One of our prospective brides asked us the other day if we had any tips, idea or suggestions regarding their wedding day. We decided to expand this into a helpful article which might be of use to other brides and grooms preparing for their wedding day in the future, so here it is!

The British weather: hope for the best, plan for the worst

If you are planning a summer wedding then you should have at least a reasonable chance of a nice day, but this being England we’d advise to plan for all eventualities no matter what season you’re getting married in! We recommend having at least one nice large, white umbrella on hand. White is best because it allows good light through and doesn’t produce a colour cast on your faces. Even better, make a feature out of baskets of matching umbrellas that guests can grab in the event of a shower, or even have some wellingtons on hand if there’s a risk of mud at your rural reception. Rain can make for some great photos, so even if the worst does happen, don’t despair!

Bride and groom caught in the rain with umbrella in Torquay, Devon

It unexpectedly poured down during our group shots at Jenny and Calum’s wedding, but fortunately umbrellas were on hand and we were able to complete the groups indoors!

The morning: organisation and tidiness is key for a great bridal prep and great photos

We normally arrive in the morning before the bride and groom have put on their formal wear and as there are two of us we normally cover both of the couple’s preps. It’s really helpful if both the bride and groom have any nice details collected together and ready for us to photograph where they are getting ready, e.g. the wedding dress dress, jewellery, shoes and other items such as lucky charms all in one place in the bride’s room, and the groom’s shoes, suit and accessories like cufflinks, shoes and tie in his room. This makes them easier to locate for us to take photos upon our arrival and also makes it simpler for you once it comes to getting dressed. It’s a good idea to bring along a nice hanger for your dress to be photographed on; it’s a small thing, but we feel it is a shame to have a lovely expensive dress hanging on a cheap plastic hanger, which many of them are supplied with! A simple but elegant wooden hanger or a pillowed white one are ideal.

Details aside, we advise you to keep your getting ready rooms as tidy and clutter-free as possible, as this obviously helps the photos look their best! It’s easier if you’re getting ready in a suite that you’ve hired for the day, but if oyu’re getingf ready at home or a relative or friend’s house, please make sure the place has been cleaned and tidied the day before your wedding so that you’ll feel comfortable on your wedding day morning. It’s especially important to have a clean, tidy place to prepare if you are getting ready in the same place as your bridesmaids or groomsmen, as things can get quite cramped when you have several people getting ready in one place!

Wedding hair and makeup prep location: let there be light!

It is incredibly important to make a space in your prep room for your makeup and hair stylists to work their magic. If they’re going to make you look your best, you’ll want them to work in good, natural light, so seating you near a large window if possible will allow the best light, both for your stylists and for our photography. Sitting deep in a darkened room with your back to the window light and your face illuminated artificially should be an absolute last resort.

Bride having her hair styled and tiara adjusted at the Mill End Hotel in Devon

Beautiful window light makes for beautiful getting ready shots!

When planning, keep your wedding photographers in the loop about your plans for the day

We supply an info sheet for you to fill out that will be our ‘survival guide’ for the day, but it’s really useful if you make us aware of anything special you have planned throughout the day as this will allow us to be prepared for how the day will unfold. Other than getting ready, do you have anything special planned for the morning? For example, will the bride and her bridesmaids be exchanging gifts? Will the groom be having a quick drink with his groomsmen? In the evening, will there be any entertainers present? Will you be lighting sparklers or even having fireworks once the sun has set? The more we know, the better we’ll be able to anticipate the flow of the day. Do ask each other to write to us privately and let us know if either of you has a surprise planned for the day that you are keeping secret from one another; your secret will be safe with us and we’ll be ready to capture the surprise as it unfolds!

The marriage ceremony: everyone wants to see your happy faces!

The marriage ceremony itself is the heart of the wedding day: after months of preparation, it’s the time that you become husband and wife, a special one off moment that all your friends and family have gathered to witness. For this reason, we suggest asking your officiant to make an announcement at the start of the ceremony saying that you’d appreciate it if everyone could put their phones and cameras away and be fully present in the moment with you; this will make it all the more special for both you and them. We will get plenty of photos for them to enjoy later, so they can focus on enjoying the moment as it unfolds! It’s best if they keep their cameras and phones away until after you’ve walked down the aisle, as guests holding their phones out can sadly affect our ability to take beautiful photos of you ourselves.

