It’s pretty amazing how strong we become when our faith is rooted in a big God. A God that helped David defeat Goliath, who shut the mouth of lions, and spoke the entire universe into being in only six days…just to name a few. When I realized how many weddings I was hoping to photograph while pregnant, I wasn’t really sure what I was getting myself into. As I shared in my previous post, I had a strong desire to shoot as many of the weddings I had committed to as possible and had prayerfully considered the possibility of this with God. I shared my desire with Him, but ultimately asked that His will be done.
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. -Matthew 6:33
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
I photographed 36 weddings while I was pregnant, 20 with Audrey and 16 with Ryan. The earliest I can remember shooting was 4 weeks into my pregnancy, the latest was 4 days before giving birth. Each trimester came with different challenges, the first and the third being the most difficult for me. Everyone has a different experience and I know mine might not look the same as yours! I am happy to share what each trimester was like for me and some practical tips to prepare for shooting in each one. In case you don’t speak in pregnancy weeks yet, let me break it down for you. 🙂
FIRST TRIMESTER (Week 1-13)
Bring Your Own Food
I was nauseous with both pregnancies. Morning sickness was more like all day sickness. My body had decided it didn’t like several normal foods. Even the mention of one of them would send me running to the bathroom. Those first few weddings I lived on carbs. It was all I could eat! I remember at one wedding, I brought an entire bag of blueberry muffins that I had made that morning, 12 to be exact. I am embarrassed to admit there were only two left at the end of the day, but at least I didn’t go hungry!
My advice would be to listen to what your body wants and bring it with you. It is challenging enough to power through 8 hours of shooting, only to get to dinner and realize there is no way you can eat the meal placed before you. Some of my favorite snacks to take on wedding days were bananas, chewy granola bars, muffins, peanut butter and jelly, apples, and bottles and bottles of water. I wanted to stay hydrated for the baby and felt like I could never get enough!
Leave the Heavy Lifting to Your Second Shooter
Chances are, you won’t be showing yet but there may be some things you won’t want to do. I recommend bringing along a second shooter you trust and sharing the good news with them! If furniture needs to be moved, or a chair needs climbing on, ask them if they are okay helping out instead. I believe doctors suggest not lifting more than 25 pounds while pregnant and recommend avoiding putting yourself in a situation where you could fall and hurt the baby.
If You are Nauseous, Avoid Cocktail Hour
In my first trimester, I avoided cocktail hour like the plague. All those smells! I asked my second shooter to focus on this part of the day while I captured reception details.
Rest Up Before and After
I was honestly just so tired during my first trimester. After all, my body was adjusting to growing a tiny human! Make sure to get a good nights sleep before the wedding day and give yourself a little grace if you need to go to bed instead of staying up until 3am working on sneak peeks after the wedding. I promise the photos will be there the next morning!
THIRD TRIMESTER (Week 28-40)
Pray for Strength and Trust in God’s Plan
I came in with the expectation that this would be the most challenging of the three. After all, this is when my bump would be the biggest! Everyone is different, but I found it started to become more physically challenging to shoot around 36 weeks. I would pray before each wedding for God to give me strength, to protect me and the baby, and to help me see creatively through His eyes so I could capture the wedding in a beautiful way. I always felt great while shooting, even up to 39 weeks pregnant! Afterwards, my back and feet would be sore (more so with Audrey than Ryan) but it wasn’t unbearable. I would pray for healing to my body, rest afterwards, and would be feeling back to myself in a few days. I know everyone is different, so I would recommend praying about it yourself and listening to what your body is comfortable with as you get further along in your pregnancy. I had prayed about my dates early on in my pregnancy and felt God tell me I would be able to photograph weddings even at nine months. This gave me hope that when it came time to do so, He would give me the strength, and He totally did!
Hire a Great Team
For all of my weddings between 36 weeks and 40 weeks (nine months) I hired an amazing second and a third photographer! I wanted two talented women who could completely take over the main shooter and second shooter role just in case I did go into labor at the wedding. I made sure to bring on photographer friends I trusted, who had worked with me often over the past few years and had tons of experience shooting their own weddings. If you would like to read more about this, check out my first post here. When I was nine months pregnant with Audrey, I also brought along my husband to help carry the bags during the portrait time. It was definitely a comfort to have him there but I ended up carrying my own bags throughout my pregnancy with Ryan. I normally had my shoot sac and one camera body on me. The women shooting with me were kind enough to offer to carry my big Kelly Moore bag throughout the wedding day.
Dance Floor Breaks
By the time we got to the reception, I had been on my feet for the entire day. After the entrances, first dances, and toasts, I would sometimes take a small break and let my second and third photographers cover the dance floor. I would take around 15 minutes to eat one of my snacks and rest my feet before heading back out again. Having incredible women I could trust to capture all the fun, even if I needed to take a break, was so helpful!
Invest in a Dress + Comfortable Shoes
In the first and second trimester, I had been able to get away wearing larger dresses I owned. Now, it was time to officially shop for maternity dresses! I was feeling big and wanted to still look put together and professional on wedding days. I went to Destination Maternity and invested in two black dresses, one that fit well at the time, and one with a little extra room to grow. I ended up alternating between these dresses for both pregnancies and was so happy I had them! I also purchased a pair of comfortable black shoes. The Aerosoles brand ended up working the best for me.
