On July 4th we celebrated 10 years since our first wedding as the official photographer. Over those ten years, we have seen trends come and go, experienced all kinds of wedding from an intimate guest list of 10 to a 400 strong raucous farmers wedding. We’ve travelled from Cambridge to Cancun and beyond. We’ve seen laughter and happy tears, and some not so happy (but only some…) We’ve learned from every single one, all of them. We’ve attended conferences, workshops and seminars, constantly striving to be better for our clients, and the next one is in November. We’ve won various international awards for individual wedding photos and overall as a couple. We had too had a wedding in 2014, allowing us to call ourselves one of the UK’s best husband and wife wedding photography teams (natch.) Lina has spoken about our work and brand at various conferences including the Fearless Photographers European Conference, for which she still pinches herself. She also had our logo tattooed on her arm after that, Tom…well not yet.
Our ten top tips for your wedding planning
So as we’re in this historic month for our business, and have just shot our 322nd wedding on the beautiful island of Guernsey, we are going to kick off a series of ’10 Years…’ blogs starting with the 10 top tips for your wedding, what we have learnt from all our experience. These are certainly not meant to dig at anyone, but rather convey things we see time and time again and hope to give a little tried and tested advice… So, in no particular order:
Need super summer wedding planning inspiration? Take a look at our May wedding photography round-up, which includes a Harry Potter-themed day, our first Aynhoe Park wedding and trip to sunny Santorini for a Greek destination wedding. Let’s go…
As autumn is drawing ever closer, let’s take a look back to our April wedding photography – perfect for spring wedding planning and inspiration – and particularly if you are getting married at beautiful South Farm where we are delighted to be a recommended wedding photographer.
We’ve been lucky to shoot a vast number of weddings over our nine years as wedding photographers, and one of the biggest changes we’ve seen to the industry is a wealth of new and exciting places to have a wedding day. You may be eyeing up dancing the night away in that warehouse space, or maybe a beautifully vintage village hall wedding is your dream. One thing is for certain, if you are not getting married in a traditional venue, having some sort of connection with a wedding planner is pretty essential in our books, and many of you have heard us harp on about the importance of on-the-day wedding coordination at least. So who better to talk through when hiring a wedding planner might be for you than the brilliant Vanessa and Dom from R&F Weddings…
WEDx – Seminars for the wedding industry
We’re happy (and a teensy bit nervous) to announce that Lina is confirmed as a speaker at the inaugural WEDx – seminars for the wedding industry, or in their words “a brand spanking new series of seminars for people who are serious about taking their business to the next level.”
Taking place at Wyboston Lakes on Monday 8th May 2017 from 9am, the day will feature six speakers working within the Wedding Industry. Each speaker will hold a Q&A Session following their talk to ensure that your burning questions get answered, as well as the invaluable opportunity of networking with a community of likeminded people. The speakers kicking off this first event alongside Lina are:
It’s that time of year again! We’ll be back at The Wedding Show Knebworth House and Barns this weekend for the fourth year running, Saturday 9th & Sunday 10th January 2016. We love exhibiting at the Knebworth Wedding Show because of the time of year, everyone is buzzing – from the newly Christmas engaged couples to the couples who have kept their planning relaxed to date, but it’s all systems go after Christmas!
As always we’ll be exhibiting alongside some brilliant fellow suppliers, over 80 apparently! We’re all here to help you plan the best day ever and keep it stress free! There will also be the brilliant catwalk show which is a must-see, held three times each day to inspire and help you find ‘the dress’ and give ideas to your guests, as well as live singing from wedding artists. Head to us at stand 113 and you’ll likely see Tom perfecting the boys dance routines! (He loves to boogie.)
The show runs from 10am to 4pm both days, so grab your other half or mum and the girls, and come and have a glass of champagne to kick off your planning! The first 100 brides through the door each day will receive a goody bag packed full of treats and samples to take home, and everyone will get a copy of 2016 Bride Magazine – look out for our coverage of Ros & Robin’s wedding on page 52!
Tickets are on sale for £4 each or £12 for a group of four in advance here. Tickets are £5 each on the day.
See you there!
Thanks to those of you who have said you’ve enjoyed reading my wedding planning posts, and sorry this latest one has been such a long time coming. The thing is, I don’t think we were ever going to have a normal planning process, knowing it would be increasingly difficult for us to focus on it during the busy part of the season. At the same time, I’m not sure we realised just how busy we would be. Almost every email we have received from our lovely clients has started ‘hope your wedding planning is coming along’ or ‘how is the wedding planning coming?’ and it became hard to say, ‘erm not very well’ without sounding contrite. People also say ‘oh you must be winding down now’, but with three weddings in October and November respectively, as well as the ‘albums for Christmas’ deadline looming, we can safely say it’s pretty full on here still. Not that I am complaining mind, it’s brilliant that weddings are no longer a May to September thing anymore.
