5 Good Reasons to Spend More on a Professional Wedding Photographer

Blog Article, Wedding Advice

Once again, one of the top regrets of newlywed couples is having not spent enough on a wedding photographer for their wedding day. Of course, being a professional wedding photographer you’d most probably expect me to say that.

Wedding photojournalism of the ceremony at Woodlands Park Hotel in Stoke D'abernon near Cobham in Surrey

But don’t take my word for it. Recent survey results by The Registry Site, as reported by In Style magazine confirms:

5 Great Litter Free Alternatives To Confetti On Your Wedding Day

Wedding Advice

Throwing confetti at the happy wedding couple is one of the great wedding traditions.  It’s said to date back to Ancient Egypt where it was believed showering the just married couple with seeds would bestow the gift of great fertility upon them.

However, as great as confetti is, and as a wedding photographer I do love to document those fabulous confetti showers, it does leave behind bit of a mess for someone to clean up afterwards.  For that reason, a lot of wedding venues have strict restrictions on the use of confetti.

10 Great Tips for Wedding Toasts

Wedding Advice

As a wedding photographer I’ve seen and heard a lot of wedding toasts and speeches in my time. Some good, some bad and a few that were exceptional.  So I definitely think I’m pretty well placed to give a few tips and advice on how to deliver a great wedding toast.  I previously posted about when to do the wedding speeches, but here I’ll tell you more about wedding toasts and how to deliver them.

Meon Valley Marriott Hotel wedding photography of the Groom and wedding party laughing during the wedding speeches

History of Wedding Toasts

It’s been argued that wedding toasts date all the way back to the 6th century BC. Glasses would be raised and clinked – causing the contents to spill into one another’s vessels, a reassurance that the drink wasn’t poisoned.  This is most probably what the phrase “good health” comes from.

The wedding link would come from the old tradition of warring tribes and conflicts being ended by marriages between clans – and thus toasting was then a reassurance of peace on all sides.

The term ‘toast’ itself was first coined by Shakespeare in the Merry Wives of Windsor.  It was common practice around this time for a piece of actual toast to be placed in a glass of wine, as a way of of soaking up acidity of the win and making an old piece of stale bread more edible.  The person(s) being honoured would often receive the saturated piece of toast.  Thankfully, this seems to be a tradition that is no longer undertaken during modern weddings, but the idea of wedding toasts still prevail to this day.

So how to ensure you get a wedding toast right?  Here are my 10 tips to help with you wedding toast.

#1 Be Topped Up

Make sure you glass is full and that the wedding party all have their glasses topped up.  This may sound obvious, but you be amazed the number of weddings I’ve been too where a bride, a groom or even the toaster doesn’t have a filled glass to toast with – then everyone has to wait around whilst a bottle to top up with is found.

#2  Be Right…Quite Literally

Ensure you toast using your right hand, which you should be stretched out from the right shoulder towards the person(s) being honoured.  Dont over extend your arm though – nothing looks worse than a trembling arm and contents being spilt.

#3 Short & Sweet

Keep the toast short. 3-5 minutes is considered a good length if you’re delivering a speech.  Anything longer can start to sound a bit too rambling and guests quickly get bored and fidgety.

#4 Rehearse

That’s right, practice really does really make perfect. Run it out a few times before the day, preferably to someone who can tell you what they think.  The more used to it you are, the much smoother it will be done on the day.

#5  Ad-Lib

Make some notes – preferably a few bullet points you can talk around, rather than a number of pages of a word-by-word script.  You’ll sound a lot more natural and what’s more, watching someone read from a script, in an awkward monotone, can be quite boring for everyone.  This follows on naturally to…

#6 Be You

It’s much better to be yourself, rather than what you think you need to be.  If you’re not an extrovert joker or an insightful poet, then don’t pretend to be.  At a wedding everyone is on your side, so be yourself and be personal.

#7  It’s Not All About You

Remember, the wedding toast or speech is not all about you – it’s about honouring someone.  It’s not an audition for Britian’s Got Talent or an opportunity for you to show how really funny you think you area.  Focus on who you are honouring.

#8  The Granny Test

You should really steer away from inside jokes or stuff that happened twenty years ago when you were kids.  It might be really funny for a few close friends or relatives, but for the vast majority of guests they’re just not going to get it.  And speaking of humour, remember guests could include young children and elderly relatives.  Whilst your joke about the razor, the sheep and the naked groom on the stag night is hilarious, is it something you would ordinarily tell your grandmother?  If not, leave it out.

#9 Breathe

Yes, before you start just take a deep breath.  It will slow you down and calm your nerves.  If you’re not used to speaking in front of people, you’ll often speak faster than you realise you are – so try and slow it down. It’s not a sprint to be finished as soon as possible.

#10 Make The Toast!

And remember at the end of toast, get everyone to join in with you raising a glass to and toasting the honoured person(s).  It’s amazing how many times I’ve seen a wedding speech where the actual toast is forogtten about in the relief of ending the speech!  Remember, the final toast is the traditional way of ending the formal part of the wedding day and signaling the fun, party bit is about to start!

Ashridge House wedding photography of he wedding party raising their glasses in toast to the beautiful bride

So I hope these tips help you.  The wedding toast is an important and traditional part of the wedding day so appreciating why you are doing it and getting it as right as possible will be appreciated by the couple.

If you’d like to chat with me about your wedding plans then I’d love to hear from you.  You can call/text me on 07920 422144. Alternatively, you can send me a message via my contact page.

5 Tips For Working With Your Wedding Photographer

Wedding Advice

So you’ve booked your wedding photographer, what next? After all, there’s months to go until your actual wedding date. Do you just wait for them to show up on your wedding day and start clicking away? Actually, no. So here are my 5 top tips for working with your wedding photographer up to your wedding day.

