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...

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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