I’m just going to say it. 2021 was CRAZY. Going from zero in 2020 to a million in 2021 was super challenging in so many ways. I shot way more weddings than normal and it definitely kicked my butt. My knees, my back, my neck, my wrist… I can confidently say that I’m definitely NOT a spring chicken anymore!! I spent most of this year focused on moving the needle in my business, working hard to get to the next level – and it’s beginning to pay off. One of the big things I did this year was rebrand my business. Early this year, I got to work with the lovely ladies of With Grace and Gold to update my branding and create an all-new website experience – and I’ve been THRILLED with the results!! After 10 years in this industry, I finally feel like I’m finding my place, consistently creating work that I’m proud of, and I finally have the confidence to step out of my comfort zone and take my business to the next level. 2021 has definitely been a year of growth in that sense.
On a personal level, 2021 was challenging. I struggled with anxiety and depression for most of the year – but found solace in my work, so I think it was a blessing in disguise that I was so busy!! Sunday tore her ACL in March – and then promptly tore her other ACL just 2 days after her first surgery. That was fun… NOT! I struggled with family drama, boundaries, speaking my mind, dating, and protecting my inner peace – but I got through it all and I think I learned a lot about myself in the process. I have had to learn the hard way that sometimes you have to walk away from a relationship, even when it hurts. I am definitely at a crossroads in my life, as we enter my last year in my 30’s – and I can’t shake this feeling that it’s time for a BIG change. I’m not exactly sure what that looks like yet, but I’m hoping my business growth will shine a light on what the next step is for me. I’m just going to stay open to any and all possibilities and let life take me where it needs me to go.
On that note, I have to say thank you to my incredible team because, let’s be honest – I couldn’t do this alone. Sloan + Kelly… my main squad… thank you hardly seems adequate. You both give so much of your time + energy to me and my clients… I’m so so lucky to have you guys on my team and by my side on most of my wedding days!! You guys keep me sane, help with my crazy workload, talk me off the occasional ledge, keep me hydrated + organized, give me SO MUCH peace of mind, and serve my clients so well. I am so appreciative of everything you do for me – you guys are seriously the best. To everyone else who second shot with and/or assisted me this year – Katie, Emily, Alisha, Kelsey, Jessica, Lindsey – THANK YOU for stepping up and helping me on days when I needed strong, reliable second shooters and/or assistants. You all are so very talented and I can’t thank you enough for shooting beside me and helping me serve my clients so well! And last but not least, a HUGE thank you to Emily + Lauren – who stepped in as associate photographers for me this past year. With all of the COVID reschedules, I couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you thank you!!
A HUGE thank you goes out to my AMAZING private editor Emily Moore. I am SO GRATEFUL for you. Year after year, you’ve continued to help me refine my work, streamline my workflow, and create a work/life balance for myself. I can’t say thank you enough!! To my amazing website designers, Kelly + Andra from With Grace + Gold – THANK YOU for all of your help this year in updating my branding and creating my new online home. I absolutely LOVE it!! As always, lots of gratitude goes out to Casey, my fabulous bookkeeper; Elmo, my corporate accountant; Rebecca, my amazing contract lawyer; and the ladies at Align Album Design. Without their help, seriously… I’d be lost. This is a team effort here and these people are such a big part of Dana Cubbage Weddings.
This year, I traveled to Savannah, Hilton Head, and Pennsylvania for weddings. It really wasn’t a big travel year for me, which is a definite bummer. However, 2022 is shaping up to be a big year for destination weddings!! I already have more weddings booked for destinations than I do for Charleston – and I am NOT mad about it! A lot of this has to do with the growth I’ve seen from my involvement in E3 and I am so excited to see what’s in store for my business next.
Notable milestones + highlights from this year include shooting my 300th wedding. Throughout 2021, I photographed 33 weddings of my own, 4 associate weddings, 7 elopements, and 1 Bat Mitzvah – which I’ll get into later. By the end of the year, I hit 331 weddings in my career – which is mind blowing to me. It still feels so surreal that I have been shooting weddings for this long. CRAZY!! I had my highest grossing month of business EVER in September 2021 and, overall, this year was my 4th best year EVER financially… after a 5 year consistent decline since 2016 – which is such a blessing and relief. At the beginning of the year, I was seriously contemplating going back into the corporate world because of the financial uncertainty of my job. I even interviewed at a few places! It’s amazing to see my hard work pay off this year and I hope to continue the upward trend in 2022.
Speaking of which, I booked a wedding at Ford Plantation and Jekyll Island Club for 2022 – two venues on my bucket list. I also booked a wedding at a chateau in the Tennessee mountains and another at a private club on the North Shore of Boston, which is super exciting! I met with some incredible planners in Atlanta, as I continue to grow my business in that market. I was also contacted by an incredible planning team that is on both the BRIDES and Martha Stewart “Best Wedding Planners” lists to shoot a wedding for one of their clients. Even though I didn’t book the wedding, I am THRILLED just to be in the mix with such a high-end planning team!
In 2021, I saw my work featured in print in Charleston Weddings Magazine and Destination I Do Magazine. I was also featured online on Carats + Cake, A Lowcountry Wedding, The Wedding Row, Grey Likes Weddings, and One Fab Day. In all honesty, I haven’t been focusing on submissions and publications as much as I’ve done in the past – mostly due to the amount of time it takes to submit and the difficulty in getting something picked up for publication. The publication world has changed SO MUCH since I started my business 10 years ago… so it’s just not where I’ve been focusing a lot of my time recently. Maybe it’s time to hire a social media/submissions manager…
I put together an AMAZING styled shoot this spring with Sarah Lillie Designs at Lowndes Grove for my new website. It was, by far, a highlight of the year and I’m still drooling over the images. They’ll be featured somewhere fabulous (fingers crossed) this spring – can’t wait to share more from this incredible day!
