Getting married is not something people do every day, so it's easy to get confused or to feel you have to "follow the rules",
But I've photographed a fair few weddings in my time, and I've also been a Bride myself, so please let me set the record straight!
Here's 5 no-nos from a modern documentary style wedding photographer and former bride...
1. PHOTOSHOPPING😠 Yes I edit my photos, but no I will not edit someone to the point where they don’t look like themselves anymore. It’s more the exposure and colours in an image, not manipulating what you look like.
(Alright I’ll edit out an annoying pimple that popped up the day before or an unfortunate boggie, but they aren’t permanent and not a part of you, so fair to say you won’t want to remember those things!)
2. GENERIC OVER-POSED PHOTOS 🙄 You are not generic and your day isn’t either, so let’s do couples photos that are more unique and fits in with your relationship, your personalities and your wedding, you deserve that!
3. DIET CULTURE🥗 Just no. Around weddings and life in general. I swear there are millions of companies out there that profit from you feeling like you’re not good enough, and I ain’t one of them. Your partner is marrying you for you, not your clothes size, and your wedding dress should fit you not you fitting into a bloody dress. Mic drop!
How do you really choose the right Wedding Photographer for you?
Speaking as someone who people have chosen, and someone who had to do the choosing, here are some honest tips to help you find and choose the right photographic companion on your wedding day.
1. DO YOU REALLY LIKE THEIR PHOTOS? Starting out with a really obvious one I know, but sometimes wedding planning can feel like you're trying to get through a long to-do list, and if you're not careful some decisions can be a tad rushed. This is the person who is documenting the whole day and giving you your main record of it - the photos are important. Have a look at all their website and social media accounts, and don't be afraid to wait a couple of weeks for you both to mull it over.
2. DON’T HANG AROUND WHEN IT COMES TO BOOKING. This kind of contradicts the end to point number one, but good wedding photographers notoriously get booked up QUICK, so honestly if you really like someone's work, you think they could be a great fit for you and you have a wedding date set, get in touch and see what the next steps are to booking them! Once a day is booked, it's gone.
3. START LOCALLY, AND THEN SHOP AROUND. There are a lot of wedding photographers out there so do a local search first, even if it's just purely a starting point, then look further afield if no one grabs you. If you hire someone who isn't local you'll probably have to pay for their travel expenses, and whist this is fair there might be someone else you dig just as much locally.
4. DO YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE WITH THEM? I'm going to be honest, your photographer is probably the one wedding supplier that you’ll spend the most time with. If you don’t click with them and they are not easy to be around, as talented as they might be photographically other things could really outweigh all of that. Meet up and/or do a phone/video chat with them if you can, and engagement shoots are also a great way to get to know them and see them in action.
5. DO THEY HAVE GOOD AND RELEVANT FEEDBACK? Are you looking for a Photographer to take control, who is hugely outgoing and poses every one of your couple portraits, or are you looking for someone who is more laid back, is comfortable at giving directions when needed but does the candid thing a lot more. I'm more the latter, but neither is right or wrong in itself - it's whether or not it's right or wrong for you. Take the time to really read reviews online and see if it speaks to you both personally.
6. BINGE THEIR PORTFOLIO. Don’t get me wrong I love Instagram and social media, BUT sometimes it doesn’t give a very in-depth view of how well a photographer can capture a wedding day in full. This is one of the reasons my website and blog posts are full of photos. It's one thing to have beautiful couple portraits, but did they photograph the wedding prep well? Did they capture a little moment between the bride and her best friend? What about the wedding details that took you weeks and months to plan, buy and get absolutely perfect? It’ll give you a better idea of if they'll give you a good coverage of the day. Click here to see my portfolio.
One more thing: DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK QUESTIONS. It comes as no surprise that as I am a wedding photographer I know a fair bit about weddings. Captain obvious right? But they are something I work on on a pretty much daily basis. If there is something you aren't sure about (it doesn't even need to be strictly photography related) just ask us! We don't bite and the worst thing really a photographer can say is "I don't know, sorry!"
Speaking of which, if you have any questions you'd like me to answer, feel free to ask.
I hope you found this helpful and happy wedding planning!
Weddings are so much more relaxed these days, most things you can personalise to suit you both and people do have more of a choice when it comes to what actually takes place on their wedding day.
So, to dance or not to dance? If I'm being honest, I didn't really enjoy ours...
I am a bubbly chatty person, but I hate being the centre of attention. So you would have thought given the choice to have a first dance or not, I would have said no thanks.
We'd both had had a few drinks as our wedding party was well underway and getting to that time of the evening, and so somehow I thought it would be a lovely idea and it made sense. I love my husband very much, but my goodness I did not enjoy doing a slow dance, in front of all our guests and having everyone watching us. ARGH!
BUT, I have to say that I've been to a wedding or two in my time, and I know that a first dance really can work for certain couples, and be a great thing to do.
Q: How would you describe your style of photography?
A: If I had to pick three words to describe it, I would say “candid”, "natural" and "fun" . Most of the time I like to capture people as they are and an event as it really happened, so usually I am not too involved with what’s going on and trying to manipulate it. I take a step back most of the time to let things unfold naturally, don't get me wrong I'm not antisocial I love a good chat and I will with pretty much anyone, so I won't be a scary odd person who is stern and just watching things unfold. Every now and then I will step in and give direction and suggestions, but I am definitely not a control freak or someone who likes to pose people very much.