We believe that it’s important for everyone to be able to see you, but sadly it’s often the case that the bride and groom spend much of the ceremony facing away from where guests are seated. This may be unavoidable in some religious ceremonies, but if you are being married in a non-religious building with a more flexible approach we suggest you ask if it is possible to face each other rather than the officiant throughout the ceremony. This gives everyone, including us, a better view of your faces! On a similar note, remember to keep your heads held high as you walk down the aisle so that you can see your friends and family and they can see you.

Often there are restrictions on where we can go, how much we can shoot and whether we can use flash during the ceremony, particularly in religious venues, so please do ask your officiant in advance to inform us of the restrictions that apply in their particular venue and we’ll do our utmost to comply.

Post-ceremony confetti throwing options

After the ceremony, many couples choose to have confetti throwing. It’s traditional to do confetti throwing followed by group portraits, then portraits of the bride and groom, but we have a possible alternative to suggest. After you’ve mingled briefly following the ceremony we can take you away for portraits first, before reuniting everyone for group shots and confetti. The main advantage of this option is that it allows us to take portraits of the bride and groom before their hair is full of bits of confetti However, we’re happy with either arrangement, so please do let us know which you’d prefer, if you are planning confetti at all of course. Whatever you choose, remember to keep your head held high and we’ll do our best to direct your guests; we like them to throw it high and to have it out of the bag and ready to throw before you walk between them.

Wedding Photography © Harry & Tanya Photography

Confetti shots can be a fun addition to your wedding day experience and make for great photos!

Formal portraits: a military operation

From a photographic perspective, the group portraits part of the day is the part that needs the most rigid organisation, otherwise it can take quite some time to complete. We supply you with a list of common and suggested groupings on our info sheet, but it’s best if you send us a list of the exact groupings you require so that we can print this off and literally tick the groups off as we’ve shot them. We advise you to assign an official group portrait ‘gofer’ who knows both sides of the family by name and isn’t afraid to boss people about, as they prove invaluable on the day when it comes to rounding up guests to be photographed.

Wedding photographers vs wedding videographers

We can definitely see the merits of hiring both a good videographer and a wedding photography team from a bride and groom’s perspective. However, our professional perspective based on past experiences is that working alongside a videographer tends to make life harder for both us, you and your guests on the day. As a husband and wife wedding photography team who have worked together through many wedding days, we have an understanding borne of shared experience that means we are aware of each other’s intentions and instinctively get out of each other’s visual line if we realise we’re spoiling a good shot. Adding another person (or more) with a camera into the mix means more people with bulky equipment trying hard to find the space and the angle to get the results they need, resulting in more potential for stepping on each other’s toes, both literally and metaphorically! Space is often at a premium at key moments during the day, and fighting for space with someone else who is also trying to capture one-off moments on the fly inevitably leads to some compromises for both us and them.

Crucially, we find that having both photographers and videographers present throughout the day can be a little overwhelming for your guests and you. We try hard to be inconspicuous and blend in, but videographers tend to be far more hands on and directorial as it’s harder for them to capture natural moments on the fly. They tend to approach guests and choreograph little set pieces such as getting them to leave you a message, which we feel disrupts the flow of the day a lot more than our subtle, photojournalistic approach. All that said, ultimately it’s your day and your decision, which we will respect either way! We’re happy to make it work, so if you did decide to hire a videographer then let us know their contact details and we’ll endeavour to communicate with them prior to your big day to work out a mutual understanding.

Plan but don’t overplan, and don’t fret if things don’t go to plan!

A massive amount of planning goes into most wedding days, but no matter how carefully you’ve organised your special day things won’t always run on schedule. Try not to worry and just enjoy your day, no matter what! The day will fly by, so make sure to be present in the moment and enjoy every second, even if it’s not going perfectly to plan!

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our suggestions and that we’ve given you food for thought! Finally, if you’d like to read more useful advice, we recommend Rock’N’Roll Bride‘s article entitled ‘Want Great Wedding Photographs? Follow These Ten Simple Tips…