First steps in planning a wedding

 

Thanks for choosing to read this blog post on wedding planning.  Now I am not a wedding planner.  However, as a professional wedding photographer I am lucky enough o be one of the earlier things newly engaged couples consider after the date and wedding venue for their wedding.  We have plenty of conversations and discuss the plans a number of time in the run up to the day as it’s helpful for me, as a largely documentary wedding photographer to know how the day is planned to unfold.  Meaning I can not only be in the right places at the right time but also be gently instrumental in ensuring my clients gain the best images in the time we have - always a tight balance I pride myself on achieving.

 

Once you’ve had a wave of congratulations from all your friends and family, getting into the wedding planning can seem daunting.  I certainly found that when my wife (Sarah) and I went through ours.

 

So where do you start when planning a wedding?

 

Jot down everything you have in your head on a large blank piece of paper - A3 is best.  This could be anything from your wedding’s colour scheme to an overall theme or from the bridal flowers to guests food.  Start with the big items as they will be important to you and then naturally, other elements will grow.  You may be a digital planner, in which case there are tonnes of apps to use; Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram are the big ones for inspiration.  I always find pen and paper the best - at least at the early stages.  I follow this route when going through client meetings when discussing their wedding plans for their wedding photography and what they are looking for in their images or style of photography.

Now, see which parts of your plan link together.  Generally, the marquee (if you’re having one) and the caterer are good things to do together as an experienced caterer will know how much room they need in the kitchen to plate up and serve your number of guests with the food you like for example.

This means, you should probably speak to them both before making a decision on either or how the wedding is to be catered. The Bridesmaids dresses and the colour scheme is an obvious link.  Your wedding dress and the flowers maybe… By the end, there’ll be links all over the place and it’ll look like a web of ideas but it’ll start to take shape.

This ‘wedmin-web’ process is a great way of breaking the day down into separate chunks or sections grouped together as units based on their logical connections.

In the end, you are likely to have the following headings with some sub-headings for the similar or linked things.

Date

Likely Numbers

Venue

Wedding photographer

Guest-list

Style

Suppliers

Logistics

Food

You may well have more or less topics depending on how much detail you went into but there should be some obvious divisions in here where things can be bunched together. This can always be revisited and it’ll naturally grow out from the initial thoughts.

You can then begin to prioritise them based on how important they are to you. This is where being able to selectively pick through the ‘advice’ friends and family will no doubt offer - sometimes in unmanageably vast quantities - will come in handy.  This is also the time to start thinking about your wedding budget.  Budgets are a great way of working out how much you want something.

Remember this is your day.  What you want has to come first.

Thanks

Rupert

Wednesday Wedding Tip: Where to start...(and free gift...)

Congratulations!! You’re engaged. You must be over the moon! 

So... once the excitement and thrills have calmed down a little, being faced with planning a wedding can feel daunting. It’s a big day with family and friends and you obviously want it to be a beautiful success for all concerned, but where to start?

A date and a venue tend to need to come first - I can't help much there I am afraid...

Screenshot 2018-05-02 20.41.32.png

As a documentary wedding photographer, knowing how the day will play-out is helpful. As part of my planning process with clients, I start off with a simple timeline to help guide them through the day - it doesn’t even need to be accurate (for now).  It’s more about the gaps than the times or deadlines. The reason I have included this here is because clients have repeatedly told me how helpful they have found it.

In the early stages, it's an opportunity to identify possible pinch-points or lags in the plans.  Having been part of so many weddings now, it's always possible to make good use of time in maximising a few pockets of time here and there, ensuring we get the necassaries covered without being intrusive.  Since the vast majority of the images I'll take on a wedding day are unposed (there are always a few family shots), knowing how the day is likely to run is massively helpful to ensure the day flows yet allows enough time to fit everything in.

Start with the ceremony start time and work forwards from there thinking about journey times, reception and the food, speeches and dancing, then work back to allow for the prep, ushers lunch etc. This will give you a view of the day’s spacing & separate it into manageable parts, all of which will help you divide the day into smaller task lists - helping make the planning less daunting. 

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Planning Weddings: What I have learned - Intro

Welcome to the first in a series of blog posts on wedding planning.  My goal in this and the following posts is to guide you (as I would a client) through the planning of the day, simply and explaining each step and what I have learned and think is a sensible way to approach it.

