Anna Bell speaks to Cindy Thymius, photographer and owner of Cindy B. Thymius Photography, a local business in Collierville, TN that has been labeled “non-essential.” Cindy’s two decades of work have survived a move and change in clientele, but her business has never experienced anything like this before. Hear all about Cindy’s experience on the Main and Mulberry Podcast.
See transcript below.
Anna Bell: Hello everyone, I’m Anna Bell, and today, I’m thankful to have local photographer, Cindy Thymius, owner of Cindy B. Thymius Photography, on the phone with us today to talk about how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the wedding industry and if engaged couples still have a chance to have their dream wedding. Cindy, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us today.
Cindy Thymius: And I thank you so much for having me on today. I really appreciate it.
AB: Yeah, absolutely. So how have you and your family been doing, you know, what are you guys doing to stay positive, you know, these days?
CT: Well we have been watching church online and that’s really helped us kind of stay positive and this environment doing daily devotionals, taking more walks and I gotta be honest with you playing a lot more board games with the fam. So it was nice to just take that time and get a little more connected because we live very busy lives outside of this crazy pandemic, so.
AB: I know it. We have to, we’ve dusted off a few of our board games too and that it’s actually been fun. I think that’s one thing that’s gonna stick with us after this is all over with. We’re going to keep those board games out.
CT: I think that’s the positive thing out of this is getting more connected, you know, with your family. That kind of gets put on the back burner, sadly, so.
AB: Absolutely. I know it. And I know being in the wedding industry that your weekends are always full-on now and during the week too. You do a lot more than just the weddings too with seniors and newborns and all kinds of good fun.
CT: I know. I have a great job. I love it. So I can’t wait to get back to it.
AB: I would like to ask you though, on a personal note, kind of what did it feel like to be labeled in the beginning with so many others? Non-essential? I mean, what have these last few weeks look like for you?
CT: You know being labeled non-essential is probably one of the worst stigmas I think any business could be classified. You know, many business owners like myself have worked for years to build what we have. It wasn’t handed to us but it was kind of stripped away by a simple label. And I actually, this is the only stat that I’m going to give, but you know, small businesses make up 44% of the U.S. economy and, 20% fail in their first year and 50% fail by their fifth year. And Anna, you know, I have been doing this since 2003. So I’m going into my 17th year in business.
AB: Wow. Nearly two decades. Yeah.
CT: You know, so I survived the move from Florida to Tennessee, so I’ve been very blessed that I’ve had a lot of great supporters, but my business has never seen anything like this. And so it’s hard to be sad, you know, to have someone said to you, you’re a nonessential and you can no longer work through something of no fault of my own. So really tough to deal with that right now.
AB: Yeah, I bet a lot of families would beg to differ. Cindy, you know, have a newborn photos and their seniors, getting the photos of them. So just know that you are labeled essential in a lot of minds, so don’t you worry about that. But I do know the wedding industry in particular is one that has, you know, really been shaken up by this pandemic. You know, how difficult have the cancellations and postponements been for you and your business?
CT: Well, it has been a little challenging. I’m not gonna lie. You know, a wedding is something that you can’t get back. And so this is something that couples have been planning for, you know, sometimes a year or even longer. And so it kind of like, you know, with my business for them to be told, well, you can’t do it now. And I understand it’s for health reasons and safety reasons and I’m not disputing the why behind it. It’s very emotional. And I’m a wedding photographer because I’m so invested and I love capturing all the moments behind it. And so I’m right there with brides checking, well, when can we get back and let’s plan this and let’s figure out how we can make this work. And so, you know, it’s very tough because we’ve already put that time on our calendar.
CT: We’ve collected the money, we’ve figured out how we can make this work. And so now we’re having to kind of go back and say, well, please don’t cancel. Let’s postpone. Let’s figure out a new day. Let’s work with all the vendors. Which is tough because, you know, getting the first date when we could all work together was a challenge to begin with. And so now we’re trying to figure out a new date in the near future. It’s a challenge. And so that’s, I say to brides, you know, it doesn’t have to be on a Saturday, which is like the pie in the sky days, you know, let’s do something like on a weekday cause that’ll be a little easier to get everyone’s schedule to be coordinated.
AB: Was it kind of like a faucet being cut off or did, did these cancellations or postponements did they kind of taper off, you know, how, how did that work? Was it just like a stop?
CT: Well, it is just kind of like once President Trump said, okay. Like I had one wedding that completely, you know, rescheduled because of the no travel ban from Europe. And this particular wedding, the groom was from I think Germany and so all of his family was going to be coming from, you know, overseas. Well, the travel ban hasn’t lifted yet and so it was going to fall within the, you know, the first travel restriction. So they took their wedding to fall on a date that I was already booked. And so that makes it tough, you know, when you’ve already worked with this couple, have taken their engagement photos and then, you know, they go to the venue first to book the date, which is what I always say to couples, find your venue, find your photographer. And so that’s why I say we’ll please try to not do it on a weekend day because all of our weekends are probably already booked, you know, pretty much.
AB: I’m sure.
CT: You know, so try to find that day on the weekday, so we can kind of accommodate more people’s schedules. Because it was, it was kinda like bam. There you go. You can’t do anything, anything over 10 people you cannot do for safety reasons. And so it really was just kind of like turning off that faucet and here’s your new normal, which no one likes.
