What happens when you lose your photographer

 Photo by  Brooke Lark  on  Unsplash

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Recently I received an email from a soon-to-be-bride with a dilemma. Here’s her story:

Dear Rachelle,

I'm very upset right now. I got engaged a while before my cousin. I have had my wedding planned for over a year now for June 23, 2018. She just recently got engaged last summer and set her date for sometime late October. Well, she is good at photography and agreed to do my wedding. The only fee was to pay to have the pictures printed. That's so cheap and took a really big burden off of me!! Well, because they are "so in love" they bumped their wedding up to the week before mine so now she can't do my pictures!! She knew about this since I set the date and knew I couldn't afford a photographer... I now have to hope I find someone in my friends list that had a hidden talent for photography or go with crappy photos... or should I move my date back a whole month?

Sincerely, Upset. 

This is definitely a difficult situation and while it may not necessarily be a cousin, it can happen where a photographer or another vendor may not be available at the last minute.  That's why it's important to have a contract and to read the fine lines of a contract, especially in relation to cancellations.  But for a friend or family member agreeing to be your photographer and then backing out the last minute, it can be incredibly frustrating.  And of course, this situation is even more difficult because she has moved up her wedding date a week before yours.  

The first thing I want you to know, it's okay to be angry.  This is incredibly frustrating and if screaming or having a good cry session will help you feel better, I say go for it.  Don't hold it in.  But once you've let all your anger out, it's time to get busy. I also want you to know that everything will work out for the best.  Your cousin may have been the most affordable option but that doesn't mean she is the only option for you.  Here are a couple of suggestions to start:

  • Look at local photographers. Sometimes photographers have assistants that may be starting out and may be willing to do your wedding at a discount
  • Look at local colleges. Same thing as above where a local college student may be willing to do your wedding for free as part of a class assignment or for a testimonial
  • Ask other friends or family members. There may be a friend of a friend who’s an aspiring photographer who may be willing to photograph your wedding for free
  • Look at city classes. There are classes your city offers where residents can take photography lessons. Photographers in those classes may be willing to do your photos for free or at a discounted rate
  • If you have a wedding planner ask them for a recommendation.  If you don't have a wedding planner ask your venue if they have a preferred vendor list or if any of your other vendors like your florist or DJ to see if they know of any photographers. 
  • Rearrange your budget and pay for someone to do your wedding. There are lot of photographers out there that do different packages for different rates.  This will take time as you'll have to find your local photographers, interview them, and find one that you feel understands you and your wedding vision. 
  • Forgo a photographer and do something untraditional. Before smart phones and DSLR cameras, back when professional photographers were the only ones that would have the multi lens and high-def capabilities, people would use disposal cameras. They would place a couple disposable cameras at guest tables and have guests take photos all night long and then collect the cameras at the end of the night. It’s completely untraditional and a throwback idea but it would be a fun spin to your wedding and your guests will enjoy it 

These are just a few ideas for you to think about that can help start you off in searching for a photographer.  I wouldn't really recommend moving your wedding day, especially if you have your other vendors already set for June 23rd and if your guests know that June 23rd is your wedding day.  It's easier to find one vendor rather than asking everyone to change the date.  Not to mention, vendors and the venue may already be booked. 

The important thing to keep in mind as you start the search for your photographer is that the photos help commemorate the day and allow you to look back on your wedding; however, they are not the reason for your wedding. The day is about you and your partner. Make it everything you can. And if you think out of the box for ways to make your photographs happen, you may be surprised what the results may turn out.  I wish you the best of luck and I hope you let us know how it goes.