Stay in touch

Rowton Castle Wedding Photography Shropshire

Make sure you stay in touch with your wedding photographer throughout. Keep them informed of how your wedding planning and arrangements are going and keep them informed of any changes that may arise. And definitely ask for advice during this time, even if it has nothing to do with photography! Wedding photographers are usually the most wedding experienced of all your wedding suppliers, after all there’s no other wedding vendor who spends as much time with you on your wedding day. So we usually know about about weddings and have good links with others in the wedding industry. So use your wedding photographer like a free wedding planner and tap them for as much advice, tips and suggestions as you can. Email, phone, tweet or text. Just make sure you stay in touch.

Share photo ideas

Woodlands Park Hotel Surrey Wedding Photography

Throughout your wedding planning and the build up to your wedding day, you’re going to see literally hundreds of photos for everything wedding related – from portraits of smiling couples through to macro shots of wedding cake decoration. If any really connect with you, then share these photo ideas with your wedding photographer. But be realistic too, if you find a beautiful photo of a couple embraced on top of an Alpine mountain, but your getting married at Sutton Registry Office, it’s unlikely your wedding photographer is going to be able to recreate the same image for you. But all the same, even so, photos can still give your wedding photographer an idea of the moods, compositions and edits you are drawn too. It’s all helpful. A better informed wedding photographer will provide you with wedding photography that is the perfect match for you.

Have a pre-wedding shoot

Greenwich London pre wedding photography

If your wedding photographer offers a pre-wedding shoots, then definitely take them up on it. Not only will you get some lovely images of the pair of you in the relative calm of the weeks before your wedding day, but it’s also a great way for you and your photographer to get to better know one another before the wedding. This usually means the photographer will get an idea about how you both are in front of the camera and you will feel more comfortable. Come your wedding day your photographer won’t feel like a stranger and you’ll feel much more at ease, which can only mean one thing…better wedding photos! You can find details of my pre-wedding shoots here.

Provide a shot list

Woodlands Park Hotel Surrey Wedding Photography

A week or so before your wedding day it’s a good idea to provide your wedding photographer with a shot list. You don’t normally need to include things like the first kiss, cutting the cake or the first dance on it…after all this should be expected of a professional wedding photographer. Instead include details of the different family and group shots you will want on the day. The better prepared this all is, the smoother and more enjoyable it will be on the wedding day itself. Also, if there’s any specific or unusual shots you may want during the day, now’s the time to let your wedding photographer know. For example, perhaps there’s a secret spot at the wedding venue where you’d like a photo taking that wouldn’t be entirely obvious on the day. Providing this a week or so before means you’ll have a chance to discuss it properly and get further suggestions back.

Final timings and details

One the top UK wedding photojournalists captures the father of the bride nervously checking the time during the bridal preparations in Moulton, Northamptonshire

Also, during the last week, you’ll want to ensure you’ve agreed things like the times you’ll want your wedding photographer to be with you in the morning. This is often something you won’t know until shortly before your wedding day. It’s also a good time to give alternate contact details in the event if changes or emergencies. Ideally you want to do all this a few days before your wedding day, as then it’ll leave you free to concentrate on other things during the last few days…or have a few relaxing days if you are really well planned, organised and extremely lucky.

So yes it pays to keep talking, planning and bouncing ideas off your wedding photographer in the build up to your day. Of course, if you’ve booked a professional wedding photographer worthy of the name, they’ll be pretty proactive in doing all this anyway and building a relationship with you that will go up to and well beyond your wedding day. But hopefully these 5 tips are helpful just in case!

If you’re getting married and would like to chat with me about your wedding plans, please do give me a call on 07920 422144 or send me a message via my contact page. I’ll be delighted to hear from you.

5 Reasons Why Professional Wedding Photography Matters

Wedding Advice

So you’re getting married. You’ve most probably sorted the wedding venue and what you’re going to wear on the wedding day itself. Now your thoughts are likely turning to booking a wedding photographer. After all, everyone has one, don’t they? But maybe you’re wondering why. Why spend potentially thousands of pounds on a photographer to take photos of your day? After all, your guests will be taking photos all day, why go to that expense? Especially when one or two of them might be semi-decent photographers in their own right.

Well, let me give you 5 very good reasons why professional wedding photography matters.

1. One hundredth of a second that lasts a lifetime.

Kislingbury Wedding Photography Northampronshire

When I capture those moments, emotions and stories of your wedding I’m re-telling your special and unique wedding story. A story you can revisit, cherish and enjoy months, years, decades or even generations later. Not you just between yourselves, but with friends and family…even family and friends who don’t even exist in your lives yet. It’s one of the most important days of your life, so of course you’ll want a record of it to enjoy and share long after the venue, food, drinks and even costumes have long gone. Why wouldn’t you?

2.  It’s more than just your wedding story.

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The great thing about my unobtrusive and photojournalistic approach is that I document parts of the days and chapters of your wedding story you missed or didn’t even really was happening. As the wedding couple you’ll be in demand on the day. You’ll be so busy there’s lots from your actual day you won’t see. That’s where I step in…capturing a look here, a kiss there, a laugh elsewhere. A professional wedding photographer is another pair of eyes for you on the day, so you can enjoy your day as it happens and love the entire story afterwards.

3. It’s art, baby.

Hyatt Regency Churchil London Wedding Photography

How often in life do you get the chance to get beautiful and artistic photos of you by someone dedicated to doing that? Some of my previous wedding couples have turned their wedding photos into beautiful wall art, cool coffee table books and even cards to send out. In the hands of an experienced expert you’ll get more than just snapshots of the day. And let’s be honest, the world is a much nicer place with art in it.

