It’s a rare Monday morning that my entire family has to be together. Normally my husband would be traveling for work, my seven-year-old daughter would be at school, and I’d be editing photos from recent weddings while the au pair would watch my five-year-old son until 6pm. But not today… today we will all sit together on the playroom floor and play a riveting game of Clue, maybe go outside and play in the mud, have a pillow fight, or watch a movie snuggled up on the couch together. I am doing my best to savor every moment of this super-rare quality family time, taking photos, and trying to be as present as possible while my mind wanders back to the hefty price that I will pay for it in just a few weeks from now… looming unemployment, and the likely permanent closure of the previously successful business I have run for the past 10 years now.
Some photographers and other event industry professionals have been “lucky” and most of their clients have opted to reschedule their weddings onto weekdays or dates in 2021 that all their vendors could be available. What does this mean for them exactly?
1.) Zero work and zero income for the foreseeable future.
2.) Should the “shelter-in-place” and event bans continue into June, they’ll inevitably start having to move existing weddings to Saturdays they would have otherwise booked with new clients in 2021. This means a net loss of 50% of their projected yearly income or more, which would potentially result in the closure of many businesses.
Mind you, these are the “lucky” ones…
In still more scenarios, you will have vendors who are less fortunate. These are the ones who will have clients who decide to either cancel their weddings entirely, or changed to dates around their venue’s availability when they were not available. Even though payments are contractually non-refundable, that’s a hard pill for many brides to swallow, especially because after all, they aren’t CHOOSING to have to cancel or reschedule their weddings. They might be out of work themselves and canceling because they can no longer afford the remaining payments for their event packages. They may even decide to move forward with suing their vendors to attempt to get their money back, and since there’s never been a national emergency of this nature and neither party chose to cancel, who knows how any of that will pan out. These bride’s are NOT the bad guys, they’re similarly just among those who are suffering the most from the impact of the virus.
But, with all of that being said, what does the reality look like for their “unlucky” vendors?
1.) Still zero work and zero income for the foreseeable future.
2.) Depending on the retainer amount, needing to PAY out an average $1,500-$2,000 PER WEEK or facing the threat of potentially multiple lawsuits.
I don’t personally know a single self-employed person, such as a wedding vendor, who has tens of thousands of dollars in reserve laying around to refund $2,000 a week while not making any money at all. And because it’s just not possible to refund money that they don’t have, they’ll have no choice but to await the court rulings or pray for legislation to offer them some relief. Thus far, however, not a single “economic relief” plan proposed by the government has given any consideration to the self-employed, and I’m personally not holding my breath for that to happen.
So yeah, today, I will hug my children tightly, and try to enjoy our time together, while holding back the tears that want to fall from the weight of my heavy thoughts. I’m fully at the mercy of the bride’s who have hired me, many of whom will be facing down similar financial losses, as well as the HUGE emotional loss of their upcoming dream weddings.
My motivation for writing this blog post can be summed up in one word: Compassion.
“Compassion: the sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.”
I hope brides and vendors alike can find it in their hearts to have REAL compassion for each other during this difficult time, and see past the pain of our own losses. If we can all try our best to make decisions that are fully considerate of what the other is going through, maybe, just maybe, we will get through this somehow.
As for me, I have currently closed bookings for 2020 and 2021. As of now, I fully expect those bride’s who are already booked with me will be the last weddings I ever photograph. I am extremely grateful for the hundreds of brides and grooms who have allowed me to share in some of the most intimate moments of their lifetimes. I hope I have captured them well, as I have left a small piece of myself behind in each one. I hope you all enjoy them for many years to come. Stay well and be safe.