Tips for the Perfect Wedding
I have attended over 130 weddings as a wedding photographer since 2005. Along the way I have picked up some valuable knowledge that I would like to share (not just about the photographs, but the wedding as a whole). Here are some of my top tips to help you on your special day.
- The trend for getting ideas for your wedding day seems to be leaning towards Pinterest, many brides are creating mood boards to get thoughts on colour schemes, dresses, cakes etc. I recently started an account: Wedding Photos on Pinterest
- Venue: Check that your venue will be exclusively for your use. I find that wedding venues with multiple function rooms can feel a little impersonal when the guests overlap.
- Accommodation: Get your accommodation booked early. As soon as you've booked your venue, be sure to book a handful of rooms in nearby hotels/pubs straight away. Logistically it is much easier if your close family stay onsite or nearby. Plus, at some venues they allow anybody to stay in the onsite accommodation, so you could end up with strangers overlooking your wedding, which might feel a bit odd. If there is no onsite accommodation available at your venue, just book a mini bus at midnight and another at 2am to take your guests back to wherever they're staying.
- The Dress: Make sure you road test the dress, try it on with underwear before the big day.
The Wedding Itself
- Photography during the ceremony: In Gloucestershire the photographer is legally allowed to capture the following moments during the wedding ceremony: Father walking bride down the aisle, the signing of the register (page needs to be turned, so it is blank) and finally the bride and groom walking up the aisle exiting the church. All other photos are at the discretion of the vicar or registrar. Sometimes they'll allow a couple of snaps during the ring exchange, as long as no flash is used. Prior to the ceremony I personally tend to nip in and get a few shots of the venue/church/guests etc.
- Photography post ceremony: I would strongly recommend keeping your formal photographs at the church after the ceremony to a minimum. The reason being, people are often thirsty, need the loo etc. and get bored waiting for the photos to be done, especially if they personally are not on the listed photos.
- Churches: In the winter churches can get very cold. To ensure that your guests are comfortable, make sure they bring an appropriate coat to wear during the service.
- Blessing: Note that if you have a blessing at a civil ceremony, the registrars have to be off-site before this can legally commence.
- Formal photos: These always take longer than you think to stage/photograph (6 take about half an hour and 11 around an hour). Trying to get the right people together in one place at one time can prove to be a logistical nightmare, kids are crying; people are off in the loo; great Uncle Bob is busy catching up with Aunty Jane, so always allow plenty of time and shave your formal photos down to the essential ones. That way you will spend less time running around after your guests and more time enjoying their company.
- Nibbles: The time between breakfast and the wedding itself can result in a fair few rumbly bellies. A great snack that I've seen to keep people going is a great hunk of Victoria sponge cake and a cup of tea. This hearty stodge also helps delay the effects of the inevitable bubbly. On the same note, if you do go for classic hors d'oeuvres, make sure there are plenty of them.
- Kids: Out of control/bored kids isn't ideal on your wedding day, so make sure they are kept entertained. I would suggest providing activity packs at the dinner table and having a bubble machine for during the day (both of these solutions are simple and cost effective). If you have a slightly bigger budget, magicians are always a winner!
- Line-ups: Note that these take ages, so allow plenty of time in your schedule should you wish to do one (make sure the elderly get to the front of the queue first).
- Table arrangements: Centrepieces either need to be very low or fairly high, to allow guests to make eye contact whilst socialising.
- Seating: Seat all babies/young ones together with their parents. Equally, seat all the singletons together; weddings are a great place to mix up your friends (and potentially do some match-making too)!
- Hired help: Always feed your hired help (e.g. photographers/band). I know from personal experience that working at a wedding can be very physically demanding, and being offered a good hearty meal is always much appreciated. By keeping your hired professional well fed and in good spirits, they will have lots of energy to perform at their best for you.
- Speeches: Do them after the meal. Two reasons: 1. Everybody is hungry before the meal, so your audience will not be as engaged. 2. After a few glasses of bubbly everyone is more relaxed and the puns go down much better.
- Music: Having observed a lot of weddings, I'd say a céilidh is always a good crowd pleaser. People of all ages can join in and people don't feel too self-conscious because they are being told the dance moves. Guests can participate in as many or as few dances as they like. Basic tip for any live music/DJs: don't make it so loud that your guests can't hear themselves talk.
- The Honeymoon I'd recommend leaving at least 2-3 days after your wedding before you go on honeymoon. Catching flights and packing for a holiday can be very stressful, so don't let this distract you from the big day.
Regardless of whether you use my photography services, I hope that these tips are helpful!
To get in touch, please e-mail Kay or call +44 (0)7968 507196.