USEFUL WEDDING INFO
I want my clients to be as informed as possible when planning their wedding day, so I have put together this little page which will help with planning things like timings, group photos, learning how I photograph various aspects of your wedding day, and what I might need from you to help me capture it the best I can.
I highly recommend you bookmark this page so you can come back to it whenever you like, and of course if you have any questions, just drop me a line!
Engagement shoots within London are complimentary with full day packages, otherwise I charge a small fee for further shoots to cover my travel and extra time. E-shoots are useful because we can get to know each other over an informal setting, and I can assess how you interact as a couple. It’s a great chance for you to experience how I will work with you on the day, all my couples tell me after their e-shoot that they were much more confident having their photo taken on their wedding day, because they already knew what to expect!
If there’s time for a cake or a pint, we can slip that in too!
During my peak wedding season (May – September) I have plenty of availability weekdays. In early spring, late autumn and winter I have more weekend slots free.
You can view some further engagement shoots below, or read my engagement shoot guide here.
After booking I send out an online questionnaire about your wedding day. It’s useful to help you plan your day, so I send it out early. It is quite detailed, as I like to have as much information as possible.
I use it to assess timings allocated for each part of your wedding day photography and will come back to you if I feel any timings are too tight or inadequate for me to capture everything you’d like, or if I have any further questions on anything else.
You can also fill in your groups list here, I will take this list and rearrange it to the order I think will be most time efficient, and send it back to you to double check. I will also have copies of this list on me on the day, and you should make sure your nominated helpers also have copies of this list (and that they know they are the nominated helpers!)
THREE WEEKS BEFORE
Once I’ve received your questionnaire back, I will give you a final call or email to go through the day once more, and double check anything I need to. Also just to chat and see how you’re doing!
the big day – getting ready
If you’ve booked me for getting ready photos, I will begin a maximum of two hours prior to ceremony to cover prep, and photograph any wedding attire like dresses, suits, jewellery, shoes, etc.
To get the lovely fun getting ready photos, I ask that any clutter in the areas you’ll be using is removed – ask a bridesmaid or groomsman to do a quick five minute tidy up every so often, so things like empty water bottles don’t end up in the background!
I love shooting details – the dress hung up, fancy shoes, some new sparkles. For efficiency, I ask that all the items that you’d like photographed are all ready in one place. This makes it very quick for me to grab an item, pop it somewhere nice, photograph it, return it, and then move on to the next item. It also makes things quicker for you when the time comes to get ready – no last minute hunting for your shoes!
I am always happy to start shooting from whatever point you are comfortable – once makeup is applied, suit put on, hair done, etc. This is also true of when you get dressed – if you’d prefer me to leave the room and re-enter for your dress being zipped up, just let me know!
If both of you are getting ready in the same place (hotel, venue, at home), I can cover a little partner prep myself too, but if you want more dedicated partner prep (or they are getting ready in a different location) I can provide a second shooter for that portion of the day for an additinal fee.
Aim to be dressed and ready 30 minutes before you leave – this gives buffer time should anything overrun, especially as I will need to leave before you to get wherever the ceremony is being held. Plus if you end up being ready early, it’s always a great excuse to crack out some extra champers and take a few family portraits!
THE WEDDING CEREMONY!
The most important bit of the day!
So I’m with your partner at the end of the aisle in good time, I will arrive at the ceremony about half an hour before the start, this allows me time to capture guests arriving as well as getting into position. If you’ve booked me from ceremony time with no morning prep, this is the time I would start.
Usually I will place myself at the front of the room, this allows for great a documentary perspective, and means there’s minimum distraction or movement from me.
Prior to the wedding, you should check with your ceremony officiant on any rules on photography they may have – for example, if I have to remain in one place, if using flash is allowed, or if there are any parts of the ceremony I am not allowed to photograph. All officiants differ in their own rules and regulations – I’ve been allowed to stand wherever I consider the best angle in ceremonies, and also been told to only stand in one place, and not photograph the vows. This is why it is important for you to find out any rules beforehand, so there are no surprises with ceremony coverage on the day. I always pop up and introduce myself to the official prior to the ceremony, and you will barely notice I’m there!
