Welcome to the beginning of a five week series I am sharing on pregnancy and motherhood for wedding photographers and small business owners!  Over the next five week, I am hoping to dive into:

Week 1: Finding Out I’m Pregnant + Telling My Couples

Week 2: What Photographing Weddings Pregnant is Like

Week 3: My Experience Shooting a Wedding Four Days Before Giving Birth, and Four Days After

Week 4: Going Back to Work Post Birth

Week 5: Managing it all

I have wanted to write this series for a long time.  When I got pregnant with Audrey, I am pretty sure I googled “pregnant wedding photographer” 100 different ways, trying to find stories or testimonials of other women who had gone from having a business baby to an actual baby.  I knew big changes were in store, but I was completely unsure of how to navigate them.  I normally book weddings a year, to a year and a half in advance.  When I got pregnant with Audrey, I had eight weddings closely surrounding my due date.  How long would I be able to shoot weddings before giving birth?  When could I go back afterwards?  Would I be able to effectively run my business as a new mom?  What would this look like?  These are all questions I had and I wasn’t sure where to search for the answers.

This is when I began to hear God’s quiet, encouraging voice.  “Share your story.  Share what I have done in your life.”

I believe we all have a God story.  A story where God has shown up in a big way.  A time when we have felt Him draw close.  For me, God worked in miraculous ways in both of my pregnancies.  He gave me His strength, and strengthened my faith.

I have been nervous to share my story for a while now.  I think I was most worried about what my couples would think.  After all, my pregnancies did involve many of them.  I wanted to be sensitive to their feelings, even though each and every couple was nothing but supportive!  I think I was nervous about being so vulnerable as well, about telling my whole story, even the hard parts.

I want to make it clear that this is just my story.  How I approach pregnancy and motherhood as a small business owner may not be the perfect way for you.  I encourage you to pray about what is going on in your life, and ask God what is right for you.  He always answers, and His advice is better than any I could give.

That being said, I hope you find encouragement in my story.  I hope it makes you feel a little less alone.  Most importantly, I hope you see the love, faithfulness, and strength of our Heavenly Father in my transition into this wonderful role of motherhood.

I remember the day I found out I was pregnant with Audrey.  I was supposed to get my period later that afternoon, and I decided on a whim to take a pregnancy test.  I was on the phone with my friend Mekina at the time, and remember happily chatting away, having no idea that my life was about to completely change.  I sat the test on the window seal, picking it up only moments later to see two pink lines.  My heart rate quickened, and I felt excited, nervous, and unsure of what to do first.  I couldn’t contain such big news, and actually ended up telling Mekina on the phone, recruiting her help on how to tell Matt.  That night I brought home three tiny Yankees onesies, and a book called “From Dude to Dad”.  We celebrated together, tried to do the math, and realized I would be giving birth sometime in the beginning of July.  I started jumping up and down, so excited that I had no weddings that month, at the moment oblivious to the fact that having five weddings one month before, and three the month after could be an issue.

Things started to sink in after our first visit to the OBGYN.  After confirming I was in fact pregnant, I begin to rattle off a whole list of questions, the most important ones to me be being how long before giving birth could I continue to shoot weddings, and when could I go back.  She explained it was different for everyone, but if I was healthy, I could possibly work up until giving birth, and that giving birth vaginally usually lead to a faster recovery than a cesarean birth.  I left feeling excited, but still unsure about whether or not I would physically be fine to shoot the weddings closely surrounding my due date.

If you know me well, you know how much I care about my couples.  How much I LOVE weddings.  My dad makes fun of me because I have told him “this is my favorite couple” more times than I can count.  “You say that about EVERY couple,” he quickly reminds me, and it is true.  The thought of not being able to photograph a wedding I had committed to made me sick.  I remember being six weeks pregnant with Audrey and crying so hard to Matt in our room about my fear of not being able to be at each one that I actually threw up.  I was so excited about the fact that we were growing our family, but absolutely terrified about how this pregnancy would affect my business.  It was truly a breaking point for me, and I simply felt out of control.