4.  It brings people together

Charlene David Holy Ghost Luton Wedding

As a wedding photographer I love how my very presence at a wedding can act as a real positive. Sometimes I’ll put the camera up to my eye and people will grab hold of one another, hug someone, laugh with others or just simply kiss. People love playing up to a camera (especially after a drink or two!). Then afterwards people get to get together to enjoy looking at the photos. You can laugh hysterically over them, cringe at theme or just smile pleasantly – there’s not many things like photos that can have that effect. Yes, wedding photography really can act as a unifying bond.

5.  A master of wedding photography

Harlestone Village Institute Wedding Photography Northants

Having a professional shoot your wedding means you have someone with the experience and ability to deal with all the difficulties and problems that can arise…and still deliver that wonderful wedding story and beautiful art for you. Low light, knowledge of composition, all the equipment, etc We’ve been there, done it and delivered…many countless times before. Your guests most probably haven’t and even if they have a decent camera, chances are they’ve never had to deal with the pressures and demands of shooting a wedding before. That’s why professional wedding photography really does matter.

So yes, in an age where phones are cameras, Instagram filters can make most photos look cool and everyone thinks they’re a photographer, professional wedding photography still really matters.

If you’re getting married and would like to chat with me about your wedding plans, please do give me a call on 07920 422144 or send me a message via my contact page. I’ll be delighted to hear from you.

Wedding Photography Copyright

Blog Article, Wedding Advice

A question came up recently about copyright and a couple’s wedding photography.  I thought it would be useful to write a short post clearing up confusion that clearly exists around the subject.

From the outset, you need to understand that a wedding photographer always retains the copyright to the images they produce and it would be highly unusual for the photographer to give up that copyright in any circumstances.  This is industry standard and usually the only wedding photographers who would give away their copyright are rank amateurs or inexperienced photographers who may not understand the consequences.

Normally, the terms around copyright are outlined in the wedding photography contract but even where no contract exists UK Intellectual Property Law states that the moment a photographer clicks the shutter of his camera he owns the copyright to that image.

Kislingbury Wedding Photography Northampronshire

Think of it a bit like some music you purchase.  You don’t own the copyright to that music, but you do have the right to listen to it when you like and play it to others (within certain legal requirements.) Buying that CD or MP3 doesn’t give you ownership of the music itself. It’s the same with wedding photography.

So if the wedding photographer retains the copyright to the wedding photography he produces where does that leave you as the couple? This is where a “License of Use” comes in which is an agreement that allows you use of the wedding photos, the terms of which will be specified in the individual wedding photography contract itself.

My license of use will allow you to use your wedding photography in any way you wish, except commercially. So, in other words, you can print them, share them with others, share across social media, give copies to friends and family, etc.  What you cannot do is sell them for commercial gain, provide them to someone for commercial use, edit or re-edit them, etc.  So as you can see it’s very rare a couple actually need to obtain the copyright to their wedding photography.

Charlene David Holy Ghost Luton Wedding

The other question that sometimes arises is how I can use your wedding photography. Again this will be outlined in the wedding photography contract, usually under a Model Release Clause.  In my contract, I state that I will only use your images for promotional and marketing purposes on my website and across social media. Again this is an industry standard and shouldn’t cause you any concern. But of course, if there are certain images you don’t wish to be used then I am always happy to reach a solution on this I’m certainly not in the business of wanting to upset anyone!

Hopefully that explains the copyright of wedding photography but if you do have any more questions about it, then please do not hesitate to contact me via my contact page or give me a call on 07920 42144.

How To Tie A Cravat

Wedding Advice

If there’s one thing that comes up at nearly each and every wedding I attend as the wedding photographer, it’s the groom and grooms-men all struggling to tie up a cravat.  It can all be very reminiscent of getting ready for that first day at school.  Most probably much of this is down to wedding day nerves, as it’s not too dissimilar to actually doing up a tie, so I thought I’d dedicate a post on how to tie a cravat.

I must admit though I didn’t realise there were actually 3 different ways of doing it. The process for tying a casual cravat and the traditional wedding cravat is very similar, except with the casual cravat you’re looking to create a puffed out look, whereas the wedding cravat tends to be smooth and flat.  There’s also the Scrunchie Wedding Cravat, which starts off as a traditional wedding cravat, but an extra step is added at the end to tuck the front flap into the knot, as if you were tying a tie.

Anyway, rather than me attempting to describe it here, the following link to those helpful people over at Swagger and Swoon who will explain all 3 ways in a much more visual and expert way:

https://www.swaggerandswoon.com/guides/how-to-tie-a-wedding-casual-cravat.php

I hope you find it useful.

If you are getting married and enjoy my natural and storytelling approach to wedding photojournalism, then I’d love to hear all about your wedding plans.  You can give me a call on 07920 422144 or send a message via my contact page. I look forward to hearing from you.

7 Things You Need to Know About Proposing To Your Man This Leap Year

Wedding Advice

It’s a leap year and the 29th February will soon be upon us, the traditional date when ladies can propose to their men.  So if you are planning on a wedding proposal to your man this year, here are 7 useful things for you need to know or think about when it comes to leap year proposals.

#1 Where does the tradition come from?

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It’s argued that the leap year tradition of women proposing to men goes right back to Ireland in the 5th century and a lady called St Bridget.  As legend has it, our Bridget wasn’t too happy about how long she had to wait around for a man to ask for her hand in marriage. So Bridget sought out one of the most powerful Irishman at the time, St Patrick, and explained why she was so miffed.  St Patrick had some sympathy and agreed that from thenceforth all women could propose every leap year if they were fed up of waiting around.  Of course, Bridget would later go on to write a diary that got turned into a film and St Patrick turned to drink as a result.  Okay, those last two may not be true…but equally there’s a lot of scorn of this tale as a whole.  If historical records are accurate, St Bridget was only a small child at the time St Paddy kicked the bucket.

