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6 Tips for Emailing Styled Shoot Vendors

For the Creative

Continuing my series on organizing a styled shoot, one of the most crucial parts to planning and executing a styled shoot is connecting with other creatives. Sure it may be possible for you to make invites or put together bouquets, but why would you want to if that isn't your specialty? In photography, it's kind of like thinking a cell phone will be the same quality as a DSLR.

The easiest and most organized way to connect with others is to email the vendors you think would best fit your plan for the shoot. You can lay out your ideas after research, send them links to Pinterest, and give them a feel of your personality. I'm a big advocate for text messages instead of taking phone calls (sorry mom), so emailing is where I find the biggest benefits to communicating.

1. Create a canned response email.

When Marlayna and I were reaching out to vendors, we used a canned response that allowed us to save writing time, which conveyed who we were to our new connections. We tried to cover the date that we had in mind, the general location (we hadn't yet finalized a venue), and what we were looking for. This allowed vendors to see that we were serious and had our thoughts in order. The only change we made to each message was to add some personalization. Here is an example of one of our canned responses to a local dress shop (name redacted since we didn't end up working with them):


2. Be prepared to be told "no".

The one thing to keep in mind with a styled shoot is that no matter how organized and kind you are, people will tell you no. Be ready for rejection, and don't let it offend you. 99% of the time, "No"s came from people who were already swamped, but hoped to be kept in mind for future shoots. We were happy with their honesty, and definitely added them to our own personal "recommended vendors" list for couples.

3. If a response is not received after 3 days, follow up with a second email and a phone call.

The biggest problem we faced was not from the people that told us no, but from the people that either took a few weeks to respond, or didn't respond at all. We planned and completed our shoot within a month and a half, so we couldn't settle for waiting too long for each response. We did make a mistake that for some vendors we became anxious with not hearing anything, so we moved on without a follow-up. Lesson learned!

4. Do not send a mass email to the same type of vendors without responses from your first choice.

This comes back to us being overly anxious. We were having a very difficult time finding a dress vendor that had time to do the shoot, or would even respond to us. So in our crazy state, we sent out about 5 different emails to 5 different shops in one hour. This backfired when we had 3 shops reply and say they were interested. If we had followed tip number three, we wouldn't have had to "break-up" with two vendors.

5. It's okay to sleep on a decision about a vendor

The first place that Marlayna and I reached out to for vendor ideas was the Rising Tide Society. This collective of creatives is an awesome resource that we totally recommend joining and utilizing. When we sent out a call for vendors, we got a lot of amazing designers that offered to help with invitations. We were so excited about the level of enthusiasm others were feeling from our shoot that we over promised for three designers. Marlayna and I wanted so badly to work with a ton of vendors, that we tried desperately to find elements that each designer could help with. We actually had a pretty good plan laid out, since each one brought something different to the table (invites, beautiful signage, calligraphy vows) so we felt alright about the situation. In the end, though, two of the designers opted out of the shoot since they weren't going to be the solo artist. Total bummer, but another lesson learned! Had we slept on the original offerings to think harder about what and who we wanted, we would have been able to completely avoid this situation.

6. Trust your gut.

If a vendor is taking a ridiculous amount of time to respond, or if their emails are curt, it's probably time to start thinking about breaking up with them. In our search for a bridal gown, we came across a boutique that was quick to respond in the initial email. But when we wanted to schedule a visit, they completely dropped off the face of the Earth. We prepared an email that would let them off the hook without problem, and of course we got a quick response saying they were still on board. Afterwards, I emailed a lot and Marlayna called a lot, but it all fell on deft ears. They just did not seem to care. When we actually were able to set up a visit to check out some dresses, we were met by a attendant that had no idea why we were there, and our contact was not going to show up at the scheduled time. It was disheartening, and Marlayna and I were angry (there may have been a car full of expletives). We knew from the first couple emails that this vendor wasn't going to be the one for us, but we went against our gut because we really wanted them to work out. Fortunately for us, though, that day we also got a lead to another dress boutique that fit everything we wanted so well and the owner is a total Saint!

These tips not only will assist us in our next styled shoot endeavor, but also I think it has greatly impacted how we handle all of our emails from here on out. It's amazing how something so small can greatly affect every facet of a business :).



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