WHAT HAPPENS ON THE DAY?
A HANDY GUIDE FOR THOSE GETTING HITCHED
So often I am asked by couples “So what happens on the wedding day? What do you need from us? Etc Etc”. They’re perfectly good questions as, more often than not, I am speaking to people who’ve never done this before. Weddings can be full of unknowns, and these can lead to stress and nervousness. You’ve got enough on your plate without worrying about what your photographer is going to be up to.
With all that in mind, I decided to pop together this little collection of ramblings trying to put into words what it is I’ll do on the day, what you can expect, and also what I won’t be doing (I will be eating the wedding cake. I won’t be dancing – it’s not a good sight).
THE BUILD UP
It may surprise you, but a huge part of the wedding photography starts long before the big day. It may look like it from the outside that this amazingness that is created on a wedding day just “happens”, but it’s really not the case. Similar to the decor, the flowers etc, a lot of planning goes into being sure we’re on the same page when it comes to the photography.
WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY IS A COLLABORATION
Around 6-8 weeks before the big day, I will be in touch to go over the details. The nitty gritty. How many guests you’ll have? Your specific nailed-down timings? Your formal group shot list? Things like that. Also, we will discuss how I work on the day and what I need from you. This is probably the most important bit in the whole build-up – what I need from you to help me create a collection of banging images you’ll cherish forever.
The main one. The BIG one, is the inner circle. Sounds weird and a bit creepy, but I promise it isn’t. All I mean is, on the day I want you to treat me as one of your inner circle. I want to be right in the thick of it. I want to be one of the bridesmaids, one of the Uni pals, one of the family. What this does is it allows me (and more so allows everyone else) to almost forget I’m “the photographer”.
“Wedding Photographer”, just the words can conjure images of weird waistcoats and old-fashioned poses which I am soooooo not about. However, people can have this pre-conception of a wedding photographer and act different as a result. I don’t want that. I want your wedding gang to be as mental as they would ordinarily. I want your family to be as warm and affectionate as they always are (and they are, right?). I want your guests to dance literally like no-one is watching, much less like someone is taking a photo of them. The more you guys get this, and embrace it, the better chance of us nailing the collection. Those images you think look so natural aren’t by accident.
The day arrives. Now what?
I ruddy love the morning of a wedding. Usually I am with the bride, but there’s no hard and fast rule here. It’s becoming more common for couples to get ready together in the morning which I friggin adore! Whatever way you go, and whatever you decide I cover, I’ll love it regardless.
The morning of a wedding is where I get my mojo running. It takes me a few minutes to get into it, to work out who’s who, to neck a coffee or 3, but once I’m in the groove I love nothing more. Unobstructed, undiluted documenting of excitement, nerves, laughs, glasses of fizz, with banging tunes (or ABBA, whatever bakes your muffins). I find this part of the day to be my favourite which may surprise, but it’s such a privilege to be a part of.
I’ll usually be with you for 2-3 hrs before you head off to get hitched. It may sound like a long time, but in that time I can capture details, add depth to the story, and also just relax and get to know everyone. I’ll also be capturing any shots you’d like of the dress, or jewellery, anything you think that means something to you on your greatest of days.
Then, before we know it, it’s off to do the whole “getting married” bit.
So, you’re about to bet someone half your stuff that you’ll love each other forever. Awesome! I did it and it was the best decision I ever made. The actual wedding ceremony can be pretty nerve racking (obvs) so I’ll go over a couple of things to hopefully put your mind at ease.
Being photographed does not tend to be at the top of everyone’s “things I love doing” list, so add to that the whole “getting married in front of everyone while they stare at you” thing, and you’ve a recipe for some big time anxiety. I do my absolute upmost to limit any anxiety being photographed can cause.
Sure, I want to get the shots, and I want to get as close as I can, but I always do it mindfully. I won’t be up in your face while you’re saying your vows, I won’t be popping off the flash gun every two minutes blinding you (I don’t use flash in the ceremony at all really – plus most venues/registrars etc don’t allow it). I am always looking for the right angle, the right look, that little glance you give each other, but all the while trying to remain unobtrusive and as discreet to you as possible.
After the ceremony it’s off for confetti usually, or whatever flavour of post wedding shenanigans you’d like.
COCKTAIL HOUR / MUSICIAN / GAMES / MAGICIANS / DJ’s / *insert other item to keep your guests entertained
You’re married! Bosh. Wasn’t so bad was it?
After the ceremony there’s usually a little break before everyone gets fed. It’s sometimes called “cocktail hour” but this time can be anything you want it to be, obviously. This time is usually when it’d be great to get any formal shots you’d like done. The family group shots are not exactly the sexiest of times, but they are actually really important and I am of course happy to capture any groups you’d like.
I always speak to my couples before the big day to go over group shots, and to be aware of the time they take. As a rough guide, each group can take around 5 mins to set up (sometimes it takes far longer because Uncle Dave has gone to the loo, or cousin Dwayne has nipped to the bar). So bear in mind the more group shots you go for, the more time you need to build into your plan for the day. A sweet spot is around 6-8 groups. That way you can get the big hitters – parents, grandparents, siblings, some friends etc without sacrificing 2 hours of your day. The time will go quickly enough on the day, so I’m sure you’d much rather be off enjoying it.
Also during this time I will be mingling. Capturing the shots of guests enjoying themselves, kids running around all hyped up on sugar, and also the two of you just hanging out together as newly-weds. Basically a huge part of my day is spent simply documenting real life. I love it.
I was unsure where this should go as the whole blog is pretty chronological. When it comes to the portraits of you and your new spouse however, this is pretty flexible.
During a wedding I am always on the lookout for sweet light. If I’m shooting your wedding I want you to be fully on board with being tapped on the shoulder at any moment and me saying “guys, outside for 5 minutes” and then we hop outside into the most gorgeous little pocket of sun that’s just presented itself.
Portraits can be a little scary for some. I often hear couples talk about having to have a connection with their photographer, or that they don’t want to or don’t like to pose. What I always say is that if you are comfortable being with your new husband/wife and have a connection to them, and that you can both stand or sit close to each other, you can get through the portraits. I think it’s another pre-conception of wedding photography, this idea of awkward posing, forced smiles and such like. I’m really not like that at all. I simply aim to capture the love and affection you both have for one another. How hard can that be?
FROM THE TABLE TO THE DANCEFLOOR
The meal, the speeches and then into the evening knees up. Once those speeches are in the bag, everyone can really let their hair down. I absolutely love photographing the evening party at a wedding. So much tends to go off, people dance like idiots, I usually get to tuck into a buffet, it rocks.
During most of the evening I am in the middle of the dancefloor. It’s where the action is, so it’s where I’m gonna be. There’s not a huge amount to say about this part of the day – except to say that some of my all time fave images are captured here. I love photographing people in the queue for a photobooth. All dressed up in stupid hats, but with that very British of things of standing in a queue. It’s the perfect juxtapose and to see people’s faces when they know they’ve just been photographed always makes me chuckle.
I will stay until we think the job is done. I don’t set a specific time when I will leave – as each wedding is different I have no clue what to expect as the evening draws on. Some dancefloors are slow to get going, so I’ll hang on a bit longer. Some weddings are in full blown dance-off mode by 8pm. Whichever yours is, I’ll be there until it’s in the bag or you kick me out.