I share all of these stories with humor and humility. I hope you find them funny and enlightening to what it is like occasionally behind the scenes. Social media paints a pretty picture, but I’m a real human just like anyone else. In each of these scenarios, my couples had no clue what was happening. I never bring any personal drama into a day because it isn’t my day. It is theirs. Even when things happen, I do everything in my power to problem-solve and put out any fires (literally and figuratively). But, even though it is a very, very special one-of-a-kind day for the couple, it is still a day where normal things happen in the background.
Of course, in twelve years you have to expect that there will be some crazy things that happen. However, the best professionals keep it professional, no matter what happens. 
A Truly Bad Stain

I didn’t notice until after the wedding that I had breast milk from pumping stained all over my satin shirt. It was obvious where the liquid had come from, if you get my drift. Thankfully this didn’t happen until the reception, and hopefully no one noticed in the dim lighting. Lesson learned:  always wear black.   

We missed the first dance.

 I’m one to always own up to my mistakes, but this one did not fall on me. This has only happened once in my career, and I tell almost all of my couples this story so that they understand why it is important that we don’t eat in a separate space during dinner (unless we are working with a team that I trust to keep us in the loop). Keep in mind, there were two wedding planners at this 100 person event. Two DJs. Two videographers. My husband was shooting the wedding with me. The wedding planners sent the videographers, Brendan, and myself far, far away to eat dinner, and we made sure to ask that they would come get us if any of the formalities began. They would not allow us to eat in the same room as the guests. After we had barely started on our food, one of the planners sprinted into the room shouting “They started the first dance without you!!! Run!” I was not happy. Not only was this their first dance, but the couple and their friends choreographed this hilarious and fun 10 minute ending to it. We caught the end of the repertoire, but I felt sick to my stomach. I couldn’t believe that FOUR people hadn’t noticed that the FOUR of us were not there. I could go on another tangent about hiring established, trustworthy vendors, but I won’t ;).

Tripping Over My Bag…More Than Once

You would think after 200+ weddings that I would learn to not place my camera bag directly behind me. I tend to take walk backwards without taking my face away from the camera, especially during group portraits. On more than one occasion, I was backing up to fit everyone in the frame, and I completely flipped over my bag. Also, I was wearing a dress. Lesson learned: wear bike shorts underneath dresses at all times.

I’ve experienced the flu, shingles, morning sickness, and even a car accident on wedding days, but have never missed a wedding…

One notable memory was flying back from Greece after a wedding and stopping in NY for another wedding before heading home. I was hit hard with the flu and jet lag all at once. It was probably the worst I’ve ever felt leading up to a wedding. Thankfully, I had scheduled an extra day before the wedding to get my bearings (or in case of travel delays), so I ran (more like crawled) to the nearest drugstore to stock up on a million cold and flu meds. I laid in bed all day. I woke up still feeling awful, but I knew that I didn’t have time to be sick. I could be sick for the next two weeks if I needed to be, but my couple only had this day to celebrate their wedding. My adrenaline took over, and I made it through the day. It was published in print, and it was a featured wedding on my website for years. Maybe I shoot better when I’m sick?

I was probably scammed for a travel permit.

I want to start this story out by telling you how much I adore traveling. I truly do. However, when you travel for destination weddings, it is quite an obstacle…if you travel legally. Most Caribbean islands require you to obtain a permit to work on the island. A lot of photographers will try to lie through customs, but this comes at a great risk for you and your couple. When traveling to Anguilla for the first time, the couple and myself did quite a bit of extensive research to try to figure out if we needed a permit (yes) and how to obtain one. If you’ve traveled to another country before, especially an island, you find out pretty quickly that things are typically processed “on island time” and not in the efficient American manner that we’re used to. After weeks of talking to the embassy and various representatives on the island, we discovered that we needed to get a local photographer to “host” me. They would do the work to get the permit and essentially vouch for me. The representative gave me a few names, and I reached out to the first one on the list.   Every email I had with this man was sketchy. It could have easily been copied and pasted from a spam letter. But, we had no other option. He arranged to meet me at customs to show the permit to the authorities to help me through. The couple wired him the money in advance. I honestly thought one of three things would happen to me when I arrived:  

  1. I would be kidnapped.
  2. I would be detained for trying to work on Anguilla because he wouldn’t show up.
  3. I would make it through customs.

The local photographer did show up, but I didn’t see him until I cleared customs. I was confused. Wasn’t he supposed to show the officials the permit? Where was the permit? He told me that he was there in case something went wrong. He knew the custom agents personally (insert laughing, disbelieving emojis). He left the permit at his house and said he would bring it by the resort the following day. He never did. It was by far one of the stranger experiences I’ve had traveling abroad. Thankfully, the wedding went off without a hitch, but I still left feeling like we all might have been scammed.

I’ve photographed so many times in the rain that I’ve lost count, but a hailstorm took me to another level. 

There was scattered rain on the radar, but it wasn’t supposed to hit until well after the ceremony. Guests gathered, and dark clouds loomed. As the bride walked down the aisle it started to mist. Then, it drizzled. Then, it absolutely came down in sheets. The wind picked up. Then, the hail started. I kept looking around at all of the guests in disbelief. No one left to find shelter. There were plenty of people without umbrellas, but they huddled under coats. Their loyalty and love for the couple was compelling. Not to mention, their bridal party stood the entire time (45 minutes!) without umbrellas. My intern had both of her cameras die that day from the moisture. Thankfully, mine were OK from darting under a tilted umbrella that we pulled from the car last minute. My intern was able to use my third backup that was completely dry in the car. Lesson learned:  always bring back up gear and store it in a separate area. Always bring multiple umbrellas and rain gear.