When the bride makes her initial call to me, she typically is the first one to ask a question. If she asks about price first, I say, "I'll be happy to answer that question, but may I ask you a few questions first to get a feel for your wedding?" Most brides say yes. So get your pen and notebook ready and fire away.
May I ask how you heard of me?
This helps you determine which marketing methods are working. This also lets you know if this is a cold call (magazine ad, phone book) or a warm call (referral from another vendor or bride). If the bride says she found me on the Internet, I like to ask if it was via a link from a certain Web site or through a search engine. If it's the latter, I'll even ask her what she typed in for her search. You'll want to know this even if you are already booked, so ask it immediately.
What is your wedding date?
If her first question to you is on your prices and packages, you don't want to go into a detailed explanation just to find out you aren't available anyway. If I'm already booked, I will ask her if she would like referrals of other videographers I know. This is a good time to return favors. I will also refer the bride to our local association Web site, www.IVAvideo.com, and tell her she can fill out a form on the site so videographers who are available will contact her.
What is the time and location of your ceremony and reception?
Asking this question will help determine if you will be needed for 4 hours or 12 hours and if you will be driving for 15 minutes or 90 minutes. Her reception location will also give you an indication of her wedding budget. It's safe to assume that a wedding at a downtown hotel will have a bigger budget than your local VFW Hall.
What are you looking for in a wedding video?
Listen closely and take notes because you need to know if you can provide what the bride is looking for. Does she want special messages, bridal preparations, one or more cameras? If she doesn't know, you can tell her some of your options.
What have you seen that you liked and don't like?
Some brides want wedding-day preparations, others don't. Some like special messages, black & white, and slow-motion, etc. You need to take notes on both so you can show her examples of what she likes, and not waste her time talking about things she doesn't.
Have you talked to other videographers? How much do you know about video?
Some brides need more education about video than others. If a bride tells me that I am the first videographer she has called, then I will spend more time explaining the differences in video equipment, editing, and different shooting styles. If a bride tells me she has already talked with six videographers, then I will quickly move to what I do and how I differ from others. If a bride telles me who else she has seen, I'll know who I‘m competing with.
Can I give you some referrals for other services?
If she tells me she has everything, then I will ask who the photographer is, who the entertainment is. I'll mention that I've been in business for over 17 years and am curious to know if it's anyone I have worked with before. The bride may feel more comfortable if you know the other vendors. This will also help you determine what "style" of wedding she is having. If the bride still needs a vendor, give her some recommendations.
Do you have a budget for videography?
I don't always ask this question. All of the above information helps me know if I should ask. If this appears to be a low-budget wedding, I will ask as my prices tend to be on the higher side. If the bride was referred from another bride or a high-quality vendor and she has a high-end reception site, I assume she can afford me. If she doesn't ask your price, you can assume it's not her first priority.
Final question: May I hold the date for you, or would you like to schedule an appointment to view more video?
In order to hold the date, I require a signed contract and a one-third down non-refundable reservation fee. I've had some brides offer to send the reservation fee because they have watched their friend's video. Others will want to come in for an appointment. Some say, "Let me talk to my fiancé and I will get back to you."
I will then ask the bride if I can call her back to follow up. Most say yes, and I always follow up. Follow-up is an important step with each potential bride—just as important as asking the right questions.
Kris Malandruccolo (firstname.lastname@example.org) is an award-winning videographer who has run her own business for over 17 years. Kris is the first and only videographer to earn the title of Accredited Wedding Vendor through the Association of Bridal Consultants. Kris is the current President of the Illinois Videographers Association in Chicago. She has written articles for videographers and for bridal industry magazines. Kris was a 2003 Creative Excellence Competition Judge, she has been a WEVA panelist. Kris is the Chairperson of the WEVA Public Relations Committee and serves on the WEVA Special Awards Committee.