ENTRANCES & EXITS
A little note on entrances – some prefer to enter first, with bridesmaids / wedding party to follow, and other prefer bridesmaids / wedding party to enter first, with person being married to follow. There’s no right or wrong way to go about it, but it may affect your photos. If you are walking down the aisle first, it can be a little more difficult to get clear images of the following party, because they remain behind you. If the bridesmaids / wedding party enter first, make sure to leave some time before you yourself walk down the aisle. This not only allows them time to position to the side before you reach the top of the aisle, it also gives the person waiting to marry you a fantastic view of you approaching them! Some people can be nervous walking up the aisle – the best remedy to this is to relax and take calm, measured steps whilst walking. And don’t worry about everyone looking at you – they all think you look fabulous!
Most officiants will not allow me to photograph you actually signing the register, but will set up a “mock” register to photograph after. It’s always a bit cheesy getting you to hold a pen and pretend you’re writing your name when in reality you already have. Doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with it though!
If you’re having confetti as you exit the ceremony, it’s great idea to have your bridal party hand out confetti as you sign the register, or round guests up before you exit so they know where to go to get their throw on. Everyone will want to give you a congratulatory hug at this point, so bask in it!
ALL THE CONFETTI!
I love a good confetti shot! Please check with your wedding venue on what type of confetti they allow, if any. Go for something bio-degradeable – you can even get eco glitter cannons! As for how much you might need – too much is always better than too little. People love grabbing a massive handful and then going back at you for more!
Tasking family members or the wedding party with handing out confetti whilst waiting for you to sign the register or to emerge from the ceremony is a great help. I usually require the bridal party to help me arrange guests into a “tunnel” for you to walk through, so you’ll walk towards me as people get throwing!
Great for venues which won’t allow any other type of confetti, and no mess left behind. You generally need loads of bubbles to show up nicely in photos. Traditional children’s bubble pots produce bigger and better bubbles than the smaller pots made specifically for weddings. For shedloads of super epic bubbles, consider bubble guns! (also loads of fun to be had with those at the reception)
I love, love LOVE paper confetti! I find it photographs the best because it’s lighter and floats nicely. People really go nuts and grab massive handfuls, and it’s not painful if it hits you! I advise bio-degradable natural white paper confetti instead of the the coloured dyed stuff. While coloured confetti is lovely – if it’s raining and it’s thrown at you, you don’t want it staining your dress!
This is a common type of confetti, as it’s natural and bio-degradable, and easy to make yourself! Flower petals are slightly trickier than paper because they are heavier, and therefore fall faster in clumps. To get great flower petal confetti photos, always encourage guests to take a huge handful – the more that is thrown, the more it will show up in photos! They tend to end up in your dress, in your hair, down your bra…so may take a while to pick out (but will leave you smelling lovely).
Basically a massive party popper, these are brightly coloured and packed full of confetti – loads of fun, great for ceremonies and first dances. I recommend going for eco-friendly glitter cannons for maximum pop with minimum damage!
I aim to make group shots as quick and stress free for you as I can. They are a fantastic legacy of you and your family that you can look back on in years to come, so I do recommend having a few.
If your ceremony and reception venue are different, it’s up to you whether you would like your group photos at ceremony venue, or once you arrive at reception. Some couples opt for reception if it has a nicer location or more space, and others opt for the ceremony venue to save time.
We can always mix the both if you’d like some at the ceremony venue and some at the reception. If possible, make the guests featured in a group shot aware they will be required prior to the big day, so they don’t wander off!
Ever been to a wedding and wondered why the bride and groom have vanished for ages? Chances are they have one massive group photos list! Nobody wants to stand in a line for ages having formal group photos taken with a random cousin they’ve only met once, when they could be quaffing champers and having a good natter with a mate they haven’t seen in a few years! I advise keeping to a limit of around 10 group photo combinations to keep things quick and simple.
GETTING THE GROUPS TOGETHER
Various family members might all want a say or a certain picture they want, so it’s important to manage expectations when you write up your groups list – the more photos on to it, the less time I can spend shooting everyone having fun, the venue decor, and you together as a couple. Adding extra group photos on the wedding day may eat into your time spent with guests. It’s best to write a list, be firm and stick to it!
If it happens to be raining during the time allocated for group photography, we can move photos inside if venue space allows, or if it seems likely to clear up quickly, move the group photos a later time during reception drinks.
In terms of timings, these will vary by wedding. I always let my couples chat and have a mingle before starting group photos, however if you are having a big group photo of all guests (weather and space permitting) it’s best to do this as soon as possible before people wander off, check into hotel rooms, etc!
