The severity of this scenario can range greatly, depending on what was missed and under what circumstances. Given the fact that there are no re-dos in weddings, this can be a bitter moment for client and photographer alike. If you are truly at fault for missing something crucial, this problem is best solved with a phone call.
But if the “missed” shots are subjective, out of your control (wild weather? late bridesmaids? other schedule snafus?) or something you simply had no idea about, you can help them move past this moment with a calm and courteous response. You will know best if you need to offer something more than an apology.
If you make a policy of offering exceptional kindness and empathy for their situation, even if it feels like a frivilous scenario, you can’t go wrong. It doesn’t mean that you made a mistake, but your patience and courtesy may defuse and re-center them as they work through an emotional moment. Often the complaint may be unrelated to you and the gallery of images you delivered, but instead could be part of some other dissatisfaction about the wedding day.
A few things to remember, regardless of the situation:
1) Don’t get defensive.
2) Stay calm and explain how it happened if it helps the scenario. If not, apologize sincerely and ask what you can do to repair the situation.
3) If the shot was not on the list, or if covering it was out of your control, you can and should note that.
Sometimes a photo can be created in post-processing, sometimes you can shoot something (a paper suite?) later and sometimes there is truly nothing you can do other than listen, apologize and offer something with your apology—print credit, album credit and so on.
I am sorry we don’t have a photo of your RELATIVE/SPECIAL DETAIL. (IF THERE ARE EXTENUATING CIRCUMSTANCES THAT EXPLAIN WHY THIS SHOT WAS NOT DONE, SHARE IT HERE. BRIEFLY. DO NOT BE DEFENSIVE.)
Given the unpredictable nature of the wedding-day schedule, we are not able to guarantee that any particular shot is delivered, though we do our absolute very best to tell the complete story of the day to your satisfaction.
As I look over your gallery, I especially love images #XXX, XYZ and ZYX (LIST PARTICULAR FEEL-GOOD IMAGES THAT ARE ICONIC TO THE EVENT.) To me, they best tell the story of you two and your love.
I hope you are pleased with them as well and will enjoy the photos for generations to come. It was my great pleasure to photograph your day and your loved ones.
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