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THE CHRONICLES : 3 Things Wedding Photographers Struggle With While Planning Their Own Wedding

September 13, 2016


It’s been three months since Stephen pulled off that epic proposal.
And I’ll be the first to admit that the way that moment “changes your life as you know it,” is a complete understatement. Someone should have warned me…or tell me again because I get it now…

For all the crazy.
For all the happy.
For all the questions.
For all the assumptions.
For all the incessant butterflies and flood of emotions.

Disclaimer: The past three months have been the happiest yet. I can’t wait to be a wife. But because this new-ish blog series (yes, I am aware I didn’t blog last month…oops) is about the real talk and tips I’ve learned along the way, let me be frank…

My job is to be at weddings nearly every weekend.
This year alone, I’m reaching that number of 25+ weddings – attended/photographed.

The question – and the struggle – is not if I’m familiar enough with how weddings pan out. Or what your top three vendors should be. Or how a timeline actually works. The question is, what does it look like for me?

Today, I have three thoughts to share. It’s from the heart, gut honest, and things I’ve heard other photographer friends – who are also engaged – confess too.

Struggle #1: When someone says, “Your wedding is just ONE day. Prepare for Marriage.
Do you know how difficult this statement is? To understand. To appreciate. To not bristle at. As a wedding photographer, I have the privilege of hearing all the dreamy visions of wedding days from brides. I ask them to dream with me. I ask them what they’re planning & anticipating for their wedding day. For me to ask about marriage comes only once a deeper relationship is established. Even then, it’s rare. So when the tables are turned I, right or wrong, expected the same. Here me out…

  • Perspective shift: Generous joy for her = CELEBRATING. The reality is, I don’t know what it’s like to be married. Yet. So the biggest thing that’s ever happened to me is the fact that I get. to. plan. a. wedding. Read: where bae and I are the ones in front of the camera. *Throw all the confetti!

    Preparing for marriage and not just a wedding day is SO important. But balance is needed. Otherwise, joy is unintentionally stripped from that bride-to-be and the biggest day of her life she’s yet to experience. It is just the beginning.

  • Tip: Ask questions instead of offering unsolicited advice (unless you’re the best friend or Momma of the bride/groom): Here’s the thing, I think all girls like to dream. Regardless of their occupation. And when the time they’ve waited for (in my case, will be over 3 years) actually happens, they just need to dream a little. (If you’re not interested, talk about something else!) Consider focusing on what IS at the “end of the day,” –> her man. Forever.
    • What you’re trying to say: Don’t sweat the small stuff. You have the rest of your life to figure it out, start happily doing so now.
    • What she’s hearing you say: If I get too excited about wedding day decorations I suddenly become a very shallow person. My aesthetic (remember, I’m a wedding photographer) and priorities don’t matter, really. But they matter for “normal,” non-wedding-industry girls. Somehow my career choice (photography) has ruined the chance to be celebrated as other brides are. *insert other lie/fear based beliefs.

Struggle #2: “You’ve been to SO many weddings, I bet you know exactly what you want”
No. No I don’t. Actually, I know more of what I don’t want than what I would like to be a part of our day. I’ve seen a lot of wedding fails, a lot of burlap, and a lot of toasts gone wrong. But I’ve also seen what you would say is, “a perfect wedding day.”

  • Perspective 1: I didn’t want to be that girl who had an insane Pinterest board and a perfect vision for what everything should look like. Why? That’s not me AND I knew Stephen (and most grooms) would want to be a part of the process. You know, it’s his day too. For me, waiting to plan was a way that I maintained focus & contentment in our dating relationship. I think this also honored him because I, though not always perfectly, trusted his timing.
  • Perspective 2: That’s a ton of pressure. It was just a few weeks ago that I realized how afraid I was of letting people down. Letting what people perceived of me, down. After all, I should know better. I should have a perfect timeline. I should think through everything. What Stephen and I choose to wear should be the next fashion statement of the industry. Basically, I should have THEE best wedding guests have ever attended, right? After all, I’m around it enough. Here’s me telling you: I struggle with this. Yet, I know it will be perfect for us.
  • Tip: Offer a distraction. Sometimes that means just saying Hi with no wedding strings attached.  I have to remind myself that I like other things in life besides weddings if I’m not going to burn out on my own wedding. I’ve found that making homemade salsa & chatting with the bae about politics can do the trick. 😉 Read: *cough* I mean, doing yoga….#imtryingtonamaste

Struggle #3: When you realize all your friends with wedding-pertinent talents actually own a business based off of those talents. And rather than them being “paid by a venti from Starbucks,” it means a bit more than your last five paychecks. Plus a venti. Crap.

  • Perspective: Either you have to find someone who wouldn’t do a great job and you vow to just never tell them that, OR you humble yourself and have open, non-pressured, conversations with those friends-who-own-businesses. They’re friends right? That means YOU and THEM are allowed to say yes & no. Without anyone being offended.
  • Tip: If you find yourself in this situation, be gracious. Kill them with kindness. That’s all I’ve got for now…Read: still learning.

I know this might seem out of the blue for some of you. But I felt led to share from a deeper level before diving into more of the WEDDING HACKS I’ve learned the past 3 months (coming soon!).

Could you relate with anything mentioned above?

…also. Here’s us. At a wedding. As guests.

Note: This content is genuinely taken from trends I’ve noticed in various wedding-related conversations or personal reflections, and is in no way directed at any specific individuals.

Love & Always,
–Tara M.


  1. Allison

    September 14th, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    Bookmarking this for ‘someday’, and yes, it feels like a lot of pressure to mirror the wedding scene we work in with reality instead of our dreams. So here’s me, whom you don’t know, cheering you both on to make your wedding day all yours and love it! And I feel the same about knowing more of what I don’t want in a wedding vs what I do 😀 So funny.

    Dream away, lady dear 🙂

    Also the photo of you two is lovely.

  2. Tara Pattengale

    September 14th, 2016 at 8:40 pm

    Hullo Allison! You’re just the sweetest – what area do you specialize in? Thank you for your kind words and encouragement. I love making new friends, tell me a bit about yourself? xoxo

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