While pregnant with Audrey, I would get so sore after each wedding I photographed in the third trimester. When I would get home I would take a hot shower, beg Matt for a foot massage, and snuggle with the snoogle pillow. It really did help my aching back! When I photographed double headers at nine months, I would pray and ask for super natural healing for my body and for God to make the four hours of rest I was getting feel like eight. He was so kind and faithful and I did always feel rested when I would wake up the next day.
Waiting for the Kicks
I think from the moment you find out you are pregnant, every new mom worries about the safety of her baby. After each wedding, I would lie awake in bed until I felt Audrey and Ryan kick. Even though the doctors said it was totally fine for me to work up until giving birth, I was still nervous. I felt so comforted when I felt them moving around inside my belly.
The Reaction of Guests
I was obviously pretty big by the third trimester. My couples knew I was pregnant, but most of the guests did not. I would often get asked when I was due, how I was feeling and told I needed to sit down. I never wanted to take any attention away from the couple on such a special day but showing up to photograph a wedding nine months pregnant did not go unnoticed. This is honestly when I wrestled the most with whether or not it was the best idea for me to be there. I felt completely fine, but I could tell people were concerned about my ability to capture a wedding day at nine months pregnant.
At one wedding, I had a guest come up to me and say I needed to rest or my baby was going to die. It had been a big fear of mine and it felt like such a spiritual attack. I went to the bathroom and prayed against this lie, and God drew near to me in this moment. By His grace, I was able to hold it together through the rest of the wedding but totally broke down to Mekina in the car on the way home. For me, this part of photographing weddings at nine months pregnant was harder than any physical challenges.
Have a Plan Just in Case You Do Go Into Labor
I am so thankful I never went into labor at a wedding! I was definitely concerned that being so active that close to my due date could do it. If I had gone into labor, my plan was to calmly tell my second shooter they would need to take over, and say goodbye to the couple if I could be discrete about it. Again, I never wanted to take away any attention from them on such a special day, so I had planned to leave as quietly as possible if I needed to.
WHAT HAPPENS IF THERE ARE WEDDINGS I AM NOT ABLE TO PHOTOGRAPH?
I know we have been talking about what it is like to photograph weddings while pregnant, but I think it is equally important to talk about those you committed to and just can’t. I had two weddings booked that I was not able to photograph, one with Audrey and one with Ryan. I struggled a lot with this, and wanted to talk through both situations.
When I found out I was pregnant with Ryan, I had a destination wedding booked that December in Jamaica! Matt and I had planned to wait to get pregnant until after I had returned from this wedding and gotten the go ahead to start trying from the doctors. Zika had just exploded, and we didn’t want to take any chances. As you probably already know, this didn’t work out exactly the way we planned.
That September I took a pregnancy test and found out Ryan was on the way! I was excited, but so sad about the possibility of not being able to photograph this destination wedding. I had really connected with the couple and was genuinely excited for their day! I had planned on waiting until my eight week ultrasound to talk with them. I wanted to see the baby, hear the heartbeat, and make sure everything was okay. I was five weeks pregnant when the bride reached out to me to put a date on the calendar for her engagement session. It felt like it was the right time to let her know what was going on, so I asked if we could schedule a call. I was so nervous about what they would say, so I prayed and listened to worship music beforehand. When we got a chance to talk on the phone, I explained I was pregnant and uncomfortable with traveling to Jamaica because of the risks of Zika, Mekina had agreed to second shoot with me and the couple had already booked a flight for her! After confirming it was okay with Mekina, I gave the couple the option of having Mekina take over their day. She would become the lead photographer, our friend Ash would come along as the second photographer, and I would edit all of the images after the wedding day. I also offered to completely refund their deposit, cover the cost of our flights, and help them find another photographer if they weren’t comfortable with the plan above. They were so kind to me and said they would be happy to have Mekina take the lead in photographing their wedding day. Mekina and I even photographed their engagement session together so they could get to know her before the big day. It was so much fun and I loved having the opportunity to still be involved in capturing their love story.
One of the biggest struggles for me was not shooting the wedding the week before I was due with Audrey. When I prayed about my dates, I felt like God had showed me I would not be photographing this wedding. When the wedding week rolled around and I was still pregnant, all I wanted to do was to be there to photograph the day. Physically, I thought I could do it (I was 39 weeks) but every time I prayed about going, God made it clear that I was not to go. I had already communicated with the couple I would not be able to be there, I had an amazing team in place, and I knew the day would be covered beautifully. I have read a countless number of stories in the bible about people directly going against God’s will, and it never ended well. I knew in my heart He had my best interest and the couple’s best interest in mind. I made the decision to trust that God sees the full picture, a much bigger picture than I ever will. Even though it took me a little while to get there, I have peace about my decision today.
I hope these stories and tips have been helpful in some way. In the following weeks I will be sharing:
Week 5: Managing It All
If you have any questions about what photographing a wedding pregnant feels like, or can relate to anything I have shared, please reach out in the comment section below. I would love to hear from you! Thank you so much for following along and have a wonderful week!
Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you. Psalms 9:10