Because I don’t know anyone in your wedding party, I require a couple of “helpers” to round up people in the group photos list for me. Usually this is tasked to the wedding party, but can be anyone who is able to recognise people in both sides of the family or friends.
It’s a great job for shouty people! I advise two or more people for this job for efficiency – having just one person round everyone up will take far longer, especially if there’s a lot of guests for them to find!
Please be sure that your “rounders up” will know the people featured in your group photos, so they are able to find them easily.
To help you plan how much time to allocate to group photography in your wedding timetable, a rough guide of timings is below. Allowing 30 – 40 minutes for up to 10 group photos is usually adequate with good helpers.
- small (up to 8 people) group photos take approximately 3 minutes per group
- medium (up to 15 people) group photos take approximately 5 minutes per group
- large group (15 people +) photos take approximately 10-15 minutes per group
I always like to start with family photos and finish with bridal party, so we can get a few extra fun photos with bridesmaids and groomsmen, or move to a different location for these for some variety.
One of my favourite bits of the day! You’ve just gotten married, and now is the time to just hang out with each other and let it sink in! I ask for a minimum time allowance of 30 minutes for couples photos (although longer is fab, too!). Some couples choose to split their session into two – one during drinks reception and one later on in the evening, I recommend this during summer weddings because of softer, lovelier evening light.
If you’ve got a funky venue, it can be great fun to have some portraits inside as well as out. The same goes for your ceremony room, if it looks fabulous inside we can always nip back in once it’s cleared to get a few shots.
Generally, I will take you on a walk of the ceremony and/or reception venues grounds, and we’ll stop and shoot portraits in any place that catches my eye. I love a good backdrop and good light, so I might take you back to a place I’ve had my eye on later in the evening if the light is better then. If it is a really sunny day, I will pop you in the shade for the best portraits (keeps you cooler and less squinting!)
I start off with a simple posed “Mum” shot – basically the one your Mum is going to want on her wall! Then we move on to more natural work, with you interacting with each other, rather than focusing on me. I mostly do simple, light posing – asking you to hold hands, have a walk, or hug. If you’ve had an engagement shoot with me then you’ll already know how I work. Please do let me know if there are any places you would particularly like pictures, and if you want to bring pets or props, go for it! (I love a good wedding dog)
whatever the weather…
A lot of couples worry about rain on their wedding day, but I always say dont’t be afraid of the rain, embrace it – we can’t control the weather so we might as well have fun with it!
If there are lovely sheltered pockets in your venue grounds, or you have a funky umbrella, we can nip out for some fun couples photos, and I can even have a little play with my off camera flash. Both me and my cameras happily shoot whatever the weather, and shooting in rain does not bother me in the slightest. You can even co-ordinate your wedding outfits with fun wellies!
I always keep one eye on the weather and can track it on my phone, so I will come grab you if I see a non-rain window of opportunity. Otherwise, we can do an additional couples session later in the evening if it looks likely to be dry then. Just before the evening reception there’s usually time allocated for coffee and room turnarounds – an ideal time for a some pictures together without anyone missing you!
Most venues will have a bit of indoors space we can shoot in – you can create some beautiful atmosphere with window light or flash, and it’s a great chance to show off your venue!
The most important thing to remember is a dirty dress is a sign of a damn good time, and there’s so much fun and happiness on your wedding day that you will not even notice the weather!
I like my couples to have some time alone together – as the day is so busy, the couples session really is one of the few times it will be just the two of you, so I vary between shooting far from you as well as closer. It’s where my super mega zoom lens comes in, which everyone seems to think looks hilarious dangling off me as it’s so big! But it does the job brilliantly, and will really help you feel at ease on the day.
If you’ve hired something special for the day like a vintage bus, make the most of it with some portraits! Chloe and Pete hopped on this bus just after all the guests left for a few shots.
If I see some funky light happening outside in the evening, I’ll ask if you’d like a few more couple photos together outside. Sunsets and golden hours can make for some really gorgeous photos, but once it gets dark, we can also play with off camera flash too.
YOUR WEDDING RECEPTION
During the daytime drinks reception we’ll be covering group photos and couples photos. Because you’ve hired me as a documentary photographer, I also use this time to shoot candid photos of guests chatting, having fun and playing games, if you’ve set them up.
I’ll take some time to photograph the decoration of the venue before the guests go in for the wedding breakfast, so it’s nice and empty. Couples put a lot of time and effort into their wedding details so I like to make sure they have great images of all their hard work. I generally slip these bits in between the group photography section and your couples session, which means you have some breather time in between them to have a drink and hang out with guests.
