Hi, we're Hunter and Sarah, a husband-and-wife, luxury wedding photography team. We’re also educators, helping other photographers build profitable and sustainable photography businesses.
We are indeed in unprecedented times.
First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers go out to all those brides who are reading this blog because their wedding is scheduled in the coming months. Of the thousands of brides across the country in this situation, 13 of you are in our care, and we’ve been losing sleep on your behalf. Our hearts are breaking for you, and we know you’re agonizing over what’s going to happen to your wedding day.
Things suck right now. We get that, and we feel for you.
Despite the craziness of these times, Hunter and I’s deeper “why” behind our business remains unchanged: to love and serve couples during their dating and engagement, and to help foster strong marriages.
To that end, today we’re posting a blog that we hope will help brides with Spring 2020 weddings think through all of their options in the days and months ahead. We’re writing this blog on March 21st, barely a week into the recommended self-quarantines that are happening across the country. We write this, knowing that in just a few days, the advice in this blog could be totally outdated as new updates come. But we feel like we have to say something to all our brides who are stressing over what happens now.
Throughout the blog, we ask our sweet, suffering brides to try to remember one thing. In the end, your marriage is more important than your wedding day. We know that is absolutely NOT what you want to hear right now, but we also want to remember the deeper truths, especially in times of suffering.
You’re having a wedding to celebrate your marriage, not the other way around. At the end of the day, you and your spouse walking away married, and ready to begin the rest of your lives together is most important. That, and of course, the safety of you and your friends and family. In light of that, here are three options that we hope every bride considers as they move forward.
We know that for many of you, depending on your date or venue, this unfortunately may not be an option. But because it’s the least disruptive, we want to lead with it. Right now in Virginia, groups larger than 100 are illegal, while the Governor and the CDC recommend avoiding gatherings larger than 10 gather. However, with certain venues and extra precautions, your wedding day may still be possible, although it will look very different.
You can still get ready in your venue’s beautiful getting ready suite, but maybe it’ll just be you and your mom and your maid of honor. You can still have that intimate, first look moment with your fiancé, but we won’t be moving in for any close-ups. You can still walk down the aisle, escorted by your dad, although with only 8 chairs set out, instead of 100. You can still cut a cake, have your first dance, and enjoy a wonderful meal with your new spouse. But Table 1, set for 10, may be the only table.
This is NOT the wedding day you planned. And this is NOT the wedding day you’ve dreamed of. But it IS an option that may turn out to be for the best. We have friends who had small, intimate gatherings like this intentionally, and have said that it was one of the best decisions of their marriages. And we’ve had the pleasure of capturing these intimate days, and the joy on our brides’ faces was no less real than for our big wedding days.
However, we also understand that many venues, out of respect for safety, are closing their doors for the immediate future, so this may not be possible. We also know many brides have family or friends that they couldn’t imagine the wedding without, but who also need to stay home for their own safety. Not spreading this virus, and respecting the health and safety of you two, your families, and your friends is vitally important during this time. This isn’t the option for everyone, but for some of you, this may be worth considering.
For many of you, this is the option that you’ll want to consider the most seriously. Again, this is NOT ideal, but given the circumstances, you may decide that having your wedding the way you’ve been planning, but in 6 or 9 or 12 months, may be the best move for you and your fiancé and your guests. Although this would be the most logistically challenging of the three options, it would likely feel the best.
Our only ask is this: when you consider postponing, open up the conversation with the vendors that you feel are “essential” to your wedding day so that you can keep as many of them as possible. When you began wedding planning, you likely hired vendors in the order of importance to you, once you nailed down a date and a venue. Obviously you’ll need to get a list of available dates from your venue to start. But once you have that, open up a conversation with every one of your vendors that you couldn’t imagine your wedding day without.
For example, as we think back to our own wedding planning experience, we’re thinking about it this way. We had fallen in love with our venue and our photographer, and having Hunter’s campus pastor officiate the wedding was really important to us. So if we had had to consider new dates, we wouldn’t have considered dates unless our venue (obviously), as well as our photographer and officiant were available. We also loved our caterer, our tent company and our cake artist, but could have survived without them, and wouldn’t have given up any of the other three vendors on behalf of delicious BBQ or cake (no matter how good).
We’re asking our brides to think about things in the same way. Yes, it may push the wedding a bit further out by considering more vendors, but we have a feeling that getting the wedding you’ve always dreamed of in 12 months will feel so much better than getting married in 8, but feeling this nagging disappointment in the back of your head because you gave up on the photographer that you loved or the florals you had always dreamed of, just to get married a few months early. And what’s another few months in light of the lifetime you and your spouse will spend together?
For those of you who have become entirely disenchanted with the wedding planning process as a whole and just want to be married, this section is for you. Each year, we capture a few of these intimate elopements. And although the municipal courthouse is an option, it certainly isn’t the only option.
Even before the outbreak of COVID-19, we already had four such elopements on our calendar for 2020. Imagine this: you emerge from the treeline at Blackrock Summit in Shenandoah National Park. You’re wearing your beautiful wedding dress and shoes with your bouquet in hand. Standing before you is your fiancé and an officiant (and maybe a few select family members practicing proper social distancing). Behind them are the stunning 270-degree vistas of the Shenandoah Mountains. Or maybe it’s an empty Downtown Mall. Or it’s an open field at your favorite Vineyard or family property. You still get that “walking down the aisle” moment, but this time it’s boulders or blooming trees or hedgerows that create the aisle, instead of pews or chairs.
You still get to exchange your vows. You still get a beautiful set of wedding portraits. You (can) still have a handful of dear friends and family gather with you. And at the end of the evening, you still walk away married. For those of you who don’t want to consider waiting months for your wedding day, this is undoubtedly the safest option. Plus, you could still consider rescheduling with your venue, caterer and entertainment to throw that rockin’ party later down the road, once this pandemic has ended.
Caroline. Megan. Susannah. Kadi. Katherine. Meg. Alex. Christina. Madison. Christine. Mary-Kate. Emily. Laren. If you’re reading this, please know that we are here for you, we love you, and we want to do everything in our power to make your wedding day the beautiful and unforgettable day that you’ve been dreaming of for years. We’ve already been in conversation with many of you and your planners, but if you need to chat at any time, day or night, please reach out to us.
With love in this difficult time,
Sarah + Hunter