While today’s topic certainly won’t apply to everyone it is something I feel like doesn’t get talked about and can be scary waters to tread on both sides of the equation. Pregnancy isn’t new, of course, but it may be new to YOU and feel hard to figure out in relation to your business or an unexpected factor as a bride & groom that can feel like it adds stress to your wedding plans. But in MOST cases, it shouldn’t have to! I want to help dispel some fears/myths for the engaged couples out there as well as offer a few tips for any other wedding photographers who are pregnant and realizing how that may impact their already-booked wedding season.
First, let me talk to all the brides and grooms! If you find out your already-booked wedding photographer is now going to be pregnant at your wedding here are a few tips for communicating and caring for them, and not stressing as you move forward with plans!
1 – DON’T FREAK OUT
If your photographer has just told you they are expecting and will be pregnant during your wedding, please don’t freak out! I’ve been SO fortunate to have my couples during both pregnancies be amazingly supportive and excited for me – which is SUCH a blessing – but I know many photographers who have not received kind responses, whether from the couple or from parents of the couple, which is shocking to me. Please, first and foremost, know that this is a HUGE thing in this person’s life and family. Whether it was long hoped for, carefully planned or a total surprise and difficult to adjust to for them may not be apparent in the way they share it with you. But it is a gift and a major life change. They are likely trying to navigate it and how it affects their business as carefully and considerately as they can. The growth of one’s family will always be more important than their job, but they certainly care how you respond to their news. So, please, please celebrate with them!
2 – TRUST THEM
If they are reaching out to tell you they are pregnant but are telling you they can still confidently shoot your wedding – even if in the 3rd trimester – please trust them. While there are certainly ways that a photographer who is big and pregnant should take extra measures to care for herself and create space for stamina during a wedding day in the 3rd trimester, it is 100% possible to confidently document a wedding day and care for clients in the same way as any other season of life. Each woman will seek advice or will already know her body well enough to make the decision when she should stop taking on weddings in the pregnancy. So please trust HER to make that call. I was so nervous that two weddings I had scheduled for when I would be 34 and 36 weeks pregnant with my daughter would want to back out just because I would be big and “near the end”, though I was confident I could still shoot and be fine at that point since it would still be 6 weeks before the due date. But instead, my couples totally trusted me and that was such a relief and an encouragement! And, after shooting both of those weddings, I can say that due to having normal, low-risk pregnancies I felt great and did totally fine on both of those weddings!
3 – NOTHING CHANGES ON YOUR END
Contractually speaking, absolutely nothing is different for my couples whether I am pregnant or not. My contract contains a clause that covers me if any emergency were to come up and incapacitate or prevent me from being present on the wedding day. I had that prior to having kids, and it would have covered if I’d broken my arm, or had a loved one suddenly pass away, or any other unforseen emergency situation. So, in the same way, you will be covered and taken care of IF something pregnancy-related were to happen. I state that I will find a fill-in should any of those situations occur and that is the case regardless of pregnancy. So when booking your photographer, it’s important to make sure there is a protection clause like that for their sake AND yours, regardless of pregnancy, and if there is you can rest easy!
BONUS – SEND A GIFT FOR BABY AND THEY’LL LOVE YOU FOREVER
Just kidding with this one, but I did have a few clients do this and it was an extra gesture that made me know they still trusted me and were even excited for me in this season as I was excited for them in their season I was getting to be part of! :)
Now, for my pregnant or future-pregnant photographer ladies! I know it can be scary – even while exciting! – if you find yourself pregnant and it didn’t exactly align with happening in the “off season”. My babies have both been born in busy wedding months – June & October. So, clearly they took no consideration for my job. ;) Hah. But here are a few things I learned!
1) YOU MAY HAVE TO BACK OUT OF A WEDDING – BUT IT WILL BE OK
This is probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think about being pregnant and doing this job, and it feels like the worst case scenario. It’s a bummer, for sure, but at the end of the day it’s a good problem to have because you’re gaining a baby! Losing income is never ideal, nor is disappointing a client, especially if it’s a dream wedding at a favorite venue. Both pregnancies of mine I had to back out of one contract each and both times they were weddings I was really, really excited about. This was disappointing, I won’t lie. And I was tempted to worry about the loss of that money. But at the end of the day, this was when God had chosen to bring my babies into the world, so how much more was He going to provide for all the rest? He proved Himself faithful, as He always does, and reminded me that His timing is always perfect even if it isn’t always our timing. So I promise, it will be ok.