Q: What does “full day coverage” mean?
A: Every wedding day is different. If you need me to start at 8:30 in the morning, I’m there. If you are planning to have fireworks near the end of the night and want me to be there, I got your back. I have nowhere else to be that day and no other jobs to go to, my day is your day. I do ask for us to come up with a “start” and “finish” time for me though, so there’s no confusion about when I’m turning up and leaving.
Q: What the hell is an Engagement shoot?! I've never heard of one before.
A:As far as I know Engagement shoots have been popular in America for quite a while now, and they have started to become more popular in the UK and around the world in recent years. They are traditionally a way to announce your engagement, but these days they are also used as a great way of getting to know your wedding photographer, get used to being in front of the camera before they big day and it's a perfect excuse to have professional photos of you and your partner taken. The photos can be used for save the dates/invites, decorations at the wedding, part of your guest book, the list goes on!
Q: Do we need to have an Engagement shoot? A:Honestly the answer is no. However, so many of my wedding couples have said that they are so glad they had one done, and that having one was a great way to get comfortable and confident being photographed before their wedding day. They also really help with nerves when the big day comes around, particularly if you or your partner are camera shy. The photos can be used for so many different things, and quite a few photographers have them included in their wedding packages already.
1. Make a list. Even if you're not a natural list maker. It can't hurt to be prepared and you and your photographer will be on the same page. Sit down with your other half, write out a fairly short and decisive list of group photos, give it a week or so and then have another look at it. As soon as you've decided, send it to your wedding photographer, and try and do this in plenty of time before the big day, it's such an easy thing to forget to do.
2. Give the list to your photographer, and at least one person from the wedding party. I mean no disrespect but there are a lot of people at your wedding that I don't know, I've never met before, and so having names on a list becomes pretty meaningless to me in terms of organisation. I could be standing right next to your Aunt and not have a clue! So give your list to one or two other people, I would recommend people who are in your wedding party (because they'll be expecting to be on hand to help you out), and preferably people with a loud voice who aren't shy.
1. Weddings can easily get expensive. The truth is unless you're Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, everyone has a budget of some kind, so plan what's important to you both and be realistic about how much things you want will cost. I won't lie there were things that we wanted to hire and have for our day that we just couldn't afford, so we had to go without and make a plan B (or C or D... eeek!). But there were certain things that we knew we would regret if we scrimped on and went for a cheaper alternative, so we spent out and just had to compromise on other things.
2. Being yourselves is always the best way to go. Even though this is a piece of advice that is in nearly every article about wedding planning, I still see stories online and listen to people talk about making compromises for family and friends, even though it makes them miserable and potentially costs them money they didn’t want to spend. Everyone has their own opinions and has their own tastes and ideas as to what "the perfect wedding day" consists of. Always listen to other peoples advice, but if you really don't think something is right for you, be brave and do what will make you both happy. Have a small wedding if you want one, have a huge one if you want that instead, buy the wedding dress you love but your grandma will hate, it's your bloody day!
3. The day itself goes so quickly. Even though I'm a Wedding Photographer and I obviously think hiring one for your wedding is a good idea, also as a former bride I know the value of having beautiful professional pictures of your day. It only happens once and as the years go by you will start to forget things that happened on the day, and without sounding too morbid as loved ones pass away those photos really do become treasures. It doesn't mean you need to hire a wedding photographer or videographer that you can't afford, but please don't overlook hiring one and try and work it into your budget early. I can honestly say that we hired someone we liked, who knew what they were doing and their main role was to document our day which meant our guests could enjoy themselves and take the occasional snap if they wanted to - It is something we don't regret.
Pete and I on our wedding day in 2015 - Photo by Oscar May.
I was reading an article the other day that caught my attention about a term I had never heard of. Reading it I learned that Pete and I had a “Destination Micro Wedding” and didn’t even realise! (I even photographed one at the end of last year! Pictures below)
Yes yes it sounds like a trendy idea that could go out of vogue in a matter of years, but I’m prepared to go out on a limb and say that I think they might be here to stay. If you don’t have a big budget, or are low key or introverted people who don’t want a fuss but a nice intimate wedding day, they are definitely something to consider.
Micro Wedding [ˈmaɪkrəʊ ˈwɛdɪŋ] An small and intimate wedding that is similar to an elopement, but you invite a small number of close family and friends along too.
PROS: Sometimes less really is more, and if you have a smaller budget it can go a lot further and you are able to have more of the things you want for less. For example, feeding let's say 12 people is obviously going to cost you far less than feeding 100 or even 200, so you have the option to spend more per head than you would if your guest list was bigger.
A lot of wedding suppliers such as photographers, florists and bakers are willing to do the same great quality of product you want, but for less because you probably need less of a service from them. If there's only 12 of you for dinner, you are less likely to have a huge wedding cake that feeds 200 right? (or maybe not, maybe you really like cake!)
From personal experience you also get around to talk to all your guests much easier than you would at a larger wedding, and I found the day is so much less stressful.