With the current political environment on everyone’s minds and Facebook pages, I was recently struck by the reactions and comments I saw. Of course I noticed those directly affected, mostly friends and family of mine that work for the government feeling frustrated and worried about their finances and futures. I remember at one point before I was a photographer and looking for a job, thinking how the safety and security of a government job would be ideal compared to the uncertainty and volatility of the private sector. Unfortunately, the other thing that struck me were comments that were made of “who cares?” or “well that doesn’t affect me.” First of course it’s sad that sometimes it’s easier for people to distance themselves and lose empathy and compassion for those affected. As a wedding photographer, you would think that there isn’t any way that my job is affected by this shutdown and I could care as little as anyone. My paycheck or equipment or studio doesn’t come from or held by the government. However, when I started thinking about it all, in respect to my profession and clients, this shutdown can affect my business and clients more than you’d realize.
1. Social Security Administration is furloughed – now not everyone is furloughed but a good amount of them are. How does that affect me as a wedding photographer? Well it’s affects my clients more than myself, especially my brides who after getting married many go to get their names changed to their new married names. IF they can’t go to SSA, they can’t go to the DMV, they can’t change it with their banks or credit cards, etc. Not the end of the world though, right? Thank god that the state hasn’t shut down as well or else no marriage licenses would be issued!
2. National Parks, Museums and Monuments are closed – Surprisingly one of the most popular wedding venues, especially in Colorado, are parks. Around the country, federally controlled parks like The Grand Canyon and Statue of Liberty are affected and in Colorado Rocky Mountain National Park which with weddings and tourism has already been devastated by the flooding of Lyons, Estes Park and more. Hundreds of weddings have already been displaced by the floods and now with the shutdown more weddings have been affected as well (btw, if you have been affected, contact Save My Colorado Wedding for resources). In Rocky Mountain’s case, the highways through the park are valuable right now as many of the other highways and roads have been washed away making it more difficult for anyone to get to where they need to go. The roads needed were being surveyed by engineers and members of the military and now it’s possible that instead of federal money and aid for these roads, the state might have to foot the bill out of state funds. Lastly, Museums and fine arts centers are increasingly used as reception venues as well. Instead of an act of weather or natural disaster, it is an act of Congress cancelling a person’s wedding day.
3. Passport Applications are delayed or no new applications – What’s the first thing newlyweds do after they get married? They go on their honeymoon which frequently requires a passport. What if that bride and groom were planning a destination wedding? Now there are even more issues of can the wedding guests get their passports, can the bride and groom get theirs or even vendors that have to travel for the wedding. Many times photographers are brought in and travel for these destination wedding and even though most destination photographers are set with their passports, depending on the country, they may have to apply for a VISA to work in that country for that event. Good luck getting any of that done in a shutdown.
4. Government Employees furloughed – and of course back to the original friends and family we hear that have paycheck uncertainty. These people have lives and some of them might have been planning for weddings, or for their first born child, saving for Christmas presents or paying tuition for their kid’s education. If a bride or groom or both work for the government, and both have no paycheck to pay deposits or remainders for their wedding, what are they to do? They will have to spend less, possibly postpone or cancel their wedding. In my industry, that will affect on 1 wedding around 20 vendors and businesses.
So….what is my point? It is that regardless of your occupation or politics, etc…. when something of this scale occurs impacting our country, everything trickles down. Since we are all connected by 6 degrees of separation, eventually it will affect us all. And regardless of your political affiliation, I believe the majority of us think the shutdown is ridiculous. For pete’s sake this is not some dispute between DirecTV and Viacom. This isn’t about losing a channel for a week or missing Monday Night Football. These are problems affecting real people’s lives in ways we can not possibly fathom for each person and I hope you can sympathesize more with those directly affected. Recently a video about weddings (and effects of guests with point and shoots) entitled Don’t be THAT guy has been circulating. Well, I say (I hope you will too) to Congress, “Don’t be THAT guy.” The one that ruined __________ (that bride and groom’s big day, job security, the family vacation, Christmas, etc)