I knew something needed to change.  After all, I didn’t want to go through the next nine months feeling this way.  Earlier that year, while attending SPARK, my friend Caroline had talked about asking God specific questions when we prayed.  So often my conversations were one sided, me praying and never pausing to listen to what God had to say back.  I wanted to give it a try, so I went to take a shower (totally the best quiet place to think) and prayed. I told God how thankful I was for sweet Audrey, but confessed how fearful I was about not having clarity on how long I would be able to work while pregnant, and when I would be able to go back.  I began praying about each individual wedding date closely surrounding my due date, and was so surprised by what I heard.  As I prayed about each individual date, I started to hear the tender voice of Jesus talking back in my head.  I knew it was Him because his word were so gentle, yet clear, filled with love, and usually not what would come to mind while thinking about the situation myself.  As I prayed about each date, I felt a great peace about May 29th, May 30th, June 12th, and June 19th.  Audrey was due July 2nd.  When I asked God if I would be able to shoot these weddings, I felt him gently reassure me with a YES.  When I prayed about June 20th, I did not feel confirmation either way, but it didn’t feel like a no.  When I prayed about June 27th, I started to see pictures form in my head.  I saw myself sitting in a rocking chair, holding a little baby wrapped in a pink blanket.  I was only six weeks pregnant with Audrey, and I felt like God was showing me that I would be having a little girl.  I felt God say I would not be able to shoot this wedding, and as hard as it was, I chose to trust Him.

This was the breakthrough I had been looking for!  Even through I didn’t have all the answers, I felt like I could contact my couples with more confidence.  I wasn’t relying on my own understanding or advice I had gotten from others anymore.  I was relying on God.  I had faith that what He told me was true, and peace about the fact that He was close by my side.  Now, it was time to form a plan.

I had eight weddings closely surrounding my due date of July 2nd.  A double header the last week of May, four weddings in June, and two in August. In my mind, there were two options.

  1. Give back the deposit and help the couple find another photographer.
  2. Photograph the wedding.

The thought of giving back all of these deposits terrified me. Not only would I have to return over $20,000, I would forgo the final payment.  God has always taken care of our family, and I had faith he would take care of us during this time.  Still, the possibility of this financial stress worried me.

I began praying about another option, a way for me to still be a part of these beautiful wedding days if I were physically able.

Since I had already prayed about my wedding dates, and God had answered (showing me which ones I would be able to do, and which ones I would not) I felt comfortable offering my couples another option.

If I was physically able, I would photograph their wedding, bringing along two other incredible photographers.  If I were to go into labor, or give birth within a few days of their wedding, my team would take over for me!  My second photographer would take the lead, and my third photographer would step in as the second shooter.  I would still edit all of the images, and deliver their wedding album.

I knew that if this option was going to work, I needed to have a strong team in place before contacting my couples.  I also wanted my team to be the same for all of the weddings closely surrounding my due date.  With Audrey, I reached out to two super talented photographers from our christian photographers small group SPARK, Sidney Morgan and Kristy Timms.  Both ladies were free for all of the weddings I hoped to shoot at nine months pregnant, and agreed to commit to shooting with me seven months in advance.  This meant a lot to me, because it meant they were giving up the opportunity to potentially book the date themselves. They both owned their own businesses as well.  I did offer to pay more for these weddings, 2x the amount I would normally pay to the first shooter if I was able to shoot the wedding along with them, and 3x the amount if I was not there, as they would have to take on the main shooter role in this case.  I offered to pay my third shooter the same fee I would normally pay my second shooter, whether I was there or not.  When all was said and done, the majority of my final payment from the couple would go towards the cost of outsourcing my editing, and paying my team.  This was totally okay with me though as it allowed me to keep the initial deposit.  In many cases, I had already photographed the couple’s engagement session, and I would be delivering the final gallery and all products.  This seemed fair to me!

I wasn’t sure what my couples would think, but I knew it was time to contact them, let them know what was going on, and give them a choice.  I decided to call couple on the phone instead of sending an email.  I didn’t want them to think I was taking the fact that I might not be able to be there on their wedding lightly.  I had committed to capturing their beautiful day, and wanted so badly to still be a part of it.  I knew I would be able to communicate this more clearly over the phone.

I decided to wait until after my 12 week ultrasound to talk to my couples.  I wanted to make sure everything was going well with our pregnancy before talking to them.  It was also important to me to talk to my couples before sharing the news with many of my friends, or on social media.  This was mainly because I wanted my couples to hear the news from me first.  Besides our families, my couples were some of the first people to find out Matt and I were pregnant!