AB: No, you’re exactly right. Nobody in that position is happy right now. I can say, I mean I can just imagine having that emotional bride on the phone with you being faced with that daunting task of postponing her wedding, you know, for engaged couples who are in fact postponing their weddings and changing their save the dates. What is your advice to help those couples navigate through the craziness?
CT: You know, I learned so many Bible lessons from my dad – as far as I wish he was still here with me – and his number one thing that he used to say to me is: don’t panic. And it’s advice that I still use today and that’s what I say to them is: don’t panic. And I think once you get over the non-panicking phase, you’re able to think a little more coherently. And once you look at the plans that are the phases that President Trump has laid out in front of us, okay, well we have to get through those phases in order to figure out where we can or when we can reschedule your day. So like if we think, okay, well fall’s going to be that new time, then let’s aim for the fall. Because realistically if you’re going to have a larger wedding over 50 people, I don’t think we’re going to get to that until then.
CT: You know what I mean? It just depends because it seems to be changing daily. One never knows. So depending on how quickly they want to say I do, President Trump had issued a three phase plan according to how big the groups can be. So once a bride kinda knows how big their guest count is and what they want to do when they want it quickly, they want to do it. That let’s them know how they can plan for when their wedding can be, you know, rescheduled too. So how quickly been wanting to do it and when they want to do it, I would say look at President Trump’s plan and then they have an idea. So that’s the first thing I would do. Then if they want to say, well we’ll do a follow-up, you know, 2020 or 2021, some brides took off for letting me have the smaller ceremony now with just the 10 people and to do like Facebook Live or the Zoom call and do it that way just because they’re dying to get married. So what we’re saying to them is, you know, celebrate your love now, but have the party later. And I can tell you because you know, my daughter just got married and I would not trade that celebration for anything. It was just so special. So what I would say to you know, please don’t take away that moment.
AB: So, so all in all though, just remain calm basically don’t panic and celebrate the love now and we can party later too. You know? I love that. You know, even if everything gets to reopen soon, we’re being told that large gatherings might still be limited, you know, and social distancing may still be in effect and we have to wear our mask. You know? Can you imagine really having a wedding during this season? That’s, that’s gotta be so hard trying to, trying to imagine what that would look like. Even if, like you said, we get only 10 people together. That’s not, you know, everybody’s dream wedding. Have you heard of any other creative ways couples may be planning to have their weddings under the restrictions?
CT: So I can’t imagine that because I didn’t imagine us being here, but if we have to be in that kind of situation, then I know that I’m being kind of super weird right now. But if, God forbid, we have to be in that situation, I think, masquerade wedding would be kind of the way it is. Make the most of it, you know, like wearing the mask. How fun would that be? You know?
AB: Yes. Just totally embrace it. I love that.
CT: Exactly. It’s got to make the most of it.
AB: You do, you do after all, it’s like one of the biggest milestones in your life, right? So embracing it.
CT: It really is. It really is. Yeah. And you know, you can’t change the time that we’re in. And what we’re dealing with, but you can still have your party and celebrate, celebrate your love.
AB: Have your cake and eat it too, right?
AB: You cover a lot of events, Cindy, around town, kind of in addition to your weddings. And I’m sure big events of any kind are likely to look different for a long time. I mean, how do you plan to adjust your business to continue to thrive?
CT: You know, I think that’s really because I cover a lot of things, not just weddings. That really is one of the best things about my business. Because I cover high school seniors and family portraits and newborns because I haven’t selected this one thing, that’s really a God thing and in my mind, I think I’m just going to leave it up to God. He’s got me here at this far for 17 years and I’m just going to trust Him now to get me through however many years He lets me do this and you know, I just want to say, you know, thank you for Collierville and you know, thank you, Tour Collierville and Main and Mulberry and Community At Home for, you know, taking the time to interview me and I really appreciate you guys and all that you’re doing to keep us all up to date.
AB: That’s right. Well we appreciate you and all you guys doing all the small businesses out there. I mean, at the end of the day we just all got to keep the faith, right?
CT: We do have to keep the faith.
AB: Oh, I’d love to end this on a positive note. Cindy, have you heard any positive wedding or broad related stories that you might be willing to share with us?
CT: You know, right when the Stay At Home order was enacted, I actually had a wedding in Mississippi. And you know, you can only do the 10 people. And so we were, you know, right in that number that I was able to photograph and it was the sweetest thing, Anna. We came out of the chapel and there were cars lined out there with their signs and just honking for the couple to celebrate. They actually were doing the FaceTime Live. So they were watching the wedding outside in their cars. And then when the couple came out there, with honking the horns and celebrating and waving and stuff, that was just a super sweet way. So I think in this time, you know, the couples are just, everybody’s having to be out of the box and creative and just saying, we’re still here for you, even if we can’t physically be there for you on your wedding day. It’s the first real wedding or Facebook Live for that part. So, you know, I think we are just having to step up our game in terms of, you know, having a little bit better outlook online. So just keep the faith, like you said and be said, we’re going to get through this.
AB: That’s right. That’s such a powerful message. You know, at the end of the day, love remains right. Love will conquer all. So that’s, that’s the important message I think.
CT: Well if you think about that, that’s how we all got here to begin with.
AB: Yes, that’s so true. Cindy, thank you for your time and your insight today. We really do appreciate it.
CT: Thank you for having me. I really do appreciate it.
AB: Now and for all who are listening, I’d like to send well wishes from my home to yours. Until next time, I’m Anna Bell.