Of course, it is fine, all the big things were booked in the spring so it will all happen, but we want the little things to happen too. Now I’m the first person to tell our couples ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’ but we really want the little details to work. We don’t want our wedding to look like all the similar albeit beautiful weddings we see in magazines. The fact that we work in the industry makes us want the little details that make this wedding ours all the more.
A bit of a confession… I suffer from serious work guilt. If there is work to do I find it hard to enjoy doing things for myself as a little voice in the back of my head is telling me someone is waiting for their wedding photos or book proof. This has definitely hampered our wedding planning. Our invites, designed by Tom, sat in bits for about two months waiting for their final flourish. Our evening invites aren’t even out yet (sorry folks!)
Last week though, we were jolted into wedding planning again. I had my first dress fitting, and having not seen her since March, it was reassuring to remind myself I had made the right decision and I still loved it. We had our venue planning meeting and tasting, great to see it again as we hadn’t been back since we booked it in March (unheard of apparently!) so we were forced to make some decisions on the spot which probably did us good! Thursday brought our registrar planning meeting, and we finished choosing our wording in the car on the way, having started in on another car journey a few weeks before. We tried on prototypes of our fab wedding rings. I was forced to think about our wedding and it was lovely (but put in a few late nights to get back up to speed with work.) It’s probably a good thing though that as people demand info it is forcing us to do it!
So here we are, less than six weeks to go. I’m finding it really hard to get excited yet, as it still all seems so far removed from me. We have our pre-wedding shoot tomorrow which should make it feel more real, as well as my hen do at the weekend. Oh and you know all you folk who tell us how nervous you are about being photographed, and we say a pre-shoot is essential? Well here we are and I am terrified. I am quite genuinely unphotogenic, no really I am. We’ll see how that goes shall we?
We live in an increasingly documentative society. Most of us have smart phones, and the cameras on our electronic devices are better than ever. It’s quite usual for us now to take a snap and post what we’ve been up to on social media, sharing all our experiences. But do we ever really consider the thoughts of others when posting, particularly at weddings?
I feel I’ve been talking a lot recently about this subject, having been asked to discuss it on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, when a bride recently told me at her wedding reception that there was ‘already’ a shot of her on Facebook ‘pulling a bad face.’ It was only just after dinner too. Who are you people who do this? I’d never post an image of someone looking bad online anyway but I have had people put awful ones of me up. You know the people, the ones that have to share everything they took, even the blurry ones. Can we not stop our desire to share, even when it comes to someone’s wedding day? This is why I felt it was time to write this post!
Kate Bush made the headlines recently by not allowing pictures to be taken during her gigs and we totally see her point. I’m sure we’ve all attempted to take pictures with our phones at a gig and let’s be honest, they look like utter garbage, so why bother missing the moment to look through a screen? It’s this same thought process which we need to consider for weddings too before we reach for the Instagram, and I’m sure as a guest it’s something you’ve never considered. Picture the scene, our happy couple say their beautiful vows and exchange rings. Those magic words are spoken, ‘I now pronounce you…’ and they kiss. Beaming at each other, they turn happily to their guests… and are faced with a sea of phones pointing at them. Not quite how they imagined it would be I’m sure.
Now I’m not just being trite here, we have seen this happen! To be honest, this isn’t so great for the couple. Their guests are physically in the room with them, but not actually ‘with them’ at one of the most important moments of their lives.
So how does an unplugged wedding work? Don’t worry, you don’t have to go all Kimye and seize phones at the door, just ask whoever is officiating your ceremony to make an announcement that you only want the official photographer to take photos until the signing. Most registrars we’ve seen actually do this anyway as they don’t want the disruption. The harsh reality is that many guests aren’t as considerate as a professional wedding photographer, they usually use flash, some have focus beeps enabled on their cameras, they step into the aisle, and even worse, use the red focus light which we can tell you does not work well with a white dress! Want some examples? A frustrated US photographer recently posted a blog showing some of her failed shots, as a direct consequence of guests going for theirs. It makes for an interesting read, and provoked some discussion on our Facebook page when we posted it, asking how people felt about cameras and phones at their wedding. Recent bride Katy said, “We are SO glad that we opted for an “unplugged” ceremony. We asked the registrar to request that everyone turned off their phones and cameras, and we put up signs welcoming guests to our unplugged ceremony. It meant everyone was WITH us for those 20 minutes of solemnly declaring… and it was AWESOME.” We can concur it was indeed, awesome.
So it’s not us photographers being high and mighty here, guests can, and have, disrupted our work. Saying that, we are much more casual about guest photography than many photographers we have been told about! During the rest of the day, shoot away folks, we really don’t mind. But there is definitely an argument for having your photographer be the only one shooting your ceremony. After all, you paid us your hard earned cash to capture it for you, so surely uncle Bob shouldn’t get the best shots over us?
At the time of the Kate Bush gigs, I was interviewed on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire about it, which you can listen back to here and do let us know your thoughts on this one!