However, what is not in doubt is that that t he first documented record of women proposing on February 29th is in 13th century Scotland, where a law was passed that decreed that any man refusing a proposal on the leap year must pay a fine – but more about this later.

2. Are you both really ready to get married?

Greenwich London pre wedding photography

The worst mistake you can make is simply deciding to propose just because you’re fed up of waiting around for that marriage proposal.  You need to have a think about why your man hasn’t yet proposed.  Is he waiting for something – maybe a promotion or to buy a house before he wants to get hitched.  Remember us men can be more practically minded when it comes to love, relationships and marriage and whilst getting married may seem like the most romantic and natural thing for you to do, he may see it in a different way.

So have you ever talked about getting married?  Or spending your life together? Or having children?  If you don’t live together currently, have you both talked about getting a home together?  If you answer positively to any of these, then you may both be at that stage to get married.

But ultimately only you will know your reasons for wanting to get married and what his likely reaction is going to be. So think hard and long about it and, if after that, you’re still determined to proposes…

3. Where should you propose?

Northamptonshire Wedding Photography - Kelmarsh Hall

The big consideration here is whether you make the proposal quietly at home, discreetly in a public place (over a meal at a restaurant, for example) or make a big show of it with banners, balloons and DJ announcements.  This will come down to how you are as individuals and a couple.  Of course, there are some practical considerations like noise and unwanted attention you’ll also wish to consider but at the end, do it you way.  After all, it’s a moment you will always remember so make sure it’s a fond memory in years to come!

4. How should you propose?

Stanmer Park pre-wedding shoot

The best advice is to keep it simple but fun, sweet and unforgettable.  You’re going to be nervous, he’s likely going to be surprised – so its best done in a way that’s easy for both of you.  As a wedding photographer I’ve heard of all kinds of ways that couples have proposed to one another (including in the heat of a domestic argument!) but without doubt, the majority do it in a fun, understated way. Just be yourself and in a moment that feels natural.

5. What if he says no?

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Even if you followed everything up to this point, there’s still a chance he could say “no”. Nothing is every guaranteed or certain – so at least prepare yourself in advance, in case he says no.  Most importantly, don’t panic or take it personally. There may be practical reasons, rather than it being a comment on his love for you…so now’s not the time for emotional outbursts.  It’s best to take some time and then calmly discuss the reasons.  He could simply think you can’t afford it at this time.  Or perhaps, he just wants to wait a little longer.  Or he may just want to be the one proposing.

However, once you have both talked it through and it becomes clear he doesn’t see his future with you, take it as a positive.  At least you have found out and can move on. Nothing is ever a mistake if you learn something from it!

6. Other traditions linked to leap year proposals

Abington Park Northampton pre-wedding portrait shoot

Did you know that if you get married during a leap year in Greece it’s considered unlucky?  Or that Queen Margaret allegedly enacted a law in Scotland in 1288 allowing women to propose on 29th February but they had wear a red petticoat to warn her beloved that she was planning to pop the question!  And talking of Scotland, remember those Scotsmen in point 1 above who had to pay a fine if they said no to a leap year proposal.  Well, one of the fines they were liable for, were pairs of gloves which conceal the lady’s ring finger and save her blushes!

7. Get a pre-wedding engagement shoot to document the event.

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Don’t forget that if he does say yes and you start arranging your wedding, then I’d love to be your wedding photographer.  I offer all my wedding couples an optional pre-wedding portrait shoot and if you are a leap year proposal, we could incorporate some of the traditions like red petticoats and gloves into a fun and informal shoot.  It would be a fantastic way for you to get some lovely shots from the kind of engagement shoot that can only ever happen once every 4 years.

So if you are interested in hiring me as your wedding photographer then I’d love to hear all about your plans.  Please give a call on 07920 422144 or send me a message via my contact page.

And if you are proposing this 29th February…GOOD LUCK!

Advice on using the bathroom in your wedding dress

Wedding Advice

Ahem, okay, there’s no subtle way of talking about this, but when you’re a bride wearing a full on wedding dress it can be quite a task using the bathroom on your wedding day.

I know I’ve certainly been approached and asked advice on this delicate matter from brides in the past…I assume because they think I’ll know from having covered a lot of weddings rather than thinking I may have had personal practical experience of the problem!

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Thankfully, those lovely people over at Wedding Magazine have written an article giving 5 useful tips on using the bathroom in your wedding dress so do check it out. After all, you can never be too forewarned!

If you have any other tips or advice on navigating the bathroom in a wedding dress, I’d love to hear in the comments box below.

5 Smart Tips for Smartphone Etiquette at your Wedding

Wedding Advice

So what’s the etiquette for using a smartphone camera at a wedding?

A lots been said recently, both online and in the media, about the use of smartphone cameras at weddings.  In fact, the BBC News Magazine recently asked, Are smartphones ruining weddings?  I’ve seen and heard a number of professional wedding photographers complaining on social media how guests jumping up and getting in their to take photos on their smartphone cameras are ruining certain shots by the official wedding photographer.

Now, as always, there’s always an alternative view.  There are those couples who want a candid and photojournalistic approach to wedding and big day and see photos of their guests jumping up to get shots as an integral part of the actual wedding story.  As a documentary wedding photographer (also known as a Wedding Photojournalist or Wedding Reportage Photographer) myself, I definitely sit in the latter camp.

However, ultimately there is no right or wrong answer to this. It comes down to what you both want and your personal choices for what is your wedding day.

So here are 5 things to consider when it comes to smarphone camera use on your wedding day.

