Micro Weddings. Intimate Weddings. Covid Weddings.
It's not been an easy year for any of us has it?
COVID-19 has sprinted across the world at record pace, taking a short breather only to come back with a vengeance as we approach the winter months. I don't think this second wave has really taken any of us by surprise, but what has thrown us into shocked uncertainty is the impact that the government's handling of the pandemic is having on our wedding and entertainment industries. Of course, all industries are suffering and my heart goes out to everyone who is struggling to make ends meet right now, but it goes without saying that the wedding industry has been hit full force in the face, multiple times, by this cannonball of a virus.
So where do we go now?
From the very beginning of this, before UK lockdown was even announced, I knew the way through this for me and my business would be to stay calm, follow the guidelines and work closely with all of my couples who were no doubt feeling a mountain of stress and worry. Back then, none of us had been through anything like this before and the idea of moving so many wedding dates was scary. The idea from a bride and groom's point of view of moving their wedding date, something they had spent months, maybe even years, planning towards, was devastating.
And now we find ourselves here again. Couples and suppliers countrywide are facing their second, maybe even third bout of postponements and cancellations. These are scary times, uncertain times, times when it's easy to lose our heads and think there is no hope. But also times to prove our resilience. Our strength. Our sheer determination that we built our businesses on in the first place. If we work together, plan for better times, strategise for what will be difficult months ahead, we can get through it. Get through it stronger, wiser and more resilient than ever.
My plea to couples:
Firstly, my heart goes out to ALL of you who are having to deal with this. The months leading up to your wedding day should be filled with excitement and hope. Instead you may be feeling worried, stressed, devastated at having to reduce your numbers or move your date. It's important to stay calm, not make any rash decisions led by panic, and keep talking to your suppliers.
Many suppliers are one-person companies. These are people just like you, who have mortgages to pay, children to feed, families to support. If you're having trouble with your suppliers, it's easy to see them as faceless entities when times are stressful. Perhaps you've requested a refund from your supplier(s) that has been refused. Perhaps you're struggling to move your date to one that everyone agrees on. Maybe you're finding it difficult to reach them straightaway.
I've been incredibly fortunate in all of this, in that I have built amazing relationships with my couples and have worked with them closely from the beginning to move dates, find alternative photographers if needed, support them and offer advice. Others haven't ben so lucky and I have heard so many upsetting stories from suppliers who feel backed into a corner, desperate, bullied even. Now I'm not saying it is anyone's intention to bully anyone, but when emotions are high it's easy to forget to stay calm and to remember that we are all in this together.
What I'm saying is, give your suppliers time and compassion. They don't always know the best way forward and some are really struggling emotionally and financially. We ALL want to help you, that's why we do what we do, because we love to make people happy and give them an amazing wedding day.
My plea to fellow wedding suppliers:
We must not give up. We must not stop fighting for our businesses. There has been SO much shared on social media and the news lately following the latest restrictions and this needs to continue. I applaud any of you who have spoken or written to your local MPs with your views on how restrictions are affecting weddings. If we don't do this, we can't expect change. I'm not saying that it will achieve a complete turnaround on the guidelines, but if we do nothing, we can expect nothing. If we do SOMETHING, there is always hope.
Talk to your couples. Keep calm. Work with them. Show your support. Try to adapt for what will be 6 months (maybe longer) of very small weddings. Offer alternative services if you can. I know this isn't always possible but if it is then go for it! I've had a great summer expanding my equestrian photography services and outdoor family portraiture, something I never had the time to do before this year.
Working together to make it work! My Associate Photographer option...
Help each other! This is THE most important thing. I'm working with a couple of other photographers at the moment to offer an associate option, so they shoot the wedding day if I'm not available but I keep the booking and take it back for the edit and image reveal.
Just last week, I had a wedding move from today to the weekend before (rearranged in just 48 hours following the 15 guest announcement) and as I was unavailable I sent Aaron from the fantastic Incircles Photography to cover the day for me. I'm not going to lie, it felt like what I imagine leaving your child for the first ever time would feel like! But I needn't have worried at all because he pulled it out the bag with just 4 days notice.
Shona and Darren had the most beautiful wedding day and their preview photographs are amazing...I can't wait to get cracking on the main edit for them. Aaron wrote a blog on their day which you're welcome to read here:
I'll leave you with a few previews from Shona and Darren's wedding day, as well as a few from other weddings I have photographed over the last month, proving that although numbers are small, and times feel uncertain and scary right now, there are still beautiful moments and amazing weddings to be had. As we've been saying since the beginning of all this...
love is not cancelled!
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