Congratulations on your forthcoming wedding. How exciting?! The planning is so important, such great fun, expensive and of course it takes up a lot of your time – so the day has to be as perfect as possible. I thought that you may appreciate my top tips to help you achieve that perfect day. And of course some helpful advice to help you get fabulous photographs. I feel qualified to write this article as an experienced wedding photographer with 9 years experience.
Your Amazing, Super Special, Super Exciting, Super Important Wedding Day is Coming!…
Firstly and most importantly, enjoy every single moment! Once the day has arrived you have one option – and that of course, is to have the best day ever. I often have couples tell me when I meet with them post nuptials that the day passed by way too quickly, and that they missed lots of the moments on the day. ‘We wish we could do it all again’ is a phrase I hear very often. It’s amazing when I can present wedding photographs back to the newly weds that capture moments that they were totally unaware of. A moment captured in a photograph forever. That’s my job… to photograph the whole day, to tell the story of your very special day, without taking over. I love to capture the details, the moments – your story.
So here goes… rule number one. Please don’t get anxious or stressed about small, insignificant things on your wedding day. You may have the odd ‘blip’ before or during the day but it’s how you handle the small issues that really matters. I’ve seen wedding cakes collapse, a bridesmaid whose foot attire consisted of 2 left shoes (yes – this is absolutely true. Thank god she was wearing a floor length dress). I’ve had bridesmaids dresses arriving at a hotel literally half an hour before the ceremony… (yes- this is absolutely true too). I could tell you so many stories. But in each of these cases, the brides have shrugged their shoulders, laughed and carried on with the day. It’s all about your attitude.
Relax! The more relaxed you are, the more it will show in your wedding day photographs. Relaxed and happy couples = Relaxed and happy wedding day photographs. FACT!
Children at weddings…
When it comes to children at weddings, either pageboys, flower girls or just little guests, ensure you have a nominated close family member or a trusted friend to take care of little ones. It’s really important that you can enjoy your day and feel at ease, knowing that the children are taken care of for the day. It’s just one day… and it’s your day! Don’t let it be spoilt by children running around causing chaos, especially during the bridal preparations. They are adorable and super cute and I love weddings with children (the more children the better as far as I am concerned) but they do need looking after. The whole process can sometimes be a little overwhelming for young children. Bridal preparation should be a period of time in the day that is as relaxed and stress free as possible. Because, believe me, once you step out of the door to make your way to your wedding ceremony it’s full steam ahead.
Top tip… Ensure that your hair and make up is done first. The bride is the most important lady at bridal preparations. Often at weddings I have had brides last in the queue to have make up applied and hair styled. Why? Brides being last to be made up has resulted in delays and limited, or no time for beautiful bridal portraits. Closely followed by a mad rush out of the door in a stressed and disorganised state. If your hair and make up is done first, you can enjoy watching the action, sit back and relax whilst sipping a glass of champagne, feeling calm, in control and totally ready for the most important day of your life.
Please note – it’s NOT cup final day. Apart from bridesmaids and perhaps mother and father of the bride, try to avoid having too many people around you whilst you are in the process of getting ready. And ensure that you have a room that is set aside just for you, the bride to prepare for your very big day. This room should be light, airy and clutter free – but your haven and away from the chaos. I understand that this may only be possible if you are getting ready at home or at your parents house. However I would strongly advise that if you are getting ready at the hotel and they can provide you with 2 rooms for preparations then take 2. You can delegate a separate hotel room for the bridesmaids to use and they can join you once they are ready, and can be available and helpful when you are dressing etc.
It can be pretty stressful having a lot of people around you during early morning preparations, especially if you are all crammed into a small bedroom or hotel room. Believe me it can sometimes become truly chaotic and not a good start to your day. Relatives and bridesmaids and children all tripping over each other at the preparation stage is a recipe for disaster. And don’t forget that the more ladies in a room, the more mess it creates – make up, underwear, suitcases and paraphernalia everywhere does not make for great photographs. It can make it very difficult to capture the preparation photographs whilst trying to work around clutter and mess and people…
Let everyone make a fuss of YOU… You are getting married. It’s your day. You are the star of the show, probably for just one day in your entire life. Your bridesmaids are there to support you and assist you on your special day both practically and emotionally. It’s probably one of the reasons why you chose them in the first place. Give them their ‘to do’ list for the day. Ensure they are there for you throughout the day. Whether it’s to help you get dressed in the morning, or to top up your lipstick throughout the day, or to look after your make up and necessities that you may need. Having reliable, helpful, supportive bridesmaids is so important. I have seen some amazing, attentive bridesmaids at weddings and some not so good (and that’s putting it very kindly). I have witnessed brides, helping bridesmaids to zip up dresses, or running around the home, trying to find items for family members who could easily, with a bit of effort, find for themselves. I have even witnessed brides putting the kettle on and making drinks for people. STOP!… Delegate… Relax.
Please, please, please allow plenty of time for portrait shots and group shots with parents, bridesmaids etc before you leave to get married. You will look your most radiant and beautiful just before you leave your home / hotel room – perfect hair, perfect make up, perfect dress. This is the time for some beautiful, flattering images that you will treasure forever! 15-20 minutes or up to half an hour is enough to take a deep breath, contemplate, think and of course, have some photographs taken.