#1 What type of wedding photography do you want for your wedding?

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It might seem obvious, but you really do need to know how you want your wedding being shot by a wedding – this will most probably then dictate the rest of your wedding smartphone etiquette. Without going in too much detail, do you want the more traditional posed and staged approach to wedding photography where you want everything picture perfect? Or do you want a more candid storytelling approach that documents the emotions and moments of the wedding day, as they happen and that retains the integrity of your wedding story.

If you want the more traditional approach, it’s likely you are going to want a stricter smartphone etiquette or if you prefer the wedding photojournalism, such as I offer, then a more relaxed etiquette would be more preferable.  So be sure you know well in advance exactly how your wedding photographer will approach your wedding day…ideally before you book him or her.

#2 What is Your Bridal Preparations Smartphone Etiquette?

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It’s likely your bridesmaids and the rest of your bridal party will be snapping away with their smartphone cameras during your bridal preparations, especially when it comes to getting into your wedding dress.  It’s likely you’re not going to want your dress revealed to the world on Instagram or Facebook before you’ve even walked down the aisle – so you either need to decide to ban your bridal party from taking photos during the preparations or ensure they do not do any posting to social media until you decide when its appropriate to do so.

#3  What is Your Wedding Ceremony Smartphone Etiquette?

Northamptonshire wedding photography at Sedgebrook Hall in Chapel Brampton, Northants

You also need to decide if you want your guests taking photos with their smartphones during your wedding ceremony – and the other important parts of your wedding day for that matter. If you don’t want them jumping up to grab a photo and getting in the way of your official photographer, then think about banning them from the parts of the day you don’t want them to use their smartphone cameras during. Couples are increasingly putting a basket at the entry to the ceremony so their wedding guests can place their phones in them to avoid any temptation to use them during the wedding service.

#4  Consider an Official Wedding Hashtag

Northampton wedding photographer documents a wedding guest taking a photo on her smart phone camera, of the bride and groom, during the wedding reception at the Saracen's Head in Little Brington, Northants.

If you’re happy for your wedding guests to snap away with their phones and post freely to social media during the wedding day, then do consider choosing a specific #hashtag for them to use so you can find all those photos easily.  You’ll be amazed how many there can be and it’ll make it easier for you and your guests to find them.  Of course, hashtag naming is an entirely separate subject altogether, but just make sure you choose something that is unique and won’t get mixed in with other photos using the same hashtag. For example, #OurWedding will most probably apply to thousands or even millions of other photos that have nothing to do with your wedding.  Instead, go for something like #PeterJanesWeddingSurrey as an exmple.

#5 Communicate Your Preferences

Meon Valley Marriott Hotelm wedding photography of couple signing the wedding register

Of course, there’s little pont in pulling together a wedding smartphone etiquette if no one else knows about it. So be sure to let everyone know your preferences in advance, including hastags, so come the day it’s not something that surprises or, god forbid, upsets your wedding guests.  You can also have reminders on the day – arty little chalk boards are a great of conveying messages and hashtags, as well as looking great without spoiling the theme of your wedding. So communicate, communicate, communicate…

Like I said at the outset there’s no right or wrong way to going about a smartphone wedding etiquette. It should all be about what you both want as a couple for what is YOUR wedding day.  You certainly shouldn’t be swayed by what your wedding photographer wants/says.  By all means, have a chat with him and her to get an idea and understand – but you have to go with what you want in the end.  Your wedding day has to be all about you – not someone elses choices.

That’s why I firmly believe a more natural, candid and unobtrusive wedding photojournalism is such a great fit for your wedding photography. I don’t get upset or irritated by your wedding guests jumping and capturing photos in front of me.  I’ll make a feature of it instead of complaining. After all, I am documenting your wedding as it happens rather than creating my personal censored version of it.

Contact Me.

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If you are interested in my wedding photojournalism approach and are getting married, then give me a call on +44 (0)7920 422144 or send me a message via my contact page.  I’d love to hear all about your wedding plans and chat with you about how my wedding reportage style would deliver the natural, beautiful and storytelling images for your authentic and unique wedding story.

 

Ashridge House wedding photography of the bride and groom cutting the wedding cake

10 Things You Should Know About Cutting The Wedding Cake

Blog Article, Wedding Advice

Tradition of Wedding Cake Cutting

It’s one of the big traditions of the wedding day – like the first kiss, best man’s speech and the first dance – that everyone looks forwards to.  As a wedding photographer it’s one of those parts of the day I know I have to capture and document for your wedding story.

You will have spent time thinking about and ordering your wedding cake: the style, the flavours, the icing, the decoration etc. as well as including it as an important part of your wedding budget. But there’s one thing I do notice having been a wedding photographer at a lot of weddings now, when it comes to cutting the cake, a lot of wedding couples aren’t sure on the traditions and etiquette around cutting the wedding cake.

So I thought it would be useful and helpful to pull together 10 important things you need to know about cutting your wedding cake.

1. Wedding Cake Traditions

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Wedding cakes are a tradition that grew out of the ancient ritual of baking bread as a ritual union.  In fact, the wedding cake itself is a fairly relatively modern take on this ritual.  For centuries it was bread that was baked for a wedding and would then literally be broken over the bride’s head to symbolise her break from life as a single woman.  This tradition is still carried out in some parts of the world today, including Scotland where Scottish Shortbread will be used instead of bread.  So that tasty looking wedding cake on your wedding day is there for good reason.

