happy couple celebrating at their wedding

What to do in an emergency, if you cannot shoot a wedding.

Last week I had a bit of a shock to the system. On my way home from a wedding I was involved in a car accident. It was my first “emergency”  as a wedding photographer. In spite of my car being declared a right off, thankfully it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. I seem to have escaped with just some discomfort and soreness, which is a miracle in itself having been sideswiped by a lorry. The same cannot be said for the car though!

This did get me thinking. What would have happened if we had been on the way to the wedding? We already have a plan of action in place, but after several years, we’ve been fortunate to never need to put it into action. Touch wood. I was so thankful that this incident had occurred after I left the wedding and not before we had arrived.

Sadly, accidents are not always avoidable, even if you drive extra safely. As such it’s so important to have a plan in place just incase you find yourself in a similar situation on the way to a wedding.

Here are some of my suggestions about how to be best prepared for the unexpected. If you have any of your own, i’d love to hear them too.

Some suggestions on how to be best prepared in the event of an emergency on the way to a wedding.

  1. Join photography groups on Facebook. Make sure you’re in ones local to the areas you cover most often, but also national ones. Even if you don’t want to post in them or be an active member, just join them. If the time comes where you find yourself in need of help you’ll be able to post emergency cover requests and have the best chance of getting the event covered if necessary. Most groups require approval to join, which is no good in a time sensitive situation as group admins will likely be shooting too!

  1. Get yourself a diary or notebook and have the names and contact details for a few other photographers written down. Keep it in your glove box so it’s always to hand if needed. Better still, have two copies and leave one at home so a loved one can help out with contacting folk if required. You may prefer to have the details saved as phone contacts, but a written back up copy is always good too!

  1. In this diary or notebook also have noted down some local cab company names or phone numbers. If you’re uninjured and not too shaken there may still be a chance that you could make it to the wedding. Yes, phone apps are available but internet isn’t readily available or reliable everywhere. Having some info to hand is always a good idea. Ensure any phone apps are downloaded beforehand too!

  1. Carry some cash with you. Even if it’s just a few pounds. Most of us don’t like having cash with us these days, but in the event of an emergency you may find yourself relying on it. Whether it’s for a cab, to use a pay phone or just to get yourself a comforting coffee afterwards.

  1. Obtain emergency contact information for the event you’re covering. The best man or father of the bride for example. It’s good to have the details of someone other than the couple who may not have their phones to hand. A venue or coordinator phone number is also a good shout.

  1. Have roadside recovery or breakdown cover in place. Your insurance may cover recovery of your vehicle after an accident, if necessary, but not necessarily if you break down. Roadside repair or recovery can still take quite a while though, so it’s essential to have those cab numbers and emergency contacts!

  1. On the day, leave extra early. Obvious? Yep but it’s easy to be complacent, especially if the wedding is quite local or you know the route well. Also take the time of year into account. Certain routes become gridlocked around Christmas for example. Travelling early so there’s no need to rush or panic makes life so much easier.

  1. Have GPS turned on on your phone. Knowing exactly where you are in the event of an accident or breakdown is essential. My accident occurred in an area that I knew well and yet I still struggled to explain to the recovery team exactly where I was.

  1. Consider getting an “In case of emergency” card. You can pick these up on ebay for around £4. They are fantastic. Wallet sized and durable. Just slip in your wallet or leave in your glove box. We each have one with our next of kin and medical information on, but we also have a second one alerting emergency teams to the fact we have pets at home. Perhaps consider getting one for work purposes too. If an unfortunate situation arises whereby you’re unable to make contact yourself for any reason, it may give your couple an opportunity to call in an emergency replacement. If you’re injured, or unwell it’s important that you focus on your recovery. This should be the last thing you’re worrying about. Having a little “back up” may help “save the day” for your couple but will also be one less thing you have to deal with. I have linked the pets card above.

“In Case of Emergency”

I am a wedding photographer. My clients will be waiting for me.

Please help “save the day” for them by informing their emergency contact of what has happened. They may be able to arrange a replacement photographer.

Emergency contact information is on the paperwork in my glovebox

…Or words to that effect. You know your own routine and what will work for you.

What else can be done to ensure that you are best prepared should an unfortunate incident occur? If you have any other suggestions I would love to hear them, and add them to the post (credited of course)

Be excellent to each other