Weddings & Life Podcast with Taylor Nicole, a podcast by Denver Wedding Photographer,
Taylor Nicole Photography
Intro: 200 weddings down hundreds and hundreds to go. I hope so anyways. Being a wedding photographer is the best job in the entire world and I hope to continue doing this for many many years. Over the last weekend I photographed my 200th wedding and with that milestone I want to share some of this journey of being a wedding photographer with you, bring you in behind the scenes on the most recent wedding day and share what I have learned over the last 9 years and 200 weddings. So if you’d like to hear what 200 weddings has taught me, about weddings in general and as a photographer then keep listening!
The number 200 seems surreal friends. The setting of this 200th wedding could not have been more meaningful too. So at the beginning of 2021 my husband and I left Northern Colorado and moved out to North Carolina for a new job opportunity for Austin after he graduated. It was a season of change in every single way and ended in the hard decision to move back to Colorado a few months later. It was a time where plans, hopes and dreams were altered and in some cases left behind. However in the short months we lived out in North Carolina I had a connection through a friend in the photography industry that connected me to last weekend’s couple Sarah & Luke. Sarah and Luke saw me through all the transition of last year, even the not so esteemed version of living in a Sprinter van we converted, not because we had to live in it but because we somehow thought this was the best for ourselves haha needless to say we were wrong! So we learned a lot, sold the van and live in Denver now! Coming back out to North Carolina is such a vidid reminder to myself that God’s plans are not my plans. If my life had turned out like I thought it would from January of 2021 moving out there this would be a whole different story and who knows if this podcast would exist yet or ever for that matter. Not that I wouldn’t be doing wedding photography, because I plan to be a wedding photographer until I am old and gray, so basically until people stop hiring me! Anyways, through all the twists and turns Austin and I are closer together and we have had to rely on God through all the changes, hardships and wins of the last year. I could have never planned for this wedding to be my 200th, but I think God arranged that to use this milestone to remind me how far He has brought us in the last year, year and a half.
So it’s time to share the wedding recap because how could I not share all the wonderful stories of such a fun 200th wedding!
So without further ado here are the 6 things I’ve learned and want to pass on to you about weddings: This is a mix of practical and heartfelt and sometimes silly pieces of information that you should know.
- Communicate with your vendors/as a vendor I learned to communicate with my clients.
- When I was first starting out I sold hourly packages, similar to what I do now, but I never once talked with my clients about how we would use those hours. I didn’t set up timelines for them yet and so when it came to their wedding days one time a client planned a 12 hour wedding when they booked an 8 hour collection. Instead of dashing their dreams last minute I went ahead and photographed the whole day and that wedding was the line in the sand for me as it made me realize that setting client expectations and educating my couples from the beginning is the only way to go. Now I create timelines for couples on their very first call with me and that is what we use to plan photos through the whole process. Expectations are clear and when things are communicated well everything runs much more smoothly.
- So lesson for any couples out there, use any resources your vendors give you, there is a reason they are sharing that information with you and it’s probably an effort to keep you on the same page through the process and you’ll be happier in the end. Also, if you have questions or concerns reach out to your vendors and ask. Silently wondering doesn’t help vendors fix things for you! Communicate often and early!
- You can’t control the weather, and neither can your photographer!
- Rain happens, wind happens, hail happens, snow happens, sun happens… If you would have attended the wedding I photographed on April 29th in Estes Park then you would know that all 5 of those weather patterns/conditions were present throughout their day. It literally snowed 3 separate times, had 30+ mph wind gusts, and hailed in the morning but don’t worry it was sunny during the ceremony. I think every state has their own crazy weather pattens but Colorado is no exception.
- My best advice is to expect the worst weather condition, whether that means you dread snow, or cold, or hot or wind go ahead and expect and plan for it. Then you can just be pleasantly surprised if the weather is better than your expectations
- I personally have the luckiest example of this. I was actually disappointed (just slightly) by warm sunny weather for my December wedding. I even bought snow boots to wear under my dress for portraits outside, but classic CO it was sunny and 60s. Which obviously worked out well and I’m thankful looking back at how easy our family portraits and everything was.
- So maybe even better than expecting the worst weather, that’s probably not a mentally healthy way of thinking of that haha, is just being flexible and committing to staying happy on your wedding day. I have seen rain literally ruin a couple’s wedding because they were inconsolably angry that it rained and they couldn’t have their outdoor ceremony they had planned. I’ve also seen couples rise up to the challenge and swap events of their wedding days like having a pre ceremony cocktail hour to wait out the rain while entertaining their guests. So it’s all about flexibility and perspective. Also having a great team of vendors will help you be able to navigate the changes in weather smoothly. And having a back up indoor location is always nice too, to be honest!
- And then do you want to know what season I am most afraid of as a photographer? Fall, because Fall leaf colors in the mountains of CO last all of two weeks in certain areas and that is often the time of year we are slammed with our first snow storm, which takes the color away early too. When I hear a client say oh we’d like fall engagement portraits I am filled with a small fear inside because I know how many times we might need to move locations/times/dates to work around the weather each year and Fall is such a busy time. So please know whether it’s Spring rains, winds, or Fall colors fading after an early snow storm that your photographer can’t control the weather any more than you can. Speaking for myself the weather and radar apps are a consistent source of stress for me during my working months, and in the Winter I commonly will ignore the weather apps all together and just be surprised and thankful I’m not planning work around weather I can’t control that day.