2. Where to Place the Wedding Cake

Horsham South Lodge hotel wedding photography of the Wordsworth Room

Something that is very often overlooked is where to have your wedding cake placed both before the cake cutting and at the time of it.  Inevitably it tends to get shoved into a corner of the room, maybe to keep it out of the way and safe from accidents, but corners tend to be a drab part of the room where you find plugs, hooks, fire extinguishers and all other bits ‘n’ pieces also shoved out of the way – and as a wedding photographer I can assure you these can look quite ugly in your wedding photography…not ideal companions for your beautiful wedding cake!

Tradition dictates that your wedding cake should be visible during the speeches and toasts.  Whether you choose to make it a feature of the top table, at the center of the room or elsewhere is a personal choice but you’ll have to consider if you will be moving it to somewhere else for the actual cutting – so think about the logistics and practical nature of moving it if required.

The important thing is to make sure its in a place that everyone can see it clearly when you do cut it and try to remember to stand to one side so your wedding guests can photograph and film this important part of the day.  As your wedding photographer I will always suggest you find a spot that will give lots of creative and beautiful options for your final wedding photography. But as a wedding photojournalist I won’t dictate where that should be 🙂

3. When to Cut a Wedding Cake

Northamptonshire wedding photography at Sedgebrook Hall in Chapel Brampton, Northants

Again there is a tradition for when a wedding cake should be cut, which is immediately after the main meal.  This is because traditionally a slice of wedding cake was served as the actual desert to your wedding guests.  These days though, separate desserts are usually part of the whole wedding breakfast meal provided by the wedding venue, so I find most brides and grooms will undertake the cutting of the wedding cake at the start of the evening reception.  Either way, just be clear on when you will be cutting the cake and ensure the venue staff are clear and, of course, your wedding photographer – so he or she can be in place to ensure this important moment is documented for your wedding story.

4. Announce When the Cake Will be Cut

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Having thought about where and when your wedding cake will be cut it’s important that you have an announcement made that the wedding cake is about to be cut.  This will ensure all your wedding guests are there to see it and no one will miss out on a special moment of you big day.

Of course, you will want to consider who will be make that announcement.  Again tradition would dictate that it is the job of the Best Man to make this announcement but this is simply because the cake cutting would come at the end of the speeches and the Best Man’s speech would traditionally be last.

If you have a toastmaster you may ask them to make the announcement or the DJ/Band if it’s at the start of the evening reception.  There have been occasions, as wedding photographer, I’ve made the announcement on behalf of the wedding coupe.

Whoever you choose, or whatever way you decide to do it, it’s just important to have it announced so no one misses the moment.

5. Making an Event of the Cutting

Northampton wedding photographer captures the wedding singer, Joe Seagar, serenading the bride and groom during the cutting of the wedding cake, at the Saracen's Head in Little Brington, Northamptonshire.

You may not want to make such an event of the wedding cake cutting, but some couples do like to have certain music played during the cutting or even have a special reading before (or after) the cake is cut.  So if you want to make the cutting a big part of your wedding day then do think about the kind of music you want playing, how you will “turn up” to cut the cake (a big introduction to applause, fireworks,  etc.) and any special speeches you will want to make – this would be nice if a relative or friend made the cake for you.

Of course, you may not want to make such an event of it which is more than fine, but its important to at least think about how you want to do it.  It’s all too regular for wedding couples to think about it just moments before it’s about to happen and that’s never a good time to be making such a decision.

6. What to Cut a Wedding Cake With

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This might seem an odd one – after all, you cut a wedding cake with a knife, right?  So is that going to be any old knife that is lying around or do you want to have something a little more memorable – after all, with your wedding photography it’s going to be something that’s documentend for evermore.

Some couples have something special engraved on the blade – perhaps a loving message or something that records the place and date.  Or you may think a keepsake knife is a nice touch…is there a family heirloom utensil that you could use.  Keepsake utensils are lovely to get out and use again for future anniversaries and even, eventually, pass down as a new family heirloom.  If you are using an old family heirloom to cut the cake, then be sure to let you wedding photographer know because, if they are like me, they will definitely want to get a wedding details shot of it earlier in the day as well as at the time of cutting.

7. How to Cut a Wedding Cake

Rowton Castle Wedding Photography of the bride and groom cutting the wedding cake

Again this might be obvious, but believe me there is a traditional way and I’ve heard enough wedding couples ask the question “how do we cut it” just before they’re about to do it.

Traditionally the cutting of the wedding cake is seen as the first task you will do together in married life and is symbolic of your new life together – so obviously it’s something you need to both do together.

As I said in point 2 above, you need to make sure all your wedding guests and the wedding photographer can get a clear view of you both cutting it – so think about where you both stand, to one side or the another is usually best advised.

If you have a traditional tiered wedding cake, then start by removing the 6″ tier which is usually seen as the couple’s cake to be saved for later.  Traditionally the bride would take the knife and the groom would place his right hand over hers.  But either way, its important both of you appear to be holding the knife together.

Then cut, from either side, a horizontal line about 2 inches from the outer edge.  Slice from right to left to make vertical cuts about one inch apart until an entire row is cut.

All that said, most couples tend to only cut one slice of cake which…

8. To Cakeface or Not to Cakeface

Brighton Holiday Inn wedding photography of the bride feeding the groom some wedding cake during the wedding reception.

…brings us on to the question as to whether you “cakeface” or not. The wedding cakeface is a relatively new tradition of feeding one another a piece of cake after the cutting – again symbolising of how you will provide for one another in married life.  There’s no agreed etiquette on this, it’s either something you choose to do or don’t.

If you do decide then cakeface is for you, then it’s decision time of how far you go with it.  Like all these things, it’s best to have discussed and agreed ahead of your wedding day. You can enjoy a piece together using a fork. Or you can take it in turns to feed one another a small piece. Or you can go the whole way and shove a slice into one another’s face.  This may seem like fun, but it’s messy, risks staining whatt you’re wearing and can mess up a perfectly made-up face!

