I did it! I made it through shooting 12 weddings in my third trimester of pregnancy. It feels great to have made it through one of my hardest seasons of wedding photography yet. Not only did Minnesota bring us record high temperatures, but I photographed a double-header wedding weekend both 34 and 36 weeks pregnant. What a relief to have made it thorough and to officially be in nesting mode!
I’ve had a lot of photographers reach out to me over the last few months and ask me either A) how I handled communication with my clients when I needed to back out of shooting their wedding or B) products or services I swore by to get through photographing weddings pregnant. Feel free to read whichever section is most relevant to you at this time!
Creating A Plan With Your Doctor
When I found out that our fertility treatments worked and that we had a viable pregnancy, I quickly did the math and realized I was going to be having a MID-SUMMER BABY! Something I had thought about and had avoided for our nearly two-year journey of trying to conceive. Knowing it was worth it all, I quickly went into business planning mode and conjured up a plan of how to best handle my weddings for the summer ahead.
I spoke with my doctor towards the end of my first trimester and asked for their advice on the point in my pregnancy that I should stop photographing weddings and begin my “maternity leave”. When I got pregnant it was at the height of COVID and we knew very little about vaccination rollout. My doctor suggested the month of my due date I avoid large crowds due to COVID risks and have all of my weddings covered, which meant I needed 3 months of peak-season weddings replaced. Even though COVID isn’t as much of a concern as it was back then, I’m SO glad I decided to take the month of my due date off. If you’re pregnant and are looking for advice on when to get your weddings covered, I’d personally suggest taking off the 3-4 weeks before baby comes. Your body will thank you for it!
Line Up Your Team
Before I contacted my clients, I reached out to my associate team and my close network of highly qualified photographer friends to see if people were available to cover my weddings. Thankfully I was able to find people I trusted for every wedding scheduled! I even paid photographers to be on “standby” for every wedding in June JUST in case! Lastly, I brought on a few “interns” that came with me to assist me with my bags and other logistical details. Did it hurt my ego a bit to have someone there to hold my bags, YES, but it made the world of a difference. If you’re ever in this situation, BE OVER PREPARED. I’m incredibly thankful I did this, because I needed to use a few of those standby people! More on that later.
Alerting My Clients of The News and Their Options
Once I hit 12 weeks, before announcing anything on my social media, I alerted ALL of my wedding clients. Every single one. Even couples that had an associate shooting. I knew once I posted the news that clients would ask themselves “huh, I wonder how that affects me”. Don’t let them wonder! Tell them what’s happening, if you’ll be there, and what they can expect of you.
The news was easiest for my clients that were already planning to work with an associate photographer. I told them nothing would change day-of, but I did ask them for grace with the timeline of receiving sneak previews & the final gallery. I also let them know I’d likely be doing all their logistical planning a bit earlier than usual.
If they fell within the window of weddings that I was still able to shoot, I let them know that I still planned to be there to photograph their wedding, but that I had a standby photographer ready to go just in case an emergency were to arise.
The news was hardest to deliver to the clients that I was no longer able to serve. I wrote an email filled with empathy and acknowledged that my happy news wasn’t going to hit the same way for them. I told them I had a photographer that was fully willing to step in as an associate and that I’d continue to work with them on the planning and that I would edit the photos. If they decided to forge ahead with that plan, they’d receive a $500 discount off their package. If they decided they weren’t OK with the plan, they had the option to receive their deposit back in full. In the end, I only had one couple that choose to back out!
I had my plan perfectly mapped out! I’d be photographing through June and would take 3 months off. Easy! Well, my body had other plans. I had a pretty “easy” pregnancy, all things considered. Because I felt great, I made the mistake of not making any modifications while shooting weddings at first. I learned the hard way after a few fainting spells and vision-loss problems that I needed to SLOW DOWN and take care of my body. The insane heat in Minnesota wasn’t helping either.
