We’ve all been there. You leave a wedding, after a long and exhausting day of shooting, with a pit in your stomach. Maybe it was a high maintenance client, malfunctioning equipment, a very drunk wedding party, challenging vendor dynamics, or weather conditions that lent itself to this feeling you can’t shake. Maybe it was nothing concrete at all and the day just felt ‘off’.
Here’s the first thing I want you to know. You’re not alone! Challenging weddings come in all different forms, and even if you do everything in your power to make sure your clients have a smooth and picture-perfect day, well, shit happens.
What To Do After A Challenging Wedding
A large portion of our job truly revolves around rolling with whatever challenges the day brings. We have to play the hand we are dealt, so-to-speak. In my earlier days of business ownership, I thought the challenges I faced would vanish once I had more experience under my belt – and that couldn’t be further from the truth. Now, I definitely am more seasoned and better at dealing with inevitable hiccups that happen now that I’m 10 years into my career, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have hard days or encounter challenges still.
Weddings are highly-emotional, uber-expensive, time-sensitive events put on for (usually) hundreds of people. And a lot of those people are related and may or may not like each other. What could go wrong, right?
If you can relate to this post, I want you to know that, while we can’t eliminate wedding-day mishaps, you can arm yourself with strategies to help you through it.
Strategy #1: Treat Yo’Self
Treating yourself after a wedding (especially a tough one) is my number one go-to in reclaiming my mental, physical and emotional space. It can be anything from a full-on spa treatment (my personal favorite), a long hot bath, a cold glass of beer or a date night with your love. Whatever it is – do something nice for yourself recharge and clear your head. I’m a big advocate of this after every wedding, but especially after the hard ones.
Strategy #2: Take Time To Process
This doesn’t have to happen immediately after the wedding, but when you’re ready to focus on a particularly hard wedding – take some time to process actually what happened. If you had a second shooter with you at the wedding or know another vendor, find some time to chat with them or another industry friend. It’s easy to get emotionally wrapped up in the events of the day, so having an outside perspective can help see things in a new light. A good ol’ vent session is helpful, too!
Strategy #3: Makes Necessary Adjustments
When a difficult wedding happens, it’s important to evaluate what was within your control. Was there anything you could have done to handle the situation better or maybe even to avoid it happening altogether? Most mishaps boil down to two things: communication and managing expectations. Take a look at your processes and workflow. Can they be tightened? Are you communicating clearly and effectively with the couple and the vendors? Remember, you have the power to learn from this situation and to leverage that knowledge in the future.
Strategy #4: Give Yourself Grace
Again… shit happens! You will make mistakes, say the wrong thing, or miss a key photo. You are human and photographing a wedding is a HUGE undertaking. At the end of the day, if you can leave each wedding knowing that you did your absolute best for that couple, you’ve done your job – and that’s something to be proud of. Give yourself a little grace – especially after a challenging wedding!
Strategy #5: Let It Go
You’ve taken the time to not only process what happened and you’ve implemented changes to ensure things run even smoother next time. Good on you! Now, all that’s left to do is to LET IT GO. Don’t let one hard situation ruin future weddings for you. Most of your experiences as a wedding photographer will be good and you’ll leave weddings on such a high that you want to do nothing else in life but photograph couple’s in love. Need proof? I’ve been at this for 10+ years and the positive experiences are what keeps me coming back for more!
The wedding industry and the photography industry are not for the weak at heart. We are working with people during one of the most momentous occasions of their life! There’s pressure in that – but I’m confident that, if we practice the strategies above, we can go out there and do our job with greatness!