Contrary to popular belief, wedding editors are still keen to receive your real wedding submissions. The fact is, couples are planning their wedding day–whether this year or the next, and they need inspiration and guidance on how to do it safely and stylishly.
One roadblock that event professionals often face is how to manage the submission with the couple in mind. Ensuring you're able to do so by legally having the right verbiage in your contract is simply the first step.
Below are a few of the most common questions we get from wedding pros when submitting events and the role their clients may (or may not!) play in the process.
By Chenai submitted this recent wedding to the Wedding Academy's Trend Report. Photo courtesy Goddard Photography.
When should I tell the couple I'm interested in submitting their wedding?
My number one rule? Be non-committal to keep expectations from getting out of hand. It's best not to say a thing until you've reviewed the professional images at length because that's what truly impacts the submission the most.
Once you've spoken with the photographer, let the couple know that you love their images and that there may be interest in submitting to a blog or publication. Acknowledge they've already signed the initial contract giving permission, but you're checking in to see if they would be open to being interviewed via email about their day. Never promise at any point that you're submitting–you may find yourself too bogged down with events to follow through, and it can lead to disappointment.
What if they ask where I'm submitting it?
Again, your language should be non-committal. The more you share, the more opinions they'll have about the media plans. Our typical response is that we're still considering options and will let them know if picked up. If they push, we'll give more details without naming publications; such as, “we’re currently considering local print magazines.” Of course, you never want to reach the point of frustrating the couple by appearing wishy-washy. At the same time, it's important to remember that as soon as you start listing media outlets, they’ll begin to get excited. Expectations should be tempered at all costs.
Should I let them see the final image selection I'm sending out?
We recognize that some couples may have sensitivities to which photos are used–for reasons that perhaps none of us (not even you) are privy to. Our recommendation is not to outright offer to share the selection of images in advance. If they do request it, email it along after the photographer has approved the final gallery.
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Bear in mind that you will want to curate the images with the wedding day's story in mind. If the couple comes back and asks that something is removed, then make a point to better understand the why behind that decision. Emphasize the importance of respecting their wishes while seeking out a replacement photo to keep the submission cohesive.
What if the couple wants to get overly involved?
It can be a great deal of fun for most couples to revisit their wedding day and provide the details necessary to create a cohesive and robust submission. In some cases, the couples may get especially excited, and then it's a matter of deciding how involved you want them to be without compromising the submission. Yes, it is their wedding day, but a real wedding submission is a business transition.
If they simply want to be involved with the images and story being sent over to the editor, there are ways to navigate it. But major red flags should be popping up if they want to micromanage the entire process, be copied on messages to editors and/or have the final say in the media plan. As we've shared with clients, when it gets to the point that the couple can't let the professionals do their job, then it may be best to let them handle it themselves, as long as the photographer has approved them to do it. If it means that much to them, let the success be by their hand and, for practical matters, let their failures be theirs as well.
What if the couple doesn’t want to participate at all?
Even if you have the legal ability to do so, if a couple doesn't want to participate, you need to give real thought to whether it's worth doing so. They may have signed off on it, but circumstances change, and there may be a good reason why they'd prefer not to share their event publicly. Is it worth the feature when potentially fracturing the relationship?
Bear in mind also that editors typically will need to interview the couple when preparing the feature. If they choose not to do so, it can become a precarious situation editorially.
Wedding PR can be an important component of your business- but relationships are more important. By managing expectations and keeping the lines of communication open between you and your clients, you are in a position to enjoy that new feature while keeping the peace.