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When you have to cancel a wedding

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I'm Katelyn James Alsop, a photographer, educator and momma who believes any photographer can have a profitable AND purposeful business.


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So what do you do when life throws you a curve ball and you can’t fulfill your responsibilities as a wedding photographer? Sadly, this is the wedding season where some of my worst photographer fears came true. I’ve NEVER had to back away from a wedding until this year. I’ve always worried about what would happen if I physically could not shoot a wedding. What would my clients say? What would my backup plan be? Who would take my place?

Once we found out about James’ condition and his prognosis, we realized that there was so much uncertainty that could affect our wedding season. Fast forward to this past April. I was still pregnant with a precious baby who was expected to pass away any day. The emotional stress of that was almost too much to bear….. so you can imagine how stressful it was to try to plan for upcoming weddings while not knowing when we would be losing our baby and I would be recovering from giving birth. Oh, it was just an awful season.

After photographing one early spring wedding while very pregnant and being aware of the sad outcome of this pregnancy, I knew that I couldn’t do that again. It was so hard on me and while I held it together the day-of, I knew that it would be the last wedding day that I photographed while pregnant with James. With every week that went by, and James continued to live, I realized that I would potentially be unable to capture Katy and Richard’s wedding day. This was so hard for me. I cried over it, I talked about different scenarios trying to figure out how I could still be there, we prayed about it….. ultimately, there was a day when I just knew that I couldn’t be there and I needed to tell Katy.

Before I emailed Katy with our final decision, I emailed the amazing Megan Glasbrenner of Megan Kelsey Photography to see if she was available and willing to travel over 6 hours to capture their day outside of Charlotte, NC. When she texted back and told me that she miraculously had this weekend completely free and would love to do it, I cried. I knew that she could deliver amazing images to Richard and Katy that resembled my style. I knew that she would treat them well and would care about them. I also knew that technically, she would shoot at a comparable level to us.

Having to step back from this wedding was so hard on me because it was so last minute, and I hated having to tell my bride a few weeks before her wedding that I definitely wouldn’t be able to be there because of our situation. I knew that the process of handing over this wedding needed to be taken care of in a professional way, and I needed to work out as many of the details as possible so that my bride didn’t have to worry about anything. Megan and I talked through the details. I sent over Katy’s questionnaire and all the details that Megan would need. I shared about who Richard and Katy were and why I loved them so much, and then I emailed Katy and officially introduced her to Megan.

Katy’s response to my email was beyond amazing. With tears streaming down my face I read her words and thanked God for such an understanding and empathetic bride. She was excited to meet Megan and they skyped to get to know one another before the big day, and the rest is history!

Megan and Meredith Sledge (her BFF and amazing photographer who second shot for her!) did the most incredibly job. She sent me a preview of sneak peeks right after the wedding and they were stunning!!! Megan recently blogged their wedding and you have to see it!!!!


I’m sharing a couple of my favorites below! These are NOT my images! They are MEGAN’S!!! She’s amazing and I can’t explain how thankful I am for her. I met her years and years ago at a photography networking event, long before she was ever engaged!! Over the years, we grew to be sweet friends and I actually had the privilege of being her wedding photographer! It’s amazing to see how God has written the story of our friendship. I’m so thankful for her willingness to step in and help us when we needed it the most!! She’ll never know how much of a blessing that was to us!

The day of Katy and Richard’s wedding was the day before we had James’ memorial service. We were preparing for his service and our doorbell rang. A flower shop was delivering an arrangement of gorgeous tulips to our front door and I couldn’t believe it when I opened the card and saw who they were from. Katy and Richard sent US flowers on the day that we were supposed to be capturing their day. Isn’t that amazing! I stood in our foyer with teary eyes as I realized just how faithful God had been to give us such gracious clients during this hard season of our lives.

Katy and Richard, we are so very thankful for you and your kind hearts. Your wedding day looked like a dream and it breaks my heart that we weren’t there. However, I’m so grateful that Megan and Meredith took such great care of you!! We love you both!

So what do you do if you find yourself in a situation like ours? Every situation is different, but here are some pieces of advice for anyone who has to step back from a wedding commitment.

1. Make it a priority to have friendships within the wedding photography industry. I don’t know what I would have done if I didn’t have people that I could call on in a situation like this!

2. Have a clear plan in your contract that states what will happen if circumstances outside of your control keep you from being able to fulfill your contracted duties. Be sure to list what will happen in regards to refunds, finding a replacement, paying a replacement, etc.

3. Make it a priority in your business to love people well and build relationships with your clients. This the most rewarding way to run a business and it makes situations like this so much easier. Richard and Katy were invested in our story and so even though they were disappointed (and so were we), they were incredibly understanding and we are so grateful.

4. Do as much as humanly possible to make this transition easy on your client. Don’t make them pass along information about their day. Do your best to prepare the new photographer for the wedding day based on the information and conversations that you have already had with your client. 

5. Encourage your client that they are in great hands. I am so thankful that I could honestly tell Katy and Richard that they would be taken care of and I truly believed that. I knew that Megan and Meredith would do an amazing job and they did!! What an answered prayer! 

Photos below are some of my favorites that Megan captured of Katy and Richard’s day! CLICK HERE to view their entire wedding on Megan’s blog!


Thanks for reading!

— Katelyn

Matt + Nicole | Engaged Downtown Chicago Engagement Session

This session took place just 45 minutes before their welcome dinner the night before their big day! Honestly, we couldn’t have asked for a better outcome!


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If you’ve ever been a member of KJ All Access, you know that it’s been an evolution since the beginning! Over 4 years of wedding content, engagement sessions, family sessions and so much more! 

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We met Nicole and Matt the day before their wedding day in downtown Chicago. Normally, we prefer to do a full engagement session with our KJ Couples before their big day but that really wasn’t possible due to our schedules and the long distance. Thankfully, meeting the day before was absolutely perfect and it prepared all of us to have a dream wedding day in the Windy City!


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