For those of you who don't know me, my name is Rupert and I am a freelance photographer.  I photograph weddings - among other things - but it is weddings that have surprised me the most.  Not because they are an easy option or because it's a simpler way of earning money - two common but wildly incorrect opinions held by some people - but because I absolutely love them and never thought I would.

Proud Grandmother on the morning of a Wedding

Put simply, weddings are massive parties and as such require a lot of planning if they are to be done well.  As a photographer, and having worked on so many weddings for various people - from family and friends, client recommendations and random enquiries - they all follow a pattern, containing similar and necassary practicalities and involving two people, in love, getting their friends and family together to celebrate.

At times it can feel overwhelming what with a never-ending to-do list of costly decisions and, often, an entirely unhealthy amount of time spent on Pinterest looking for inspiration and ideas.

Rain on the Day but happy nonetheless

I want this series of blog posts to be about what I have learned from being at so many weddings over the last 12 years. Happily most couples get it right, but some do loose their focus in the process.  

I've been lucky.  Every client who has chosen to have me photograph their wedding has made it through, and other than a few small things here and there, disasters have been avoided. I am certainly not taking credit for their success, but having seen an overwhelming majority make the day a triumph, I have seen what works, and what can create a stumbling block or cause a delay on the day.

Early on in my career as a wedding photographer, I was a little naive and felt that I was there for the day and that was it: turn up, shoot the day and get home to edit the images. This served me well with happy clients pleased with the results.  Meetings and phone/skype in the run up were necessary, but my job was on the day and that was that.  Experience quickly taught me that as I was frequently asked to be part of the day from the bridal preparation through to the end of the day, I had gained a wealth of experience I could share with couples in the planning of their wedding.  For most couples, theirs is the first wedding they have planned.

Confetti Smiles

As a photographer, we're one of the first bookings. The venue comes first (without this, there is no date) and we're normally next in line, or at least among the first.  This is a hugely advantageous thing, and gives us time.  Allowing time is as vital in the planning stages as it is on the day.

Getting in early means I can help the couple see where things are likely to over-run (they always will, and they always do), and explain the common pitfalls and considerations people can overlook.

In the coming weeks and months, I'll be working through the process as I would guide a prospective client. I hope this is helpful.

If you do have any questions, please feel free to get in touch either here on my contact page, Facebook, leave a comment below or on twitter or Instagram, using the hashtag #QandAWeddings and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.

Thanks

All smiles

Oli and Lucy

Oli & Lucy Edis

For those of you who haven't been here before or don't know me, I am a wedding photographer, based in Gloucestershire but I work nationally (and occasionally internationally) and like to ensure I really get to know a client before a wedding.  That way, I can understand their priorities and it helps me ensure that we cover the important parts of the day for them and not just fit 'the usual' set of images in.  Obviously, some parts of a wedding run similarly to the next but there is always individuality to be found and when you know who you're working for well - in my experience - it leads to a less stressful day for me as a photographer and a happier client as they get a chance to talk through what they want out of the day and the images reflect that! We sometimes end up spotting and answering questions they didn't know they had, just by taking through the day with an 'outsider' with a fresh, experienced outlook.

Oli and Lucy were relaxed, calm and a lot of fun to get to know.  They lived locally to us so meeting up was easy and we had plenty of opportunities to go through their plans and find out about them and what they wanted for the day.


Prep (Cadbury Hotel, Congresbury, North Somerset):


Lucy was upbeat and seemed unflappable.  Her friends, sister and Mum who where also with her from the bridal preparations were helping keep the atmosphere light and fun.  It is always an excellent part of the day to photograph as you can get a feeling for a Bride's level of nerves and building a rapport with the bridesmaids over the morning really helps for the rest of the day.


The Ceremony (Backwell Church):


The Reception

As with many clients, Oli and Lucy wanted to have some images of them and their families but wanted to make sure their afternoon wasn't taken up with a lengthy posed photo session.  By getting to the venue quickly, we were able to get most of the images done nice and quickly while the other guests were arriving and in doing so, we were able to make best use of time and maximise the time they had with their guests.

The reception was relaxed but a little chilly so some people chose to be in the marquee.  This is not uncommon in the UK and can give a nice variation to the images. It also meant the family shots were carried out faster as people didn't want to be left standing around - something I am eternally conscious of.  With a well planned list and names to hand - along with 2 helpful ushers, !5 minutes was all it took for the fmaily formal images and on with the party. 

The images below take you from the reception to the dancing.