Wedding photography and pregnancy goes together about as well as any big event and a bad weather forecast. There’s just no predicting what exactly will happen, and everyone honestly just wants the safest and best possible outcome for all involved. Today’s post is all about how I managed to photograph a wedding at 37+ weeks pregnant, and what I did to prepare for it!
Lets start at the beginning — early 2017 I was contacted to photograph a wedding for two of the sweetest people — Rachele and Josh. They were to be married in Thomasville (one hour from my hometown — and hospital) in early March 2018. Contracts sent, consults completed, signed, sealed and delivered, the wedding was officially booked! Right after we photographed their engagement session this summer, my husband and I found out that we were pregnant with our third little one and were over the moon about it! This is where it starts to get tricky. And here’s where I’m going to break down how I managed to conduct myself through this pregnancy and ultimately this wedding!
- When + who to tell:
All pregnancies are different, and even my own three babies have all three had their roller-coaster moments. Its hard to hold in such a fantastic secret and blessing, but the odds of a viable pregnancy isn’t really in your favor until after 12 weeks. This fact also makes it confusing about when to tell the brides who have already booked their wedding near the due date. Around 10 weeks I contacted a different bride who was to be married two days past my due date and notified her of the news. Before I broke our contract, I contacted two other local photographers who I love and trust to check their availability + pricing — and was able to hand her wedding off into their safe hands. That made me feel like I was still able to take care of her, and she was extremely gracious about my needing bow out of her wedding. I refunded her retainer fee (minus the engagement session fee at a discounted price because of this inconvenient hitch in her wedding planning process).
- I then crossed off the three weeks before my due date and the five weeks after my due date as unavailable, no questions asked. My last task was to notify Rachele + Josh since they were on the border-line of my due date. They felt good about the situation and we decided to proceed. Now it was my job to ensure their wedding would be covered adequately in the case of an early delivery.
- Hoping for the best, planning for the worst:
I knew that it would help me to be less stressed if I had a clear plan for the “worst case scenario”, which would be an early delivery and my incapability to photograph this wedding for this sweet couple. The best way to do this, in my mind, was to line up a second photographer who was another wedding photographer. This would ensure that in the case I couldn’t be there at any part of the day (I mean, what if my water broke as the bride walked down the aisle!? I’d need to scoot out of there ASAP!), my second photographer would and could become the primary photographer with no problems. The second part of this plan was to hire an assistant for the day. I normally do not have an assistant for my wedding days, but being this pregnant, I’d need one to carry heavy items, lift things, fluff the dress, gather people, etc. I also wanted to make sure that this assistant was capable to become the second photographer if need be — a full shift of roles in the case that I was unable to carry out my contracted work. The one mistake I made in this process was to ask photographers too far in advance, while there was still time for them to book weddings for this date. While I wanted to get all of my ducks in a row early, it makes more sense to wait about two months before the date to nail down these people — and to contractually bind them to the job. A HUGE shout-out to Sarah Brown of Sarah Brooke Photography (second photographer) and Laura Knox (assistant) for being my crew for the day — your presence brought me so much peace!
- When + who to tell:
- Planning, Part 2:
Just because I was 100% on board with this plan, I felt that it was important that my bride and groom felt comfortable that I was taking charge of the possible situation. On top of stone-clad timelines, exact family shot lists, and location information, I made sure she had the name, contact information and social media info of the “could be” replacement photographer. As fate would have it, she already followed her on IG and loved her work — #winning. Another part of planning this potential shift in roles, was to ensure that my second shooter, Sarah, would be taken care of, financially, in the case that she moved up to the primary. After talking with a couple of different mentors, it was suggested that I break down the cost of the wedding process hourly, then pay Sarah the hourly rate x how many hours she would be at the wedding (plus travel time + mileage). (If you haven’t done this, I highly suggest you do it ASAP as to help you take a good hard look at how much you are profiting per hour of your work — from initial consult to the drive to the post office for delivery — for example, an 8 hour wedding day can end up being 25+ hours of work when broken down bit by bit.) Once I got that number nailed down, I communicated it with Sarah and we agreed on it. Nothing is worse than working hard and not being sure of what you’re getting paid… I didn’t want her to feel that way, especially since I was depending on her so heavily. The final step in this planning process was transportation. Sarah and I drove separately to this wedding, in the case that I needed to bolt and head home (or to the local Thomasville hospital, in the REAL worse-case-scenario!).
- Planning, Part 2:
In the end, the wedding day went wonderfully, without a hitch, and it turned into one of my favorite and best planned days yet! Both families + the couple were SO gracious and considerate to me through the day… the father of the groom even stood by during portraits with a cup of water for me! The bridesmaids were so thoughtful as well, checking in with me to make sure I was doing alright! Another huge shout out to Rachele and Josh for their trust and kindness throughout the day — the last thing I wanted was to be a distraction on their wedding day!
I adored having an assistant and may have to make that a regular thing after all! She kept me hydrated and suggested I sit down when there was time to do so, was the ultimate dress-fluffer as well as people-gatherer. The stress leading up to this wedding was minimized due to the extreme planning I did, and by the trust Rachele and Josh had in the plan. It was a perfect situation and one that I hope that others can glean some knowledge from in the case of a 37+ week pregnancy wedding date comes along their way!
Lindsay Colson, owner/photographer of Captured by Colson Photography is located in Valdosta, Georgia. She specializes in plantation + estate weddings as well as high school senior portraits.
For more info, please visit capturedbycolson.com