2) HOW TO TELL YOUR CLIENTS
For any wedding you may have to back out of altogether OR find a replacement for, as early as you are comfortable telling those clients, tell them. I chose to reach out to the clients I had to back out on prior to announcing publicly because I wanted them to have as much time as possible to choose a new photographer (which I helped with by finding referrals who would match my package price, etc) and I didn’t want them to be surprised by finding out when everyone else did. I still waited until near the end of the first trimester, but this is what worked for and what I was comfortable with. Thankfully they were so gracious, understanding and even excited for me even while being disappointed I could no longer be part of their day.
For the clients whose weddings I would be shooting well into the 3rd trimester, I reached out and told them prior to the public announcement so they wouldn’t see it and do the math and think, “Uhhh, that due date is close to our wedding!” and then get worried. I told them the exciting news and reassured them I felt confident in still covering their wedding day, but just wanted them to be in the know. They, as well, responded wonderfully. It’s just relieving for all parties to be on the same page from as early as possible!
3) DECIDE WHEN YOU WILL STOP SHOOTING
For both pregnancies I stopped shooting at or right around 36 weeks. I wanted to be on the safe side in case of going into labor early, as well as just giving myself those last several weeks to catch up on editing (which I definitely wanted to have done before baby came), do plenty of resting and slowly lightening my work load as I prepared to welcome a baby. For me, that time frame worked perfectly. My babies have both come late (8 days late for the first and 2 days late for the 2nd) so this might need to be tweaked if you have a history of having early babies, OR if you have pregnancy complications or just a lot of pregnancy pain. I still felt relatively great physically at 36 weeks so I coped with shooting and recovery well.
4) HIRE AN ASSISTANT
You are probably already used to having a 2nd shooter, but for any weddings you might be shooting late in the 2nd trimester or in the 3rd trimester, hire an assistant. This person is dedicated solely to carrying your bag, running to grab things for you, and reminding you to drink water + actually handing it to you to make you stop and do it. It may seem silly or unnecessary, but I’m telling you it makes ALL the difference. I felt better the day after shooting at 34 and 36 weeks than I normally do after shooting a wedding not-pregnant simply because I wasn’t carrying my heavy bag around all day and actually was drinking water. So just do this! I promise it’s worth the little bit of extra money. And also, definitely have a 2nd shooter so that they can cover anything during moments where you need to take a break to sit down.
5) ALLOW ADDITIONAL RECOVERY TIME POST-WEDDING
If it normally takes you a full day to recover physically after a long wedding day, it may take 2 or 3 to recover when pregnant. Every woman and every pregnancy can be different in regard to this, but try to create a little more buffer for yourself to take it easy after shooting a wedding!
6) DON’T RUSH YOUR MATERNITY LEAVE
If this is your first pregnancy, I know it can be so hard to figure out when to start shooting again after the baby comes. This, again, will differ so much from woman to woman and from each pregnancy. But after my first I shot weddings 5 and 6 weeks postpartum and they were hard both physically and emotionally for me. I was in pain at the first one because I’d had a rough delivery and really just wasn’t healed or ready for such a long day of being on my feet, yet, and emotionally wanted to be home with my baby. It was impossible to know before having him what my postpartum journey was going to be, but I would definitely recommend not booking anything sooner than 8-weeks after the due date (which also leaves a little buffer in case the baby were a week or two late) and even then, 10-12 weeks would probably be ideal (to me), but very well might not be feasible. Also, try to create expectations about your upcoming maternity leave in the last weeks prior to having your baby and setup an automatic email responder for once baby comes. Once baby is here and you’re settling in back at home, only check email now and then (like for real – once or twice a week for those first couple weeks), and only respond to the most urgent during the first few weeks. You deserve a break – physically and mentally – from work to really embrace your baby and your postpartum recovery and adjust to your new normal. As small business owners it’s hard to let ourselves not think about work, but I promise it will still be there. People can be patient. What WON’T always be there is your brand new baby who needs to bond with you. Soak in those moments, and enjoy every bit of it!
As a disclaimer, I know some women will read this and feel these time frames are totally off from what worked for them. So, again, I by NO MEANS am saying this is how you have to do it or this is the RIGHT way. But these are what worked for me or I learned in hind site during my pregnancies.
I hope these tips helped in some way, and if there’s anything I can expound upon or other questions I can answer, post in the comments below and I’m happy to do that!