My doctor told me at the beginning of June that she didn’t want me photographing outside anymore AT ALL due to risks to my health and the baby. I knew this wasn’t realistic, having 6 weddings left to photograph before my maternity leave. I DID NOT want to disappoint my clients. This also would have large implications financially. It wasn’t an option. So, my compromise was to take better care of my body throughout the day (see my tips below), and to have assistance on the weekends that I was photographing two weddings back-to-back. For those weddings, I used my standby photographer. I had them relieve me of my duties just before the reception. That way I was still able to be there and photograph all the staged and “important” parts of the day, but that I could get home to reset, hydrate, eat well, rest and regulate my body temperature. Although I did have to take a big financial cut for this to pay my team properly, I think it truly made the world of a difference!
Now that we’ve covered the client side, here’s the things that I truly believe helped me get by on a wedding day, especially as I entered my 9th month of pregnancy!
Hydration / Liquid IV
This seems obvious, but you need to be VERY conscious of your water intake throughout the day. Because a squished bladder is also a problem, I focused the bulk of my hydration the day before the wedding and the morning-of, then hydrated as needed throughout the day. The day before each wedding I made a conscious effort to drink A LOT of water and one pack of Liquid IV towards the end of the day. The morning of the wedding, I’d drink 2-3 glasses of water, then on the way to my wedding I’d have one more glass of water mixed with liquid IV. I packed 4 water bottles per wedding (flavorless Life Water or Smart Water because it has added electrolytes without the sugar) and 1 extra pack of Liquid IV just in case I needed an extra push of hydration.
At first I didn’t love Liquid IV. It tasted too salty / sweet for my preference, but I ended up loving it. I recommend trying the Tangerine or Lemon Lime flavor rather than the Strawberry if you’re bothered by the sweetness. I had a conversation with my doctor about how salty it tasted (because hello, we’re puffy already!), but she emphasized the importance of replenishing salt in your body that you lose when sweating as an important part of the process when hydrating properly.
Frequent Snacking / Meal Planning with Protein
If you’re not already a person that packs a cooler for each wedding, now is your time to start! I Have a small handheld cooler that’s a bit larger than a lunch box that I can fit my water and snacks for the day. Inside my cooler I have turkey sausage sticks, mozzarella cheese sticks, protein bars, and little bags of nuts and trail mix. Before I left for each wedding, I was sure to make a high-protein breakfast consisting of eggs, avocado, and Greek yogurt. ANY time you have a minute to breathe on a wedding day, even if you don’t think you need to, eat a small snack, and drink some water. Force your second shooter to remind you, do what you gotta do to consciously bulk up your hydration and nutrients throughout the day! Never let your body get into “crash” mode.
Chiropractic Care / Prenatal Massages
TREAT. YOURSELF. I went to my Chiropractor twice a week, every week – once on Mondays after a long wedding weekend, and once on Thursdays, before my weekend weddings. I. SWORE. BY. THIS! Keeping those low back aches at ease and keeping your body balanced is KEY! After my double header wedding weekends, I even treated myself to a prenatal massage. Not one of those relaxing spa massages, but a REAL targeted prenatal massage! Ask your OB for recommendations. You and your body deserve it after working overtime!
This summer I said goodbye to my cute wedding shoes and hello to sneakers. I went to Nordstrom and asked for the most comfortable pair of shoes and told them it didn’t matter what they looked like. They pointed me to these Ugg Sneakers and they were perfect. Great arch support and they were mesh / breathable so I kept cool and didn’t have to wear socks. I’ll probably continue to wear these even when I’m not pregnant. Game Changer!
Portable Hands-Free Fan
I probably looked like the biggest dork, but if you’re shooting a wedding in the hot summer months and you’re very pregnant like me, keeping your body temperature regulated is extremely important. If I ever got too hot, I’d pop this bladeless fan from Amazon around my neck to feel relief. It’s not cute, but it’s relatively sleek and is surprisingly powerful!
The second I got home from a wedding, Aaron would help me put compression socks on to keep the inevitable pregnancy swelling at a minimum. They’re not easy to put on, but man they’re worth it!
Belly Support Wrap
Lastly, help support your heavy, growing bump! I wore a belly support band under my dresses to help alleviate some of that low back pressure that’s all resting on your low back when you’re on your feet all day. It does add a little extra heat to your body, but it’s worth it!