And, in 2021, I photographed my very first Bat Mitzvah celebration! When my planner friend Ashley called and asked if I’d be interested, I was extremely hesitant. But I decided to step out of my comfort zone and shoot it – and I absolutely LOVED it!! I am hoping that won’t be my last one because it was so much fun to shoot. SO. MUCH. FUN.
Continuing my education is super important to me, so of course I invested in furthering my own education this year. I was invited to join a special group for luxury wedding professionals called E3 and it has been LIFE CHANGING. I have “met” so many incredible people who all share the same goal of elevating the industry as a whole. I’ve received one-on-one coaching from Courtney Wolf of Invision Events, Wendy Kay of Birds of a Feather, and Charla Story. I’ve also gotten to hear from so many amazing speakers and connect with so many amazing professionals because of this group. If you’re a wedding creative and feel like this might be something you’re interested in joining, let me know and I can send in a personal referral!
I was also accepted into the beta testing group of The Branding Academy at the beginning of the year, which is a new education course created by Abby Grace. It was important for me to think about ways of diversify my offerings and, although I’m not really advertising anything yet, I got to do my very first branding session for my dear friend Whitney of Festoon Charleston and I had an amazing time! This fall, I also jumped into Rebecca Yale’s Wedding Photography Academy – Weddings 201 Masterclass and I absolutely can’t wait to dive into her content during the off-season this winter.
And lastly, I attended my very first Engage! conference at the Baha Mar Resort in the Bahamas. This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a few years now, but I finally gathered the courage to attend… and I can honestly say that it was one of the best experiences of my life. I met SO MANY incredible people from all over the world and I finally feel like I have a seat at the proverbial table. I am so inspired to take my business to the next level and connect with other vendors who share my vision and passion. I will be going back in June 2022 when they meet in New Orleans and I am already super excited!
At the end of the day, I am where I am because of my amazing couples… the ones who allow me to live this dream and trust me to document their wedding day. I honestly can’t thank my #dcwcouples enough. Thank you thank you thank you for being so incredibly fabulous and for trusting me to capture your beautiful wedding day. I love each and every one of you so very much!!! Here’s a look at all of my fabulous couples from 2021…
Kiersten + Kyle // January 2, 2021 // The Island House
Emily + Brian // January 30, 2021 // Upstairs at Midtown
Haley + Will // February 13, 2021 // Trustees Garden at Charles Morris Center
Monica + Austin // February 27, 2021 // Palmetto Bluff
Evan + Brian // March 6, 2021 // Daniel Island Club
Katie + Jeremy // March 12, 2021 // Lowndes Grove
Daly + Wood // March 13, 2021 // Lowndes Grove
Libby + Kyle // March 27, 2021 // Perry Lane Hotel
Heather + Bart // April 3, 2021 // Boone Hall
Nikki + Taylor // April 6, 2021 // River House at Lowndes Grove
Paige + Kyle // April 17, 2021 // Oldfield Club
Lucy + Mark // April 23, 2021 // Kiawah Private Home
Kenzie + Dan // April 30, 2021 // Cedar Room
Megan + Joe // May 1, 2021 // Sea Pines Resort
Amelia + Nick // May 10, 2021 // Sea Pines Resort
Ana + Zain // May 15, 2021 // Legare Waring House
Chelsea + Tyler // May 21, 2021 // Westin Hilton Head
Katelyn + Maitland // May 22, 2021 // Creek Club at I’On
Roxanne + Colin // May 22, 2021 // Cypress Trees Plantation
Chandler + Coleman // May 29, 2021 // Gibbes Museum
Hannah + Christian // June 4, 2021 // Legare Waring House
Kirsten + Cameron // June 5, 2021 // Mills House
Beth + Scott // June 19, 2021 // Magnolia Plantation
Jena + Barry // July 10, 2021 // Folino Estate
Katelyn + Ryan // July 25, 2021 // Lowndes Grove
Kelly + Billy // September 5, 2021 // Cedar Room
Anna + Ramsey // September 25, 2021 // Harborside East
Katie + Joe // October 3, 2021 // Lowndes Grove
Elizabeth + Cameron // October 9, 2021 // Holly Oaks on the Marsh
Erin + Benjamin // October 9, 2021 // Cannon Green
Lyndsay + Jeffrey // October 11, 2021 // Boone Hall
Janette + Brian // October 12, 2021 // Brookgreen Gardens
Hallie + Jordan // October 15, 2021 // Ocean Course at Kiawah
Hannah + PJ // October 17, 2021 // Legare Waring House
Brittany + Jesse // October 20, 2021 // Upstairs at Midtown
Katharine + John // October 22, 2021 // Seabrook Island Club
Kathleen + Joe // October 23, 2021 // Seabrook Island Club
Kelsey + Ryan // October 24, 2021 // Alhambra Hall
Danielle + Clay // November 6, 2021 // Awendaw Private Home
Lauren + Cary // November 6, 2021 // Sea Pines Resort
Courtney + David // November 11, 2021 // Lowndes Grove
Lauren + McGuire // November 13, 2021 // Sea Pines Resort
Lyndsay + Mikhael // December 10, 2021 // Lowndes Grove
KD + Madison // December 11, 2021 // Boone Hall