After our 12 week ultrasound, I felt like with was the right time to share the news with those couples who were getting married a month before I was due, and a month after.  Before making each phone call, I went up to my office, put on worship music (I love Bethel Live on Pandora) and prayed.  I asked for courage, as I was extremely nervous about how they would feel and what they would say.  I asked for grace in their responses.  I asked that I would be able to clearly communicate my desire to still be a part of their wedding day, along with my excitement for the pregnancy.  Most importantly, I asked for God’s will to be done in the situation.  I wanted each couple to feel free to make a decision they felt comfortable with and best worked for them.  Feeling God’s peace wash over me, I picked up my phone and made the calls.

The responses of my couples completely blew me away.  Each one congratulated me.  Each one responded with kindness.  And each one chose to have me stay on as a part of their wedding day.  Tears of joy steamed down my face after each conversation.  Their trust in me was so encouraging, and I felt like I had been given a wonderful gift in still having the opportunity to be a part of their day.  God drew close to me, and I was so incredible thankful.

In faith, I did tell the couple whose wedding was a few days before my due date that I did not feel like I would be able to stay on as their photographer.  When I was praying, I felt in my heart God tell me I was not going to be able to shoot this wedding, and wanted to be faithful and honest about what I had heard.  I also came to them with two options.  The first was a full refund of their deposit (even through I had already photographed their engagement session) and the offer to help them find another amazing photographer to capture their day.  The second was to have my best friend and amazing photographer Mekina Saylor take on the lead as the main shooter, my other close friend Caroline Frost (who actually charged more than me at the time) take on the role as second shooter, and our other close friend Asher Gardner come along as a third.  I would still edit all of the images and deliver their full gallery, and they would be fully taken care of with an incredibly talented team on their wedding day.  This couple chose the second option, trusting the team I had put together and giving me the opportunity to still be a small part of their day.  I was so grateful!!!

After talking to all of my couples who had weddings one month before my due date and one month after, I drafted an email to send out to every other couple I had booked for the year.  I attached our pregnancy announcement photo, sharing the exciting news and letting them know this would not affect their wedding day.  Feel free to check out the email I sent below, right before Christmas!

Hi (bride + groom),

I hope you both are doing well and enjoying the holiday season!  I wanted to share the exciting news that my husband and I are expecting and will have a little one joining our family in July!  This should in no way affect your wedding, I might just be sporting a little baby bump while capturing your beautiful day. 🙂  I am attaching our Christmas card below!  I hope you both enjoy a wonderful holiday with family and friends and I look forward to seeing you soon!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

I emailed this out the day before I shared the news on social media.  I didn’t want any of my couples to see my pregnancy announcement and worry if I would be able to be there or not for their special day.

Now the news was out, plans for my weddings directly before and closely following due date were in place, I finally felt like I could celebrate.  A huge weight was lifted off me in being able to share the good news!  Now all I had to do was wait for this sweet baby to grow and see what God had in store.

I hope you will tune in for the rest of the story in the coming weeks!  This week I told the story of what it was like to find out I was pregnant and how I approached telling my couples.  Over the next four Mondays, I hope to share:

Week 2: What Photographing Weddings Pregnant is Like

Week 3: My Experience Shooting a Wedding Four Days Before Giving Birth, and Four Days After

Week 4: Going Back to Work Post Birth

Week 5: Managing it all

If you are enjoying this series, or have any questions you would like me to answer, please let me know!  I would love to hear from you!  Thanks for taking the time to read my novel of a post and HAPPY MONDAY!

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. -Isaiah 40:31

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The rain dotted the windows of the Essex House, making the view of Central Park across the street look almost like a painting. Despite the weather, laughter rang out as Natasha and her bridesmaids popped champagne, listened to a pretty awesome wedding mix, and slipped into their gorgeous gowns!  The day had finally arrived for Natasha to marry John and she was SO excited!  These two love birds met through a mutual friend who lived in the same building during their time in New York and they hit it off right away!

