August 7, 2017

5 Ways to Find Your Most Ideal Brides


A few months ago, we got the craziest (and most amazing!) email from a fellow photographer. You just have to read it for yourselves to fully understand the amazingness. In it, she says:

“I was just at another conference down South photographing the event for them and one attendant there was just SO cute and had this certain style to her… And on the last day of the event (today) I went up to her with my friend and asked, ‘Have you ever heard of Justin and Mary Marantz?? Because you just look 100% like one of their brides!!!’ And she paused and was like… Um, they ARE MY WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHERS. We all had freak out moment and then knowingly nodded our heads because YES your brand is actually that good for me to spot one of your brides in a crowd, no where near your location! So awesome. Y’all rock.” –Mackenzie Leigh

I mean, how CRAZY is that?? And it just made me realize that we are SO lucky to do what we do and to have found the most amazing brides (and grooms!) who allow us to chase this dream and to do it OUR way! But it wasn’t always that way for us. There were definitely those years where we were getting couples who thought a photographer is a photographer is a photographer…and, eh, they guessed we would do. These couples treated us like a transaction. They didn’t care about our work, didn’t care about us as people, and weren’t even sure they liked our style (remind us to tell you about that one time years ago that someone hired us and then told us they hated black & white photography!! Ummm….)

But somewhere in the midst of those transactional couples, we started to find our “Clients Turned Friends”…those most ideal couples who loved us for us and wanted exactly our style. They were the brides who changed dates to have us, who remembered our birthday, who became part of our lives after the wedding. Couples like Alana & Dan, Rachel & Terry, Kristin & Bill. They were our first taste of what it was like to work with couples who love YOU. And they made us realize that we didn’t want to have just a few of those scattered throughout our calendar….we wanted an entire YEAR full of them! Here are 5 steps that we took to find & attract our most ideal couples and build a thriving business booking our entire calendar full of them! 

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 10.21.15 AM

1. Know who your Ideal Bride is. Write it down. Put it out there. I want to be clear that when we say “what does your ideal bride look like” we aren’t talking about physical looks. Our J&M Brides come in all shapes, sizes and looks. And we LOVE that! We’re talking more about what do they look like as a person, what qualities do they exude? For us that means they have grace, express gratitude, have hearts of gold, and emit a certain classic style that strangers can pick up on across the room (an inner Hepburn-ness if you will). For us, it was not just enough to think about what our ideal bride looks like…we actually put it out there on our site in our “Inside the J&M Bride” section on our website that we did with the incredible Jen Olmstead (note that we also have pages for the J&M Groom and the J&M Couple as well).

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 10.23.21 AM

2. Show what you like. Chances are your most ideal brides are going to love the things that you love. But there is no way they will ever know that if you don’t put it out there. So on our site, we are very intentional to show what we love. Things like Vanity Fair, London, Grace Kelly, sailing in Nantucket, Jackie Kennedy, Brooks Brothers, and my grandma’s pearls.

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 10.21.01 AM

3. Define your style. We got so specific on our new site with defining our style that we even intentionally chose the main landing image to be this shot of a couple dancing in the arches of the Bethesda Terrace in Central Park, because we wanted to attract brides who loved classic style, Audrey Hepburn, black & whites, and stunning architecture in their photos. I think it’s SO crazy (and speaks to the power of your “vibe attracts your tribe”) that one of the very first brides we booked after launching our new site (Jamie of Jamie & David) LOVES Audrey Hepburn, classic style, black & white photos and…get this…is an ARCHITECT!! How crazy is that?!

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 10.24.41 AM

4. Consider if the venue is part of it. A few years ago, Justin & I realized that we do our BEST work in the backdrop of certain types of venues. While most photographers love shooting outside a ton in natural light (places like country clubs & golf courses), we actually do our BEST work when we can show off our lighting. And nothing helps us do that better than the dark carved wood walls of a mansion or the grand ceilings of an historic hotel. We also realized that our most ideal (classic, iconic, regal) brides were most likely to get married in these sorts of venues. So that’s why with our new website, we decided to just go for it and specialize only in weddings at Mansions & Historic Hotels. And we are blown away to say that this year we have weddings at the St. Regis in NYC, The Branford House (where we got married), and The Greenbrier (a serious DREAM come true) in WV, just to name a few!

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 10.22.12 AM

5. Don’t be afraid to say what you’re NOT. On our site we have a “We Believe” page that very clearly states without flinching a few key things that we believe. Like how timeless will always trump trendy. And how there is no replacement for authenticity. And that the beautiful imperfect moments will always beat the ones that are staged to perfection. Because the people who believe what you believe will fight harder and go out of their way to include you as part of their day….and their legacy.

**Now that you know some things you can be doing on your website to reach your Ideal Client, the NEXT step is to figure out how to do that on social media!

If you spend WAY too long staring at your phone in the morning trying to figure out what to post on Instagram. If you stare at an empty caption form & blinking cursor as the minutes tick by, just willing the words to come. Words that would somehow authentically share your heart for your business. Words that capture WHY it is that you do what you do. Words that INSPIRE & SERVE the people who are reading them and SPEAK to your most Ideal Clients. And most of all, ABOVE all… words that are filled with HEART. Your heart. Summed up in caption form….

…If all of that is true for you, then do we have something GOOD for you to check out! We are SO excited to be hosting our FIRST ever 5-Day Instagram Challenge called A Platform Built on Why starting on Monday, August 14th!! And the BEST part?

It is totally FREE to join!!! Just click HERE to sign up!


  1. Janelle

    Hi J&M!

    First of all, you guys are awesome and I really appreciate this post! I’m in the transitional stage (if that) and would love to know if you would recommend turning away clients that aren’t your ideal, even if you are struggling to fill up your calendar. I have shot weddings where I don’t use any of it in my portfolio because it’s just not really who I am or what I want my brand to be about :)

  2. Mackenzie

    Ahh so fantastic! One of my new favorite blog posts, for many reasons! :) I have been working so hard to figure out who my ideal client is and how I can attract them via the copy on my website.. I still have a lot of work to do. It’s been the biggest obstacle for me! Thank you for sharing these tips!

  3. Amber Marlow

    This was my absolute favourite thing about meeting you both. I have a bold personality and wanted to find like-minded couples who were bold and unafraid to express themselves, but found myself constantly demurring to not seem off-putting. You say “I am what I am.” and that gave me the boldness to do so, too, since it seemed to work so well for you. In the eight months since, I’ve got my “ideal clients” emailing me all of the time, typing out “YES. YOU! AMBER MARLOW! YOU GET IT. You get us. We want to hire you.” Thank you, for being so unapologetically preppy and New England. It’s given me the boldness to be unapologetically ME.

  4. admin

    @Janelle: Ooh that is such a great question! SO great in fact that i think i’m going to turn that into a follow up blog post! Stay tuned!

  5. Jessie

    Just wanted to leave another note and say thanks again for this post. It came at such a perfect time, and your follow-up answer to my question on facebook helped me so much. I already have 3 ‘styled’ shoots set up with families who really are my ideal clients. This post really helped me get the ball rolling – I was feeling so stuck! Thank you <3

  6. Gian Valdivia

    Love this and THANK YOU!

  7. Rici

    Love this Mary! Again and again. :*

  8. Chelsey Cunningham

    Thank you so much for writing this. So informative and beautifully laid out. It’s such a treat when you get to work with a perfectly ideal client :)

comments & responses

Add a Comment