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Monday, May 11, 2020

Weddings During A Time of COVID-19 | Heather Ryan Photography Policies

Oh, hey there!  How are you doing, friend?  I hope that you're staying strong and healthy, and pushing through during this insanely unprecedented time.  I hope that you are able to work, you're taking advantage of every nice weather day, and spending lots of time digitally keeping in touch with friends and family.

If you are like one of the many 2020 couples and families that has been impacted during this Pandemic, I'm sending virtual hugs.  Like, really REALLY long BIG and epic hugs.  I'm so so sorry you are experiencing this.

So, how have I been doing?  Well, to be 100% transparent, it has been a rollercoaster ride.  I have been grieving the loss of our way of life and I miss working.  I have hard work ingrained into me and I have always had at least one job since I was 16 years old.  I love staying busy and serving others.  And to essentially be told that I can't work for months on end during one of my favorite seasons, AND that we can't gather and see our friends and families...? It has been a process to wrap my head around.  But I have finally, thankfully, acclimated to the "New Normal."

I tell my couples all the time that the best approach to take on your wedding day is to go with the flow.  During a wedding, there is a plan, as timeline, we all want certain things to happen in a certain way - but when and if they don't - I have found that my happiest previous couples faced with any kind of trying time are the ones that choose to roll with it.  

It's about time I take my own advice and just go with this.  Initially I felt like I was hit by a semi, now I'm leaning in.  Is it a major hit for my business?  Yes.  But it is not the end of the world.  I will get through this.  May 13, 2020 marks 11 Years of running Heather Ryan Photography.  I have learned a lot and I am still learning a lot.  I started this business because I love people, and that will never end.  Serving others to the best of my ability will ALWAYS be something I take on with so much joy and happiness, and I can't WAIT to get behind the camera soon.

I wanted to share a few of my thoughts and policies going forward.  I have contacted all of my 2020 couples via email, but also feel that I should share this publicly.  In order to secure a wedding date, each of my couples pays a 30% retainer and signs a contract with me.  We agree that I will reserve that date to document their amazing day.

Within that contract is a clause that states that weddings can not be rescheduled without forfeiting the non-refundable retainer -- but I'm waiving this policy during this horrific time.

Now, I should reiterate that every wedding vendor is taking their own approach to retainers and rescheduling, and no one is "right" or "wrong" in their approach.  Everyone is just trying to survive at this point.  We're looking at the hard possibility of rescheduling an entire years worth of weddings(!), and in doing so not being able to book new couples for 2021.  This is something no one was prepared for and every wedding vendor is trying to do what is best for both their clients and their business. We all have different policies and procedures within our businesses, so every wedding vendor may have a different way of handling things.

Be sure to contact all of your vendors to get an idea of what their policies are!  The wedding industry as a whole has been hit hard.  All of us - couples, families, vendors, and venues - we are all navigating this together and simultaneously.  I firmly believe that the best thing we can do is to treat each other with kindness and grace.

What does this mean for my fabulous HRP Couples??  Well, should you reschedule your wedding to a new date when I am available, your retainer can be applied to your new date.  Should you, however, decide to reschedule to a date that I am not available and/or make the hard decision to cancel your wedding entirely, the retainer would be forfeited.  I am happy to discuss this with you if you have any questions.

I have created a Google spreadsheet that is tracking all of my availability for 2020 and 2021.  If my couples are considering rescheduling, they have access to my schedule.  This has helped immensely with successfully rescheduling many weddings to date. If you would like access to this spreadsheet just let me know!  I am keeping it up to date with booked weddings and even soft holds for couples considering a new date and keeping me in the loop.

None of us know when this will get better...  I am hoping that this ends sooner rather than later, and I want nothing more than for everyone to stay safe and healthy.  My heart goes out to everyone making sacrifices and to anyone who has experienced a loss of a loved one.  A special huge THANK YOU to all of the front line workers who are getting us all through this.

I am looking forward to the day that Governor Hogan opens up Phase 1 of Recovery in Maryland.  At this point I will again be able to photograph outdoor engagement sessions and portrait sessions from a distance!  To protect my clients, I will be wearing a mask during these sessions.

It is looking promising that this will be happening soon.  ((insert happy dance here))  Please bear in mind that I have a lot of late winter and early spring sessions being rescheduled all at once, and will do my absolute best to accommodate everyone's schedules as best I can.

I hope that this has been informative and given my couples and families some guidance as to the policies going forward.  Of course, as always, if you have any questions at all contact me at hrk@heatherryanphotography.com.

Stay healthy and happy!  Much love, H

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