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Lastly, we were going to put a couple of our own fails in here, but we have decided not to. The point of this post is not to embarrass anyone but merely provoke discussion and possibly educate – so we shall leave it to your imagination, and if you look at the American website you’ll get the picture!
If you are following our wedding planning blogs, recently you would have read how we are struggling to find music we feel is right for our ceremony in particular. A bit of a search online and it seems this is a common issue that comes up on wedding blogs across the world. There are endless blogs and forum posts where people list what they had and give suggestions, but when you do what we do for a living, we tend to have heard it all before. So what is the best way to start looking at music? We asked exquisite and goosebump-inducing Soprano Rachel Maloy (who we highly recommend!) to give us a guide on how best to approach it…
Ceremony music: confused?
Music plays such an important part in your wedding ceremony, and is an opportunity to personalise the most formal part of your special day. But where to start? If you don’t have a musical background then this can be a bewildering process. Here are a few pointers that should help you on your way…
Music is a must during:
The Processional (entrance of the Bride)
The Signing of the Register
The Recessional (The Bride and Groom exiting)
Advice on musical choices may be available from your venue. Most churches will have an organ or piano and some may be able to provide a choir. Civil ceremony venues may have musicians in residence who are available to play at your ceremony for an extra charge.
Think about the role that you would like music to play. Are there particular songs or pieces of music that you want to include that have personal significance to you as a couple, or do you dream of a truly traditional wedding? This should help you on your way to making the right choices for you as a couple.
Before we begin . . .
Some churches may impose regulations on the music that you can have, so it is worth chatting to your vicar if you are thinking of going down the less traditional route. You may find the Royal School of Church Music’s website a useful starting point. Similarly, if you are having a civil ceremony, there must be no reference to God or religion in any of your choices of music, songs or poetry. This includes songs in other languages, so if you have your heart set on Ave Maria, you’ll need to re-book at the church! If you are unsure, check with your Registrar.
Most brides have a picture in their minds of how they imagine walking down the aisle. If you dream of the traditional church wedding, you may have the organ playing Wagner’s Bridal March or Purcell’s Trumpet Tune. Perhaps the choir are singing Rutter’s A Gaelic Blessing or Biebl’s Ave Maria or a string quartet are playing Pachelbel’s Canon in D.
Civil ceremonies offer greater freedom in your choice of music. Your wedding may have a theme that you want the music to fit around (like Iceland, perhaps . . . ) You may love musical theatre or a certain band. Or perhaps you still want the traditional processional. As long as the music does not have religious connotations you can have whatever you like.
The Signing of the Register
You need something reflective for your friends and family to listen to whilst you are signing the register. This can take around ten minutes and can be very tedious if no musical ambience is provided. I have been to weddings where there has been no music and the congregation sat in embarrassed silence. Awkward! You don’t want that! The signing of the register is the part of the ceremony when I am usually asked to sing. Two songs are needed, and I discuss with the bride and groom what type of songs they would like. Some couples have ideas or have a particular song that they would like me to sing, whereas others listen to some suggestions and then opt for one traditional and the other something more personal or modern. Some popular traditional choices for a church ceremony are: Schubert’s Ave Maria, Bach/Gounod’s Ave Maria, Franck’s Panis Angelicus and Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus. For church and civil ceremonies you could have songs which work in both scenarios such as All I ask of you, from Phantom of the Opera, One Hand, One Heart, from West Side Story (note from Lina- this is one of the most perfect wedding songs, and last time we heard Rachel sing it I was a mess), or Songbird by Eva Cassidy.
Hurray!!! You are finally married! Let’s celebrate! Choose something jubilant to finish the ceremony as you walk out as husband and wife. In a church the organ may play Mendelssohn’s Wedding March, or Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks, or the string quartet may play Vivaldi’s Spring.
Again, you can choose anything you like if you’re having a civil ceremony (providing there are no religious references!) I married my lovely husband, Toby, five years ago and at the end we walked out (or rather danced!) to Kenny Loggins’ Footloose!
I will never forget it!
If you are having a church wedding you may want to include two or three hymns in your order of service. My top tips are to choose ones that people are more likely to know (think back to when you were at school) and to have a choir to carry the sound. There is nothing worse than having hymns that no-one knows with no-one singing! Remember that you don’t have to have hymns if you don’t want to. Some firm favourites might be Jerusalem, One More Step Along the World I Go, or Shine Jesus Shine to lift the roof off!
You may also like to think about background (or Prelude) music whilst your guests are being seated before the ceremony. Church organists will usually play for around fifteen minutes before the bride arrives, or a string quartet sounds wonderful as your guests are seated. Another option (and one that I had at my wedding) is to have a playlist of atmospheric music as people are seated.
Let’s get listening!
YouTube is a great tool to listen to the examples that I have provided, and who knows what else you may find? The music that you choose will make your day truly special, and one that you and your guests will remember forever.
Rachel is a professional singer, singing/music teacher and choir director.