Have a moment or two with parents. Just 10-15 minutes before you leave to get married. Have some ‘quiet’ time with those that you love. It may be the only chance during your day that you get this time together – to exchange some words, to have a hug and to be reassured that you are with those that love you and want you to have the very best day ever. Be calm and focussed and in the moment…
Arrival at your Church / venue…
Groomsmen are usually photographed before the bride arrives. Guys – ensure you are all available and on time. I have often had to re-photograph groomsmen later in the day due to someone not being available or arriving too late for the formal groomsmen photographs. It is important for ushers and the best man to be there for the groom too. It’s important that they offer assistance where needed, to help with directing guests to their seats and to offer support and a shoulder to lean on throughout the day. Again, I have worked alongside some amazing groomsmen who can’t do enough for the groom and are on hand at all times of the day to offer their help, and I have worked alongside some truly poor groomsmen who find it difficult to take a pint of beer out of their hands. Boys will sometimes be boys…
Beautiful bride – take a deep breath before entering the church / venue. Compose yourself. Have a moment with dad / that person walking you down the aisle. SMILE! This is the last time you will be a Miss. This time is precious… You will leave your ceremony a Mrs!
Walking down the aisle should be slow and you should take in every moment. Galloping down aisles happens regularly despite me reminding the bride before entering her venue. Nerves kick in and panic can sometimes take over. Breath… Take it easy, take it slowly, look at your guests and smile! Acknowledge your family and friends who are craning their necks to see the entrance of the beautiful bride. What’s the rush?
Smile if you want to smile, cry if you want to cry. Look at each other – ALWAYS. Make eye contact. Think of the vows you are making as you speak them and think of the life ahead of you and your commitment to each other… It’s amazing!
There have been times when I have only just managed to capture the actual kiss. Blink and you miss it… Again, nerves have kicked in… it’s only natural. Some couples only seem to manage the quickest ‘peck’. I am completely aware that you may be a bit nervous, or very nervous or totally petrified… But this is your first kiss as the new Mr and Mrs. Hold the kiss for a little longer, makes a fantastic photograph! Go with your feelings…
WOW – You are now Mrs!
So, you are now Mr and Mrs and you will head back down the aisle with the biggest smiles on your faces. You are about to begin a new chapter in your life. So why trot back down the aisle so quickly? Take your time… Walk slowly and enjoy the moment. Let your guests (and more importantly your photographer) get some fantastic, natural photographs of the newly wed couple leaving the church / venue. Pause if you want, to acknowledge your family and friends as you make your way down the aisle to new beginnings. It’s lovely to see grandma stop a couple in their tracks coming down the aisle, to plant a ‘smacker’ on their faces or offer a big bear hug. Wonderful!
The group photographs with the couple and their family and friends are so important and are a record of your most important guests who were with you on your wedding day. But don’t go overboard with a hundred different combinations of group shots. I always recommend that we take a full wedding party shot (this is all of your guests and bridal party with the the two of you). This photograph can often be taken from a higher viewpoint (perhaps from a hotel window). But if it’s logistically possible it’s a fantastic photograph to have for your wedding album. You can be assured that you have an image and a record of all those that shared your special day with you.
I would then recommend that you only have group photographs of immediate family (parents, siblings, grandparents etc), plus photography of any really special, close friends or perhaps guests that have travelled a long way to be with you at your wedding.
Lots and lots of group shots equals lots of ‘sheep herding’ as I like to affectionately call it. It also leads to very little time for you to enjoy mingling with your guests and enjoying their company.
Mr & Mrs Photography
Please allow just a little time to go off for a walk with your photographer – it’s a great chance to have just a bit of ‘quality time’ together and a great opportunity to get some beautiful couple photographs, away from the glare of the guests. I love to trot off with the newly married couple to take some photographs away from the crowd… Giving you a bit of a breather too. You will come back to your wedding party feeling refreshed and ready to mingle and enjoy the company of your guests again. Please remember to schedule in enough time for your photography. Allow enough time between getting married and sitting down to your wedding breakfast. Please note: half an hour from getting married to sitting down to eat is absolutely NOT enough time. Give the photographer time and get better photographs… Simple!
Fun images are so important…
Formal photographs are a necessity, and captured moments are just the best! Grandad teasing his grandchildren, grandmas wonky wedding day hat because she’s had a couple of sherries, the best man, busting his best moves on the dance floor, the children running around the grounds and having fun, your favourite auntie laughing during the speeches and your new husband enjoying a beer with his friends. These moments are the moments you will love to see in your photographs. Remember, whilst your photographer is co-ordinating lots and lots of group photographs, they are also missing out on capturing these natural, fun shots.
I have said this many times to my clients – my best photographs are always captured later in the day, when the formalities are completed and everyone has had a glass of champagne or two and the hats are off, the jackets are discarded and the belts loosened following that chocolate pud. Post wedding breakfast is the perfect opportunity to get back outside with your bridal party and close family and have some more photographs taken. You will be a little desperate by this time, for some fresh air and a leg stretch. Perfect! Without a shadow of a doubt my past wedding clients have loved their fun, relaxed, slightly bonkers photographs taken later in the day, as the sun is going down and the party is truly getting started. You will be ready to go a bit crazy and truly let your hair down… Perfect!
Please note these top tips have been pulled together by me and they are my opinions only, through years of photographing weddings. Believe me, I have seen it all (and more). I have been a part of some truly beautiful weddings and I feel honoured to have done so… I speak from experience. I have seen it all when it comes to wedding days – the good, the bad and the ugly…
If you are looking for a wedding photographer to photograph your wedding day and you like what you have just read, please call me on 01455 233224 or email me – Lesley Bee on firstname.lastname@example.org. We can arrange a mutually convenient day / time to get together and discuss your upcoming nuptials. I am happy to meet with you for a ‘no obligation’ chat and to share with you my wedding albums etc. I can photographed weddings in Leicestershire, Warwickshire, Northamptonshire and beyond. I can tailor a wedding photography package to suit your individual needs. You may wish to call me in the first instance to say hello and have a quick chat. No problem…
Happy Wedding Planning to all of you planning your wedding days out there.
Love – Lesley Bee xxx