During the wedding breakfast itself I take an hour’s break to rest, recharge my batteries and get something to eat. At this time I may also come grab your bouquet and invitations if you’ve brought them, for a quick photograph. I won’t take pictures while people are eating, as nobody wants to see that! I also don’t shoot formal portraits of guests at tables – it’s often an awkward position for them to shift round the table (and gets in the way of the waiting staff) and it doesn’t work with my documentary style – I like to capture them having fun!
EVENING FUN TIMES!
After dinner, I’m with you until the finish time you’ve listed in the questionnaire.
Aside from big evening reception moments like first dance and cake cutting, I will use this time to capture more candids of guests having fun, and possibly more couples portraits if you’re up for it. There is space in your online questionnaire to note the times of evening features like first dance, cake cutting, bouquet toss, additional items hired for the evening (such as sweetie cart) so I make sure I’m in the right place at the right time to capture those and you can let me know if there are any additional guest portraits you might like during this time too.
In my final questionnaire I request times of wedding speeches and when they will happen in the course of the dinner (before, in between courses, after) so I can make sure I’m present and back in the room before they begin. Speeches are great fun to photograph – totally candid and there are often some cracking ones (and hilarious guests reactions to photograph).
Generally couples like to either start speeches before the meal or have them after, although I have had a few occasions where they have been between or during courses. I don’t like to recommend this option as it can make the images “messy”, with some guests still eating or serving staff still clearing away in the background of photos!
I like to stay around half an hour after the first dance because I just love dancing shots – they are often hilarious as people let themselves go for the evening! Each wedding is different and so dancing shots can vary – sometimes guests prefer to have a chat rather than get dancing straight away, but generally if you’ve got a great band or DJ, you’re bound to get some epic moves!
Don’t worry if things overrun in the evening, you can have me stay longer for an extra £150 per hour – I won’t make like Cinderella and vanish on the dot, I will always let you know when I’m leaving for a goodbye hug!
AFTER THE WEDDING
I’ll send you a couple of photos a week after the wedding so you can use them for thank you cards, or just to relive some awesome moments til you receive the full set. It’s important to note that in peak wedding season (May – October) delivery of finished wedding photos will take at least six weeks, as I’m constantly shooting as well as editing weddings. I take a lot of pride in my editing so I will never compromise your images by rushing them.
All clients receive a personalised engraved USB in wooden box with edited images and an online gallery to share with family and friends. The number of images depends on whether you have booked a full day (500) or half day (300).
I will contact you after your wedding to ask you about the engraving design for your USB box – I can design one based on certain designs or fonts that may have been on your wedding invitation, or I can design one from scratch. Either way, I will send you the design for approval before I send it off to the engravers.
Once complete, I’ll email you with login details for your finished wedding photo gallery. This gallery is private and password protected, so only you can decide who you want to see it. You can let me know if there are any images you would like me to remove before you give the password out, and guests can order their own prints, so you don’t need to give your USB to anyone. Low res images can be downloaded from the gallery at any time. Once you’ve viewed your gallery, I will parcel up your lovely USB, plus a few more surprise treats (because surprises in the post are always fun) and send it to you recorded delivery.
Your USB will contain high resolution printable images as well as a lower resolution set for sharing on sites like Facebook.
I highly recommend that you copy and store your images in a few different places, as data storage can degrade over time.
Storing your image folder on a couple of hard drives like computer and external, and online cloud based solutions like Amazon Web Services, Photobucket, or even a private Flickr account is a great idea. Online storage is extremely cheap these days – I would estimate it would cost you no more that £2 a month. Your gallery will stay online for a minimum of a year, which is why I always stress the importance of backing up your images.
But whatever you do…PRINT YOUR IMAGES! They deserve to be ooooh’d over and shown off! Plaster them all over your house with pride and you’ll remember that one massive fun and lovely day always!
STAY IN TOUCH!
Please don’t think that once the big day is over and the images have been delivered, that’s it! I love hearing from my couples all the time – whether you’re having a baby, moving house, got a new cat, or whatever you’re getting up to in life. Stay in contact, find me on Facebook and say hello! I love, love, love the idea of after the wedding shoots – getting dressed up again in your wedding finest and going out somewhere for an informal couple session! If this is something you’d be interested in, please do let me know. You can view a sample one from an awesome wedding I did in Scotland here, and below.