John had also been looking forward to this day for a long time.  As he was watching his beautiful bride walk down the aisle at St. Ignatius church, a huge smile spread across his face!  In front of their family and friends Natasha and John promised to spend their lives loving and supporting one another.  Afterwards, they headed to Central Park for a few fun and romantic portraits in the place where they got engaged!  As we arrived, the clouds parted and the skies cleared!  The rain earlier in the day had left the park almost entirely empty and it felt like we had the place to ourselves.  It was magical!

The rest of the evening went by in one amazing blur as Natasha and John danced the night away, toasted to a long and happy marriage, and indulged in delicious wedding cake and Momofuku cookies!  It was an honor to be a part of such an amazing celebration and I can’t wait to share a few of my favorite images below.  Congratulations again Natasha and John!  Your Central Park Boathouse wedding was truly a dream and I am so happy for you both.

 

 

 

 

The Team: Photographer- Amy Rizzuto Photography, Bride’s Getting Ready- The Essex House, Groom’s Getting Ready- W Hotel Midtown, Ceremony- St. Ignatius Loyola, Reception- Central Park Boathouse, Wedding Planner- Katie Berger (Sara Kate Events), Hair Stylist- Audrey Schaenman, Make-up Artist- Linda Gallo, Invitations- Paper Source, Florist- Lenox Hill Florist, Wedding Dress- Vera Wang, Bridesmaid Dress- Jenny Yoo, Shoes- Jimmy Choo, Second Photographers- Mekina Saylor + Cassady K, Videographer- eMotion Pictures, Inc., Cake- Lulu Bakery – Scarsdale, Cookie Favors- Momofuku Cookies, Band/DJ- Around Town Entertainment, First Dance Song- “I Don’t Dance” – Lee Brice

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Want to see more pretty images like Natasha and John’s Central Park Boathouse wedding photos?  Follow along on instagram and facebook!

Amy Rizzuto is a NYC  wedding photographer
who specializes in capturing the authentic joy of adventurous couples in love.
For more information visit www.amyrizzutophotography.com!

Edda + Slava may come from different backgrounds (he is Russian, she is Peruvian) but they totally connect through their love for travel, adventure, their families, and their adorable Bichon Frises of course! After seven sweet years together, Slava proposed to Edda in Central Park on a beautiful December day. Central Park is forever Edda and Slava’s hearts, making it the perfect spot for their engagement photos!  We met on Bow Bridge at sunrise and captured beautiful portraits by Bethesda Fountain, the Mall, and in the pretty pink cherry blossoms!  Don’t you just love spring in New York?!  Enjoy a few of my favorite moments from our time together below.

Want to see more pretty images like Edda + Slava’s sunrise central park engagement photos?  Follow along on instagram and facebook!

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Amy Rizzuto is a NYC wedding photographer
who specializes in capturing the authentic joy of adventurous couples in love.
For more information visit www.amyrizzutophotography.com!

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Lena + Steven really are such beautiful people.  Their relationship is filled with joy, laughter, adventure, and so much love!  Steven surprised Lena by proposing at the top of One World Trade Center!  “It is a moment I will always remember,” explained Lena, “it was so special!”  Lena and Steven are tying the knot at the Central Park Boathouse this spring and I am beyond excited for their gorgeous day!  As we approach their wedding, I wanted to look back on a few of my favorites from their NYC engagement session this summer.  Grab an iced coffee and enjoy getting lost in all the sweet moments below!

Want to see more pretty images like Lena and Steven’s NYC engagement photos?  Follow along on instagram and facebook!

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Amy Rizzuto is a NYC wedding photographer
who specializes in capturing the authentic joy of adventurous couples in love.
For more information visit www.amyrizzutophotography.com!

There is just something about the Hamptons that makes my heart so happy!  The quiet beach days, quaint towns, and the beautiful scenery always leaves me feeling relaxed and rested.  This past fall I had the pleasure of photographing Fayon and Adam’s gorgeous Wolffer Estate engagement photos.  They brought along their adorable frenchie Texy for a fun afternoon of exploring the vineyard and frolicking on the beach at sunset!  Enjoy a few of my favorite moments from their Hamptons engagement session below.

Want to see more pretty images like Fayon and Adam’s Wolffer Estate engagement photos in the Hamptons?  Follow along on instagram and facebook!

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Amy Rizzuto is a NYC and Hamptons wedding photographer
who specializes in capturing the authentic joy of adventurous couples in love.
For more information visit www.amyrizzutophotography.com!

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