specifications we want. A true professional can take any new location and make it personal to you. You will trust them because you click with them. We were hired off of a Google search to go to Alaska. Months after the wedding I am Facebook friends with that bride. We went to Oregon because it was a referral from a wedding in Seattle (still not local for us). She hired us because of the great referral from our Seattle bride. I could go on and on. Here’s the point. I want to like my clients just as much as they want to like me. Both sides do that by saying no or yes when they have that gut feeling. And you know what? We never have drama with our clients.
In the end hire who you want to hire. If it’s someone local to where you live, great! If it’s someone local to the venue, great! If it’s neither… great! Don’t get too bogged down with being pressured to hire anyone for any other reason than 1.Great customer service (including you click with them) 2. Quality of product 3. Price.