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 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.
In the six weeks or so following our engagement, we got all the big things out of the way. Venue, photographer, dress, DJ, all sorted, and then wedding season properly kicked in so our plans were put on the sidelines. With less than six months to go now, we realise it’s time to kick our plans back in, but some of these decisions seem to be the hardest.
Our big choices were fairly straightforward, our venue choice being a little stressful, and photographer choice hard, but thanks to being wedding photographers we knew which suppliers we wanted to work with. What we are struggling with is the finer details – is it just us?
Being Italian, wedding favours or bonbonierre are considered an essential on the day, but I know my mother has a loft full of little ornaments and nik-naks with the dusty labels bearing the names of various cousins, the sugared almonds attached in their organza pouches way beyond their eat-by date. Favours in the UK have taken on their own form in the last ten years; frequently being of the edible kind – cupcakes, biscuits, chocolates or sweets – usually being devoured alongside the bread roll before we’ve even got a whiff of the starter.
Favours can also take on a more lasting memorial of the day, with small ornaments or gifts such as hankerchiefs or pillows being something nice for people to take home. Also popular is a lottery ticket or scratchcard, although we always wonder what would happen if someone won big – that could be awkward! I asked Lucie Taylor, who gave her guests the lovely scratchcard pictured below at her wedding earlier this year. Did she and Ed consider how they would feel with a big win? “We figured that if someone won big then they were at the day because we loved them and would have been happy for them.” Daw!
Tom and I have considered a monetary route on the favours, but with a donation to our favourite charity instead. I can’t help in thinking would our guests think we couldn’t decide what to do rather than a desire to recognise the charity at our wedding? Especially as our choice would be an animal charity. However, if the charity is linked to the couple in some way, for example a hospice that looked after a loved one, then it can be a lovely way to remember them.
Of course, the favour is a perfect opportunity to go a little leftfield and give your guests something that completely fits your theme, and have a little fun with it at the same time. We’ve also seen some great ‘sharing’ favours, bowls of sweets on each table for people to nibble on and interact with each other. A great idea was the lovely Mr & Mrs Bailey putting a big bottle of Baileys on each table for their guests to enjoy.
It is also completely ok not to do favours at all. After all, you spend so much on canapés, drinks and food, if your intention is not to leave them with a lasting memento of your wedding as the Italians do, then do they really need something else to nibble on? So if you don’t see the point, do away with it, no-one will miss it, trust us.
Music is another subject we are struggling on a little. We’ve never been the couple to have ‘our song’ so we have been trying to think of music that has the right sentiment and feel for our wedding.. We’re going for an Icelandic wintry theme, so given that we’ve been listening to a lot of Icelandic music this year anyway, it feels right to use this style of music. This doesn’t mean we are just going to play Sigur Ros though! I know what I want to walk up the aisle to but the rest, bah, we shall just have to keep on listening!
Same goes for the ceremony as a whole really, we want readings that have words which mean something to us, but there is such a huge amount of material out there, many of which we have heard at weddings frequently. We’d like to have something literary that is more unknown but there is only so much time someone can spend leafing through books for love passages! Much like the music, we currently have one chosen option, an Icelandic poem which talks about shimmering stars in a day in January – it’s so emotive and reminds us of our engagement, I burst into tears trying to read it aloud to Tom!
I think the thing that is hindering us with readings is that we have heard so many and the same ones over and over again. This is absolutely fine in the individual context of one wedding, as long as the words are right for you then go for it, but we feel we are having to look a little harder for something more unique to us. I’d particularly welcome any suggestions for alternative Shakespeare!
So that’s where we are at. A thunderstorm a week or so ago forced us to spend the evening on a laptop making wedding decisions so we got a couple of things done then. We’ve also been listening to a lot of playlists rather than our usual BBC 6 Music during the day, so we think we have now decided on the signing of the register music. The really hard one is the recessional!
I’d love to hear how you reached your choices…
One thing I truly love about my job is the ability to help couples with their planning. My brain is like Pinterest, filled with huge amounts of wedding related knowledge, not just about wedding photography, but also wedding dress designers, music, schedules, venues, favours, decor, hair and make-up… you get the picture!
So following our engagement in Iceland in January, we are now planning our own wedding. It should be easy right? Many people have said to us ‘Oh I bet you’re all sorted and know exactly what you want.’ That and ‘Who will do your wedding photos?!’ Well the answer to the first question a few weeks ago was, no, not really. You see when you have been to as many weddings as we have, and seen so many lovely styles and ideas, it’s actually quite difficult to pick through all of the Pinterest board that is our brains and ask ourselves, but what is US?
Thankfully, we were already one step ahead of most couples when it comes to choosing our venue, as we have already seen hundreds! One thing was essential, we really wanted a venue that we hadn’t shot at before, so it would feel like ours on the day. We love many of the wedding venues throughout Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire but we just didn’t want to possibly feel like we were going to work. So I set about trying to find the ones we may not have heard of or may be at bit unusual, and OMG how annoying a process was this!!! I envy couples who either a) have always known the venue for them, maybe because they had been to another wedding there before or it may be the Cambridge college they went to or b) they are not that fussed about the venue and just want a good space to have a party. Looking for venues online was such a hassle! How many venues don’t bother putting their specs up? Why on earth would you not write how many people you can accommodate?!
Also, some of these venues obviously have no idea what a good photograph is. Yes this stock picture of a bride and groom kissing may be romantic but does it show me your rooms? No! No help at all! We also seriously doubted what is thought of as a good photograph, with some truly dreadful shots attempting to showcase the venue. So we were ruthless, no proper information or terrible photographs and it didn’t get a look in. I had no idea it was this bad out there, all you couples about to embark on finding your ceremony have my sympathy, you really do.
Tom and I have a love of historical venues, so the terrible websites combined with the need to have not shot a wedding there before narrowed it down to three venues in Hertfordshire. Thankfully they were all within a half an hour drive of each other, so we had one day of looking round. Now that was weird. Actually being shown around as a bride and groom to-be, with the coordinators not having any knowledge of what we did for a living. Being told things like ‘after your ceremony…’ and not just listening in on a behalf of a client felt strange. After working in the industry for over five years now, it really is our turn!
We instantly loved the Jacobean romance of Fanhams Hall Hotel in Ware. The Long Gallery where our ceremony will be (eek!) has gorgeous wood-panelling which we love, as does the Great Hall where our reception will be. So after a week of, ‘is that the one?’ conversations, having another search through venues, getting frustrated all over again, we knew we needed to return to Fanhams. So back we went with our parents, and after the thumbs up were given all round, we sat down to their popular Sunday carvery, which was AWESOME. If they can do mass catering that well (it was very busy!) then the wedding food must be amazing. We also really liked the coordinator Amy, who we instantly got on with and believed that Fanhams would cater to all our wims and thoughts. So that is it, it’s booked. A Christmas wedding here we come…
Hertfordshire Wedding Photographers Lina and Tom are wedding planning!