I think a photographer’s worst nightmare is getting sick on a wedding day. But I don’t mean sneezing and coughing type of sick — I mean not being able to get out of bed and throwing up type of sick. You never think it’s going to happen to you but unfortunately there’s always a first time for everything. Last wedding season, I was gearing up for a Saturday wedding but early in the morning on Friday I got really sick — I think I had the flu. I could not move. After my insides had officially been removed, I literally slept from 3AM – 5PM on Friday. I think I would have healed much quicker had I not been worrying about my wedding but it HAD to be dealt with and anyone who knows me knows I hate letting people down.
I have had a second shooter at every wedding I’ve ever shot up to this day (largely for reasons like this) so I knew my second for this wedding could handle it if I needed her to. BUT I didn’t want to miss it. My couple hired me, they trusted me, and I did NOT want to let them down. I loved this couple and I knew it was going to be one of my favorite weddings of the year. But I laid in my bed, barely having the energy to type out a message to my second shooter and I told her she might have to shoot the wedding. I knew the couple had paid for a second shooter so not only did I have to prepare my second to shoot the whole day as the lead, I had to find another photographer to be her second. Thankfully, I had a couple of kind people offer to help so I was able to breathe for a few minutes and then I fell back asleep. I woke up at about 6PM on Friday in a panic because I still couldn’t get out of bed without blacking out. I tried walking down the stairs and carrying my camera bag just to even see if there was a chance and I pretty much decided there wasn’t. You should have heard the conversation between my mom and I. I kept saying, “I can’t go, I have to go, I’ll die if I go, I want to go” over and over again. It was the WORST. After saying a prayer, I went to bed early, got some sleep and woke up the next morning in hopes that I’d feel good enough to get out of bed.
The next morning I cautiously draped my feet over the edge of my bed and still didn’t feel good. I felt better but it came in waves. Time was ticking on and I still hadn’t decided if I was going or not. I’ve never been so stressed in my life. And on top of all of this, I didn’t want to worry my couple on their wedding day so I chose not to call them. Eventually, it came time for me to leave if I was going to go. Somehow I managed to muster up the courage to go, at least for a few hours, and told myself if I needed to leave, I would. I packed my gear, got in the car, and shakily drove up the mountain to Trump Winery, where I prayed the whole way. I felt okay in the car and I finally made it up to the bridal suite where the girls hadn’t yet arrived. It was probably for the best because I was able to start shooting details before I had to explain myself. My second came a little early to help me out (thank GOD!) and somehow I finished details without dying. I did almost pass out after I walked up the spiral staircase at Trump but I put my head between my legs, got my vision back, and pushed through. One of the precious bridesmaids saw me sit down and asked if I was okay so I explained to her what was going on just so she’d know I wasn’t being lazy. Haha. The bride still didn’t know, though.
By the grace of God, I ended up making it through the day — the ten-hour day! I know my body was running on complete adrenaline because my face was lifeless and white (my second got a photo of me while testing the light so I know I looked bad…) but hey, I made it!! The wedding ended up being one of my favorites of the year and I would have HATED myself if I didn’t go. I was really proud of the images I got and no one would ever know that I had been sick, thankfully. But with that said, I’m sure there are photographers who have had to sit weddings out before and that’s why having a second shooter who you trust is SO important. You owe that to your clients. So the moral of this story is to have a backup plan if you’re a photographer. We are humans and anything can happen so save yourself some stress and a possible wedding horror story by having a great second in place.
All images in this post were second shot for Ashley Relvas Photography.