My partner and I always say we feel like we've been hit by a train the day after photographing a wedding. Obviously, that is a vast exaggeration but there is really no way to fully understand the physical and sometimes mental exhaustion that comes with shooting a wedding until you actually do it. I was describing this feeling to my husband after a particularly grueling wedding. I was explaining that during the reception of the wedding I was experiencing shooting pain down my back and into my legs to the point that it was painful to stand. I was also having chest pain and difficulty breathing. Granted this is the extreme scenario (or at least I hope so!). After going over the day with my husband he came to the conclusion that it was due to a mixture of heat exhaustion and dehydration. This particular wedding was an outdoor wedding on a day which reached record breaking 100+ degree heat for April, in Phoenix, AZ. I explained to my him that I drank almost my own body weight in fluid ounces throughout the day and that is when he pointed out something I had never thought of.
We need to be treating a wedding day much like a marathon runner treats an upcoming race.
We need to condition our bodies for the beating it will take. He explained that I could drink as much water as I could the day of the wedding yet still be dehydrated from sweating it out all day and that I needed to start hydrating days before the wedding. Additionally, just as a marathon runner will do before a race, we as wedding photographers need to be eating carbohydrate and energy rich foods the day before a wedding.
This made so much sense to me that I started investigating how runners prepare for a marathon. Because let's be honest; weddings feel like marathons! The first rule to preparing for a physically exhausting activity such as running a long distance or shooting a wedding, is to eat foods that you are used to eating. Don't try eating something you never eat the day before or day of a wedding. The goal is to eat the things that are going to give you the maximum amount of energy. The last thing you want is to eat a big greasy meal that your body isn't accustomed to digesting and be bogged down by a sluggish metabolism and upset stomach. When preparing for a wedding, the day before, eat foods that are easy to digest such as breads and pastas along with lean protein such as fish or white meat chicken.
Avoid foods that are harder for our bodies to digest such as high fiber foods, fats and dairy. Also avoid sugary foods. As creatives we rely on our minds to be active and alert in order to get the best photos possible, which would prove very difficult while in a sugar coma. After my little study, google search, and surfing the web, I put together a list of meal ideas for the day before and the day of a wedding. Since implementing these simple changes it has increased my energy the day of the wedding and decreased my pain exponentially! I hope it does the same for you.
The Day Before:
Drink no less than half your body weight in fluid ounces. Ideally you should be drinking your entire body weight in fluid ounces. It is important to mention that only water counts towards those fluid ounces. Coffee, soda and even sports drinks do not count when it comes to hydrating your body.
Breakfast could include but is not limited to a bagel or toast with peanut butter, oatmeal or non-sugared cereal with egg whites.
Lunch/Dinner: A turkey sandwich, pasta with chicken or italian red sauce, fish with brown rice or quinoa, chicken breast with sweet potato.
*Try to eat 4-6 small meals throughout the day. This will speed up your metabolism so that you wont feel bogged down or sluggish the next day.
The Day Of:
Eat a breakfast similar to that of the day before: i.e. toast with peanut butter or oatmeal and egg whites.
*It is crucial that you do NOT skip breakfast. Skipping breakfast brings your metabolism to a halt and causes your body to go into starvation mode. Your body will switch to conserving as much energy as possible which will in turn make it much more difficult for you to exert the energy needed to get through a wedding day.
Pack energy bars that have a balance of carbs and proteins in case you have a chance to grab a few bites throughout the day.
*Include in the wedding contract that you require a meal be provided at the reception when all of the guests are eating.
Finally, eat some cake! You made it through the day and by golly you deserve it! Unless of course you are one of those over achievers who culls your images the night of the wedding in which case you still have a long night ahead of you and the last thing you need is to be induced in a sugar coma as I mentioned earlier. Good luck with that. The rest of us will be eating CAKE!
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