Preventing the Wedding Hangover
Most photographers know what the term “Wedding Hangover” means, but in case you don’t, let me bring ya in on the secret:
In wedding vendor world, “wedding hangover” refers to the way you feel the day after a wedding. No, not from drinking alcohol, but from being on your feet for hours on end, with little to no food/water, all while constantly bending at weird angles, squatting, and all kinds of gymnastics you have to do to capture “the shot”. Oh, and this is all while carrying around 15+ lbs of gear on your person, and lugging around whatever other gear/trunks you need to have access to! Being a wedding vendor is both physically and mentally exhausting. You don’t generally get breaks like you do at a 9-5 for coffee or to waste 10 minutes on YouTube watching cat videos. You have to be fully on your game for 8+ hours, and hopefully you’ll have a quick 30 minutes to sit down, start importing photos if you’re like me, and hopefully shovel some food in your face if the venue was nice enough to give you your meal the first time you asked (If not, you’ll have to wait until they finish serving to get your meal, by which time you’ll have approximately 5 minutes, maybe, to eat a plateful of food before you have to be taking pictures again. Ask me how I feel about this, lol).
Now for some people, they can do all of that and feel perfectly fine the next day. They are superhuman unicorns and I don’t know how they do it. When I was a teenager, this wouldn’t have been a problem for me. I was always an athlete, and have always been in decent shape. However physical limitations and auto-immune diseases (fibromyalgia, lupus, eds, potts, the list goes on) run in my family, and as I’ve gotten older a lot of those issues have translated into me being less quick to recover long bouts of being on my feet. For example, I have the hips of a 95 year old. I’m not kidding, I own a cane that can fold up into my purse! On top of that I have back issues, digestive issues that act up whenever they please, and my muscles get extremely sore and painful very easily. So much so, that when I first started shooting weddings, I woke up the next day and felt like I’d been run over by a truck. Twice. I never wanted to feel like that again after doing something I enjoy as much as I do, and quickly started trying to find ways to prevent most of my post-wedding pain!
I know I’m not the only one who struggles with this, so I’m going to share with you the steps I take to help! To be clear, this does not get rid of my pain. I am still very sore the day after a wedding. But it’s gone from legitimately not being able to walk to the bathroom because my joints and muscles are so stiff, to being able to get up and go to Mother’s Day Brunch the morning after! So here’s how I do it:
2 Days Pre-Wedding:
2 days before the wedding I am making sure I am not eating ANYTHING that could set my stomach off. I’m also increasing my water intake. I normally am constantly sipping on water, and I’ve recently been eating a lot better, so these two steps aren’t much of a change for me now, but they were when I started this 2 years ago!
I also make sure I am beginning my wedding prep so that I don’t leave any prep for the last minute that could stress me out. When I get stressed out, I carry it all in my shoulders, neck, and back in physical pain, so I do this to prevent any last minute stressors from triggering pain!
1 Day Pre-Wedding:
The day before the wedding I continue to make sure I’m drinking lots of water and eating healthy. In addition to that, I do not work out the day before a wedding, and I typically will not make any plans that night so that I can be in bed at a normal time and get plenty of sleep! Not working out and getting lots of sleep may seem like an obvious answer, but honestly it makes a huge difference for me.
Day of Wedding:
The day of the wedding I make sure I drink a smoothie for breakfast (this is my new daily breakfast routine and I’m addicted! I don’t get bloated, it keeps me full, and gives me energy!) Throughout the wedding day I’m drinking plenty of water (I’ll bring 3-4 bottles with me and have one in my ShootSac bag at all times), and will have a protein bar or two. I typically have an entire box of the Luna Protein Bars in my trunk, and will offer them to other vendors too because I know we all forget to eat!
About 2-4 hours into the wedding day, depending on how I’m feeling, I’ll go ahead and take some ibuprofen. This helps prevent my back from getting too sore throughout the wedding day and allows me to be feeling better! The other game changer for this? My shoes. When I first started shooting weddings, I wanted to look cute and fashionable at a wedding day, and would wear cute sandals/flats/booties. This would absolutely destroy my back. By the end of the night it would be excruciating for me to even stand upright. So last August I’d had enough and I purchased a pair of Brooks GTS 18 Adrenaline Shoes (link is to the current model, which actually are a bit cuter!). Now I’m gonna be honest with y’all, these shoes are not cute. But oh my word, they are a GODSEND. The first time I used them it was for a 13 hour wedding day. I felt so great after that I put on heels and went to the afterparty!! For any of you who struggle with back pain from a wedding day, I highly recommend investing in good shoes. I can’t shoot a wedding without them anymore. And yes, while my outfits suffer greatly because of them, honestly I’m there to do a job and do it to the best of my ability, not look cute. So these are VITAL to me.
On top of the shoes, I make sure to sit down whenever I can during a wedding day! Any time there are a few seconds to spare, or during my dinner break, I find someplace to sit for a minute or two. I also do not wear my dual camera harness the entire day. I will only put both camera bodies on (usually) right before the ceremony, and will take it off once the main reception events are over. Being able to slim down the amount of time I’m wearing two full camera bodies, lenses, flashes, PLUS my ShootSac bag with more gear inside of it, has been a huge help as well.
SLEEEPPPP. I let myself sleep the heck in the day after a wedding! However, once I am awake and up, I make myself move around. Whether it’s taking my dog for a walk, running some errands, or doing an easy workout, I make sure to move my body a bit. I also will usually take a hot shower or bath with Epsom Salts to soothe any ache. I recently have been trying to take less over-the-counter drugs, so if it’s really bad, I’ll also use some CBD-infused muscle relaxer cream to help things feel better.
All of these things combined have truly changed the game for me and my pain levels post-wedding. While it doesn’t cure it, and it never will for me, it has really given me a whole day of my life back! I’m still not sure I could be one of those photographers that does a double-header wedding weekend (or if I did it would have to be some sort of perfect situation), but I’m thankful to be able to do what I love! And if it means I feel kinda crappy or have to go to extra lengths to make sure I’m okay afterwards, I think that’s a pretty great price to pay for doing what you love!
So tell me, do you have any secrets that you utilize to prevent the wedding hangover? Or do you not even deal with the hangover pains?!