- Remember What is Most Important
- During planning and throughout the day itself remember why you are there. You have found the love of your life and you’re committing to doing life together for the next 100 years. Okay so we all wish it was 100 haha. You are there to get married. Keeping your dress 100% clean doesn’t matter as much as getting married. Running late before your ceremony doesn’t matter as much as getting married. At the end of the day you are there for one thing and as long as that one thing happens it should be a pretty darn good day.
- Also from the flip side over the last 200 weddings/9 years as a wedding photographer I’ve learned to try and discover what is important to my clients. Ex. Some clients value the cocktail hour mingling above portraits. It’s tempting to me to keep them for portraits longer but when I know and prioritize what they value the most I can do my best to give them what they are hoping for too. And I’ve learned to gather this sort of information by just simply talking with my clients and asking them what parts of the wedding day are the most important to them.
- As a wedding photographer sometimes it’s easy to get wrapped up in the importance of our jobs, it’s not like we’re over here pretending that we’re the president or war hero or anything, but sometimes we think that our job sits higher than other vendors jobs. I’ve learned that isn’t true and that me getting the portraits my couple wants is equally important as the catering service being able to serve the meal on time and the DJ being able to keep people on the dance floor. I guess I’ve learned it’s a team effort and that’s what’s important and affects client experience.
- I won’t always get to eat on wedding days
- This sounds silly but as the photographer sometimes we get our plate of food and then the couple calls us over for group photos as they are greeting their guests, or the DJ is starting toasts during dinner service. I will say the saddest scenario is when I get to take a few bites of my food, have to get up to take pictures and then come back and my plate has been bussed by the catering staff. This isn’t to dis any of the caterers out there. Their job is literally to bus plates so food isn’t sitting everywhere. But this can look like our meals disappearing early. I do have to add that this happens less and less as I have continued working. I thinking having a second photographer or my husband assisting me on the wedding days has helped having an extra person to guard the food. Also being gluten free I always pack protein bars and easy snack packs just in case I can’t eat the meal in general.
- Now for the couples out there- snacks are the name of the game when it comes to wedding days. You guys are getting ready and out there doing things just about as long as your vendors are and sometimes you don’t get to enjoy all of the food your guests do. Especially note for Fall weddings, sunset and golden hour usually fall right as your dinner is being served so just be warned that you might have to leave your meal for a few minutes too. Don’t worry it should still be there when you get back though!
- Wedding memories are once in a lifetime
- Okay so not to be overly sad but I know for a fact that I have taken some of the very last photos of the couple’s loved ones before. I wish this weren’t the case but life is short and unpredictable. Wedding days are absolutely full of once in a life time memories and the significance is high.
- I think this is why I have compassion for the mother of the bride or groom who requests a bunch of extra photos that weren’t on the list, because as the couple you might not think to have a picture of your mom and her siblings with your grandmother, but to them that will mean the absolute world.
- Also this applies to dances too, I hear so many people talking about how they dread the special dances because they don’t like being in front of people and that is understandable. But you know what I don’t think you’ll regret 20 years, having a full father daughter dance with your dad and those memories and videos to look back on. Same goes to first looks or just involving loved ones in your day. I know my personal goal is to love my family members big and always, and whether that is involving them in moments or taking a minute to get a few extra portraits with your loved ones it matters. Because my family is so precious to me I think I often see that for my clients too and I really value the family and loved one connections I get to capture. So in my opinion if you’re going to look at your wedding day look at making it matter to your future self and prioritize what and who will matter to them.
- I have the best job in the entire world
- I know I started the podcast out by saying that this is the best job in the entire world, but over and over again I am reminded. I step into many wedding days each year, and I have stepped into 200 wedding days so far and yet every time I am blown away remembering that this is someone’s best day yet. The memories I get to create and capture will be with them for years and years and generations. I get to see the absolute best of people in my work and I get to genuinely smile through my work days because of the love, connection and sincere joy I get to witness from behind my camera. Wedding photography is something I am challenged in. I am challenged to push my creative limits, challenged to see, visualize and create art from the once in a lifetime memories playing out in present time around me. I am challenged to encourage and guide people as they are vulnerable being fully present and fully themselves in front of something as intimidating as a camera. I feel like I actually make a positive difference in my clients wedding day memories and experiences, as well as lives because I hope that I am a resource to them throughout planning and blessing on their actual wedding days. I get to make friends with some of the coolest couples I have ever met and I then I get the privilege watch their marriages and families flourish in the years after.
- It goes far beyond setting my own schedule, working from my pajamas until late afternoon on editing days. It is beyond the aesthetic of the unbelievably beautiful parties I get to attend and the amazing scenery I get to see month after month.
- You see, I am not saving anyone’s life. I am not solving the world’s problems. But I am documenting, I am framing, and I am preserving memories, my work and calling is capture connection, meaning, emotion and personal history. Which is crazy to believe that in a world of unending needs, problems, heartbreak that my work can be centered around remembering and celebrating the lives that are lived in front of my camera.
- So over the last 200 weddings this truth has buried itself deep inside of me and I know that over the next 200 weddings, Lord willing, I will only grow in my appreciation of this career. I promise to remember, celebrate and honor life in front of my lens. I know truly that I have the best job in the entire world and I am incredibly and increasingly grateful to everyone who makes this a reality.
Whew feeling a bit emotional over this so I think that will be the end to this episode. Thank you for following along on my journey and listening to my heart. I’ll be back with a new episode next week!