If you are brave enough to go the whole way with the wedding cakeface, then make sure you have plenty of napkins to hand!

9.  Who to Serve the Wedding Cake to First

Meon Valley Marriott Hotel wedding photography of a waiter serving food during the wedding breakfast

So once the cake is cut and ready to be served, it’s traditional to serve both sets of parents their piece of cake first.  This also gives you another opportunity of sharing a moment with them on your wedding day.  Once again, if you are making a moment of it – then let your wedding photographer know so they are in the right place at the right time to capture such a moment.

It doesn’t just have to be your parents either. You may want to include your grandparents too, or other special relatives to enjoy a little family moment during your wedding day.

Once the first serving is done, it’s then time for the rest of the wedding guests to be served their wedding cake.  Alternatively, the remaining slices of wedding cake can be utilised in an evening buffet if you are having one.

10. The Final Rule is That There Are No Rules

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That’s the great thing about traditions – you don’t have to follow them if you don’t want to. Or you can change them to suit how your wedding day is going to be structured.  You can do some and ignore others.  In the end, it really comes down to doing what you want.  These points are just here to let you  know what the formal traditions are – but I think we all agree its much better to make decisions that are better informed.

So there you have it – all you need to know about cutting a wedding cake on your special day.  I hope you at least find this post useful and helpful.  If you enjoyed the photography and like my creative, candid and unobtrusive approach to documenting your wedding story, why not give me a call on +44 (0) 7920 422144 or, alternatively, send me a message via my contact page.  I’d love to hear all about your wedding plans and discuss how my wedding journalism approach would work on your big day.

 

Don’t Just Focus on Price for your Wedding Photography

Price, Wedding Advice

Why You Shouldn’t Just Consider the Cost of Wedding Photography

When it comes to booking your wedding photographer, it’s very easy to just look for the cheapest option available.  I know it’s a cliché but wedding photography really is one of those areas where you get what you pay for.  Of course, you will have a certain budget, and will want to work within that, but invariably if you allow cost to be your ONLY consideration when booking your wedding photographer you could end up making a disastrous decision.  You don’t have to look too deeply online to find wedding photography horror stories where a couple have simply gone for the cheapest wedding photographer they could find.

So here are my 5 top tips to also consider when booking a professional wedding photography, to ensure you make a properly thought through and considered choice when booking your wedding photographer.

1. Style of Wedding Photography

Don’t make the mistake of thinking there’s just one style and approach to wedding photography. Broadly speaking there are 3 approaches: traditional wedding photography, wedding photojournalism or commercial wedding photography.  Of course, within all these styles each individual wedding photographer will bring their own individual interpretation and personal style, but you need to know what kind of wedding photographer you would like and ensure that they match your artistic vision for your wedding day.

For example, I’m a wedding photojournalist who specialises in a more natural, candid and unobtrusive approach to documenting your wedding story, as opposed to a more traditional wedding photographer who will want to pose and stage events more. Understanding the differences in wedding photography will ensure you at least find the kind of wedding photographer whose work you admire.  After all, would you simply choose any old wedding dress because it’s cheap or have your wedding at a fast food outlet, simply because it was the cheapest option available?

2. Professional Wedding Photographer

Documentary wedding photography at South Lodge hotel in Horsham, West Sussex

It’s easy nowadays for anyone with a semi decent camera to call themselves a professional wedding photographer. Of course, we could have endless debates about the definition of “professional” but if you do want to book an experienced and professional wedding photographer you need to be looking at their portfolio or examples of their work. Do they have a variety of real weddings to show you? Or do they seem to have just one or two and some which look like faked weddings (i.e. just the bride and groom, no guests, etc.)?  Take a look at my wedding photography portfolios to enjoy some of the weddings I’ve documented.

The other thing to consider, when looking for a professional wedding photographer, is whether they belong to any professional bodies or not.  The other key here is to understand that some professional bodies anyone can join – simply by payment of a monthly fee and it’s not necessarily a comment on their professionalism.  What you need to be looking for are those professional bodies where the photographer has to qualify for entry into.  You then know that other professionals have deemed their work good enough and professional enough to belong to that body.  For example, my wedding photography portfolio had to pass scrutiny before I could qualify as a member of the Wedding Photojournalist Association.  Furthermore, I am also duty bound to work within their strict code of conduct.  It’s membership of professional bodies like this that will reassure you that your wedding photographer is both professional and competent enough to shoot your wedding.

3. Reducing the Risk of Anything Going Wrong on the Wedding Day

Wedding reportage captures the moment the bride adjusts her tiara, during the bridal preparations at the Premier Inn hotel in Crawley, Sussex.

It’s important to understand that you can never reduce risk from a wedding day 100%, but a competent wedding photographer will do as much as possible to reduce the risk of anything going wrong on the day itself.  They will invest in the best equipment possible, have back up equipment in the event of anything going wrong and, should the worst happen and something does go wrong, will have ample insurance cover for such scenarios.  This is often an area where the budget wedding photographers will cut corners to keep prices down.  They may only have one camera, just a couple of lenses and no insurance cover.  Of course, things may not go wrong but are you willing to take that kind of risk on what is one of the biggest days in your life and something that you’ll want to remember forever?

For example, I shoot with 3 camera bodies, have up to 7 prime lenses on the day, use only professional memory cards, back up each and every card to a professional storage device on the day and have full insurance cover which includes third party liability cover and professional indemnity cover.  I like to think this importantly gives you peace of mind on your big day.  But of course such continual investment in this area doesn’t come cheap so you do have to question what corners are being cut by a wedding photographer who seems to be offering unbelievably low prices.  Remember the old adage, if it seems too good to be true…it most probably is!

