I’ve stood biting my lip and feeling uncertain beside an exasperated bride as she tried to navigate difficult relations on the day of her wedding.
I’ve tried (and failed) to bring out the goofiness in a couple that all their friends and family talk about being central to their relationship but isn’t making an entrance AT ALL.
I’ve spent so much time on one aspect of a wedding—the decorations, venue, extended family members, friends, etc.—only to later learn that it wasn’t what the couple wanted to remember most from their wedding day.
Yeah, so you could say that it took me awhile to understand how KEY it is to have a client questionnaire. (*Insert forehead-smacking emoji.) Now I cannot tell you enough how absolutely essential questionnaires are to an effective client management system.
Some photographers (like myself at the beginning of my career) bypass this step. It could be that they don’t want to bother the already-busy couple, sending them another email with a to-do in it. Or maybe they don’t have any idea what they need to ask in order to get the most helpful information.
Because the thing is that questionnaires aren’t just some sort of formality. Providing your new couple with a list of insightful questions is an OPPORTUNITY to build your connection with them while beginning to truly understand the people you’re going to be working with and what matters most to them.
Taking the time to invest in a solid questionnaire and sending it out consistently is going to set you up for success so you don’t find yourself being as awkward or unprepared as I was before I implemented this into my intake process as well.
So that gets us to the actual questionnaire—what should you include in your questionnaire? And how is it going to help you be successful?
Below is my personal list of questions that I use with each and every couple I work with. This is what has upped my game and enabled me to grow my business authentically—being prepared to offer my clients what I do best and what will help get the images THEY want.
The basics may seem boring, but once you have them, you know a lot! Spell the names of your couple correctly—no rookie misspelling here, no siree! Also, don’t be afraid to ask about additional family members in this section—children, stepchildren, ex-spouses, etc. These are important people that could play a part in how the day goes/looks. This section also provides written confirmation of the location—because no one wants you showing up at a different location on the big day.
Personality & History
Describe an Ideal Day Together:
How You Met:
Words to Describe You as a Couple/Family:
Words to Describe Each of You:
In addition to these questions, I also always ask my couples to send in either their favorite picture together or one with them and their family. This is so, so insightful because it allows me to see who I’ll be working with while also seeing who is important to them and what they value in a photo. (This is HUGE!)
With the answers to the questions from above in hand, you’ll have a better understanding of what you need to do from behind the camera. You can leverage your couples’ personality, and you’ll know how to help them get comfortable and capture the images and emotions they’re longing to see. I love incorporating activities and movement that play off of the hobbies and favorite activities they’ve shared with me.
Expectations & Hopes
Why did you choose your location?
Why did you choose your venue?
Why did you choose your particular style?
Why did you choose me as your photographer?
What are you most looking forward to?
What is your vision for your wedding day?
What parts of your personality are you excited to have captured?
This enables you to know right off the bat what they love about YOU and what it is that you offer that sets you apart from all the other photographers they could have chosen. Pardon my baseball analogy, but understanding their exact expectations on their wedding day sets you up with a perfect pitch. Then, all that you’ve got to do is show up and swing like you always do! That was too baseball-ish, I know.
Concerns & Reservations
Are you nervous about anything?
What are you least excited about?
Is there anything else you’d like me to know about you personally?
Being proactive always, always pays off. Get the potential problems on the table before the event even takes place so you can put your couple at ease and be prepared to help manage that particular part of the day. Many times, these areas of worry come from insecurities. Once you know what you’re dealing with, you can help with any fears and concerns your couple has.
So what do you think? Does that feel manageable?
Maybe after reading through this list, you are still feeling a little unsure about sending out a list like this. I hear you, but I need you to trust me on this.
Even if you get client pushback about filling out a form, you don’t need to sweat it. You can work through these questions over the phone or by diligently collecting the information through your email communication.
Let’s keep awkward-day-of interactions to a minimum, right? Create a solid questionnaire to send to any new couples you’re working with and make it a regular part of your client management process. It’s going to pay off tenfold!