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

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.

Georgie and Alex

Reflecting on last years work in the first few days of the new yearis not something I often do.  Mainly because I am concentrating on the upcoming year and trying to improve on the previous and look to the next 12 months.  However (and I think this is one of the negatives of the digital photography revolution) it's all to easy to simply forget or choose not to look back at one's images.  From a professional stand point and a personal one, finding the time to do this can be extremely rewarding.

So, I decided to go back, take some time and really look through some weddings I was lucky enough to photograph in 2016, starting with Georgie and Alex.  Based in London, they asked me to shoot their wedding as Alex simply hates being photographed and my relaxed style meant he would be as comfotable as possible throughout the day.

 

My style and aproach to wedding photography is mostly documentary, or reportage - or whatever word is currently 'on trend' - basically meaning it's subtle, unobtrusive and as true to the day as possbible. The results are honest, emotive and authentic. I am not totally documentary type - there is always an element of family images and a few couples images but through careful planning in the run up to the big day, the impact of this can be minimised in terms of efficiency and ensure everyone is covered yet the Bride and Groom has sufficient time with their friends at the wedding reception.

The skill as I see it in photography is both in capturing things as they happen and anticipating what is to come and given noone can be everywhere at once, getting into the right place at the right time as much as possible.  Freezing a moment in time to be kep forever can be extremely powerful and in doing so, capturing a memory for a couple is both exilerating and rewarding in equal measure.  The total amount of time shown in the video below is half a second of 'moments' (from the combined camera's shutter speeds), 

- I hope you like it!