Experience Matters: Why You Don’t Want Rookies To Be The Pros At Your Weddings

Everyone has to start somewhere, but they don’t have to start with you. That’s what I always say.

Melissa Arlena might say the same thing. She’s an acclaimed photographer who has shot over 100 weddings in her decade of experience, and that’s on top of shooting portraits, the arrivals of newborns, and other life events.

It all adds up to a quarter of a million photos, according to her website, which you should drop what you’re doing to check out now. Wait! Finish this piece, then go check it out.

Eric Herod of Eric Herod Entertainment recently put her under his interviewing microscope, and so much of what she said revolves around the difference experience makes, such as…

1 || Experienced Wedding Pros Don’t Fold Under Pressure.

“I have been doing this for so long that if something goes wrong on a wedding day, I don’t panic or freak out. I just roll with it,” says Arlena. “A lot of times with newer photographers, the schedule gets off or something happens and they just don’t necessarily know what do to and then things start getting missed, whereas I’m used to it.”

That’s important, because there WILL be curveballs at your wedding. There WILL be unexpected occurrences and, unless you’re very lucky, some of those surprises won’t be of the pleasant variety.

Having an experienced pro dealing with it will not only gives you the benefit of their time-honed unflappability, but makes increases the likelihood that the setbacks will be dealt with quickly and correctly.

2 || Experienced Wedding Pros Communicate With Each Other.

In the video, Arlena talks about the times she needs to grab her clients on their big day – but not when the DJ is going to need them, or the planner. She coordinates and works things out with them so that everything is timed up as flawlessly as possible.

That coordination is the hallmark of a pro. You don’t want a noob who is going to need to get you for portraits in the middle of your first dance because he needs to leave in five minutes.

“My goal is to get them back to cocktail hour with 15 minutes to spare. That way the planner loves me, the DJ loves me, and the couple is like, ‘Yes! I want to drink something!’” Arlena says.

3 || Experienced Wedding Pros Take Time With You.

This doesn’t necessarily seem like it would be true. If this was someone’s first wedding gig as a so-called pro, you’d think they’d put everything they have into your wedding.

And, maybe they would. But I can tell you this: No experienced wedding pro treats their clients like numbers and goes for quantity over quality with the weddings they book.

After all, if a wedding pro treats any wedding like a perfunctory, impersonal affair, s/he is not going to get good reviews and as such, is not going to last long enough to BECOME experienced.

To get successful enough to be experienced, you need to create a bond with each and every client. “I want to connect with my couples. I want to be their beyond the wedding day. I want to see them again when they have their first baby, and when they have their second baby,” says Arlena. “I want it to be this lifelong relationship, and not just a one day thing. I want to be their photographer for life, not just their wedding photographer.”

That’s why taking the time to get to know you, the client, is a win for you and a win for the pro. The next time you need an event photographed, catered, DJ’d, or any other event you would hire for a wedding, of course you’re going to turn to your newfound friend who kicked butt at your nuptials.

That’s precisely why Arlena limits the number of weddings she does and why I’m giving her the last word.

“I only take on 6-8 weddings a year. I kind of have it set that I only want to do one a month here and there on some months.  That does allow me to focus more on my clients and really getting to know them to build that relationship. 6-8 is good, it lets me keep in touch with them. I check in with my clients throughout. By taking on less weddings, it allows me to focus really on that.”


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