4. A Genuine Passion for Photography.

Old Ship Inn Brighton wedding photography of the bride emotionally hugging her sister, during the drinks reception

Your wedding day is, of course, going to be such an important and wonderful day for you. You’re going to be full of excitement, enthusiasm and passion for every little detail about it.  So you’ll want to surround yourself with wedding vendors who equally as passionate.  After all, would you really want a wedding photographer who’s not that passionate about what they do?

The trouble is there’s wedding photographers around who simply see wedding photography as a means to making money – they have no real passion either for weddings or, worse still, a genuine passion for photography itself.  But how can you tell if your wedding photographer is passionate about what they do? Well, look to see if they pursue photography in their spare time. Ask them who their inspirations and influences are.  Do they genuinely have a love for the history and traditions of photography? Do they value its art or craft. Or do they just view the camera as a money making machine?  This is important, as an appreciation of photography is what helps develops a photographer’s understanding of the art and their creative eye. And a photographer’s creative eye is really one of the main things you are paying for when you book a wedding photographer.

I could talk to you all day about my influences and inspirations – some of the great masters of the medium.  My bookshelves literally creak under the tomes of photography related books I own. Away from weddings I have a deep love of street photography – much of which also influences the way I document a wedding story.  It’s not just a job for me. It’s a way of life. It’s my passion.  Yes, I even dream of taking photos!

5. Get to Know Your Wedding Photographer

Holiday Inn Brighton wedding photography of the wedding dress hanging by a window, with Brighton's West Pier in the background, during the bridal preparations

This really follows on from the last point, but don’t just go with the first wedding photographer who offers you the cheapest price. It’s important you get to know the photographer. Will you get on? Will they be good around your guests?  It’s the wedding photographer who you will spend most time around on your wedding day, so it’s important you pick a wedding photographer with whom you click. Does their approach to photographing your wedding match your own wish. Meet them and find out…before you book the first cheapest price that comes along!

So yes, of course, the cost of a wedding photographer is an important consideration – but I genuinely believe its important for you to make your final choice based on a number of factors and not just price alone. Equally, just because a wedding photographer charges a high price it doesn’t mean they are the right wedding photographer. But you do have to question how some wedding photographers can off their services so cheaply when, even as a hobby, photography is an expensive pursuit.

Meon Valley Marriott Hotel wedding photography of the Groom and wedding party laughing during the wedding speeches

I hope in the end this advice helps you find the right wedding photographer for you. If you think I might be that wedding photographer then I’d love to chat with you about your wedding plans.  Please feel free to call me on 07920 422144 or send mend me a private message, via my contact page.  I’ll be delighted to hear from you!

You can seem more of my wedding photography services and prices by clicking here.

Meon Valley Marriott Hotel wedding photography of the Groom and wedding party laughing during the wedding speeches

When Should The Wedding Speeches Take Place?

Blog Article, Wedding Advice

When should we do the wedding speeches?

As a wedding photographer one of the things I often notice that wedding couples often can’t decide upon is when to do the wedding speeches.  Then, of course, it’s also one of those things that some couples never really think about – not realising there are actually pros and cons on when to do the speeches.

So here are my views and tips on when to have the wedding speeches during the wedding day – solely from myview as an experienced and professional wedding photographer.

1. Before the wedding breakfast.

Rowton Castle Wedding Photography of the groom laughing out loud, during the speeches in the Cardeston Suite

This is becoming increasingly popular. Undertaking the wedding speeches and toasts before anyone starts eating often means those who are doing the speeches can get them done and then enjoy the wedding breakfast without the nerves and apprehension of a speech to come. After all, you’ve put a lot of thought into the menu and paid a lot of money for it and this approach ensures everyone gets to enjoy it.  The downside of doing the speeches first is that it does give an impression of getting them out of the way – that they’re something to be rushed and done before the important issue of eating starts!  The other problem is that often guests are still a bit more formal and introverted at the start – so they can be a harder crowd to play to!

2. After the wedding breakfast.

Harlestone Village Institute wedding photography of the bride and groom being toasted by the guests during the wedding speeches

This is the traditional and widely accepted time. Food has been eaten, drink has been quaffed and now it’s time to enjoy and be entertained by the wedding speeches. Well, except for those about to stand up and do the speeches – who most probably have been dreading it all the way through the wedding breakfast and haven’t enjoyed the food and drink like everyone else.  But, equally, because drinks have been flowing, the guests are more warmed up and maybe more receptive to a good speech. Of course, the other side of the coin is that they are a little too warmed up and more likely to get a bit too interactive with the speeches.  But still, it’s the traditional time of the day that your guests will expect the speeches to be done.

3. During the wedding breakfast.

Holiday Inn Brighton wedding photography of best man making his speech during the wedding ceremony, caught on a mobile phone

As a wedding photographer this is the one I am seeing a little more these days. Couples are now doing the speeches inbetween the main course and the dessert – almost as a happy medium between the two approaches above. I guess this allows those doing the speeches to enjoy some of the meal without the thought of a speech hanging over them and guests have been partially fed and knocked back a few. I’ve even heard of weddings where a speech has been done inbetween each of the courses! Of course, the downside here is it does draw out the wedding breakfast for your wedding guests and, if the speeches do ramble on, they can end up waiting an age for their next course.

Ultimately though there is no right or wrong way really. It’s simply about choice and what suits you both best for what is your wedding day.  The important thing is just to remember you do have the choice and to think it through.

Are you looking for a wedding photojournalist?

If you are getting married and would like a wedding photographer who will approach you wedding day in a natural, candid and unobtrusive way then I would love to talk with you about your wedding plans.  Please do give me a call on 07920 422144 or send me a message here and I’ll be delighted to get back to you.